"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Your Honor, Please Help Us Understand

Sometimes I shudder when I think about the hard ball tactics used by some Southern Baptists to silence dissent. For the majority of my twenty five years of ministry, there has been a belief in me that most Southern Baptist leaders understand humility, servant leadership, and the grace that is needed to endure dissent. However, after reading the comments on FBC Jacksonville Watchdog's Blog, and specifically those comments that reveal how subpoenas were issued to discover the identity of the owner of the Watchdog blog - as well as reading all the relevant public documents myself - there have arisen in my mind a few questions. These questions relate to whether or not FBC church leaders used church members involved in law enforcement and the courts to illegally obtained the private information of a United States citizen who wished to remain anonymous, including the identity of a blogger going by the pseudonym Watchdog. Further, there are legitimate questions that should be asked to discern whether or not FBC church leadership used that information they possibly gleaned through law enforcement to in any way intimidate, threaten, or coerce the Watchdog into silence. I do not have the answers to the following questions, I am simply asking. These questions were to be asked personally and privately of FBC leadership, but phone calls have been unreturned for three weeks now, so it is entirely appropriate to ask them publicly.

(1). Is the Sheriff's Deputy (Det. Hinson) who filled out the Field Incident Report on the current payroll of the church? Has he ever been employed by the church?
(2). When the subpoenas were authorized by the Florida State's Attorneys office demanding Google and Comcast identify the owner of the Watchdog Blog, did anyone from church leadership, including retired Circuit Judge A.C. Soud, use their influence to obtain the warrant signatures from the State's Attorneys Office?
(3). On what basis did the Sheriff's Deputy request the subpoenas for Comcast and Google from the State's Attorneys Office? In other words, what stated criminal allegations, if any, were used to obtain the warrant to discover the identity of the Watchdog's blog?
(4). Once the identity of the blogger was obtained through the private records of Comcast and Google, did law enforcement officials inform the aggrieved party (i.e. church leaders of FBC Jacksonville) of the identity of the owner of the Watchdog blog? Was Watchdog ever personally made aware that his private records had been obtained by law enforcement?
(5). When the Sheriff's Deputy closed his Field Incident Report after six weeks of "investigation" with the words "this investigation was closed after no criminal activity was discovered on this reported incident," did he then participate in any form or fashion in helping church leadership at FBC Jacksonville issue, through the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, the "trespass warning" against the now known blogger and his family?
(6). Will the actions of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Department, the Florida State's Attorneys Office and the church administrative leadership of FBC Jacksonville stand up under the scrutiny of public questions?
(7). Finally, and from a pastor's perspective, this is my most important question: If, after church leadership discovered the "identity" of the Watchdog blog, did leadership make any attempt to contact the blogger, following the principles of Matthew 18, in order to seek to answer his questions and reconcile relationship, or did church leadership immediately issue a "trespass warning" through the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and then go behind closed doors with others and disparage the character and conduct of the Watchdog owner?

I ask these questions because this incident at FBC Jacksonville reminds me of two events of a similar nature. First, Pastor Rick Godwin has recently lost a court case where he was sued for publicly defaming a church member for asking questions about how the church was spending money. The church is appealing the case, but it should be a chilling reminder that when questions are asked of a non-profit, the best way to respond is by giving answers rather than attacking the questioner.

Seoond, for those who think a Sheriff's Office would never do anything questionable or illegal, one only has to look at Jacksonville's neighboring county, Nassau County, where former Sheriff Laurie Ellis and a couple of deputies were sent to prison for selling confiscated drugs and pocketing the cash.

It is an axiom of human nature that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. One of the blessings and beauty of the Information Age is that people in power can no longer do things and stifle questions. The questions I ask above are legitimate. I am more than happy for anyone to answer them and will listen. If there are good, solid answers to the above questions, then the events at FBC Jacksonville will be a non-issue.

However, until someone does provide answers, I believe they should continue to be asked. Without answers it seems someone in authority may have crossed a line. I made a vow three years ago that no longer would this Southern Baptist sit idly by while other Southern Baptists were abused by men in powerful positions. It is my intention to fulfill my promise until the above questions are answered. Christianity is not the practice of Hard Ball religion, and those who use their power to intimidate should at least be called to account.

In His Grace,


Wade

112 comments:

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think the whole issue at FBC, Jax is none of your business and you should stop speculating about things until you talk to them in person. You seem to take the Watchdog at his word and he has a proven track record of being untruthful.

I am not surprised that the officials and pastor have not returned your calls. You would do the same if someone called you about an internal issue in your church.

Remember the Watchdog lied about being the one who received the papers from the church. He's probably enjoying having you toot his trumpet for him.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon - I don't think its an "internal issue", nor is it "eccliastical" as the church, specifically John Blount the church administrator, called the Jacksonville Sherrif's Office on the afternoon of September 29th, 2008 to report an "internet incident with possible criminal overtones".

At that point, sir/maam, it ceases to be an "internal" matter to the church.

happy gram said...

suspected abuse is not an internal matter.

Joe Blackmon said...

Cue the weepy violin music.

Ya know, I'm thinking that if the blogger had done what (s)he should have done in the FIRST place which is go to the people he had a problem with personally instead of cowering behind the anonymity the internet provides, (s)he wouldn't have had this problem.

Bwess the wittle baby heart. Having such a hawd time. Bwess it.

Anonymous said...

Wade - fyi it is Judge A.C. Soud, not "Doud." You need to correct that in the article.

Doug Hibbard said...

Pastor Blackmon:

It might be that the individual involved did try to contact those personally involved. He might have been unable to make a connection, he might have been refused the opportunity.

It is also possible that since he was addressing whole church matters, he felt the information needed to be available to the church.

And given that his anonymous criticisms led to such intrusion into his family life, does it not look justified?

The whole thing reminds us of Proverbs 18:17. When you hear one side, they seem right. Reading FBC Jax's side seems right, but, like you, I'm a pastor, and I know that there are things that church leadership is always hesitant to publicize.

I'm seeing here the excessive danger of our Baptist superstar and megachurch system. Churches get too big for people to really know what's going on, pastors get too isolated from the flock they shepherd.

And rather than any side handling conflict correctly, this is how it goes.

Doug

And Anonymous at 11:25: It's the business of the church. If we are all the body of Christ, problems anywhere are a threat to our efforts to spread the Word.

Doug

New BBC Open Forum said...

Joe Blackmon,

Gwow up.

happy gram said...

after reading and noting the tone of joe blackmon's comment, it saddens me that he is a pastor.

Anonymous said...

The only time it became something other than an internal problem was when the Watchdog started his public blog.

I think Wade has fallen for his line of spirituality and actually believes his stuff. If he was as spiritual as Wade makes him out to be he would have gone into the pastor and talked it out. Scriptures are clear about what needs to be done.

I know Mac Brunson personally and am not a fan but it doesn't justify an anonymous blog that seeks to split the church apart. I know all the bloggers like the one in Memphis will howl to the heavens but their stuff is nothing but garbage meant to divide the fellowship.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know what probable cause existed to issue the/a warrant in the first place and how could a deputy based on what evidence asked for the warrant? Food for thought.

Wade Burleson said...

Thanks for the typo correction.
Joe, it is no small thing which you mock.

Wade

FBC Jax Member said...

I know who Det. Hinson is. He's not a church employee, but he is one of the "super secret security" people (read: concealed handgun) during services. He's the fat one that always follows Mac around before/after services. FBC has several deacons and lay off-duty police officers who are charged with the security of the church.

Wade, it's not the Jacksonville County Sheriff's Office. The county in which Jacksonville is located is Duval, but we have a consolidated government. The name of our police department is the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

happy gram said...

"anonymous" criticizing a blogger for writing "anonymously"? really?

i would be more concerned about the church being split apart by the actions of the church administration.

Anonymous said...

anon 11:25 - why don't you post your name? Are you another anonymous coward from Jacksonville?

Anyway, what "track record" does the WD have of being untruthful? Please give some examples of what he has written about Mac Brunson that is not true? Did Mac live an hour from the church in an oceanfront condo his FIRST YEAR at the church? Did Mac accept a gift of a piece of land worth over $307,000.00 just THREE WEEKS after arriving? Did Mac have leadership spend over $100,000.00 on luxury office suites for him and his wife and dogs BEFORE he even arrived. (Vine's and Lindsay's offices were vacant and could have been used and the money could have been used for much needed maintenance on our buildings?) Did Mac hire his wife and son and pay them salary and benefits to do jobs that were created just for them? Did Mac play a commercial for Collins Builders, right in the middle of his Sunday morning service? (J.D. Collins was the donor of the land...coincidence?) Did the church change the bylaws to form a discipline committee and give Mac more power, without explaining the changes or why they were needed or biblical? Were copies of the proposed changes kept guarded in the library and only those willing to sign a sheet could see them? Did the pastor lie about Sheri Klouda's testimony? Did the pastor whine to Paige Patterson about the church? Did the pastor call us a "hotbed of legalism" to pastors in North Carolina? Did the pastor threaten our church that we would go into debt or "give a million dollars...in two weeks" if we didn't want to do that? Did the Pastor take $500,000 from the budget to help start up the school? PLEASE TELL WADE'S READERS WHICH OF THE ABOVE ARE LIES!

But that is the just the beginning. Wade's post is a whole new chapter about the bullying, arrogance, and abusive leadership at the church.

And yet you wonder about why the WD didn't go to Mac? Are you serious? Really? Who cares about what the WD did or didn't do. He is not my pastor or yours. I care what Mac did or didn't do, NOT what some guy who blogs anonymously did or didn't to. So all of this rests on what the blogger decides to do? He (the WD) could have prevented all of this? Really? What about Mac...anything he could have done to prevent this? Or dare you even ask that question or have the wrath of A.C. Soud and Detective Robert Hinson come down on you.

