Let’s fire everyone at an SBC entity who is opposed to Resolution 9 of 2019. That’s not really a serious proposition, but it is the logical conclusion of a recent string of tweets by SBC presidential hopeful Tom Ascol.
At the 2021 convention, Tom’s brother Bill presented a resolution on abortion (found here), which includes the language: “RESOLVED, that we affirm that the murder of preborn children is a crime against humanity that must be punished equally under the law.” Based on this resolution, Tom Ascol called for the immediate firing of Brent Leatherwood from the ERLC. Leatherwood’s crime?—he signed a letter by the National Right to Life, which states: “We state unequivocally that any measure seeking to criminalize or punish women is not pro-life and we stand firmly opposed to such efforts.”
According to Ascol, “The SBC has a rogue entity in the @ERLC. The messengers spoke loudly & clearly about our commitment to abolish abortion & see equal protection under the law for preborn children. The ERLC has defied the will of the churches who own it… Leatherwood’s defiance of the will of the messengers is another clear example of SBC elites rejecting the clear, biblical convictions of those who pay their salaries.” It is in this thread that Ascol goes on to call for Leatherwood’s “immediate removal.”
Two problems exist with Ascol’s line of thinking.
First, unlike motions, resolutions are non-binding. According to the resolution page on sbc.net: “A resolution has traditionally been defined as an expression of opinion or concern, as compared to a motion, which calls for action. A resolution is not used to direct an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention to specific action other than to communicate the opinion or concern expressed.” In other words, no entity or employee is required to follow the opinion of any particular resolution. Therefore, calling for one’s firing based on a resolution does not accord with SBC polity. Since Ascol is running for SBC president, we should then ask: Is he unaware of SBC polity? If so, do we want a president who is ignorant of such? If not, then how can we interpret Ascol’s actions as anything other than theater to score cheap political points?
Second, if Ascol truly believes Leatherwood should be fired for “defiance of the will of the messengers” for not following his interpretation of his brother’s resolution, then what do we make of Ascol’s opposition to Resolution 9 from 2019? It was passed overwhelmingly by the will of the messengers. If he were elected as president, it would be hypocritical of Ascol to act in defiance of the will of the messengers on Resolution 9. If he stood in opposition as president, then by his own declarations, he should immediately resign.