Here’s the way he puts it:
5. Operate in the Light – The SBC should be the toughest place to hide corruption, abuse, and poor stewardship, operating at the highest level of integrity and accountability. We must eliminate organizational tools, structures and processes that help hide wrongdoing and abuse. The SBC and its entities should end the use of, and recall, all remaining Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs). We must not hide corruption and we will not protect predators at the cost of harming victims. There must be transparency in how we make decisions and how we spend money. Records should be open. Property purchases and ownership should be disclosed and records made available. Annual audits of entities should be open and accessible to Southern Baptist constituents. If we choose to operate in the light, we will maximize the trust and goodwill that are essential to maximizing the Great Commission cooperation of Southern Baptists. Transparency and frank communication regarding challenges and opportunities will build trust and unity in the SBC.
God knows, informed Southern Baptists know, and just about anyone who has followed SBC matters for any length of time knows that we have a system that is riven with opaqueness and secrecy. It should not be that way.
Adams offers a general statement but with a few specifics:
- End the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). I agree with this although I don’t see how he proposes to do this as a convention. Maybe he has a concrete plan, not just a gripe. NDAs are routinely used among our churches, entities, and institutions. It’s an important matter and deserves discussion. I generally agree with him on this although I’m not sure NDAs are inappropriate in every situation. He references corruption and predators. Perhaps he will elaborate on this. Generalized outrage is acceptable in our Grand Old SBC but not outrage that calls out specific individuals, trustee boards, or institutions. If you’re serious, Randy, get specific.
- Records should be open. I agree but which records? Compensation of executive leadership? Adams says elsewhere that compensation for his state convention is available to all churches in the state convention. Would he call on, say, Al Mohler to disclose his compensation to the SBC? Other entity leaders? There’s no good reason why Southern Baptists who pay the bills should not have the compensation of their employees (executive leadership positions, not clerks and janitors) published voluntarily. If Adams calls for this, I’d join him.
- Property purchases and ownership. I think this is a slap at NAMB. More on this later.
- Annual audits of entities should be open and accessible to SBCers. Brief financial summaries and reports are available for all entities in the Book of Reports. These are required of all entities. Frankly, I don’t trust some of them. Morris Chapman had a motion last June for the Executive Committee to look at strengthening reporting. We will see what the EC does with that.
The SBC is not open and transparent. Trustees might as well say that it’s not the business of ordinary SBCers who pay the bills to know how their money is spent. Take Southwestern Seminary as the latest case. Once leadership was replaced we’re all supposed to start feeling good about things and to forget about whatever financial debacles and mismanagement occurred under the previous administration. SWBTS still hasn’t made a full accounting to Southern Baptists about their financial mess. I don’t expect them to. “Let’s just move on…” is the favorite way to handle problems in the SBC.
Maybe Randy Adams will address this. It would be simple enough to make a list of things that each entity should disclose in their annual report to the Executive Committee which is published in the Book of Reports.
It doesn’t require much to call for openness and transparency. No one objects to that. Call for specifics (start with publishing salaries of leadership) and let’s see where that goes.
I’m glad that we have more than one candidate and I appreciate that Randy Adams has put some things on the table for discussion. So far as I know, Al Mohler hasn’t proposed anything specific for the SBC. Maybe he will.
Randy Adams is 57 years of age, I think. Nice picture on his personal site. Needs some gray hair. Running for SBC prez ought to generate a bit. I wish him well and am pleased that we have a chance to address some things.