Thanks for your insightful post, anon.

Signed,

A bullied and beaten down and trembling, scared sheep without a shepherd...aka "unregenerate coward" to those who attend FBC Jax.

New BBC Open Forum said...

"after reading and noting the tone of joe blackmon's comment, it saddens me that he is a pastor."

Frankly, it scares me.

Anonymous said...

anon 12:33 - Please consider this: The blog is not out to "split apart the church." The blog is out to have some questions and concerns raised in a public forum. If anything is splitting the church, it is 1) Mac's actions since he arrived and which continue, and (2) the arrogant, bullying manner in which he and A.C. Soud have responded to the blogger's concerns.

"Shut em down...haaaard."

Anonymous said...

The guy to feel sorry for here is John Blount, III. The day after the Chest of Joash offering, he "called the cops" and made criminal allegations against the WD to try and find out his identity. The investigating Deputy, Robert Hinson, another long time member of the church, concluded there was nothing criminal about the blog. Yet, John Blount, III then met with Deputy C.R. Butler at 10:00 a.m. on December 7 to have trespass warnings issued against a long-time member, after he had already hand delivered the trespass warnings to the accused (and his wife) two weeks earlier, he then forbade the wife/mother from hearing her daughter sing, continued to pursue action on the accused (saying he was "compelled to do so") even after the accused had joined another church, then John Blount III cowardly refused to answer any voice mail messages or emails from the accused once the nature of his deeds became known to the accused.

Poor John Blount III. A laymen himself for many years at the church, actually taught the accused in Sunday School for years. I wonder what John's wife and son and daughter think about thier dad's "ministry" now?

Thy Peace said...

What concerns me here is, why did Google and Comcast not notify Watchdog that his blog ownership has been subpoenaed? My understanding, is they are to notify you, so you can at least contest the subpoena or block it. I remember reading about Google's policy about 5 years ago, but they might have changed their policy since then and I am unable to find the past documents on the web.

The above question will be very valid to ask of Google and Comcast, for it will apply to other users too. I am fairly certain most public watchdog agencies that monitor people privacy and government intrusion, would be very interested in this affair.

Also, why did they also subpoena Tiffany Croft's blog ownership or other information?

I am sure, if Lindsay Jr. was the pastor when this happened and if he knew the identity of Watchdog, he would have just gone to Watchdog and asked him, what was bothering him.

This reminds me of Breakfast With Fred on Pastoral Leadership:

1. I want my pastor to commit himself to building community. We live in a fractured world. Our cities are not friendly. Our workplaces are often combative. Sadly, even our homes are dysfunctional. As a group of believers, we need the fellowship of believers where people feel accepted and blessed.

2. I want my pastor to encourage the “priesthood of the believers.” He is not my agent negotiating a better deal with God than I can make. I want him to remind me that he isn’t a professional Christian with greater access. I want him to join with me in prayer --- not do the praying for me.

3. I want my pastor to teach me how to think about God, not just know what he thinks about God. My pastor is to awaken the teacher within me. He is to help me and guide me, but the responsibility for my spiritual health is mine.

4. I want my pastor to maintain his own spiritual vitality. I want his teaching to come from the artesian well of his walk, not the dead sea of old sermons and seminary classes.

5. I want my pastor to be my spiritual dietician, helping me to develop a spiritual regimen that is uniquely based on my gifts and opportunities. I am grateful for those who invested in my spiritual growth.

6. I want to be a regular person around him --- and I want him to be natural with me, as well. Maintaining images can alienate us from each other.

7. I want my pastor to know truth, not just the facts of the Bible. Just as information is not knowledge, and knowledge is not wisdom, so facts and word studies do not comprise the truth of the revelation.

8. I want my pastor to personify humility. I don’t want him to act humble – I want him to be humble. Our son, Fred, Jr., once gave me a great definition of humility: “Accepting your strength with gratitude.”

Olon Hyde said...

Joe Blackmon,

I must say, that to belittle another person in the manner you did is not Godly. I think I read somewhere that we are to build one another up, and to quite biting and devouring one another (Gal 5:14-15).

If the Watchdog is a believer, then you are being disobedient to Jesus’ command to love one another. If he is not a believer, then you may be causing him not to accept salvation by becoming a stumbling block to him. I know I do not want to stand before God and explain to him why I caused someone to choose not to accept Christ as Lord and Savior.


Wade,

I agree that with you and hope that the Pastoral staff made efforts at reconciliation and restoration with Watchdog before effectively expelling him from the congregation.

I also think that it may have been wiser to open a rebuttal blog to respond to the concerns of the Watchdog and/or Mac himself post replies on the Watchdog’s blog. What would they have done if it were not a member with a blog exposing problems at FBC Jax? Would they have taken the same actions?

Jesus Reigns,
Olon Hyde

Thy Peace said...

An example of Google notification:

Eclipse Aviation Critic Blogger Fights Eclipse Aviation Subpoena

If the above link does not work, try this link from Google cache.

After Shane Price, owner of Eclipse Aviation Critic NG blog was notified by Google's legal department it had been subpoenaed by Eclipse Aviation for production of the blog's business records, to expose the identities of 29 people, he said he was shocked. Price, of Dublin, Ireland, who works in the publishing business isn't listed on the subpoena. New Mexico-based Eclipse, manufacturer of the Eclipse 500 very light jet, claims that bloggers have harmed its business. About six months ago the blog went dead; its founder decided to stop hosting the site. Before Price revived the site, posters had temporally joined forces with another site.
When asked why he decided to host the site, Price replied to CharterX Industry Headline News, "I found the site by accident." "Although I'm not in aviation, and I'm busy with my own business affairs, I smelled a rat--Vern Raburn [Eclipse CEO]. After I saw how he [Raburn] treated his employees, suppliers and customers, I realized that these bloggers needed their home back."

After Price posted the news about Eclipse's subpoena, 174 posts were immediately made. Rich Lucibella, who's in the publishing business, and also a frequent blogger [not targeted on Eclipse's list], responded to the news. He told CharterX Industry Headline News that he found Eclipse's actions "outrageous."

"What Eclipse is attempting to do is just wrong," Lucibella said. "They want to take advantage of people's rights; I can't stand by and let them do that."

A proponent of the First Amendment, Lucibella hired Florida-based attorney Norman Malinski, who will file a motion to prevent Google from releasing bloggers' private information.

Andrew J. Nicewander said...

Regardless on who is right or wrong in this case, it hurts the heart to see professed believers at such odds with each other. It is discouraging when such ammunition is handed to Christ's enemies. God forgive us when we so malign His Name!

Anonymous said...

Psst... Wade. It's "sheriff."

Wade Burleson said...

Psst

Thanks. I sufferr from double "r" vision.

kehrsam said...

How was FBJax privy to the results of a criminal investigation? This is called Abuse of Process here in NC and is potentially a crime. The DA's office may well have been justified in applying for the subpoena, but they have no right to pass that information to a third party. Bulldog probably has an action for some type of privacy violation against whoever released his information.

This type of incident is a great advertisment for why the separation of church and state is a good thing. Hint: It's for the protection of the church, not the other way around.

Anonymous said...

If the Watchdog didn't have the integrity to stand up and admit that he was the one served with the papers then why would we believe anything else he says? I would imagine there might be more to the church's accusations of stalking and taking pictures that the Watchdog would like to admit.

The worst part is that there are so many junior attorneys on here speculating about something you have no facts about. If you're a member of FBC, Jax and are in the elite group of leaders then you might actually know some facts--the rest of you are just speculating. Its sad that Wade chose to jump into the fray without knowing all the facts.

Chris Ryan said...

Anon. 4:09,

Yes, we should only worry about abuse when we have all the facts. It is never required that you call in suspected abuse...

Injustices should always be called out as soon as they are suspected. Facts can be gathered later. But I guess that I am one who would rather see something stopped in its tracks or even stopped prematurely and look like I was wrong than to let injustice and injury actually be done.

Thy Peace said...

Fbc Jax: Deacons Resolution 2009-1

WHEREAS, it has come to the attention of the Deacons of the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville that the ministry, staff, leadership, Pastor and people of the church have come under severe, but false, criticism and ridicule by means of a blog site on the internet which publishes to the world; and

WHEREAS, a current blog site, owned and administered by an immediate past member of the church, calling and advocating for the dissemination of such harmful opinions, false statements and doctrine to all members of the church by using whatever contact means that are available, including Sunday school rolls with home and email addresses and phone numbers; and

WHEREAS, said member, within the last three weeks, has requested his letter be transferred to a sister church in Jacksonville, Florida, but only after being advised that the Discipline Committee of the Deacons would recommend to the Deacon body that disciplinary action be taken against him for such conduct which the Deacons find is contrary to scripture and the by-laws of the Church; and

WHEREAS, such opinions and false statements have the potential of causing financial and spiritual risk and damage to the church and its personnel, ministries, reputation and goodwill, however and by whatever means communicated, as well as having the intent to be divisive and cause strife and disgruntlement among church members against the ministries, staff, leadership, Pastor and people; and

WHEREAS, the Deacons believe it is in the best interest of the Church that a policy be adopted by the Deacons, Trustees and the Church body condemning such action and conduct, both now and in the future, by any person or persons who are then members of the Church, whether such action and conduct is done, advocated or communicated to other members of the Church by whatever means is available to them; and

