Just two weeks into his term as the leader of America's largest Protestant denomination, Dr. Ed Litton (pictured) is taking some heat for what his detractors are calling plagiarism. Litton, who was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention on June 15, is accused of lifting significant portions of sermons from the SBC's immediate past SBC president, JD Greear. Following are some direct quotes from the two sermons:
Greear (January 2019): "Caligula was unfit to keep a pet, let alone run an empire."
Litton (January 2020): "He wasn't worthy of having a pet, much less being an emperor."
Greear: "He openly committed incest with three of his sisters."
Litton: "He openly lived in an incestuous relationship with his multiple sisters."
Greear: "He installed his favorite horse as a senator."
Litton: "He literally made his horse a Roman senator."
Greear: "How do you even vote when you're a horse in the senate? 'All in favor say aye, all opposed: neigh.'"
Litton: "When they voted, he would say 'neigh.'"
Both Litton and Greear have issued statements saying the material was borrowed with permission and no plagiarism took place. But according to critic Janet Mefferd, Litton lifted multiple sermons – and she says that's only one of several accusations against the new SBC president.
"At some point there's going to be a tipping point," the Christian radio talk-show host tells One News Now. "There is a pattern of deception here, and this man needs to resign – and if he's not going to resign from the Southern Baptist Convention as president, the SBC needs to fire him."
In a related column, Mefferd also accuses Greear himself of plagiarism, saying he "lifted someone else's line" when he said (in a sermon):
"Homosexuality does not send you to hell. You know how I know that? Because heterosexuality does not send you to heaven."
Describing that statement as containing "theological train wreckiness and utter asininity," she attributes an almost identical statement to Pastor Tim Keller (co-founder of The Gospel Coalition) in a 2011 YouTube video.
"… For more reasons than just the plagiarism, neither of them [Litton and Greear] are above reproach anymore," she writes, "[and that's] a strict biblical qualification for any pastor."
Mefferd contends such deception could have a disastrous effect on the denomination – and absent a split, she's concerned whether the SBC can be saved as it has existed in the last several decades.