Monday, April 6, 2009

Baptist leaders' delusion on display

In Waco, Texas, the pastor of Bellmead First Baptist Church is charged with continuous sexual abuse of a child.

According to KXXV-TV News, pastor W. Frank Brown is accused of molesting girls in another state, beginning about four years ago, and then continuing assaults on a victim after moving to Texas. The girl was reportedly 9 or 10 when the abuse began. “Police say the alleged assaults took place hundreds of times.”

In connection with Brown’s arrest, the Waco Tribune-Herald interviewed Tim Randolph, the executive director of the Waco Regional Baptist Network:

Preventing such events in the first place would be ideal, Randolph said. Churches are encouraged to work through the Baptist General Convention of Texas to screen personnel they are considering hiring, he said. Because Baptist congregations are autonomous, they cannot be compelled to go through the BGCT when making hires, he said.

'Steps are being taken,' Randolph said. 'Churches are encouraged to report (accusations and subsequent investigations) and verify people against a database.'

So here’s my first question: Exactly what “database” is Mr. Randolph talking about?

Experts consistently recognize that less than 10 percent of active child molesters have ever been convicted of anything, and so they won't appear in criminal sex-offender databases. And “pastor sex-offenders… rarely have a criminal history.” So again… you aren’t likely to find them in a criminal sex-offender database.

Yet, Baptist leaders have refused to institute any sort of denominational database of credibly-accused clergy child molesters -- or to even bother with assessing the credibility of clergy abuse allegations in the way that other major faith groups do.

Given the low probability of criminal prosecution for a child molester, it is delusional and dangerous for Baptist leaders to persist in thinking they're doing enough by "encouraging" churches to screen ministerial candidates against criminal sex-offender databases. It's not nearly enough, and most other major faith groups are doing a great deal more.

And what good does Mr. Randolph imagine would have likely been accomplished if Bellmead had contacted the Baptist General Convention of Texas before hiring pastor Brown?

For all we know, the church may indeed have done so. But so what? Baptists don’t have any systematic process for keeping track of clergy abuse allegations. Instead, the safety of church kids is essentially left up to a haphazard good-ol’-boy network… and the good-ol’-boys have failed miserably.

Indeed, Mr. Randolph’s remarks seem particularly ironic and inappropriate in light of still another Waco Baptist preacher case that’s currently in the news. Also reported in the Waco Tribune-Herald, pastor Matt Baker has been charged with the murder of his wife, and the investigation wound up uncovering a trail of sexual abuse and assault allegations against him. Yet despite those allegations, Baker was able to move through numerous schools, churches, and organizations -- all affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas -- and no one stopped him. Indeed, even in his final job as a Baptist Student Union director, Baker was in a position funded by the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

So if Mr. Randolph is so convinced that the Baptist General Convention of Texas can effectively help churches screen ministerial candidates, then why can’t the BGCT effectively screen candidates for a job that the BGCT itself funds?

But back to the Bellmead story… if Mr. Randolph is suggesting that the specific problem at Bellmead could have been prevented if only the church had gone through the Baptist General Convention of Texas before hiring Brown, then you have to consider some ugly possibilities.

If that’s what Mr. Randolph is suggesting, then he’s suggesting that the Baptist General Convention of Texas does indeed have pastor W. Frank Brown’s name in its “sexual misconduct” file, and that if only the church had asked, the BGCT may have warned them.

If that’s what Mr. Randolph is suggesting, then you have to ponder the possibility that the Baptist General Convention of Texas had some prior report about Brown, and that it allowed that information to simply sit in a file because nobody specifically asked for it. Meanwhile, it’s alleged that pastor Brown continued to molest a kid hundreds of times.

A pretty shocking possibility, isn’t it?

But if that’s NOT what Mr. Randolph is suggesting, then why is he bothering to suggest that this “event” could have possibly been prevented if only the church had consulted with the Baptist General Convention of Texas? But hey… churches “cannot be compelled” he says.

