Thursday, October 11, 2007

"Image problem"

In Tulsa, Southern Baptist president Frank Page talked about his concern for the “image problem” of Southern Baptists. “We've apparently come across as very legalistic and mean-spirited,” he said, “and I think that's sometimes accurate, because sometimes we've acted that way.”

Amen to that! But it’s not just an “image problem;” it’s a real problem.

Of course, Southern Baptists have “acted that way” in a lot of arenas, but none more glaring and tragic than in the “legalistic” ways in which they have mishandled the clergy sex abuse issue and in the “mean-spirited” responses to abuse victims who try to report their perpetrators.

When a paid Southern Baptist spokesperson publicly places the protection of “autonomy” above the protection of kids, that’s “legalistic” in a very Pharisee-like way.

When an abuse survivor tries to report her perpetrator and gets sermonized on forgiveness, that’s “mean-spirited.” When an abuse survivor tries to report the minister who sodomized him as a kid, and gets sermonized on homosexuality, that’s not merely “mean-spirited,” it’s hateful and ignorant. When an abuse survivor tries to report her perpetrator and gets threatened with a lawsuit even while another minister substantiates her report, that’s not merely “mean-spirited,” it’s brash bullying and intimidation.

When Southern Baptist leaders use these tactics to silence clergy abuse victims, while leaving perpetrators in their pulpits, it’s not merely “mean-spirited,” it’s an abdication of moral responsibility. It’s also way more than an “image problem;” it’s a kid-safety problem.

The “mean-spirited” morally-blind treatment of clergy abuse victims isn’t just the work of a few rogue Baptist leaders. It’s happening in churches and state conventions all across the country, and at national headquarters.

Southern Baptist president Frank Page himself chose a decidedly “mean-spirited” route when he publicly trashed a support network for clergy abuse victims as being “nothing more than opportunistic persons.” (I’m still trying to figure out exactly what part of it he sees as being such a great “opportunity.” Would any decent parent choose such an “opportunity” for their own kid?)

If Frank Page is genuinely concerned about Southern Baptists’ “image problem,” he could start by making a public apology for his own “mean-spirited” statement. But I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for it.

Recently, the Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma presented SNAP’s national director, David Clohessy, with a lifetime achievement award, publicly recognizing his extraordinary contributions in this area. Yet, just three days before receiving this award, when Clohessy was in Nashville, the Southern Baptist Executive Committee workgroup that is charged with addressing clergy sex abuse didn’t even invite him to speak. They didn’t give him one minute of time or ask him a single question. Obviously, Southern Baptist leaders didn’t consider this lauded expert’s views to be of any importance. They were more interested in hearing themselves talk. Is it any wonder that the world outside their insular ranks winds up with a negative image?

Over and over again, SNAP has asked Southern Baptist leaders to create an objective, professionally-staffed, independent board to review reports about clergy sex abuse. There’s nothing radical about this suggestion. Virtually every other major faith group in the country has already instituted such a process in some form or fashion. Yet, Southern Baptist leaders continue to balk.

Is it any wonder that Southern Baptists “don’t have the greatest reputation” when they effectively put their denomination last in line for implementing the same sorts of child protection measures that other faith groups already have?

When Southern Baptist leaders actually make protecting kids more important than protecting their power, polity, or public image, then maybe Southern Baptists will actually be deserving of a better image.

11 comments:

D.R. said...

Christa,

I find many of your comments very troubling. First, many of your suggestions about Southern Baptists are broad generalizations that do NOT reflect the convention as a whole.

You said, "Of course, Southern Baptists have “acted that way” in a lot of arenas, but none more glaring and tragic than in the “legalistic” ways in which they have mishandled the clergy sex abuse issue and in the “mean-spirited” responses to abuse victims who try to report their perpetrators."

Then you went on to generalize a specific (or a group of specific) cases as something that reflects all of the convention. Yet, clearly all of these cases do not reflect the convention. And you continue to ignore the fact that the SBC has absolutely NO control over what happens in individual churches. Legally, the SBC can do almost nothing, unlike the Catholic Church, where ministers are employees of the organization. Why don't you get this? And why can't you work with us to help us do what CAN be done instead of focusing on all the negatives? Would you rather nothing be done if everything you want isn't done? Instead of bashing us for our organizational structure and continuing to claim that is an excuse (as if we have a nefarious and evil purpose in mind - to harm children), help us work through the system we have. Actually LISTEN to us. I mean has any denomination done everything you have asked? If so, please tell us about it. Focus a blog post on a perfect situation (not a hypothetical, an actual situation with a whole denomination - after all you did say, "Virtually every other major faith group in the country has already instituted such a process in some form or fashion."). Give us a positive blog for once, without the heavy handed comments and the false comparisons like those you made with the LDS situation.

