This post may constitute the most careful post I've penned in the almost two years now I have been blogging. It surely possesses the most potential for provocation. As it opens up, the reader will see precisely why.
Mr. Wade Burleson currently posts what's entitled "An Email From Dr. Klouda Revealing Her Feelings". It stands a moving note of gratitude to Mr. Burleson and Mr. Cole for the "continued support" they afforded her. Indeed she openly confesses "If it were not for both of you, the real facts would never be known..."
Emmanuel Baptist Church, Enid, Oklahoma, where Mr. Burleson serves as Senior Pastor and Mr. Cole serves as an Associate Pastor, has, for quite some time now, supported The Kloudas financially as well as promoted an offering fund for their benefit. From Mr. Burleson's words, one could rightly presume the offering has been overwhelmingly supported nationwide and perhaps even worldwide.
No one can question the goodness of assisting others in time of need and Emmanuel Baptist Church should be considered an exemplar model for Churches to follow in other worthy benevolences. Further, no secret exists that Mr. Burleson has, from the beginning, supported Dr. Klouda and her lawsuit against Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and its President, Dr. Paige Patterson.
Recently, after many months of agonizing depositions, collection of evidences and arguments from defense teams before the Court, United States District Judge, The Honorable John McBryde ruled
“The court ORDERS, ADJUDGES and DECREES that plaintiff, Dr. Sheri L. Klouda have and recover nothing from defendants…and that all of her alleged causes against defendants be, and are hereby dismissed. The court further ORDERS, ADJUDGES and DECREES that defendants have and recover from plaintiff costs of court incurred by them.”
It is in light of this that Dr. Klouda could pen her deepest gratitude to Mr. Burleson and Mr. Cole:
“I have so much more to say, and yet, I cannot find the words yet. But others are finding the words for me as I seek to deal with the discouragement and what this decision means for our family. I am touched by the willingness of others to take over and carry the message on my behalf.”
I have never been in a lawsuit so I have no personal feelings or impressionable experiences to gauge precisely what Dr. Klouda is presently feeling. Obviously, it is overwhelming. As for me, I hope she can move on with her life, her service and I trust her to be blessed by our merciful Lord.
Nonetheless, I hear in her words an apparent struggle to come to grips with her decision to file suit in the first place:
“I am not sure whether the lawsuit was a wise move with regard to my professional career. Oftentimes a charge of discrimination against a former employer follows a woman's career for life.”
In this lament, Dr. Klouda is correct. Anytime lawsuits are not only threatened, but, as in this particular case, pursued, future opportunities may prove to be dead-end streets leading to nowhere. Compounding the dark rain clouds hovering over her professional career now stands the glaring fact that she decisively lost her case due to woefully insufficient evidence.
For some reason, I cannot help but think that somewhere along the way, in her journey to the lawsuit, she received unwise counsel to pursue it. Besides her doubting lament above concerning the professional broadside she may have received, the very ones she most explicitly thanked for helping her, stood, as it were, safely on the shore, nothing to lose and everything in popularity to gain, whistling…cheering…even predicting her valiant victory. Here is the prediction of one of the men she thanked so expressly:
“(4). After declining an offer by Sheri Klouda in 2007 to settle for future lost wages, Southwestern Seminary will make an offer to settle in June 2008 when it is realized that the Klouda case is actually going to trial - only to discover, too late, that Sheri Klouda will ultimately allow a jury of peers to declare the verdict and judgment. (5). The Klouda jury judgment in the summer of 2008 will be over eight figures.”
From my perspective—and mine alone—these types of reckless comments concerning what can only be identified as naïve, carefree presumption about our justice system, afford at least a comparable case--if not a better case--for prosecution, than the case that was tried but definitively failed against Dr. Klouda’s former employer. You may call such hyperbole if you so wish.
Nor was that the only giddy remark made. Here is a sampling from which many more could be offered, that represents, at least from my view, a total absence of reason, wisdom, sound judgment and sober expectations. While Dr. Klouda no doubt feels some assisted her in her legal pursuit, it very well may be, in the long run, the future burden upon her outweighs the present benevolence to her.
This may account for some of the confusion she still seems to bear: “I am waiting to hear whether Mr. Richardson considers an appeal a wise course of action.”
Some may suggest that describing Dr. Klouda as possessing confusion offers only a callous, loveless attack. Know it is not. My heart hurts as I read her painful letter. Nor is it in my wildest dreams to rise up and condemn her now for what she has done. Toward whom would benefit flow were such blame to be dispersed?
Recall, however, she is the one who questions the wisdom of the lawsuit in the first place: “I am not sure whether the lawsuit was a wise move…” And now to ponder whether the legal team who failed her—not to mention some of her sincere, but over-jealous supporters who presumptuously predicted a positive cash take in excess of “eight figures”—should bring her news of another strike against the allegedly depraved empire, cannot fail, at least from my view, to constitute confusion.
Dr. Klouda rightly thinks her integrity at stake in this affair. It was. Let it also be said, so was the integrity of one of Southern Baptists’ finest institutions. Let it further be said the integrity of Dr. Paige Patterson was also at stake along with the entire Administration at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Know this: no one walks away from a grueling duel like this without bleeding wounds and permanent scars. It is impossible I fear.