This seems like a rather mean-spirited thing to say about a church that is likely hurting… particularly if contacting the BGCT wouldn’t have done them any good anyway.

So what do you think? What exactly is Mr. Randolph suggesting with his remarks?

According to his online bio, Mr. Randolph worked at the Baptist General Convention of Texas until just a few months ago. So maybe he actually does know something about what’s in the BGCT’s confidential “sexual misconduct” file -- either from his time working there or from his contacts with others in the building.

Or maybe Mr. Randolph’s remarks are nothing more than another example of how Baptist leaders are more focused on blindly promoting and praising the institution rather than on actually protecting kids.

19 comments:

john said...

Christa,

I think that Mr. Randolph is saying, "This is not our job and therefore we accept no responsibility to maintain a list, we maintain no interest in protecting our members, and we are not at all interested in being supportive of the victim. In summsry, follow the direction of our pointed finger but for God's sake please d not look at us!

I believe that there will be some questions asked of these deniers when or if they ever stand befoe God!

Anonymous said...

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,513042,00.html

Thy Peace said...

Anonymous said...
Thy Peace:

I am "BGCT" and Tim Randolph was employed by the BGCT until the end of last year when he assumed the leader role in Waco. He's right; see here (bottom of page): http://www.abpnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1753&Itemid=120.

The BGCT's website: www.bgct.org. Its phone number for follow-up if desired: 888.244.9400.
Tue Apr 07, 10:46:00 PM 2009


The above comment was in response to the comment link I made of Christa's post on Pastor Wade's blog.

ABP News > Baptist churches more vulnerable to clergy sex abuse, experts say

Christa Brown said...

Aaahhh... the BGCT... the Baptists who are big on brag but small on actually doing anything about clergy sex abuse. Baptists at their best?

hrh said...

"Or maybe Mr. Randolph’s remarks are nothing more than another example of how Baptist leaders are more focused on blindly promoting and praising the institution rather than on actually protecting kids."

Sounds uncomfortably like the RCC. And considering all the ink the Hasidics are generating lately, these religious nutjobs sure seem to be doing their damndest to make themselves total laughingstocks. Except it's not funny. Not one bit.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was interesting that his wife turned in his letter of resignation. What a beautiful example of a submissive wife. At least the Baptist leaders can be proud of her example.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Christa,

In case you haven't seen it, here's another scumbag for your gallery.

Christa Brown said...

Thanks New BBC. I'm proud to have a questionable character like you visiting my site. ;-)

For those of you who haven't followed this story... a Jackonville, Florida police detective, who also happened to be a member of First Baptist Church of Jacksonville (one of the largest in the SBC) used the power of the Sheriff's office to subpoena records from Google related to the New BBC blog, apparently as part of a criminal investigation that he opened for no apparent reason other than to obtain the identity of another blogger, FBC-Jax Watchdog, who has been critical of FBC-Jax pastor Mac Brunson. (That New BBC link has further explanation on this whole over-the-top hardball Southern Baptist bull-caca, along with some funny photos - take a look.)

Why did he go after the New BBC???? Maybe because New BBC has been critical of another Southern Baptist mega-pastor Steve Gaines and because Gaines, Brunson, Vines, et al. are all good-ol'-boy buddies, helping each other out? Who knows? The minds of Baptist power-mongers are not for us mere mortals to understand.

But I know this much... I sure wish that Southern Baptist mega-honchos would put as much energy into unmasking Baptist clergy child molesters as they do for unmasking an anonymous blogger.

Christa Brown said...

On the FBC-Jax story, you can read the statement of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office here.

But if you really wanna know what's going on, read the New BBC on this - it's a heckuva lot more entertaining and informative.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Thank you, Christa. We questionable characters have to stick together. Hey, you weren't aware there was a fourth subpoena with your name on it, were you? :-)

john said...

