An Open Letter to Members of FBC Naples
Brothers and Sisters,
I greet you in the most sincere warmth and goodwill. Raised a Southern Baptist, saved a Southern Baptist, baptized a Southern Baptist, educated a Southern Baptist, and ordained a Southern Baptist, I have an affinity and personal affection for your church and denomination. In fact, until last year, the church I have pastored for 12 years was still a Southern Baptist Church, which it had been since for the last 38 years of its existence.
In 2013 I preached a messaged, A Call for Repentance to Southern Baptists and Other Evangelicals, at Reformation Montana, which soon made its way onto radio stations across the country. In it, I pointed out the various problems in the SBC which are now ripping apart your church, including meddling on behalf of the denomination into local church affairs and preaching the Popularity Gospel rather than the real gospel. Last year, my church voted to leave the SBC over its promotion of the very same subversive political ideologies tearing about your church now, and it made national headlines. Ironically, spokespeople told the press that they had never heard a single complaint from Southern Baptists about Social Justice.
Please know, beloved members at FBC Naples, that what’s happening at your church is not a phenomenon. It’s happening across the denomination and in a wider sense, across the country.
First, please understand that my media team knows what’s happening at FBC Naples. I know how key figures like JD Edie, Neil Dorrill, Troy Boone, Dan Collier, the church’s legal team, Holland and Knight, and so many others play into this sad scenario.
We are aware of the torrid past of some of these men, shady real estate deals some are still involved in, their suspect character, and the reason why so many do not trust them to make decisions regarding your pastoral search. We are also prepared to publish here-to-fore confidential and damning information to protect your church body should these men become more persecutory of the flock of God. Protecting innocent Christians is just something we do.
We have seen all the documents, emails, transcripts, and notes relating to the attempted hiring of Marcus Hayes as your pastor. We are aware of every pertinent detail because the great many of your fellow church members brought us this information because we are their voice. Together with the Capstone Report and Reformation Charlotte, news sites like theirs and Pulpit & Pen are the real Baptist Press. We are your voice.
We have seen the correspondence between your fellow church members and the Executive Committee of the SBC prior to the Hayes vote, pleading with them that it was not being done properly and asking for advice. We also saw their responses, that “the SBC does not involve itself in such local church matters” all the while the president of the SBC and its full weight and power was pressing upon your church to do exactly that; involving itself in the matters of your local church both to hire Marcus Hayes and afterward to excommunicate members who voted against him.
Secondly, understand that an absolute scourging is going underway, throwing away the 99 sheep to hire the one. By our estimates, at least 50 have been targeted for ex-communication by the executive fiat of your deacon board (under pressure of the SBC power structure). Some of those excommunicated voted for Hayes but have spoken up in defense of those who voted against him, knowing full-well their reasons were not racist and they did nothing wrong in exercising their vote.
Your fellow church members are scared by legal threats, as your church leadership is employing a law-firm to threaten you. They are concerned about restraining orders from the church property because they can’t then attend graduation or school functions. They are worried about their kids being expelled from their school. Teachers and employees at the school have been told they would be fired if Marcus Hayes was not elected as the new pastor.
Your own church leadership is systematically terrorizing you. They have told you it is “standard Southern Baptist practice” for the church to rubber-stamp the pulpit committee’s selection (which is fundamentally and deeply untrue in regards to Baptist polity) and then set about to have an epic-level hissy fit when 19% of you exercised the right of church membership to vote your conscience. They’re now coming after you.
Third, this breach of Baptist polity, corruption, and sheep-beating is being done at the behest of Southern Baptist denominational leadership and your church is a test-case to overturn the Conservative Resurgence. What is happening at FBC Naples will determine the future of the SBC as a whole.
The very controversial Resolution 9 at the 2019 SBC declared Critical Race Theory (the ideology that causes your search committee to fixate on Marcus Hayes’ ethnicity above all else) to be a “helpful analytical tool” to build a worldview. It’s ripping apart your church.
