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More Emails: FBC Naples’ Concerned Party Defends Itself Against Accusations of “Racism”

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Reformation Charlotte has been covering the scandal at First Baptist Church in Naples, FL — a megachurch that recently held a vote that failed to install a black pastor as lead pastor of the church. The candidate, Marcus Hayes, received only 81% of the required 85% of the vote to secure the position.

After the failed vote, the leadership of the church ascribed the results of the vote to “racial prejudices” and indicted the 19% of the congregation that voted against him of “racism.”

Since the scandal began, many members of the church have reached out to Reformation Charlotte to tell their side of the story and after careful investigation, it is clear that none of the accusations of “racism” can be substantiated by any of the evidence put forth thus far.

While we cannot say with absolute certainty that not a single one of the “no” voters did so out of racial prejudice — racism does exist in every aspect of society to a certain degree and on every end of the racial spectrum — the bigger issue is the allegations made against these members were public and potentially damaging to them personally while no evidence has been shown to support the accusations.

Reformation Charlotte has been giving a voice to those who have been accused to tell their side of the story — you can read all of the articles at this link. Below is an email sent by the concerned party to members of the church whereby the accusations against them are rebutted. While mainstream Evangelical and Southern Baptist leaders have jumped on the bandwagon of smearing these people, we believe it is important for the truth to come out and all sides of the story to be told.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As most of you have seen there was an email sent from the church on Monday announcing the senior pastor voting results. 

In this communication there were many things alleged as if they were facts, that are very hurtful and simply not true.  Many of these allegations were pointed directly or indirectly toward us, the concerned group of FBCN members. 

We feel these statements were not well researched, misguided and mistaken.  It is our desire that they would be more careful in their communications to research their claims before they assert them and that they might realize their error and issue an apology.  Therefore we feel obligated to highlight some areas of misinformation that need correction, and others that need further clarification.

They said:  "Regretfully, these 365 "no" votes controlled the desire of the 1,552 super majority "yes" votes."
We wonder on what basis can they say this is "regrettable"?  If the process was followed and the result was fairly rendered, and their commitment to the spirit and wisdom of the constitutional process is greater than their commitment to a specific outcome, then we believe this is, objectively speaking, not "regrettable".  
They said: "what is potentially more concerning are the actions of a part of the minority group leading up to the vote."
They make claims like this with built-in innuendo, but they did not back any of these claims.   
What specific actions were concerning and by whom?  
Without evidence or examples to back this claim, they run the of bearing false witness.  We believe they should be more careful before making such an accusation.
They said:  "Certainly it is one thing to disagree, but it is a whole other thing to use unscrupulous, divisive, and false accusations to achieve one's goals"
Again, they claim that there were unscrupulous, divisive, and false accusations used to achieve a goal.
But, we have no idea what they could be referring to and they have given no examples.
We can say with complete confidence and peace of spirit that there is nothing our group has said or done that could fit that description.   
In this, they ascribe a goal to our group that is simply not ours. Our "goal to be achieved" was merely to inform members of legitimate concerns, which is perfectly legitimate.  It is unfair to describe this as anything other than what it is, legitimate inquiry.
We did not advocate for or against Marcus.  We merely advocated for the process to be done and people to investigate and vote their conscience.  Our communications were quite clear on that.
These points of concern were even brought up before Marcus's info sessions.  
So he had 2 opportunities to clear up his position and give his perspective on proper context of the seemingly controversial social media posts.  This is perfectly within the bounds of the vetting process and it is not worthy of such criticism.
These concerns were certainly legitimate and applicable to any candidate  A senior pastor should have the discernment to not post or repost controversial, divisive and offensive social media content.  
Some of the content in question even has theological implications.  This is all perfectly legitimate and it is the church body's prerogative to learn about any incoming senior pastor's position on these things.  How can someone say that this is not a legitimate concern to fairly investigate and get Marcus's side of the story?
They said: "Last week, through social media, texting, phone calls, and emails, racial prejudice was introduced into our voting process". 
No one acting on behalf of our group or even on their own that we are aware of did any such thing.  We have no idea what they are talking about, but we find it alarming that racism was ascribed to our group without any evidence to support the claim.  
We hope they will come to realize their mistake and issue an apology
They said: "We are deeply grieved that the wonderful name of our Lord and the reputation of First Baptist Church Naples was affected by this campaign against Marcus Hayes."
This is very misleading because No "campaign" was made against Marcus, at least on our part.  
It was only Thursday that we learned about some Marcus's controversial social media posts.  All we did is bring awareness so there would be an opportunity for Marcus to address these controversial issues and give his side of the story and his perspective on the proper context.  That's hardly a "campaign". We believe this inaccurate description of legitimate concerns cannot be backed and should be retracted.   
They said: "The stain has come through a small group of people who call themselves "Voices of FBCN", and/or "Group of Concerned FBCN Members", as well as others who have espoused these sinful positions." 
This is very upsetting because it is a clear defamation.  It is simply and unmistakably not true.  
First - we are not the "Voices of FBCN"
Second - They have not named any specific thing, nor have they been able to relate any such claim to us.   This is just an empty assertion and it is heartbreaking to hear.
We are frankly shocked at the harsh and misguided nature of these accusations.  There are many more things we would like to say, but in the spirit of unity we will keep the content of this message restricted to the misleading claims against us. 

