June 8, 2022
Letter to the Editor
The only honorable thing to do at this point for the Southern Baptist Convention is to bury it. Have a funeral. No, really. Have an actual funeral with songs of lament, prayers of confession, eulogy containing apologies and long-term commitments of reparations to the victims of abuse. Humbly confess the sins of negligence and arrogance of the abusers and the efforts to cover up this horrific activity within the organization and churches. Create a last will and testament bequeathing every penny of every asset to the victims of abuse. Empty every coffer. Then, commit to tripling whatever sum that comes to in future pledges to the abused.
Acknowledge the good that has come from the many individuals who authentically advanced the gospel for so many years that are now a part of the great cloud of witnesses who were affiliated with the SBC. Beg for the forgiveness of those currently in the SBC who are sincerely working for the cause of Christ and yet are embarrassed and humiliated due to these hideous findings.
“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and time to die.” This is an opportunity for the SBC to die with at least a shred of dignity if the funeral is done in humility and genuineness. It could say to those who have been abused that they are more important than an organization whose leadership perpetuated the abuse by conspiring to keep it secret. The funeral could show the world what it means to love others more than oneself or a thing that has caused permanent harm.
This also could be an opportunity to apologize to women in general. Confess the sin of oppressing females who were and are called to ministry. Ask for forgiveness for propagating the notion that men should be in authority over women, which has caused emotional and mental abuse for centuries. Say you are sorry to all the Phoebes, Junias, Deborahs, Priscillas, Marys, Huldahs, Hannahs and Sarahs. Have a moment of remorseful silence for all the ways the SBC taught little girls and grown women they are second-class citizens in the kingdom and the world.
The good news is Christians are an Easter people and the decent of the SBC could be raised to walk in newness of life. A born-again people who have died to sin and are now alive in Christ Jesus could be resurrected. It shouldn’t be raised in three days, three months or maybe longer, but the honorable, the repentant of the SBC should raise up a new venture and mission.
Introductory statements of the new entity should acknowledge once again the death of the SBC and why it had to die and the ongoing efforts to help victims of the abuse. The next point should be the presentation of a new name for the organization because of the problematic issues with the former name. “Southern” is not applicable because of the potential global membership and historical reasoning for naming the convention “Southern,” which was because most if not all founders opposed the antislavery attitudes and actions of Northern Baptists. “Baptist” is not applicable unless the funeral had a portion of repenting of past violations against bedrock principles of historical Baptists like separation of church and state, local church autonomy and soul competency.
Elect new leadership who champion transparency, justice, mercy and humility. Pray hard and then pray again. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead. This is the only respectable way forward for Southern Baptists.
Keith R. Felton, Frankfort, Ky.