And you take this further when you say,

When Southern Baptist leaders use these tactics to silence clergy abuse victims, while leaving perpetrators in their pulpits, it’s not merely “mean-spirited,” it’s an abdication of moral responsibility. It’s also way more than an “image problem;” it’s a kid-safety problem.

The “mean-spirited” morally-blind treatment of clergy abuse victims isn’t just the work of a few rogue Baptist leaders. It’s happening in churches and state conventions all across the country, and at national headquarters.


Taking one situation and applying it across the board and suggesting that the entire convention is at fault for what happened in one church is completely unfair. Unlike Catholocism, pastors of SBC churches have no accountability to the denomination. And they are not reassigned by the denomination. Background checks are the responsibility of INDIVIDUAL churches and even a network (which is being designed now) to record names of offenders CANNOT be legally required by the SBC. If individual churches refuse to check up on future leaders the SBC has NO legal recourse. Further the SBC as a convention cannot force a church to fire a pastor or discipline a church member. Honestly, all they can really do is alert the authorities. And you just don't seem to get that.

And when you suggest it is happening "all across the country" you flat out lie. You make it sound like the problem of clergy abuse is so widespread that it must be hidden, like what happened in the Catholic Church, but the statistics do NOT support this. Now that is not to say it doesn't happen or that it is so rare that it doesn't matter, but the numbers are much lower than what we find in the overall population.


NOW, you will read all of that and attack me and tell me I am trying to intimidate you and that I hate kids or don't care about abuse, but you would be wrong. I do care about these things. I knew someone who was abused at a church and it was handled improperly. But even looking back on that situation, the SBC as a whole could not have done anything before or after the situation to prevent it. No one involved would have even thought to contact the SBC and the SBC couldn't have known without anyway letting them know. And that is what is so frustrating about your rant here. Clearly, the SBC should do what it can. But bashing everything the SBC tries to do and trying to create a perception that the SBC is intentionally and neglegently putting kids at risk is out of bounds and actually causes more harm than good.

I mean think about it - you had a meeting with the SBC leaders. They gave you a forum. They listened to your ideas and explained to you their position, but yet you continue to bash these people you claim to want to work with? What if they did all you asked? Would you quit bashing them then? What would satisfy you? Really? Do you even care that the more you spout off, the less likely they are to listen to you? Do you think that screaming at someone you want to work with will get them to invite you to the table? Have you ever considered that the way you approach this might actually be a detriment to what you are trying to accomplish? Would you continue to write posts like this if you knew that you were marginalizing yourself and preventing yourself from being about to bring about change? Are you not worried that your attitude and actions might case MORE harm by causing people to be fed up and ignore you?

As I have told you before, it is a terrible thing what happened to you - what has happened and is happening in churches (and our society) in regards to abuse. But it's an elephant, and you eat an elephant one bite at a time. All the SBC asks is for people like yourself to help, not continue to condemn. If you really want to help, then stop with the bashing and advance with a heart to help constructively work with leaders in your area and beyond.


So here are some real suggestions. If you seriously want to help then do these. If you just want to bash, then ignore them and let your cause deteriorate and your organization be of no use the SBC.

1) Go talk to a pastor in your area who can help you. Now that means you find someone, not go to one and if he says he can't help or points to someone else or doesn't do all you say, you post your experience, say you tried and then go back to bashing. And look for someone involved in the local association. If you want some help in finding someone in your area, email me and I will help you find a pastor who will help. My email address is dr_randle at yahoo. If I knew where you lived I would find someone to help you, but if you email me with your location, I will help you as much as I can.

2) Try to get to speak to the association. This is really where your best defense against child abuse is going to be. The SBC as a whole only exists for 3 days a year and the Executive Committee, which maintains it the rest of the year is limited in what it can do. But, if you really want to get closer to the situation, where a database is much more effective, then get it into the association. Additionally, one thing that you haven't really considered is that most churches don't even cooperate with the convention. They do everything through their local associations and through the state conventions. In fact, through those local channels is usually how churches get ministers.

