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Land, Wade involved in lively newsroom debate

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–The head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission defended the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message during an impromptu debate in the SBC newsroom with the executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

ERLC President Richard Land countered accusations Wade made to members of the secular press concerning the BFM.

Earlier in the evening, Wade spoke in favor of a motion to add the phrase, “The criterion by which Scripture is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ” to the BFM’s Article 1 after the words “… the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried.”

Wade has been an outspoken critic of the BFM as well as SBC agencies and leaders.

Land, a member of the BFM committee, spoke against the same motion, pointing out to messengers that the phrase was “virtually the same as that which you resoundingly defeated last year when we adopted this confession.” His remarks drew strong support from messengers.

The newsroom exchange, which at times became heated, took place June 12 while New Orleans pastor Fred Luter was delivering the convention sermon.

Wade said he regretted the confrontation in the newsroom.

“I was minding my own business,” Wade alleged. In fact, however, Wade did not have media credentials and was not authorized to be in the working press area, according to Will Hall, vice president for SBC news services and executive editor of Baptist Press. Hall said he was not aware of how Wade made his way into the press area.

Hall offered to provide Wade with credentials. However, Wade refused.

Land, who was credentialed for the newsroom, said he welcomed any opportunity to defend the BFM.

Wade said the BGCT will continue to work with SBC mission agencies, despite recent recommendations to redirect more than $1 million away from the North American Mission Board.

At one point in the debate, Wade charged that the only reason the Lord’s Day statement was changed in the BFM was because of professional football.

“You think the reason [the SBC] changed the Lord’s Day statement is because so many of the pastors enjoy watching NFL football?” Wade asked Land.

“No, I don’t,” Land replied. “I was in the process [as a BFM committee member]. When we came to the Lord’s Day, it was unanimous that this needed to be changed. The standard is to be a Lord’s Day. We don’t believe in the Christian sabbath.”

In an interview with Baptist Press prior to the debate, Wade defended the BGCT’s decision to take its complaints about the SBC to the secular media. The BGCT is spending thousands of dollars reportedly provided by a donor on full-page ads in Texas daily newspapers denouncing the SBC.

While not directly naming the SBC, the ads attack those who bear false witness against the BGCT. However, Wade told Baptist Press he knows of no SBC official who has publicly lied about the Texas convention.

Wade said the ads will remain in place until the SBC denounces Roger Moran, a Southern Baptist layman and leading conservative critic of the BGCT and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

“When Roger Moran is publicly criticized, we will be glad to pull the ads,” Wade said.

Wade refused to speculate on comments BGCT communication director Becky Bridges made to the Associated Press accusing unnamed SBC leaders of spreading lies about the Texas convention.

“You would have to ask her about that,” Wade said, noting that he knew of no SBC leaders who were “spreading lies about the BGCT.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: NEWSROOM CONFRONTATION.

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  • Todd Starnes