Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"Submission and authority"

Jerry Sutton, pastor of Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville and prior SBC v.p., used $4300 in church money to pay for his daughter’s wedding reception. The Associated Press reports that Sutton’s former administrative assistant also accused him of looking at pornography on his church computer and of having an “affair” with a church staff member.

I can’t help but wonder whether Sutton’s administrative assistant became a “former” because she didn’t keep her mouth shut. Maybe it was something like what Kaye Maher went through at the church of former Florida Baptist Convention president, Dwayne Mercer. She was an administrative assistant who lost her job at FBC-Oviedo when she didn’t stay quiet. When Maher complained about two ministers’ “inappropriate sexual conduct,” she found that she herself was “put on trial,” asked to leave, and told not to repeat the accusations.

Two Rivers claims that “the church investigated” and “found no evidence.” Uh-huh. If you believe that, you’ve probably got the mind-set of a cultist, and evidence is probably immaterial to you anyway.

Sutton’s own administrative assistant said that Sutton looked at pornography on church computers. That’s eyewitness testimony. You don’t have to believe the testimony, but it does at least constitute some “evidence.” Duhhhh.

The problem isn’t that there was “no evidence.” It’s that the church leaders are in total control, and their standard of what constitutes “evidence” simply deletes whatever they don’t want to see or hear.

“There has to be submission and authority,” says Two Rivers’ executive pastor Scott Hutchings. Uh-huh. That Borgian statement makes me think the church’s so-called investigators probably just intimidated any witnesses whose views they didn’t like.

It reminds me of what I heard about the sort of investigation that was done at Bellevue, another prominent Southern Baptist church in Tennessee.

“Two Rivers is the home church for many Southern Baptist bureaucrats, and Sutton is the pastor to the people who do the day-to-day decision-making of the Southern Baptist Convention.”

Do you get the picture, folks? Is it any wonder that Southern Baptist officials sit back and do nothing about clergy abuse reports when this is the sort of pastor who leads their own church in Nashville?

Is it any wonder that other Southern Baptist churches handle clergy abuse reports so miserably when SBC officials’ own home-church responds to a sexual misconduct report with a proclamation on “submission and authority”?


Anonymous said...

This website is bullshit

Christa Brown said...

Interesting how just two minutes after this anonymous comment was posted, I got a nasty email from someone with the last name of Sutton.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear about your horrible situation from the past.

My advice - get some help as I did and confront your past. It is wrong to slander and throw around accusations that you are not 100% sure are true.

Sorry to say this but...A survivor is not someone who keeps on living - it is a person who deals with the past and has moved on.

Freedom can be yours!

Christa Brown said...

I believe I am moving on by using the knowledge and skills that God has given me to do everything within my power to prevent monster ministers from perpetrating these horrendous deeds on others.

I'm not throwing around accusations. What I've done here is to reprint quotes published by the Associated Press, an organization of professional journalists who adhere to established standards and who are typically extremely cautious and careful about what they print.

Anonymous said...

We can agree to disagree on every point of your post. That is okay and I can't be angry with you for that.

However, did you take the time to do the research on the Sutton issue? If so, you would realize that the accusations from the former secretary were proven false and retracted. In this case, even the other charges against him were proven false. If you want to remain accurate than you should blog about the fact that Jerry Sutton was innocent and the post should be removed from your site. That is, unless, you prefer mininformation, slander, and gossip. That is one thing, we can't agree to disagree on.

Christa Brown said...

When the Associated Press prints a retraction, I'll be happy to post it. But why should I simply believe what some anonymous guy on my blog spouts forth? And assuming you're the same anonymous guy who posted the "Freedom can be yours!" comment, I can't help but see some humor in a guy who purports to know about "freedom" but who is so unfree that he won't even use his name.

I think too many Southern Baptists leaders think clergy abuse survivors will find "freedom" when they stop talking about it. I think just the opposite...that clergy abuse survivors will start to find freedom when they start talking about it. Silence brings freedom only for the clergy-perpetrators, not for the survivors.

Christa Brown said...

...and according to The Tennessean, the lawsuit against Jerry Sutton was filed just a week ago. So, I find it hard to imagine that your comment about the charges having been proved false could possibly be accurate. Lawsuits don't usually get resolved in one week.

Anonymous said...

Do your research. The sexual "charges" were dropped and retracted.

I have Freedom from my past, but not from accusatory people like yourself who pride themselves in "championing a cause" with or without the facts. Matthew 18 could and should be a good chapter for your to read. Please just know the facts before you attempt to bring shame upon another man's character. Ultimately, horrible past or not, Christ should be glorified. This site does not do that whatsoever.

Christa Brown said...

Mr. Anonymous,
Actually what you said is that "even the other charges against him were proven false." And as I pointed out, The Tennessean reported that the lawsuit was filed just one week ago. So it looks to me like YOU don't have your facts straight.

And if you have a problem with what the Associated Press reported about the sexual allegations, then I suggest you take it up with the Associated Press. As I said, if and when the Associated Press prints a retraction, then I'll be happy to post it here.

I've seen far too many Southern Baptist leaders use Matthew 18 as an excuse for church cover-ups of sex abuse. So your citation to Matthew 18 doesn't impress me in the least - to the contrary, it just seems par for the course.

I'm content to let God be the judge of whether my works glorify Him or not. The judgment of a Mr. Anonymous doesn't concern me.