2. Work with those in your area to build a local support system and reporting agency. This idea of having a review board is fine, but it will be quite ineffective from a national level. The local level would be much easier and more effective. For one, associations can actually talk to people at churches, secondly, no travel is required to investigate, and third local law enforcement can get involved.

4) Go talk to your local WMU. They can get you in contact with the state and local WMU programs and leaders. This is probably the best organization to assist because of their ongoing ministry to women, which a ministry to female clergy abuse victims would fit well with. Again, you may need to talk to more than one church or WMU group, since all of them are not strong or relate much to the state and national organization. Additionally, most programs geared toward kids and teens (RA's, GA's, Acteens) are run out of the WMU and they can produce written material specifically designed to help in this are.

5) Finally, quit the character assassination on everyone who doesn't work as fast as you think they should, or do everything you think they should. If this problem is as widespread in the SBC as you say, then surely you don't think this will be solved overnight. Be patient and realize you are on a long journey. You can do it wrong and put a bandaid on the situation, or do it right and really put a serious dent in clergy abuse.

One more thing, realize that everyone who criticizes your approach isn't fighting against you, is evil, or is seeking to silence you and hurt children. You are severely abrasive, especially on this blog. If you act the same in public, realize that may not be the best approach. I know there are many, many ministers in the SBC who do care about this problem. And it does break many hearts in our denomination. But the last thing we need is someone beating us up without offering real help. Telling us what to do isn't nearly as effective as showing us what to do in a way that shows you actually care about the future of the SBC, its children, and its members and ministers. Honestly, reading your blog, I get the impression you hate us and just want us to burn in Hell. I would really like to see a different side of you Christa

So, the ball's in your court. If you want help, I will provide as much as possible and try to find you people to talk to. But you must respect them and realize that the best way to deal with this problem may not be the way you think. You have to work through the right channels. So email me and let me help you.

And may God be glorified as sin is exposed and dealt with and may those who suffer be healed by His grace.

Christa Brown said...

For anyone who might like to know a bit more about d.r.'s views, check out Big Daddy Weave's blog . I think BDW and some others there have already made some good responses to d.r.'s style of rhetoric.

Of course, I've addressed the "no authority" argument at length on many prior occasions. For anyone who's interested, here's one link.

I tried to communicate with Southern Baptist leaders (church, associational, state and national) in much quieter ways before becoming so vocal. Nothing happened. So after beating my head against a brick wall with that approach for WAY too long, I finally decided to try a different approach. And I actually tried most of d.r.'s suggestions.

I have left your comment up, d.r., but I do take offense. You slander me when you say that I "flat out lie" in stating that it is happening all across the country. I do not "flat out lie" about anything, and I'm past the point of being fed-up with Southern Baptist men who want to accuse me. In the future, I will not allow you to slander me on my own blog. If you want to slander me, you can find plenty of other blogs to do it on. In any event, Southern Baptist clergy sex abuse and cover-ups are indeed happening all across the country, as anyone who looks at the countless published articles on my website can readily see, and of course, there are countless more Baptist abuse and cover-up cases that haven't made headlines. I hear from Baptist abuse survivors literally every day. And actually, the data that exists does indeed support the conclusion that sexual abuse among Protestant clergy is every bit as great as among Catholic priests. More info here and here.

I do agree with your comment in one small aspect: "This idea of having a review board is fine..." And of course, I've previously tried to get that idea instituted at the state level in addition to the national level.

John Harrison said...

d.r.

It is people like you who cause the majority to go to sleep when such a serious problem is affot in so many churches. You and I know that the political machine in the SBC is concerned about money issues as it is what feeds the SBC. This is a problem that cannot be treated like some statistic that implies that the leaders are not doing their jobs. Serious problems require serious, bold, and sometimes unconventional approaches.
Shame on you for being more concerned about how Christa's statements bother you. I am sure if you had her experience and been talked down to by the likes of you youi would be direct and not really care if you pushed someone out of their comfort zone.
As a retired SBC pastor Christa and those willing to go public with such a personal experience are some of my heros. We as a Convention MUST be more proactive and do something serious NOW. How many more children must be raped before you understand!

Christa Brown said...

Thanks for your comment, John, and I like your way of characterizing what I'm doing....pushing people "out of their comfort zone."

