Let me just say this up front: I think Todd Starnes is awful. I can’t determine whether he believes his own Red-State Fox-Newish evangelical schtick or if he merely panders, at great profit, to a pew-sitting crowd of MAGA-hat-wearing dullards that does. Either way, that bufoon has a blue star on his Twitter account, so people are listening to him. I’ve written at least two articles about his activities in the past.
Today, I publish another, in response to some of his more recent social media statements. Starnes’ statments were critical of SBC seminary professor Rhyne Putman. Starnes, I believe, misrepresented Dr. Putman.
Starnes makes it to appear that Dr. Putman supports illegal immigration in some way, then he names the seminary which employes him. Cue outrage! Call NOBTS President Jamie Dew to get Putman fired! Email the trustees!
Starnes wants his followers to believe that Southern Baptists are paying to support a pastor and professor, Putman, who doesn’t even know them. But where did Putman state that he supports illegal immigration or that all the Southern Baptists he knows do? The answer is “nowhere”. Putnam simply doesn’t do so in his Tweet to Starnes. Putman is commenting about immigration in general.
Don’t get me wrong. I am convinced that there are a number of influential Southern Baptists who do, unbiblically and against the wishes of SBC laypeople, support illegal immigrants or illegal immigration in some way. Putman does himself no favors by aligning himself with the ERLC as a Research Fellow. If you lay down with dogs you get fleas. If you lay down with that progressive flea Russell Moore, you’re going to have the breathe the bug spray that “conservative” Southern Baptists like Starnes spray on the mangy dog that is the SBC in order to suffocate that parasite Russell Moore. The times between the Evangelical Immigration Table and an organization supported by George Soros are real. There is no excuse, however, to misrepresent Dr. Putnam or anyone else. It’s cheap and sinful to do so. Starnes, having been fired from Baptist Press for dishonest journalism, is no stranger to doing just that.
Let me be absolutely clear and provide full disclosure. I am writing this article because I consider Rhyne Putman a friend. He was a professor of mine at NOBTS and he was a good one. I like Rhyne Putnam and am glad to know him. I can’t stand Todd Starnes and I can’t stand that such a clown dogged my professor to his large SBC following. I’d rather hear Rhyne Putman lecture for 15 minutes than have a front row seat to the “Todd Starnes Amercian Christmas” show at Bellevue Baptist Church (yes, that’s a real thing). I’ve heard Todd Starnes preach a sermon. It was even worse than his journalism. But I don’t simply write this to lay down cover for Dr. Putman.
In the wake of the retraction of a poorly sourced article at Captsone Report (an important blog regularly shared by Starnes), discernment blogs are getting a bad rap. Pulpit & Pen is a discernment blog as well as a news blog. We sometimes write about the theological implications of what we report. Just reporting things, however, is not discernment. Captsone Report is a news blog. It is not a discernment blog. Like other news sources, it sometimes makes reporting mistakes. It made one. Now even Al Mohler is breaking the 11th Commandment to criticize a fellow Southern Baptist.
Whether it be true discernment or simple Christian news, do not be thrown off the scent. There are very real problems in the SBC. They must not be ignored but they must be reported honestly.
*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.