Please do not under estimate the evil and downright corruption of anyone who "feels" he has a divine mandate to hurt others.

Anonymous said...

Christa, I find it somewhat interesting that you readily accept the word of the New BBC woman (who by the way posts anonymously) as truth and authoritative. She's not a member of FBC, Jax and therefore is not privy the truth of what's happening there.

And please don't tell me that the Watchdog is truthful and authoritative on anything. He's only using his real name because he got outed. I'm not convinced he is sinless in all the things happening in Jacksonville.

As a lawyer I would expect more wisdom out of you.

Christa Brown said...

Anon 10:01 - No one needs to take the word of the New BBC blogger. All it takes is reading the news reports in the Florida Times-Union and on FOX 30. That's exactly why it's news... because it's conduct that is outside the range of what many would consider acceptable in a leader. But of course, we've seen over and over again that many church people are willing to turn a blind eye to conduct by their religious leaders that would be considered unacceptable in any other context.

Incidentally... you reminded me of something I should have mentioned earlier.... New BBC isn't a member of FBC-Jax and the New BBC blog directs its criticism toward a Memphis Southern Baptist mega-church pastored by Steve Gaines - i.e., Bellevue Baptist. All of this makes it all the more bizarre as to why and how a subponena got issued in Florida for the records on the New BBC blog. It's hard to even imagine any plausible justification... other than a couple of Baptist-honcho good-ol-boys decided to try to find out who their critics were.

Anonymous said...

Its sad that you acknowledge that the woman at New BBC directs her criticism toward a sister church. That sure isn't listed among any spiritual gifts I have ever read. Its time for this malicious backbiting to stop. New BBC and Watchdog have nothing to do with sexual predators and you are just pouring fuel on their perverted fires by publicizing them on here.

Christa Brown said...

What it's time for is this: It's time for Baptists to implement clergy accountability systems in the way that other major faith groups do.

And actually, the New BBC blog does indeed have to do with sexual predators. As I recall, the blog got started after Bellevue pastor Steve Gaines turned a blind eye to an admitted child molester on Bellevue's ministerial staff. When it all came to light, there were a few people, including New BBC, who just couldn't stomach the surreality of what they had seen in their church. But of course, most people just continued to sit in the pews and sing the praises of the pastor. No consequences... Gaines is STILL the pastor there. His continued leadership position sends a sad message about how little Southern Baptists think it matters when church leaders keep quiet clergy sex abuse.

Anonymous said...

While I do agree that it is time for some sort of accountability in Baptist churches, you are way off base with the woman in Memphis. She goes way beyond attacking Steve Gaines for whatever he actually did with Paul Williams.

But then, you and I are not members of that church and we consequently do not know all the facts and/or truth about what is actually happening.

The woman in Memphis and the Watchdog are certainly not sources for genuine truth.

New BBC Open Forum said...

"The woman in Memphis and the Watchdog are certainly not sources for genuine truth."

But Anon 8:31 is. That's rich. LOL!

Actually the NBBCOF was started in October 2006, almost two months before the PW thing became public knowledge. The point of the blog was never to "attack" Steve Gaines, but you're free to think what you want (and will continue to do so, wrongly) since you've already stated you don't believe anything I write. It was not started in response to the PW story, but that was one of the first topics covered.

So since you say you see the need for some form of accountability in Baptist churches, what are your suggestions? See, even though you call me a liar, I'm interested in genuine dialogue.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Oh, and another thing, anonymous one... Christa knows my name. I do not correspond with her anonymously. (Oops. Hope they don't subpoena you next, Christa!)

Anonymous said...

This man was a pastor of a Baptist Church in Chandlerville Illinois a few years ago. He quit after the congregation cut his salary do to a shortage of funds. The congregation learned that he had rented a house from Mark Clark a famous ball player from the area and had never payed him any rent money during his months of stay. He was a smooth talker but I had my doubts about him from the beginning.