When “congregational autonomy” is used as an excuse to do nothing, it becomes a tool for evil.
"The only thing needed for the triumph of evil is
for good men to do nothing."
Southern Baptist leaders claim they’re different from Catholic bishops because they don’t “assign” clergy to new posts the way Catholic bishops do. So, because they don’t actually “assign” ministers, Southern Baptist leaders claim to have no power to do anything about reports of clergy sex abuse. They wash their hands of it and say “not my problem.”
And by doing nothing, Southern Baptist leaders allow child-molesting ministers to move on from church to church. That’s the reality of what happens.
They allow child-molesting ministers to move on from church to church even after victims make desperate attempts to report them.
It’s as though this denomination’s leaders all have “bystander syndrome” when it comes to clergy sex abuse. No one does anything. They don’t want to get involved.
For a clergy abuse victim, it’s as though you can scream “Rape!” into all the windows of this denomination, and its leaders will simply shut the blinds and turn out the lights.
And while you’re bleeding-out in the denomination’s courtyard, your clergy-perpetrator will strut on down the block to a new church with unsuspecting prey.
Southern Baptist officials don’t “assign” clergy. That’s true enough. But instead of looking at it from the perspective of Baptist officials, look at it from the victim’s perspective. What difference does it make whether a child-molesting minister is “assigned” to a new church or simply “allowed” to move to a new church?
A kid who is molested isn’t going to hurt any less because the clergy-perpetrator was “allowed” to move to his church instead of being “assigned” there.
The physical pain will be just the same. The psychological wound will be just as profound.
The trauma of being sexually abused by a trusted minister won’t be some over-intellectualized pseudo-theological abstraction for the kid. It will be very, very real.
“Allowed” or “assigned.” What difference does it really make?