- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 1, 2021

Southern Baptist Church pastor Ed Litton, elected June 15 as president of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, is expected to be in the hot seat Friday over questions of alleged sermon plagiarizing and exactly which of the veteran preacher’s messages are still available online.

Mr. Litton will appear on “SBC This Week,” a podcast produced by the denomination’s headquarters and hosted by Jonathan Howe, vice president for communications of the SBC’s executive committee and Amy Carter Whitfield, communications director for The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. A spokeswoman for Redemption Church said he is expected to address some of the latest issues during that podcast.

On Tuesday, Mr. Litton, elected during a pandemic-delayed annual business meeting of the 14 million-member church, told The Washington Times his congregation, Redemption Church, in Saraland, Alabama, had removed dozens of his old sermons from its website over issues of web hosting capacity and a hosting transition.

He also asserted his older messages remained available on YouTube, including a series on the New Testament book of Romans where a message included points made by another SBC preacher, J.D. Greear, but were used without attribution.

Mr. Greear, who preceded Mr. Litton as SBC president, said Mr. Litton had his permission to use those words. Mr. Litton issued a statement apologizing for the lack of attribution, vowing to do better.

Several readers of the June 29 interview either commented on the article’s web page or via email and said Mr. Litton wasn’t telling the whole story, that Redemption Church had dropped many of Mr. Litton’s earlier sermons. The new SBC president has pastored the church for 27 years.

On the church’s website, however, a new statement now appears: “By the action of the leadership of Redemption Church, we have taken down sermon series prior to 2020 because people were going through sermons in an attempt to discredit and malign our pastor. It is our highest priority to care for and shepherd our church.”

The statement added, “You can find all sermons from 2020, including the Romans series, on our YouTube channel while we’re waiting for our new website to come online at the end of July.”

Neither Mr. Litton nor anyone at Redemption Church indicated what in those deleted sermons could be used to “discredit and malign” the SBC leader when asked by The Washington Times for details.

At the same time, it’s become common knowledge in SBC circles that some more conservative Baptists are seeking to stir up enough controversy to push Mr. Litton out. He won against Georgia pastor Mike Stone, seen as more conservative than Mr. Litton, by 556 votes, roughly 4%, after the first round of balloting did not produce a clear winner.

• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

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