We need your help to fight for religious liberty and justice. After long delays resulting in victories at the U.S. Court of Appeals and United States Supreme Court, our legal case against the North American Mission Board (NAMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is back in Federal District court and moving through the discovery phase thorugh March 4, 2023 as we prepare for trial scheduled for June 5, 2023 in District Court in Oxford, Mississippi.
Key recent documents from the case are available here, and explain my allegations against NAMB.
A trio of experts have submitted written testimony in support of my case. The experts address among other items (1) NAMB’s claim to be a “supporting organization” (a named and reported IRS designation) of the BCMD, and (2) NAMB’s assertion of First Amendment rights in the matter.
Dr. Barry Hankins, professor of history and past chair of Baylor University’s Department of History, said “NAMB’s First Amendment defense in this case, if accepted by courts, would actually undermine religious liberty rather than safeguard it.” As his expert report in the case explains: "[I]f NAMB’s interpretation of the First Amendment prevailed (an interpretation that matches the erroneous and rescinded view of the ERLC in its amicus brief), every Baptist entity that cooperates in any way with the SBC would be put at risk—congregations, associations, and state conventions. The view that the SBC can claim itself as a “hierarchy” or “umbrella organization” over other Baptist entities essentially transforms the SBC, making it akin to hierarchical or presbyterian denominations from which Baptists have always distinguished themselves. It is not going too far to say that one of the principal reasons Baptists came into existence was because of the theological belief that religious authority resides only in local congregations, not in a hierarchy of bishops or in a presbyterian body claiming to represent those congregations. Should the courts accept NAMB’s interpretation, we would have a most curious situation, to put it mildly, where Baptists say they are one thing, but the courts treat them as something else. In short, the U.S. court system will have transformed and redefined Baptists into something they have always insisted they are not. That would be an affront to religious liberty."
I urge you to read Dr. Hankins’s report (available here). We need your help fighting for religious liberty and justice.
Do NAMB’s defenses in federal district court in Nov. 2018 square up with Dr. Hankins’s expert opinion? Absolutely not. NAMB claims to have “an absolute privilege with regard to any statements it may have published regarding Plaintiff” (me) in defense of our defamation claim (defense #12). NAMB claims it “had the legal ‘right to interfere’” (defense #10). NAMB claims it is “protected by an absolute privilege and/or a qualified privilege with respect all decisions it made and/or actions it took which may have related to or had an effect upon Plaintiff’s employment with BCMD” (defense #16).
NAMB’s claim of being a “supporting organization” to a state Baptist Convention (BCMD) was rejected by non-profit CPA expert Charles R Lindsay, a Mississippi CPA with 39 years of experience. Among other facts, Lindsay noted NAMB’s failure to meet IRS requirements for such status.
Economist expert witness D.C. Sharp, Ph.D., has provided expert consultation in 300 legal cases. He calculated the loss of wages damages in a range, “from approximately $1.4M to $1.8M.” He said that NAMB’s claim to be a “supporting organization … makes no sense to me as an economist given that, throughout the relevant period, BCMD provided more financial support to NAMB than NAMB provided to BCMD.” He found that actually the BCMD gave more to NAMB, than NAMB contributed in joint funds to the BCMD.
NAMB is trying to paint themselves as the defenders of religious liberty, while in reality I am the one fighting for religious liberty and advocating the historic Baptist position.
It is not too late to join us in this journey. We sure could use your help.
My termination by BCMD was followed by four years of unemployment. We plan to prove to a jury that NAMB’s disparagement and interference kept me from making a living during that time, and continues to harm me to this day.
I am asking you to join us in covering essential legal fees and expenses. We expect our legal expenses to reach another $55,000 by the end of the trial on top of the $130,000 Sandy and I have already invested in pursuing justice. While we pay our own expenses, in a strange twist, the mission gifts to the SBC and NAMB cover the legal expenses of NAMB.
Thank you kindly!
Will and Sandy McRaney
Recent News Articles on the Case:
Will NAMB cost the SBC tens or hundreds of millions of dollars?
Separate filings accuse two SBC agencies of misleading courts to delay trial and avoid scrutiny
Dr. Randy Adams - Executive Director Northwest Baptist Convention
"As Will McRaney seeks justice for the wrongs done to him, he is also exposing corruption, revealing abuses, and defending the autonomy of Baptist churches, Associations and State Conventions from the dangerous claim that NAMB is a "supporting organization" of state conventions, and that it has the right to interfere in the work of the those it claims to "support." Please join me and many others who support Will and Sandy as they fight not only for justice for themselves, but fight for all of us and defend the Baptist Way."