Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Steve Gaines on protecting kids

Remember Steve Gaines? He’s the guy that Bellevue Baptist megachurch in Memphis chose to keep as their pastor even after learning that he agreed to keep quiet about another minister’s sexual abuse of his son.

That’s right.

The pastor of this flagship Southern Baptist church stayed silent about what was ultimately revealed to be a staff-minister's “egregious, perverse sexual activity” with a kid during a 12 to 18 month period.

And yes... the congregation kept him as their leader… as though it were no big deal.

What’s more… many more people were also hurt at Bellevue, because Steve Gaines allowed this admitted child molester to counsel church members who themselves had been sexually abused. Can you imagine how you would feel if you went for counseling about something so traumatic and your counselor asked you to describe details of the abuse, and then you later learned that the counselor himself was a pedophile? And that your pastor and other church leaders knew he was a pedophile and still allowed him to serve as a counselor for abused people?

One woman said it “turned her stomach” to realize that he “might have been titillated by the story of her abuse” as a child. She was betrayed not only by her own childhood perpetrator but also by her pastor who allowed such a man to counsel sexual abuse survivors and yet again by the “legions of Bellevue members” who apparently see no need for pastoral accountability.

In fact, just a couple weeks ago, most of those blind Bellevue members probably listened attentively when Steve Gaines preached a televised sermon called “Jesus loves the little children.” Here is part of what he said:

"I remember one time... heh heh... I was in Gardendale and a little boy came home and said, 'Brother Steve, my daddy has beer in the... beer in the... in the uh... refrigerator.' And I knew the daddy. I said, 'You go pour it out. If he has a problem with it... you say... tell him here's my number. Call Brother Steve.'"

Steve Gaines still doesn’t have a clue about kids, does he? For those who have seen the truth about what happened at Bellevue, Gaines’ recent sermon inspired some appropriate comments on the New Bellevue blog (starting with 10:58 am Dec. 2 comment):

”It is NEVER the child's responsibility to take on a task like that. If SG thought it was so wrong for the dad to have beer (IF this little story in fact happened at all) then SG should have been the adult and the man and the pastor and gone to the dad himself. An adult should NEVER put that burden on a child.”

”Would SG be smirking IF the dad had beat the child????How irresponsible! Not unlike other decisions SG has made and bragged about.”

“SG should have been a man and talked to the Dad himself. Isn't that called leadership???”

“Would Brother Steve have been bragging and chuckling about it had the man hurt the child?”

“According to the
sermon notes… ‘we must protect our children physically.’ That's when I changed the channel, threw the remote across the room, and ran screaming from the room. (Okay, I exaggerate, but I did change the channel and yelled at the TV.) I don't guess Steve Gaines believes that "physical protection" includes not allowing a confessed pedophile to freely roam the halls of the church for six months. Silly me.”

Folks, this is what happens when churches choose a cheap greasy style of grace without accountability. You wind up with leaders who show no leadership, leaders who haven’t a clue, leaders who lack wisdom, and leaders who say things that are downright dangerous to the safety of kids. Why? Because they’ve easily gotten away with saying and doing lots of other ignorant, hurtful things and no one held them accountable.

When leaders aren’t held accountable, they never learn.

Even worse, many other ministers see the example set by a flagship Southern Baptist church such as Bellevue, and they learn that they too can turn a blind eye to clergy child molestation. There are no consequences. No one will do anything. They won’t be held accountable.

Steve Gaines has been described as “one of the leading voices” in the Southern Baptist Convention. Is it any wonder Southern Baptists have such a serious problem with clergy sex abuse when its most prominent churches retain pastors such as Gaines, even while fully knowing that he turned a blind eye to another minister’s sexual abuse of a kid?


WatchingHISstory said...
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gmommy said...

Everytime you verbalize
(in writing) the traumatic details of an innocent person's sexual abuse...you violate and reinjure this person again...and others like him.
In my book...that makes you the monster.

This once innocent victim is a real live human being....He is a husband and dad trying to live,raise his children, and make a living in this city.

