Saturday, June 20, 2009

Greatness and Smallness

“Southern Baptists have always been a Great Commission people.”

So begins the Great Commission Resurgence document that will be the center of debate at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual gathering next week in Louisville, Kentucky.

If you grew up Baptist, you know what they’re talking about. It’s Matthew 28:19-20 where Jesus said: “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you….”

This is the core of evangelicalism, and the heart of Baptists’ missional motivation.

Now, faced with declining numbers in the denomination, Southern Baptist president Johnny Hunt is trying to re-energize Baptists’ missionary efforts by streamlining denominational structure.

Based on talk in the Baptist blogosphere, the Convention’s debate will likely center on a single article of that Great Commission Resurgence document. It’s article 9, in which they call upon Southern Baptists “to evaluate our Convention structures and priorities so that we can maximize our energy and resources for the health of our local churches and the fulfillment of the Great Commission.”

In the explanation beneath article 9, the document talks about the need for a “more effective convention structure” so that Baptists can be “streamlined for more faithful stewardship of the funds entrusted to them.” It urges Baptists to “ask hard questions” about every aspect of structure and priorities.”

What it’s really saying, in a nice way, is that the Baptist bureaucracy is out of control. Maintenance of Southern Baptist national headquarters now takes 2.86 percent of the Cooperative Program budget each year. For those of you who weren’t raised Baptist, the Cooperative Program is the pooled portion of the $11 billion in Southern Baptist offering plate dollars that is directed outside the local churches and toward programs on which Baptists work together.

The 2.86 percent that’s now being spent at national headquarters is not money that’s being spent for missionary work. It’s money that’s going for the salaries, benefits, buildings, offices, and travel of all those guys in Nashville.

Just thirty years ago, the national headquarters took only 1 percent of the Cooperative Program budget, and it was a much smaller overall budget.

But Baptist numbers are dwindling. This mighty faith group is becoming less mighty. So clearly, the bigger, bloated bureaucracy isn’t helping them win more souls or put more people in the pews. (And keep in mind that, for now, I’m just talking about the national bureaucracy. The state convention bureaucracies also take Cooperative Program dollars.)

People who put money in Baptist offering plates ought to ponder this. The Southern Baptist national bureaucracy is taking 2.86 percent of the $548 million Cooperative Program budget each year. That’s a lot of bucks for a bureaucracy.

Wouldn’t you think that such a well-funded bureaucracy could at least manage the task of keeping track of Baptist clergy-predators? After all, if they’re going to build such a big bureaucracy, shouldn’t they at least put it to good use?

When I saw these numbers and the call for “more faithful stewardship of the funds,” I couldn’t help but wonder why Southern Baptist leaders weren’t equally concerned with stewardship of the children who have been entrusted to upbringing in Baptist churches.

In promoting the Great Commission Resurgence, Baptist leaders talk about their “instititutional identity.” Why don’t they realize how much their “institutional identity” is tainted when they allow clergy predators to church-hop without anyone imposing accountability?

A big part of Baptists’ institutional identity has always been the grandness of “go ye therefore and teach all nations.” From my earliest days in Sunbeams, I knew that this was what it was all about -- going into all the world. Later, in Girls’ Auxiliary, I painstakingly put thousands of tiny cross-stitches into a white cloth to make a map of that world.

That world was the mission. That world was the vision. That world was the commandment. That was what Baptists were all about… going into all the world.

Nowadays, I find myself wondering if perhaps Baptists have focused too long and too much on the greatness of “go ye therefore and teach all nations.” What would Baptists be like if they had focused an equal amount of energy on the smallness of “the least of these”?

What would Baptists be like if they were equally attentive to Jesus’ words just a few chapters earlier in Matthew 25? What would Baptists be like if, for all these many decades, they had focused an equal measure of attention on “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these… ye have done it unto me”?

