Hi and welcome back! Whew! Last night, I read a news article that earned my click with lightning speed. Ronnie Floyd, easily one of the most powerful men within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), just up and quit his position as the President of the SBC’s Executive Committee. Seriously. Here’s why he did it, and why it’s a big deal.
(Note: I call the “Abuse of Faith” scandal a megascandal because it affects the SBC denomination as a whole and is incredibly widespread — as well as reaching up and down across every level of leadership.)
Ronnie Floyd: Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss.
Back in Spring 2019, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) was so much more innocent and naive than it is today. The pandemic hadn’t yet gutted their hopes for ending their decades-long decline. Nor had “Abuse of Faith,” journalists’ name for the current megascandal, blown the SBC’s credibility clean out of the water. Indeed, that megascandal had barely begun when the SBC’s Executive Committee (EC) hired Ronnie Floyd to be their president.
I’m sure Ronnie Floyd seemed like a good bet at the time, too.
Oh, yes. I’m very sure he did.
Ronnie Floyd had once served as the denomination’s president — and recently, too, from 2014-2016, after a long period of SBC leadership in other roles. He also led a big church in Arkansas, and these SBC committees do like hiring (untrained, unqualified, clueless)
made men pastors for big leadership roles in the denomination’s management ranks.
So Ronnie Floyd quit his pastor position and moseyed hisself over to the EC. There, I’m sure he thought he was finally tasting real power.
Presidents of the SBC? Oh, they come and go, come and go with the tides. One’s barely even there long enough to try to start some legacy-ensuring initiative.
But the EC is different. The people in this committee tend to stay there for a while. Moreover, as I’ve mentioned in the past, the EC handles a whole lot of the SBC’s top concerns. These include the disbursement of funds and setting of budgets from its Cooperative Fund (CP), which goes to seminaries, missionaries, and other top-level committees so they can do their jobs.
And now Ronnie Floyd was its supreme leader.
Alas, he would not get to enjoy that power for very long.
The Messengers’ Showdown With Ronnie Floyd.
Like all the top men in the SBC, Ronnie Floyd’s main concern with “Abuse of Faith” was riding it out till the flocks stopped bringing it up to their leaders. This approach had worked for the SBC in the past. SBC-lings had been well-trained to hand-wave away all scandalous leaders as bad apples afflicted with rather more sin nature than most fallen humans.
For some reason, though, this scandal wasn’t going away. The SBC’s top leaders had spent literal years trying to ignore it and obfuscate it.
The EC even tried to investigate itself for potential wrongdoing (cover-ups, mainly, and predator-shuffling) — without outside oversight or management. Floyd even tried to defend the EC’s brazen proposal at the Annual Meeting, we learn from AP News.
That took some nerves. Man alive, he really thought he could actually push that one through. We know how that’d go, too, right? Oh, we looked into it. We found nothing wrong. Really. Now, go out and evangelize some more! This decline is YOUR fault!
But the SBC-lings weren’t shutting up about it. They kept demanding action.
Ronnie Floyd tried his darndest, bless his li’l cotton socks, to pretend that the EC totally cared about the literal hundreds of victims that we knew about so far, thanks to secular journalists’ refusal to let the story die. He tried, oh my yes, he tried.
Thankfully, his attempt didn’t work. Now, his role became even more duplicitous: pretending that he totally did want to uncover the truth, and had all along.
The Messengers Force Ronnie Floyd to Show Throat.
When the flocks found out about Ronnie Floyd’s attempt to circumvent accountability, they exploded in outrage. This happened just at the last Annual Meeting this past summer. They rejected Floyd’s non-solution. Instead, they demanded that the SBC’s president — by now Ed Litton — set up a Sexual Abuse Task Force to investigate the EC and the SBC as a whole. They demanded, as well, that this investigation be done by a third party company — and that it involve full transparency.
Their demands passed a vote with very little disagreement.
Officially, the attendees of these big Annual Meetings have the power to force the denomination’s leaders to do anything they want. In practice, it works far differently. I don’t think Ronnie Floyd or the EC appreciated the reminder that they work for the attendees, not the other way around.
So the Executive Committee dragged its feet all summer long about making this third-party investigation happen. Then, the EC dragged its feet about giving any privileged information to the third-party investigators hired, Guidepost Solutions. (I mean, I might not be impressed much with how the SBC works with Guideposts, but they’re something, I guess.) They literally voted twice (September 21 and 28, as Baptist News tells us) to refuse to waive attorney-client privilege for Guidepost.
