Conservative view of controversy mailed to pastors
November 30 2001 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Conservative view of controversy mailed to pastors | Friday, Nov 30, 2001

Friday, Nov 30, 2001

Conservative view of controversy mailed to pastors

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor A book highlighting the conservative side of the battle for control of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is being sent to about 42,000 pastors.

Paul Pressler's book, "A Hill on Which Die," was sent to every pastor in the SBC, according to a letter accompanying the book. SBC President James Merritt and eight former SBC presidents signed the letter. (Click here to read a review of the book.)

Pressler and Paige Patterson, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and one of the signers of the letter, are widely perceived to be the architects of the conservative rise to power in the SBC.

Critics call their efforts a "takeover," while supporters refer to it as the "conservative resurgence" in the SBC.

"It has become increasingly apparent that many have forgotten the conditions which necessitated the conservative resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention," the letter said. "The oncoming generation needs to know what transpired."

The letter said the presidents want every pastor, every seminary student and Southern Baptists in general to know and understand the issues.

"We feel most strongly that "A Hill on Which to Die" is must reading for an informed Southern Baptist," the letter said. "Since each of us has served as president of the convention during the period of the conservative resurgence, we feel strongly about the issues dealt with in the book."

All but two of the SBC presidents during the conservative rise to power - Charles Stanley and Jim Henry - signed the letter.

Patterson, who served as SBC president in 1999-2000, said in a telephone interview that "a number of people" approached Pressler about making the book available to all the SBC pastors. Patterson said he didn't remember who the people were or how much the project cost.

Patterson said Pressler contacted him about the idea.

"I said 'I think it would be a fabulous thing,'" Patterson said.

Patterson said even Pressler's sworn enemies will "probably get a kick out of reading" the book.

"Those who love him will love him more when they read it," Patterson said. "Those who are undecided might gain some insight."

The letter said tax-deductible contributions to offset the cost of the project can be sent to First Baptist Church in Houston. The book's paperback version, which was sent to the pastors, costs $3.50 each, according to the letter.

Kirk Boudreaux, director of financial services for the church, said Pressler is a member of the church. The church has not put any money into the project but does receive and pass along tax-deductible contributions to LifeWay Christian Resources, Boudreaux said.

"We've just created an avenue to help with funding," he said.

The church has received a few checks and forwarded the equivalent amount of money to LifeWay, he said.

The book arrived to pastors in an envelope with a LifeWay return address. It was sent with a non-profit, postage paid permit from Tallahassee, Fla.

LifeWay officials said the agency didn't spend or invest any money in the mailing. Pressler told them a group of his supporters funded the project, they said.

Pressler could not be reached for comment.

(EDITOR'S NOTE - Marv Knox, editor of the Texas Baptist Standard, contributed to this report.)

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11/30/2001 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments
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