I’m coming out of personal hibernation to deal with the problem and give some information about SBC Voices.
I’m coming out of probably the worst two-year period of my life – I won’t try to entertain you with all the details, but COVID hit me hard and hit my church hard. Two years ago both my parents went to a hospice and I lost both and it kind of brought me back. Serving in the post-COVID era was a challenge unlike any I have faced in 40 years. I recently had surgery and am recovering. All of this has led to a period of significant discouragement in life – yes, my doctor would probably have called it depression if I had ever given him a chance.
The last few months I feel like I’m going back, but I’ve spent most of my time digging under a hill of offices and ministerial work that has remained unfinished over the last two years at a time when, as Marty Duren said, (I’m not sure if it’s his expression or not) I listened to the “black dog howl.”
The result of all this is that I almost completely ignored SBC Voices. There are weeks when I haven’t even opened the app. I wrote an article a week or two ago, and during the recent uproar of the Executive Board, I left everything aside to re-engage. Still, I was mostly absent.
Imagine my surprise today when I got a few angry tweets about an article by my esteemed colleague William Thornton. I’ll tell you what I told William. I like that our site is where William Thornton can write things I completely disagree with. From the moment I took over as editor, and eventually owner, of SBC Voices (I mean 2010), I had this vision of a unique site. My vision was simple:
In order for SBC Voices to be a blog focused on southern Baptists, which would enable the expression of a wide range of views and opinions on one site.
I made sure we weren’t a Calvinist or anti-Calvinist blog. I wanted us to have different views on many issues. Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am not a fan of Donald Trump, but we had a post from someone who explained his reasons for voting for Trump. I’m also less than thrilled with CBN, but we’ve had one or two posts from a CBN member praising the organization. I published guest articles that my friends thought I was crazy about. There were a few things we agreed on – we will not allow racist views here and we discourage open personal attacks on people, although measured criticism of our leaders is allowed. However, it is a thin line and often difficult to cross. Sometimes we got lost, one way or another, but I tried to keep this vision as a guide. Here is my guiding principle.
If a member of the Southern Baptist Church has a view well expressed in the Christian spirit that will be of interest to our readers, we will endeavor to publish it.
Today they cursed me and called me trash because I published an article I hadn’t read. Clearly, people don’t understand how SBC Voices works. You may notice this William decided to take his position. It was his choice (not mine or anyone else’s), made to lessen the storm on social media that developed, not because he said something sinful (unless I disagree with me it’s not a sin).
How Voices works
Let me mention a few guidelines and principles that we use in our work. I’ve tried to explain these things over and over again, but people don’t seem to understand what this is all about.
1. We are a place where different opinions can be expressed within the South Baptist context.
Here you will see something you do not see in most group places among Baptists. The “staff” does not agree with each other. You should see our private conversations – sometimes they are quite direct. Any of us are allowed to publish our opinion without consulting others, and then others are allowed to express their disagreements. There are times when we talk about things with each other. “Am I too sharp?” “What do you think of this?” But each of us has our own editorial board. We accept applications from others and often publish them as well.
It is true, no doubt, that most of us in the “team” share some core values and views, but we also publish counterpoint articles that are well written in the Christian spirit.
2. We have standards.
No, there is no complete freedom of speech on SBC Voices, either in comments or in posts.
In general, our confession is the same as that of the southern Baptists – the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. We would consider publishing content from someone who is not a member of the SBC Church from time to time, but we generally publish South Baptist writers writing in accordance with BF&M 2000. If any of us question the content of the post (either a guest post or a contributor) about it we will talk privately. Apart from BF&M, we are limited basic biblical principles behaviors that we all sometimes fail to support, but that we strive to implement.
There are rare moments when we speak as one. When that happens, you’ll see that it’s published under the title SBC Voices Editorial Board. That means we agreed (at least the vast majority of us) to say this on our behalf. Unless you see it, the post is the opinion of the author and only the author.
We have a few basic rules that we will not allow here.
- We do not approve of racism. It is obviously difficult to decide what is and what is not racism, but that is obviously our decision.
- We do not allow attacks on victims of abuse.
- We do not allow personal attacks on our leaders, nor nonsense about conspiracy theory, but we do allow criticism of SBC entities and leaders focused on their work. That’s another fine line.
3. We don’t have a moderator team.
Moderating comments is difficult.
In general, here’s how it goes. The author of a particular work is the “main moderator” of that work. Any of us can delete a comment that we find offensive (everything is a court; there are no absolute rules) if it occurs. Some are milder and others stricter. Your first comment always goes into moderation. If you are a persistent infringer, your comments are put on hold until we approve them. If you continue to insult (or give racist comments, or a lot of insults, etc.) then your comments go directly into our trash.
And, to be honest, there are gremlins in the system. Sometimes comments go to SPAM or waste for no apparent reason.
The main thing here is that we don’t have a team of consistent moderators roaming the site. Hit or miss and because of that, yes, often unfair. Sorry. We try, but it’s not perfect.
4. Each author is responsible for his own works.
There is no process for approving our posts. Each of us in the admin team has full authority to publish their posts. William does not approve of my posts nor do I approve of William’s. If Todd Benkert or Adam Blosser or Brent Hobbs or anyone else writes a post, they will post without the approval of any of the rest of us. We are not a publishing house but a group blog.
Sometimes I ask for an opinion on the things I write, but when I press to publish, SBCV is not responsible for my opinions, I am.
If someone says, “SBC Voices said…,” it shows that they don’t understand how we work. “Dave Miller said …” “William Thornton said …” “Brent Hobbs said …” SBC Voices is WHERE we say it, but unless it says “SBC Voices Editorial Board,” the only voice that says the author. When someone expresses an opinion on Twitter, you don’t say, “Twitter says…” Twitter is where you say it. We are, like Twitter, a place where people talk.
5. Since I am (somehow) in charge, I can say this: This is not a well-run blog.
Although we consider SBC Voices a group blog, people tend to associate my name with it, so I can share this dirty secret – I’m doing a bad job of running this place. I think I used to be a pretty good blogger and built it, but in the last few years my life has spiraled out of control and I’ve let Voices float. When we have crises in the SBC, we increase and our numbers are incredible, but I ignore it day by day (like our other leaders except William) and we tend to go astray.
I’m not sure what to wear next year. Maybe I’ll end up “retiring” and have more time to write, and you guys might be longing for the good old days when I ignored the page. The fact is that this site is not run at all or run carefully.
The first time I learned anything about William’s article today was when someone scolded me for publishing it. Often, the first time I know something about an article is when a notice appears that it has been published – and I am the OWNER of a trivial site! We are laissez-faire. I wish I had more time to dedicate to this, but the last few years just haven’t been.
If you have questions about how the site is run, feel free to ask.
One more thing
Excuse. Some of you have submitted articles and never published them. This is probably due to my general failures as a person. I ignored this page and I know there were submissions where I said I would do it later and I just never came back to it. If you have an attachment – even the one I ignored earlier – send it to [email protected]