Friday, October 26, 2007

Why the BGCT?

“Why so much focus on the Baptist General Convention of Texas?”

  1. Because the BGCT has repeatedly bragged that it does more than any other statewide Baptist organization to address clergy sex abuse. If indeed the BGCT is doing the most, then it bears a close look because it shows us how horrifically little this denomination is doing…even among those who claim to do the most.
  2. Because, given how much the BGCT has bragged, it ought to be doing something that's brag-worthy, but it's not. (It’s like a runner who’s been lapped on the track and doesn’t even know it. The BGCT acts like it’s a leader when, in reality, it’s a quarter-mile behind if you look at what the leaders of most other major faith groups are doing.)
  3. Because I am aware of more Baptist clergy abuse survivors in Texas than in any other state. (Florida and Tennessee are close seconds. South Carolina and Missouri aren’t far behind.)
  4. Because too many clergy abuse victims have been RE-wounded by the BGCT. It lures victims into thinking it has functional policies, when it doesn’t, and as a result, victims who try to report their perpetrators wind up being further betrayed. As best I can tell, no other statewide Southern Baptist group is doing any better, but the others don’t put forward as much pretense. It’s the BGCT’s pretense that draws victims in closer and effectively allows them to be sucker-punched… so that it winds up hurting all the worse.
  5. Because the BGCT is the largest of the statewide Southern Baptist groups. If only the BGCT would take effective action, so many kids and families could be protected, and so many wounded people could be helped.
  6. Because the BGCT has managed to provide counseling for clergy perpetrators since 1990, and yet it still can’t come up with the will or the funding to readily provide counseling for clergy abuse victims.
  7. Because the BGCT has had more opportunities than most other Baptist groups to lift its veil of denial, and this makes its continued failures all the more tragic. Fifteen years ago, former Southern Baptist missionary Dee Miller started trying to educate BGCT people on the dynamics of clergy abuse and cover-ups. After Dee, there was a succession of us: Deborah Dail, Stephanie Burt, myself, Debbie Vasquez, and others. So many of us have given so much of our time, anguish and energy in the belief and hope that BGCT leaders might be educated to respond more effectively and compassionately when confronted with clergy abuse reports. Some of the same leaders that Dee spoke with years ago are still there, but little has changed.
  8. Because the BGCT has a file with reported clergy child molesters against whom there is “substantial evidence” of abuse, and it keeps that information secret from people in the pews. That sort of secrecy serves only the predators. It does nothing to protect kids, and it’s an abdication of moral responsibility.
  9. Because I’m fed up with the way BGCT leaders constantly refer to clergy child molestation as mere “misconduct.” How much longer will it take before the largest statewide Baptist organization in the country stops minimizing this horrific crime?


Anonymous said...

Some things will never change. I am beginning to think the SBC and the BGCT will never change. You wonder some time what would it really take -- I don't think until something happens to one of their children or someone they are very close to, will anyone at the SBC change the way they think.

Plus, I really believe the top dogs are the ones who make all the rules. Each church might be autonomous but they still play by those rules. I do not believe that any member of an SBC church really opposes anyone or any action that has come directly from those at the top.

Messengers might come to the yearly convention, and they might even vote, but how many of those people really keep up with the top dogs and what they are up to and have they carried out the wishes of the messengers, the voting body. I don't think so.

So, until the people in the local churches quit putting their pastors on pedestals and feel they can do no wrong, and quit believing that all people in ministry must be good decent people, then no change will ever take place.

Just rambling. All that you write about just reinforces my decision to leave the Southern Baptist Church.

Christa Brown said...

Phyllis: In line with your thoughts, someone once said something like this: "45,000 autonomous Southern Baptist churches and on Sunday morning they're all autonomously teaching Sunday School with identical materials sent from Nashville."