The South Carolina Baptist Convention (SCBC) issued an e-mail memorandum today clarifying an earlier memorandum urging South Carolina pastors to endorse former Sen. John Ashcroft’s nomination in their churches.
Scott Vaughan, marketing director for the SCBC, said the memorandum Jan. 26 was not an endorsement of Ashcroft but a protest against Sen. Fritz Hollings’ (D-S.C.) announcement that he would not confirm Ashcroft.
The earlier Jan. 26 memorandum from Joe Mack, director of the SCBC Christian Life Concerns Department, was “without official clearance from the Convention,” wrote Vaughan.
“Mr. Mack’s e-mail encouraged you to lead your church in protest of Sen. Hollings decision,” wrote Vaughan. “Any decision you make to engage the political process, including the confirmation of Mr. Ashcroft, will be an independent decision of yourself and your local congregation.”
The memorandum from Mack called for South Carolina pastors to “keep calling until you get through” to Sen. Hollings and “ask him to support Ashcroft’s nomination.”
“I am asking all pastors to make this announcement from the pulpit this Sunday and to provide the senator’s phone number to the congregation,” wrote Mack in his memorandum. “We need to flood [Hollings’] office with calls.”
Mack was urged to write and send the memorandum by the Washington office of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention, said Vaughan in today’s memorandum.
“I don’t know anything I can do that would help me with that crowd [the conservative Christian community],” said Sen. Hollings Jan. 27 in the State, a Columbia, S.C., newspaper. “They don’t listen to [anything] I say. They all like to throw spitballs.”
The ERLC sent “two memos this month to Southern Baptist state offices,” wrote Lee Brandy and Allison Askins in the State.
A final memo went out last week to states whose senators were undecided about their votes on Ashcroft. Those states included South Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri and New Mexico, according to the State.
Sarah Griffith is BCE’s communications coordinator.