Jefferson City — Attorneys for Word&Way have acted to halt Missouri Baptist Convention interference in the newsjournal’s business affairs.
On Oct. 24, MBC Executive Board members told MBC executive director David Clippard to contact three agencies that have advertised in Word&Way. They directed him to encourage LifeWay Christian Resources, GuideStone Financial Resources (formerly the Southern Baptist Convention Annuity Board) and the Missouri Baptist Credit Union to discontinue advertising their services in the newsjournal.
In a letter to MBC lead attorney Michael Whitehead, Word&Way lawyer Jim Shoemake pointed out that the Executive Board’s action violates Missouri law.
“The action of the Executive Board seeking to persuade current advertisers of Word&Way to discontinue their existing business relationships with Word&Way would clearly amount to tortious interference,” Shoemake wrote.
The newsjournal could seek legal means to stop the Executive Board from trying to disrupt its advertising relationships.
On Nov. 8, Word&Way trustees voted to ask the attorney to write the letter on their behalf.
“Our trustees feel strongly that the Executive Board’s interference in Word&Way’s daily operations is unlawful, pure and simple,” editor Bill Webb said.
“That our advertisers have been discouraged from continuing their relationship with Word&Way is hardly a new development. But the Executive Board’s motion elevates this tactic from clandestine to official.”
Webb called the attorney’s letter “a strong request” for the Executive Board “to back off” its interference in Word&Way’s ministry.
The editor also pointed to stewardship issues.
“Missouri Baptists need to know that the Executive Board’s strategy is not only to press its claims in court but to try to force Word&Way and other institutions to suffer financially.
“To try to undermine the financial health of Word&Way, either by discouraging advertisers or intimidating subscribers, is particularly puzzling given top leaders’ claims that they are seeking merely to ‘reclaim’ this institution and four others as the convention’s own.
“Wise stewards do not seek to harm what they truly believe belongs to them.”
(See the Dec. 1, 2005 issue of Word&Way for the letter’s complete text.) (12-01-05)