I realize that “the least of these” doesn’t carry the grandeur of “go ye therefore and teach all nations.” But maybe that’s the point. Maybe that smallness is exactly what Baptists have overlooked for far too long.

Maybe Baptists could indeed see a “resurgence” if they would care about the smallness of “the least of these” as much as they care about the greatness of “teach all nations.”

Besides, I thought part of what they were supposed to “teach all nations” was the lesson of “inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these.”

36 comments:

Thy Peace said...

Christa, you have hit the proverbial nail on the head.

Amen.

Let's imagine for instance, that baptists are successful in spreading the Gospel through out the world.

What happens when the world looks at the home world of southern baptists, and finds that their world is hollow, splintering and where they suppress more than half of their members spiritual gifts of expression.

And on top of it, they find that they are only after numbers, but not the soulfulness of each member or believer. And when they are after numbers, it also means they are after money to fund their operations. That seems to be the driving force.

This is why all sexual abuses are swept under the rug, because it is bad publicity, it disrupts incoming money and it drives away believers.

This almost feels like the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], pretending when an outbreak of virulent disease occurs, that it is an illusion. Nature here will have the say, when the causes are ignored.

Why don't they look to the true fountain and source of all life, and that is Our Lord Jesus Christ. And then the rest will fall into their places. Let them investigate all abuses. Let them show love to the victim. And not to shun them or say they were corrupted by Satan. Even if they do not kick the abusers out or castigate them, but by showing love, acceptance, kindness to the victims, sends a strong message to the abusers that victims are not castaways, to be thrown out after use.

Phyllis Gregory said...

Oh, Christa, this brings back such BAPTIST memories. I think Matthew 28:19-20 were the first two verses I memorized in GA's. Back then (the 60's through most of the
80's) I thought the SBC was synonomous with purity and perfection and the PERFECT will of God. I was so in love with the SBC because all SBC churches were examples of the New Testament church that Jesus bagan, or so I heard from most pulpits.

WOW! Now it is hard to believe I was taken in by it so. I guess I needed something PERFECT to hang on to, though, and the CHURCH was the best thing out there.

Now, though, I think the SBC is dead and it just doesn't know it yet. Thanks for giving us the info on this year's upcoming convention. The emphasis becomes more hollow and empty each year. They are desperate people trying to hang on to what?

Thanks again, Christa, for all you do. I think all who have found this site and have been victims of some kind of church/cergy abuse thank you. This is a place we can be open and honest about our hurts from the past.

gmommy said...

We have seen the cold, hard hearted mindset much too often from these greedy wolves who call themselves Baptist leaders...and Christians.
The best we can do is continue to expose the corruption and lies as we can, not allow Satan to achieve his goal of stealing our joy, our souls,or destroy us...and to show the "least of these" and our wounded brothers and sisters the support, compassion, and love they won't get from any program, marketing gimmick, or empty speeches the Baptist may offer.

I've said this before and it's not profound...just the simple message of Christ. We learned as kids that the Good Samaritan didn't pass by the wounded man laying in the street. He had compassion on him, stopped what he was doing and cared for the stranger's bleeding wounds. He brought him to safety and shelter and asked nothing in return.
Jesus reached out to the very ones the religious people shunned and looked down on. He was a radical in his time....kind and loving to women, to the poor, the forgotten, the hated.
We need to pray protection and strength for Christa and each other. We all have gifts and ways that we can make a difference in someone's life.
Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy. The Baptist organization is doing a fine job to aid satan's purpose.
This little light of mine....I'm gonna let it shine. Don't let Satan blow it out...no!...I'm gonna let it shine!!

I pray healing for those who have been wounded and oppressed by those in the name of Jesus. I pray that in spite of the evil done by these counterfeit men....nothing will separate us from the love of Christ.

Anonymous said...

"Nowadays, I find myself wondering if perhaps Baptists have focused too long and too much on the greatness of “go ye therefore and teach all nations.” What would Baptists be like if they had focused an equal amount of energy on the smallness of “the least of these”?"

