Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Schizophrenic Christianity

Jeri Massi’s new book is called “Schizophrenic Christianity.” You’ll want to read it.

Jeri often comments on this blog, and her comments are always insightful. Her book is no exception. It successfully illuminates many aspects of this battle for clergy accountability and shows how Christian fundamentalism allows monstrous men to prey on the flock while still maintaining a mask of goodness.

The book tells the real deal on “big bad Baptist business as usual,” and Jeri tells it out of love for her faith.

She shows how, in this “business,” the value of human life is traded off for the power and image of the religious leaders.

Using case studies of Independent Fundamental Baptist pastors accused or convicted of child molestation, the book reveals how pastors’ young victims become nothing more than a cost of doing business for a religion gone horribly wrong.

The autonomous churches provide a porous structure that abandons accountability in favor of independence and immunity for the leaders. With no system for oversight, wolves are able to infiltrate with ease.

“If a man has charm and natural charisma, it’s harder for a man to get a driver’s license than to become an IFB preacher,” explains Jeri.

At the same time, the highly authoritarian theology of Christian fundamentalism renders the sheep all the more trusting, submissive and vulnerable. They are effectively indoctrinated to become perfect prey.

It’s a sick system designed to depersonalize and ostracize any who question.

With still more insights drawn from psychological research, Jeri points out that one of the defining characteristics of a sociopath is the strong desire for personal autonomy and control over others. What better place for a sociopath to achieve that end than in autonomous churches where pastors carry such prestige and authority that their words are not questioned and where systems of oversight are nonexistent?

It’s a scary picture, but it’s a picture that many of us have seen up close for ourselves. We know it to be true.

Jeri focuses primarily on IFB pastors, but a similar sick system facilitates clergy abuse among Southern Baptists and others who adhere to such a radical form of autonomy that it dispels accountability.

Watch out for your children, folks, ESPECIALLY if they’re in autonomous Baptist churches!

Schizophrenic Christianity is due out on April 28th. I was privileged to be able to see an advance copy – thanks, Jeri! The book will be available on


Jeri said...

Thank you for the review, Christa! I hope the book will be a help to many. The book was "released" today but could still take up to two weeks to appear on

And people are commenting on your review, but the Fundamentalist preachers usually don't risk the exposure of having to appear intelligent or professional on a public blog like this. So they have placed most of their comments on the thread I created to give notice of this review, over on the FFF:

I doubt any of them would risk open discourse in an arena this public.

Anonymous said...


FYI - You don't need to put quotes around italics. The italics for a title will suffice.

And, oh, I'm still waiting for you to update your post regarding First Timothy being an active member of the National Baptist Convention rather than the Southern Baptist Convention.

I showed you directly where they are active with the NBC as opposed to the SBC. Or, does that not fit into the bitterness towards the conservative resurgence of the SBC feeding you and your friend, Bob Allen?

gmommy said...

anon 1:21
YOU appear to be the one showing bitterness. Look in the mirror for what you accuse others of.
For thinking is more than obvious that Christa's goal is to protect those who have been or will be harmed by clergy sexual abuse.
Your goal seems to be one of deflection....laced with lots of bitterness.
You must be one of those "fruit bearing Christians" that still stand in the pulpit and tell others what's wrong with them...when their own heart is so dark they are hardened to the pain and need of others around them.
Just my observation and opinion, of course.

Christa Brown said...

It's funny, isn't it? This posting reviews a book that talks about how hyper-legalism is being used to avoid accountability, and Mr. Anonymous responds with a comment critizing my use of italics and quotes. Sometimes you just gotta laugh. (But for the record, mea culpa - no need for both italics and quotes - big whoop.)

For those who may not follow, Mr. Anon and I had the dialogue about First Timothy being affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention under an earlier post. My information is consistent with what is reflected in the SBC's own online database. Of course, if the SBC doesn't want a church such as First Timothy to carry the Southern Baptist brand, then I suppose the SBC could disfellowship First Timothy.

I think it's sad that so many in Southern Baptist circles still seem to view every issue through the lens of the internecine wars between the so-called "fundamentalists" and the so-called "moderates." That's what Mr. Anonymous is referring to when he talks about the "conservative resurgence." Ironically, and tragically, these two camps share common ground on the issue of clergy sex abuse - neither does diddly-squat to effectively deal with it. Anyone can look at past postings on this blog and see that I've written extensively and repeatedly about the abysmal failures of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, which is considered one of the so-called moderate statewide Baptist conventions.

Clergy sex abuse isn't about moderates vs. conservatives. The labels make no sense on this issue (and I wonder whether they ever really made much sense on a lot of other issues...) What it's about is a radicalized autonomous polity that has been perverted into the abandonment of accountability.

Christa Brown said...

YIKES! I just realized I wasn't even consistent in my error. In the first paragraph of the posting, I used both italics and quotes, and in the last paragraph, I used only italics. Oh my. Mr. Anonymous could have a field day with that. Error and inconsistency combined - how humiliating. What will become of me? Will they haul me before the SBC council of hyper-legalists?

Sorry guys... I'm in the mood to laugh a bit.

gmommy said...

You're just relentless, Christa!!!:)

Jeri said...

Oh Christa! There is redemption from sin for the repentant, but PUNCTUATION ERRORS!? Well, that's another thing altogether. Do like Wile E. Coyote and put up the parasol!

Lin said...

"I showed you directly where they are active with the NBC as opposed to the SBC. Or, does that not fit into the bitterness towards the conservative resurgence of the SBC feeding you and your friend, Bob Allen?"

What would you say, anon, that BBC, the flagship SBC church, had a pedophile minister of prayer for 17 years. And their pastor was one of the architects of the CR! Somehow that CR did not protect them!

The 'CR' has not protected us from other SBC sexual predators. Nice try, though. There are quite a few who think the way you do.

By the way, shouldn't you sign your real name since you are a brave soul of the CR?