Thursday, July 19, 2007

Latest perp is in Memphis, but real problem is in Nashville

It’s a story we’ve seen over and over: A Baptist pastor is accused of sexually abusing a kid...people know about one does a good job of looking into it...the pastor stays in the pulpit...more kids are molested.

The latest story in Memphis is nothing more than that…just the latest in a long sad string of stories showing the blind-eyed do-nothingness of Southern Baptist church and denominational leaders.

A decade ago, when one kid reported this pastor’s abuse, a few of the church people wanted something done. But apparently the rest of the congregation couldn’t believe their beloved pastor could do such a thing. So nothing happened…and now there are reports that at least 10 more kids were molested.

If there had been an objective, professionally-staffed denominational review board, perhaps all those additional kids could have been spared the horror of being sexually abused by a trusted minister.

And what about that kid who, a decade ago, mustered enormous courage to try to talk about what was done to him? What do you imagine went on in his head as, year after year, he continued to see that man still standing in the pulpit?

And what about the other kids who, over the course of a decade, saw that man still in a position of respect and trust…still spouting Bible verses from the pulpit?

Sexual abuse is plenty bad enough and has a life-long traumatic impact. But betrayal by your entire faith community? That’s also traumatic.

“What have they gone through all these years?” asked one reporter in the TV video clip.


It’s so easy to point the finger at the perpetrators and think therein lies the problem. But the far greater problem is in the silence of the many…in all the others who turn a blind eye…and in the institutionalized do-nothingness of the denomination. If Southern Baptist officials want to understand the problem, they need to start looking in the mirror. That’s why the picture up there isn’t a picture of the latest accused Baptist perpetrator. It’s Southern Baptist headquarters in Nashville.

How long will it be before Southern Baptists implement the same sort of protective measures as most other mainstream faith groups? How long will it be before Southern Baptists establish denominational review boards and start keeping records on clergy who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse? How long will it be before Southern Baptist officials make protecting kids the priority instead of merely protecting themselves and their power?

How many more kids will be molested by Baptist ministers before Baptist leaders finally take action?

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