Outsiders seem perplexed and ponder how any church could be so foolish as to keep a convicted sex offender in the pulpit for 3 years. The Chicago Sun-Times published an editorial about how “lackadaisical” some churches can be.
But here’s what’s really scary. It’s not just local churches. The highest levels of Southern Baptist leadership have demonstrated a lackadaisical blindness to clergy child molesters.
Just a month ago, a clergy abuse survivor wrote to a member of the SBC committee that’s supposedly studying the clergy sex abuse issue. He courageously spilled a profoundly painful report about the Southern Baptist minister who sexually abused him and another boy when they were kids.
You might imagine that a high-level Southern Baptist official would be better-educated than those Romeoville deacons, and would immediately want to look into such a report so as to assure the safety of others. You might imagine that he would extend a voice of compassion to the victim. But that didn’t happen.
Instead, the Southern Baptist official wrote this back to the victim:
“I would like to direct your attention to Ephesians 4:31-32: Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and evil-speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be ye kind one to another, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
And remember when ABC's 20/20 correspondent told Southern Baptist president Frank Page that 20/20 found convicted child molesters on the SBC’s registry of ministers? What happened? Nothing….at least not until still more media coverage was mustered.
In fact, rather than immediately getting those convicted child molesters off the SBC’s registry, still another high-level Southern Baptist official, Augie Boto, publicly justified and defended the fact that the SBC kept them on!
Is it any wonder that churches like Romeoville get confused when their own national leaders spout such inanity in the Baptist Press?
And what about the state Southern Baptist leaders in Illinois? Did they know about Romeoville? Why didn’t they do anything?
Well…let’s not forget that the Illinois Baptist State Association is the same Southern Baptist group that fired its Illinois Press editor when he published news that a prominent minister had been charged with multiple counts of sexually assaulting teen girls. It appears the Illinois Baptist leadership thought it was something people didn’t need to know.
Is it any wonder Baptist churches keep quiet about clergy sex abusers? Look at the example set by their leaders. It’s an example that says “Keep your mouths shut.”
Churches like Romeoville get the message.