The newly formed “Save Our Convention” group within the Missouri Baptist Convention has some interesting behaviors that discredit their objectives. They are supposedly against any one group or person “controlling” the convention, but they are seeking to “control” the nomination process and the President’s privilege of appointments. They are supposedly against “power” and “powerbrokers” all the while organizing to gain power. They don’t like things kept “all in the family” even as they keep their campaign “all in the family”. And they decry ‘legalism’ and bemoan ‘narrow parameters’ even as they denied Missouri Baptist Convention President Mike Green the privilege of speaking at their recent meeting at First Baptist Church of Harvester. Sounds an awfully lot like Orwellian doublespeak to me.
Are we to believe this new group, if they succeed in seizing power—oops, strike that—if they are successful in attaining the convention’s delegated authority to enlist persons to influence and serve in various positions (yes, that’s much better), won’t be nominating their friends and compatriots for said positions?
I’d have only a small problem with this group if they’d be a bit more straightforward and say something like “we don’t like where we think the state convention is headed and feel the majority of our fellow Baptists currently serving should be replaced by others who share views closer to our own.” I could live with that a little better. This group has every right to band together to elect a President and nominate others who share their ideology and attempt to influence the direction of the Missouri Baptist Convention. But their current banter seems like a thinly veiled smoke screen and is incredibly disingenuous—“we hate powerbrokers, so we’re going to try to become the new powerbrokers.”
By the way, to speak of Roger Moran and the Missouri Baptist Laymen’s Association as “powerbrokers” is a bit of an overreach in my mind. Influencers, yes. Powerbrokers, no. These brothers ought to know better than to take their cues from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The bottom line is that if the “Save Our Convention” folks get enough Missouri Baptists to support them and their views, they’ll be putting “their people” into positions of influence. Missouri Baptists should know, we’ll only be trading one “political machine” for another. We will not be dismantling any “good ol’ boy” system. Nor should we.
That’s right, nor should we. The good-ole-boy system is simply someone recommending someone they know to a position of service. The alternative would be some type of Missouri Baptist lottery where someone draws a name out of the hat and recommends that person. Could you, reader, in good conscience recommend a stranger? We recommend our friends. People we trust and believe in. Colleagues we’ve worked with and developed relationships with. I can guarantee the “Save Our Convention” people will be recommending people they know and people who are committed to their same ideology, whatever it is.
I personally am a recipient of this system. I was a Missouri Baptist for 34 years and a Missouri Baptist pastor for 12 years before I was nominated to the commission I now serve. As the tent is broadened, and it has been broadened under Moran's influence, more Baptists are involved in convention decisions. I personally know of some life-long Missouri Baptists who are just now serving our state convention. They've taken no oath of loyalty to the MBLA and they aren't jihadists for a Moran crusade.
Consider blogging celebrities Wade Burleson and Ben Cole. Both are relentless critics of the SBC power structure. But when they were invited to a pow-wow with former president Jimmy Carter, who do you think they called up to tag along? (Hint: it wasn’t me and they didn’t flip through the pages of the SBC Annual for a random selection). That’s right, blogging buddy and partner in crime Marty Duren. Humm, could it be they have a little power group of their own? And wouldn’t it be more than a little irresponsible for them to have selected some stranger to accompany them? I can think of a couple of Republican goofballs who would have embarrassed them to no end.
The good-ole-boy system is a staple of American life. You can decry ‘politics’ all you want in Missouri Baptist life, but as long as we have elections there will be a political element. One of the reasons I hate the 2nd Vice-Presidential election at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention is because I rarely know the nominee or the nominating speaker. I could be voting for some scoundrel for all I know—which is why I don’t vote for someone I don’t know anything about.
I’m digressing a bit. The “Save Our Convention” needs to be genuine. I’m not buying them becoming political because they hate politics. And I can’t believe they really want us all to get along, even if we don’t agree perfectly when they refuse the convention President Mike Green the privilege of speaking at their rally ostensibly because he doesn’t agree totally with their agenda. No, there’s a clear agenda here, and I’m left wondering what it is. More about that later.