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