Baptist Press has attacked curriculum lesson writers apparently without reading the lessons themselves.
Released August 30, a BP story criticized the Baptist Center for Ethics’ online curriculum related to the changes in the Baptist Faith and Message.
BCE, a freestanding organization, produced an undated, 13-lesson curriculum series on the changes the Southern Baptist Convention made this year to the time-honored, consensus-designed 1963 Baptist Faith and Message statement.
Real Baptists: Spotlight Changes in the Baptist Faith and Message Statement is posted on BCE’s Web site.
The BP story contained factual errors, placed a quote out of context and smeared lesson contributors with guilt by association.
The story misidentified James E. Baucom as a lesson writer. Baucom, moderator-elect for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, did not contribute to the series.
Mike Smith, pastor of Second Baptist Church of Memphis, Tenn., and David and Jane Hull, ministers at First Baptist Church of Knoxville, Tenn., wrote lessons but were not listed in the story as contributors.
The BP story also quoted BCE’s executive director, Robert Parham, out of context.
In a column in the Orlando Sentinel, Parham wrote that one way to distinguish between the Southern Baptist Convention and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship was with dress code. “SBC clergy will wear suits and carry big copies of the King James Bible. Their CBF counterparts will wear golf shirts and slacks and carry sunscreen,” he wrote.
His next paragraph began with the phrase, “All humor aside. . .”
In addition to factual errors and contextual misrepresentation, BP attempted to discredit the curriculum by smearing lesson writers with the brush of guilt by association.
The story used the code word “homosexuality” nine different times, linking writers with a variety of organizations that have either supported homosexual stances or interfaced with organizations that do.
For months, BP has attempted to link CBF with homosexuality. It has not applied the same guilt by association approach to other organizations.
BP did correctly avoid identifying BCE as a pro-homosexual organization.
BP also mentioned the name “CBF” 26 different times, compared to only 12 references to BCE, the organization that conceptualized the curriculum series and produced it.
Two Texas Baptist leaders, Charles Wade, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, and Marv Knox, editor of the Baptist Standard, were identified “among the harshest critics of the changes in the BF&M” statement.
The story offered no criticism of the lessons themselves, even though the lessons were posted on BCE’s Web site a day earlier than advertised.
Parham said, “I’m pleased that BP fears this curriculum series so much it would help BCE promote it, despite the smear campaign against lesson writers, the code words, the factual errors and taking material out of context.”
“We anticipate huge hits on our Web site and increased orders for the lessons,” he said. “We will ask BP for corrections related to factual errors and hope BP will attack BCE again.”
To read the full Baptist Press article, go to http://www.sbcbaptistpress.org/article.cfm?articleid=6424