WHEREAS, members who participate or actively pursue a course of conduct like that described above will be confronted with their sin and approached in accordance with the biblical pattern for the purpose of reconciliation, restoration and/or scriptural discipline; and

WHEREAS, it is not the intent of this Resolution to suppress thought or freedom of expression in casual or official encounters, but those which have a manifest aim and intent to cause a mood of disgruntlement, strife and/or division among members of the church toward any person, ministry, operation, leadership and/or Pastor of the Church; and

WHEREAS, the Trustees of the Church are charged with managing the legal and financial affairs of the church, and are an integral part of the Deacon body for the purpose of organizational and scriptural unity for the work and ministry of the church, and said Trustees have likewise unanimously adopted such a Resolution as this on February 18, 2009,

WHEREAS, it is the belief and expression of the Deacons herein that division, strife, and discord caused to church members, and unjust criticism and ridicule of the ministry, staff, leadership, Pastor and people expressed to the general public at large in any form and by any means by any member of the church should be viewed as an attack against the Lord’s church contrary to Scriptural truth and confronted aggressively in accordance with scripture and the disciplinary provisions of the By-laws of the church; and

WHEREAS, in such circumstances it would be detrimental to the ministry of the Lord and His church to not take any action, or to defer taking action, or to simply maintain and update a responsive website, or to attempt to resolve any such issue in a court of law;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE DEACONS OF FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF JACKSONVILLE that the foregoing policy of biblical confrontation and restoration as stated above is hereby adopted and approved for the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville and request that this Resolution be presented to the Church body at its regular monthly business meeting to adopt, endorse and encourage a policy strongly dealing with discipline in issues such as described above, but in strict accordance with scriptural authority and the By-laws of the church, by voting on this Resolution.
DATED AND APPROVED, by the Deacons, this 23rd day of February, 2009, at a regular meeting.

The foregoing Resolution was approved by vote of the Church sitting in regular business meeting on February 25, 2009.


What a joke!

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Stalking and taking pictures.

You've got to be kidding.

If anyone made those accusations against me, they are bald-faced liars trying to slander me. I welcome Detective Hinson or anyone else to question me about such slanderous accusations that have been raised at the church.

If Brunson or anyone else at the church alleges that I stalked or took pictures of Mrs. Brunson or stole their mail, it shows the depths that they will go to defend their pastor from any criticism.

Those who have claimed I have slandered and gossiped about Brunson, when I have backed up on my blog my concerns with audio and video and public documents...are they themselves perpetuating a lie about stalking and stealing mail. Its too bad that people at FBC Jax have learned the tactics of Mac Brunson: they themselves engage in the very activity that they wrongly accuse me of doing on my blog.

Shame on all of you down at FBC Jax who won't hold your pastor accountable, and then spread lies about a person who has been critical of your pastor.

Shame on all of you.

Joe Blackmon said...

"If the Watchdog didn't have the integrity to stand up and admit that he was the one served with the papers then why would we believe anything else he says?"

Oooooo, SNAP!!!

debbiekaufman said...

Sherri Klouda had the wrong judge in her case. She could have used the judge that allowed FBC to obtain all these ways in which to obtain their information about Watchdog.

This is lunacy. Would a smaller Southern Baptist church or any smaller church be able to obtain such things. BBC said this is scary. He/she is right. But worse, I think it's an all time low for a Southern Baptist church and minister.

debbiekaufman said...

Chris Ryan: I agree. I don't have to have concrete proof to know that bruises in the shape of a hand or finger most likely is abuse occurring.

Thy Peace said...

Tiffany Thigpen Croft said...
A "disclaimer" of sorts:
It is only out of respect for my parents and others I love there that I feel the need to disclaim this:
These comments and opinions are solely mine and do not reflect those of my parents. They adore Dr. Brunson and respect him. They are not in agreement with this blog or any involvement from me, so please do not approach or harass them because of this.

As for my role: There isn't one. I am upset that no one seemed to care about this man and his family. I have shared my feelings.
I am now "embarrassing" my family and many people I love there at FBC by posting. For that embarrassment, I am truly sorry. I hope that it is not irreparable. I hope that you can see my heart and know that I love people and I don't want to see anyone hurt. Many of you know me well enough.

However, I also know that we are called to love. We are called to mediate and restore, we are called to live as Jesus would. Jesus called people out (in love) and he then turned around and ministered to them. He healed their hurts and forgave their insults; he turned the other cheek and loved on the wounded. He was available. He was both a shepherd and the Lion of Judah - he loved unconditionally, but he also shined light on the sin. He did this all in love, with great mercy.

Have any of you seen the Dateline episodes titled "What would you do?". They secretly video acted out events of random passerby reactions to various shameful acts. Later they let the person know it was an act and they were being taped to see their reaction. It’s very interesting to see things like a baby being left alone in a hot car and many people walking by, obviously disturbed, yet taking no action. Or kids beating up a homeless man and passerby turn their heads (or even stare) but offer no intervention. Or, other more simple things such as a person that has ketchup on their face, or a button undone and no one let's them know. There are many who react and help. Some go to great lengths to step up and help, some call for help, some make comments as they pass by - but they DO SOMETHING. Our society has become a "don't get involved" society, mostly for fear of getting hurt or killed, or for embarrassment, or just for fear of being harshly judged. Is this right? Should we help? That is open to opinion and debate. One thing for sure, God created us all differently. We all serve different purposes in life, especially in kingdom work. Wouldn't churches be ineffective if we all had the same outlook and personality, the same ministry? There are different needs, therefore different solutions.

We are created to serve different purposes within the body of Christ. He planned it that way. I feel a deep need to stand up for people being run over by powerful people that are trying to silence them. Does this mean that the actions of the "accused" are all good, right and just? Am I always right in speaking out? Absolutely not. We are all fallible humans.

You don’t have to condone the behavior of someone to step up to help them. The homeless person may repel you and yet you wouldn’t stand by and watch kids throw things at him. You wouldn’t stand by and do nothing while a family member did something you knew was wrong, though you love him/her you would speak up. And then possibly defend them if there were a reason to, out of love, not condoning, but apologizing and helping.

We should handle things the right way as Christians, on BOTH sides of the fence. I stood by and said NOTHING for a while in this matter, I knew of the things going on long before many of you and knew the validity of some things being said by Watchdog. I said nothing because it was not my place, it is not my church, it was not my battle, no need for idle chatter. I have a family at FBC along with multitudes of friends and leaders that I love and respect. I did not want to do anything that would harm or embarrass them.

This man and his family are being lied about (directly or indirectly) and it affects them greatly. Stop and think of the impact this will have on their children. How will they view church leadership after all of this is over? Will they be able to respect and trust again? Will the wounds and pain of lost friendships and an entire church family turning their backs on them be forever life changing? Do you care? The pain of knowing that their father was standing up for something he believed in (right or wrong) and they are watching him be slandered and lied about. Knowing their mother was sitting outside the church while the daughter was singing in church because of a trespass warning served by the church against her parents. They tried to keep their kids in the church hoping things would be fixed and repaired. This did not happen. They did not run, they left because they couldn’t stay.
They have documented proof of their willingness to meet with the discipline committee (with 3 simple, reasonable requests) and were denied. They know this fact, many of you forget this or simply didn’t know.
I am certain that all of this could have been settled had that meeting occurred. Why am I certain? Because I know the 6 men that make up the discipline committee, I respect, love and admire them. That with the fact that watchdog did not set out to harm anyone, he wanted some tough questions answered and had concerns about the future of his church and the people in it. Arguably, many opinions as to whether or not this was the best way to handle it. He would have had a reasonable conversation with the committee and they would have all found a solution, he would have chosen the route that best covered his family. They would have all been able to work something out. Instead, that is when things heated up. I am sure looking back, everyone involved would have done things differently.

Why can we not stop right here and turn this thing around? That is what (as Christians) we should do. I suggest a meeting next week between the injured parties, Watchdog and his wife and Dr. Brunson. Just them, along with one accountability person for each side. Settle this whole thing once and for all. Admit there are mistakes on both sides and shake hands and move on? Is that possible? Would it be the right thing? We will see.
I feel that has become a brand within the churches. Cause trouble (by speaking up or asking questions) and you are humiliated and discredited right out of the church. Few Pastors seem to step up and do the really tough, respectful and Godly requirements.
A good, old fashioned, face to face. "I love you in Christ brother, but I really have a problem with what you are doing. Can we find a solution?" Do you think that would have turned this all around? I do. I know it would have, because I have talked to the watchdog. Please do not post any comments saying that a meeting was offered by the church or never requested by WD, because the WD has documentation of all that has transpired all the way back.

Please pray for WD's family (you are called to) and pray for Dr. Brunson as he decides how to handle it all. Please step back and show love, compassion and mercy. This may get really ugly if it continues on its' current path. I truly hope that does not happen.

MARCH 19, 2009 3:32 PM

Alan Paul said...

I find it interesting that when light is shed on the situation - and this post sheds light on it for those of us who have no idea what's really going on - that one of the roaches (roaches hate the light you know) is the first to comment. Very interesting.

Reading this reminds me of reading about Watergate. Perhaps this should be referred to from now on as FBCJaxGate.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Blackmon - I know this all fun and games to you. But people at my church are spreading rumors that I may be a criminal. I blogged about Brunson and his words and actions, and for that there are some at the church who wish to crush me and my family. If that's ooh, snap, ha ha ha to you, then you're a sick man.

I chose to preserve my anonymity to protect myself and my family, and to continue to blog about the un-biblical church discipline the church decided to exercise on me after they found out my identity when the JSO and SA office subpoened my Internet records. If that ruins my credibility, and if that makes me a criminal and mail stealer and stalker in your book so be it.

