With Everett, it’s particularly tragic because he has so much opportunity and power. He’s executive director of the largest statewide Baptist organization in the country, the Baptist General Convention of Texas. If Everett actually cared about clergy molestation victims, he could have a huge influence and he could be part of making kids in Baptist churches a lot safer.
But therein lies the problem: When it comes to clergy sex abuse, there are too many good men who do nothing.
It’s frustrating because men like Randel Everett are often quick to take action on other matters, which only makes their blindness toward clergy sex abuse all the more apparent.
For example, Everett recently launched the Texas Hope 2010 project, which aims to put a bi-lingual multimedia Scripture CD into “all of the state’s 8.8 million homes” by Easter 2010. Everett acknowledged that the task seemed daunting, but he noted that there are 2.3 million members in churches affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, and said that, with this resource, the key is “for all Texas Baptists…to cooperate with the other Texas Baptists….”
Then Everett said the thing that really hit me. He talked about how the Texas Hope project could have “a transformational impact.” “I hope crime will go down,” he said. “I hope legislation is passed to help the children…in our state.”
If Randel Everett wants to lessen crime and “to help the children,” he could start by cleaning up Texas Baptists’ own backyard. He could start by working to rid the ranks of clergy predators. Why can't "all Texas Baptists... cooperate with other Texas Baptists" for THAT task? Randel Everett could start to work on it by transforming himself from a good man who does nothing into a good man who takes action.
Consider these three real and practical things that Randel Everett could do, if only he would choose to.
1. Warn people about the ministers in the secret file
By its own admission, the Baptist General Convention of Texas “keeps a confidential list of individuals who are reported by a church for sexual misconduct, including child molestation….”
The fact that a minister must be reported by a church, instead of by a mere victim, is a huge hurdle. There would undoubtedly be a great many more names in that file if the Baptist General Convention of Texas would consider reports from the victims of Baptist ministers. But even in the rare case when a minister’s name gets in the file because a church reported him, the Baptist General Convention of Texas still keeps quiet about it.
Officials at the Baptist General Convention of Texas have publicly stated that their file includes ministers who have confessed to sexual abuse or for whom there was “substantial evidence that the abuse took place.” They have described the list as containing “confirmed cases,” and in at least one brochure, described it as the file of “known offenders.”
Yet, despite possessing such extraordinary information -- information that could lessen crime and help children -- the names of those ministers remain hidden in a file cabinet in the Baptist Building in Dallas. People in the pews are not told about them.
As leader of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, this is something Randel Everett could do something about. But instead, he does nothing.
2. Disaffiliate Bolivar Baptist for retaining a pastor who admitted sexual abuse
Randel Everett could do something about pastor Dickie Amyx at Bolivar Baptist Church in Sanger, Texas.
Dickie Amyx is the pastor whose best defense against molestation allegations was to claim in sworn testimony that “I didn’t have sex with her when she was 16 or under.”
As with most clergy abuse cases, it was too late for criminal prosecution, but that was his defense in the civil lawsuit. Essentially, Amyx claimed that the girl was 17. She said the abuse began when she was 14 and that he raped her when she was 15. I believe the victim. But even if Baptist leaders believe Amyx, is this the sort of man who belongs in a Baptist pulpit?
Did I mention that Amyx got the girl pregnant? When the child was 8, the now-grown-girl finally went to court to get a paternity judgment against Amyx so that she could have some financial support for the child.
To this day, on the website of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, Dickie Amyx is listed as a pastor in a church affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas.
As leader of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, this is something Randel Everett could do something about. But he doesn’t.
For starters, Everett could speak up. And I don't mean speaking up with the pablum platitude of "children are precious." I mean speaking up with the directness of "Dickie Amyx has no business in a Baptist pulpit." Everett could publicly denounce the church’s continued retention of Amyx as pastor. He could publicly voice his outrage in the newspaper of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, the Baptist Standard. He could take steps toward disaffiliating the church from the Baptist General Convention of Texas so as to make plain that such conduct is not tolerated.
But Randel Everett hasn’t chosen to do any of this. He does nothing.
3. Reach out to those wounded in prior church in Arkansas
Randel Everett could do something in the pending Arkansas case involving music minister David Pierce, who is charged on 54 counts of sexual indecency with children. So far, the charges stem from allegations involving 4 boys who are still teenagers. There are also 3 adult men who say they were abused by Pierce when they were younger, but their allegations are apparently beyond the period for prosecution.
Investigators say that some of the allegations date “back a number of years.” Pierce was music minister at the church -- First Baptist of Benton, Arkansas -- for 29 years. It’s frightening to imagine how many kids he could have abused during that long tenure.
Given the number of men and boys who have already made allegations, it seems likely that “there will be more.” This is what even the investigators have said.
Randel Everett was the pastor of First Baptist of Benton from 1984 to 1988. Thus, Everett was one of the church’s pastors during the time that Pierce was music minister.
If any were abused by minister Pierce during Everett’s tenure as pastor, can you imagine how much it might mean to them if their former pastor would now publicly reach out to try to help them? It could have a “transformational impact” if Everett would go to Benton, do a press conference in front of his former church, and publicly plead with people to speak up and take information to the police. And he could also offer to work at pulling together the funding to provide independent counseling for any who may have been wounded during the time he was pastor.
This would be groundbreaking. Genuine public outreach to those wounded by clergy abuse is something we haven’t seen among Baptist officials.
As a prior pastor at First Baptist of Benton, this is something Randel Everett could do. But instead, he does nothing.
When I see so much do-nothingness, I feel only sadness at Randel Everett’s claim that there are 2.3 million members in churches affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Everett is talking only about some Baptists in Texas, but that’s more than all the people in Episcopal churches nationwide. That’s more than all the people in Churches of Christ nationwide.
That’s a whole lot of Baptist people whose kids are being left at risk by good men who do nothing -- men like Randel Everett.