SBC Executive Committee member Jared Wellman’s hit piece in SBC Voices today is absolutely outrageous. The claims it makes – historical claims, independently verifiable claims – are 180 degrees from the facts.
In a sense, that may be the only sentence that matters. Jared is angry that his preferred candidates lost election after election last week by margins of 2-1 or greater (a point Jared conveniently omits). As is so often the case in today’s America, his response to repeated defeat is to claim that we cheat.
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But Jared’s article is not merely whining: it is indeed a hit piece, utterly unworthy of a pastor and an EC member. Let me note just a few points:
- Jared claims disingenuously that outgoing EC Chairman Mike Stone acted in unprecedented fashion by nominating a slate of officers (specifically, the four committee chairmen) for the coming year, rather than allowing incoming Chairman Rolland Slade (for whom every EC member voted, myself included) to do so. This is the exact opposite of the truth. Not only do our bylaws require the sitting chairman (not the incoming chairman) to nominate the committee chairmen, but these nominations have historically been termed “appointments” by most people because since the adoption of that bylaw, no chairman’s nominees have ever been opposed, until last week!
- Worse still, two weeks prior, EC staff proposed to the EC officers a bylaw amendment to change exactly this procedure: to give that semi-appointment power to the incoming chairman rather than the outgoing. The EC officers – including incoming Chairman Rolland Slade – voted that proposal down 6-0.
- And there’s more. Jared himself proposed that same amendment at the EC meeting last week which his article purports to describe. Then-Chairman Mike Stone properly ruled the amendment out of order, and his ruling was upheld by an 87% vote of the full Executive Committee (another fact Jared notably fails to mention).
Jared’s version turns all of this on its head.
There’s still more.
- Slade, breaking all precedent and seemingly contradicting his own prior vote in the officers’ meeting, then nominated a slate of officers in opposition to Stone’s. All but one of these nominees were defeated by the full EC by votes of 2-1 or more. Jared doesn’t mention any of those margins. He certainly doesn’t mention the unprecedented nature of anyone, but especially an incoming chairman, opposing the outgoing chair’s nominees.
Am I opposed to contested elections? Certainly not. But I am opposed to the slur on Mike Stone’s character that he somehow sought to deprive Rolland Slade of well, anything.
Jared Wellman questions the integrity of all involved. But the real question is this: why did Jared Wellman go to such lengths to deprive Mike Stone of the courtesy that has been extended to all of his predecessors?
It’s certainly not, as he claims, that Stone or his nominees (myself included) had some “hidden agenda”. There has been no doubt as to Mike Stone’s intentions or “agenda” at any point: he’s the Chairman who just in February presided over an 85% vote of the full EC to remove the Pastor’s Conference from the Annual Meeting hall if it didn’t amend its outrageous lineup, which included a woman “teaching pastor” from outside the SBC; he’s also the chairman who presided over a 2-1 vote of that same full EC to form a task force to investigate the ERLC, which he now chairs.
If anyone wants to demonize Mike Stone, and the Conservative Baptist Network with him, my guess is those things might have something to do with it.
But as those votes, and ours last week, demonstrate, CBN did not have to “take control of the Executive Committee”: it was a staunchly conservative body already. The fact that it elected all but one of Stone’s nominations – by 2-1 or more – including well-known CBN members such as myself, is hardly surprising, and certainly required no “conspiracy”.
Quite the contrary: it seems to me that there was a very clear effort by several Convention leaders, a (very) few of whom were EC members, to disrupt and hijack the EC’s established process to avoid any possibility that a majority of the EC’s new officers might agree with Stone, which is to say, with February’s EC supermajorities.
And that effort fell flat.
Finally, Jared suggests that it is wrong for EC members and officers to belong to an SBC support group such as CBN. Oddly, he sees no problem with the many SBC leaders who belong to similar groups such as Baptist21, or outside groups such as The Gospel Coalition, 9Marks, or the Evangelical Immigration Table. It seems a convenient distinction, and one that is a bit hard to define in terms (I think) he’d find comfortable.
I will not call on Jared to resign his office, as he did me. I will merely call on him to be ashamed of himself.
Rod D. Martin is an officer of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention and a founding member of the Conservative Baptist Network. Founder and CEO of The Martin Organization, he has served as a senior advisor to PayPal founder Peter Thiel and to former Apple CEO Gil Amelio, as policy director to Governor Mike Huckabee, and as President of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies. Fox Business News calls him a “tech guru,” Britain’s Guardian describes him as a “philosopher-capitalist,” while Gawker once labeled him a “brilliant nonconformist.”