SBC CEO Candidate Apologizes

A finalist to head the Southern Baptist Convention included an apology in his resignation last week. Willie McLaurin, the interim president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, admitted that he had falsified his resume, and had not graduated from any of the institutions listed.

In his resignation letter, submitted to the SBC Executive Committee, he said in part:

“In a recent resume that I submitted, it included schools that I did not attend or complete the course of study… To the Southern Baptists who have placed their confidence in me and have encouraged me to pursue the role of President & CEO of the SBC Executive Committee, including pastors, state partners, entity servants, colleagues, and SBC African American friends, I offer my deepest apologies. Please forgive me for the harm or hurt that this has caused.”

If this is the sum total of the apology – and it may well not be –, it’s deficient.

Responsibility: For what is he apologizing? He reportedly admitted his wrong when confronted by the Executive Committee, but it’s not clear here that he’s apologizing for lying.

Remorse: “my deepest apologies” sounds weak somehow. Why is it plural? “deeply sorry” would sound more sincere.

Reform: A good apology includes a description of how the offender intends to alter behavior and avoid the offense in the future.

Impact: While he acknowledges that this caused “harm or hurt,” he doesn’t acknowledge exactly how – e.g., that it set back the SBC months in its search for a new CEO, and has shaken the already-shaken faith of many Southern Baptists who trusted him. Not sure why you need both “harm” and “hurt,” and if you’re going to keep both, wouldn’t it be better to link them with an “and” instead of an “or”?

To his credit, he didn’t try to justify himself or offer an explanation. But the weakness of this apology leaves us wondering whether he truly is sorry, and whether he fully understands the consequences to others of his wrongdoing. Let’s hope this isn’t the full apology, or that there’s more to come.


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