Anonymous Blogger Messes with Church… Church messes back…

Orginally published on Monday, April 13, 2009 at 6:54 AM
by Todd Rhoades

It has all the makings of a soap opera. Mail is missing from the mega-church pastor's mailbox. Surreptitious pictures being taken of the pastor's wife. And calls to vendors of the church's annual conference being called to say bad things about the pastor. Add to that an anonymous blog that constantly attacks the pastor and his ministry. And the investigation of this blog by a sheriff's office investigator who attends the church, who finds the identity of the blogger and discloses it to the leadership. Finally, the pastor calls the blogger a 'sociopath' publically. All the while, the blogger says he just wrote a blog and didn't flash pics of the pastor's wife, make phone calls, or take the pastor's mail. It's all happening at First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, and with popular SBC pastor Mac Brunson...

Here’s a bit more from an article in the Jacksonville paper:

The Rev. John Blount, executive pastor of administration, said he contacted Hinson directly regarding increased “vitriol” on the blog about the same time mail was stolen from the Brunson home and someone was surreptitiously photographing Brunson’s wife. Also, someone had contacted vendors lined up for the church’s annual pastors’ conference and made critical remarks about Brunson to them, Blount said.

“We became concerned enough to ask law enforcement, ‘Is there the ability to find out where this is coming from?’ ” Blount said.
Police reports were not filed about the mail and photos, Blount said. The Sept. 29 police report launching the investigation quotes Blount telling police only about “an ongoing Internet incident that has possible criminal overtones.”

At no time was the blogger accused of being behind the other incidents, Blount said.

Rich said he never stole mail, photographed Brunson’s wife or contacted vendors. Rich said he wonders if those issues were raised simply to obtain a subpoena to uncover the identity of a blogger critical of Brunson.

That was not the case, Blount said. In an age of church shootings and other violence, he said, they simply wanted to determine if any of the events were related.

Brunson said police have interviewed him about the photos and stolen mail. He refused to elaborate.

Rich said he launched his blog in August 2007 — more than a year after Brunson became the pastor — because he was alarmed by what he described as Brunson’s “abusive preaching,” especially during fund-raising campaigns.

The blog has included criticisms of Brunson’s $300,000 salary, his plan to open a church school, his construction of a “lavish” office suite, accepting a $307,000 land gift from church members for his home and putting his wife on the payroll.

Brunson declined to discuss his home and salary but maintained he is one of the lowest-paid mega-church pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention. He said people are welcome to criticize his preaching style and ministry goals, including the school, but usually do so openly, not anonymously.

Rich’s letter from the church cited his anonymity and sharp criticism as “a violation of Scripture” and church bylaws. He said the trespass warning came after he refused to appear before a discipline committee without a representative.

But Brunson said Rich’s persistent criticism over nearly two years indicates the writer has an “obsessive compulsive problem” and is “not very stable at all,” Brunson said.

“What you’re dealing with is a sociopath,” Brunson said.

“The imbalance is him refusing to address the concerns of his congregation,” Rich said of Brunson’s comments. Rich said his blog gets about 1,000 hits a day and that he regularly hears from people who agree with his criticisms but are afraid to come forward.

You can read more here.

What do you think?  How would you deal with an anonymous blogger dissing you?

This post has been viewed 1393 times so far.

  There are 17 Comments:

  • Posted by michael

    i grew up at that church, and the entire situation is sad.  a blogger trashing a church and it ending up in the paper is not good for the kingdom.  shame on lots of people.

    furthermore, anonymous blogs, comments and emails are written by wimps who are not man or woman enough to stand by their statements.

  • Posted by

    I am not a fan of anonymous blogging.  However, having read through the blog, if even half of the stuff in it is true then the church has a more serious problem.

    In my opinion the whole thing has not been handled well since none of the alleged events were tied to the blogger. 

    I think there is a bigger question than how to handle blogging criticism.  Where do church members go for help when, after following Matthew 18, the pastor continues to sin?  Maybe an outside, objective mediator who can look into the concerns and then help bring the two sides together for resolution.

    As a disclaimer, I have no ties, nor have I ever been to the church in this article.

  • Posted by Aaron L

    Mosaic has had to deal with just such a case for years now. A former member of Mosaic left the church and started a rather popular website called “Mosaic of Pain” (Google it and you’ll find it). The site is devoted to attacking Mosaic and its leaders. Mosaic’s executive pastor has even gone to the person’s house to ask them to stop writing and to try to make amends. Unfortunately, it seems that the person didn’t desire to patch things up. An apology simply was not enough. Since then, Mosaic has adopted an unwritten policy of ignoring such people. I am not sure what the best way to deal with something like this is. I’ve got to believe that reconciliation is what Christ desires, but what about when people don’t want reconciliation?

