In the early morning hours of Thursday (Sept. 15), Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President Bart Barber took to Twitter to defend the hiring of the SBC’s new Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) President, Brent Leatherwood, after SBC pastor Dusty Deevers attacked the hire and pro-life work of the SBC.
Deevers, who pastors Grace Community Church of Elgin, OK, commented, “In Louisiana this spring and at SBC annual meeting this summer, Brent Leatherwood sided against the innocent preborn, now he leads the ethics and policy arm of the SBC. We glory in our shame,” after the ERLC announced Leatherwood as their new president.
Deevers followed up his comment with a barrage of posts linking to other posts in which he accused Leatherwood and the ERLC of siding with the pro-abortion movement in certain circumstances.
One of the videos Deevers linked to was a clip of Leatherwood addressing SBC messengers during this year’s annual meeting in Anaheim, California. In that meeting, messengers voted down to abolish the ERLC, a motion made by Joshua Scruggs from Bethlehem Baptist Church in Jacksonville, N.C. Scruggs had argued that the ERLC causes needless division amongst Southern Baptists.
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“You’re not going to get me to say that I want to throw mothers behind bars,” Leatherwood said, addressing the open letter he signed calling state lawmakers not to make laws criminalizing mothers who have chosen to abort their unborn children.
“That’s not the view of this entity. That is not the view of this convention. It is not the view of the pro-life movement that was proven yet again today. I believe the same principles that Jesus used in John four and John eight apply right here. Maybe instead of rushing in like a mob, we instead rush in with the truth given to us by the author of life, showing we are able to bear the burdens of others and offer the healing that comes with grace, just as has been poured out for us,” Leatherwood said.
Leatherwood’s words were met with affirming applause by the majority of messengers in the large convention hall.
Deevers also condemned Leatherwood’s “history-making moment” comment following the announcement of Supreme Court appointee, Judge Ketanji Jackson. Deevers linked to an article calling her appointment “wicked and abhorrently evil.”
Bart Barber Defends SBC and Leatherwood
The first-year SBC President didn’t mince words when rebutting Deevers’ claim that the ERLC, SBC, and Leatherwood have sided with those in favor of pro-choice, pro-abortion agendas, calling Deevers words dishonest and un-Christ-like.
“This tweet represents the lowest point of dishonesty to which we can descend when we sell out to the crass tone of secular politics instead of following the way of Christ,” Barber said.
Barber explained that the SBC has had a consistent pro-life position, with more than 20 resolutions adopted over the span of 40 years. Barber provided specific details to back up his statement, such as, “since 1980 we have consistently said that abortion should be illegal unless the life of the mother would be in peril if the pregnancy were to continue (such as in the case of an ectopic pregnancy).”