Accusation: Leaked letter designed to sow discord among So. Baptists

Accusation: Leaked letter designed to sow discord among So. Baptists

Accusation: Leaked letter designed to sow discord among So. Baptists

It appears that a letter from the former head of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission was actually intended to sow division and uncertainty in the Southern Baptist Convention days before its annual meeting.

An ERLC trustee says a letter accusing the denomination's Executive Committee of creating a hostile work environment for former ERLC president Russell Moore (pictured) was deliberately concealed from the ERLC, then leaked to the press. In his letter, Dr. Moore wrote that the SBC's standing committee, of sorts, that conducts denomination business between annual meetings wanted him "to live in psychological terror" – and, more importantly, was hiding sex abuse and racial bigotry.

Attorney and ERLC trustee Jonathan Whitehead spoke with American Family News. He says he was told these things by a source high up in the ERLC, and then relayed them to the Executive Committee (EC) through another letter.

"[Moore's] letter makes claims that the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee has a culture where – quote – 'countless children have been torn to shreds, where women have been raped and broken down,'" he explains. "Dr. Moore alleged a group at the SBC Executive Committee wanted him to – quote – 'provide cover for racial bigotry and child molestation.'"

The reason for the subterfuge, according to Whitehead, was to create doubt in the Convention's messengers that the EC was up to the task of dealing with allegations of sexual abuse over the years in the SBC. "The best explanation is [that he wanted] to deprive the Convention of confidence that its trustee system is able to handle these concerns," he adds.

Moore wanted, and got, an independent "Sexual Abuse Task Force" to investigate the allegations and recommend a path forward. But Whitehead says the deceit makes the denomination look weak and indecisive.

"If the claims in [Moore's] February 2020 letter are true, the full ERLC board should have known – but they should have been acted on by an SBC entity when they were made," the attorney explains. "We cannot sit still on claims of a culture that supports child molestation or racial bigotry."

American Family News reached out to Russell Moore for comment but did not hear back.