Karen Swallow Prior speaks out about role in leaks against Tom Buck. These are her first public comments about the leaked rough draft.

Why would an anonymous person text SEBTS Provost Keith Whitfield to ask Karen Swallow Prior to verify a rough draft for an anonymous publication? Only a fool would  believe that story.

A letter from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) addressing allegations about a leaked rough draft at the center of an alleged blackmail plot against Tom and Jennifer Buck sparked a host of new questions about the role of SEBTS employees in the plot against Tom Buck. The letter was first published on Twitter by SBC Underground. Immediately, holes were noticed in the story told by SEBTS.

Page 1 of SEBTS letter
page 2 of SEBTS letter

Why would an anonymous person text the SEBTS Provost Keith Whitfield to verify the Jennifer Buck rough draft for an anonymous publication? Journalists identify themselves and their publication. This is serious enough to make anyone scoff at the SEBTS statement. But there is more.

Of course, the fact that SEBTS admits in print that Whitfield was contacted via text message sparks even more questions. How would this anonymous person have Whitfield cell phone number?

All of these details are key elements in the story told by SEBTS.

Akin makes it clear and reveals how Whitfield was contacted—not via email but via a text message.

“We are not being protective of who contacted Keith, we do not know the identity of the person that texted Keith,” Akin wrote in the SEBTS letter.

Akin tells us a little about the sequence of events too.

Akin said, “The person that contacted (Karen Swallow Prior) was her supervisor at SEBTS, Keith Whitfield. Keith had received a message from an anonymous individual asking if Karen would verify the authenticity of the essay. We are not being protective of who contacted Keith, we do not know the identity of the person that texted Keith.”

Karen Swallow Prior verifies this according to a statement from her printed by Daniel Akin in the SEBTS letter, “I was contacted a few weeks ago through my Provost, Keith Whitfield, and asked if I would verify the authenticity of an essay in possession of a publication. I said I would not, and I further stated that it would be wrong to publish the essay without the author’s permission.”

Whitfield verifies he was contacted anonymously.

I was contacted anonymously by someone asking if Karen Prior would verify the authorship of an essay. I relayed the question to Karen, and she and I both believed it would be wrong to publish the essay without permission from the author. I replied to the original request by declining to provide any information,” SEBTS Provost Keith Whitfield said.

How did the anonymous person get the phone number of the SEBTS Provost Keith Whitfield?

And wait, why would you reply to an anonymous text message? I typically ignore those.

And, when I recently sent a text message to what I believe was SEBTS President Daniel Akin’s phone requesting this now leaked letter for publication—Akin responded with silence. Nothing. Not a text declining comment. Nothing.

Also, I made sure to give my name and the name of my publication.

It is far more likely that whoever approached Whitfield was known to Whitfield and asked to remain anonymous. Nothing else makes sense.

And now that Whitfield said he replied to the message—it means that we need to see his message declining to give comment. What was said? How was it said? Sometimes, how people decline comment can in fact confirm something exists. We need to know—nay, we must know—exactly what Whitfield said.

The SEBTS story is false on its face.  

But let’s not stop the analysis here. Let’s see what questions a professional journalist has about the SEBTS letter.

Janet Mefferd, a longtime print journalist with the Dallas Morning News and a retired radio host, raised serious questions that demand answers. Here they are:

  1. Whoever had Jennifer Buck’s rough draft and texted SEBTS Provost Keith Whitfield somehow knew that Karen Swallow Prior could verify it. How?
  2. Why would an anonymous texter go through Whitfield to get to Prior? Why approach him, when he is relatively unknown? Why didn’t the texter just contact Prior? Could it be that the texter knew Whitfield?
  3. Whitfield, according to the letter, knew the rough draft was stolen and still asked Prior to verify it. Why would he comply with a request from an anonymous texter to even ask her, especially when he knew the texter did not obtain the rough draft legitimately?
  4. Did Whitfield ever ask for the texter’s identity? Did he get it? Did he save the text? Does he have the phone number of the person who texted him? Did he save it?
  5. Whitfield asked Prior for verification, and she refused, yet neither told the Bucks about this sketchy situation. They know it’s immoral for someone to steal a rough draft. Why fail to call the Bucks, especially when they both stated: “it would be wrong to publish the essay?”
  6. Danny Akin states, “We do not know the identity of the person that texted Keith.” Did Akin ever ask Whitfield to show him the anonymous text? Have either of them taken any further steps to discover the texter’s identity?
  7. Akin states that he talked to Tom and Jennifer Buck on April 2. Yet he didn’t send the letter to the FBC Lindale elders until April 19. Why was there a 17-day delay before Akin finally revealed Whitfield’s identity?
  8. Akin states that on April 7, he told Tom, “I have been told no one is going to confirm to the media the essay about you and Jennifer.” Exactly who told him that?
  9. Prior states she refused to verify the draft, then says: “In a phone conversation with Tom ..” as if she called him. But the Bucks called her, after learning the rough draft was in circulation. Why didn’t Prior call them, & why didn’t she clearly state that they called her?
  10. Why did Prior refuse to tell the Bucks who contacted her regarding the request to verify the publication? She states in the letter that she did it “because I knew Keith was contacted anonymously to reach me.” So what? Why did she keep the Bucks in the dark about any of it?
  11. Have the SEBTS trustees, under Arthur Werry, asked these three individuals any of these questions? If so, what are the answers? Why haven’t they been released? It’s been two weeks since the letter was sent, after all, and there’s no word that they’ve done anything.
  12. How did the texter have Whitfield’s private cell phone number?

In summary, the SEBTS story as it now stands has more holes than Swiss cheese. It demands more answers including documents to explain exactly what Whitfield said to this supposedly anonymous person.