Thursday, December 20, 2007

More on Illinois Baptist Children's Home

The Illinois Baptist Children’s Home story just gets worse and worse. discovered that a guy I described in the prior post as a “youth worker” is actually now a trustee of the Illinois Baptist Children’s Home & Family Services.

His name is Barry Baker, and his letter was one of the most offensive ones submitted in support of convicted clergy child molester Leslie Mason. Baker offered this minimizing view of Mason’s crime:
“As I have worked with young people, I have had those situations when a girl had a crush on me. The girls come in to youth meetings wearing much less than is fair for us as boys and men. What I am saying is that only by the grace of God can I say that I didn't have wrong relationships. I have even thanked God that I am not a guy that the girls find irresistible.”
I said it before and I’ll say it again: With views like that, Mr. Baker has no business working with youth.

Ministers who have sex with church girls are not merely having “wrong relationships.” They are molesting, raping, and abusing kids.

Girls get crushes. It’s so commonplace as to be banal. They get crushes on teachers, ministers, and coaches. There is nothing wrong with girls who get crushes. To the contrary, they’re normal.

It’s not the girls who are doing something wrong by having crushes. It’s the men who exploit that youthful innocence and vulnerability for their own sexual gratification.

And Mr. Baker’s complaint about girls who wear “less than is fair” demonstrates an archaic “blame the victim” mentality that no one working with youth should ever carry in their heart or head. It’s like thinking that the rape victim deserved it because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Do girls sometimes wear things that are inappropriate? Sure. And adolescent boys sometimes tell too many scatological and sexual jokes. It’s annoying, and they need to learn better.

But none of these things can possibly make them fair game for abuse. They’re kids.

It’s disturbing that someone like Mr. Baker would be selected as a trustee of the Illinois Baptist Children’s Home & Family Services. I’m told that officials of the Illinois Baptist State Association are the people who appointed him.

That’s right. It’s the same Southern Baptist group who decided it was “God’s will” to oust the newspaper editor who dared to print the story about the child molestation charges against pastor Mason.

The Chicago Sun-Times religion blog picked up on this story today. You can submit comments there if you like. Maybe Illinois Baptists will eventually see the travesty in what their leaders did and will demand some accountability.

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