If you truly felt outrage for the evil done to him WHEN HE WAS POWERLESS, you would NOT continue to humiliate and harm him....just to get your own jollies.

You are repulsive!

There is no difference in your taking advantage of this horrible violation to further your agenda than when PW used already wounded and vulnerable women and children to further his.

Delude yourself to your hearts content..heartless freak that you have shown yourself to be.....

But remember PW got off on discussing the perverted, painful, details of wounded people.

Those people just wanted to serve, work, raise their children,...and have a normal life. They wanted to heal, have peace, and protect their children.

I know what PW did after his prey left his office....and how powerful he felt.

Not hard to figure out why you linger on every graphic, perverted detail of someone else's rape.

Is the thrill and sick power as intoxicating for you as it was for the BBC staff sexual predator when he lingered on the pain of others??

I guess we know the answer to that,Charles.

Why else would you have no regard or respect for a husband and father who has ALREADY suffered at the hand of an adult male who claimed to be a spirit filled man of God.
Who's the monster,Charles?

WatchingHISstory said...
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New BBC Open Forum said...

"God has spoken to me through a vision what AR is enduring before God."

Ummm... I don't think I'd blame that one on "God."

You're a sick man, Charles Page, and you don't know what you're talking about. Please get some help now! (Oh, and just FYI, you'll be wasting your time if you e-mail me, as you have been blocked from my mailbox, and I'll never see it.)

gmommy said...

Get your facts straight about PW's victim before you USE him for your personal agenda. He was molested AS A CHILD.
Children are powerless and confused and trying to survive.

You made up the "months" in the victim's life. He had begun to talk TO HIS FRIENDS WHEN HE WAS READY for at least a year before he realized his dad was not going to step down from the ministry....AFTER he asked his dad to do so.

It took TONS of courage to ask for a meeting with Gains.
SG TURNED him down numereous times.
SG DID NOT want to meet face to face with PW's victim and with PW.

After PW CONFESSED TO SG that he had molested his own CHILD(because now his son was talking).....PW walked out of SG's office SAYING he felt "more affirmed than he had his whole life".
SG declared his perversion UNDER THE BLOOD....maybe SG had a vision...or got off on the horrible details of the abuse of an innocent child as you seem to.

SAY whatever you want to about AR...he's dead so that makes you powerful,doesn't it?

Defend SG all you want....it doesn't matter. SG was still the one confessed to by the predator and SG was the one that made the decision to keep it a secret to everyone at BBC while PW continued to be a first responder for children who may have fallen or been hurt while at church....and PW continued to violate already wounded women.... fully protected by SG and the ones SG chose to tell.
Any real leader or protector would have reported him to proper authorities and removed him from his position of power.

But that may have been bad publicity or taken away from the power that SG enjoys!!!!!

Stop using and doing more harm to this man...once a victim.... but now a father to 5 children and trying to live his life here in Memphis!!!

He has been used enough for perverted pleasure.
You are no better than his abuser. He claimed to be God called also!!!

Anonymous said...

It is so obvious to many people what SG is doing. First he is flooding the TV media with commercials (paid for with tithes from the members) on how much he loves Memphis. I have worked in Television, there will be no negative and so called investigative reporting coming from them as long as the Bellevue money for commercials is rolling in. SG know this. He has control now of the media and the church's resources with no acountablity. Where's your prayer chapel, or should I ask, what happened to your 2 million love offering. WAKE UP BELLEVUE AND THROW HIM OUT.

gmommy said...
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WatchingHISstory said...
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Christa Brown said...

anonymous: Thanks for your real-world media insights. I agree with you that "it's so obvious to many people," but why isn't it obvious to the people still at Bellevue? Why do they remain in such a stupor? WAKE UP BELLEVUE!!!

Anonymous said...

