Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Teeth-grinding over GuideStone

Whenever I see the word “GuideStone,” I grind my teeth.

GuideStone is the Southern Baptist Convention entity that provides retirement and health-care services for ministers. It also provides financial assistance for ministers in need.

The current news about it isn’t much: GuideStone is having to tighten its belt in this sour economy. But I’m still grinding my teeth.

I mean… think about it.

When it comes to providing retirement plans for Southern Baptist ministers, no one tosses out “local church autonomy” as an excuse for inaction.

No one invokes “our belief in the autonomy of each local church” as a reason for why Southern Baptists can’t work cooperatively to allow ministers more secure retirements.

Nope. Nine decades ago, Southern Baptist leaders looked around and saw the need to forge a cooperative way of assisting churches in providing for ministers’ retirements. They realized that small local churches weren’t equipped to do it on their own, and since no one wanted ministers to be destitute in retirement, they created an entity to deal with it.

The Southern Baptist Convention looks out for its ministers.

Now mind you… I’ve got no problem with that. I think ministers should be able to have retirements of dignity.

But here’s what I don’t get.

If local church autonomy doesn’t preclude the denomination from creating an entity to assure retirement security for ministers, why does local church autonomy preclude the denomination from creating an entity -- i.e., an independent review board -- to assure that those who report clergy sex abuse are compassionately received and that local churches are warned about credibly accused clergy?

Why don’t Southern Baptist leaders care just as much about protecting kids and congregants against clergy sex predators as they do about protecting the security of ministers in retirement?

I don’t have any answers to these questions, and frankly, I don’t think Southern Baptist leaders have any good answers either.

Grrrrrr. That’s the sound of my teeth grinding.

3 comments:

john said...

Christa,
I am reading a book by Daniel Flynn and in the chapter entitled "Bible Communists" he made the following observation, "People who want control over others, seldom accept control of others over themselves." This made perfect sense when looking at religious leaders and their refusal for any type of pertsonal accountability.

Anonymous said...

"Why don’t Southern Baptist leaders care just as much about protecting kids and congregants against clergy sex predators as they do about protecting the security of ministers in retirement?"

Because they don't really care about kids and congregants. That's the answer, Christa.

Christa Brown said...

John, Just did a quick google search on "Bible communists" - it's an interesting phrase. It looks to me as though it carries the notion of Christian perfectionism, as imposed by authoritarians, who of course, are the ones who know with absolute certainty what constites perfection and they're the anointed ones who claim that God has given them authority to "help" others be more perfect.

Thanks for sharing this.