After a tumultuous and disappointing Executive Committee meeting in Nashville, in which the EC failed to do what the messengers of the convention clearly and forcefully instructed them to do, what Ronnie Floyd said they should do, and what the Task Force asked them to do, the outcry on social media has been intense. Some have suggested the use of the nuclear option, to remove every EC Trustee who voted against Jared Wellman’s motion to waive privilege.
It was a frustrating meeting – the wranglings of the board, stalling moves by those whose actions do not buttress their verbal support of the task force. It is easy to understand why people are frustrated with Ronnie Floyd, with the EC, and with the process.
I remain unconvinced that this “nuclear option” – removing the whole EC board or a major part of it – is our best course of action. Permit me to make several points.
1. Yes, absolutely, something must be done!
When I nominated Adam Blosser for office at the annual meeting, I stated clearly I believe the SBC’s problems root in the EC and that changes must take place there. There are many fine men and women on the EC who have labored faithfully for the Lord and for Southern Baptists. The failure has come from Ronnie Floyd who has given poor leadership and from previous officers who led the EC to hinder J.D. Greear’s efforts to deal with sexual abuse issues instead of helping him. Change at the EC is a high priority.
2. Things didn’t get this way overnight.
SBC presidents have often devoted more time to building their legacy through endeavors that have little lasting effect on our convention when they have a constitutional responsibility that continues to affect the way things work for years after they are out of office. Many SBC presidents have ignored the nomination process and because of that, we do not always get the trustees we wish we had. Some of the trustees we regret are the result of the nominations process of presidents we voted to elect.
It took a long time for things in the SBC and at the EC to get the way they are today and they are not going to be corrected overnight. The healing process will be slow and will require us to stick with it, even through times of frustration.
3. The issues are not simple.
I thought the EC should have passed Jared Wellman’s motion, but many of those who voted against it did not do so because they opposed waiver of privilege, but because they thought there was a better way to do it. There are people who want to undermine the process and who do not want the truth to come out, and if we could distinguish those trustees from others, perhaps a motion to remove them would get my enthusiastic support, but it is unfair to judge a trustee’s fitness for service based on how he or she voted on this particular motion.
4. There is a better way to handle it.
We are not patient people, but patience might be the better solution here. There is a better way than the nuclear option. I was involved in the CR and I remember that it took time – trustee turnover took about a decade. This last year, we voted in a lot of new trustees. Next year there will be more. Slowly but surely, we can replace this board of trustees, If we keep on electing good presidents and they keep on appointing good committees who bring us good nominations (it’s a complicated process).
Patience is hard because it requires us to be, well, patient.
5. If we push the nuclear button, we cannot un-push it.
If I were going to make such a motion, I would move that every trustee elected prior to 2021 be removed from service – no sense punishing the new trustees for the misdeeds of the previous Executive Committees. Let’s say I made my motion and it passed. It would be gratifying to get rid of so many recalcitrant and difficult trustees. There would also be some consequences to that action, some that might not be so good.
- A lot of good men and women who served faithfully would be removed from office having done NOTHING wrong.
- Should people be removed because they disagree, because they dissent from prevailing SBC opinions? I wanted Jared’s motion to pass, but just because someone voted no doesn’t mean that person is unfit for service.
- Once we do this, we cannot unring the bell. It will become easier and easier to do it. We will likely have a motion like Hatley’s onerous motion to remove the SWBTS trustees nearly EVERY year.
A trustee should be removed for moral or ethical failure. They should be removed for their conduct, not for their conscience.
Granted, ignoring the nearly unanimous vote of the annual meeting is a serious thing, but since there are other options, I am not sure “voting the bums out” is our best plan.
6. There is still hope the EC will do the right thing.
In the final analysis, the EC did not vote “no” on waiver or refuse to work with the task force. They waffled and wavered. Instead of doing the right thing, they tap-danced their way through enough parliamentary procedure to give Barry McCarty a coronary. They decided to push things back and enter negotiations with Guidepost and the Task Force and try to get things worked out. The officers of the EC will work this week to try to hammer out an agreement that the entire EC can adopt.
They may not have done the right thing, but they didn’t do the wrong thing either. They delayed action.
There is still hope they will do the right thing, come in line with what the messengers voted to approve, waive privilege, and make a lot of our angst moot. Hallelujah, if they do. Fortunately, there was some turnover among the EC officers this year, so there’s a good chance things will be worked out well.
We will wait and see.
7. The vast majority of EC trustees are good people who want to do the right thing.
Baptist polity is a maze that is often difficult to navigate and the EC has certainly had trouble navigating things. There were some true heroes in the room today. Rolland Slade. Jared Wellman (when can I nominate him for president of the SBC?). Dean Inserra. Adam Wyatt. Others. Most were sincere about wanting to do the right thing, even those advocating views contrary to mine. There is a small group that has caused most of the problems, and even they have the right to advance their views in the SBC.
I join those of you who are frustrated with the EC. They are frustrating and aggravating. Things have improved this year with the new set of trustees and they will get better next year as a few more rotate off and are replaced. As with the CR, time is on our side if we continue to elect presidents who appoint committees who nominate…let’s not go through that again.
Unless the EC completely defies the messengers, we should continue our slow process to bring change instead of pulling the switch on the nuclear option.
One man’s opinion.