Anonymous said...

And it shouldn't. I am not your judge. Your judge knows the truth behind your motives.

If you actually admit that the sexual misconduct was untrue and you willfully refuse to retract the statement - than that speaks more for where you are as a person than the accused.

I wish you would take the time to find out if your allegations were true before attempting to destroy. If they are true, than God will reveal the facts. If not, than you will be proven a false witness and your own credibility will be tarnished even more than it has. The reason it seems that people are not listening to you might be because you have no desire to distinguish fact from fiction.

Stop looking for another juicy story and start looking for the truth. Even when it doesn't produce the "blog hits" you are looking for.

Christa Brown said...

Mr. Anonymous,
I do NOT admit that the sexual misconduct allegations against Sutton were untrue. Just because a Mr. Anonymous says so doesn't make it so. I have zero reason to believe a Mr. Anonymous. And if you're referring to some so-called church investigation, I've heard too many accounts of Baptist churches using their own investigations to intimidate and bully victims and witnesses. So that's not going to hold much weight with me either.

This is why I have repeatedly and rather endlessly asked this denomination to establish an independent review board so that people would have a place to which they could report clergy abuse with some expectation that their report would be responsibly and objectively reviewed rather than being reviewed by the accused minister's own colleagues and cronies. If Southern Baptist ministers really cared about "the truth", they themselves would be calling on their denominational leaders to establish such a review board. It's what other faith groups do. It's what almost any organization does that genuinely cares about ferreting out the truth. When a policeman is accused of abuse, the report doesn't get reviewed by his partner and buddies. It gets reviewed by an INDEPENDENT panel. That's what is needed, and if I didn't care so much about the truth, I wouldn't spend so much of my life pleading with Southern Baptist leaders to establish such a thing.

Anonymous said...

A review board sounds very reasonable; however, being publicly tried by you on your website does not.

You are not the judge, jury, and executioner. Your past experiences do not grant you the right to falsely accuse. Just stand for truth and do whatever you can to get whatever law passed you feel appropriate. My differences with you are only on the basis of being innocent until proven guilty. Accusation does NOT equal guilt. No matter how much your website would suggest otherwise.

Christa Brown said...

If you think a review board sounds reasonable, why don't you start a letter-writing campaign to the SBC Executive Committee to get them to do that? That's exactly what I've been asking for - for over a year. Why don't you yourself do something about the problem of Baptist clergy sex abuse instead of kicking me for trying to? Why don't you yourself do some of the hard work of trying to expose some Baptist clergy child molesters and protect kids instead of kicking my website for trying? Why don't you yourself get the SBC Executive Committee to fund a ministry outreach for victims of Baptist clergy sex abuse? I'm literally overwhelmed with the number of people who contact me and who need help, and absolutely no one in this denomination is providing any help.

My website doesn't "falsely accuse" anyone and I consider your accusation of falsity to be a slander against me. The fact that you slander me anonymously makes your comment all the more cowardly.

I posted an Associated Press article about allegations made against Jerry Sutton and a subsequent Tennessean article about the lawsuit brought by 54 church members against him - a lawsuit that was filed just a week ago. If you don't like the published news articles, take it up with the Associated Press or the Tennessean.

I agree that accusations don't equal guilt. But accusations of clergy sex abuse are nevertheless something that should be taken very seriously, and at this point, there is literally no office within this denomination that will take a professional, objective look at accusations of clergy sex abuse. Other major faith groups have systems in place for objectively reviewing and assessing the credibility of clergy sex abuse allegations and for informing people in the pews. Southern Baptists do not. That is a great weakness within the denomination, and it makes the denomination a near-perfect paradise in which predators may hide.

Anonymous said...

Christa, you are a jewel, a gem, a bright, strong star. I pray for your continued strength to do what you must do, to obey God's call to be salt and light in a dark, dark world.

Anonymous said...

christa, may the Lord bless you and keep you, may the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you, the Lord lift His countenance upon you and give you peace. may He find you flourishing in the gifts that He has given you.

thank you for your work.

God is very, very good, and even closer than we think. may He bless and strengthen you.

and no - you're surely not 'that woman' - you are 'christa brown', a woman about God's business, not men's.

with blessings, and prayers of protection and strength over you.

David Hall said...


So you were talking about the "internal" investigation, eh?

Yeah, I saw the snivelers and careerists do likewise over at the Bellevue spread. Lightening does indeed strike, endlessly in the SBC.

Angels Tuck You In
by Daniel Amos

You hold an image, it provides a common thread
No sense of menace, no feeling of dread
You never worry your pretty little head and
Angels tuck you in tonight
Angels tuck you in tonight
Angels tuck you in and greet you in the morning light

This cartoon world you've created, it's like Disneyland
Get out your golden ticket
The one they give you when you're born again
A guardian personage is watching over you
Nothing uncomfortable can ever get through
There is no suffering for the chosen few...

You've been a wide-eyed innocent
Come to the garden, come to the hill
Come to the tree, come to the kill
Won't break your bones, but it can break your will
You're too afraid of hurting
Been playing cover-up
Expose yourself to dying
And in this real world, it is your calling

You hold an image, it provides a common thread
No sense of menace, no feeling of dread
You never worry your pretty little head and
Angels tuck you in tonight
Angels tuck you in tonight
Angels tuck you in and greet you in the morning light