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Southern Baptist Launch Petition Over NAMB Lying In Court

The Southern Baptist Convention is embattled in several lawsuits. One of which involves Will McRaney who is suing the North American Mission Board over their interference in the Maryland Deleware Baptist Association to get him removed. The lawsuit has been going on for many years as McRainey was in a battle to be granted standing whereby the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission wrote an amicus brief asserting that the Southern Baptist Convention is a hierarchy. This strategy, though egregiously incorrect and so far unsuccessful, has been a major issue for Southern Baptists in cases outside of McRainey’s.

The petition calls out the entities for their arguments and contains the receipts from their 5th Circuit records. Though the petition does not have many signatories, enough movers and shakers signing it would bring more attention to the issue ahead of the 2024 Annual Southern Baptist Convention.

NAMB claims it can say and do what it wants regarding churches, associations, conventions, ministers, etc., with whom it partners, because by partnering with NAMB they have implied consent to NAMB’s governance and must submit to NAMB’s governance. NAMB’s defense includes the right to defame, slander, libel, and interfere in ways that threaten the employment of individuals, without NAMB being subject to any legal accountability or potential liability. This is what NAMB is arguing to the precedent-setting second highest court in the United States. Moreover, McRaney’s legal complaint is that NAMB continued to defame him, and interfere with his employment opportunities even after he was no longer employed by the BCMD.

In addition to the concern for individual Baptist bodies and leaders that NAMB’s legal defense introduces, there is also the danger of ascending and descending liability. If partnering with NAMB means you are under NAMB’s governance, does this also mean the partnering organizations are at risk should one of the partners be held legally liable in a lawsuit? If a partnering organization falls under NAMB’s governance, and someone in this partnering organization commits a criminal offense, can NAMB be held liable when lawsuits are filed against the partner? These are questions that NAMB Trustees should be asking.

Moreover, NAMB Trustees, and every Baptist and Baptist body, should be alarmed that an SBC entity is arguing in court that they have a right to defame and interfere with a person, simply because his Baptist organization partners with that SBC entity. NAMB is seeking legal exemption from otherwise illegal actions based on ministry partnerships. Though U. S. courts may or may not determine they have jurisdiction in this matter, is there no fear of God when we mistreat a brother? Does NAMB’s argument to the court build trust and goodwill with other partners? Is the threat of ascending and descending liability not of great concern to NAMB Trustees and others when NAMB claims partners fall under NAMB governance?

NAMB has taken a position that Baptist authorities and leaders all agree is contrary to the historic position and practice of cooperating Baptists. This has fractured cooperation and places at risk the cooperative efforts to reach the lost so dear to generations of Baptists.

Dr. Barry Hankins, Baptist scholar of Church-State relations, in his expert report to the courts, stated, “If NAMB’s interpretation of the First Amendment prevailed, every Baptist entity that cooperates in any way with the SBC would be put at risk.” Moreover, Dr. Hankins stated, “It is my opinion as a scholar of Church-State relations in the U. S. that NAMB’s First Amendment defense in this case, if accepted by courts, would actually undermine religious liberty rather than safeguard it.”

WHAT IS NAMB REALLY UP TO? If Southern Baptists are driven by a hunger for the lost and have an overwhelming desire to reverse the fourteen years of precipitous declines in evangelism, baptisms, cooperative program and church planting, we must act now. There is an existential threat in the SBC. As we stood watching, the autonomy of Baptist churches, organizations, and ministers has been hijacked by NAMB. We request that NAMB Trustees abandon their dangerous anti-Baptist assertions and erroneous defenses made to the court and resolve this case. If NAMB Trustees fail to act, we ask the SBC Executive Committee to act in accordance with its duty because NAMB’s intentional misrepresentations to the courts have damaged the SBC and all cooperating Baptists.

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