Southern Baptists and the Rooney Rule

The late Dan Rooney is the former owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who died in 2012. He was a Roman Catholic and a supporter of Barack Obama, serving that President’s administration as the US Ambassador to Ireland. He is most notably remembered for an NFL rule that bears his name.

“The Rooney Rule” requires teams to interview ethnic minority candidates for open head coaching jobs or face fines. To state the matter simply, if a team has a specific white candidate in mind for its next head coach, it must first interview a minority candidate before hiring him or face a penalty. As well-meaning as this rule may seem, it ultimately reduces minority candidates to token interviewees while ignoring the fact that skill in coaching football has nothing to do with skin color.

Incredibly, the Rooney mindset has leaked out of the NFL and into the top echelons of the Southern Baptist Convention. Prominent pastors are inquiring as to whether or not minority candidates are being interviewed to fill the vacant SBC Executive Committee presidency.

The Baptist Recorder Reports:

On Jan. 29, a trio of well-known Southern Baptist pastors, including two former SBC presidents, sent a letter to the EC search team asking if any ethnic minority candidates were interviewed for the lead role, and if not, why. The letter, viewed by the Recorder, was signed by (Vance) Pitman,James Merritt, pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Ga., and Bryant Wright, pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga.

Those familiar with SBC politics will recognize Bryant Wright as the outgoing pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, located in a comparably liberal part of Georgia and whose SBC presidency was notable for its’ push to rebrand Southern Baptists into “Great Commission Baptists”.

James Merrit, who has moved from preaching in suits to skinny jeans as he has aged, is a long-time SBC powerbroker. Like Wright, he appears to be shifting with the political winds.

For some reason, SBC leaders are looking to liberal philosophy to fill one of the denomination’s most important roles. The racial reconciliation pandemonium in the Southern Baptist Convention has reached a fever pitch. Rank and file church members need to act fast if they are going to wrest control of their denomination back from the shrewd big-money self-promoting political operatives who have seized power in their midst.

If the SBC begins mimicking the world and hiring ministers and managers for the color of their skin and not the content of their ministerially qualified godly character, dark days are surely ahead.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

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Seth Dunn

Masters of Divinity in Christian Apologetics, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Member of the Evangelical Theological Society Certified Public Accountant