Former Southern Baptist president, James Merritt–who made headlines last week after he recommended the preaching of an open homosexual referring to it as “faithful to the gospel”–has been accused by a former staff member of assault and battery and regularly making racist anti-Black jokes around other staff members.
During an interview with Seth Dunn, former Crosspointe staff member, Scott Morgan, told the Christian Commute that nearly eight years ago, Merritt caused injury by repeatedly pounding his finger into his chest sending him to a doctor who he says verified the injury. The heated argument was over Merritt’s gay son, Jonathan, who was also on staff at the time, who Morgan says he had concerns about. According to Morgan, Jonathan had been writing articles for liberal publications and taking positions that were concerning.
Morgan says he believes that his father knew Jonathan was gay, but because of nepotism, he chose not to discipline him at the time.
From the interview:
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He [Merritt] was upset that he knew that I had been talking to some people about his son. But I had people coming to me.
He and I.. it got pretty heated. Let me rephrase that – it was really heated. He was behind his desk, and he just got up from behind his desk and he came over to me. And I’m a much larger guy than James.
I was standing up at the time. And he comes over to me and James put his forehead on my forehead – leaned his forehead into my forehead, took his finger, and started pounding into my chest. Not with a fist – I want to be honest – not with a fist, but pounding into my chest about his son, about, you know… like how dare I talk about his son and… he was pounding. And so finally I said, “you need to take your finger off my chest.” Now my flesh wanted to clock him. ‘Cause you don’t hit… you don’t do that to a man. But I didn’t.
It got so loud that his secretary… he had another meeting with a couple – there was a couple outside of his door coming in for something, and his secretary had to come in and say, “What is going on in here?” I mean, it was like – it was loud. That’s when I looked at him and said, “I’m done. I’m done. I’m done. We’re done.” So me and another minister left that day on staff – we left. I went straight to my office to start literally boxing it up – cleaning my office out. He eventually comes down to my office while I’m doing that going, “Let’s calm down. Let’s calm down.” I said, “No, we’re done. I’m going to go to a doctor.” Listen – no, he did not throw what you and I as men know as a fisted punch. But you do not poke another man’s chest over and over and over.
Morgan also accused Merritt of making racist, anti-black jokes during his time on staff. Notably, according to Morgan, Merritt would often repeat a joke about three Black people walking down the street featuring one Black male whose name was Rastus. The joke, according to Morgan, would be that the three males would be walking down the street, and the other two men would repeatedly ask Rastus if he “pooped his pants,” to which Rastus would reply “no.” Eventually, the other two men would press him further for an answer, to which Rastus finally responded “I thought you meant today.”
The term, “Rastus,” is a stereotypical offensive pejorative used to refer to the immediate descendants of slaves who were uneducated. According to Morgan, Merritt would tell this joke in a stereotypical “Black” voice to several of his colleagues, including pastors from other churches. Morgan says he witnessed this and has been verified by others.
Listen to the entire interview below (the “Rastus” joke is during the last half hour):
James Merritt has been one of the most vocal proponents of the “racial reconciliation” movement in the Southern Baptist Convention, forcefully arguing against those at the 2021 annual meeting who opposed Critical Race Theory.