This morning a Washington Post article detailed the history of the opposition to Russell Moore. The article contained a summary of the situation and a look at the current dynamics at play. In many ways, the article fairly represented the situation. However, there was at least one aspect that led to the completely wrong conclusion and ended up exploding on social media. Bailey wrote that Page would not rule out asking Russell Moore to resign during a private meeting they had scheduled for this afternoon.
The moment I read that sentence, I sensed something wasn’t right. Frank Page knows how the SBC works and that it would be highly unusual for the EC President to ask for an entity head to resign. And what’s more — because of the SBC’s structure, the Executive Committee President has no authority to fire or official influence over a resignation decision. Add all this to the fact that Frank Page has been on record in this very situation as calling for unity and for everyone involved to work things out. To me it was unthinkable (#1) that Page would ask for Moore’s resignation and even more (#2) that he would imply that he might do so to a reporter. I suspected something was wrong and I called the Executive Committee to ask about it. This afternoon my phone call was returned and spoke with the communications department.
The communications department confirmed my suspicions that the report (in this aspect) was indeed misleading. They indicated that Frank Page had never intended to ask for Russell Moore’s resignation during today’s meeting, nor did he give any indication that he might. It was an idea brought up by Bailey in her interview. Page, believing the meeting to be a private matter, didn’t want to say anything at all about what would or would not be discussed.
I saw a huge amount of interaction on social media this morning about Russell Moore being “fired” or “asked to resign” due to this news report. It’s really frustrating that this took on a life of its own when there’s really nothing here to report. I believe it is the case, exactly as Danny Akin tweeted this morning, that Frank Page does not want to see Russell Moore resign or be fired.
File this whole matter as another entry under William’s fake news post. And for the rest of us, let’s step back and breathe. Emotions and tensions are high right now, no doubt. Things like this don’t help. But let’s pray and try our best to work together on this.
The Tennessean reports after the meeting a joint statement from Moore and Page was released. From this report, it sounds like the meeting was successful and unifying.
“We fully support one another and look forward to working together on behalf of Southern Baptists in the years to come. We will collaborate on developing future steps to deepen connections with all Southern Baptists as we work together to advance the Great Commission of our lord Jesus Christ,” the statement read.
NASHVILLE (BP) — Despite a Washington Post article suggesting Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee President Frank S. Page “could ask” Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore “to resign” amid ongoing controversy, the two SBC entity leaders reported a collegial meeting today (March 13) and said they “fully support one another.”
Earlier in the day, amid a social media flurry following the Post’s report, Page told Baptist Press he planned on “bridge-building” with Moore with no anticipation of requesting a resignation.
The Post reporter who broke news the meeting would occur, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, tweeted in clarification less than two hours after her story was published, “Nothing in my story suggests Moore might be fired. SBC dynamics are more complicated. [Plus] the story is complicated (surprise!)”…