LIVING LIKE A REFUGEE IN THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CHURCH: Why SBC Leaders Turned to Lying and Abuse Over Revoice in Dallas SBC 2018
By Rev Thomas Littleton 6/17/2018
By now word has spread that a member of the press was kicked out of the SBC annual meetings in Dallas last week. I am that person and make no mistake about the cause. I came to the SBC convention to follow up and seek to interview the SBC leaders whose institutions have disturbing ties to the upcoming Revoice conference in St Louis. At the same time leaders in the Presbyterian Church of America were doing the same in their annual General Assembly in Atlanta. I went to Dallas at my own expense and out of deep concern that the last two remaining conservative denominations have clearly been infiltrated and are on the verge of accepting EXTREME and Radically pro-LGBT+ language into the heart of their congregations. No denomination has ever returned from this abyss and all who fall into it remain in steep decline. This compromise always leaves the Gospel and those who need it harmed. A new younger President was elected who subscribes to a primary source (a Regent University Psychologist Mark Yarhouse) of the radical language. J.D. Greear. His campaign press coverage promised that the make-over of the SBC has only begun as change agents a plenty strutted through the halls of the Dallas SBC 2018 meetings.
I was struck while attending the Southern Baptist Convention 2018 by one exhibit which was offered in the Exposition hall. I spent a great deal of time there because in the vast Texas sized Dallas facility dead center of the Expo was the only place my cell signal was not (dead). The world of virtual reality is changing everything in the marketing game. I saw several booths with convention goers looking like puppies with bags stuck on their heads while living in the virtual world for moment in time. In a three-day long event a press guy or gal (I was working with World View Weekend / WVW radio to cover the SBC meetings) has to find humor and comic relief where they can.
Yet one virtual experience in the program at the convention was far too sad a reflection on our virtual Baptist, virtual missions experience to laugh off. This trek was to provide the virtual experience of a REFUGEE. I have been in ministry for 40 years now – mostly in evangelism and missions both long term and short. I see first-hand the long-term benefit of taking believers’ missions trips and there is no substitute for placing your feet on the ground and getting face to face with the beloved of God who are in need. Medical missions have been a long-term commitment of our family. But to offer a third world or missions experience or in this case the politically charged and Soros funded “Refugee” issue driven in the SBC by “Rented Evangelicals” and World Relief, I fear, is not only manipulative but is sad window on the world of modern Christian state of unreality. This malady seems to have infected many of the Leadership of the SBC as well and especially in the current leadership of the ERLC and some neo Calvinist seminaries.
MY PERSONAL REFUGEE EXPERIENCE; WHY DOES ERLC NOT WANT YOU TO KNOW THE TRUTH?
The players involved -ERLC’s Russell Moore – ERLC Staffer Brent Leatherwood – Myself – and after the press statements below – the Executive Committee/ Roger Oldham, and an ERLC underling. History and context is provided below.
I would like to acknowledge Dr. Albert Mohler of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, that HE was the one and only key leader from the circles involved in Revoice who did grant an interview and comment on it. His answers can be heard at Worldviewradio.com. Russell Moore’s response, other than to deny knowledge of Revoice after at least two people discussed it with him, appears to be lost somewhere in the now empty halls of the Dallas Convention Center.
First, here is the ERLC version in a Christian Post article from June 14th 2018 for which I was never contacted or interviewed. This article does not have the facts or even the timeline.
WHAT IS FALSE IN IT?
*The SBC Executive Committee did not remove me from the SBC convention meetings as the ERLC’s younger press spokesperson claims. This claim is also amazingly echoed, though not confirming my name, by Roger Oldham of the SBC Executive Committee. I have history with Oldham when expressing concerns that then CEO, Frank Page, of the Executive Committee had joined two radical gay activist organization leaders, Fred Davies of ARCUS Foundation (massive LGBTQ funder) and Harry Knox of the infamous Human Rights Campaign (the nation’s largest LGBTQ equality advocate), on the Obama Faith Based Partnership Board. The White House led group worked to “Find Common Ground for the Common Good” and obtain government grant funding in cooperative partnerships. After months of engaging these concerns, I was then passed down the line by Frank Page to Oldham who made no effort to encourage a course correction from the trajectory Page had helped place the SBC on with Obamas FBP program.