But eventually, Ed Litton told the EC that the investigation was moving forward with or without their voluntary cooperation.
So, on October 5th, after much wrangling, the EC voted to cooperate with Guidepost — a promise which included giving them whatever information they needed.
What Was Ronnie Floyd Afraid of Here?
Well, according to that writeup from Baptist News (relink), Ronnie Floyd was afraid we’d find out just how he, himself, had tried to negate abuse allegations:
Already audio recordings and a couple of letters have been leaked that portray Executive Committee President Ronnie Floyd and former Executive Committee Chairman Mike Stone seeking to downplay or dismiss allegations of sexual abuse in the denomination.
And that’s what we know about so far. Betcha that ain’t the worst thing investigators will turn up.
By the way, Mike Stone is one of the Super-Hardcore subfaction of the Old Guard. This faction is trying to wrangle control of the SBC from the Old Guard and the Pretend Progressives both. (Ronnie Floyd, incidentally, is someone I’ve identified as an Old Guard.) Stone ran for President of the SBC itself just this past year. Obviously, he lost to Ed Litton of the Pretend Progressives. Even so, he’s one to watch — for the worst reasons. If he’s in bed with Ronnie Floyd on anything, especially this megascandal, that’s really bad news for everyone, including Floyd himself. You can’t spell authoritarian without massive abuse scandals and cover-ups.
And Ronnie Floyd appears to know that he’s in some trouble here. One thing you can say about shipboard rats: they have a nose for when the ship’s about to sink. His hilarious failtrain legacy attempt, “Vision 2025,” sure won’t save him here.
A Little Bitty Lie for Ronnie Floyd.
Once that October 5th vote went through, our guy gave us one last lie — this time, of omission:
Probably through gritted teeth, Ronnie Floyd promised the EC would cooperate with Guidepost. He said:
“Now that the Executive Committee’s Board of Trustees have made their decision, the leadership and staff of the Executive Committee will provide support to Guidepost on implementing next steps to facilitate their investigation,” he said, but he declined to answer whether he would remain at the Executive Committee. [Source]
But he weasel-worded the promise, as you can see.
Whoever is on the EC on that bright, fine day, well, they can jolly well cooperate all they want.
However, Ronnie Floyd did not include himself among their number. Not once did he refer to the EC as mine, either, nor even ours.
(With liars-for-Jesus, see, you have to learn to read between their lines and hear what they didn’t say.)
Now Guess Who is Out of Work (For a Bit)?
The Tennessean gave us a sneak peek at the news just yesterday: Ronnie Floyd has announced his resignation.
Oh, but don’t y’all worry none about him. He’s already heading to his next sinecure, no doubt. I’m sure he had it lined up before he wrote the letter.
In his letter, he said he’d decided to side with the various lawyers who’ve told the EC that waiving privilege would be a disastrous idea — for the SBC’s top leaders, of course, cuz who else even matters to SBC leaders? (These would likely be the same lawyers who literally just fired the SBC as clients a few days ago over this exact same issue.)
The decision to waive privilege, “now place our missionary enterprise as Southern Baptists into uncertain, unknown, unprecedented and uncharted waters,” Floyd said in his resignation letter. “In the midst of deep disappointment and discouragement, we have to make this decision by our own choice and do so willingly, because there is no other decision for me to make.” [Source]
Aww, don’t he sound so saaaaaad!
But I saw that last bit, and I thought:
Well, AKSHULLY, there was another decision he could have made.
What the SBC Ordered vs. What They Actually Got.
Ronnie Floyd could have decided to do right by the SBC’s many, many abuse victims.
He could have decided to truly face accountability for once in his long and miserable life. He could have decided to at least pretend he actually gives a fuzzy slap about Jesus’ express orders to his followers. Yes, he could have decided that countless victims’ tears and pain mattered more than his own worthless hide or even his worthless denomination’s few remaining shreds of cultural power.
Anywhere between here and full accountability, he could have landed gently.
Indeed, that’s the kind of leader the SBC pretends to order every time it makes a but hiring decision.
Instead, this is what they actually usually get:
Yet another craven, self-serving coward who knew beyond all shadow of doubt that he was sitting on a heap of explosive skeletons as long as he remained in charge of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention.
It’s so weird how often this seems to happen lately with SBC leaders!
Are SBC flocks paying attention? Do they understand what their Dear Leaders are telling them about the SBC, loud and clear?
I hope so. It doesn’t get much more obvious than this.
NEXT UP: Hitting the reset button on evangelism — or so this one evangelical thinks. See you then!
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