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that d.r. is blaming Christa for the lack of response by anyone in the SBC denomination to take care of the clergy sexual abuse problem. It also seems like d.r. does not understand how much effort Christa has put into trying to get something done in the local, associational, state and national level before even starting this blog. Seems to me that d.r. gives himself credit for understanding more than reality conveys. If only he would take his words and put action to them himself. What is keeping him from taking a stand against clergy sexual abuse and doing what he can to stop it?

D.R. said...

Christa,

First, let me say this. I apologize for my statement that you took offense at. Looking back I should have chose my words better to communicate more clearly what I was trying to say when it comes to the use of the word "widespread." And I will try to do so in a moment.

Second, let me make this very clear. I agree with your overall crusade to stop clergy sexual abuse. I think a lot of people in the SBC do. I'm not sure you believe that is true. My concern is your tactics, like this blog, and the way you speak about the SBC leadership. I think you are getting in your own way with how you are going about this. And I am insulted myself by the way my denomination is spoken about here. Statements like, "When Southern Baptist leaders actually make protecting kids more important than protecting their power, polity, or public image, then maybe Southern Baptists will actually be deserving of a better image" to me are simply not helpful to your goal. And I think this is what has led many in the leadership to speak ill of you and your organization. I think it is false to say that the SBC doesn't care about the welfare of children They do. And I think it is false to say that they are "hiding" behind autonomy as an excuse to "do nothing." Because that is not the case.

Third, I want you to understand clearly that there are people who can help you, but if you continue to stand on the sidelines and scream at the players in the game, you run the risk of being ignored. What I am trying to do is help you. My question is, "Will you listen?" Or will you continue to scream while nothing gets done (when something, albeit imperfect, can be)?

Fourth, I think you should stop with this idea that the SBC doesn't care and is "hiding behind" the structure of autonomy. The fact is the autonomy issue MUST be dealt with in order to accomplish something.

Take for instance the review board you are proposing. Are you aware that the SBC legally cannot force anyone to testify before a review board (unlike the Catholic Church)? Are you aware that legally the SBC cannot investigate or question anyone involved in a sexual abuse situation? And are you aware that an SBC review board cannot bring any punitive action on any church, minister, or member? In fact, the SBC cannot even (without a vote of its members, which takes place only once a year at the convention) revoke a church's membership to the SBC? All of this is completely different from the Catholic Church, who can discipline from the national organization. As I said above, the SBC can really only legally contact the authorities, which, by the time the SBC would learn about it, should already have been done.

So, when I said your idea of a review board was "fine" I didn't mean it was a fine idea, but rather that it is ok to suggest it, but unfortunately it wouldn't work and would be a waste of time and energy and I think the leaders of the SBC are trying to get you to understand that.

See, the problem is, you are looking at the SBC as a typical denomination with heirarchies of judicial authority. But the SBC is a volunteer organization that has no right to tell churches what they can or cannot do. The local Rotary Club has more control over its members than the SBC does. If the SBC ceased to exist tomorrow, you would be looking at 40,000 autonomous church bodies who would go about their business with absolutely no change to them. And the SBC keeps no record of who does or does not minister in a church, nor can they require a church to report that to them. So solutions that seem to work fine in a typical denomination (or faith group like the Catholic Church), will not work. That's not "hiding behind autonomy" - it's reality.

So, when you scream at the leadership for doing nothing and accuse them of putting autonomy before children, you marginalize yourself and make enemies. You cease to be a prophetic voice to those who need to hear it the most. My hope in writing this to you is that you will see that, work with some SBC leaders in a more civil manner and accept that things must be done differently in such a setting. You just can force a round peg solution in a square hole. And the more you try, the more you hurt that relationship you need to accomplish your goal. So when I get irritated and ask you all those questions like in my last post, contrary to what your other commenters said (because they really don't know me), I am not blaiming you, but trying to get you to see how you are percieved and get you to refocus on your goal, which hopefully is to reduce clergy sexual abuse in the SBC as much as possible.

So, that is why I gave you the suggestions I did, and yes, I was not aware of any prior work you did in trying to make those contacts. And I apologize for being ignorant of that, but so far, all I have seen on your blog is your experience with trying to contact the national organization. However, I still do think that the best way to deal with clergy abuse is through the local associations and state conventions. And that is why I offered to help. I do have contacts all around the SBC and I could help you if you would let me. I have a number of influential contacts in an organization within the SBC and I would be willing to help you get in touch with them as well.

