A row continues over a threat by conservatives to strip funding from the Biblical Recorder. The Recorder is the newspaper of the North Carolina convention of the Southern Baptist Convention. As reported in the Recorder,
Saying his resignation was “not required, but necessary” Jameson offered to resign prior to a regularly scheduled board meeting in Charlotte Oct. 21. Board members expected their meeting to include discussion about an announced challenge to the Recorder’s Cooperative Program funding through the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina when the Convention meets Nov. 8-10.
A letter to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina Executive Director-treasurer Milton A. Hollifield Jr. and copied to Recorder board members threatened such action if the editor was not removed. Hollifield has no supervisory responsibility for the Recorder, which is an agency of the Baptist State Convention with a separate board.
Now a board member has also resigned, saying "freedom of the press as we know it has died."
Faulkner's resignation is part of a larger ideological dispute within the state convention, which has swung to the right in recent decades, following the conservative resurgence in the national Southern Baptist Convention. The state convention, which serves about 4,000 churches, has increasingly sidelined churches with more moderate views.The rest of the News & Observer story is here.
"To print only opinions with which we all agree does not teach us or encourage us to learn or to think about an issue in a different way," said Faulkner, a member of First Baptist Church in Marion, who served on the Biblical Recorder's board for the past three years.
The Biblical Recorder, a biweekly newspaper that receives about 45 percent of its budget from the state convention, has always considered itself editorially independent. But two weeks ago, editor Norman Jameson resigned amid threats to strip the paper of its funding. The threats came from people upset that Jameson continued to write about Baptist institutions that have no official ties to the convention but continue to serve area churches. Two such groups are the Woman's Missionary Union and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
More from Faulkner's resignation letter published in the Biblical Recorder:
I have been a Baptist all my life. However, now I feel that all are not welcome in our tent. My church has much diversity, and we all learn and grow together. Our state convention is no longer that way as we must pass a “test” of opinion to see if we are worthy. Like the ancient Israelite, I must move my tent to another place. I will continue to be a Baptist but will continue to seek a place where I can learn and grow.It seems to fair to say that at least there is transparency: the leadership of the state convention expect the editor to be "sensitive" to their views.
What expectations of editorial independence do you have of a church newspaper? To whom should an editor be accountable? Is there sufficient transparency surrounding the issues of independence and accountable?