Dallas Issue :The SBC did not speak to me or ask me to “Move along.” I had spoken to Oldham in the presence of Radio journalist, Janet Mefferd, about an hour before and IRONICALLY thanked him for his work with the press and their excellent hospitality which I compared to “Sunday Afternoon after service in a Southern Baptist Church.” This REALLY happened! In Spite of my appreciation and even the opportunity at that point to correct me for any loitering I was allegedly doing in an allegedly restricted area, nothing was said. -I had used the same location where I had found scarce cell service all week yet Oldham said nothing of such an issue just an hour prior. He now claims in the CP article the same completely FALSE, baseless and dishonest version of events which came from Russell Moore’s ERLC in the article. Start asking yourself why and I will try and help you understand it.
NOTE-RUSSELL MOORE’S HISTORY OF FALSE CLAIMS
A 2008 article recounts problems with false accusations and claims of assault made by the current ERLC head Russell Moore when he was finishing his doctorate in 2000 and working for the Baptist Press as a reporter at Baptist events. https://baptistnews.com/article/daniel-vestal-counters-bp-column-that-said-cbf-not-truly-christian/#.WyWh7qdKjIW
“In 2000, many general assembly attendees accused BP writer Russell Moore of inaccuracies and blatant fabrications in several stories — most notably a report where he claimed that a former missionary attending the meeting physically assaulted him. Moore is now a dean at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.” There are other such reports from this 2000 era work by Moore as a Baptist Press reporter.
So ERLC’s Dr. Russell Moore has a long credibility problem and is known to make false claims about issues, like an assault on his person by an “unnamed Foreign Missionary”.
*Fact: the actual events at the SBC Dallas convention are verified by two conversations with the Dallas Police Department that two uniformed Dallas Police Officers (again I have their names and the multiple call history of the conversations with the Dallas PD and what was reported on the events to the Sgt. assigned to handle the call. I have his direct telephone number. FACT: Dallas Police were lied to and used by a false report from an SBC organization to remove me – NOT the Executive Committee. It is shameful and foolish for the ERLC and the Executive Committee to crawl out on a limb together and not only obligate themselves to maintain and defend their false story but to even imply the Dallas Police Department and its officers present are lying. The other side of reality is, once admitted, that someone in an SBC entity that, in this likelihood, the ERLC has lied to and misled their own security team members on a day when the Vice President of the United States had been in the building at the Dallas Convention Center. Criminal fines and jail time accompany making a false reporting to police. It may be clear why the need was felt to so drastically alter their version of events and someone in fact really does deserve to be dismissed for misleading the Dallas PD. I do not know how after many years of service Roger Oldham would be so foolish as to expect Me to allow him to confirm the ERLC saying I am lying. This issue will not go away. Why? Because THE TRUTH matters.
*I was NOT in a “restricted area”. I was in the Expo Hall near the Lifeway retail sales area.
*I was not loitering. The only place I had cell service on my old unit was in the center of the of the Expo building. I was there repeatedly all week long doing interviews and making news reports. That was my job for the week at the SBC meeting.
*The two officers of the Dallas PD told me that I had been “reported as having threatened someone,” Again this is in DIRECT contrast to Oldham and the ERLC/ Moore’s press statements in which they say I am making a FALSE claim. The Officers’ names and that of the Dallas PD officer assigned to the complaint was made by Worldview Weekend boss Brannon Howse and by myself within 30 minutes and then an hour after the events took place.
The simple FACTS: What happened when I was REMOVED from the building on June 13th 2018 by Two Uniformed Dallas Police Officers on the complaint they received that I threatened someone.
* The exhibitors had started taking down their booths, yet many people were still in and out some were even getting last minute purchases and info from exhibitors. No one that I saw was being restricted from entering the Expo area for any reason. I went in and out several times during this period.
*While on the phone to an editor of mine I saw ERLC employee Brent Leatherwood (seventh down this list of ERLC Staff https://erlc.com/about/staff ) standing in the ERLC booth and glaring at me.
