2018 Turkey of the Year


The Baptist Blogger is proud to inaugurate the first annual Turkey of the Year (Toty, rhymes with Dottie) Award to the Southern Baptist who has most exemplified the leadership failures that threaten the Southern Baptist Convention’s future.  This year, there were many worthy candidates.  So before we announce the winner, it’s probably best to give an honorable mention to those would-be leaders who have qualified for the 2018 Toty Award.

First, we could have recognized the singular contribution of Pastor Brad Jurkovich, our former seminary classmate and the Louisiana pastor who nominated Ken Hemphill for convention president this year.  Ordinarly, it’s not such a big deal to nominate a losing candidate.  Johnny Hunt did it in 2006 and went on to the convention presidency a few years later.  But this year, Jurkovich was particularly noteworthy.  Having hosted both J.D. Greear and Ken Hemphill for a seemingly unbiased interview, Jurkovich went on to nominate Hemphill at the 2018 annual meeting.  The nomination speech, stilted and polyster as it was in delivery, was as responsible for the election of J.D. Greear as anything. It sent fence-sitters to Greear in droves, resulting in an equally unpredictable and convincing mandate from the convention messengers. But we like Jurkovich, so we are hesitant to call him a turkey.

We could also have awarded the 2018 Toty to Georgia Pastor Johnny Hunt. Having gone through hundreds of pages of Hunt’s electronic correspondence in the SBC Historical Archives, we were mighty tempted to designate him the inaugural Toty recipient. And any man who posts these sorts of photos on his Instagram account is worthy of honorable turkey mention. His endless tweets in support of a former SWBTS president might also bump his chances, but we declined to name Hunt as the 2018 Toty Award winner.

Steve Swofford, the chairman of the SBC Executive Committee presidential search team also deserved consideration. The fact that the search committee has narrowed their list down to a handful of usual suspects — without any meaningful consideration of outlier candidates — might earn Swofford a Toty Award.  But there’s always 2019, and he’s certainly in the running for convention turkey depending on who ends up the final candidate for the ExComm post.

We also considered recognizing the modern day Marcionite, Atlanta-area pastor Andy Stanley. Failure to recognize the similarity between one’s hermeneutical framework and that of an early church heretic is certainly worthy of a turkey nod. But Stanley isn’t really Southern Baptist anymore, and hasn’t been for a long time.  So he gets no Toty.

Gary Loveless, the former SWBTS trustee who not only threatened to pull his financial support over the Patterson firing, but who also named a urinal on campus in his son’s honor, deserved consideration. And that doesn’t take into account his patronage of Patterson papyri. But a Toty Award demands something other than idiosyncratic denominational affinities and slightly more money than brains.

We also considered naming Dick Land our inaugural recipient, because we just love reinforcing our nickname for the Princetonian ethicist. And we considered both of the Turkish Caner brothers. And we also considered our favorite TEXAN hack, Tammi Ledbetter, alongside the Most Reverend Thomas Hatley, the ever-easy target of an IMB trustee chairman and defender of all things Patterson.

But those were all too easy.

So without further ado, The Baptist Blogger proudly announces our 2018 Turkey of the Year:

Kansas City attorney and former chairman of the SBC Committee on Nominations, James Freeman.

For having allowed his committee to completely miss the moment and preferring instead to recycle old white guys to the trusteeships of every SBC entity, and for having spent considerable time explaining why the committee’s record of African-American, Hispanic, and Asian-American nominees was a couple percentage points higher than a recent Pew Charitable Trust report — and for having made your entire committee look stupid in front of the 2018 Annual Meeting for attempting to force out an ERLC trustee who doesn’t drink the water from FOX News — we award you, Mr. Freeman, our inaugural Turkey of the Year. And because he has a turkey neck.

Gobble. Gobble.

PREVIEW: Turkey of the Year Award


The Baptist Blogger will announce the inaugural “Turkey of the Year” (Toty) award later tonight. The year 2018 will likely go down as one of the greater turning points in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention, and it’s been a chore to keep track of the bird-brained personalities, events, and ideas that have been offered on blogs, on the convention floor, and in trustee meetings. Nobody ever said turkey hunting was easy; nevertheless, we persisted.

Finding the most deserving honoree for the inaugural Toty (rhymes with Dottie) has proven difficult indeed. But we’ve examined the year’s events, polled our editor, and determined to announce on Thanksgiving Eve the 2018 Toty winner and two runners up.

Stay tuned . . .