Friday, September 26, 2008

They've got the power

We request… the establishment of an independent review board as an auxiliary to the SBC, but with adequate and assured funding from the SBC. Its purpose would be to receive and investigate reports of clergy abuse and to arrive at a determination of whether the report should be deemed credible. All reports should be archived, and as part of its investigatory powers, the review board should establish a procedure for notifying people in the pews whenever a report of abuse is made about a minister who worked in their congregation. In this way, the denomination can reach out to other possible victims… and put parents on notice so that they can talk with their kids. Whenever a report of abuse is deemed credible, the review board would also be responsible for reporting that decision to the people in the pews in every congregation in which the minister has worked. This board should be composed of independent professionals, including non-Baptists, who have extensive experience in dealing with the dynamics of clergy sex abuse....”

This was what SNAP asked for two years ago, in its letter of September 26, 2006 to Southern Baptist officials.

Look at that request. Was it so unreasonable?
  • A review board where people could report clergy abuse to trained, independent professionals.
  • A review board that would responsibly assess the allegations in an objective manner.
  • A review board that would provide information about credible allegations to people in the pews.

No one said anything about Nashville telling local churches what to do. No one said anything about Nashville exercising authority over local churches.

The request we made was nothing radical. It was a request for action similar to what’s already being done in other major faith groups.

So why can’t Southern Baptists provide the same sorts of protective processes as other faith groups?

Because their leaders have planted their feet in cement.

It’s not because Southern Baptist leaders can’t. It’s because they won’t.

Oh sure, we’ve heard Southern Baptist officials talk about how powerless they are. We’ve heard their claim that it’s a “bottom-up” organization and that national leaders can only do what local churches tell them to do via their “messenger” votes at the convention.

And after the do-nothing debacle of the 2008 convention, I bet some of you are thinking that the SBC Executive Committee can’t even try to do anything more on this issue until someone gets still another motion passed at still another convention.

If that’s what you’re thinking, you’re wrong. The SBC Executive Committee has the power. They could take action if they wanted to.

In real life, they don’t actually sit back waiting for local churches to tell them what to do.

Remember how pastor Wade Burleson made a motion at the 2007 convention, asking that the Executive Committee study the creation of a denominational database of ministers who have been “credibly accused” of sexual abuse?

For all the fanfare that motion got, the Executive Committee itself didn’t seem to think it mattered much. They claimed they were studying the clergy sex abuse issue even BEFORE Burleson’s motion.

In other words, they claimed that they were acting on their own power.

In the first sentence of their own June 2008 report, the Executive Committee made this very clear. Here’s what they said:

“… the Bylaws Workgroup of the Convention’s Executive Committee in 2006 began studying how best to address the challenge of clergy sexual abuse in the local church. The work of the Bylaws Workgroup took on higher visibility after receiving the referral of the 2007 Wade Burleson motion relating to the issue, coupled with heightened interest by the press and special interest advocacy groups.”

So according to their own statement, they were studying the issue in 2006 -- i.e., before Burleson’s 2007 motion and without the benefit of any “marching orders” from the local churches.

Augie Boto said something similar in a 2007 email to Debbie Vasquez. Boto is vice-president for convention policy and general counsel for the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. When Debbie expressed her great concern about the issue of clergy sex abuse, Boto told Debbie that the Executive Committee was "currently" assessing the issue. Later, when Debbie read about Wade Burleson’s planned motion, she wrote back to Boto and asked “Did you lie to me?” She couldn’t understand why Burleson would be making a motion on the subject if the Executive Committee was already addressing it.

But Boto wrote back and reconfirmed that “The Bylaws Workgroup of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention is already looking into the issue.”

Then he went on to be completely dismissive of Burleson’s motion. Here’s how Boto explained the fact that Burleson was making a motion even though the Executive Committee was already addressing the matter: “It often happens that those who make motions are unaware of occurrences. Since anyone can make a motion about anything, we cannot account for their reasons or knowledge.”

In other words, as far as Boto was concerned, Burleson’s motion was irrelevant and immaterial.

So… if the Executive Committee could claim to be addressing the clergy abuse issue BEFORE Burleson’s motion, why can’t they still address it even now?

The answer is obvious: They can. They have the power. They always did, and they still do.

Their whole “we are powerless” bit has never been anything more than a ruse for institutionalized irresponsibility.

It’s just phony baloney, folks.


John said...

For those of you who may not be Southern Baptist or do not know much about the workings of the Convention, I hope you will read this article over again. Christa has put the TRUTH in such simple english. Everything she says here is the "gospel truth".
Thanks Christa for a great summary of the way things really are when it comes to the SBC. Sometimes we hear the leaders say that she, Christa, aka "that woman", just does not understand how the SBC works. Well, she does and when it comes to addressing abuse the SBC just simply refuses to work.
Great great article.

Lin said...

Oh, I understand how it works. It has become completely top-down over the last 30 years.

Elisabeth said...

Top down until it's inconvenient to be so. Then all the sudden it's bottom up. What inconsistency.

Thy Peace said...

I agree with elisabeth, that SBC, when convenient to them they are either top-down or bottom-up.

I had inadvertently made a comment a while ago on Pastor Wade Burleson blog earlier on this issue.

I had then recommended SBC be bottom-up. My reasoning then was to avoid SBC leadership shoving down their thinking on the rest of SBC and there by punishing dissenters or people who speak out against this tyranny from above.

But I now understand, for sexual predators, there needs to be a cohesive plan from above that coordinates with the local churches, much like how credit reporting is done, so there is a record of possible abusers.

WatchingHISstory said...
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Phyllis Gregory said...

Watching whatever your name is -- I don't know who you are but I do not like you and you give me the creeps. There is no doubt that Paul Williams is a pervert true, but I get the feeling that you do get off on the graphic details. I' not quite sure what that says about you. Whatever, I think you are disgusting.

Christa Brown said...

Watching: You have been banned from this blog, and you know it. Please don't come back.

WatchingHISstory said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
WatchingHISstory said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
gmommy said...

I see 3 posts deleted so I am assuming freaky nut butt has been putting his filth on your blog. He probably used the one with my name and other names in it.

He thinks he is clever because he sits at his computer and posts the same posts over and over to see how long he can keep them up before we delete.
In the mean time he calls out little his address and trying to pretend he is the caring advocate.

He is an evil pervert who has no shame and no empathy for anyone.
He needs to be locked up.

No one will read his insane blog and he is incapable of discussion so he controls and dominates then cackles like a old witch.
Most of us know what else perverted NBs like this do when they obsess over all the repulsive graphic details.
He is no better than the staff minister who got "high" from having abuse victims relive the details of their sexual abuse at BBC.
He accuses those who tell him to stop of the very things he is guilty of.
Your text book pervert.

wood said...

the southern baptist leaders are also great at ignoring requests, not returning emails, phone calls, sweep it under the rug mentality. Very selfish, if it doesn't affect them personally they don't care.