“The only way people in the pews will find out about clergy child molesters is if victims feel safe in reporting them. And victims are never going to feel safe if they have to report abuse by going to the church of the accused minister. Telling clergy victims to "go to the church" is like telling them to go to the den of the wolf who savaged them. It is cruel to the victim and unproductive toward the end of protecting others.A few days ago, David Clohessy received a response at SNAP’s headquarters in Chicago. Dr. Hunt’s complete letter is set forth below, but here’s the gist: Dr. Hunt says the Southern Baptist Convention is “looking into that.”
This denomination needs to provide (1) a safe and welcoming place for victims to report clergy sex abuse, (2) an objective, professionally-trained panel for responsibly assessing victims' abuse reports, and (3) an efficient means of assuring that the assessment information reaches people in the pews -- i.e., a database.”
Some of you may recall that prior SBC president Frank Page said the exact same words when he spoke with ABC’s 20/20. When asked about the many published reports of Baptist preacher predators and about the need for a denominational database to track them, Page said “I know we’re looking into that.”
Of course, Hunt and Page aren’t the only ones who seem to like that phrase. We’ve heard the same “looking into that” language from other Baptist officials as well. We’ve heard it often enough that we finally understand the unique Baptist lexicon.
In Baptist-land, “looking into that” seems to translate as “we won’t do diddly-squat.”
Let’s hope that, someday, Baptist leaders learn a new language.
You’ll notice, of course, that Dr. Hunt doesn’t actually address any of SNAP’s specific requests.
If any of you want to drop Dr. Hunt a line, his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 3, 2009
(dictated Dec. 4, 2009)
Mr. David Clohessy
700 N. Green St. #504
Chicago, Illinois 60622-5474
Dear Bro. David,
Greetings to you in Jesus’ name. I trust this letter finds you doing well and abounding in Jesus.
Thank you for your letter dated November 14, 2008 concerning clergy sex abuse and cover up. You can rest assured I am concerned about this and desire the same as you do concerning the problem. In fact, during our Executive Committee meeting in September there was much discussion on this issue and what we as a denomination should do to help the problem cease. I assure you we are looking into that and you will hear more about it in the days ahead. It will come up at our national convention that meets in June 2009 in Louisville, I am sure.
What an encouragement it is to me to see folks like you and your organization so passionate about issues that are so degrading this nation and so displeasing to our blessed Lord. I commend you and encourage you to continue in the fight as the Lord leads.
I pray God’s rich and abiding blessings upon you.
Dr. Johnny M. Hunt
We apologize for the delay in our office mailing Dr. Hunt’s reply to your letter. Please forgive our oversight!
Pastor’s Administrative Assistant