SIDE NOTE about the PREVIOUS DAY : The day before (Tuesday June 12 ) this same staffer, Brent Leatherwood, had bodily stepped between me and his boss Russell Moore, ERLC Executive Director, and grabbed my arms saying repeatedly “we are fine, we are fine, we don’t need anything, ” By this time, Moore and I made eye contact and he spoke acknowledging my presence. I asked for comments on the “LGBT+ Christian” Revoice Conference and told him I had broken the story on it a month ago. Moore said he “had heard about it but did not know much.” When Moore did not wish to comment in the press about Revoice. I expressed my concern to him as a Southern Baptist and a minister, pointing out the Revoice/ERLC ties, with Karen Swallow Prior, his Research Fellow at ERLC being on the Revoice website promoting the conference and Revoice speaker Branden Polk, whose Arrowhead Advising LLC is an ERLC consultant/ contractor. I also talked to Moore about the concerns I had over the use of terms like “Queer Christian” and “Queer Theory” and I mentioned the source from which I had heard about Revoice being ERLCs partner Sam Allberry / Living Out ministry which was promoting Revoice in early May 2018. I spoke with Moore about the Human Rights Campaign activist who I knew from confronting their intentions in my own state which Moore had invited TO his 2014 ERLC conference . I mentioned the HRC staffers by name and what they had done in Alabama to further their pro LGBTQ cause. Moore, now informed about the basis of the concerns assured me he “would look into Revoice. ” However, when asked about Revoice the next day by an SBC Messenger, Moore denied knowing about Revoice.
*Back to Wednesday June 13th in the Expo area – a public access area. About two minutes after seeing Brent Leatherwood glaring at me[,] -two uniformed Dallas Police Department officers, whose names I have, came into my view slightly to the right of the ERLC booth from which Leatherwood had been glaring at me .
Leatherwood is the former Tennessee GOP employee, a die hard “Never Trumper, ” like his ERLC Boss. The conservative and Christian voters, leaders and journalists in Nashville and across Tennessee have written MANY articles about the work of Leatherwood in the TN Republican Party. Strong criticism including that he and his group of operatives were using Republican funds to defeat conservative candidates in TN primaries and other activities outlined in Breitbart considered treasonous by many in TN. It is not hard to find but those left with a favorable impression of his time there are much more difficult to locate. Here is just one example : https://rockytoppolitics.com/2016/12/02/yeah-hire-someone-who-helped-bankrupted-the-party-and-tried-to-screw-trump-that-makes-sense/
The headline reads-
“Brent Leatherwood for State GOP Chairman? Seriously? “One quote says to Leatherwood in his article, “Is it just us, or would any normal, rational, thinking individual who has a fiduciary and political responsibility to spend the state GOP’s money wisely have a big freakin’ problem with the sleazy, disingenuous, inside dealing (nepotism) that you and your staff have engaged in and used our money to do it.”
The writer then concludes, “You will undoubtedly be looking for work if someone besides you gets elected to the chairmanship, but there is not a snowball’s chance in h*** you could get any credible position in the Trump administration.”
* After Leatherwood lost a bid for Chairmanship of the State Republican Party, he was then hired by Russell Moore into the ERLC as Director of Strategic Partnerships. Once the Dallas Police came up to me, Leatherwood was now out of view. However, he came back to the scene soon as you will see. The two officers approached me as I was still on the phone and said I had to leave the building. I asked if they meant the EXPO building because of the exhibitor breakdown. I showed my press credentials and explained my lack of cell service elsewhere in the building. The Dallas PD officer told me someone had filed a complaint against me. I asked who it was .He would not say who but said they had the right to ask me to leave the building. I asked what the allegations were and he answered “that you threatened someone. Why would you do something like that?” I said, “Why indeed, since I am a Christian, a minister and a Southern Baptist and a member of the press? I threatened no one.” I said I was waiting for the next meetings at 4/4:30 to begin, which were the ERLC annual reports where Russell Moore was speaking. I had stayed an extra day in order to cover that event and report on it. I was then informed by the Officers that this would be a problem because I was being asked to leave the entire building and would not be allowed back during the SBC event.
*As the Dallas Police Officers escorted me from the building, ERLC employee Leatherwood, who had minutes before been glaring at me across the Expo floor, and disappeared when the Dallas PD approached me, was standing just outside the door of the Expo in the large lobby area that wraps around the over 1 million square foot convention center. Leatherwood was on his phone with his earpiece in and talking. Once he saw us exiting the door he ended his conversation, hung up the telephone and joined the escorting officer to my right.
