SBC Bloggers Dislodge Theocrats
This is huge.
It seems as though our friends in the Southern Baptist Convention have discovered the Fifth UU Principle and used it to dislodge the reactionary power-mongers who have been calling their denominational shots for the last few decades. And it was bloggers who made the difference!
Excerpts from the news release:
Frank Page wins SBC presidency in upset over powerbrokers
By Greg Warner
Published June 13, 2006
GREENSBORO, N.C. (ABP) -- In a major upset, outsider Frank Page of South Carolina was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention over two candidates closely tied to the SBC's conservative power structure.
Page, who described his election as a victory for grassroots Baptists, was elected with 50.48 percent of the vote on a first ballot against Arkansas pastor Ronnie Floyd and Tennessee pastor Jerry Sutton, both high-profile leaders in the conservative-dominated SBC. ...
Page's election signaled a defeat for the SBC's conservative powerbrokers, who have hand-picked all but one president since 1979. Only Orlando pastor Jim Henry, elected in 1994 and 1995, lacked the endorsement of the SBC's conservative leaders.
Floyd lost despite the endorsement of three SBC seminary presidents, including Paige Patterson, the SBC's most powerful leader. Sutton reportedly had the support of Paul Pressler, another SBC conservative architect. ...
Page's supporters said their candidate benefited from the participation of many messengers previously uninvolved in convention life.
"This election is about the people being heard," said Wade Burleson, an Oklahoma pastor instrumental in Page's election. "Every Baptist counts." ...
"It's no longer kingmakers; it's the people," said Burleson, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, Okla. ...
Burleson, a trustee of the International Mission Board who has argued against exclusivistic tactics of that agency, was himself considered a possible candidate for president. But his influence, plus that of young Southern Baptist bloggers, was credited with energizing support for Page and for a broadening of SBC leadership.
Page agreed the bloggers, a new phenomenon in SBC politics, made a difference. While the bloggers are few in number, he said, "I think there are a large number of leaders who do read those blogs. I think they played a role beyond their number -- perhaps an inordinant amount of influence given their number -- but they are a growing phenomenon in Southern Baptist life." ...
Congratulations to our friends in the SBC! We UUs may not share their theology, but we do share their congregational polity and many of their social justice concerns. It's refreshing to see them break the stranglehold of the political and social reactionaries who have controlled the denomination for so long. And it's gratifying to see that bloggers played a critical role in bringing about this change.
Dare we hope that in a few years the SBC will once again be producing not more Jerry Falwells but more Jimmy Carters, Al Gores, Bill Moyerses and Bill Clintons?