Bart Barber, an adjunct faculty member of Southwestern has strongly criticized Dr. Klouda's decision to sue Southwestern by writing on his blog:
"I submit to you that, for a Christian, the costs of a lawsuit must be calculated using more than a financial ledger. There is the cost to our witness. There is the cost that any of us bear when we directly contradict God's word and disobey it (emphasis mine). Even assuming that the other person is 100% in the wrong...Vengeance is God's, not Judge Wapner's.
I have consistently maintained that Southern Baptists desire to unite around the essentials of the faith, but we are always hesitant to accept the declaration that others know what the 'will of God' is for our lives, particularly in those areas where Scripture is not clear and direct. The narrow interpretation that I Corinthians 6 is always, and for all time, forbidding any Christian from filing any suit against any other Christian or Christian insitution is very problematic.
The Problems With A Universal Prohibition Against Suits
There are several questions that need to be asked of those who seek to prohibit Christians from filing suit by declaring that action would be 'disobedience to the Word and will of God." What about other passages that indicate that secular 'authorities' are ordained by God to correct problems and punish wrongdoing? What about the view that I Corinthians 6 is dealing with specific problems and people within the 'local' church of Corinth only? What about the desire for some to 'hold accountable' those who file a cause of action, but refuse to confront those who violate their vows, break contracts, and refuse to let their 'yes' be 'yes?'
In addition, from the I Corinthians text itself, it seems that the only ones who have the right to castigate Dr. Klouda are those who have sought to help Dr. Klouda through her financial and emotional turmoil that has occurred because of the problems that have arisen with her removal from SWBTS. In any discussion of 1 Corinthians 6, one needs to remember that the Apostle Paul addressed a two-fold problem. One was concerning the church refusing to step in and help the people with the relational problems and the other was to the individuals who actually had the problem. In fact, it could be argued by that the greater weight of verses is upon the unwillingness church to help, [vs. 1-6] rather than the people who were actually experiencing the relationship problem [vs. 7-8] One could also argue that any criticism of Klouda is only valid if the person, or church, has been involved in helping resolve the difficult situation for the Kloudas and SWBTS. Otherwise, it might be that there is an ignoring of the first few verses of I Corinthians 6 in order to get to verses 7-8 which raises the proverbial 'plank in eye' and “casting the first stone” questions.
But the biggest problem I see in the arguments of those who wish to criticize and condemn Dr. Klouda is one of consistency. For a person to believe that no Christian, at any time, and for any reason, should file a lawsuit against another Christian or Christian insitution and castigate Dr. Klouda because of this belief, then to be consistent, that person should also condemn the following decisions of Christians to sue fellow Christians.
Tell Me, Please, What Say Ye About These?
(1). The Tennessee Baptist Convention sued Belmont University for breach of contract. Executive Director James Porch, speaking on behalf of the Executive Committee of the Tennessee Baptist Convention said the following:
"During 2005 Belmont University acted to terminate its affiliated relationship with the Tennessee Baptist Convention through a charter change. The Executive Board and TBC did not want to have to initiate litigation against Belmont and, to that end, tried for many months to persuade Belmont to honor the promise it made to Tennessee Baptists in 1951. By steadfastly refusing to acknowledge, much less honor, its promise to us, Belmont, not the Executive Board or the Belmont Study Committee, forced this matter into the courthouse."
I personally take Dr. Porch at his word. I also personally understand why the Tennessee Baptist Convention filed suit against Belmont, and have no problem with them doing so, believing that the courts have been established as a final authority for disputes over contracts, pledges and other legal matters.
For those who condemn Dr. Klouda for filing a cause of action against SWBTS, do you also condemn Dr. Porch and the Executive Committee of the Tennesse Baptist Convention?
(2). In 1969 a young teenage girl was sexually abused by a Southern Baptist minister. The minister's name was Tommy Gilmore and the young girl was Christa Brown. When Christa Brown broke down and told a staff member what was happening, Mr. Gilmore was confronted by a fellow staff member and told that if he didn't leave the church the matter would be brought to the attention of the entire church. Gilmore moved on to a larger church, with praise from the pulpit about being a man of God.
Mr. Gilmore eventually became associated pastor of First Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia where he was responsible for child care for 50,000 messengers that attended the 1986 SBC annual meeting in Atlanta. Christa Brown says she didn't understand the "soul-murdering impact" the episode had on her life until years later, when her own daughter turned the same age she was when her abuse occurred. What happened next is described in detail by Ethics Daily:
(Christa Brown) set out to discover if Gilmore was still a minister and to warn Baptist leaders about the possibility there was a child molester in their midst. Believing parents in churches where Gilmore had served over the years would want to know the information, she says, she contacted 18 Baptist leaders in churches, state conventions and the SBC. All responded by turning a "blind eye." Only after learning through her own efforts that Gilmore was working at a church in Florida and publicity about a 2005 lawsuit she filed against him in the Orlando Sentinel did Gilmore leave church work.
It seems that only the suit filed by Christa Brown ultimately brought about that which needed to be done - removal from the ministry of Tommy Gilmore - and Christa Brown should be given credit for potentially protecting our SBC children.
For those castigating Dr. Klouda for filing a cause of action against SWBTS do you also condemn the abused Christa Brown for filing a suit against her Christian pastor abuser and bringing about justice through the courts when nobody else responded to her concerns?
(3). The Missouri Baptist Convention filed suit against five Southern Baptist agencies in Missouri, their administrators and their trustees.