For that reason, I personally see no real moral move forward to continue on as if nothing was decided. Granted the decisions came. But note the costly price tag. Setting aside the money issues, Dr. Klouda has conceded the threat to her professional career this lawsuit poses. I only beg her to consider that—even if nothing else—consider that as she waits for “wisdom” from her legal counsel.
It stands more than clear Dr. Klouda possesses a passion to both teach and a caring heart for her students to learn. And, though I am no one to make judgments about what academia may or may not decide, I trust she will not take, at face value, any counsel from some of her over-jealous cheerleaders who, sincerely but presumptuously, may give her a positive but false sense that she may step right back into the pool of Southern Baptist life as an educator.
I am not saying it won’t happen. Nor am I suggesting that I am even opposed to it. What I am saying is that it is simply unlikely to transpire. That’s reality no matter how we accept it.
I am encouraged that Dr. Klouda has not stripped herself of her Baptist convictions. She writes: “I am still Baptist, which demonstrates my commitment and the integrity of my beliefs.” How easy to broad brush and equate bad experiences with wrong sources. For me, I am glad she has chosen to remain true to her Baptist convictions.
It nonetheless confuses some that she apparently chose to join a non-Baptist faith family when she moved to her new position. Understand: I am seeking no explanation. Dr. Klouda, from my view, needs to pursue that to which she believes God pursues for her. Yet, it is flags raised with these colors that so often throw more confusing fuel on the flame. More significantly, perhaps she now has united with a Baptist family. I hope so.
Finally, I offer my deepest, sincere and heartfelt prayer for The Kloudas. I wish only our Lord’s grace and mercy head her way. I furthermore gently but truly admonish her to move on from this tragic scene. Consequently, such expressions of gratitude that “Dr. Patterson's actual words have been published publicly” and “thank[ing] you both [Mr. Burleson and Mr. Cole] for your initiative and your activism, for your concern and your desire to see righteousness among our Baptist leaders…” offer the least hope in making peace in this carnage.
May I remind those who may not recall, Dr. Patterson and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, from the beginning of this legal nightmare, have been tried, convicted and sentenced to a painful, lethal injection in the public square, primarily by the very ones Dr. Klouda continues to offer her thanksgiving. This circus-type atmosphere, where preposterous claims of guilt toward the accused ruled the show, from my view, stands as an indelible blotch on sober reason and Christ-like behavior. What, in heaven’s name, were they thinking? That no one would remember their gig?
And, now, even after our legal system has definitively weighed in the balance of justice Professor Klouda’s case against Dr. Patterson and our esteemed institution, finding them innocent and dismissing every evidential stick from the plaintiff’s woodpile, the side-show continues in reeling out one sorry film after another that, like the Cretans about whom Paul alluded, Dr. Patterson, the administration and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary are all liars. The justice system is broken. Liars go free.
Some once believed reform was wed to those who blew the certain horn of corrupt Baptist leadership. Now those once seen as seeking justice in the SBC are exposed as simple jesters...clowns in a free-fall movement which every day comes barely a foot shy of moral antinomianism. I hope with all my hoping it comes to nothing. If the future of Southern Baptists rests with that failed effort, God help us all.
I can only hope Dr. Klouda will send word to the producers of this political porn it is past time to cut the tape, close the shop and be Kingdom men and women.
Come, Lord Jesus. Come.
With that, I am…
*It appears Mr. Burleson continues to salvage a sinking raft by frantically employing duct tape. His latest post spins the Klouda ruling to fit his own fancy. He writes:
"The judge simply ruled that discrimination based upon gender is protected by the First Amendment which separates church and state. In other words, a church can discriminate against women because of 'religious beliefs' and the courts cannot, according to the judge's interpretation of the United States Constitution, punish the church. That is the judge's ruling and I accept it."
It should be noted on various occasions, Mr. Burleson made it very clear once the court decided the Klouda case, we were to move on. Now, however, Mr. Burleson argues the Judge only rules not to interfere.
While Burleson did not quote the ruling, but only gave a vague interpretation of on part of the ruling, here are the actual words of Judge McBryde. The reader can weigh their understanding over against Burleson's:
Concerning The Breach of Contract:
"The court has concluded that no reasonable fact finder would conclude that Seminary entered into an employment contract with plaintiff that was breached by the employment decision that caused her to resign." (Pt. p.22, bold underlined mine)
"There is simply no evidence in the summary judgment record from which a reasonable finder of fact could find that either of the defendants engaged in any fraudulent conduct toward the plaintiff." (Ibid, bold underlined mine)
"...there is no suggestion in the record that the "mistake" statement, if it was made, was published by anyone other than plaintiff to any third party." (Pt. 2, p.23)
Conclusion and Order:
"For the reasons given above, the court concludes that defendants' motion for summary judgment should be granted. 'The pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant [s] [are] entitled to judgment as a matter of law'...Therefore, The court ORDERS that all causes of action asserted by plaintiff in the above captioned-action be , and are hereby, dismissed." (Pt. 2, p.24-25, bold underlined mine)
It seems no amount of factual evidence can stem the vendettas Enid must pursue against Southern Baptists.
With that, I am...