TIME Magazine Credits Bloggers for New SBC President

SBC President, Frank PageHave you seen TIME Magazine’s analysis of Frank Page’s election to the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention? Here’s the headline and the lead of the story written by David VanBiema:

The Bloggers’ Favorite Southern Baptist: The upset victory of a non-anointed candidate to lead America’s largest Protestant denomination signals the growing power of online activists, even in old-line churches . . . For those who follow the internal politics of the Southern Baptist Convention . . . the most interesting news out of their annual meeting, held this week in Greensboro, N.C., is that bloggers elected a president (source).

I don’t think that this analysis of the election is on target. The Baptist Press reports that fewer than 200 people showed up to the “Younger Leaders Summit” at the Southern Baptist Convention. These younger leaders are the ones who are most associated with all the sound and fury in the SBC blogosphere, and “fewer than two hundred” doesn’t not amount to much in an election in which 8,961 votes were cast. Put simply, there likely were not enough bloggers at the convention to have a significant impact on the vote.

So technically speaking, the bloggers didn’t “elect” a president, as the Time article suggests. What their influence was on messengers who did cast votes remains to be seen.

(HT: Missional Baptist Blog)


8 thoughts on “TIME Magazine Credits Bloggers for New SBC President”

  1. Thanks for pointing this out Denny. Regardless of the perceived influence of blogs, the fact is that the convention is still primarily a “state newspaper” kind of convention rather than a bloggers convention. That’s not to say that blogs had no influence or even very little influence. I think bloggers helped keep the discussion going allbeit in 12 pt font! I think Marty Duren is right when he points out that the CP giving of Page’s church is what really put him over the edge.

  2. one more thing…

    I think it’s great that Page won the election. Had I been a messenger he would have received my vote not because we agree all the way down the line theologically – he is not Reformed but I would consider myself Reformed in my leanings (if categories must be used) – but because he demonstrates his commitment to the CP. I want a president who can wholeheartedly embrace the SBC confession of faith (BFM 2000) but I also want a president who can wholeheartedly endorse the means the SBC has in place in order to aid in global evangelization – the Cooperative Program.


  3. From what I saw there were bloggers everywhere. My stats went through the roof during the convention (from 40-250) and I am not even one of those big bloggers. I think it is accurate to say that bloggers contributed to the election. Here is how I say that – I think bloggers can be credited with stirring up the issue of more than one candidate. If it had not been for Page, Burleson would have run. Furthermore, everyone was reading or was very aware of what the bloggers were saying. As to the younger leaders summit, I did not go, but I did vote. I think that for the most part bloggers are from smaller churches and most of them probably arrived on Tuesday. There were far more messengers there on Tuesday morning as apposed to Monday, at least that is how it appeared.

  4. I think blogging did influence this election.

    1. Blogosphere is the reason many came realize
    they were on the same page(no pun intended)
    on realizing that we needed a change from
    the old guard and buddy system.
    2. Blogosphere is the vehicle that started the
    networking in place now.
    3. People who blog don’t just talk to other
    bloggers, they talk to their family and other
    members of their church.
    4. People who blog are not the only ones who
    read blogs and people who read blogs are
    not the only ones who know what bloggers
    have been saying.

    Did Page get elected by only blogger ‘votes’, no. But I would say that the canadates that were endorsed by the prominent leaders in the media of our convention lost this election because young leaders and old who want to serve our Christ through the coop realized through reading and posting in the blogosphere that support for a change was there.

    Blogging to the mainstream baptist press is kinda like Fox news is to the big three networks. Not in the sense that it is a totally opposite view, but a vehicle to hear other’s opinions and realize there are like minds in
    our convention that have not had a platform or pulpit or traditional media outlet to voice those opinions.

    Thats just my 2.5678 cents.

  5. The bloggers did impact the election, but their importance has been overstated. I personally talked to a number of large church pastors from Georgia at my college alumni dinner. None of them are sympathetic to the bloggers, but they and their constituencies voted with the bloggers because of Frank Page’s support of the Cooperative Program. For all of the “younger leaders” that were at the SBC (and to be fair, there were a lot there), the grassroots Baptists elected Page, not the bloggers. And the mom and pop Baptists were voting for the CP.

  6. I attribute Page’s victory to his nominator, Frank Pollock. Pollock pounded the fact that Page’s church gave 12% of the church’s money to the CP. This, accompanied with the fact that Floyd gave minimally to the CP and Sutton entered the race too late for any publicity, gave Page the election. The bloggers did not show up in force at the convention. I was there and as usual, I saw the grey and blue-hairs. The election was won because the nomination speech showed that confience could only be placed in the candidate who gave faithfully and genberously to the CP. Floyd din’t fit that bill and although Sutton did, he didn’t have enough publicity to really pull in strong.

  7. I was at the Convention and the Young Leaders Summit.

    No doubt Time has overestimated the influence of bloggers. However, to draw a direct line between the number in attendance at the Young Leaders Summit (“less than 200”) and the number of people influenced by blogs is a mistake.

    The summit was (a) too late (b) hard to find and (c) poorly promoted. I personally know many young leaders (who diligently read the blogs) at the Convention who did not attend the summit.

    I also know that the readership of the blogs is not even close to being limited to the “young” leaders in the SBC. I heard from multiple sources at the SBC that a large number of the established (over 40) contigent of leaders had been following the blogs.

    I agree that the CP giving issue is what was probably the number 1 reason that Page won, however, blogging had a huge impact on quickly disseminating information that led to many wanting an alternative candidate.

    Furthermore, if blogging only had a minimal impact, then I seriously doubt President Welch would have so fervently verbally attacked blogging, nor would blogging been mentioned so many times from multiple speakers.

    Andrew is correct in saying that the bulk of the convention messengers were older, but these older people, although not blogging themselves, are reading more blogs that some would imagine. And of those who are only reading their state papers, BP and ABP used the blogs as source material as never before.

    While Time was surely over the top, the fact is that blogging made a significant impact on this year’s SBC.

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