After a five-hour meeting Tuesday during which tempers frayed, members of the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Executive Committee (EC) once more put off waiving attorney-client privilege (ACP) in the investigation into whether or not the EC had mishandled allegations of sexual abuse. SBC Executive Committee members delayed the decision by another seven days, arguing that length of time was needed due to their full schedules.
“Y’all, the tone deafness of everyone’s busy schedule while people have been dealing with this for years and years is absolutely way too much,” said abuse survivor Jennifer Lyell. “@SBCExecComm I’m sorry to inconvenience you with the sin of those you’re supposed to be holding accountable.”
Y’all, the tone deafness of everyone’s busy schedule while people have been dealing with this for years and years is absolutely way too much. @SBCExecComm I’m sorry to inconvenience you with the sin of those you’re supposed to be holding accountable.
— Jennifer Lyell (@jenlyell) September 28, 2021
“The crass and callous remarks and expressions on display today were but a taste of what we’ve exp. from those you all revere,” said survivor Tiffany Thigpen. “God is not to be mocked.”
Before Tuesday’s SBC Executive Committee Meeting
At the 2021 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, which took place in June, messengers overwhelmingly approved a motion to put an independent task force over an investigation into whether or not the SBC Executive Committee mishandled allegations of sexual abuse. The motion explicitly stated that EC members were to waive attorney-client privilege for this investigation.
The SBC Executive Committee had already put off this decision for a week, having failed to waive ACP when they met on Sept. 21. Members rejected a motion proposed by Pastor Jared Wellman, opposing it by a vote of 55 to 20, and instead opted for attempting to come to a resolution with the SATF by Tuesday, Sept. 28.
At beginning of the special meeting that took place Tuesday, EC chairman Rolland Slade opened by referring to a meeting held Monday, Sept. 27, between several members of the SATF and the EC. In a Sept. 28 update, the task force stated that the meeting had ultimately failed to achieve its goal:
Representatives of the Task Force spent all day yesterday meeting in person with the Executive Committee officers. We are disappointed that the majority of the officers still will not follow the will of the messengers and waive privilege. The Task Force believes this is still the best route to take both morally and legally. Not following the direct motion of the messengers is an unprecedented choice by the Executive Committee leadership…We do not believe the new EC lawyers were acting in good faith or good knowledge of SBC polity.
The SATF said they had presented EC members with several options, one of which was called the Special Master Process. This alternative would allow the EC not to waive attorney-client privilege, but rather, “For documents that the EC deems to be privileged, a special master would review the appropriateness of the privilege and provide non-privileged information to Guidepost.” The EC members present at Monday’s meeting initially seemed open to this option.