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Former Southwestern Seminary Head, Adam Greenway, Sues School for $75 Thousand Over Claims of Defamation

by | Mar 21, 2024 | News, Politics, Religion, Social-Issues, The Church

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Back in 2022, Southern Baptists were surprised by the sudden resignation of Adam Greenway, former president of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS). Greenway, who had long been known for his left-leaning theological views and fierce advocacy for women pastors, was also embroiled in controversy for supporting former SBC president Ed Litton amid plagiarism allegations. Later revelations then alleged that the misdeeds of the former seminary leader far exceeded these well-publicized issues and revealed the misuse of power, financial mismanagement, and an alarming lack of oversight at SWBTS.

Leaked documents at the time revealed allegations about Greenway’s tenure at SWBTS. A trustee report, conducted by Aaron Sligar, presented an exhaustive review of financial transactions during Greenway’s time. Sligar’s unambiguous assessment painted a picture of gross financial incompetency, with Greenway and his team exercising a reckless “financial freedom.”

The report detailed numerous instances of alleged mismanagement, including overspending on renovation projects to the tune of 12 million dollars and improper use of the President’s house renovations account. These revelations raise serious questions about Greenway’s administrative competence and leadership.

Almost a year later, on March 20, 2024, the former president of SWBTS filed a lawsuit against his previous employer, launching allegations of defamation of character because of his political views that were “met with disapproval by influential alumni, members of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, administration, and faculty of SWBTS.”

Lodged in the Northern District of Texas, the lawsuit accuses the seminary and its ex-Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Danny Roberts, of breach of contract, promissory estoppel and/or equitable estoppel, and defamation—a move that some see as a dramatic escalation of internal disputes.

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According to the lawsuit, Greenway’s presidency, which began in February 2019, ended under turbulent circumstances in February 2023, with the lawsuit alleging that disagreements over political opinions and executive actions precipitated his departure. Central to the dispute is a Settlement Agreement that Greenway claims was breached by SWBTS, particularly criticizing the institution for not issuing a public statement upon his exit as stipulated.

The gist of Greenway’s legal argument focuses on a purported defamation campaign led by Roberts and supported by SWBTS, with accusations detailing the spread of allegedly false statements regarding Greenway’s financial stewardship and decision-making.

The complaint outlines specific alleged instances of spending and renovations that Greenway claims were misconstrued as examples of mismanagement. Yet, the details provided in the lawsuit, including expenditures on the President’s Home and office renovations, should raise questions about the necessity and prudence of such costs, especially in a non-profit, educational setting governed by stewardship and fiscal responsibility.

Seeking damages in excess of $75,000, Greenway’s lawsuit has spotlighted the personal and professional fallout from the dispute. Critics of the lawsuit argue that the significant demand for monetary compensation might reflect an attempt to leverage a high-profile legal dispute for a financial settlement, rather than addressing any alleged injustices.

Furthermore, the inclusion of notable figures like David Dockery and O.S. Hawkins in relation to the Settlement Agreement’s terms adds layers of intrigue to the case, hinting at deeper institutional complexities and perhaps internal power struggles that the lawsuit only partially unveils.

As the case progresses, the motivations behind Greenway’s lawsuit and the veracity of the allegations will come under closer scrutiny. While the legal process is designed to adjudicate such disputes, the court of public opinion will be weighing the implications of this legal maneuvering in light of Scripture—even if his accusations are true and he prevails in court, according to the apostle Paul, it’s already a defeat for him:

To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? —1 Corinthians 6:7

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