Saturday, July 11, 2009
You can enjoy this hilarious video of an authoritarian Baptist pastor all on its own, and I hope you will. But for those who might want some context, here it is.
For six months, pastor Steve Gaines kept a secret. One of his staff ministers, Paul Williams, had admitted to sexually abusing a kid.
Gaines did nothing. Gaines kept it quiet.
Gaines even allowed that child-molesting minister to continue acting as a counselor to church members who said they were sexually abused as children.
Can you imagine how those people felt after they learned that they had shared their most horrible memories of childhood abuse with a minister who was a child molester himself?
“There’s no telling what was going through his mind as I’m telling him these things,” said one woman. The thought that he “might have been titillated by the story of her abuse… turns her stomach.”
To make matters worse, when things came to light, these people also learned that their trusted senior pastor, Steve Gaines, had known that minister Williams was a child molester, and Gaines kept it secret. Gaines even left the child molesting minister in an official church position as a counselor to child molestation survivors.
Do you see the utter sickness of this?
Those people were betrayed 5 times over -- first, by the perpetrator who molested them when they were kids; second, by the child molesting minister who purported to counsel them when they were adults; third, by their senior pastor who kept that child molesting minister as a counselor for child molestation survivors; fourth, by all the people in the pews who, by keeping Gaines as their senior pastor, send a message that it’s no big deal; and fifth, by other Southern Baptist leaders who send the same “no big deal” message by their failure to speak up and call pastor Steve Gaines to task.
This story is really a lot worse. I’m just skimming the surface. There were other church staff members who also knew about the fact that minister Williams was a child molester -- at least two more ministers in the church knew and 10 people affiliated with the church knew.
So many people knew. And so many people did nothing.
But of course, look at the example set by their highest leader. Senior pastor Steve Gaines kept things quiet.
To this day, senior pastor Steve Gaines has not faced any serious consequences. He is still the senior pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee. It’s one of the top-100 largest churches of any kind in the whole country, and among Southern Baptists, it’s a flagship.
A flagship in numbers. A flagship in money. But a very sick boat.
A small band of people saw the reality of what happened at Bellevue. Unlike so many others, they weren’t able to clench their eyes shut fast enough or tight enough. And after they saw that awful ugliness, they began seeing other things about pastor Gaines and the authoritarian manner in which the church was being run. A few of them began blogging about it.
The bloggers’ criticism hasn’t been easy for poor pastor Gaines to deal with. After all, he’s a “God-ordained authority,” and I guess when you’ve got that God-thing going for you, people aren’t supposed to question you. So, every now and then, Gaines gets a little edgy and launches into a pulpit-tirade about “troublemakers”.
It would be funny if it weren’t so un-funny. But thank God for bloggers like the New BBC who put together this video that manages to make us laugh anyway!
In the process of writing this, I looked again at this article from the Associated Baptist Press. Look at what it says. Citing language from Bellevue Baptist’s own investigatory report, it says: “No policies on problems of ‘a sensitive nature’ existed and a precedent of keeping those issues under wraps… led leaders to avoid disclosure.” So some of you ex-Bellevue people, tell me… what was the “precedent”? When had it happened before that such issues were kept under wraps at Bellevue?
Posted by Christa Brown at 7:30 PM