But, I do have to say that you MUST find other solutions besides the ones you offer that do fit within the context of autonomous churches. And if you are unwilling to do so, I have to tell you that you run the risk of continuing to be irrelevant to the SBC. In your organization's full mission statement it say that you "Work through education and persuasion to change the structure and culture of abuse in the church and society at large." I would like to see you be able to do that in the SBC and I think a great deal of people in my convention would like to see the same. But you are an outside agency, not a part of the SBC, and cannot expect to have instant credibility. It might take longer than you want, but doing something well is never done quickly.

So, again, I ask you to email me at the above address and give me a general metropolitan area (you don't have to get specific and I won't publish it publically). I will make some contacts in that area and find you some ministers and laymen and women you can contact. I will speak to them, recommend they talk to you and try to find avenues for you to educate people in the area and help you to find ways to speak to others in the association and possibly the state convention. Then I will get you their contact info and let you make the contacts. It's up to you whether you want me to help, but I am offering it to you and hope you will let me help you and your organization. And if Bro. Harrison, who commented above, wants to contact me and let a hand to you, I welcome him to do so, as well. Again, my email address is dr_randle at yahoo.

Finally, let me explain briefly why I was troubled with your characterization of clergy abuse in the SBC as "widespread." It's simply that the term means, "prevalent" or "being everywhere." And I said the data didn't match up, which you refuted by offering data regarding Protestant Churches as a whole. So let me show you what I mean.

In the article, it said that out of (and these are all approx. figures) 165,000 churches there were 260 reports a year of clergy sexual abuse. The SNAP representative said that those numbers weren't half of what really transpires. So, if we multiply that number by 3 (if three times that number are actually occuring), with 3 caveats:
1) Those numbers include volunteers and other members, not just clergy
2) The average attendence of an SBC church is 100 members and some pastors have been at churches for 30+ years having no experience with clergy sexual abuse anytime in their ministry.
and
3) Those numbers are reported cases which must be investigated and don't always indicate actual abuse has occurred.

Then what we see is that less than one-half of 1 percent of ALL Protestant churches experience clergy sexual abuse in a given year. So to say the problem is widespread in a denomination like the SBC is stretching it. Though, I agree 1 case is too many.

My point is that when you tell the SBC leaders, some of whom have never experienced or even heard of a case of this occurring anywhere, that the problem is "widespread" then many may dismiss you as trying to stir up trouble (whether or not that is reality). And combine that with some of your other comments and it really is surprising that they even agreed to meet with you or your organization.

Now the reason why I took the time to explain that is because I want you to see what I said earlier, which is that everyone who doesn't automatically trust you, or criticizes you, isn't necessarily your enemy, and doesn't necessarily not care about kids. Sometimes it is a matter of perception. And I really, honestly, truly, would like to help you with that, if you would let me.

So again, forgive me for insulting you and for the way I came across. And please contact me so I can get the ball rolling on helping you educate more people and putting together a plan to help the SBC rid itself of cleargy sexual abuse.

Soli Deo Gloria,

D.R. Randle

Anonymous said...

Why in the world would d.r. allow a person who is screaming for help or "irrelevant to the SBC", need to ask permission to do what he can to stop the clergy sexual abuse going on in SBC churches? He says he has influential contacts. d.r., you might start by doing what you can and being supportive, instead of trying to find out where Christa lives!

Anonymous said...

Christa was a member of an SBC church at the time she was sexually violated by a minister of that church. Was she relevant to the SBC then? Are any of the victims who have been sexually violated in SBC churches relevant to the SBC? They have not been treated as if they are. Why is every minister in the SBC not saying that we will not tolerate clergy sexual abuse any longer within our churches? If America can send people to the moon, surely there are those within the SBC organization that can do something. How many ministers, especially SBC leaders, have said thank you to Christa for putting a focus on this problem within the churches, so that we can do something to stop it. Instead it seems they want to stop the spokesperson.

Anonymous said...

d.r.,
You said many in the SBC leadership speak ill of Christa and her organization. Where is the compassion? Where is the grace? Where is the desire to do what is right and then just do it? Then you close by saying Soli Deo Gloria. That is just one example of why the SBC has an "image" problem.

