Friday, July 20, 2007

Barbarism with no consequences

A 17-year old boy received oral sex from a 15-year old, and he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Today, the Georgia Supreme Court is hearing arguments in his appeal.

A 29-year old married Southern Baptist minister orally raped a 16-year old, and he moved on to become a prominent children’s minister at First Baptist Church of Atlanta. And that wasn’t even the worst of it.

Yet, even though another Southern Baptist minister knew about that man's “sexual contact” with a minor, and even though the Baptist General Convention of Texas determined there was “substantial evidence” the abuse took place, and even though 18 Southern Baptist leaders in 4 different states were notified of it, the man was able to still stand in the pulpit of a Southern Baptist church.

A seventeen year old faces 10 years. An adult Southern Baptist minister faces continued power, prestige, respect, and a good salary at one of Georgia’s most prominent churches. Strange world, huh?

Not only did the perpetrator face no consequences, but the men who knew and kept quiet didn’t face any consequences either.

Yet, I’ve had to face plenty of consequences, and they’re the sort that would make Dante’s inferno look like paradise. To this day, I relive pieces of the trauma in a “no exit” nightmare. Unable to move, unable to scream, and suffocating, I have died a thousand deaths in that dreaded dream.

There was nothing loving about what was done to me.

It was brutish barbarism with a sick biblical twist. He said it would get easier and that I would get used to it, and he told me how much God loved me.

What was done to me in a Baptist church – in the name of God and with words of God – was utterly blasphemous beyond what most people can even imagine. Certainly, it was way beyond my own capacity for understanding when I was an adolescent church girl. Besides, I wasn't supposed to even try. "Lean not unto thine own understanding."

I bet that 17-year old boy wishes he could have just said some catchy Bible verse and gotten off the hook. But of course, the land of no consequences seems to exist only for Baptist ministers.


gmommy said...

Is there any information that indicates anyone at FBC in Atlanta knew or came to know that this staff minister had sexually abused (or had been accused )before coming there???

I am so sickened by this.

No wonder Charles Stanley or any other mature or well known pastors didn't confront or rebuke the Sr Pastor of Bellevue Baptist when he chose to keep secret that we had our own "staff minister/sexual predator" .

People don't want to face the truth that this whole thing stinks from the top down!

It's OK to forever alter the lives of the innocent as long as the Baptist ministers keep their bank accounts padded and their perversions satisfied.

Christa Brown said...

Gmommy: I have no evidence that anyone at FBC-Atlanta knew about my perpetrator BEFORE he went there. But ministers in Texas knew and yet they just let him go on his way to a bigger salary at a bigger church. I guess other people’s kids just didn’t matter to them.

But whether or not FBC-Atlanta knew BEFORE, they knew later. FBC-Atlanta received 2 certified letters about it (from myself and from a Dallas church), and yet FBC-Atlanta ran us off the property when we tried to hand out a flyer to people in the congregation - people whose kids were exposed to this man during all the years he was a children’s minister there. FBC-Atlanta’s leadership knew, but I guess they didn’t want people in the pews to know.

He moved from FBC-Atlanta to a large Florida church to still another Florida church. (Since no one helped me - and that’s a bit of an understatement - it took me a while to track him.) But when I heard my perpetrator’s voice standing in the pulpit of still another Florida church, telling them he was there to work with them in their children’s ministry, I threw up. I was physically ill. I was ill for weeks. I have a recording of him in the pulpit of that church, but I can’t listen to it without getting sick all over again.

I pretty much came undone, not only because of the effect of hearing his voice talking about “children’s ministry,” but also because at that moment I realized how many other Southern Baptist leaders had ignored me at best or deliberately misled me at worst…and all the while he was still working in children’s ministry and no one … NO ONE… thought it mattered. It was bad enough when I was still believing the letter from the SBC in Nashville saying that they had no record he was still in ministry. Then it was just a matter of church and denominational leaders treating ME awful. But when I realized that he had actually been in children’s ministry all along – at very prominent churches… well, I still can hardly handle it.

I agree with you gmommy… I think the reason well-known pastors don’t rebuke the pastor at Bellevue… and don’t do anything about lots of others in Southern Baptist churches all across the country… is because they know that there are SO many of them and that too many other Baptist ministers have been covering for them and keeping these secrets for way too long. They’re afraid that, if they allow anyone to start pulling on that thread, a whole bunch of them will get caught up in it when it unravels. And they are choosing to protect themselves rather than protect kids.

gmommy said...

