Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A good man who does nothing

“The only thing needed for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
-- Edmund Burke

Though I’ve never met Randel Everett, I presume he’s a good man. But so what? The Baptist clergy sex abuse problem is a mire of good men -- men like Randel Everett -- men who do nothing.

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.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

When the money dries up, they will do something. So stop sending them money

john said...

I believe they will protect their precious positions of power so strongly that even when the money starts to dry up, and it has, they will let people go to Hell rather than change.

Anonymous said...

The BGCT is a joke. Those people will say anything but they don't really care.

Anonymous said...

Can a 'good' man do nothing when it comes to this issue?

john, I think you are right.

Phyllis Gregory said...

Again, I hate to be a pessimist, but I do not believe there is any hope for the SBC or BGCT. I am sorry to say but I think plenty of them are going to Hell. They have no heart, no conscience, no humility, no compassion -- do you really think the Holy Spirit dwells in their places of worship. I just have many, many negative feelings and memories of the Baptist church -- I could go on and on but what is the point.

john said...

Ther is too much church in teir Christianity.They agrue about what is best for the church at the expense of causing enough confusionthat the lost and hurting are turned off bt te lack of sincerity. I have seen splits over te color of walls, pews, and the like. People leave whenever they loose a "fight" for what they percieve to be a good cause.
So it should not surprise us that whenever a victim speaks up and rocks the temporary boat of harmony that they turn on the one doing the rocking. And, at the same time find a chance to demonstrate thier "spirituality" by suggesting to forgive a "fallen or wayward brother".
The Bible is clear about the attitude of God in such situations so let us stop wondering if they can be rigt or blessed.The answer is simple, "NO"!

gmommy said...

The good church folks don't want us to rock their world at church....they don't want us to rock their bubble world anywhere outside of church either.
They would like for us to go away...probably with our "own kind" so they can stay in that happy bubble and keep up whatever it is they need to keep up. Truth can be ugly and make people uncomfortable. But they sure don't mind making us uncomfortable. Fighting the demons tonight that tell me I am not good enough, too damaged,too open, not worth acceptance or inclusion much less love. Today they were not in my mind or dreams...but in the words and attitude of good Christian church people.

Anonymous said...

"Ther is too much church in teir Christianity."

Well, you have touched the forbidden stone.

A true believer knows the "church" is made up of those who have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It has nothing to do with an 'institution'.

Their view of church is the opposite. It is an institution with a chain of command that benefits a few and keeps others spiritually stifled never going beyond the leader's spirituality. Which we have seen too often is nil.

There is a term for this: Churchianity. It has replaced Christianity in many countries for a thousand years.

There ARE believers scattered among those in churchianity. And they are starving. Many are leaving churchianity and starting their own Bodies of believers.

They figured out that the business institution that is referred to as a 'church', in most cases, exists to benefit a few.

If the indwelling of the Holy Spirit were in most of these institutions, this blog would not be needed.

Phyllis Gregory said...

John, gmommy, and Anon/11:55 -- Amen and Amen to all you said especially:

"So it should not surprise us that whenever a victim speaks up and rocks the temporary boat of harmony that they turn on the one doing the rocking."

"The good church folks don't want us to rock their world at church....they don't want us to rock their bubble world anywhere outside of church either.
They would like for us to go away...probably with our "own kind" so they can stay in that happy bubble and keep up whatever it is they need to keep up."

"Their view of church is the opposite. It is an institution with a chain of command that benefits a few and keeps others spiritually stifled never going beyond the leader's spirituality. Which we have seen too often is nil."

One thing I love about this blog is--whenever you read something that resonates in your soul and you know it to be true, even if you have not said those words, those words embed themselves into your mind and heart-- and that is therapeutic. Thank you all.

Lydia said...

One thing I love about this blog is--whenever you read something that resonates in your soul and you know it to be true, even if you have not said those words, those words embed themselves into your mind and heart-- and that is therapeutic. Thank you all.

