Wednesday, July 11, 2007

James A. Moore and FBC-Farmers Branch

In a recent editorial, Marv Knox suggested we “hold churches accountable for abuse” by publishing the names of those who allow an abusing minister to move on without warning others. Nice thought...but I’m not holding my breath waiting for anyone in Baptist leadership to actually do that.

Typically, neither the churches nor the ministers who turn a blind eye are ever held accountable. Just a few examples: pastor Steve Gaines is still in the pulpit at Bellevue; minister James Crittenden is still in the pulpit at Southmont; and music minister James A. Moore is still in the pulpit at First Baptist Church of Farmers Branch.

In fact, music minister James A. Moore was much-lauded recently. He was presented the Texas Choirmaster Award, which is the most prestigious award given by the Texas Choral Directors Association. He is described as “a person who has exhibited unparalleled leadership in the choral field.”

Is he deserving of such an award? Probably. He always did have an incredible voice.

But he should also be known for his lack of leadership in protecting kids and for his role in concealing clergy child molestation.

Moore knew about another minister’s “sexual contact” with a minor, and didn’t warn others. (See church’s court-filed acknowledgment of music minister’s knowledge in ¶ 16) He knew, not only because I told him when I was a kid, but he also knew because the perpetrator himself talked about it. (Moore’s sworn affidavit at ¶ 4) Yet, Moore kept it quiet. And the perpetrator moved on to another church where he continued as a children’s minister.

Years later, Moore had a second chance to do the right thing. He failed all over again. He made excuses. He said he didn’t know “details.” But he knew there was “sexual contact” – shouldn’t that have been enough? He said it was “consensual.” Isn’t that frightening? This is a man who spent his career working with high school kids as a choir director. How can he even imagine that a 29-year old married minister could have “sexual contact” with a 16-year old girl, and that it could somehow be “consensual”? That’s pure, raw, dangerous, arrogant ignorance.

That’s something James A. Moore should also be known for.

And the church Moore works for – First Baptist Church of Farmers Branch – should also be known. It should be known for what it allowed in the past, for what it covered up, and for what it continued to try to cover up many years later. Its pastor Sam Underwood is a man who himself was reported to have sexually abused an adult congregant. (Maybe that helps to explain why secrecy seemed to be his style, even when the report involved clergy child molestation. Just a bad habit?) This blind-eyed church continues to keep both Moore and Underwood as its leaders. Maybe it should be called the church of no accountability.

7 comments:

gmommy said...

How does a 16 year old have an "affair"
with a grown "Christian" Married minister????????
This makes me ill.
How could the man who used this term ever be trusted???

Could this "affair"
be similiar to the "incident"...(the term used by BBC in Memphis) to describe the
sexual abuse of a pre teen Child by his own father who was also a staff minister.

The report given to the church concerning their so called investigation of this sexual predator also referred to the molestation of an innocent child as "sexual activity".

It's 2007....this is NOT unchartered waters as the Sr. Pastor (with quivering lips )referred to it.
The powerless
do not have "affairs" or "sexual activity" with the adult powerful ministers in trust positions!
The innocent are VIOLATED by these sexual predators.

There was no concern for Christa when she reached out to her pastor.

There was no concern for the victim of the staff predator at BBC...

OR for the many adult victims of sexual abuse who were re victimized by this minister of PRAYER ...under the umbrello of protection and secrecy of the church.
Does it really take a lawsuit for the ministers to give even a LAME apology to victims??

In the case of BBC...the sexual predator,the ministers that knew and did nothing,
and the Sr Pastor
were the focus of the compassion and concern....not the son victimized by his minister/father.

If letters of apology were sent out to those harmed by the cover up, mine was lost in the mail!

WatchingHISstory said...

Christa

You failed to mention that Paul Williams was the associate to Adrian Rogers for over 30 years and the crime was committed under his watch not Steve Gaines. Steve Gaines inherited Dr Rogers' mess.

Charles Page

Christa Brown said...

Steve Gaines didn't merely inherit a mess - he made a mess. He knew - he kept quiet - and he allowed a confessed perpetrator to remain in a ministerial position. It's easy enough to look at the perpetrators and think therein lies the problem. But the far greater problem lies in the blind-eyed do-nothingness of so many other Baptist leaders. So many perpetrators could not persist without the enabling silence of many others in high places.

WatchingHISstory said...

Christa,

You said: "So many perpetrators could not persist without the enabling silence of many others in high places."

Doesn't that 17 years silence trouble you? What about the 15+ years prior to the crime? Is there some kind of negligence?

In addition to a reactive response to these crimes there should be a proactive response in the Christian community. There must be something that we can say that will cause the crime to not even exist in the Christian community.

Christa Brown said...

The Christian community is not immune to this crime, and I can't imagine that it ever will be. In fact, I think it's dangerous to contemplate that the Christian community could ever be immune.

I agree that there must be both reactive and proactive responses. Every allegation and every suspicion should be treated seriously and looked into in a responsble, professional manner. That's not happening among Southern Baptists. As Baptist ethicist Joe Trull recently said: "In the normal scenario, churches just try to keep it secret." That's what's "normal." We've seen it happen over and over and over again. It's why Southern Baptists must institute strategies similar to other faith groups in order to combat that normal tendency.

I hope and pray every day that, this time next year, there will be at least the beginnings of an independent, professionally staffed, denominational review board. It doesn't need to have any actual authority over churches, but churches desperately need to have that sort of assistance and resource available...as do abuse victims.

kaye said...

It does not matter under whose watch a crime is committed, once it is found out by the church leader, it is to be handled responsibly and appropriately. That does not mean it is to be kept hidden or secret, covered up, swept under the rug, overlooked, allowed to linger in hopes it will disappear, and there is no reason anyone should claim ignorance in how to respond. The police are just a phone call away if in doubt. And now all of you reading this website know about SNAP and its suggestions on how to handle clergy sexual abuse. Tell your friends, neighbors, even your enemies if you have any. Advertise the website in your local newspapers and in your church bulletin. Help stop clergy sexual abuse.

Christa Brown said...

Kaye, Many thanks for the plug and you have made an excellent suggestion. It's an easy and cost-free way that churches can help abuse survivors. Put a notice in your church bulletin or on a church bulletin board about www.StopBaptistPredators.org and www.SNAPnetwork.org. ("Hurt by clergy? There's help....") So many people remain quiet for so long...it's what's normal...but something as small as that lets them know that the church cares and lets them explore the websites on their own and start turning it over in their heads. It allows them to know that they aren't alone in what happened to them and to confront the thing in their heads in their own time and at their own speed.