I am coming to this discussion a little late in the game, but I am confused as to why there was ever a question as to what action SG should have taken. In Texas, the law is very specific that when a confession is made that clearly indicates an instance of abuse has taken place, or that there is the prospect of continuing danger from the abuser, a report MUST be made to the authorities. This is binding upon all mental health providers, and in Texas clergy are considered as such. Was SG not legally bound to report the matter? If so, why wasn't this route to dealing with the problem explored?

As a current Southern Baptist minister, and a clergy abuse survivor, I feel it my duty to say that we do not have to look very far to find the right course of action in such cases. In many instances, the law provides the answer itself. In cases where the law is not clear, the local church certainly has the obligation to take action, and whether a local church decides to act or not, the national entity . . . yes the SBC itself is duty bound by moral law to address the problem. It is time for the SBC to stop hiding behind nuances of church polity and stand up for what is right. To use the vernacular, if the leadership would simply "man up" and do the right thing, we would be much further down the road to building healthier individuals, healthier families, and yes, healthier churches.

gmommy said...

Texas pastor,
I like you! Of course, you are from Texas! My friend and I (both originally from Texas)have decided that the men here don't understand the "man up" meaning.

The loop hole that was used at BBC to cover for not reporting was explained to me by a deacon officer.
Since the victim was an adult when the confession was made....BBC wasn't obligated to report it to the authorities. When I spoke to the assistant DA in Jan. of this year...he told me BBC was NOT cooperating with them. He had informed them that the Sr pastor may have some legal problems for keeping the secret.
Within the week it was made very public how much leadership was now cooperating.....guess they had time to get their attorneys to find the loop hole.
I had no idea before this traumatic experience with BBC (I was one of the women the minister wolf preyed upon)
that "above reproach" included hiding behind legal loop holes.

The media seemed to lose interest when BBC started spending major commercial bucks to rebuild the church image.
The emotional and spiritual impact this has had on people is huge.

But still the SBC...and most of the local ministers in the know... seem to believe protecting themselves, their positions,their wallets. and the image is more important.
blows the mind and breaks the heart.

David Brown said...

Dear Texas Pastor please let me address your questions. I was involved with the victim and his family when this thing broke at Bellevue. First of all he requested a meeting with Dr. Gaines on numerous times but was denied, as recently as Dec. 3 or 4th.

Why in the earth would Dr. Gaines give more weight to PW than the victim? I know the answer but will not get into it out of respect to CW.

When I reported all this the DA's office and DHS, I next called Bellevue and asked for a meeting with Dr. Gaines. I spoke at great length with Linda Glance so she would understand who I was and why I was calling.

Finally almost a week later I get a phone call from David Coombs who was not officially on staff at the time. He called me on his cell phone. I asked why they had not reported it yet, and his reply was he was not sure there was anything to report. They were relying on the word of a pedophile that he was no longer active and did not have that desire anymore. Yet women he counseled would disagree.

This dear young man wanted to try and do some damage control and that was why he requested the meeting. Then the next Sunday, Brian Miller and Dr. Gaines make their statements. NEVER once did they address the law and why they ignored it. The only made excuses.

As an SNAP advocate I was appalled at their comments and that David Coombs was going to lead the investigation. This is that same guy that did not know the law? Give me a break.

The law is very clear in Tennessee, if you SUSPECT there has been child abuse you must report it. It does not say, make assumptions, investigation etc. Dr. Gaines and Coombs simply ignored the law and at best made no attempt to determine what it was. Never mind there was a revised P&P manual (2001) at Bellevue that dealt with reporting guidelines. Makes you wonder who is running the ship.

I have met with the DA on many times about this and other cases. They firmly believe that at some point a minister will be charged for not reporting. It is just a matter of time.

As for the people of Bellevue to take a collective sigh of relief that there are other victims is flat wrong. They hang their hats on that one. Just look at how long it took this victim to speak out.

UNTIL Bellevue and the SBC takes positive steps to make victims feel comfortable when they come forward, children are at risk in our churches. I thank God that SNAP reached out to me and for people like Christa. We need more of them. I am proud to part of SNAP now as a coordinator and advocate. We must keep pressing on to that goal we know is right and just.