If this continues, Brunson may win the battle against me, but he will ultimately lose the war. We'll see how much he can pastor in a town when they become aware of the tactics being undertaken to crush a man and his family who dared to blog anonymously about the shenanigans at his church.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Anonymous 4:09 wrote:

"I would imagine there might be more to the church's accusations of stalking and taking pictures that the Watchdog would like to admit."

And in the very next sentence, this:

"The worst part is that there are so many junior attorneys on here speculating about something you have no facts about."

Oh, the irony! Pot, let me introduce you to Kettle!

Thy Peace said...

Thy Peace said...
These are my observations and suggestions:

If Pastor Mac in the beginning days of his tenure, engaged fbcjax members in a honest and open forum, with no retaliation(s), then all this would have been avoided.

All that would have costed him would have been his pride. Since Our Lord Jesus Christ has paid for ALL of our sins and has forgiven us, surely Pastor Mac could afford to put his pride to suffer.

Even now, it's till doable. All it would need is for Pastor Mac to simply engage the members in an open forum. May be they could set aside a month full of Wednesday evenings for this purpose. Let there be no ridicule or retaliation for questioning. Let us all act with Grace, Humility and Respect for the office of Senior Pastor. Let Pastor Mac humbly and lovingly explain his thoughts to the questions. I am sure there will be some members who are angry and frustrated, but that is OK. Since we ALL belong to Our Lord Jesus Christ.

There is no reason under heaven and earth, for Pastor Mac to lose members from fbcjax, because he is unable to do the above. Now all the projects can be put on hold, till these problems are resolved. Surely it would be better for fbcjax to move forward with unity and love, than with unresolved questions and frustrations that the leadership has not addressed some of the members questions.

May be I am very naive. But to be honest, believing in Our Lord Jesus Christ, looks naive to the World. But we need to develop and test our Faith. And this is such a small test of Faith and Love.

For this to work, the only requirement is for Pastor Mac to truly want to reconcile and heal the wounds at fbcjax. Pastor Mac, Sir, it's not wise to kick out or lose your old members. To me, they are a treasure. They have spent lot of time at the church (years, decades). Their wisdom is such a waste to be thrown away, because you think they are holding up progress.

You need to draw up all people (Only Our Lord Jesus Christ, The Holy Spirit and The Word of God can do this) and lead them with love and humility. Such is the command given by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Please do this. Do this with the Love of Our Lord Jesus Christ. If you fail, we all fail here. Then at least, Our Lord Jesus Christ will say you tried.

But my feeling is, if the above forum is tried with love and humility, then it will succeed.

I had rather be a fool and abase myself for Our Lord Jesus Christ, than look good to the rest of the World.

NOVEMBER 7, 2008 10:24 AM
-----------------------------------
FBC Jax Watchdog said...
Not going to happen Thy Peace.

Mac has drawn the line.

Whatever opposition he faces has nothing to do with anything he has or has not done. He is God's man, baptized into the holiness of God, delivering God's vision, and if there is opposition it is of the devil.

There is nothing to talk about.

He is holding meetings but not to hear what people say, but to TELL THEM what his vision is.

He will likely remain as pastor, "dead weight" will continue to leave, and they will be replaced by people who, like our well meaning poster Pennington have a twisted view of pastoral authority...and they are ripe for abuse. As the numbers dwindle Mac will begin to use the phrase "cleansing of the church" or the "refining of the church"...and he will make himself to be a victim...and he will eventually see numbers turn around as new members are recruited who are willing to be spiritually abused.

Or...trustees and deacons will wise, change the rules by which Mac is playing to the point that Mac doesn't like the game anymore and he leaves.

Its either of those two options.

No in between. No "reconciliation".

NOVEMBER 7, 2008 10:31 AM
-----------------------------------
Thy Peace said...
WD, I understand that is what has been going on. But I pray for The Holy Spirit to convict and convince Pastor Mac of the above. That he should listen to fbcjax members voices and concerns. To act as a True Shepherd. To fulfill the mandate given by Our Lord Jesus Christ to not let the sheep stray or be lost.

Pastor Mac, please listen to your flock. Please also, do not attempt to do as in Two Rivers and BBC (Bellevue).

Then ALL is lost. Our Lord Jesus Christ will grieve for His Children.

NOVEMBER 7, 2008 10:44 AM
-----------------------------------
FBC Jax Watchdog said...
And I'm praying that Obama will change his mind and be pro-life, and will want to leave more money in people's hands and not want to spread the wealth around.

Leaders are who they are. They have world views that don't change.

Mac won't change. I'm not saying don't pray, but just saying what history tell us.

NOVEMBER 7, 2008 10:47 AM
-----------------------------------
Anonymous said...
Anon 12:09am here again,

ThyPeace, the Dog is right. The church is at a point of purification. The old days have passed and the new days are here. As FBCJax moves forward with their efforts in reaching the unchurched in the fastest growing region of our city, we will begin to see the folks who don't approve of the methods of doing so. So what we are seeing is the process of purification, thos who are with the Lord or against him. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying Mac is the Lord. Pastor Mac is following the Lord and seeking his direction. That's all you can ask from a pastor and some congregants don't like certain directions. And so we are beginning to see which ones, like the Watchdog for example.
What I find to be quite humorous, however, is that the Watchdog complains about the Brunson supporters being Kool-Aid drinkers. Well, the Watchdog himself was a Kool-Aid drinker too, under Lindsay Jr. and Vines. Even if Lindsay Jr. and Vines were humble men, the Dog still drank the Kool-Aid. So in essence, we're all drinking the Kool-Aid or have drunk the Kool-Aid.

NOVEMBER 7, 2008 11:02 AM

-----------------------------------

New BBC Open Forum said...

Debbie,

What I said was scary is that Joey Bwackmon is a pastor (former or not). I find the whole thing with Mac & Co. just plain pathetic. The only thing scary about Mac Brunson is the fact that so many people are willing to blindly follow him and do his bidding.

Anonymous said...

New BBC: "The only thing scary about Mac Brunson is the fact that so many people are willing to blindly follow him and do his bidding."

You forgot his hump. His hump is very scary.

Joe Blackmon said...

New BBC Open Forum

If you really wanna get my goat, why don't you say something bad about my momma. I'll get you started "Your momma is such a fundementalist....."

Lydia said...

Its sad that Wade chose to jump into the fray without knowing all the facts.

Thu Mar 19, 04:09:00 PM 2009

Doesn't this sound familiar? We have heard these same words over and over. We heard them about Patterson, Klouda, the IMB trustee, etc.

The irony is that 'asking questions' publicly is considered wrong even though they refuse to return phone calls or even be transparant about their actions. Lots of secret shady stuff.

Comments like these are their only defense. You are a sinner because you ask questions. We do not like the questions, so how dare you ask them. Ad nauseum.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Anon 5:12,

I know what you mean, but I'm not going there.

New BBC Open Forum said...

I don't want your goat, Joey. You're doing just fine on your own. Keep up the good work!

Joe Blackmon said...

"The irony is that 'asking questions' publicly is considered wrong even though they refuse to return phone calls or even be transparant about their actions."

I missed the part where they are responsible for returning Wade's phone calls since he's not a member of that church.

Now if it's a woman pastor the answer is "Local church autonomy" but of course this situation which has be exasorbated primarily due to a blogger's unwillingness to man up and speak his mind wihtout using the anonymity the internet provides doesn't fall under local church autonomy. Weird, wild stuff.

Anonymous said...

If someone strikes at you, you may turn the other cheek.

If someone strikes at your brother, you must take the blow for him.

We cannot stand and 'watch' while another is abused. It doesn't work that way. It never did.
We are our brother's keeper.

New BBC Open Forum said...

"Exasorbated"?

Anonymous said...

" blogged about Brunson and his words and actions, and for that there are some at the church who wish to crush me and my family. If that's ooh, snap, ha ha ha to you, then you're a sick man."

WD, I never blogged about what evil shenanigans I saw at my former mega church (Not SBC) as a management level staff person who refused to go along with questionable behaviors.... and they still crushed me. Ruined me for daring not to be a 'team player'. "Team Player' means you go along with everything and never question anything. That would include hurting other people who did not deserve it.

Ruined me not only financially but also because the mega tentacles are deep in their cities. Word gets out and people stick with the famous and powerful. They always do. They never believe the leadership is capable of what you saw with your own eyes because they are so 'nice' in public.

I say, stay anonymous for as long as you can. You think it is bad now? I never even got to defend myself (they would NEVER want what I know, out but who would believe it when employees are even willing to sign documents full of lies? They have mortgage payments, too)

But I have realized that there are too many Joe Blackmon's out there that would kick a dog while it's down. They don't care about your family. You HAVE to consider them in this.

It is even more incredible how many facts people are willing to overlook! You have actual words and deeds (facts) on your blog and folks still say you are lying!

And there are MANY folks who have made a decision to go along with evil rationalization that the ministry is more important than one "nobody" or even the full truth. they do not think behavior matters when it comes to themselves or their leaders.

They aren't 'churches'. They are business organizations.

Anonymous because of guys like Joe.

Lydia said...

"I missed the part where they are responsible for returning Wade's phone calls since he's not a member of that church."

Joe, are you serious? Whose church is it? Diotrephes'?

Hebrew Prof said...

The day the pastor at FBC Jax lied about me before an entire congregation became the day that the events at First Baptist became my
business

Joe Blackmon said...

Lydia

Perhaps I should have been more specific. Why would they return Wade's phone calls when he is not a member of that local congregation in Jacksonville and it is, therefore, none of his business.

kehrsam said...

