Recently a hilarious website called the BabylonBee has taken the evangelical world by storm. It is a parody site that shares poignantly funny (and fake) new stories that often hit close to evangelical stereotypes. Some of my personal favorites so far have been: “John Piper Gently Informs David Platt that Everyone Knows about Secret Church,” “Animal Control Corrals Cage-Stage Calvinist After Biting Incident,” “PCUSA Oks Additional Sins,” and “First-Year Seminarian Ready To Take Over For Senior Pastor If Necessary.”
I find the stories hilarious and entertaining. Then last week I started to see a “news” story on my social media feeds that I thought had to be this same kind of satire as well. It read, “J.D. Greear YouTube Video Causes Concerns.” I thought this has to be a parody because it seems a bit silly to be so “concerned” about a comedic rap video that a young woman did about her pastor potentially becoming president of the SBC. Unfortunately, as they say in the NFL, “upon further review,” the story is not a satire at all. In fact, the article actually came from the Association of State Baptist Publications with several Baptist State Paper Editors contributing to it and the Florida Baptist Witness posting it to their site (as well as other state convention papers running similar stories). This story is troubling for at least two reasons:
- It is evidence of poor journalism
For example, the authors appear not to have attempted to interview the video’s creator nor do they quote her. One of their sister papers (The Biblical Recorder) did an article on the video and did interview Ashley Unzicker the rapper in the video. That article along with the rapper’s perspective on the video (after all, don’t we believe in authorial intent?) could have been used to balance the article posted by the Association of State Baptist Publications, but they declined to use it.
In addition, the title of the article says the video “causes concern,” but it never identifies one person who is concerned about it. If the concern is merely held by the editors of these Baptist papers, then perhaps they could make that clear.
Finally, the article claims, “The use of social media for individuals who have agreed to be nominated for SBC president is a relatively new move by nominees, as is straight-up endorsements by entity heads on social media.” This is a misleading statement. For one thing, social media (particularly in Baptist Life) hasn’t been around all that long so it would have to be relatively new. Also, a casual look at social media surrounding the past few contested elections reveals that what has happened this year is not new at all, which leads to the second reason the story is troubling.
- It is creating a fake controversy
There are plenty of examples from the recent past where entity heads have publicly endorsed candidates, including through social media, and there was no outrage or concern over it. Here are several examples of this from the recent past:
- In 2006, Presidents Danny Akin, Albert Mohler and Paige Patterson endorsed Ronnie Floyd.
- In 2012, President Danny Akin tweeted multiple times endorsing Fred Luter – See here and here. And, President Chuck Kelley endorsed Fred Luter on twitter – see here.
- In 2014, President Albert Mohler nominated Ronnie Floyd (which he talked about on social media).
It is not new for entity heads to endorse or even nominate presidential candidates. What is new? State editors being “concerned” about it. Why were they silent before, and why are they concerned now about a clearly satirical rap video? I don’t know. Maybe it’s the candidate. Or maybe it’s the entity heads in the video, after all, some of the papers seem to have a recent agenda to constantly attack some entity heads.
I don’t know why they chose to run this story and with so many oversights, but I do know there is no real story here…time to move along to more important things. Register for the B21 Panel at this year’s SBC in St. Louis where we will discuss State Conventions and State Papers: Come hear from Danny Akin, Matt Chandler, J.D. Greear, R. Albert Mohler Jr., Russell Moore, and David Platt
- Register Here
- Registration is $10 until May 14th
- Registration is $15 after May 14th
- Panel is June 14th after the morning session of the SBC
by Nate Akin