Saturday, July 21, 2007

"Clergy rebuke SBC head"

“Zero-tolerance is measured by what is done, not what is said.”

Amen to that!

Dr. Miguel A. De La Torre, professor at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, was explaining why he signed the clergy letter to Southern Baptist president Frank Page. The letter, spearheaded by Father Gary Hayes in Kentucky, was sent to Page on Thursday, July 19. As reported yesterday in the Christian Post, clergy from 5 denominations chided the Baptist president for his harsh rhetoric about clergy sex abuse victims. “Your comments…are misguided and misinformed,” they wrote.

Page, who has castigated support groups for victims raped as children by clergy, continues to toss out his rote line: “Even one instance of sexual molestation is one too many.”

Nice-sounding words, but we all know the problem is really much, much bigger than “even one instance,” don’t we? Page should know that as well. So why does he keep trying to minimize it?

How long will it be before Page acknowledges the truth? There have been countless instances of child molestation committed by Southern Baptist clergy, and in far too many of those instances, the minister was allowed to move from one church to another even after there was serious cause for concern.

What’s it going to take to stop this tragic pattern?

Dr. De La Torre had the answer. He knows what Dr. Page can’t seem to grasp. Nice-sounding words aren’t going to protect kids. What’s needed are deeds.

How much longer will it be before Southern Baptist leadership steps up to the plate and takes action similar to what other mainstream denominations are doing?

Listed below are the clergy who signed the letter to SBC president Frank Page. After Father Hayes had already sent off the letter, Rev. Karin Kilpatric asked that her name be added, and so I included her on this list.

  • Fr. Gary R. Hayes, Pastor, St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, Owensboro, KY
  • Rev. Dr. Michael Granzen, Moderator of Elizabeth Presbytery, Elizabeth, NJ

  • Dr. Miguel A. De La Torre, Associate Professor of Social Ethics & Director of the Justice and Peace Institute, Iliff School of Theology, Denver, CO

  • Rev. Karl Harman, PhD (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary), Pastor of Dallas Center United Methodist Church, Dallas Center, Iowa

  • Rev. Mark J. Powell, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, IN

  • Rev. Aaron Turner, Minister of Worship, New Beginnings Baptist Church (SBC-affiliated), Longview, TX

  • Rev. John Harrison, Ordained Southern Baptist minister, retired, Tecumseh, OK

  • Rev. Gene Scarborough, Ordained Southern Baptist minister, retired, Rocky Mount, NC

  • Sister Maureen Paul Turlish, Victims' Advocate

  • Rev. William H. Edwards

  • Rev. Karin Kilpatric, First United Church of Arvada (UCC), Arvada, CO


WatchingHISstory said...

This morning our pastor preached from the first chapter of James on the subject: "Embracing Life's Trials" and you were on my mind as he preached.

James 1:2-12 (New American Standard Bible)
2Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,
3knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
4And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

12Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

You said: "my life has so little value that I was chosen by God to be the throwaway trash for rape by an annointed one." This is different from the more common internal wail that lots of people have when confronted with tragedy - the wail of "Why did God let this happen?" For clergy abuse victims, it's not a feeling that God "let" it happen - it's more a sense that God dictated it - as though we were specifically chosen and predetermined to serve as nothing more than bodies for rape."

None of us are free from problems and I believe that we all wail equally, thinking that our tradegy is greater. We all find out that someone's suffering is greater than yours. That leads us to compassion for others less fortunate than ourselves.

We all have to embrace something in life as we struggle and you have embraced a cause of being a Wife, mom, attorney, jazz-lover, slow-runner, and survivor of Southern Baptist clergy abuse.

There must be a lot of joy in your life! That comes from the grace of God who says "my grace is suffficient for you!"

Charles Page

Christa Brown said...

Mr. Page: I believe that, if they could have a choice, most good parents would choose almost any other of life's travails rather than to allow their kid to be raped by a minister - by someone their kid trusted completely and totally and who was a spiritual guide. Most good parents would pick terminal cancer, or losing a leg, or getting run over by a train, or a brain tumor, or even losing a spouse before they would choose having their kid get raped and abused by a minister.

And of course Jesus himself used some of his harshest language in talking about people who hurt kids and their faith. So I think He also viewed it as something dreadfully serious.

The fact that you choose to minimize my own suffering is of no concern to me...because I can readily see that you haven't a clue. But what concerns me infinitely is the fact that people such as you who minimize this tragedy aren't likely to take the sort of steps that are necessary to protect OTHER kids. That's the tragedy of Southern Baptists, and no amount of reciting Bible verses is going to make kids in Baptist churches any safer if Baptist leaders don't open their eyes to the problem.

What I previously said is that clergy sex abuse essentially causes people to incorporate a view of themselves that says "my life has so little value...." For myself, thankfully, on most days, I know that my life does indeed have value. It's something I learned DESPITE everything that Southern Baptists taught me to the contrary....and I'm not just talking about the lessons of the perpetrator...I'm talking about the lessons taught by all the other Southern Baptist men who acted as though it didn't matter. But I managed to survive Southern a kid AND as an adult...and for THAT, I thank God.

I also believe that God expects me to now do whatever I can to work to try to make other kids safer from clergy abuse. It's not a task I would have chosen for myself.

My perpetrator liked to talk a lot about "grace." I think he thought he could do whatever he wanted...and "grace" got him off the hook.