Phillip Bethancourt, Texas’s Central lead pastor and former executive vice president for the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission released a letter on Wednesday containing five audio clips of SBC’s Executive Committee members Ronnie Floyd and Mike Stone (one of this year’s SBC presidential nominees).
Ronnie Floyd immediately released a statement in response to Bethancourt’s letter and recordings and posted it to his Twitter account. In the statement, Floyd apologized for “any offense that may have resulted from my remarks” in the recorded conversation.
Floyd also encouraged fellow Southern Baptists “to listen to these clips rather than simply accept a description of what the conversations entailed,” adding that the recorded discussions “reflect leaders engaging in a scriptural process of coming together with others who have differing opinions on complicated issues and of discussing those differences honestly with a goal of how to best move forward.”
Ronnie W. Floyd’s Full Statement
I knew when the Lord called me to lead the SBC Executive Committee that we were facing extremely difficult times. At that time, the number one issue was how the SBC was dealing with the responses to sexual abuse. I became increasingly aware of the challenges that lay before us as I got further into the role. The Convention was and still is divided over methods of response to response to sexual abuse. However, The SBC is not divided on the priority of caring for abuse survivors and protecting the vulnerable in our churches.
In May 2019, I called a confidential meeting of the Southern Baptist leaders in Atlanta with the express purpose to chart a path for Southern Baptists to appropriately address concerns of sexual abuse across the Convention. This morning audio clips from that meeting were released by Phillip Bethancourt in an attempt to mischaracterize them as an effort to avoid addressing the reality of sex abuse.
The fact of the matter is immediately following the meeting and even before leaving the airport, I instructed our staff and legal team to begin the creation of an SBC Credentials Committee. That work continued throughout the weekend, and by early the next week, the framework for that we now know as the Credentials Committee was born. Any suggestion that the purpose of the meeting was to oppose the efforts to address sex abuse is not credible when give the full context of the meeting and our immediate action to create the Credentials Committee.
I would encourage Southern Baptists to listen to these clips rather than simply accept a description of what the conversations entailed. These discussions reflect leaders engaging in a scriptural process of coming together with others who have differing opinions on complicated issues and of discussing those differences honestly with a goal of how to best move forward.