It is not as glamorous to protect children in our churches. They do not tithe so why bother? It just brings bad publicity that hurts tithing more.

This is why they need 'resurgences'. Because the Holy Spirit left long ago and they need a Madison Ave campaign to rally the troops.

Hunt has a fake PhD and goes around referring to himself as Dr. Hunt. He has a 'city of refuge' for to restore fallen pastors to leadership again.

Phyllis Gregory said...

gmommy, your words make me cry and give me much comfort at the same time -- I hope that makes sense. You are so correct.

I just wish there was a place to go to worship whose statement of faith would be what you just said -- the simple message of Christ. We learned as kids that the Good Samaritan didn't pass by the wounded man laying in the street. He had compassion on him, stopped what he was doing and cared for the stranger's bleeding wounds. He brought him to safety and shelter and asked nothing in return.
Jesus reached out to the very ones the religious people shunned and looked down on. He was a radical in his time....kind and loving to women, to the poor, the forgotten, the hated.

I want to be that kind of radical. I wish I could find a church that believed that.

Thy Peace said...

Book review and posts of Christa's book, This Little Light:

THIS LITTLE LIGHT.

Stop Baptist Predators > This Little Light.

Stop Baptist Predators > Harsh words make my point.

Amazon.

Barnes and Noble.

ABP News > Book says SBC lacks system of preventing sexual abuse.
The above was also reposted here, and here.

GOOD HARD WORKING PEOPLE > Book Recommendation: "This Little Light".

Christian School Confidential > This Little Light by Christa Brown.

BECAUSE IT MATTERS ~ FREEDOM IN CHRISTIANITY [Dani Moss] > The Invisible Holocaust in Our Church.

BECAUSE IT MATTERS ~ FREEDOM IN CHRISTIANITY [Dani Moss] > The Church Holocaust Through One Person’s Eyes.

DEEP THOUGHTS [MOJOEY] > This Little Light, by Christa Brown.

DEEP THOUGHTS [MOJOEY] > Review: This Little Light.

The Fighting Fundamental Forums > THIS LITTLE LIGHT: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and His Gang --BASS's review.

Spiritual Samurai > Christa Brown’s New Book.

Thy Peace said...

New BBC Open Forum > This Little Light: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and His Gang.

gmommy said...

Phyliss,
I can only share where I am and I absolutely am not encouraging you to stop trying to find a church to worship.
For now, when I go to church,I go to a small,quiet Presbyterian church. It is very traditional. They have 2 pastors and both are very kind to me. Neither are "rock star" preachers but the main guy especially, is incredibly humble... even on the shy side. NOTHING is about the man in the pulpit...nothing. No one sweats or screams or runs around like they are angry. The Bible is taught and not like...lets pick a subject... "You are stealing from God if you don't tithe" and then 15 verses from all over the Bible read out of context just to make their point.
They definitely deal with sin but they don't pick their favorite sins to rant about. Repentance is always a theme (and not just so you won't burn in hell), the love and character of Christ,and relationship with Christ...adoration for Him...not the "pastor" or programs!
I'm sure it's not a perfect church...and I'm sure there are safe churches available to both of us(??)...but for now I won't look for what I thought church was before my eyes were opened. For now,I try and stay connected with people I believe have a relationship with the Lord...who aren't as "exclusive and right" and who seem to care for me and for others.
I still grieve the loss of so many things I thought church was and I thought I had...but I think most of what I lost was God made in our image...kinda backwards. Anything with a gimmick, program, or campaign...I run from! I wouldn't mind meeting in a home but for now I feel safe at this quiet church.
I hope you have some "Bereans" who encourage you to ask God the hard questions.
I AM confident that He is safe.... and can handle our pain, anger,confusion, and questions. He didn't create the box most Baptist would like us to fit into. If God is the potter...an artist...then we are each a one of a kind creation. Doesn't make much sense that the Creator of the sun and the stars and who knows our secret thoughts would only have one mold. I used to think the clay I was made from was ruined. But God continues to change and reshape me(it's painful!)and I'm pretty sure He uses the same original clay He began with.
Remember the older woman who used to sing with Billy Graham and was the product of rape????? She used to say...."God don't make no junk." I like that :)

Lin said...