Christa Brown said...

d.r.,
The manner in which you parse words and minimize your own conduct in your apology is...interesting. It's a bit small to simply say that you "should have chosen your words better." What you should have done is to NOT say that I "flat out lied."

It's nice, however, to see that you acknowledge your ignorance. It would be even nicer if you would educate yourself a bit more BEFORE you presume to start telling me what to do. If you really want to help your denomination in dealing with this widespread problem, I suggest you start by (1) educating yourself on the problem; (2) asking Alycelee (who was a messenger at the June 07 SBC annual meeting) how you can help her convince the SBC Exec.Comm. to provide a status report on the predator database study; and (3) write to the chairman of the bylaws workgroup of the SBC Exec. Com., Steve Wilson, and ask how you can help in rounding up experts to advise the committee. Please give him my regards when you speak with him.

Numbers: D.r.'s attempt to minimize the data reminds of me when paid SBC spokesman, Will Hall, publicly suggested there had only been 40 cases of Southern Baptist sex abuse in the past 15 years. That sort of minimization is unconscionable. Which kid's rape doesn't even matter enough to get counted? The very LEAST this denomination owes to the victims of this crime is to honestly acknowledge what happened to them.

The data we've got (no thanks to the SBC and thanks to the Associated Press) shows an average of 260 clergy child molestation reports to insurance companies per year among Protestants (and if you look at the actual data - link in comment above - most of it is Baptists), as compared to 228 reports of "credible accusations" made to Catholic review boards concerning priests. Those numbers have remained fairly constant during the 20 years that data has been being kept (which means about 5200 cases over 20 years). The fact that the number is LARGER for Protestants is astounding particularly in light of the fact that the largest Protestant denomination, Southern Baptists, doesn't even keep any records on "credible accusations." Instances likely don't wind up getting reported to insurance companies unless a lawsuit is filed - that's a huge additional hurdle from the data that gets recorded by Catholics, which is simply "credible accusations" as reported within the faith community. No one in Southern Baptist circles is even yet keeping track of "credible accusations." How much bigger would the numbers be if they were? I suspect the number would be MUCH bigger since most of the people I hear from have NEVER filed a lawsuit but have simply attempted to report to church and denominational leaders, with no response. That's a good reason for creating a database - so that Southern Baptists can at least begin to get a handle on the real extent of the problem.

Obviously, 8600 Southern Baptist messengers who voted for the predator database study didn't reflexively buy the "SBC is powerless" argument that d.r. makes.

Penn State professor Philip Jenkins reported several years ago that, based on his studies at the time, 2 to 3 percent of Protestant clergy were pedophiles and less tha 1.7 percent of Catholic priests were pedophiles. I'm much more inclined to accept numbers like these from a prominent authority than I am to accept the minimized extrapolation that d.r. spouts forth, particularly given how much ignorance of the problem d.r. has already shown. If you characterize the Catholic problem as "widespread," then you have to also characterize the Baptist problem as "widespread."

The data shows a VERY big problem, and I believe it's even bigger than what the data reflects based on the people who contact me. I will NOT sugarcoat this just because it makes Southern Baptist leaders uncomfortable. It IS a very serious and very widespread problem. To sugarcoat it would be a disservice and a dishonor to all the thousands of people who have been victimized by Southern Baptist clergy.

The reality is that we don't have good data, and that's in large part because Southern Baptists don't keep data. But the data we do have indicates a very, very big problem.

Whether or not I carry credibility with SBC leaders is perhaps of little consequence. I'm just one person and I carry a message that they don't seem to want to hear. However, the vote of 8600 Southern Baptist messengers is a great deal more than just me, and those 8600 messengers deserve to have their vote fully respected and honored.

D.R. said...

Christa,

Normally, I would discuss with you what I believe are problems with the way you interpret the data and explain to you again my point about the use of the word "widespread". But I don't get the feeling you are out to have an honest discussion about this, nor are you listening to my suggestions about how your organization can be more effective in the SBC.

You just don't seem to understand how different the SBC is from other denominiations and how that must effect how clergy sexual abuse is to be dealt with. Again, I offer you my help in setting up local networks which will work much better and cut out much of the legal problems that hamstring anything done by the convention. You have my email address. My understanding of what your organization does is to work within channels like those to effect change. If that is not true, then I am sorry to waste your time.