Anatomy of a deposition
By Bob Baysinger
October 21, 2003
JEFFERSON CITY – A debate coach would have loved the verbal struggle that developed between Monte Shinkle, Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) president and pastor, Concord Baptist Church, Jefferson City, and Clyde Farris, the Bible-bashing attorney representing Missouri Baptist College.
The scene was a deposition in the MBC suit for declaratory judgment against five breakaway agencies.
Farris attempted to get Shinkle to say he was proud of being a part of the group (Project 1000) that moved the MBC "from a left of center to a right of center perspective."
"And you were in the right-of-center group?" Farris said.
"I think so," Shinkle responded.
"And you’re proud of it, aren’t you?" Farris asked.
"I’m not proud that we’re fighting like we’re fighting," Shinkle said.
"No. But you’re proud that you were trying to bring the Convention to the right of center?" Farris continued.
"Define ‘proud’ for me, please sir," Shinkle answered.
Farris, showing signs of frustration, replied, "Oh, you know. Do I have to define pride? You know what pride is."
"Well, I’m proud of my kids," Shinkle said.
"Are you proud of your efforts," Farris asked again.
"Not always," Shinkle said.
Farris tried again.
"Were you proud of these efforts to bring the Missouri Baptist Convention to the right of center?"
Shinkle, still refusing to use the word proud, replied, "I’m thankful that we have moved, I believe, to the right of center, yes, sir."
"Are you or are you not proud of it?" Farris asked again.
Following an objection to the line of questioning by MBC attorney James Freeman, Shinkle replied, "Pride goes before destruction and the haughty spirit before a fall. That’s what the Bible says."
Shinkle said he was proud of his children from the standpoint that he loves them and is thankful for them and is pleased with the way that they’re turning out.
Farris decided to try one more time.
"Okay," he said. "I asked you if you were proud of your efforts and you quoted a Scripture that deals with pride going before fall, but you didn’t quote that Scripture when you told me how proud you were of your children. I’m just trying to get an answer."
He never did.
Project 1000 wasn’t the only topic thrown at Shinkle during the day-long session. He also was asked about the Bible’s position on abortion and sanctity of life.
Farris, for example, asked the Jefferson City pastor if he remembered the story about David having someone murdered so that he could have his wife.
"And the child was taken," Farris said. "And that’s one of those real stories that really happened. Right? Is that an example of the sanctity of life from the Bible?"
At times, the lawyer’s tone seemed to switch from interrogator to propagandist.
"Okay," Farris began, "the position then of your group on abortion is that there should be a constitutional amendment to prohibit abortion for any reason?
"Going into the background that has brought us here today — the vision that’s existed and been driven through … the hearts of this association — one of the defining characteristics and differences is abortion. Some people are against abortion in some groups, but they make exceptions in light of rape or incest.
"Others do not. I’m just trying to find what is the position of this real conservative group that’s taken over the Convention on this social issue."
Farris moved next to homosexuality.
"…Do you agree that Christ never spoke about homosexuality?" Farris asked Shinkle. "Are you going to tell us if you can recall any Scriptures where Christ is quoted as speaking out against homosexuality?
"This causes me to wonder if this is really coming from a scriptural point of view of if it’s coming from some other political agenda point of view. Is there a political agenda in the existing conservative group that’s taken over the Missouri Baptist Convention?" Farris asked.
When Shinkle directed Farris to Romans 1 as a biblical statement against homosexuality, Farris responded, "Before we get to Romans, we agree that in the gospels Jesus is not quoted as making any statements about homosexuality, is he?
"…And this is what I find disturbing in this area. It is, I think, 1 Corinthians 6 something where it talks about homosexuality, it talks about adultery being a sin. Yet I don’t see this concern about adultery that I see about homosexuality. Can you explain why?"
Farris told The Pathway he could not discuss the purpose of his questions because it would reveal his trial strategy.