  • Posted by

    If the Pastor was abusing his authority I can understand why someone would choose to be anonymous.  The bottom line for me is if the truth is being told.

  • Posted by Gary Hill

    We need to pray for our Christian family.  Satan is “nasty” and is attacking hard.

  • Posted by Rick Holland

    I had a situation in a previous church where someone was in the habit over the years of sending letters complaining of either the pastor or the deacons or wahtever but never signing the letter.  The next service I stood in the front of the congregation and said that I had received this letter and that it was not signed.  Then I threw the letter into a trash can.  I told them they can call me, come in to see me, or write a letter - but it they want the letter to be considered then they had better be willing to sign it.  By the way the letter writers problem with me was the time of hand shaking and greeting that I had introduced into the worship service.

  • Posted by


    This anonymous bloggers complaints weren’t picky, they were serious.  Compare apples with apples please.

  • Posted by

    The blog has included criticisms of Brunson’s $300,000 salary, his plan to open a church school, his construction of a “lavish” office suite, accepting a $307,000 land gift from church members for his home and putting his wife on the payroll.

    The statement above contains issues that are legitimate to complain about.

    Although I do’t think anonymous blogging about these concerns is the correct Scriptural path, the blogger’s concerns are justifiable.  Just because the blogger used the wrong means doesn’t mean his message is invalid.

  • Posted by CindyK

    I think a message is invalid if it’s done anonymously.  If this blogger were stating facts, and has proof, why not back it up with your name?

    Anytime anyone does something anonymously it can’t be taken seriously.

    I think ignoring anonymous complaints is the only thing you can do that makes any sense at all.

  • Posted by

    From experience, I can say that it’s important to discuss everything in the open.  While it seems like giving air to anonymous writings might “make things worse” or encourage others to join them, it is FAR worse to hide it and let it come to light through more natural means.  Every church has enough folks in it who are fleshly enough to believe what they read.  If it’s an invalid, boldly proclaim it but love the person.  Never call names.  Always show Jesus outwardly to the world and inwardly to the congegation.  If church members are the instigators, follow Matthew 18.  (My guess is that since this is an SBC church, their bylaws don’t have a way to discipline a church member) Understand that you can be trutful, firm, condemning of sin and loving of sinners....oh wait, that’s what were supposed to do!  smile

  • Posted by michael

    i can’t think of one instance where an issue like this was ever resolved in a helpful and biblical manner through anonymous blogs or emails.  the blogger says that he started the blog to bring about repentance or reconciliation...but blogging anonymously doesn’t seem to be a smart, much less biblical, path.

    sounds like there are some real issues that should be addressed, but not out in the open like this for the world to see.

  • Posted by


    Did you ever hear the common quotation? You’ll find it on church’s websites instead of doctrinal positions.


    Orginated from an anonymous author.  Sometimes anonymous authors are needed.

  • Rick,

    This anonymous bloggers complaints weren’t picky, they were serious.  Compare apples with apples please.

  • Posted by michael

    job, anonymous quote like that generally exist because we’ve forgotton who originally said them over time, not because the author didn’t sign his name to something.

  • Posted by


    the quote was anonymous AT THE TIME.


  • Posted by

    The dude used a psuedonym, wrote some things about the church because he was afraid.
    It’s the duty of our religious leaders to make themselves approachable and handle criticism with openness, honesty and grace.

  • I just wanted to add my two cents here.  Some have made blanket statements about anonymous bloggers when I’m not so sure that is the problem, at least in my opinion.

    Disclosure (sort of):  I am an anonymous blogger.  I am an executive-level employee in a large church and also serve as its legal/public spokesperson.  Anything I say or write is at risk of being misconstrued as official church position.  This is a problem since some of my opinions do not reflect official church positions and may be considered controversial by some members.  Rather than put my church or leadership in a position to have to deal with that, I keep my name and my church out of it.  I don’t use my blog to criticize my church or its leaders.  It wasn’t created for that purpose.  I do, however, keep myself accountable by making sure that my pastor and a few friends know about my blog.

    Going back to my original point, though, I don’t believe anonymous blogging is the problem.  That’s just the voice.  The problem is what we do with that voice.  Sure, I would have handled this situation differently.  But anonymity doesn’t make the blogger’s points any more or less valid.

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