August 7, 2009 8:52 AM


Me too! But there is something quite sinister going on out there...we have seen it on this blog from those who MUST blame victims for some reason. And from pastors who have a 'shepherding' function in the Body like Scarborough! It is quite heinous.

They are determined to call good, evil and evil, good. It seems to be the only way they can deal with truth. They have too much to lose otherwise.

The truth is that the evil in the church is real and pervasive. It is protected all up down the human chain of authority. they are quick to heap cheap grace on sexual perverts and rebuke victims as unforgiving and bitter.

How can one forgive what is not repented? Do these folks not fear God? Do they not take the scripture about millstones seriously? They are not even willing to wait for an investigation before they announce the accused innocent. That means there is an agenda.

Michelle said...

Lydia,

I was beyond horrified at what Scarborough said. It took awhile for it to sink in and for me to respond. I struggle with how to apply my nonviolent rhetoric to him and those like him. He hurt me badly. He was beyond cruel to Christa, and I think every one of us survivors congregating here is protective of Christa--she puts herself on the firing line constantly, and largely for us.

I get his response intellectually but that doesn't stop me from mulling and chewing on the words emotionally, as someone who was raped in my church. I can't say it surprised me, but there's a part of me that always hopes, and that hope is constantly shot down.

I'm reminded here of Anne Frank's last words in her diary:

"I still believe people are really good at heart."

One of the last times she was seen she was watching gypsy children waiting in the rain to be killed. She stared at them and said, "Oh, their eyes, their eyes, look at their eyes."

I struggle every day with all these human gray areas. It is not black and white. ***sigh***

Phyllis Gregory said...

Lydia, I don't disagree with you. I just don't quite understand. What do you think their agenda is? Why is there so much evil in the church? There is something about all this that makes me shudder -- not what you said but the truth in what you said. It strikes a nerve somewhere inside of me.

"How can one forgive what is not repented?" My father is on his death bed right now. He has been dying for the past month. He has never admited that he repeatedly sexually abused me. He has never asked for my forgiveness. I've been told that forgiveness is for me -- not for him -- my way of being able to turn lose of him and the past. But somehow, for some reason, I am stuck. It is hard for me to turn lose of what he has never repented. It's an awful place to be. I don't want to be here in this place the rest of my life. I don't want him to win. But I don't know what to do about it.

Christa Brown said...

Oh, Phyllis. I wish so badly that I might have words of wisdom. Or that I might know what to say that might somehow be helpful or comforting. But I don't. I can only say that I ache with you and for you.

That whole "forgiveness is for me, not for him" thing... that's such a nice soundbite, isn't it? People want easy answers. But there are no easy answers. There is NOTHING that is easy about any of this.

You'll be in my thoughts.

Thy Peace said...

Off Topic:

Conference > Midwest Regional Meeting - New Baptist Covenant > General Session 4, Fri, August 7th, 2009 8pm to 10pm EST.

Highlights related to Pastor Wade Burleson's speech:

Pastor Wade's Speech about Women In Ministry - 1Hr:30Mts to 2Hrs:08Mts

Tod Littleton Introduction of Pastor Wade - 1Hr:16Mts to 1Hr:20Mts

Sarah Stewart's testimony - 1Hr:03Mts to 1Hr:16Mts

Thy Peace said...

I don't want him to win.

Phyllis, I am sorry to say that your father already lost, when he even contemplated these actions, even before he committed them. He has never won. He has lost. Unless he repents and seeks forgiveness of Our Lord Jesus Christ, he will bear the consequences of his sins.

I clearly can not speak on how you should forgive. I am unable to do that. But from my limited experience and from my own walk with Our Lord Jesus Christ, I am simply being asked to abide in Our Lord. For each person it is different. We all have come in twisted paths. My understanding is there is only one way of this forgiveness. And that is in Our Lord Jesus Christ. Only He can heal and only He can minister to us of our hurts.

My heart aches for you. God bless you, sister in Christ. May God shower you with His Peace and Mercy.

john said...

