Thursday, June 14, 2007

Alamo thoughts on Baptist clergy sex abuse

With a nearly unanimous vote, Southern Baptist delegates (“messengers”) instructed the SBC Executive Committee to study the feasibility of creating a database of convicted, confessed and credibly accused clergy sex abusers. It’s just a study, and it’s only a small step, but here’s the way I see it.

Until the passage of Wade Burleson’s motion, SBC officials were putting on a public face of pretending that clergy abuse wasn’t a serious problem. In fact, as recently as a couple weeks ago, an SBC spokesperson suggested there had been only 40 incidents of Baptist clergy abuse in the past 15 years. And SBC president Frank Page was trying to discount the 20/20 report as “yellow journalism” and denying the existence of any widespread problem.

If 8000 messengers from all across the country had believed all that public relations spin, they wouldn’t have voted for that motion. But they did. Baptist believers have spoken. Will the powerbrokers and bureaucrats finally listen? (Already, Page has described it as a “moot point,” which doesn’t seem to afford much respect to the concern of 8000 messengers.)

Up until now, SBC powerbrokers weren’t even willing to venture onto the battlefield. They had well-funded press arms in Nashville and in almost every state. They could spin things however they wanted, say whatever they wanted, ignore SNAP, ignore abuse survivors, and publicly make light of the problem. But finally, their own constituency - Baptist believers - grew weary of their recalcitrance and publicly placed SBC officials onto the battlefield. They MUST engage the battle.

Now we will watch to see what they actually do. A year from now in Indianapolis, others will be watching as well.

I wish I could say that we were all battling on the same side, but what I really think is that we will have to fight tooth and nail for every tiny step forward. It shouldn’t be that way, and I hope it won’t be, but by now, I’m a realist.

The predator database motion was passed in San Antonio, just a block from the Alamo. Maybe that’s why I’m thinking of battlefields. With all the resources that SBC officials have at their disposal, I sometimes feel as though we are a small band who are up against an army of 10,000. But however difficult the odds, we carry the truth of our stories as our banner, and truth will carry this fight forward.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Christa has learned the haerd way how badly some "good christians" can behave. She is telling the truth. The only hope for change is the person in the pew demanding one.