Billy Graham and was the product of rape????? She used to say...."God don't make no junk." I like that :)

June 20, 2009 6:34 PM

Ethel Waters. His eye is on the sparrow.

gmommy said...

Lin,
Thanks!!! I could see Ethel Waters' face and hear her sing His Eye is on the Sparrow...but I was thinking Ethel Waters might be the lady who sang God Bless America. I love your memory!!!
I know it used to make me happy when she sang.

Richard said...

gmommy, it was Ethel Merman (I believe) who belted out God Bless America.

Phyllis Gregory said...

gmommy,

Again your words touch my heart. Thank you.

Richard said...

For those who might get a bit of satisfaction out of this, you can go to:

http://www.dc.state.fl.us/ActiveInmates/search.asp

State of Florida Department of Corrections Inmate Population Search. Type Darrell Gilyard’s name in there and you can see his new mug shot.

Christa Brown said...

It is certainly a good thing that Darrell Gilyard must finally face some small consequence for some small part of what he did, and I wouldn't want to underplay that. At the same time, I think the more important question that people should always keep in their heads is "How would things be any different the next time?"

The terrible thing is that we have no reason to think anything has changed. We have no reason to believe that anyone in Baptist leadership has learned anything from the tragic saga. It should not be forgotten that Gilyard was able to persist for so long because many other Baptist leaders turned a blind eye. Those leaders who cold-heartedly turned a cold shoulder to those wounded by Gilyard, and who continued to promote Gilyard despite numerous abuse and assault reports, have not been held to account at all. To the contrary, they're still in positions of high leadership. (And of course, the Gilyard saga is far from unique. E.g., pastor Steve Gaines still stands in the pulpit at Bellevue despite the fact that he allowed an admitted child molester to continue in ministry and kept quiet about it for months. The unmistakeable message in this lack of accountability is that Baptists don't really believe these things matter very much.)

Until lessons are learned from Gilyard-type tragedies, the tragedies will keep repeating themselves.

Christa Brown said...

I'm reposting below a prior comment by Jeri:

"... You know, friends, the more people who post reviews on Amazon, the more prominently Amazon will display the book in searches for things like "Baptist Books" (believe it or not!), religion, clergy issues, etc.

Amazon does its rankings based on daily sales, so a brand new book that sells 10 copies in one day actually shoots to the top of their smaller charts (like religion). And reviews also add points to the ratings, as do comments on reviews.

If you are shy about writing in such a large venue, you can always stay simple: identify your reason for reading the book (I'm a Christian; I've been following clergy abuse stories; or I'm a survivor of clergy abuse, etc) and then a single statement of your reaction. (This book helped me understand the situation. Or, I had no idea the problem was this serious. Or, This book made me feel like I have not suffered alone, etc.

By contributing reviews and comments on reviews, you help to keep the book prominent."

Thanks to any of you who are able to post just a few sentences about my book on the Amazon or Barnes & Noble sites. It really helps!

Christa Brown said...

Many thanks to those of you who contributed comments to the Associated Baptist Press article about my book. It's up to 93 today, and still counting. I think that's way more than ANY other ABP article has ever garnered.

To this day, the ABP is still running that article as a lead-story-slider at the top of its home page. I believe the many comments are what have helped to keep the story in a highly-visible place on the site, and particularly with the Southern Baptist Convention starting tomorrow, your comments help.

Richard said...

Priest Removed; Officials Say He Had Relationship With Member

"Parish officials announced that an Orange Park priest has been stripped of his clerical credentials for having an inappropriate relationship with an adult female church member."

