The Conservative Baptist Network of Southern Baptists called on interim Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) President Daniel Patterson to “repudiated and retract” the false brief filed by the ERLC in support of the North American Mission Board (NAMB).

The Conservative Baptist Network demanded the ERLC clarify the record in the case of McRaney v. NAMB—a case that is scheduled to be discussed by justice at conference June 17.

Here is the official statement:

Today as previously, the Conservative Baptist Network calls on the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) to repudiate and retract the false statements to which it swore in the brief it filed in McRaney v. NAMB, now before the United States Supreme Court. 

The Network congratulates Daniel Patterson on his naming as acting president of the ERLC and calls upon him to right this wrong at once.

On page 10 of the amicus brief, the ERLC under then-President Russell Moore swore that the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is the “governing body” over all SBC churches and that this constitutes a “hierarchy.” 

This statement is not merely false as a matter of Baptist polity and ecclesiology. It is also a grave threat to Southern Baptists, illegitimately exposing all SBC churches and denominational entities – local, state and national – to needless and wrongful liability. Were this grossly irresponsible misstatement to be adopted by the courts, a person who slips and falls in a local church could potentially sue the state convention, or GuideStone Financial Resources, or every church in the entire Southern Baptist Convention.

While the ERLC subsequently mailed an unsworn letter to the Court, correcting this statement in part, a letter is not a sworn filing and does not resemble anything approaching the evidentiary weight of a brief filed under oath. The sworn record in a case now before the U.S. Supreme Court includes a sworn filing by the public policy arm of the nation’s largest evangelical denomination that materially misstates the facts in such fashion as to threaten the SBC and all its churches potentially for decades to come.

At best, the ERLC’s filing was grossly negligent, but it was unquestionably false, and swearing falsely to a court—especially the Supreme Court—is a grave sin.

The Conservative Baptist Network calls upon the ERLC to correct properly and fully the record before, and not after, this case is argued before the United States Supreme Court.