Injustice Reigns at a Georgia Baptist College

Secrecy, revenge, and non-disclosure agreements. Lawyers, threats, and a severance package offered as hush money. It sounds like the drama of a New York Times Best selling novel. But I’m not talking about fictional corporate greed and vengeance. This is life over the last month in the administration at a small Baptist college in Georgia. And this time, the victim is a man who lost his job because he stood up and wouldn’t be part of the charade.

Yesterday Southeast Georgia Today
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released an article called “BPC VP Refuses to Resign, Fired” which shed light on what’s really been happening at Brewton Parker College. The former president, Ergun Caner, resigned last week after a tumultuous one year stay as president of the college. The evidence that’s come to light in the last 24 hours shows that there was a lot more to the story than what the initial press release indicated. Evidently Caner felt he needed help to “restore his credibility.” The SGT article also refers to an incident where 3 witnesses report Caner using inappropriate racial language (it’s unspecified what he was accused of saying). The racial epithet problem is not a new one for Caner, videos of him speaking earlier in his career show him on stage using poorly chosen phrases in failed attempts at humor. There’s no telling what stories are yet to come to light - but I’m told there are more. Caner came in surrounded in controversy. Instead of building bridges and earning trust, it sounds like he did the opposite.

But according to the PR department of BPC, everything was going great. For all I know, that’s still the story we’d all be believing if someone hadn’t stood up to the charade. Enter C. B. Scott, Vice President of Alumni, Advancement, and Church Relations at Brewton Parker College. With Scott refusing personal appeals of Caner to help continue to sweep the problems under the rug, Caner resigned. Caner’s supporters on the board of trustees saw C. B. Scott’s refusal as ultimate betrayal and were determined that he wouldn’t survive at BPC either.

Offered an “attractive severance package” if he would sign a non-disclosure agreement, Scott refused to act like there was nothing wrong. He could have looked the other way, taken the money, and reasoned to himself, “It’s all in the past, what difference does it make now anyway?” But thank God for his example — that underhanded dealing and wrongdoing ought not to be passed over for the sake of position, prestige, and money.

How much better would we be if there were a C. B. Scott at every Baptist College, entity, and institution? By God’s grace there are, no doubt, people with this kind of spine at many of them. And also by God’s grace there are many of these organizations who act with integrity without threat of their inner dealings being exposed — they have nothing to fear or hide. But we know better than to think this kind of stuff doesn’t happen just because these are supposed to be Baptist and Christian organizations. Colleges in Louisiana and now Georgia have garnered national attention because they’ve been run like a good ‘ole boys club rather than with humility and transparency. There’s no doubt there are others who haven’t received this kind of attention or have not yet come to light.

If every institution had at least one high-ranking person who said, “I don’t sign NDAs and I don’t sweep wrongdoing under the rug,” the lure of favors, power, and prestige at any cost might suddenly fade. Light makes darkness run. And the risk of being exposed would be too great to act without integrity. Is it too much to ask — that our brothers and sisters who have the privilege and responsibility of leading these organizations, funded by people who offer their trust along with their money, would act accord to the trust given them?

The trustees of Brewton Parker College ought to hang their heads in shame. At least the ones who saw to it that C. B. Scott would no longer be employed there as an act of retribution. Also the ones who allowed it without doing everything they could to stop it. Here was the answer to many of the problems in Southern Baptist culture… and you fired him.

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