The continuing rancor triggered by Paige Patterson’s invitation to speak at a church in Florida makes me ask this question: Has the SBC while in annual session, the SBC Executive Committee, any of the 41 state conventions affiliated with the SBC, or any of the 1,146 local associations of Southern Baptist churches ever blacklisted an individual minister?
I don’t know that any of these ever have taken any formal action to do so, the Convention at every level relating to churches not ministers. If any employees of these entities speak to the matter, they speak they speak as individuals, just like Susan Codone and others have. (Incidentally, SD said she reached out to both Ronnie Floyd and Tommy Green and that they “responded kindly and generously.” No word on what they said. )
None of these cooperative bodies ordains ministers, approves or certifies ministers, enforces any ministerial training or discipline on any ministers who relate to the Southern Baptist Convention, it’s entities, institutions, cooperative bodies, and churches. Neither do they possess any power to blacklist individual clergy, nor should they in my view.
Patterson critics have called on various SBC leaders to oppose, to speak out publicly and presumably to pressure the Florida church and pastor to withdraw the invitation. Those called out include J. D. Greear, Ronnie Floyd, Tommy Green (Florida Baptist Convention CEO), and others. To my knowledge no official action has been taken by any SBC body to threaten exclusion of the Florida church. I’d speculate that the church has been reported to the Executive Committee’s Credentials Committee for their consideration. We will not know this until the Committee makes a report, sometime next month, I think.
Any of these individuals and others who are seen as SBC leaders, may certainly address any topic they wish or any individual they may wish to praise or condemn, recommend to the churches or not.
Abuse survivors and advocates have long tried to persuade and pressure the SBC Executive Committee to establish and fund an independent committee of abuse experts which would be the central place for individuals to report abusers and reports of abuse in churches affiliated with the SBC. The end product would be a list of individuals who have been either convicted or have confessed to abuse (we already have lists for convicted abusers). Importantly to the advocates, the list would also include individuals who have had credible reports of abuse lodged against them without conviction or confession. Essentially, the list would be a blacklist, although no church would be forced to follow it or even consult it. Churches make their own decisions. Period.
It is an expansion of the concept to include individuals who are not abusers but who have mishandled abuse reports. The rancor over the Florida church has to be seen as a secondary boycott; that is, the church is singled out not for actions of their own but for choosing to be associated with Paige Patterson. I’m not sure how well-defined that path would be should the SBC at any level decide to travel down it. I’ve seen enough from Associational Missionaries, high level SBC employees, and self-appointed SBC leaders and influencers to be wary of giving them a platform to exercise power over individual ministers.
Churches may invite or not invite whomever they wish. They may do so at the risk of being disfellowshipped by an association, state convention, or SBC at the convention level. They may risk heavy and relentless criticism from the public.
I’m not interested in attending the event or the church but I would not favor exclusion of this church for using Paige Patterson as a speaker. Those who read and participate here are free to express their view on whether or not the Florida church should be excluded for inviting Patterson to speak. I don’t recall who has said that formal action should be taken.
Since the question will be asked, no, I wouldn’t exclude a church that invites Beth Moore to speak. I might even attend that one. At least she wouldn’t bore me to death, which has happened repeatedly when I’ve visited other churches. Over the years, my churches have hosted a number of female speakers – the WMU, missionaries, and the like. Lottie Moon, Annie Armstrong, and Bertha Smith have standing invitations to speak at my church.
Just a rank conjecture but I’m guessing that the current situation will serve as a case study on how a pastor and church should not handle criticism and pressure from abuse advocates and victims.
It’s going to be an active year in our Grand Old Convention.