Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Catholics are doing way-better than Baptists

Do you want to know which priests have had “credible allegations” involving sexual abuse of a kid? In Tucson, you can just go to the diocese’s website. These men haven’t been convicted of anything, but the diocese removed them from ministry. And as the Arizona Daily Star reports, the priests’ names are now available to the public.

Do you want to know which Southern Baptist ministers have had “credible allegations” involving sexual abuse of a kid? Dream on. No one keeps records. And there’s no such thing as a review board to determine which allegations are “credible.”

The Baptist General Convention of Texas, which purports to be doing more than any other statewide Baptist organization, started keeping a confidential file on ministers reported by churches back in early 2000. But the BGCT doesn’t bother with keeping track of abuse allegations made by mere victims. (Or if it does, that’s just one more secret it’s keeping.) According to its policy, the BGCT bothers with record-keeping only if a CHURCH reports its minister.

As you might imagine, it’s a pretty rare event for a minister’s name to get into that file. Even the BGCT knows that churches almost never report clergy sex abuse. “In the normal scenario, they just try to keep it secret,” admitted Joe Trull, the man who helped the BGCT set up its secret file.

So given how rare it is, you might imagine that when a minister’s name actually DOES get into that file, someone would do something to assure kids’ safety. Dream on. The BGCT still keeps it secret and doesn’t notify congregations where the man worked, or even where he currently works.

According to its policy, these are ministers who are reported BY A CHURCH and for whom there is a confession or “substantial evidence the abuse took place” as determined by the BGCT’s own lawyer. Yet, their names remain secret and they are able to continue in ministry.

My own perpetrator was in that secret file, and he went right on working in children’s ministry. Even though the BGCT determined there was a confession or “substantial evidence the abuse took place,” the BGCT didn’t stop him from continuing in ministry and it didn’t warn the congregations where he worked.

This is the statewide Baptist group that publicly pats itself on the back and claims bragging rights on the clergy sex abuse issue. Pretty scary, huh?

It's not uncommon for Baptist leaders to brag a bit. But when braggarts puff themselves up while leaving kids at risk, it looks pretty ugly.

It’s been reported that there are 11 ministers in the BGCT’s secret file based on sexual abuse of kids. Since they keep everything secret, I guess we just have to take them at their word on the number. But even if we only worry about the 11 they admit are there, WHO ARE THOSE 11 MEN?

What’s the difference between Catholics and Baptists? For Catholics, reported clergy child molesters get removed from ministry if a VICTIM’s allegations are determined to be “credible.” For Baptists, the VICTIM’s allegations are inconsequential, and even if a CHURCH’s allegations have “substantial evidence,” the man can STILL remain in ministry.

With Catholics, people complain that no one monitors a credibly accused priest after he has been removed from ministry….but at least he’s been removed from ministry. With Baptists, no one bothers with figuring out whether an accusation is credible, much less with removing the guy from ministry.

Is it any wonder that I worry about the safety of kids in Southern Baptist churches?


gmommy said...

Another Baptist minister in the news from Tn. as of yesterday.Nass furnished new links on our blog. They just keep falling. How long will the SBC stay in denial????
I guess only when it affects their bank account will they pay attention.

Christa Brown said...

Thanks gmommy. The new news of another TN minister is here. And there's also new news about another FL Baptist minister and a TX church that allegedly covered up for a pedophile Sunday School teacher and paid Vacation Bible School leader. That's in just one day's time.

You're right, of course, that the SBC will probably stay in denial until its bank account is affected. And heaps more kids will be hurt by then. And those who have already been wounded will be even more wounded because the process of pursuing lawsuits is so difficult. It would be a thousand times more healing if clergy abuse survivors could see that the denomination was making a genuine effort to reach out to the wounded and to engage effective methods of accountablity.

David Brown said...

Christa: I hate to say this but you have hit the nail on the head. Prior to the Bellevue situation, I was very critical of the Catholic Church and their handling of these cases (I still am). I used to point to my fellow SNAP advocates that my CHURCH (Bellevue) would NEVER handle a case of abuse like the Catholic Church does.

Boy was I ever wrong. And then I found out about you and your site. It just boggles my mind to hear these men keep making excuse after excuse and hide behind the "autonomous" thing. How convenient is that? And then we are told we do not understand how the SBC is structured. Oh I understand and it is maddening they are not doing more. I pray this horrible crime never visits one of these men, but if it does I can guarantee you that we will be hearing a different tune.

My prayers are with you with regards to the threats from the Texas SBC attorney. I feel I would turn him into the Bar. His actions are very questionable. How can this man sleep at night? What a bully. Keep up the good work you have started. We both know the drain it takes on us but when we hear from one more victim seeking help, our problems seem so minor. God Bless.

Christa Brown said...

Welcome David! Your question - "how can this man sleep at night" - is a question I ponder about a LOT of Southern Baptist leaders. Unlike priests and bishops, these are often people who are parents themselves. Why doesn't that mother bear instinct (or papa bear instinct) kick into gear for them? How can it remain such an abstraction for them? I wind up feeling that mother bear instinct for ALL kids, not just my own. I look at kids and I don't care how many piercings or tattoos they have, or how raggedy their jeans may be, or how unkempt their hair may be, or how much snot is drizzling down their nose...I always feel that instinct to protect. I don't understand why so many Baptist leaders seem so perfectly capable of simply turning a blind eye. I don't get it. I still don't. I don't think I ever will.