The Baptist Standard reported in December 2002:
The Missouri Baptist Convention has been wracked with turmoil over the last two years as fundamentalists led by layman Roger Moran launched a campaign to gain control of the convention, its executive board and the boards of its agencies. As that effort neared success, the state convention's executive director resigned and the five agencies amended their charters to avoid a hostile takeover of their boards. Those now in control of the convention also want control of the agencies and their estimated $200 million in assets.
The Missouri Baptist Convention's lead attorney is Michael Whitehead, former vice president and interim president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., and former legal counsel for the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Whitehead said. "The agencies have told themselves and they have told the world that the law is so clear that they are right, that it is beyond dispute. But today they must admit they were wrong. Their legal theory was not convincing enough to win these motions."
Here you have two groups of Christians, yes, even Baptists, that are in disagreement. The Missouri courts decided who was right and who was wrong in the preliminary motions linked to above.
For those who condemn Dr. Klouda for filing a cause of action against SWBTS do you also condemn the Missouri Baptist Convention, Michael Whitehead, Roger Moran, and others in Missouri for filing a cause of action against the Missouri Baptist Convention agencies?
(4). A Southern Baptist family lost their marine son in the war in Iraq. The members of Westboro Baptist Church picketed the funeral of the young marine, calling his death the judgment of God for America protecting 'fags.' The family of the marine filed a suit to protect other families from undergoing the emotional trauma of having their loved one's funeral picketed by the members of Westboro Baptist Church.
For those casitgating Dr. Klouda for filing a cause of action filed against SWBTS do you also condemn this Christian families lawsuit against Westboro Baptist Church?
(5). A Southern Baptist pastor and his wife filed suit against the Arizona Baptist Foundation in an attempt to regain the $100,000 they felt the ABF stole from them. Richard A. Kimsey, pastor of Desert Valley Baptist Church in the Phoenix area, filed a suit against the BFA after he and his wife, Ann, lost $100,000 they had invested with BFA from the sale of a home in Georgia following their move to Phoenix in March. In their suit, they contend BFA current and former officers took investment sales “pyramided into a Ponzi scheme in which the mountain of debt could be sustained only by selling new notes and persuading investors to roll old notes into new investment.”
This suit is one of only several dozen filed over the Ponzi scheme that eventually found executives of the BFA sent to prison.
For those castigating Dr. Klouda for filing a cause of action against SWBTS do you also condemn the suit of Pastor Richard Kimsey?
(6). The Arizona Baptist Convention participated in lawsuit filed by Southern Baptists against the now defunct Arthur Anderson accounting firm
The ABP reported on the class action lawsuit:
In a civil trial underway alleging that Andersen aided and abetted fraud by ignoring red flags and continuing to issue clean audits, a national accountant said Andersen failed to investigate signs the Foundation was in trouble between 1997 and 1998.
Dan Guy, a director of the American Society of Certified Accountants, accused Andersen of an "unpardonable" breach of accounting standards. A 1997 audit report of Foundation accounts "falls below the minimum accounting standards" and "should never have been released," he testified.
Guy, who studied Andersen case files in the audit, said an auditing team failed to investigate charges of financial misconduct, issuing a clean bill of health. At the least, he said, auditors should have tested the Foundation's ability to operate as a going concern, which likely would have disclosed its shaky finances.
He said Andersen missed red flags, including warnings by one of its own accountants, an anonymous call to its Chicago office and a series of investigative newspaper articles quoting former BFA employees.
About 40 spectators, mostly BFA investors, were turned away from the small courtroom April 30, the first full day of proceedings after jury selection, because there was no room to sit. Court officials set up a waiting area on Wednesday to admit spectators on a first-come basis.
Media covering the trial, which has drawn increased interest in light of similarities with allegations being made against Andersen in the Enron collapse, included the New York Times, Washington Post, Dow Jones and Bloomberg.
For those criticizing Dr. Klouda's cause of action against Southwestern Theological Seminary, do you also condemn this suit against Arthur Anderson? By the way, Arthur Anderson was founded by an evangelical Christian.
7). Dred Scott, a Christian African slave who lived in the United States filed a lawsuit in 1857 against other Christians who upheld the concept of slavery. Dred Scott filed suit twelve years after the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately handed down the landmark Dred Scott decision, ruling that the drafters of the Constitution had viewed all blacks as “beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”
The Dred Scott decision, which helped spur the Civil War, was eventually overturned by the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution as blacks won the right to be counted as citizens and to benefit from the American judicial system. Was Dred Scott wrong in filing suit?
For those who condemn Dr. Klouda for filing a cause of action, do you also condemn Dred Scott's decision to file a lawsuit in an attempt to gain citizenship, a lawsuit which eventually led to the end of slavery in the United States?
I do not feel comfortable criticising those Christians cited above who decided to file lawsuits against fellow Christians. In most of the seven illustrations you have Southern Baptists filing suits against fellow Southern Baptists. My inclination is to believe that the suits were a the last resort in attempts to get people to keep their word, and to not break binding contracts, and I am in no position to say that any of the above Southern Baptists violated the 'will of God' or 'the Word of God.'
I call for those who wish to condemn Dr. Klouda to at least be consistent in their writings and posts and condemn the others I've mentioned as well. As for me, I will trust my brothers and sisters in Christ who feel led to involve the courts to hold others accountable to their word, and I shall refrain from issuing any condemnation.
In the end, justice will be served. That's why God ordains authority - to protect the righteous and punish the wrongdoer.
He has a way of insuring that happens.
In His Grace,