In 1990, the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee fired Baptist Press editors Al Shackleford and Dan Martin because they would not stop writing articles about the fundamentalist takeover effort; they could not be controlled.
In 1990, the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee fired
Baptist Press editors Al Shackleford and Dan Martin because they would
not stop writing articles about the fundamentalist takeover effort;
they could not be controlled. The Executive Committee took over the
Baptist Press, and it became a public relations organ for the SBC. We,
the people, lost our hope for objective reporting from the official
news agency of the SBC.
In an article in the April 13th issue of the Baptist Message (“LBC
leader urges key change for Baptist Message”), Louisiana Baptists hear
echoes of the SBC action. Executive Director David Hankins is proposing
to “take over” the Baptist Message. He attempts to justify his actions
under the guise of “leadership” and “fiscal responsibility.” Hankins
argues his action is not about control but leadership. Yet, he
threatens to proceed with his plans regardless of what Baptist Message
trustees decide and to de-fund the paper if they do not yield to his
request. Is this not dictatorial management and control? We have
vested our LBC directors and president with far too much power if this
can be accomplished “by his word.”
A friend who was religion editor for the Alexandria Town Talk in
the 1960s and 1970s – and was an outstanding, unbiased reporter – made
a significant comment. She said the SBC Baptist Press and the Baptist
Message had, at one time, the best denominational news and public
relations organs in the United States. That is high praise, isn’t it?
Sadly, it is past tense. Are we going to lose freedom of the press
I urge Louisiana Baptists and the LBC Executive Board to register
strong resistance to this bald attempt to transform the state paper
into a public relations journal for convention leaders. If this occurs,
we will get even less news than now.
Ida Colvin Sampson