Monday, March 15, 2010

SI Gang-Tackles “Doc” Clearwaters! Well, Sort Of

Dear Guests of the Iron Skillet:

This is a companion article to A Letter From Richard V. Clearwaters at my primary blog In Defense of the Gospel. Today we’re going to turn the heat up under the skillet just a little.

On March 12 Evangelist Dwight Smith posted an open letter to Dr. Kevin Bauder. Smith was the author, but he posted it as if it had been written by “Doc” R. V. Clearwaters himself; quite clever actually. It was originally posted in a thread at the pseudo- fundamentalist Sharper Iron site. Today, with Evangelist Smith's permission it was reproduced at my primary blog, In Defense of the Gospel.

The letter and its true author were first vilified by certain SI team members and finally deleted by site publisher Aaron Blumer. Objective, experienced readers of SI expected the bias of SI moderators and Aaron’s decision to delete the letter to Bauder. It is obvious.

In his deletion comments, however, Blumer noted, “He [Smith] did clearly indicate his own authorship of the post at the bottom. No problem there.” Yet, in spite of Blumer’s and any objective readers recognition that full disclosure had been made, Smith’s ethics and honesty were called into question by SI moderator Larry Rogier. It was Rogier who scolded Evangelist Smith for drafting the letter suggesting it was unethical and/or dishonest. Rogier appeared to have been deeply troubled that SI readers needed reassurance that “Doc” Clearwaters had passed on and/or had not resurrected to compose that letter to Bauder.

After Blumer’s deletion one pastor said,
One irony is that, while Kevin Bauder may not have liked the content, I’d think he had to appreciate Dwight’s clever means of delivering his message since, from what I can tell, KB takes a fancy to things literary. Even those on the other side of the fence would have to admit it was a creative, well-written, and insightful critique.”
The content of the Clearwaters letter was spot on in much of its argumentation. Anyone with objective experience at SI knew SI’s leadership would never let it stand. Kill the message and/or messenger is SI’s MO when Bauder or the conservative and New Evangelicals that he (Bauder) and SI advocate on behalf of are called down and justifiably so.

At SI Kevin Bauder is free to malign, demonize and besmirch Fundamentalism’s heritage, history and any number of its personalities past and present with impunity. He is congratulated for and encouraged in it by SI leadership. Examples of his incendiary cogitations have in the past been dismissed as “Bauderian hyperbole.” The SI team runs interference for Bauder when his inflammatory rhetoric is challenged. Those who dare to raise legitimate concerns are gang-tackled by SI team members/moderators. Evangelist Smith was targeted and tackled by Greg Linscott (SI Good Cop) and Larry Rogier (SI Bad Cop), which Smith dealt with admirably.

In Aaron’s explanation for deleting the Clearwaters letter, he wrote,
However, the post contained a mixture of allowable opinion but also some of what I deemed to be personal attacks... in addition to straying a bit widely from the topic…. I’m inviting Dwight and those sympathetic to his point of view to post again, but let’s try to avoid anything that calls a man’s character, genuineness as a Christian or motivations into question.”
Straying off topic is a favorite catch-phrase of SI moderators to stifle conversation that they deem, in this instance for example, harmful to its advocacy of conservative evangelicalism, its star personalities and Kevin Bauder who is the evangelical’s chief apologist at SI.

Aaron invited Dwight to post again, but “fool me once...” appears to be the best response. We might applaud Aaron for asking folks to, “avoid anything that calls a man’s character, genuineness as a Christian or motivations into question.” Commendable indeed, until, of course, you recognize:
  1. SI will be at the ready to chop anything that comes to close to and is a blunt challenge to Bauder’s obvious biases…
  2. Exceptions are allowed for Bauder’s incessant attacks on and deriding the “vices” of Fundamental Baptists
  3. When SI moderators call into question a guest’s ethics and honesty this is, of course, perfectly acceptable behavior.
The SI team gang-tackle of Evangelist Smith (and Missionary John Himes in Summer 2009 during the last Bauderian fiasco) exemplifies just one of the reasons why so many have quit or would never participate at SI in the first place. SI’s history of bias against, suspicion of and contempt for those who reject Calvinism, Lordship Salvation, the rush to embrace and endorse conservative evangelicalism is irrefutable.

For many who have quit or refuse to get involved at the pseudo- fundamentalist SI there appears to be one recurring primary common denominator. The theme that many have articulated is that posting at SI, contrary to SI team personal biases, will get you set upon, surrounded and suffocated by SI moderators and/or admins.

In a recent e-mail one preacher, who is among those who quit participating at SI, noted the following after witnessing what just transpired at SI:
The CE wannabe’s tend to “bum rush” the more conservative fundamentalist viewpoints. It goes beyond civil debate into what appears to be an all-out attempt to silence them. I’ve chosen to allow SI to marginalize itself as it drives more and more good men away.
And Aaron Blumer has to conduct surveys to figure out why so many have quit participating at SI?

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