Distortions by Preservationist Newsletter Destroying Herschel Hobbs Legacy
By Dr. Bruce Prescott
Representing themselves as preservers of Baptist history and missions, a non-profit corporation has been formed in Oklahoma that, in reality, is working to distort the memory of the late Herschel Hobbs and destroy his legacy. One of the three incorporators is a member of the Board of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, another is his wife.
The Baptist History and Missions Preservation Association began mailing newsletters to members of the FBC in OKC last May. By September they were mailing newsletters to all the pastors and church members of Capital Association (OKC) and issuing press releases to the news media.
Initially the group published its lies and distortions under the cloak of anonymity. Once the identities of the association’s incorporators were uncovered, the publication revealed the existence of unnamed co-conspirators by denying that any of the incorporators were writing the newsletter. Later the publication claimed to need anonymity by impugning the integrity of FBC members saying, “The reason is retaliation by the church staff and others.” Finally, after publishing six anonymous newsletters in four months, one of the incorporators, Yvonne York, identified herself as the group’s public relations coordinator while continuing to deny that she is writing the newsletters and refusing to name the authors.
It should be obvious that no one with real integrity would publish anonymously. Simple justice, credible journalism and trustworthy testimony require witnesses to face those they accuse of evil and error.
Faceless "associations" are created to cloak the identities of deliberate propagandists who are shielding themselves from liability for distorting the truth.
Indeed, the lies printed in Preservationist newsletters are so slanderous, malicious and premeditated that, if their names were known, they could easily be sued in civil courts for defamation of character and libel.
Lying is so blatant that articles from early issues of the group’s own newsletter could easily be used to expose fabrications printed in more recent publications. They have no excuse for not knowing that they are bearing false witness when they repeatedly issue newsletters and press releases attempting to defame the character and reputation of FBC staff, church members and others by calling them “the radical, “Mother God” worshipping Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, which believes in homosexual pastors, missionaries, Sunday School teachers, abortion and other non-biblical things.”
Unfortunately, recourse to legal action would only serve to further the Preservationist’s hidden agenda.
Propagandists always have a hidden agenda. Their agenda is secret because its objectives would be readily rejected if exposed to scrutiny.
Discovering the real intentions of propagandists requires that people look through the indignant accusations and inflammatory rhetoric that diverts attention away from their hidden agenda. Propagandists real goals only become apparent by looking at the effects of their propaganda.
An examination of the effects of the Preservationists’ newsletters makes it clear that the real goal of their Association is to destroy every trace of the legacy of Herschel Hobbs.
Herschel Hobbs still casts a long shadow in Baptist life. That is why the takeover leadership of the SBC, the BGCO, and the Preservationists are all working so diligently to distort his memory and destroy his legacy.
Two things stand out in the long and distinguished spiritual legacy of Herschel Hobbs — the vibrant faithfulness of the Christian fellowship at FBC in OKC and the 1963 Baptist Faith & Message (BF&M).
A formal organization intent on destroying the legacy of denominational unity preserved by the 1963 BF&M has been active within the SBC for nearly three decades. (See How Herschel Hobbs Preserved Baptist Heritage )
The organized campaign to destroy the fellowship of the church that Hobbs once pastored began when the church that knew him best began to balk at approving a new BF&M (2000) that repudiated the Baptist heritage that he devoted his life to preserving.
Unwilling to engage in thoughtful and open discussion about the implications of the changes to the 2000 BF&M and the takeover of the SBC, the Perservationist’s newsletter mounted a vile and offensive propaganda campaign designed to destroy the church.
The publication demonizes FBC staff, FBC church members, and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship as “false prophets” who are “being used by satan in an effort to confuse members of the SBC.” They say Mainstream Baptists were organized “to further confuse SBC members.”
Newsletters deride staff members saying, “My offer still stands to pay for (name) moving expenses back to (locations), whenever he decides to go.” They also ridicule church members with comments like, “I understand that . . . Baptist Church celebrated when (name) joined FBC. A Baptist church in south Oklahoma City probably did the same when (name) transferred his membership to FBC.”
The publication quotes people without concern for the context of their thought and expression, willfully ignores the grounds for common cause that unite groups of divergent and opposing beliefs, and deliberately misrepresents the beliefs of CBF, Texas Baptists and Mainstream Baptists.
In addition to its’ anonymous editing and editorializing, the publication prints anonymous letters to the editor — some from people who admit they left the church years ago and are no longer members.
For the record, a few people were bold enough to have their names associated with the Preservationists’ propaganda. One of them, Tom Elliff, pastor of First Southern Del City and one of the presidents of the SBC since the takeover, had the audacity to try to exert influence on a decision by the congregation of an autonomous Baptist Church of which he was not a member.
Through the pages of a newsletter published immediately before FBC’s historic vote to leave the SBC, Elliff warned the congregation that such a vote would be “to cast off its doctrinal roots.” In the same letter he tried to distort both the memory of Hobbs and the record by saying that CBF “first sought to portray him (Hobbs) as being ‘on their side’ and, when that failed, sought to cast aspersion on him and his effective ministry.” The truth is exactly the opposite. Elliff is a key leader of a movement that has opposed Hobbs and traditional Baptist beliefs for decades. The aspersions his takeover cronies have cast on Hobbs’ posthumous reputation are well documented. (See On Bothersome Baptists)
The cozy relationship between SBC leaders and propagandistic publications like the Preservationist newsletter is nothing new. Such publications have been instrumental in achieving the objectives of the takeover movement from the beginning. Characteristically, those most concerned about “doctrinal accountability” also refuse to accept responsibility for telling the truth.
Identifying all the co-conspirators who are trying to destroy FBC OKC may prove difficult. The best place to start might be to follow the money trail. Directives like that below were printed in at least five separate issues of the Preservationist newsletter over a span of three months:
“What should you do? Review your will and other financial documents and remove the First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City from being the recipient of any financial monies. . . . Immediately, start sending your tithes and offerings to the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.”
Does BGCO approve of this kind of fund raising? If not, why do they not repudiate it?
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