Religion Unplugged

Beth Moore, Southern Baptists and the story behind the scoop that broke the internet

By Bobby Ross Jr. | Religion Unplugged

Editor’s note: Every Friday, “Weekend Plug-in” features analysis, fact checking and top headlines from the world of faith. Subscribe now to get this newsletter delivered straight to your inbox. Got feedback or ideas? Email Bobby Ross Jr. at therossnews@gmail.com.

In a little-noticed, late-night Twitter conversation on March 3, prominent author and speaker Beth Moore indicated that her Living Proof Ministries had ended its longtime partnership with Lifeway Christian Resources, a Southern Baptist Convention publishing house.

“Adored them but SBC baggage got to be too much,” Moore tweeted, matter-of-factly. “It was heartbreaking.”

A tip about the social media posts to Religion News Service national reporter Bob Smietana set in motion one of the year’s biggest religion news scoops.

Smietana called and set up an interview with Moore, who told him March 5 — last Friday — that she is “no longer a Southern Baptist.”

After talking to Moore, the veteran religion writer then spent a nervous few days doing additional research and reporting — hoping no other journalist would learn about his in-depth exclusive.

When RNS published Smietana’s piece Tuesday, traffic quickly overwhelmed the wire service’s website, and the story became a trending topic on Twitter.

By Thursday, the Trump critic’s split with Southern Baptists was front-page news in the New York Times (read the story by Ruth Graham and Elizabeth Dias) and just missed the front page of the Washington Post (see the A2 coverage by Sarah Pulliam Bailey and Michelle Boorstein).

Other interesting follow-up coverage includes Holly Meyer’s report for USA Today,Kate Shellnutt’s story for Christianity Today and Ashlie D. Stevens’ analysis for Salon.

Read the full column.

This column appears in the online magazine Religion Unplugged.

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