According to the BF&M, Southern Baptist Churches are democraticly governed as discrete units: What each chooses to do is their own business, not mine. So if a church chooses a female pastor, so be it. As for FBCJax, if they want silly and possibly unBiblical internal rules for church discipline and the like, that's fine, too.

What cannot be permitted is for a church to abuse local government and legal processes -- for any purpose. So long as it was a he-said/she-said disagreement, I had nothing to say about the matter; as far as I am aware, Wade avoided the topic as well, although the issues were often debated in the comment streams.

Once the church stepped over the line in its use and potential abuse of the legal process, Wade's list of questions became relevant. The answering silence is deafening.

New BBC Open Forum said...

How would Mac know what Wade was calling about unless he was reading the blogs or listening to those who do? Returning a phone call, especially if the person calls more than once, is common courtesy. Wade is a fellow SBC pastor and could be calling for any number of reasons. Of course, if you don't want to discuss what you think he might be calling about... then I suppose the "silent treatment" is to be expected. Duck and cover....

Wade Burleson said...

Joe

You have offered multiple comments and opinion, all negative, on our church inviting William Paul Young to speak. That is your right. We welcome your criticism and have nothing to hide, confident in our reasons for the decision.

Yet when I ask questions about what looks like inappropriate or possiby illegal actions to obtain federally and state protected private information you say it is none of my business.

It is. It should be a concern for all of us.

The usual method of abusers is to go behind closed doors and disparage the character of the one asking questions. The abuser is in trouble, however, when the questioner has no fear of personal attack or when the attack crosses a legal boundary.

Time is always the great revealer of truth.

St. Upid said...

1 corinthians 6:1-8

we have already been defeated.

Anonymous said...

What a 'catch-22'

Joe, first you tell Wade he has no business calling Brunson et al.

Then, you say, because Wade has 'no business' calling Brunson, Brunson 'doesn't have to' respond.

That is nonsense.

Wade extends a pastor's courtesy to another pastor. A phone call.
And THIS IS FORBIDDEN ?
Because it might 'upset' Mac ?
Almighty Mac, who pulls your puppet strings, Joe?
Please.
It was a phone call.
Not an indictment.

Any abuse of an SBC member by a more powerful entity in the SBC is the concern of ALL Southern Baptists, OR SHOULD BE.

When the wolves attack the sheep, the shepherds must rally and join to protect the flock.

And YOU don't think Mac is a wolf?
Well, Joe, everyone understands.
You are similar to Mac in the way you communicate your contempt to others. God help your flock.

Steve said...

This case has certainly made the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office look like the best 'protection' that money can buy. Justice is denied when we become a nation of persons and not of laws.

Anonymous said...

Where was the law and the courts when Dr. Klouda needed protection from abuse? Who paid them off?

Patterson and Brunson would crucify Jesus himself again if he got in their way. And the BI confederation would cheer them on.
Of course the courts backed down. Anyone can be bought and paid for in this new post-modern SBC 'christianity'.

Anonymous said...

On Wade's Post about "Theological debate without the finger pointing" he said the following.

"The anonymous poster with the same IP address signing in under multiple pseudonyms has had his comments completely removed."

Wade,

Why is it okay for you to find anonymous posters IP addresses and then delete the comments but it's not okay for FBC Jacksonville to find an anonymous bloggers IP address and try to shut him down? Isn't that exactly what you have done? Deleted posts that you did not like that were in opposition to your position? In fact many of the posts you deleted in fact did not come from the same person even though you stated that they had.

Whether I use a pseudonym or just simply put anonymous makes no difference. The point is for it to be anonymous.

Double Standard? I'll leave that for you to answer.

From Those of us in "The Office".

Bob Cleveland said...

Anonymous 07:04,

The sort of comment you just put up gives naysayers all the ammo they need to dismiss this blog, and blogs like it, and the opinions of its/their supporters, as just a bunch of nonsense from so many wackos.

Wade Burleson said...

Anonymous

There is a major difference between Kloudas situation and Watchdogs. SWBTS let Klouda go because she was a female and the courts ruled a church (the judge called SWBTS a church) should be free to make ecclesiastical decisions without interference from the courts.

But in Watchdogs case it seems the church used information provided by the courts to silence a blog. The million dollar question is "Did the church have a lawful right to obtain the private information?" If the did not, then how did they get it?

And, once thy received it, what did they do in light of the information?

Bennett Wills said...

I have not posted anything to Wade's blog in over a year. However, reading this and other WD commentary has caused me to ask us all to look for the lessons to learn.

How can we avoid problems like we are seeing at FBC Jax and a lot of other churches? My experiences cause me to believe that transparency and accountability are the only way to maintain a proper relationship between the people who make up the Body--both membership and leadership.

This means absolute openness with anything that has to do with money. It means full discussion--as long as it takes--on any program that a church undertakes.

In the business where I work we have a saying, "If you think safety is expensive, try accidents." It is worth the trouble to avoid these problems. Once you get used to having to face the Body, it becomes a great simplification. When the whole team knows where they are going, they pull a lot better.

Bennett Willis
Lake Jackson, Tx

Wade Burleson said...

The Office

There is a huge difference. The only way I can find out your real identity is to get law enforcement to believe you have committed a crime or are about to commit one. Then, they will subpoena your records and deal with you. Or if I am really mad at you for what you have written, I might convince my friends in law enforcement to subpoena your identity and give it to me and let me take care of you. I have done neither. I don't know who you are.

Second, supposing I did discover your identity I have not told several key people who you are and allege you have committed criminal activity. If you can't see the difference between the two situations then I can't help you.

happy gram said...

Blackmon: "Personally, I think the whole issue at FBC, Jax is none of your business and you should stop speculating about things until you talk to them in person."

Lydia: "The irony is that 'asking questions' publicly is considered wrong even though they refuse to return phone calls or even be transparant about their actions."

Blackmon: I missed the part where they are responsible for returning Wade's phone calls since he's not a member of that church."

so how is wb supposed to talk to them as indicated in your first comment?

Joe Blackmon said...

Wade

I'm not saying that you can't or shouldn't say that you think what's hapenning is wrong. Ask questions in a public forum like this if you want. Heck, if you've got the time to waste, go ahead and call if you want. However, since you are not a member of the local congregation I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for an answer since, from their perspective, it's none of your business. Comparing what I did in a comment thread and what you did calling them isn't exactly the same. Now, if I had called you or someone from your church and asked for an explanation, you would have been right to have not responded since it was none of my business to ask you for an explanation.

greg.w.h said...

Wade:

As a matter of using the internet and conversing with a service like blogger, the user of the service surrenders to the service the internet protocol address that he/she uses. Blogger as a matter of business makes that available to those who put up web pages. It requires no legal action to obtain that information. It literally is part of the protocol and part of the service.

Those who post on blogger comments are surrendering their technical identity when they post. But their personal identity remains private. There are no laws against services that translate from addresses to internet provider address blocks. There are no laws that prevent the use of programs like tracert to ascertain the networks behind which a particular address lies.

But the act of translating from an internet protocol address to a customer requires assistance from the internet service provider and usually only occurs under compulsion of a court of law.

The person from The Office who is complaining understands all of this and is intentionally making a false comparison in order to make you look bad. If he has a concern about giving out his IP address, he can attempt to use anonymizer sites, though most in western nations can also be compromised via compulsion of an appropriate court.

You took no illegal action in order to obtain the IP address of the comments that you deleted. Those comments were not posted on the site of the person that made them. It was an act of censorship, but it was not a protected act of free speech because under the license granted to you by blogger to use its site and its comment system, you are permitted to treat those comments as, essentially, your private property. You probably can even express a copyright over the entire site including all comments as a cost for posting.

That's entirely different than our First Amendment (civil) right of free speech. We're protected from the GOVERNMENT regulating our speech. (Unless, of course, you're running for office or you're bailed out by the government, in which case they break that constitutional limitation for the "general welfare".)

I don't mind people forwarding these bogus arguments in an effort to make you look bad. I hope they don't mind too badly when I prick their bubbles of misdirection and unreason and watch their arguments fly off like a leaky balloon.

Greg Harvey

Joe Blackmon said...

happy gran

You quoted me as saying "Personally, I think the whole issue at FBC, Jax is none of your business and you should stop speculating about things until you talk to them in person."

If you will take the time to notice, that comment was the first one left and was left by an Anon. If you're going to ascribe a quote to me, please be so kind as to make it one that I actually wrote.

Thanks.

happy gram said...

my apologies :)

Anonymous said...

My point was that the motives behind both were the same. The one with power (wade in this case) wanted my comments removed. FBC Jax wants watchdogs comments shut down. :). Same motive because they didn't like the comments.

Wade Burleson said...

Anonymous,

I leave comments that disparage my character up. I delete comments, including yours, that disparage the others.

kehrsam said...

Anon @8:09

Not the same at all. This is Wade's blog, and he can allow or disallow any comments he likes. We commenters are visitors and should behave as such.

BullDog posts his comments on a private site as well. FBCJax has no right whatsoever to information about that website or its owners, in the same manner that I as a private citizen have no right to enter your home because I want to criticize your decorating scheme.

If the blog were defamatory or otherwise illegal, then that is a different case, and anyway, we are told that any criminal investigation has been closed without any charges issuing.

So your comparison is not only inapt, but completely backwards. I hate to point that out, because you were making such delightful and cogent points recently about Christian love and brotherhood. Unless that was a different Anonymous.

Anonymous said...

I don't know Brunson personally. But I do know this young grasshoppers:

Right theology can impact your life in so many positive ways.

Unfortunately, the converse is true as well.

