Messengers to the Louisiana Baptist Convention annual meeting Nov. 14-15 in Alexandria, La., asked state convention leadership to study recent actions of the Southern Baptist Convention agency entrusted with public policy concerns.
Clark Stewart, pastor of New Zion Baptist Church in Covington, La., brought a motion from the floor that the state convention’s Executive Board “study the recent actions of SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission with regard to issues of concern to Louisiana Baptists.”
The motion, referred without discussion by recommendation of a committee on order of business, did not specify any particular issues of concern, but during the recent presidential race ERLC head Russell Moore was vocal in his opposition to the candidacy of President-elect Donald Trump.
Moore, who since taking the job in 2013 has tried to distance the Ethics and Religious Commission from his predecessor’s close identification with the Religious Right, said during the campaign that neither major party candidate was morally fit to be president.
He also questioned evangelical leaders who argued during the Bill Clinton presidency that character matters but were in 2016 jumping on the bandwagon of a thrice-married casino magnate whom Moore at one point described as a “lost person” who needs to “repent of sin and come to faith in Jesus Christ.”
The Baptist Message, the state convention’s newspaper, recently linked on its website to a blog saying that overwhelming support for Trump among white evangelical voters indicated that SBC leaders critical of the Republican nominee are out of touch with the rank and file.
In January, Baptist Message Editor Will Hall penned an editorial — “Does the ERLC represent the SBC?”— discussing not only Moore’s opposition to Trump but also “a penchant for disdain for Christians who think differently than him.”
Messengers rejected another motion from the floor calling for evenly dividing Cooperative Program gifts received from churches between the state convention and Southern Baptist Convention.
Kyle Sullivan, associate pastor of Woodlawn Baptist Church, Baton Rouge, La., said Louisiana Baptists are already on record as supporting a 50/50 split in theory, but a 2006 Cooperative Program Advance plan failed to achieve that goal.
“At the current rate of increase, it would take 107 years to progress our current 46/64 split to a 50/50 split, meaning that the Louisiana Baptist Convention would not reach a 50/50 split until the year 2123 at its current rate,” Sullivan said.
Steve Horn, immediate past president of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, termed the motion “unnecessary” and “unwise,” saying it is too soon to know the impact on the ministry of other Baptist state conventions that have in recent years drastically reduced state convention budgets in order to forward a greater CP percentage to the national body.
“That’s an extreme measure to take in one given year,” said Horn, pastor of First Baptist Church in Lafayette, La.
David Cranford, pastor of First Baptist Church, Ponchatoula, La., and president of the Louisiana Baptist Convention Executive Board, reminded messengers that the state convention has already absorbed more than $600,000 per year in cuts brought about by recommendations of the SBC Great Commission Resurgence study group appointed in 2010 and reduced funding from the SBC North American Mission Board.”