The handling of Wade Burleson’s motion by the convention lawyers indicates at least one potential reality: either they struggle to understand plain English or they willingly deceive the convention messengers.
Wade’s motion was very simple. He wanted the convention to amend the report of the International Mission Board to include already public information that the IMB had previously published on the organization’s website. In May 2019, the IMB released a preliminary report by the law firm retained to investigate the mission board’s handling of past abuse cases. Wade was concerned, as were we, that the IMB report contained not a single mention of the board’s actions related to dozens of abuse cases. The firm had identified several instances in which IMB officials had not exercised due diligence or demonstrated adequate concern for the criminal behavior of some mission personnel.
What Wade wanted, and what we hoped his motion might have prompted, was a new expectation of convention entities that they tell us the truth, even when it hurts.
The Book of Reports is an important and critical tool for Southern Baptists in the effort to keep their entities accountable and transparent. Too often reports are padded, inconvenient truths are omitted, and fiscal realities are obfuscated and glossed over.
That needs to change.
Wades motion was perfectly in order. The convention’s book of reports is the product of the convention, and the entities do not have final say on what the content of those reports are. The messengers may receive reports, amend them, adopt them, refer them, and even reject them.
The rationale provided by the convention lawyers for the ruling that Wade’s motion was out of order is specious and contemptible. They alleged Wade was trying to force non-public information into the IMB report. But the IMB itself had already made the information public on its own website. In fact, Wade wouldn’t have even known of the lawyer’s report had the IMB not made it public the previous month.
The ruling was nothing more than a parliamentary slight of hand — incompetent at best and deceitful at worst — designed to protect an SBC-owned entity from the very people who own it.
We will wait to see what goes into the various entity reports in 2020. And we are hopeful that it won’t only be the ERLC speaking the unpleasant truth about our various entities’ past handling of abuse.