Al Mohler and Kevin Ezell’s NAMB attacked two different reporters covering sex abuse in the SBC.
Remember when intimidating the press was a threat to America? Now we have more details about how a Southern Baptist entity bullied a reporter for writing about how the SBC responds to sex abuse in its churches.
Joni Hannigan spent 40 years as a writer including teaching journalism to college students and 12 years as reporter and editor for state Baptist newspapers. She served her country in the Navy, and it was there while serving that she suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a superior who was also a deacon in a Southern Baptist church.
Hannigan writes, “I am also a sexual assault survivor. My attacker was both a Naval officer and a Southern Baptist deacon. I knew how important it was for me to heal after years of therapy and how I attempted to move on and to do what God has gifted me in. Writing. It took one text, preceded by years of Baptist bullying, to knock me back down.”
Hannigan was threatened with libel by a NAMB PR person for reporting what Louisville newspapers had already reported more than a decade ago—that Kevin Ezell while pastor at Highview asserted clergy-penitent privilege to avoid testifying in a sex abuse case against a church member and former principal of the church’s school.
Ezell was asked by the press at the time if he would inform the congregation—he said he would not.
That doesn’t sound like a commitment to Caring Well. But that is another story. Back to Hannigan’s first-hand account.
What matters here is how Kevin Ezell’s PR worker bullied Hannigan.
She explains, “I was pretty dumbfounded a man wielding such a great amount of power threatened to come after me for a few paragraphs analyzing previously written news stories. But by this point I had an epiphany and wondered if Ezell was also the reason I was offered no classes as an adjunct at a Southern Baptist College where I’d taught 24 classes in two years, or whether he was the reason I had virtually no contract work with Southern Baptists, despite just two years previously having earned top awards for my newswriting and coverages.”
Oh, and the retaliation against Hannigan gets even more explicit. Baptist Press told her writing work would be dependent on her not writing about Will McRaney.
“It also struck me that months before, at the 2018 annual meeting, the Baptist Press newsroom editor told me I might be invited back to work with the team if I didn’t write any more ‘Will McRaney’ updates. I dismissed his remark out of hand because I had written only one, for a state paper editor who asked.”
Will McRaney is one of the brave few in the SBC who stood up against Kevin Ezell—and what did that earn McRaney? McRaney claims that Ezell’s tampering with the state convention got him fired. And McRaney published many documents that support that claim. In fact, Kevin Ezell and supporters like Russell Moore have done nothing but lie since that time—including filing lies with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in order to defeat McRaney. It didn’t work; however, it does show that men like Ezell and Russell Moore are willing to lie to federal courts to harm a fellow Southern Baptist. Ezell even took the case to the United States Supreme Court—where surprise NAMB and ERLC misled the court in additional filings.
The ERLC was forced to apologize for its lie to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
What does all that have to do with Hannigan? It is clear that SBC Elites punish and intimidate anyone who does not do things their way.
It is why when Russell Moore writes about the SBC like it is a mafia family that one can laugh because Russell Moore was one of those very people attempting to destroy the lives of people who disagreed with him.
But back to Hannigan’s story.
The pain is clear in every line of this essay.
She writes, “Having taken time for therapy and restoration following a series of devastating traumas worsened by sexual assault that occurred years before in the military – I was sidelined by one of Southern Baptists most popular current leaders.”
Hannigan writes, “The Guidepost report has revealed Southern Baptists did merely put a band-aid on a far larger problem. No, certainly not, dear Jonathan Howe, now leading Baptist Press, I don’t wish to ‘burn down’ anything, nor did I ever. I gave my life to building the Kingdom.”
Unfortunately, SBC Elites see anyone not spreading their propaganda as an enemy. This is especially true for reporters, bloggers, and outsiders who dare to ask questions.
And if you think this is only a Kevin Ezell and NAMB problem, then you need to continue reading.