David Brown
SNAP coordinator for Memphis and West Tennessee

Christa Brown said...

texas pastor: You're right that SG had a legal obligation to report. The matter was considered by the local prosecutor, as this link shows, but to my knowledge, nothing ever came of it. Generally, even though reporting laws are on the books, they are rarely enforced or prosecuted under. That's true in Texas as well.

Often, the argument is made that the reporting law no longer applies once the abused kid turns 18. In other words, people argue that they only have to report the abuse if the kid is still a kid. It's a weasel of an argument.

I don't know exactly why the prosecutor didn't pursue charges against Gaines. If anyone in Memphis has more info, please tell us.

"...yes the SBC is duty bound by moral law to address the problem."
I could not possibly agree more!

Thanks for your comments, texas pastor, and welcome to the blog.

Christa Brown said...

david: Just saw your comments - many thanks for providing more info on this.

Anonymous said...

Everything that has gone on since SG came to Bellevue definitely shows that he needs to leave. Not only has he done some things that are illegal and immoral, I think he rather tends to be a smart ass anyway. But, having said all that, and after reading many letters and articles on www.savingbellevue.com, I personally wonder if it was any better when Adrian was there. Now I know that is blasphemous to say that, and I would be considered a heretic in good Baptist circles, but I still think I am correct.

I know not everyone worshiped AR, but I sure think a lot of them did and still do. Not all people looked at him as God but many did. He ran the church. He had his group of men that did all the stuff for him, just as SG has a group that is there to fight his battles.

gmommy said...

The subject and issue here is the way SG handled a confessed sexual predator that was a minister on staff.
Plenty other places to discuss issues at BBC or other SBC churches.
No matter what was or wasn't happening at BBC before SG was Sr Pastor....
he was the one that made the choice to keep the confession a secret from the congregation, to ignore Biblical qualifications for ministry and to ignore the potential danger to children and others.

Anonymous said...

No, the subject and issue is how was it all hidden in the first place. Please do not think for a minute that I am defending SG, because I am not. But this crime went on for years, the man was a minister in the church, do you really think no one knew about it?

Also, AR and probably previous BBC pastors had it in place that the pastor is the authority. Everyone wants to blame Rick Warren and other pastors like him. That is not the case. AR had complete and total control over BBC -- I seriously doubt if anyone ever crossed him. A friend of mine who's husband was a deacon there during that time said that AR and his business manager made the decisions and then told the deacon body what was what. She saw no problem with this.

So it does matter what happened at BBC before now. That should be a wake up call for all SBC churches. No pastor should be the ultimate authority of any congregation.

gmommy said...

I don't disagree with you. I personally tried to tell at least 10 church people when I had my traumatic experience with PW.

My point was just that this blog is for the discussion of minister sexual predators.
AND I personally won't speak about a dead man especially to speculate.

It is very very obvious from the facts presented by Christa alone that the SBC is more interested in power,control, and money than they are in truth, accountabilty, or the protection of the innocent.

This situation with BBC/SBC has caused me to leave the Baptist church completely.

Anonymous said...
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Christa Brown said...

Anonymous said:
What if Steve Gaines Covered up the existance of a pedafile in his midest not to protect the pedafile! But to protect himself from scroootney! THIS.Evoking the Beach’s surreal blend of flashy Vegas and old Hollywood glamour, as well as its manic desperation and reckless wealth, Gaines persuasively demonstrates that though the Beach is–in the words of its most famous drag queen–"an island of broken toys . . . a place where people get away with things they’d never get away with any place else," it casts an irresistible spell. He to has been compramized by EVIL oh yes my brothers and sisters and he loads up church business meatings... so no one will find out about... and hopes no one will find out! What about that as a possibility so there it is you nieve dim wits! ok look now!

March 21, 2009 10:18 PM

[Reposting of Anonymous comment with just a few deletions. Thanks for your comment, Anon. I really liked the "island of broken toys" imagery, and you're surely right that many Southern Baptist churches have become places "where people get away with things they'd never get away with any place else."]