Viral Opportunism in the SBC

Scarlett O’Hara, prototype of evangelical leaders in 2020

Think of southern belle Scarlett O’Hara crying out with glee, “we’ll plant more cotton; cotton oughtta go sky high next year!” She says this upon hearing the news that a bloody civil war has ended and her confederacy has been crushed.

Gone with the Wind is quickly sinking into the murk of untouchable cinematic history because woke people can’t stand the film’s racial and sexual politics. I still find the archetypes useful to understand cultural affairs today. Scarlett O’Hara is the woman we all hate to love: bossy, conceited, conniving, untrustworthy. Yet most men, I would venture, would be far more drawn to a Scarlett than a Melanie Hamilton. One reason for that is that Scarlett is extremely competent and can take care of herself. We like that kind of strength.

On the other hand, strength and cunning can be highly irritating when combined with other personality traits like nepotism, cowardice, and hypocrisy. Which brings us to the current leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Billions of people around the globe are under quarantine. Armed vigilantes in Maine, Rhode Island, and Florida are hunting down cars with New York license plates like we’ve descended into a dystopian Kurt Russell film. And the heirs to the Scarlett O’Hara ethos, the Southern Baptist Convention leadership, just can’t wait for cotton to go sky high next year.

The Southern Baptist Convention’s top leaders are Ronnie Floyd, J.D. Greear, Russell Moore, and Albert Mohler. Their reaction to the mayhem all around us isn’t to step up and bring calm and normalcy to a rattled world. Instead Greear and Floyd announced that they’ve canceled the annual meeting that was supposed to take place in mid-June in Orlando, Florida. This decision conveniently allows Greear to remain in office uncontested for another year, thereby avoiding the uprising from conservatives who were planning to raise cane on the floor about financial corruption in missions, Marxism taking over the six seminaries, Adam Greenway’s reign of terror in Fort Worth, Lifeway’s dissolution of 170 stores, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s now undeniable nosedive into leftism and blacklisting, and of course Greear’s own sketchy track record. Al Mohler, who’d been nominated to run for president against whistleblower Randy Adams, is now spared the pain and suffering of an Orlando convention where he was no longer going to expect a fulsome coronation with rose petals and angelic harp songs. They haven’t rescheduled the annual meeting or arranged for remote voting and virtual meetings; instead they’ve just decreed to their subjects that they will remain in power for another year and we should admire them for making such a grand sacrifice for the gospel.

Then Russell Moore and Albert Mohler went straw man hunting and jumped to tell the world that Christians shouldn’t kill old people just to protect the strength of our markets. If you are wondering who said that we should let old people die in order to protect Wall Street, stop wondering; nobody did. Unable to pick even low-hanging fruit they have to make up imaginary monstrous positions to rebuke with sanctimonious virtue. In somewhat related news, Lifeway is now helping Karen Swallow Prior sell her books to people who can’t deal with the coronavirus-induced delays at Amazon, and yet again it seems that the Adam Greenway administration made a round of brutal firings at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (waiting to get confirmations on whom and how many). Dr. Prior should have some fondness for the Greenway administration since it was her petition against Paige Patterson that paved the way for Greenway to come, fire a slew of people, and then replace them with new hires like David Dockery who has launched a new education institute on the campus of Southwestern, with Mohler, Moore, and Prior all on its board. Also, Bart Barber took the opportunity to let us know he doesn’t approve of churches that hold Sunday services when the secular government has said they shouldn’t.

Let’s see if Southern Baptist entities try chasing after federal coronavirus money to fund their nepotistic insider projects for another few years. If they do, watchdogs must unite. So far the most noticeable action they’ve taken has been to cut off domestic mission funds to coronavirus-ravaged Seattle and the Northwest Baptist Convention. The most likely reason is that the regional director Randy Adams had blown the whistle on financial waste and mismanagement. Oh and he was planning to run against Mohler at the now canceled Orlando summit.

The Southern Baptist Convention was careening into a ditch long before the coronavirus appeared. Leaders could have risen to the occasion, set their eyes on a less divisive future, and put the well-being of the Kingdom first. Instead their true colors came through. Cotton ought to go sky-high next year.