http://www.abpnews.com/www/1053.article Associated Baptist Press Burleson won't accept suspension, plans to expose trustee 'violations' By Greg Warner Published: May 26, 2006 ENID, Okla (ABP) -- Wade Burleson, the embattled blogging trustee of the International Mission Board, has been suspended from attending closed-door meetings of the board. But the Oklahoma pastor says he will not obey his suspension, setting up yet another confrontation in the six-month dispute that has sidetracked Southern Baptists' global missions agency. "I have run out of patience," Burleson told Associated Baptist Press May 26. Two days after agreeing to the suspension May 24, Burleson did an abrupt about-face, saying outgoing IMB chairman Tom Hatley "usurp[ed] the authority of the Southern Baptist Convention by removing me" from closed-door meetings. "I will attend executive sessions and forums, regardless of the chairman's request, trusting in my legal counsel that no trustee can be barred from the business of the full board without approval of the Southern Baptist Convention," Burleson wrote in his blog May 26. Burlseon later told ABP that he is "prayerfully considering" using his blog to reveal details of what he says are the trustees' violations of their own policies, which he says explain his dissatisfaction with some IMB members. He also predicted the Southern Baptist Convention will be asked next month to conduct an investigation of the trustees' actions. "This [upcoming] post is currently in the hands of several of my counselors and advisors as we pray about its release," he said in his blog May 26. "It will detail names, dates and actions of the events of the last two years by certain trustees as they have acted in an improper manner, in violation of board policy and scriptural commands, and wounded many people by their actions." Meanwhile, incoming chairman John Floyd of Tennessee said former chairman Hatley was within his rights to suspend Burleson. Floyd told ABP he will continue to enforce the suspension unless the IMB executive committee decides at its next meeting to change it. Trustee leaders accuse Burleson, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, Okla., of violating the confidentiality of some private trustee sessions in recent months by posting details on his blog, www.wadeburleson.com. Burleson denies revealing any confidential information and has offered to apologize if any violations can be proven. Earlier this year, the trustees voted to ask the Southern Baptist Convention to remove Burleson as a trustee, which would have been a first in Southern Baptist life. After an outcry from some in the SBC, and fears of a showdown at the June SBC meeting, the trustees later backed down, instead barring Burleson from serving on any committees and adopting rules prohibiting trustees and staff from dissenting publicly from any board decisions. Trustees agreed to bar Burleson from all committees because they said his blog posts questioned their character and challenged their motives. Burleson agreed to live under those initial restrictions, and the controversy started to fade. However, during the trustees' May 22-24 meeting in Albuquerque, N.M., chairman Hatley announced Burleson again had violated the secrecy of a closed-door trustee "forum" May 22 by blogging about a proposed "blue-ribbon" task force that would study doctrinal qualifications for IMB missionaries. As punishment for Burleson's new "breach of confidentiality," Hatley told trustees, their executive committee barred Burleson from attending any future closed-door sessions and recommended that the new chairman continue that prohibition "because of [Burleson's] lack of ability to restrain himself from publishing information shared in confidence." Several SBC boards conduct private trustee forums to present and discuss matters they don't want to discuss during plenary sessions that are open to the public. Reporters are not allowed into the forums. After Hatley's announcement, Burleson went to a microphone and asked Hatley to specify the new allegations against him. "If you’d please state what it is and I will on the spot repent if there was a breach of [confidentiality from the] forum,” Burleson said, according to a transcript of the meeting. Hatley, an Arkansas pastor, declined to give details of the allegations and said Burleson's offer of repentance was not enough. "… I would still not change my recommendation, even with repentance, because of the pattern of the breach of confidentiality demonstrated. Repentance needs to be shown by action and not just by words," the transcript said. When Burlseon sought further explanation, Hatley ordered his microphone turned off. According to an IMB news release, approved by Hatley, the outgoing chairman said the confidential information Burleson posted from the forum dealt with a motion the IMB executive committee planned to bring to trustees asking that a task force be named to study the doctrinal qualifications of missionary candidates. The motion was later tabled in the plenary session. Burleson, however, told ABP the suggestion of such a task force was discussed openly by trustees before and after the forum and could not be made confidential retroactively. Initially, in a May 24 blog posting immediately after the trustee meeting, Burleson said he would abide by the new suspension and not attend confidential meetings. "Frankly, we should abandon 90 percent of those [closed] meetings in order to let Southern Baptists know what is going on. Things done in the light of day are always better for organizations like ours," he wrote. But he changed his mind about his punishment, he said, after further reflection and being advised that the chairman of the board does not have the constitutional authority to bar a trustee from attending any meetings to which all other trustees are invited. Burleson told ABP he documented alleged trustee misdeeds after the board attempted to oust him earlier this year. He had decided not to reveal that evidence, he said, but changed his mind after Hatley and the trustee executive committee again reprimanded him without giving him a chance to hear and answer the specific charges against him. "I would not even be considering this were it not for the actions of Chairman Hatley at our last meeting," he said. "I've got to be able to lay the issues out so people can determine if they are taking appropriate actions." "I have dealt with [the offended] people personally and privately," he said. "But when people disparage me publicly, then what else can I do?" Burleson and trustee leaders continue to disagree over whether or not Burleson has apologized enough. In his report to trustees, Hatley quoted a Dec. 10 blog, in which Burleson said: "Conservatives who love the battles of decades past have fallen victim to a crusading mentality of blood thirst. Since all the liberals are gone, conservative crusaders are now killing fellow conservatives. A clear understanding of how this war is proceeding may be seen in the recent actions of the International Mission Board. ... Why have some conservative crusaders now insisted on new policies at the IMB regarding tongues? Again, it seems clear to me that some conservative crusaders have yet to learn how to sheath the sword, and rather than cooperate with fellow conservatives in reaching the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ, they have gone after the head of [IMB President] Dr. Jerry Rankin." Burleson did apologize in his blog for the tone of the Dec. 10 posting, which he also later revised. But he has said repeatedly he will not stop blogging about the IMB nor apologize for unspecified offenses until they are detailed for him. Hatley and others say Burleson has been asked repeatedly to apologize publicly to trustees. Floyd, the new chairman, reiterated Hatley's contention that Burleson has not apologized sufficiently for offending board members. "It can be ended anytime Wade decides to acknowledge what he has done," Floyd told ABP. "It depends on Wade. If he had [apologized adequately after the first punishment], all of that would have been lifted."