Thursday, August 30, 2007

Boy Scouts and Baptists: a comparison

The Seattle Times and CBS Evening News report that, over the last 60 years, at least 5,100 Boy Scout leaders were kicked out because of sexual abuse allegations.

Thank God for two brothers whose courage and perseverance brought this truth to light! In SNAP and StopBaptistPredators, we stand in solidarity with these brave survivors. Other Scout victims can find help here.

While you’re pondering this disturbing news about the Boy Scouts, consider this. At least the Boy Scouts were keeping records, and at least the Boy Scouts had kicked these men out of the Scouts. That’s more than what Southern Baptists are doing.

How many Southern Baptist ministers have been kicked out for sexual abuse allegations? As best I can tell, Southern Baptists simply don’t do this. They don’t kick ministers out based on sexual abuse allegations -- they just quietly let accused ministers move on to new churches.

And who is keeping records on abuse allegations against Southern Baptist leaders? Again, as best I can tell, no one.

Victims try to report abuse, but no one wants to hear them. They are literally turned away.

Without any record-keeping, how can anyone possibly know which Southern Baptist ministers have been reported for sexual abuse? Or how many reports have been made against them?

Southern Baptist officials seem to believe that, if no one keeps records of abuse, then abuse doesn’t happen. But this is a very dangerous game of pretend they play, and one that puts kids at grave risk. (Remember just a few months ago when SBC spokesman Will Hall suggested there had been only 40 Baptist abuse “incidents” in the past 15 years? Such foolishness!)

Southern Baptist officials may clench their eyes, cover their ears, and sing “lalalalalalalala”, but it won’t make the problem go away.

Insurance companies report that, over the last 15 to 20 years, an average of 260 sexual abuse claims per year were made against Protestant ministers, and these companies insure more Southern Baptist churches than any other group. (This data comes to us thanks to the Associated Press and no thanks to Southern Baptist officials.)

That 260 number is more than the 228 “credible accusations” per year against Catholic priests. It’s also more than the 5,100 accusations that were made over a 60 year period against Boy Scout leaders.

How do I figure? If you extrapolate the average 260 claims per year over a 60 year period, that would be 15,600 claims of sexual abuse against Protestant clergy, as compared to the 5,100 against Boy Scout leaders. Pretty disturbing, huh?

Sadly, we have a good basis on which to make that calculation. All three insurance companies said the annual number of cases had remained steady during the past two decades.

Given the data, why should we not think that there have been at least 15,600 reports of sexual abuse made against Protestant clergy over the past 60 years?

Who are all those accused ministers? And why aren’t Southern Baptist officials at least keeping records on them?

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