Phyllis,
You cannot loose and he cannot win. You have defeated his efforts to destroy you, keep you quiet, and let him off scott free. You have beat him at his game.
He has lost in everyway not the least is to leave this earth greatly disliked and enter eternity greatly guilty and convicted.
I agree with Christa, only know how to express my concerns and promise you, unlike others who only say this and never deliver, I WILL pray for you everynight for seven days and then add you to my regular list which I sometimes fail to complete.
You are loved here and this group will pull for your success.

Lydia said...

"Lydia, I don't disagree with you. I just don't quite understand. What do you think their agenda is? Why is there so much evil in the church? "

I have been studying church history along with scripture intensely for the past 5 years and what I have learned has struck me to the core. There is too much to go into here. In a nutshell, The church in every time of history since about 300AD has morphed into something that serves man instead of Christ. Yet, during those times, God has always preserved a small remnant that served Him. Conversely, there was always a remnant preserved in Israel while most of them were serving other gods and sinning against the one True God. All through the OT, there are mentions of the 'remnant' God will save. In some cases, God even gives exact numbers. In one case, He preserved 7,000 out of millions. (He alludes to this in Matthew 7...as it is in there for a reason! We also see the warnings in the letters to the churches in Revelation that are very serious)

The agenda has not changed. It is about serving man whether it be for power, influence, wealth, etc. Even the Levite priests served themselves and much is written about it in the OTand God's continuing anger over it.

Lydia said...

"How can one forgive what is not repented?" My father is on his death bed right now. He has been dying for the past month. He has never admited that he repeatedly sexually abused me. "

There are NO easy words here. I faced a similar but not so quite desperate situation a few years back. I studied forgiveness in scripture and learned that much of what we are taught about this subject is very shallow. We have been given easy answers that are not scriptural. For example, in the verse that says we must forgive seventy times seven, we forget or are not taught the context. Most proof text that teaching and leave out the important parts both before and after the proof texting.

We are taught to immediately forgive and move on. But note that is not how it is handled in Matt 18 at all.

Nor is that realistic for such heinous crimes, nor good for the one who sins and most importantly, it is not really what is taught in the Word. Even salvation is conditional upon repentance.

I ran across a pretty good book that seems to be closer to what scripture teaches than most of the drivel out there. It is called "Unpacking Forgiveness" by Chris Braun. I recommend it. He goes deep with this. Stay with it because as the book progresses he gets into the very core of dealing with the hard core unrepentant.

Sin is so horrible. We are seeing it played out in your life while your abuser is dying unrepentant.

I say this with love in my heart to you. Forgiveness for the unrepentent is simply giving up your right to revenge. But that does not mean you do not speak the truth nor pretend nothing happened for the sake of peace. Many try to define revenge as not even speaking the truth! Don't believe that. Truth is truth. We see that played out in Matthew 18.

This is easier said than done. I am preaching to the choir here. I have a situation in my life where I have given up the right to vengence but there is no fellowship or reconciliation because they are totally unrepentent and they are professing Christians. To do otherwise would be to throw my pearls before swine and to affirm evil and worse, put myself and others in a position to be harmed again. that would be simply unwise.

I am finally to the place I can pray for their repentance and really mean it. That took a long time but mainly God showing me that HE is a consuming fire.

Phyllis, my heart just breaks over this. Here is a person who was tasked by God with protecting you. But who harmed you horribly and is now dying unrepentent and will soon face the living God who is a consuming fire.

I recommend reading over and over 2 Corin 1: 3-7 and Psalm 139.

He is a God of all comfort. Throw yourself at the feet of Jesus Christ. As my mom always said, people will always fail you but Jesus Christ will never fail you. And those of us who love Him so long for the time when all tears will be wiped away.

Phyllis Gregory said...

Thank you all for your kind and supportive words. You have said things that touched my heart. You also said things that gave me pause. I will say -- this is not a pleasant time but I have felt God's peace in spite of it all.

Phyllis