Anonymous said...

You people who are rushing to defend the Watchdog have to be incredibly naive if you think Mac Brunson does not know who Wade Burleson is and what he has written.

I will be totally amazed if Wade ever gets a call back from Mac or anyone in authority in that church.

Why? Because it is none of his business. He may have bought into the Watchdog's self-righteousness but it doesn't entitle him to private dealings in another church.

Perhaps Wade could move to Jacksonville, join FBC, and then ask. THEN it would be his business.

Joe Blackmon said...

happy gran

das rien


joe

oc said...

I'm getting real sick of this "it's none of your business" stuff. Whatever happens in the Kingdom to any one of our siblings in Christ IS our business. No matter where it is.

Saying it's nobody else's business is like those who compartmentalize their Christianity. It's the same thing as being a Christian on Sunday and being a child of Hell the rest of the week.
oc.

debbiekaufman said...

OC: I agree with you, it is all of our business. Whenever someone is hurt this badly it's everyone of our business. We are a family and what hurts one hurts us all, or it should.

The parable of the Samaritan comes to mind as well as the many passages in scripture that relate to coming to the aid of our brother or sister who is hurting.

May I never "mind my own business" to those in this type of situation.

Kevin M. Crowder said...

Joe,

One might be inclinded to reapply your logic to your interest in Wade's actions or thoughts toward FBCJax, WD, or Mac B. Of course I would never do that for what you do is not my business. But I think asking the question might be in order...is what Wade does in regard to the people/church above any of your business?


WordVer: lardspro (as in, when its comes ta preachin,' I'z be da lardspro)

:)

greg.w.h said...

Anonymous wrote:

My point was that the motives behind both were the same. The one with power (wade in this case) wanted my comments removed. FBC Jax wants watchdogs comments shut down. :). Same motive because they didn't like the comments.

Your point is is false logic based on the argument of moral equivalence. If what Wade did wasn't illegal but was of the same kind of moral intent, then even if what FBC Jacksonville did WAS illegal (not to mention of different focus, degree, and strictly ethical questionability from a non-moral viewpoint), if it was of the same moral intent, then there is no wrongdoing. I fully and completely reject that argument purely on legal grounds. I also note that the Bible commands us to obey civil authorities.

Here's the deal: FBC Jacksonville does not deserve the benefit of the legal system for imposing ecclesiastical judgments agaisnt Watchdog. Wade isn't trying to impose ecclesiastical judgments when he censors his site. He's merely applying his personal judgment regarding the use of the system and the system space that he has licensed from blogger. There is absolutely no similarity between the two situations.

None, zero, zip, nada. And you KNOW that, but the only reason you're arguing the point is an extended effort to make Wade look bad as I claimed before. Thank you for confirming my earlier comments by continuing your illogical, unreasonable stance claiming moral equivalence between Wade and FBC Jacksonville. But it would be wiser to either not comment again or to admit that the two situations share no moral equivalence.

Greg Harvey

debbiekaufman said...

1Pe 5:1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:
1Pe 5:2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;
1Pe 5:3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

Anonymous said...

LENTEN PRAYER

“For God alone my soul waits in silence”

Psalm 62:1

Anonymous said...

Darrell Gilyard was manipulating ladies and teenage girls in his congregation for sexual favors, but it was none of my business because he doesn't attend my church. And Bob Gray of Trinity in Jacksonville was molesting boys and girls in Jacksonville in his church office, but again, not my problem because I didn't attend Trinity. Seminaries were supposedly teaching liberal theology in the late '70s and early 80's but I didn't go there so it was none of my business? Missionaries believed in private prayer language but it was none of my business because I was not in that country. A church uses the JSO and SA office to identify a member who questions the pastor and I don't get involved because I don't go to that church.

Hmmmm. Excellent logic on ALL those points wouldn't you say? And the Holocaust was not my problem because I was not a Jew in Europe. I agree with your excellent logic anon!

Joe Blackmon said...

Kevin

It would not be my business to call Wade's church, for example, and ask him to explain his side of the story. Wade could, and should, respond in a manner akin to how we would in my neck of the woods "You ain't the boss of me". It would be none of my business to call and expect some sort of explanation.

Now if Wade or anyone else wants to share their opinion as to what's going on at FBC Jax I don't guess that so much an issue of their beeswax/no-their-beeswax.

Is that more clear? Yes? No?

Anonymous said...

It is not uncommon in the South to see some baptist churches run by highly "carnal" deacons...doesn't surprise me at all.

Anonymous said...

Clarification...let he who is "spiritual" restore others in a manner of meekness....Paul to the churches in Galatia

oc said...

Joe Blackmon,
Why wouldn't it be your business to call Wade and ask him his side of the story? Are you not a brother in Christ?

Tom Kelley said...

Are questions of abuse of authority in a church the business of the pastor of another church?

Acts 20
17
From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church.

18 When they arrived, he said to them: "...

28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.

29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.

30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.

31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. ..."


The elders / bishops / pastors of Ephesus all came and met Paul at Miletus, where he told them to watch over the flock and over the other elders / bishops / pastors. Seems pretty plain to me.

Anonymous said...

Isn't a basis of Trinitarians about advocacy not adverserial? Sex crimes like Gilyard need to be pointed out that it involves element of violence and intimidation...if these baptist leaders don't get it I am very concerned that many will be tested during the great test to come on the earth

Anonymous said...

Clarification...churches in America that is....I sure hope the pre-tribs are right and many repent

Christiane said...

LENTEN REFLECTION:
REMEMBERING THE HOLOCAUST

excerpt is from
"Behind the Monastery"
by Lois E. Olena


"My fingers froze today
when I stood in the rain
behind a Polish monastery-
cold
wet
arms heavy, shaking with fear
and my allowed bundle.


The light from the candles
of my warm home
followed after me
like long shadows chasing,
crying for my return.

Bone wet
I watch
as Council members
under rifle
dig obediently
and the earth opens up
to swallow my rabbi
and his sons.

Mach schnell! I hear in my nightmare...
and as I turn to leave,
I notice
that the earth still moves
where they buried my heart.


12/11/96 Lois E. Olena
-written in the midst of typing the survivor testimony of M.K.

"My fingers did freeze, and I couldn't go on until I wrote about this." Lois Olena

Anonymous said...

Greg,

It actually isn't different. There very well may be some differences. Of course there is no situation that is exactly the same (time frame, key players, issues, etc. all can be different). FBC Jax didn't do anything illegal to shut down the watchdog. IN CASE YOU HAVEN'T NOTICED HE STILL BLOGS TODAY! They haven't kept him from blogging. All they have done is kept him from coming into the church and spreading his slanderous lies! How can you inact church discipline on a member if you don't know who it is? YOU CAN'T. They didn't shut down his freedom to speak. All they did was shut down his ability to come inside the church with his malicious comments. Just like Wade Shut down my comments (by deleting them). And trust me my comments were in no way slanderous accusations. They were my opinions. Period. You can keep trying to tell everyone how "ILLOGICAL" I am, but anyone with a middle school education can read for themselves what I've posted and make that decision themselves. Just because you state it over and over again isn't going to sway people. :)

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon - can you please, please give us one "slanderous lie" of the Watchdog?

Just one would be great.

Thanks.

greg.w.h said...

Anonymous says:

How can you inact church discipline on a member if you don't know who it is? YOU CAN'T. They didn't shut down his freedom to speak. All they did was shut down his ability to come inside the church with his malicious comments.

You're right. You can't. And illegally using the legal system to obtain a name so you can enforce an eccliastical judgment is abuse of power in the United States. Which is what I already wrote.

It is illogical to use the argument of moral equivalence when the two situations aren't equivalent. And the only reason they want to throw Watchdog off the church property is, precisely, to shut him up. Their legal strategy is that if they can distance him from the church, he'll lose interest. That's because they have no other legal strategy to pursue if he's telling the truth. You can't sue for defamation, slander, nor libel if what is being posted is true as their attorneys have already told them.

But they can use their superior position and power in the church to tear him down. And that is precisely anti-biblical both Old Testament and New. I'm not defending what he's writing, by the way, because I disagree with the tone and degree much like I commented regarding MacArthur's comments on Warren.

And, surprisingly, when I repeat my arguments and tackle more objections of others, I have developed a pretty good reputation on Wade's site for influencing others. A lot of that has to do with sticking to reason, though occasionally I'll stitch together a judgment based on a series of comments where someone displays continuing unreason.

Thanks again for the opportunity to make that point. The situations are not morally equivalent in any way, shape nor form. And you can't excuse abuse of power by a more powerful entity because the less powerful entity defends himself or herself. Even if the less powerful entity actually isn't "nice".

In fact, let's just admit it: abuse of power isn't "nice". Accumulation of power so that you can have your way and trod on those that are less powerful isn't "nice" whether it's a Seminary President or a Pastor or a present or former judge or police officer. It's not only not "nice", it's wrong. It's not only morally and ethically wrong, the Bible directly forbids that behavior and the prophets continually cry out against that injustice.

Greg Harvey

Bob Cleveland said...

I just kind of wonder how one can be Christlike in behavior in throwing out a dissenter (who seems only to be asking for information), when our Model of behavior .. Jesus Himself .. didn't even do that to the man who was going to (and did) betray Him.

Thy Peace said...

The Search for the Watchdog's Identity

Readers - in this post I'm simply going to give you the facts as I have them regarding what the church and the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office (JSO) and the State Attorney have done to uncover the identity of the owner of Watchdog blog. As you will see, the events and the timing make it seem very likely that the identify of the Watchdog blog was given to the administration of the FBC Jacksonville - after completion of a criminal investigation by the JSO - which was conducted after the church administrator, John Blount, III, called the JSO to report Internet criminal activity.

