Before the 2021 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in Nashville last week, I thought that the new President would probably be Georgia pastor and outgoing Executive Committee (EC) Chairman Mike Stone or Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler. I really liked Stone’s conservative stances. As for Mohler, he represented the establishment, which opposes false teaching like Critical Race Theory (CRT) publicly, but seems to allow it to be taught in the seminaries.
Northwest Baptist Convention Executive Director/Treasurer Randy Adams was also running. I liked Adams’ platform which pushed for transparency and local control, but I wondered whether he had the name recognition to win the race. The person I least expected to win was Alabama pastor Ed Litton. I really didn’t think he had a shot. I considered him the woke candidate, and I felt like he would bring the same left-wing policies of his predecessor, J.D. Greear.
So I was surprised and very disappointed when I heard that Ed Litton had won. In the first round of voting, Albert Mohler received 26.32% of the vote, Mike Stone received 36.48%, Ed Litton received 32.38%, and Randy Adams received 4.71%. In the runoff (the winner had to get a majority), Ed Litton won with 6,834 for 52.04% of the vote, and Mike Stone had 6,278 for 47.81% of the vote.
Many people think that former Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore was to blame for Stone’s loss. In the days leading up to the annual meeting, there were two letters written by Moore which were leaked. They painted Stone and the Executive Committee in a very negative light. The first letter was written to the ERLC trustees; the second one was written to former SBC President J.D. Greear. In the first letter, Moore said that SBC leaders wanted him to live in “psychological terror.” In the second letter, Moore slandered Stone by accusing him of stonewalling investigations into abuse allegations.
Many suspect that Moore leaked the letters himself. Moore’s sleazy actions appeared political and vindictive. Moore was likely upset with Stone and the EC for assigning a task force to investigate the ERLC’s effectiveness in February 2020. Some see Moore’s actions as an act of revenge. It seemed to work in the short term. Stone lost the election, and the woke candidate won.
It wasn’t just the presidential election that was a disappointment. SBC leaders were also dismissive of messengers on the floor. A motion to rescind 2019’s infamous Resolution 9 (which approved CRT as an analytical tool) was rejected on procedural grounds. A motion on women’s responsibility in abortion was also rejected. And Kevin Ezell deferred to someone else when a messenger asked him about transparency of salaries within the North American Mission Board (NAMB).
So it was more of the same from a denomination that continues to drift leftward. Even though 15,726 messengers showed up to Nashville (the most since 1995), conservatives within the SBC continue to feel like the elites at the top refuse to listen to them and are doubling down on their woke ideologies, though at times they may throw us a bone by giving lip service to conservative causes.
Next year’s meeting is in Anaheim. It will likely be harder for conservatives to gather in large numbers there since it’s on the West Coast. In addition, many conservatives are already fleeing the denomination. At this point, we may have to also consider pulling out of a denomination which no longer listens to or respects the people sitting in the pews–people who just want to be faithful to the Word of God.