Albert Mohler tried to silence reporter and radio host covering sex abuse scandal
Janet Mefferd reported on her national radio show about the sex scandal involving Sovereign Grace churches. This did not sit well since the Sovereign Grace leader C.J. Mahaney was highly connected to Evangelical Elites like the T4G conference.
Mefferd writes, “I began covering the Sovereign Grace Ministries scandal in 2012, on my previous nationally syndicated Christian radio show. As I dug more deeply into sexual-abuse victims’ accusations in a class-action lawsuit, spoke with some of those affected and began to conduct interviews to glean more information, I stated that the SGM scandal was American evangelicalism’s biggest sex scandal to date.”
And that caused her to receive pressure from none other than Al Mohler.
My assessments back then are no more significant than the parallel or subsequent assessments made by many others along the same lines. But as a Christian radio host who was covering the story, I was subject to strong and uncomfortable pressure behind the scenes, which others may not have experienced in the same way.
And Al Mohler was at the center of that pressure.
In 2013, several months after I had been covering the SGM scandal, I was blindsided by two executives from my former radio network’s corporate headquarters on an extended conference call.
They told me that they had received a call from “Al Mohler’s office” that expressed “concerns” over my radio interviews with Detwiler, who had weighed in on the class-action lawsuit filed against Mahaney and others. They communicated to me that Mohler’s office did not believe Detwiler was a good guest choice.
Knowing that Mohler served on our company’s editorial board, I said, “Mohler’s office didn’t call you. You mean Al Mohler called you.”
Neither executive denied it.
Mefferd details how Mohler recommended a guest for her show and the way the saga unfolded behind the scenes.
What we can learn is that Mohler uses his board connections to further his agenda—which often is more about what he likes than what is true or good.
Mefferd told the truth and never received an apology from Mohler for his attempts to silence her very important coverage.
Conclusion: Bullying is a way of life for SBC Elites
Are you noticing a trend here?
Bullying is how the SBC operates. Run afoul of SBC Elites and risk getting hurt.
Let’s highlight this. Mefferd told the truth and Al Mohler tried to silence her reporting. Joni Hannigan reported facts from an old case and a NAMB employee threatened her with libel—and don’t forget that Baptist Press told her that writing assignments would be contingent on her not writing anything about Will McRaney.
Let’s include someone who is not a journalist in this but has told the truth and earned the hatred of many SBC Elites and their social media foot soldiers. Tom Buck and his wife Jennifer Buck experienced a blackmail attempt to silence them and nobody in the SBC Elite cares. Why? Because this blackmail attempt is obviously carried out to silence Tom Buck to the benefit of the SBC Elites.
SBC Elites passed around a leaked private draft of an essay by Jennifer Buck detailing the abuse both Tom and she suffered. Why was it passed around?
Jennifer Buck said, “They wanted to focus on anything that could disparage and destroy him. That has been the most painful thing in this because they wanted to steal the story that God did.”
Tom Buck said, “Every single person that is out there that took that story and read it that passed it on to somebody else is guilty—is guilty of having emotionally assaulted us.”
So, why did SBC insiders try to hurt Tom Buck? Because SBC Elites demanded that Tom Buck not release the video of a Zoom call between Tom and Willie Rice.
At the time of the threat, Rice was running for SBC President. Elites wanted to protect Rice and get him elected as president. Now, those same elites want to elect Bart Barber as proven by the endorsements from World Economic Forum speaker Rick Warren and by Drag Queen Story Hours are a blessing of Liberty David French. French even predicted that Bart Barber will defeat Tom Ascol. But, again, that is another story.
SBC Elites operate with intimidation. They make it clear to anyone who speaks: That’s a nice ministry you have there—be a shame if anything happened to it!
This is a problem that is widespread among SBC Elites. What makes it worse is the smug, self-righteous justifications these people advance for their godless bullying. It is time to Change the Direction of the SBC or forever lose it to the servants of the Devil.