Link to news article:

http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/news-article.aspx?storyid=76787

Apparently the Anglicans get it. One strike and your OUT!

WatchingHISstory said...

what is taboo here me or the message of victims forgiving?

There are many aspects to this issue and the one you seem to ignore is your forgiving your perpetrator. He must be prosecuted fully but he must also be forgiven and you just seem to ignore this and encourage others to do so as well.

Richard said...

Christa, I just commented on a recent article published on the Florida Times Union website (our local newspaper.) Seeing as newspapers are going broke left and right lately I didn't think it was appropriate to "advertise" your book for free. However, I DID "mention" your book and plugged your FREE website so my conscience is clear!

Link:
http://jacksonville.com/lifestyles/values_and_religion/2009-05-26/story/ancient_discipline_in_modern_times#comment-69704

(How about fixin this for me and make it an actual link so nobody will have to cut and paste.)

Bloggers, go to every news outlet there is on this vast internet of ours. Find news articles, other blogs, ANYTHING where you can direct people to read Christa's blog and by that you are "indirectly" plugging her book.

Advertising don't come cheap these days. Free is good. Follow my lead, use my comment as an example. I am "InJaxAllMyLife." Since Jacksonville (unfortunately) has Darrell Gilyard and Bob Gray as poster boys, PLEASE comment on the articles in our newspaper. Make them the "most commented" articles on the site.

Do the same in Memphis. Do the same in any town you live in or DON'T live in. It doesn't matter. Just spread the word. Spread the word just as some of these charlatans in the pulpit are supposed to be spreading the word of God.

From Wikipedia: "Charlatan: A charlatan (also called swindler or mountebank) is a person practicing quackery or some similar confidence trick in order to obtain money, fame or other advantages via some form of pretense or deception."

Richard said...

To expand a bit on my previous post, if one goes to jacksonville.com and does a local search for 'Darrell Gilyard,' one will find 37 news articles and 20 different blogs discussing him. Go to EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM! Cut and paste. Boom-Boom. Ten seconds. Reactivate dead blogs (we cannot let Tiffany Croft's blog die,) make comments on news articles until they are the most commented articles on the site. Keep this issue at the forefront of EVERYONE's mind, not just the Baptists! Let EVERYONE know ... Methodists, Episcopalians, Catholics .... MUSLIMS ... this cause has got to get word to the masses that this is a real and present danger. Turn religious communities on their heads! The ABP comments by 'slick' made me want to regurgitate my breakfast (putting it politically correct.)

Rally the masses just like the women's suffrage movement! Christa, you can be our Alva Erskine Smith Vanderbilt Belmont!

Anonymous said...

WatchingHISstory - What aspect of forgiveness are you speaking of? Yes, most Baptists would agree that every clergy sex offender who is held accountable, who repents, and seeks to be forgiven ought to be forgiven by his victims...but how many clergy sex offenders have done that? And what about the clergy offender's responsibility to the congregation? Many offenders have little enough conscience to even recognize their wrongdoing, let alone repent from it.
In the case of Darrell Gilyard, he was given numerous opportunities to repent and seek forgiveness over many years. He is an evil man who should never be entrusted with any position of church leadership again whether or not he is "forgiven" by the victims.
Victims of those who offend are only compelled to confront the offender and forgive if asked. It is up to the offender to seek forgiveness for his sins. Some Bible scholars would suggest that it is even impossible for a victim to forgive a clergy sex offender because of the difference in power between the two.
The adage that a victim can only find healing through forgiving the offender is crock. Healing is a process. I've found it takes a lot of hard work with love and support of others to bind up the wounds.

Christa - Often times those in leadership will focus on what is "out there" - the world - to distract from the reality of the stench right under their noses. How can Southern Baptists "minister" to the world when they can't even take care of business here in the States? They have the means to pull together a national registry of clergy offenders. Perhaps they are afraid if they did their list would be so great they couldn't fill the needed pastoral positions!

