Monday, January 12, 2009

The great ghetto of Baptist-land

Imagine a country with 16 million people -- a country the size of Chile or the Netherlands. Marauders roam among the population, raping the young and vulnerable… and no one stops them.

Worst of all, the marauders carry the government’s seal of approval. They wear badges. No one can tell they’re marauders. In fact, they look like trusted government officials. So, their victims are much more easily lured.

Despite ample resources and an annual budget of $200 million, the country’s highest leaders refuse to do anything about the marauders.

That’s what’s happening in Baptist-land.

With 101,000 ministers and 43,000 churches, Southern Baptists are the largest Protestant denomination. They're like a whole country.

But unlike other major faith groups, Southern Baptists have no system of oversight for their clergy.

So, when someone says, “That minister molested me when I was a kid,” no one pays attention. There's no system for anyone to do anything. The leaders turn their backs. No one will even bother to look into it or to see whether the accusation can be substantiated. In fact, if they do anything at all, it’s far more likely that they’ll stone the person who says it rather than assessing whether it might be true.

And with a porous network of 43,000 churches, it’s easy for accused ministers to simply roam from church to church, finding new prey at every stop.

There isn’t even any system of record-keeping on accused ministers in Baptist-land. No one can tell you which ones have been accused and which ones haven’t. And no one can tell you how many accusations a minister has had.

If the landscape gets too hot, the marauders just move on... from church to church and state to state.

A system without oversight asks for abuse. And a system with no consequences fosters even more abuse. That’s what happens in Baptist-land. The marauders are simply left at large to find more victims.

A knowledgeable expert estimates that about 3 percent of those 101,000 ministers are pedophiles. It’s a conservative estimate. Some would place the number higher, at 4 to 6 percent.

But even if the marauding pedophiles in Baptist-land are only 3 percent, it would still mean that 3,030 of those 101,000 ministers are pedophiles.

Most people who sexually abuse kids have multiple victims, often dozens. But again, let’s calculate this on the conservative side. Even if you count only the currently active 3,030 Southern Baptist pedophile ministers, and even if you only count 3 victims for each of them, that’s still 9,090 kids who will be molested and raped by Baptist ministers.

In Baptist-land, the leaders don’t seem to think those kids are worth protecting.

And what about all the countless thousands of more abuse victims who were molested and raped by Baptist clergy in the past?

If we all stood in one place, we would fill a great ghetto. Would the high-n-mighty Baptist-land leaders see us then? Or would they simply build a fence around us and hide us?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

comment on Wade's blog

I say this as someone who suffered sexual abuse. The day I knew that it was what it was, I forgave. But for a few hours, I have never been angry. Always forgive, whether forgiveness is sought or not.

The reason we do not forgive is the belief that somehow we deserved grace and forgiveness more than someone else. We received forgiveness because we deserved it, this person does not deserve it. But the truth is that forgiveness is not forgiveness if it is earned. If it is earned, it is a wage. It is necessary to forgive the unforgivable because only the unforgivable can truly be forgiven.

Christa Brown said...

Forgiveness is fine and good, but no amount of forgiveness will make others any safer. First things first: Protect the young and vulnerable; stop the marauders; minister to the already-wounded.

BaptistPlanet said...

What could paralyze the Southern Baptist Convention so that it would not take any reasonable action, especially the database you recommend? Don't they care? Is that it. Do the tiny children and early adolescents who can't defend themselves not "matter" enough?

Christa Brown said...

No, BaptistPlanet, the kids just don't matter enough for Southern Baptist leaders to bother about protecting them. Oh sure, they'll talk about "precious children," but it's just talk. With their deeds, they consistently choose protecting themselves, protecting their image, and protecting their coffers over protecting children.

BaptistPlanet said...

We agree. I wrote poorly but we agree.

Anonymous said...

say this as someone who suffered sexual abuse. The day I knew that it was what it was, I forgave. But for a few hours, I have never been angry. Always forgive, whether forgiveness is sought or not.

The reason we do not forgive is the belief that somehow we deserved grace and forgiveness more than someone else. We received forgiveness because we deserved it, this person does not deserve it. But the truth is that forgiveness is not forgiveness if it is earned. If it is earned, it is a wage. It is necessary to forgive the unforgivable because only the unforgivable can truly be forgiven.

January 13, 2009 6:09 AM

Good for you. Now, how are you going to protect other innocent kids from your perp?

Elisabeth said...

I was told so many times I needed to forgive. But I had forgiven already. I just was unwilling to say the man was a man of God, and I had some very distorted ideas of the church, the role of the pastorate, God, and myself that needed to be corrected. I also knew what that man was. I'm not 100% sure he victimized anyone else sexually, but I know he used everyone to satisfy his needs and desires in many ways and turned many people away from the Cross. He's finally retired, and I am finally at peace, for I know he is no longer using his position to turn people away from Christ.

darkness2light said...

I realize this problem is much greater than "baptist land" even though they refuse to form a database and take aggressive steps to protect children and churches against predatory pastors/ministers. Otherwise, we must not abandon faith in Christ for even a very wicked man said "I find in him no fault at all." Hopefully these types of forums will raise the awareness of the need for proper documentation of the problem among SBC officers and force them to put into place background checks and other screening measures that will help protect innocent children and young adults in the future