Watch "True Crime with Aphrodite Jones" on the Investigation Discovery channel on Thursday, April 28, at 9:00 p.m. Central Time. Click on the channel finder in the top right corner of this page to plug in your zip code and find your local listing. UPDATE: This program will replay on May 1 at 1:00 p.m. Central Time.
This is the case involving Southern Baptist pastor Matt Baker who, despite multiple reports of sexual abuse and assault, was able to move with ease through churches, schools and organizations affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas. For over 16 years, what Matt Baker learned in Baptistland was that a Baptist pastor could get away with almost anything and face no consequence. Ultimately, he even tried to get away with murder. And he nearly did.
At the start of the murder trial, prosecutors said that they had evidence of at least 13 young women, including four minors, against whom Baptist pastor Matt Baker had made inappropriate “advances” and assaults.
From Texas Monthly's prior report, we know that at least three of those sexual abuse and assault reports were made directly to Baptist officials, including two at a single church – the historic First Baptist Church of Waco, Texas. Yet no one stopped Matt Baker. No one removed him from ministry. No one held him accountable.
How could a man with so many abuse and assault allegations remain as a Baptist minister? This is a question that Baptist officials need to address.
In most other organizations, an institutional failure of this magnitude would give rise to a lot of questions. Leaders would try to understand how things went so wrong. They would try to assess the damage. They would try to figure out what to do to assure that it wouldn’t happen again. They would try to find out how many were wounded.
But that doesn’t happen in Baptistland. Instead, Baptist officials simply hunker down, recite their blind-eyed mantra of “local church autonomy,” and pretend that it’s not their problem. It’s a very dangerous head-in-the-sand sort of approach.
I gave an on-camera interview for this "True Crime" program, and I am grateful to Investigation Discovery for spotlighting this tragic case. It raises questions that still need answers.
My prior postings on the Matt Baker case:
- Why didn’t Baptists bust him? 2/23/08
- Baptists at their best? 12/30/08
- Risk: Another lesson from the Matt Baker story, 12/31/08
- Baptist leaders must consider possible consequences, 6/12/09
- Baptist leaders silent at start of murder trial, 1/12/10
- Excerpts from the Matt Baker murder trial, 1/20/10
- Guilty! Jury says pastor murdered wife, 1/20/10
- It shouldn't take a murder, 1/21/10 (This one lists the many places where Baker worked.)
- Complicity of Baptist leaders, 1/24/10
- Baptists threw kids a rattlesnake, 1/26/10
- Baptist Bill and the Courage of Lora, 2/8/10
- Lora's response to Baptist Bill, 2/17/10
- Basically no one, 6/12/10