This post is going to lay out facts as I know them at this point.

Wade Burleson has made a post today that asks some very pointed questions given the facts that I have outlined below.

I will offer no analysis in this post, or assign any motives...just the facts and chronology and documents and video as I have them from facts gathered from discussions with the JSO, the State Attorney's office, and a review of publicly available documents.

Whether you agree with this blog and its contents or whether you think I'm a villain for blogging as I have or if you think I have raised valid points: whichever side you fall on with regard to this blog and me, perhaps, PERHAPS you will find these facts troubling.

But I will let you draw your own conclusions.

Thy Peace said...

FBC Jax Watchdog said...
I do wish to say a great big THANK YOU to the deacons who had the backbone and the integrity to let me know what was said in the deacon's meeting on Feb 23rd. If I had not known what was said in that meeting, I would never have known to go poking around to find out that this was NOT just an eccliastical matter as I was told by John Blount in writing - but that it started as a criminal matter, with criminal allegations, a JSO investigation, and subpoenas for my private Internet records by a JSO detective who was one of my own fellow church members...so deacons I do appreciate you more than you know. Without your information we would not be able to shine a light on the means and methods of FBC Jax and John Blount, III to identify me and throw my wife and I out of the church.

Blessings to you gentlemen who shall forever remain....anonymous.

MARCH 20, 2009 9:13 AM

Anonymous said...

WTREAT HERE


As my mentor said, "I am continually amazed how many people live thier lives as if there is NO GOD TO ANSWER TO."

wtreat@centurytel.net

Anonymous said...

I am a regular reader of Pastor Wade's blog. It saddens me to read the comments of some who profess to be Christians; they attack their own as if they were the enemy. I am a member of a Southern Baptist church, but my daughter, who is Catholic, shared with me the following. We Baptists would do well to consider the words of William Arthur Ward.

Lent is a season in which we should...

Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ indwelling them.
Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of all life.
Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.
Fast from thoughts of illness; feast on the healing power of God.
Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger; feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.
Fast from worry; feast on Divine order.
Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.
Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.
Fast from hostility; feast on non-resistance.
Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from personal anxiety; feast on Eternal Truth.
Fast from discouragement; feast on hope.
Fast from facts that depress; feast on verities that uplift.
Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from suspicion; feast on truth.
Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from shadows of sorrow; feast on the sunlight of serenity.
Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.
Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on the prayer that undergirds.

By William Arthur Ward

Bob said...

The more cynical among us would think that the recent posts about FBC Jax and the use of the term "hard ball" in the first sentence of this post indicate that Pastor Wade is doing an online book tour.

Cynical thought....yes

Calling one's character into question? By no means.

Just an observation. I cannot compete with anyone here on an intellectual basis. Or any other basis. Have a good day.

Anonymous said...

Dear BOB CLEVELAND,

Once again, you write and place the focus on the Lord Christ at the center of our faith, as our 'model'.

Perhaps, when we, who proclaim faith in Him, learn to LISTEN to His Words and follow His Ways privately and OPENLY, then He shall come back to us once more?

The old prophecies that 'His own received Him not' have always been interpreted to refer only to the 'Children of Israel';
but, in truth, many among us who claim Him for our own have 'received Him not' in our own lives.

When you write of Christ as our model, you remind us of our true north. Thank you, Bob. :)

Anonymous said...

Watchdog,

I can't give you a specific example. Mac and the fellows at the church won't call me back to give me one. But hey I'll keep saying that it is true because I'll take their church discipline letters word for it (just like wade is taking your word for it).

And oh yeah they wouldn't tell me anyways because it's a private matter that is to be handled internally. You're the one who made it all public, yet you won't even make your own name public.

debbiekaufman said...

Now mind you Watchdog, that last comment is coming from one who is anonymous, not giving their real name. So take his/her advice for as much as it's worth. :)

Anonymous said...

WHY are the people who surround and 'protect' Mac angry at WD?
Why did Mac 'come after' WD?

If Mac truly wanted to 'shut 'em down', then all he had to do was assume the 'transparency' that his congregation deserved all along: to bring into the light his 'dealings' so that all would be 'reassured' that their 'local church' was indeed in the hands of a shepherd who served Christ.

Transparency: healthy, clear, light-drenched, cleansing, honest and open, much to be desired when people give their money to the service of Christ.

Why would anyone NOT be transparent about the stewardship of that money? Why indeed.

There are no secrets to be kept.
But if Mac has chosen to keep secrets about his money dealings, then it is fitting that those who question Mac be allowed to do so anonymously. Mac, afterall, models for his flock what is permitted, does he not?
Secrets. Out of fear?

There is nothing that has been done so terrible, that Mac can not ask forgiveness and make restitution. No matter how much money is in question, it can be made right again. But then, there is the question of people's lives and what has been done to cause harm. That, too, can be set right, but only in the Light of God.

If Mac is innocent of all accusations, of course he would WANT to reassure the people of his local church.

If he has much to hide, he cannot hide it for long.

Someone already has informed WD from withing Mac's Privy Circle.
The 'leaking' of secrets has begun.

It will ALL come out eventually. One way or 'another'.

How do we know this?
We know, because of Him who ultimately will seek justice for His lambs.
Open THE BOOK, and read where it is written therein.

Anonymous said...

So, if the money was 'already there' in the budget, there was no need to raise more for the purpose announced.

But amounts were suspected to be 'low', but Mac was not forthcoming about details, just demanding more money from the sheep?

So:
MAC + $ECRETS = TROUBLE

Solution: get rid of the '$ecrecy' OR say goodbye to Mac, because the equation $ucks.

Bob Cleveland said...

Anonymous 11:28,

Thanks, but I have to read it when I type it, so.....

I noticed something years ago .. when Jesus said that those who loved Him would obey His commands, He followed up shortly thereafter by saying that those who loved Him would obey His teachings as well. Seems to me that speaks to who we are, more than just the adoption or avoidance of certain behaviors.

And, I suppose, His teachings go far beyond just His words.

greg.w.h said...

Anonymous wrote:

So, if the money was 'already there' in the budget, there was no need to raise more for the purpose announced.

Budgets are plans for spending money that has not been collected. Done correctly, they're based on the sense of mission of the institution and that sense of mission may grow from time to time.

Churches use all kinds of methods of presentation to communicate not only general plans and budget needs, but may do so with special efforts from time to time to shore up a budget or to launch a new plan during an existing year that requires more money.

I would like to think that we don't start with the suspicion that every single one of those efforts is essentially to enrich the pastor or the staff. Because if you start with that suspicion in every single budget cycle and every special request, it makes it miserable for the staff or elders to lead effectively.

Now if that data is bundled too heavily and presented as too general of categories with not enough specifics as to how the plans will be supported with expenditures, then a congregation is performing an act of service by asking the leaders to be more specific and more detailed. But what level of detail that should be requested is a combination of personal judgment and experience.

A church whose budgets constantly lag its receipts either needs to be more effective at communicating its ministry plans or it needs to trim its planned expenditures. A season of prayer can also be helpful in requesting that the Holy Spirit weld the leaders and the members together in purpose and vision so that one adjustment (more giving) or the other adjustment (less expenditures) is arrived at through a process of agreement rather than through rancor and disagreement.

I think Watchdog might be the kind of member that simply never lets go of the previous pastor. When folks start claiming that the process of getting to know the new pastor is too short--especially with a successful pastor of a large church like FBC Dallas--they might have an unrealistic view of what "makes sense". What works with a small church won't work with a large church. In most large churches, the decision of who to call is merely affirmed by the general membership and only an extreme faux pas on the Sunday that the new senior pastor is presented could possibly submarine the choice.

For a large church hiring a pastor of a large church, neither institution can afford the perception either of poaching from another church or of appearing like their pastors are being considered for one position after another. This is not just a matter of image but a matter of trust as well.

The specifics of the compensation arrangement also may not be published in a large church. Most multi-staff churches have for years bundled salaries in part for privacy reasons, but also to prevent jealousy from church members that make less than specific staff members. Whether or not a piece of property is part of the signing agreement might be a detail that is negotiated (or even OFFERED by the hiring church) to be kept private for similar reasons.

Watchdog seems unwilling on his site to actually allow this kind of contract making within a church. Maybe he's entirely correct in expecting that level of transparency, but many staff-led churches keep those details limited to either a personnel committee, a limited panel of elders/deacons, or a specially formed, limited-term compensation committee in my experience.

I make this comment not because I know that FBC Jacksonville is in the right or in the wrong either in general or in specific with their actions, but because the anonymous I quoted seems intent on pouring gasoline on fire and I think that's wrong. I think the FBC Jacksonville response was heavy handed, unfortunately, and in the long run they'll have to overcome that impression no matter how they resolve things with Watchdog. Regrettably, their behavior seems to victimize Watchdog and his family when I'm certain the leaders really do believe the opposite is true.

It's unfortunate that the situation is public since it might have been handled privately before. And there are no winners and losers in this kind of situation: the visible Kingdom is blemished by these kinds of things and only over time does the invisible Kingdom shine through and overcome those blemishes.

That isn't a condemnation of any person's actions as much as a sigh of frustration that we keep getting ourselves into these kinds of situations in the SBC. But in all of life we see them happen every day as well, and just as Jesus noted that the poor will always be with us, I think these results of the residual influence of our individual sin natures will...at least until we cross the River Jordan...be there for a little while longer. But it is, in the grand scheme of things, only a little while longer.

Greg Harvey

Anonymous said...

