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Baptist Press reporter accosted by former missionary, CBF leader at CBF meeting

ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–The Southern Baptist Convention’s vice president for convention news has expressed deep concerns after a Baptist Press reporter was accosted during the CBF’s June 30-July 1 General Assembly in Orlando, Fla.

Russ Moore, a seminary student from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and a correspondent for Baptist Press, was publicly rebuked during a meeting led by David Currie, coordinator of Texas Baptists Committed, and was shoved against a wall and cursed by a CBF participant.

“I am disappointed that a CBF leader felt the need to create an intimidating atmosphere for any individual, whether a journalist or not,” said Will Hall, vice president for convention news. “Moreover, I’m saddened about the apparent abuse that resulted for our reporter.”

“Whether someone is of an opposing view or not, we should at least extend civil treatment to each other,” Hall added.

On Saturday, July 1, Moore was confronted inside the convention center by a man who identified himself as a former Foreign Mission Board missionary.

“He started screaming and yelling at me in the middle of the convention center,” Moore recounted. “He called me a [expletive deleted] liar and said I had no integrity.”

Moore said he told the man to step aside and allow him to pass by. “Then, he pushed me against a wall berated me, jabbing me in the chest with his finger as he spoke,” he said. “I asked him to discontinue the conversation again but he continued to pursue me, yelling a curse.”

Moore said he immediately left the convention hall through a side door, distressed and fearful of being physically attacked.

Prior to the confrontation, Currie told the crowd there was a group writing press articles attempting to “make us look like the lunatic fringe.” His statements stirred the crowd and they directed negative remarks at Moore.

The previous day, Moore was the subject of a public rebuke from Currie, who also serves as the CBF’s financial chairman. During the meeting, Moore was pointed out as a reporter. The crowd booed and hissed at Moore when Currie attacked Baptist Press.

Currie accused Baptist Press of “doing a hatchet job” on the CBF regarding the comments of Anthony Sizemore. Sizemore is the Texas pastor who noted during debate on the new Baptist Faith and Message that the “Bible is just a book.”

Currie accused the SBC of employing “Adolph Hitler’s big lie” propaganda campaign in using Sizemore’s statement to point out the key difference between moderates and conservatives.

Throughout the meeting, Moore said participants would yell at him while others cheered them on.

Following the meeting, Tony Woodell, of Arkansas Baptists Committed, apologized to Moore for Currie’s behavior. “He told me he knew what it was like to be in the minority at a gathering like this,” Moore said.

A CBF leader told Baptist Press their organization was looking into the matter.

    About the Author

  • Todd Starnes