In Oklahoma, Southern Baptist pastor Joshua Spires advanced in the ranks from youth pastor to senior pastor while sexually abusing a teen church girl every Sunday and calling it “consensual.”
Pastor Spires is married and has two kids. The girl he abused was 15.
“According to court records, the sexual assaults occurred every Sunday” at the church.
They occurred “on either the desk or couch” in Spires’ church office.
They occurred “about an hour before services began.”
Do you get the picture? Every Sunday, week after week, Southern Baptist pastor Joshua Spires prepared for the delivery of his sermon, not by praying to God, but by preying on a 15-year-old church girl.
Are you offended?
I hope so. But so far, I haven’t seen any sign that anyone in Southern Baptist leadership even gives a hoot.
This case has been reported in the secular press off and on since at least last August, when Spires confessed to the abuse. Last week, Spires was sentenced to 10 years, and that too was reported in the secular press.
But I’ve seen no mention of pastor Spires’ crimes in the Oklahoma Baptist newspaper, Baptist Messenger. Nor have I seen any mention in the national Baptist newspaper, the Baptist Press. I guess they don’t think it’s news when a Baptist pastor molests a church kid. I guess they don’t think people need to know.
In fact, rather than reporting the news of Spires’ crimes, national Southern Baptist headquarters continues to include “Rev. Joshua Spires” on its registry of Southern Baptist ministers.
Two full months ago, this Southern Baptist pastor confessed to repeated acts of child molestation. But no one in Baptistland has even bothered to remove him from the ministerial registry.
Today, searching that registry under either the minister or the church -- First Baptist of Jay, Oklahoma -- you’ll still find “Rev. Joshua Spires” shown as a “senior pastor.”
Wouldn't you think that, after a minister has admitted to sexual abuse of a kid, the national headquarters could at least care enough to remove him from the registry?
I imagine that’s what ordinary, decent people would think. But of course, that’s not how it works in Baptistland.
We’ve seen this sad reality over and over again. Even when the secular media points out that convicted child molesters are on the Southern Baptist ministerial registry, nothing happens.
Nothing happens until it is publicly pointed out over and over and over again.
Despite all their pretty platitudes about “precious children,” and despite all their public talk of “moral outrage,” it’s obvious that Southern Baptist leaders don’t really care. If they did, they would react to crimes like this by taking action.
Here’s what Southern Baptist leaders really care about.
Take a look at that bold, all-caps, red disclaimer language that they added to the ministerial search page on their registry.
DISCLAIMER: THIS IS NOT A LISTING OF “CONVENTION-CERTIFIED” OR “CONVENTION-APPROVED” MINISTERS. THE SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION DOES NOT QUALIFY, APPROVE, CERTIFY, ENDORSE, OR IN ANY WAY REVIEW OR SPEAK TO THE QUALIFICATION OF ANY MINISTER.
Do you get the picture?
Rather than establishing a system to remove convicted and admitted clergy child molesters from the ministerial registry, and rather than establishing a system to inform congregations about credibly-accused clergy child molesters, Southern Baptist leaders put up bold language saying essentially this: “NOT OUR PROBLEM.”
So . . . people in Baptist pews, be warned! Despite the $10 billion per year that you put into Baptist offering plates, and despite the $200 million per year that you send to national headquarters, no one in Nashville thinks they have any moral obligation to help protect your kids against clergy predators.
Clergy sex abuse? “NOT OUR PROBLEM.” That’s the unmistakeable message from Southern Baptist headquarters.