Thanks for your courage, and your book. God's blessings to you.

Sharon Rose

Richard said...

WatchingHIStory - This situation is an abomination and everyone, including Christians, have the perfect RIGHT to be angry (a very natural and common human response.) There has been no repentance here - let's just sweep it under the rug and forgive? And then continue on our merry way just as we always have?

Not quite. These bozos need to be put in their place by their congregations. I'm not a Baptist nor am I a victim of sexual abuse by anyone, much less a member of the ministry. This situation is an abomination ranking every bit as high as the more recent Catholic scandals.

When repentance and change come, then the forgiveness will start. I'm nowhere near that point yet and contrary to what you may think, "the devil don't got me!"

Richard said...

Sharon Rose - and others for that matter ... what WOULD it take to create and maintain a database of clergy offenders. I've worked with databases all my life and I would GLADLY volunteer MY efforts! I truly don't think it would take that much. It would be interesting to find out. As you can see from my previous post, the state of Florida has the ability to create and maintain a database for inmates of the state prison system. They also do the same for sexual predators which is widely advertised. There is no charge to access these databases; it is NOT a money-making proposition. BUT THEY EXIST! Why can't we band together and do what the SBC WON'T!

Non-denominational. Non-discriminatory. "Just the facts ma'am."

I welcome feedback.

gmommy said...

Gosh CP...it was so good not to hear from you for a while in blog land. Sorry to see you again...and glad Christa will soon delete your insanity. Just for the record...you are behind on your "news" about PW....that is not current or correct information about the job or family. You don't know the family and were never involved in BBC. "Assurance" from anything you say is quite funny.

Richard said...

This is kinda sneaky, dontcha think?

If you go to the ABP website and click on the link to the article about Christa's book, it takes you to a page that has only TWO comments. It then has an Editor's note at the bottom: "This is a reposting of this article. To read or post comments on this story, go to the original version posted at http://www.abpnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4142&Itemid=53.

This way, readers do not get to see all the comments! Try it! The ABP Press has figured out a way to block your comments!

Christa Brown said...

Actually... I tend to be about as "on-guard" as anyone, but in this case, I don't think Associated Baptist Press was trying to avoid having people see the comments. To the contrary, I think they were trying to maintain the article's visibility on their site because the article was generating reader interest. I haven't spoken with anyone there about this, and so I can't say for sure, but I noticed that they put the article up as one of their slider-lead stories on the opening home page of their site. At the top, the site automatically rotates through 3 top stories with links to those top stories. One of the three slider-leads is the article about my book, and they have a photo of my book cover and me that rotates through there at the top. I don't know... but I suspect that when they put up the slider-lead, they had to repost the article.

The article is here, and it's still garnering comments. Feel free to add your own.

If you want to see what I'm talking about as a "slider-lead", it's at the top of the ABP home page - here. Click one of those arrows in that top box, and you'll see my smiling face!

Incidentally, Associated Baptist Press is not directly affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

Richard said...

Sorry if I might have jumped the gun there Christa ... you know more about these organizations and publications than I do. I just thought it ironic. I guess I owe my apologies to the ABP ... after I read the NEXT article they published about Jacksonville, the crime capital of the world :(

Richard said...

BREAKING NEWS!

"First Baptist Blogger" suing church

http://www.actionnewsjax.com/content/topstories/story/First-Baptist-Blogger-suing-church/Bhn6VtOPrkmKhYGsJVtVBQ.cspx

Thy Peace said...

Action News Jax > "First Baptist Blogger" suing church.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The attorney for the so-called "First Baptist Blogger" sent a letter to the church notifying his intent to sue.

Thy Peace said...

New BBC Open Forum posted a correction saying the above news story is not accurate:

New BBC Open Forum said...

Richard,

The news report wasn't completely accurate. The lawsuit is against Brunson and Soud as individuals, not "the church."
6:38 PM, June 22, 2009

Richard said...