*Leatherwood began taking very provocative actions including again, glaring across the chest of the taller officer to my right and mockingly looking me in the eyes. He leaned his head forward toward me almost in the path of the officer. He took long exaggerated lurching steps in slower motion as if enacting some strutted victory lap around what had been set in motion with my removal less than two hours before the ERLC meeting/ report was to begin in the main hall.
*I asked the officer between Leatherwood and myself if Leatherwood was the person who claimed I had threatened someone and if he claimed I threatened him. The officer replied, “We are not going there.” I asked if Leatherwood claimed I threatened HIM because, in fact, Leatherwood “had laid his hands on me to restrain me and prevent me from talking to his boss. (This would be considered a Class C Assault by Texas Law https://codes.findlaw.com/tx/penal-code/penal-sect-22-01.html) Russell Moore’s employee Leatherwood attempted to prevent the conversation but Moore did indeed talk about the Revoice Conference “promoting LGBT+ Flourishing in historic Christian tradition”. WE DID discuss that his ERLC Fellow was a contributor endorsing Revoice and a favorite ERLC consultant was speaking at Revoice. We had a conversation about it. I mentioned this to the officer and that it was in spite of Leatherwood[‘]s effort to physically prevent it. “Is that what this is about?” I asked. Nothing was confirmed or denied at this point. After about 20 steps in tandem with the officers and me and the continued provocative actions of Leatherwood, he then broke off and headed to the main hall where Russell Moore and his constant companions of the ERLC staff were located.
* The officers then escorted me to the Press room down stairs to retrieve my belongings. The attitude of the officers toward me changed at the point Leatherwood had sought to escalate the situation. They calmly walked me to the press room and stood by as I explain[ed] to the press room full of reporters that a fellow member of the press and fellow Baptist and minister was being removed from the building after being falsely accused of threatening someone. No one would say who was supposed to have threatened but the ERLC staffer was ever present who had also attempted prevent me talking about Revoice. LGBT+ /Queer Christianity with his ERLC boss Russell Moore. The press room wanted more information and received it. None yet have written on it but the story is still playing out. The officers then escorted me back upstairs to the exit of my choice through the Omni hotel bridge and I went on to my neighboring hotel from which I called my offices at Worldview Weekend. Brannon Howse then began the process of filing the report to the Dallas Police Department to provide documentation given the likelihood that the ERLC would soon be issuing false statements to cover themselves after their staffer lied to the Dallas Police Department. That insightful concern has proven prophetic in the Christian Post article which absurdly even includes the respected SBC Executive Committee.
A series of interviews began immediately as word had already spread in the SBC meetings in the Convention Centers main hall. It has continued for four days straight.
J D Hall of Pulpit and Pen and Janet Mefferd helped World View Weekend and Worldview Radio break the story.
I am aware this version is in sharp contrast to the version told by the ERLC and Executive Committee in Christian Post. I can see why the altered version includes a narrative that takes away the dangers posed by assault changes and lying to an officer providing security for your own event. But this version above will not be altered because it is the truth and I celebrate the fine job the Dallas Police did in treating me fairly and simply doing their job based on the false information they received from somewhere in the BOWELS of the SBC/ ERLC machine. I am horrified that my own denomination is covering up some of their entities’ and officers’ involvement with Revoice Queer Christianity and LGBT+ Christianity and would brutalize someone with three generations of SBC heritage and 40 years of ministry and untold amounts of dollars placed in the offering plate and helping aid the ministries and cooperative programs and church buildings and Seminaries and salaries of the SBC. I know am not the first and, given the present trajectory exhibited during the SBC 2018 convention, I will not be the LAST one abused. Russell Moore, Roger Oldham, I forgive and pray for you but I cannot repent for you for the deception you are perpetrating on the flock of God under your care. That part you will have to do. I will not be sending Dallas Police for you but I do think we will see your accountability come home to roost. Meanwhile, do Southern Baptist really want these tactics turned on them by the people they support? And in the words of Mike Huckabee “How long with Southern Baptist keep paying Russell Moore to insult them?”
As to simulated refugee experiences …. WHY PLAY “MAKE BELIEVE” WHEN SO MANY REFUGEES IN THEIR OWN CHURHCES ARE BEING IGNORED?
Isaiah 6:11 “Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate,”
If Revoice has its say in the SBC because leadership cannot speak and denounce it, God’s words to Isaiah will prove prophetic for the Southern Baptist Convention.
O Lord have mercy, spare us we pray.