Southern Baptist Convention President Adrian Rogers has given his support to an investigation of alleged irregularities in the voting process last week that elected him head of the nation's largest Protestant communion.
"I would hope it (the investigation) would not cast aspersions on any innocent people, but I would be in favor of exposing anyone who has done anything dishonest," said Rogers, a theological conservative who was unexpectedly elected on the Houston convention's first ballot.
Subsequently, the convention voted for the investigation after a number of irregularities in registration procedures came to light. The registration process is crucial since that is where computerized ballots are allocated to messengers, as delegates are called.
Registration Secretary Lee Porter, who said his investigation would not be completed until September, said the probe was triggered by reports of a number of abuses:
Some churches registered and received ballots for more than 10 messengers, the maximum number allowed for the largest churches or for those that contribute more than their allotment to the communion's central treasury.
In some cases, said Porter, a pastor or other congregational leader registered and took the ballots for all 10 messengers, who later complained to registration officials that they had not received ballots.
There were some instances od double registration, according to Porter.
One registration official reported a pastor registering and receiving ballots for himself, his wife and four children. When pressed, he admitted that the children were at a nearby campground, according to the official.
Interest in the presidential election at this year's convention was heightened by efforts of a conservative group, the Baptist Faith and Message Fellowship, to elect a man of their theological orientation to the top position. The group, of which Rogers has been an officer for many years, holds that only a literal interpretation of the Bible is acceptable for Southern Baptists.
While supporting the investigation, Rogers said he doubted that there had been "widespread" irregularities.
In addition to winning the presidency, the Faith and Message Fellowship also saw another of their supporters, Don Touchton of Brandon, Fla., elected second vice president. Abner V. McCall, president of Baylor University in Waco, Tex., one of the moderate candidates defeated by Rogers in the presidential race, was named first vice president.