Critical Race Theory (CRT) includes ideas of White Privilege, White Guilt, and White Fragility, which impugns all members of majority identity groups with racism (because all members of majority identity groups – like Caucasian males – benefit from systemic and culture-wide racism, at least within their philosophy). In other words, to be accused of racism through the analytical framework of CRT, all you have to be is Caucasian, a male, a heterosexual, or a conservative.
At the same time, the SBC passed changes to its Credentialing Committee, which promised to hunt down, investigate, and remove SBC churches that are racist. The problem is, Resolution 9 leaves almost every SBC church open to the accusation of racism.
Any church that does not bend over backward to accommodate the most progressive leaders or approve of pastors from a minority identity group (no matter their theological, ideological, political, or character problems) will be deemed as “racist.”
You have been placed in a lose-lose situation. Because of this toxic combination of Resolution 9 and the Credentialing Committee, your sub-par church leadership feels forced to excommunicate dissenters on the Hayes’ vote in order to maintain their standing with SBC leadership. Ironically, it was SBC leadership that so heavily promoted Hayes and his candidacy was their idea to begin with.
Should you choose to leave FBC Naples and the majority of you expats wind up at one particular SBC church in the Naples area, that church may be reluctant to receive your group as members because the SBC Credentialing Committee will view them as “harboring racists.”
In conclusion, you are the unsuspecting and innocent victims of a subversive ideology put into place by extremist leftist ideologues in the SBC, mostly coming out of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and seminaries like Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (which employees at least three Critical Race Theorists) and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (which has been entirely handed over to CRT and Black Liberation Theology).
It’s not your fault. You’re only doing your job as Baptists in the pew, undergirded by the Priesthood of the Believer, and helping to guide and guard the church of Jesus.
Here is my advice: Do not leave the church unless they force you out via letter. If they force you out via letter, publicize it to the world. Have no shame (they want you to feel shame); you have done nothing wrong. You are being persecuted by sinister ideological forces that have invaded the SBC.
Coalesce together against the wickedness in your church. Build a coalition of right-minded church members. They might be able to excommunicate 50, but if you stick together, will they excommunicate 500? Let’s be honest; the millennials who formed the bulk of the Hayes vote aren’t the ones providing the tithes and offerings keeping the church afloat. Stick together and make it clear that if they want to persecute a few of you, they’ll have to persecute all of you.
Band together and vote no again on Marcus Hayes, and then propose a no-confidence vote in the search committee. In fact, insist that a no-confidence vote in the search committee be held before a re-vote on Hayes. After this circus, the only reasonable thing to do is to install a new committee. Implement a policy that no communication from the SBC denomination on your selection process will be considered and if received, will be sent back “return to sender.” You are an autonomous Southern Baptist Church, and the opinion of the denominational headquarters should not matter one iota. They do not support you; you support them.
WHAT PULPIT & PEN CAN DO FOR YOU
Pulpit & Pen has secured partnerships with THREE healthy and thriving Baptist churches in your region whose pastors are willing and eager to help provide counsel and care to abused, neglected, and confused members of FBC Naples.
If you email us at email@example.com, we will give you the name and contact information of quality Baptist pastors who are aware of the travesty at your church and can provide you counseling and give you advice straight out of the Holy Bible.
Should a group of FBC Naples ex-pats or current persecuted members would like to get together to work through the issue of Critical Race Theory or these ideologies at the root of the problems, P&P leadership will be more than happy to come to Naples and visit with you at a nearby Baptist church facility that is sympathetic to your struggles.
Several projects are in the works explaining how and why such things are happening in churches like FBC Naples including my book Ungodly Mess: How Marxists Have Stolen Christianity in America and the upcoming documentary, Enemies Within the Church.
Pulpit & Pen can give you many more resources to help explain the external forces tearing apart your church from the inside. One resource we would like to offering you is access to the Stand Against Marxism Conference. Members of FBC Naples can contact P&P to receive a free promo code which will allow them to watch the conference on demand at no charge.
In anticipation for your communication with us, P&P as increased our communications staff to be able to give you each a personal reply with additional helpful information and have retained Libolt Media Group to help return those messages promptly. All communications with Pulpit & Pen will be held with the utmost confidentiality and are protected by clergy-penitent privilege.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love (1 Corinthians 16:13).
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God Bless, Cody Libolt