Could one solution be to keep 'detailed' records of contributions and expenditures: and then to publish the info for the 'sheep'?

The lack of transparency coupled with the arrogance of some church leaders is what leads people to think the worst.

Honorable record-keeping sounds like a way to resolve any anxieties on the part of a congregation and is also a 'check' on a 'shepherd' whose 'talents' lie in areas other than finance.
JMHO

P.S. However, if a pastor is living very high on the hog and demanding more contributions heavily, without disclosure or accountability, then the sheep should run like hell.

Anonymous said...

I was reading the book “Lethal Medicine- the epidemic of medical malpractice in America” by Harvey F. Wachsman, M.D., J. D.

“Malpractice has become a plague in America.
From the moment we are born we are in the hands of physicians…it is not hard to think well of doctors. Like members of the clergy, it seems as if they’re the ones who are always there when you need them in times of crisis…”

(I thought it was interesting when I substituted the word “pastors” for “physicians/doctors”, in the following exerpt, because, as he said, the LEVEL OF TRUST is equivalent.)

“We assume that the *physician is acting in our own best interests.
We assume that *doctors are highly educated, so they must know more than we do.
We assume that *doctors’ licences are a certification of their competency.
We assume that prestigious medical centers would never allow incompetent *physicians to practice there.
And finally we assume that if they weren’t competent, we’d all know about it, and someone would do something to stop them from practicing.
More often than most people realize, these assumptions are terribly wrong.”

Anonymous said...

In 1999, a Code of Ethics for SBC Evangelists
was created, described below.

Does anyone know IF A SIMILAR CODE OF ETHICS IS ADHERED TO BY PASTORS OF THE SBC TODAY ?


""We are the first body in the Southern Baptist Convention to have a council of accountability," Drace said. "Our code of ethics will affirm before the Lord and each other our accountability as evangelists."
Drace initiated the ethics and accountability measures and the creation of an emergency financial aid fund. He reported that Billy Graham sent his "unqualified" endorsement of the council.
Part of the package includes a process for credentialing evangelists through the SBC North American Mission Board. Until adoption of the code of ethics, evangelists needed only a letter of recommendation from their pastor.
The new provisions ask those seeking membership in the conference to sign their names to the "Affirmation of Accountability" document. In addition, those seeking membership in COSBE and an endorsement by the denomination will undergo an application and interview process coordinated by NAMB.


"This is a means by which we can undergird your ministry and give you a stamp of approval," said Don Smith, an associate with NAMB's direct evangelism team. A number of training opportunities and other benefits will be provided at no cost to the evangelists who undertake the process. Evangelists who have been in service for five or more years only need to complete part of the credentials process.
The Affirmation of Accountability adopted by the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists reads as follows:

"We, the members of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists do hereby, before the Lord and each other, affirm the following statements concerning our accountability as vocational evangelists.

"I. "We confess Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as Lord and Savior and declare our obedience to the Great Commission, our willingness to advance its purpose and our availability to fulfill its meaning.

"II. "We align ourselves with the doctrinal position of the 1998 Baptist Faith and Message and reaffirm our belief that the Bible is the infallible Word of God.

"III. We assert the call of the vocational evangelist is an authentic New Testament call; thereby, we approach our vocation with the same degree of preparation and integrity as is demanded of other Christian vocational skills.

"IV. We are accountable to the local church where we are members by participating in its programs and supporting it with our tithes. We will strive to conduct our ministries so as to build up the local body of believers by proclaiming the great doctrines of the Scriptures.

"V. We acknowledge that conviction of sin is a work of the Holy Spirit and we will extend the invitation with integrity and without coercion or manipulation.

"VI. Our priorities are: First, to a disciplined devotional life, insuring our personal spiritual development; second, to our families, demonstrating our commitment as companions and parents; third, to those with whom we minister giving evidence of the credibility of our message.

"VII. As servants of God we confirm our duty to live morally clean, pure, holy lives. What we proclaim in public we are obligated to practice in private.

"VIII. We declare to be faithful and responsible under God in the reporting of all our finances and statistics.

"IX. We need and desire to be filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit in order that we may be thoroughly prepared and thoroughly empowered.

"X. We seek to promote evangelism with integrity through every segment of our ministries and, in so doing, we expect the same standards from those with whom we serve."

Rex Ray said...

Of all the comments, I thought this was the most revealing:

1. “Did Mac live an hour from the church in an oceanfront condo his FIRST YEAR at the church?

2. Did Mac accept a gift of a piece of land worth over $307,000.00 just THREE WEEKS after arriving?

3. Did Mac have leadership spend over $100,000.00 on luxury office suites for him and his wife and dogs BEFORE he even arrived. (Vine's and Lindsay's offices were vacant and could have been used and the money could have been used for much needed maintenance on our buildings?)

4. Did Mac hire his wife and son and pay them salary and benefits to do jobs that were created just for them?

5. Did Mac play a commercial for Collins Builders, right in the middle of his Sunday morning service? (J.D. Collins was the donor of the land...coincidence?)

6. Did the church change the bylaws to form a discipline committee and give Mac more power, without explaining the changes or why they were needed or biblical?

7. Were copies of the proposed changes kept guarded in the library and only those willing to sign a sheet could see them?

8. Did the pastor lie about Sheri Klouda's testimony?

9. Did the pastor whine to Paige Patterson about the church?

10. Did the pastor call us a "hotbed of legalism" to pastors in North Carolina?

11. Did the pastor threaten our church that we would go into debt or "give a million dollars...in two weeks" if we didn't want to do that?

12. Did the Pastor take $500,000 from the budget to help start up the school?

PLEASE TELL WADE'S READERS WHICH OF THE ABOVE ARE LIES!

But that is the just the beginning. Wade's post is a whole new chapter about the bullying, arrogance, and abusive leadership at the church.

Signed,
A bullied and beaten down and trembling, scared sheep without a shepherd...
Thu Mar 19, 12:43:00 PM 2009

I listened to the motion to oust FBC Jack Watchdog from his church. Not one thing was given as proof of the many charges against him. The charges could be said against any of us.

Joe Blackmon, would you give a cup of water to a bullied, beaten down, trembling, scared sheep; but only if they were in YOUR church?

Anonymous said...

Early churches never had baptismals in their buildings...is it about emersion or about denominationalism

Anonymous said...

Joe, there is a difference between outsiders 'interfering' and outsiders 'rescuing'.

When 'intervention' is made to stop abuse, that is a wholesome, decent humane act.

When people assume that the abuse of others is 'not their business', then they tacitly have give silent approval for that abuse to continue.

Anonymous said...

Hey:

I have been on vacation for a week and missed this. Without reading any of the comments, I have the following thoughts.

1. SBC Outpost was really good because they posted documents relating to the legal stories they were covering. It would be good if the documents that you obtained and have read (which I assume are public documents?) could be posted and linked to. That way we could read them.

2. Without attempting to answer the specific factual inquiries listed in the numbered questions (because I don't know the answers, the players and would only be guessing), the answer to the bigger question is "yes." Of course, power, position and knowledge can be abused.

3. If there have been a violations of law or ethics relating to law enforcement, the courts and other public offices in Florida are in the best position to look into that and handle it. All they need is a complaintant. It would be helpful if the complaintant had a lawyer.

4. I am not FBC's lawyer, and do not suspect that I would be. However, if I were, the first advice that I would give would be "Don't talk to anyone about this legal matter outside the church leadership." So, I don't expect that you, I or anyone else on this blog who might call the staff or pastors at FBC Jax will receive a return call. I believe that would be the proper way for FBC to handle this. Anything they told to you (or you thought they told you, in the event of miscommunication, which happens in the best of human relationships) could be obtained by taking your deposition, and could be used later. Or you might blog about it.

5. I do not believe that the Matthew passage applies here. I believe that there are criminal or quasi criminal matters at issue that resulted in the issuace of the subpoenas (at least based on what little info I have read, which has only been on this site). I do not believe that the passage in Matthew mandates notifying the target of a subopena for possible criminal or quasi-criminal wrongdoing or having a discussion with him after the subpoena has been issued. I am sure there will be many people on this blog who disagree with me on that, but that's ok.

6. I still haven't see the trespass letter or warning letter, or whatever it's been called, so I don't know what it says either.

Until I have more facts, I cannot condemn the position taken by the church. Apparently it had enough information to convince a court or other state authorities to go further, and the church has voted (I think?) to take action against this member.

I recognize the questions raised are valid questions, but without more information, I cannot get into this any further than that.

Louis

Anonymous said...

I doubt that this will get read either.

I do not think it is wise to state or imply that this case or other court matters in SBC land are dependent on the identity of or the personality of the judge hearing the case. Without some sort of real evidence or understanding to back up statements that do so, it just belittles the justice system.

Wade has correctly noted the distinction. However, it should be added that it was not the judge in the Klouda v. SWBTS case who deemed SWBTS a church. I believe it was the court of appeals (I believe a case directly on point was cited in the court's opinion) which did that. A trial judge does not make law. He applies the law to the facts at hand. Since SWBTS had already been found to be a church by a higher court in another case (again, I think there was a citation directly on point), the trial court was bound to apply that to the Klouda case.

Also, when the court found that SWBTS was a church, we should not poke fun at this and pretend that the court was stupid for thinking that SWBTS is like a baptist church in all particulars. He is saying this in First Amendment and 1964 Civil Rights Act parlance. I think that we should at least pretend to be sophisticated enough to appreciate the distinction. Lest we look silly or unreasonbly unteachable.

Louis

Anonymous said...

Never mind on the docs referenced. I happened by the watchdog's website, and he posted them there, though you really can't tell anything from them.

Louis