Thank give a voice for so many of us! I appreciate all that you do.
My childhood abuse was not from clergy but from trusted adults.

Having gone thru the Biblical Guidance counseling during my nightmare marriage ...many details of my past abuse as well as the personal painful issues in my marriage were in my file which I thought would always remain confidential.
Five years before the staff sexual predator was exposed at BBC,I had a very inappropriate and repulsive experience with him.
I told many church members...
no one wanted to deal with it or help me so I gave up and somehow blamed myself.

When the bogus investigation was going on,the man I talked with from outside the chuch
(no choice of a woman or an advocate of any kind)
TOLD me ALL the files were being gone thru to see who had had anything to do with this minister.

When the report was read the minimizing was unbelievable.
Sexual Abuse was called an "incident",and "sexual activity". The women, like myself ,who were preyed upon were of NO significance.

The minister's victim who had exposed his dad to the Sr. Pastor was totally minimized in relation to how the report told us to forgive and support the predator. He had been abused as a child also.

I had a complete melt down, left the church dazed and betrayed,got lost trying to get home just a few blocks away.
I couldn't believe that my once safe church had cared more about the cover up and rationalization more than the CRIME and the damage the predator and those that knew and were silent.

Even going to the doctor shortly after for blood pressure issues met with MY needing to memorize scripture and MY needing to forgive this if that were the issue or problem.

The doctor also asked me sincerely WHEN not IF I had wanted to hurt my own children.
The deacons had been told that ALL sexual abuse victims abused their children....and this doctor bought that!
I have had some better days but have not completely recovered since that report was read and the Sr Pastor minimized and justified his cover up.
I talked to the asst.DA and called the organizations he told me to returned calls.

How many women and children fell prey to this wolf???? How many more wolves are in our churches today?
Yet BBC goes on like no damage has occurred.
My health and business have never recovered since this betrayal. Very hard to maintain when the body stays in fight or flight mode.
Of course,no letters of apology or contact of any kind from my church of 25 years.

NOW we find out one of the BBC's top dogs is moving over to FBC Atlanta. Wonder how that happened????
This has to stop!
The fact that people can't see that this is trickling down from the SBC is ONLY because they choose to be ignorant.

I continue to pray for you!
These sexual predators and those that protect them MUST be exposed and expelled from the churches.
I fear I will never feel safe again.

Christa Brown said...

gmommy: I am so sorry to learn of all that you have been through. It is SO easy for people to think that it’s just about the perpetrators, but as you know all too well, SO much more re-wounding and pain is caused by all the many others in the church and denomination who act as though it doesn’t matter.

“No one wanted to deal with it….I gave up and somehow blamed myself…bogus investigation [within the church]…minimizing was unbelievable…NO significance…MY needing to forgive…my health and business have never recovered since this betrayal.”

So much of what you say is so typical of the patterns that we have seen over and over again. The biggest betrayal of all, and what in many ways wounds as much as the original abuse, is the betrayal by our churches and faith community.

Your note shows a good example of why abuse victims should get INDEPENDENT counseling and NOT pastoral counseling or counseling connected to the church. Too often, the church-connected counselors have a hidden agenda of trying to protect the church. We have also seen too many instances when pastoral counselors don’t adhere to the standards of confidentiality that most secular counselors do…with the result that the counselor winds up betraying the victim. Just a month ago, a case was decided in Texas involving a woman who talked with her pastor about her troubled marriage. When she refused to reconcile with her husband, the pastor undertook to “biblically discipline” her by telling the church about things she had said in counseling. In addition to being a pastor, the man was a licensed secular counselor, who promoted himself that way. You might imagine that he would be required to adhere to the same confidentiality standards as other state-licensed secular counselors, but the courts held that the “biblical discipline” was a church matter. Lesson: Don’t go to church-connected counselors!

“…got lost trying to get home just a few blocks away.” I could really identify with this. When I was trying to come to terms with the fact my perpetrator was still in the pulpit and NO ONE in the denomination was going to do anything, I had similar sorts of “getting lost” experiences. Once, I even managed to back into my own car in my own driveway. The car I hit was parked at the far end of the driveway – exactly where it was always parked – and yet somehow, I completely forgot it was there, and when I looked in the rearview mirror, I somehow didn’t see it, and I backed the car in the garage straight into that other car in the driveway.

Obviously, this is something that messes with your head a whole lot.