We do not know what is in store for FBCN, but we pray for peace.  We hope and pray that the "leadership" who authored this letter would reconsider their positions and treat their brothers and sisters in Christ more charitably and retract these harsh accusations that have no backing.

In Christ,

The group of concerned FBCN members
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As most of you have seen there was an email sent from the church on Monday announcing the senior pastor voting results. 

In this communication there were many things alleged as if they were facts, that are very hurtful and simply not true.  Many of these allegations were pointed directly or indirectly toward us, the concerned group of FBCN members. 

We feel these statements were not well researched, misguided and mistaken.  It is our desire that they would be more careful in their communications to research their claims before they assert them and that they might realize their error and issue an apology.  Therefore we feel obligated to highlight some areas of misinformation that need correction, and others that need further clarification.

They said:  "Regretfully, these 365 "no" votes controlled the desire of the 1,552 super majority "yes" votes."
We wonder on what basis can they say this is "regrettable"?  If the process was followed and the result was fairly rendered, and their commitment to the spirit and wisdom of the constitutional process is greater than their commitment to a specific outcome, then we believe this is, objectively speaking, not "regrettable".  
They said: "what is potentially more concerning are the actions of a part of the minority group leading up to the vote."
They make claims like this with built-in innuendo, but they did not back any of these claims.   
What specific actions were concerning and by whom?  
Without evidence or examples to back this claim, they run the of bearing false witness.  We believe they should be more careful before making such an accusation.
They said:  "Certainly it is one thing to disagree, but it is a whole other thing to use unscrupulous, divisive, and false accusations to achieve one's goals"
Again, they claim that there were unscrupulous, divisive, and false accusations used to achieve a goal.
But, we have no idea what they could be referring to and they have given no examples.
We can say with complete confidence and peace of spirit that there is nothing our group has said or done that could fit that description.   
In this, they ascribe a goal to our group that is simply not ours. Our "goal to be achieved" was merely to inform members of legitimate concerns, which is perfectly legitimate.  It is unfair to describe this as anything other than what it is, legitimate inquiry.
We did not advocate for or against Marcus.  We merely advocated for the process to be done and people to investigate and vote their conscience.  Our communications were quite clear on that.
These points of concern were even brought up before Marcus's info sessions.  
So he had 2 opportunities to clear up his position and give his perspective on proper context of the seemingly controversial social media posts.  This is perfectly within the bounds of the vetting process and it is not worthy of such criticism.
These concerns were certainly legitimate and applicable to any candidate  A senior pastor should have the discernment to not post or repost controversial, divisive and offensive social media content.  
Some of the content in question even has theological implications.  This is all perfectly legitimate and it is the church body's prerogative to learn about any incoming senior pastor's position on these things.  How can someone say that this is not a legitimate concern to fairly investigate and get Marcus's side of the story?
They said: "Last week, through social media, texting, phone calls, and emails, racial prejudice was introduced into our voting process". 
No one acting on behalf of our group or even on their own that we are aware of did any such thing.  We have no idea what they are talking about, but we find it alarming that racism was ascribed to our group without any evidence to support the claim.  
We hope they will come to realize their mistake and issue an apology
They said: "We are deeply grieved that the wonderful name of our Lord and the reputation of First Baptist Church Naples was affected by this campaign against Marcus Hayes."
This is very misleading because No "campaign" was made against Marcus, at least on our part.  
It was only Thursday that we learned about some Marcus's controversial social media posts.  All we did is bring awareness so there would be an opportunity for Marcus to address these controversial issues and give his side of the story and his perspective on the proper context.  That's hardly a "campaign". We believe this inaccurate description of legitimate concerns cannot be backed and should be retracted.   
They said: "The stain has come through a small group of people who call themselves "Voices of FBCN", and/or "Group of Concerned FBCN Members", as well as others who have espoused these sinful positions." 
This is very upsetting because it is a clear defamation.  It is simply and unmistakably not true.  
First - we are not the "Voices of FBCN"
Second - They have not named any specific thing, nor have they been able to relate any such claim to us.   This is just an empty assertion and it is heartbreaking to hear.
We are frankly shocked at the harsh and misguided nature of these accusations.  There are many more things we would like to say, but in the spirit of unity we will keep the content of this message restricted to the misleading claims against us. 

We do not know what is in store for FBCN, but we pray for peace.  We hope and pray that the "leadership" who authored this letter would reconsider their positions and treat their brothers and sisters in Christ more charitably and retract these harsh accusations that have no backing.

In Christ,

The group of concerned FBCN members
         

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