Thanks for straightening me out Thy Peace ... all I knew at the time that I posted the newsbreak was what I read. I'm sure Tom will update his blog and let us all know what is going on as he knows it. I can only wonder if Brunson knew this last night as he was screaming.

Anonymous said...

Tom Rich is a certifiable nut case and the whole world knows it. That is except for a bunch of disgruntled others on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Richard - You're absolutely right about what it would take to create a data base: not very much. Getting someone to set it up and regularaly maintain it would take some time, but I'm sure there are several at the SBC headquarters who could devote a portion of their time to getting it done. Finding the means to do it, and finding the right people for the job is not the roadblock. It would seem there is a lack of enthusiasm among SBC's leadership. But I'd be willing to bet if one of their wives, daughters, or grandchildren were abused by a sex offender pastor, they'd jump at the chance to do everything they could to stop clergy sexual misconduct. God forbid that it would take something as awful as that to get these men moving in the right direction!

And thanks for your anger and outrage over the Jax case with DG. Unfortunately, that case is just one of way too many. We all got a glimpse of the suffering that clergy sexual misconduct yields--for all involved--past, present and future.

The church in this country--not only the SBC, but all denominations and faiths--needs to wake up! Sex offenders in the pulpit/ministry should never be allowed. There is no excuse for what has happened, and what is happening.

Sharon Rose

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Anon - who "certified" that I'm a nut case? Was that "Dr." Brunson?

:)

Thy Peace said...

Maintaining database is the least complicated portion of this problem. The more difficult part is to objectively evaluate sexual abuse charges and to post the findings.

Also databases are becoming passe. A more accurate logging of sexual abuse in my view would be the voices of people who are abused. In this regard blogging has turned the tables on the status quo. If you are unable to start a blog, you can comment in existing blogs. As you participate, your voice will form a record.

This is why, I would encourage all people to voice their thoughts and opinions about this matter. Please speak up, even though all this is painful. Eventually the groundswell of voices will overcome the naysayers.

Christa Brown said...

About creating a database...

As Thy Peace points out, the problem is less about the database itself as what goes into the database. The need is for a trained review panel to assess whether clergy abuse accusations are credible. (This is what most other major faith groups do in some form or fashion.) Most clergy sex abusers have never been criminally convicted of anything, and due to the psychological damage that abuse causes, most cases cannot be criminally prosecuted by the time allegations are raised. So what is needed is some system for assessment on the 95 percent of allegations that cannot be processed through the criminal justice system, and some way of keeping track of credibly accused ministers so that they can't just keep on church-hopping.

For the SBC to take on the responsibility for making assessments such as this would entail taking on some risk. For example, SBC leaders may be afraid that, if they take on this responsibility, they may get sued by ministers who feel that their careers were wrongly ruined. But is that a reason to not take on the responsibility? These are, after all, Southern Baptist ministers who carry the Southern Baptist "brand" on their shoulders, and so Southern Baptists ought be the ones who carry the risk associated with assuring some measure of accountability for their ministers. (To the extent there is risk associated with the responsibiity of assessing clergy abuse reports, the national organization has the resources to bear that risk, and to possibly insure against it, better than local churches.)

Denominational assessments would also allow people to better hear the voices of the victims, who often feel that they cannot speak out and name their perpetrators without the safety-net of denominational validation for their accusations. (That's on top of all the other shame-based hurdles.) Victims often worry about the risk that the minister will sue them. No matter how true their allegations are, most victims cannot bear the cost of defending against a minister's lawsuit (particularly when the minister often gets "help" from church-goers who love him and believe every word he says).

Almost any sort of action carries risk, but of course there is also the risk of nonaction -- i.e., a great many more wounded people. Some day, people will see and understand that the choice Southern Baptist leaders have consistently made is the choice to protect themselves and the institution rather than to protect kids and congregants.