Saturday, May 3, 2008

No bishops is no excuse

"Because there are no bishops...."

That´s what you hear Suzii Paynter saying in this news video.

Paynter, of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, is apparently explaining why Baptists CAN´T institute the same sorts of preventive measures as other faith groups to protect kids against clergy sex abuse.

It´s the standard "can´t - won´t - won´t even try" response that Baptist leaders make when confronted with clergy child molestation.

How much longer will Baptist leaders keep telling us why they CAN´T?

When will Baptist leaders start telling us how they WILL?

Maybe someone should give Paynter a copy of "The Little Engine That Could." Remember? "I think I can - I think I can - I think I can...." And over the hill the little engine went.

If Baptist leaders would stop clicking replay on their rote "we can´t" excuse and instead start thinking "we can", then maybe they would find a way.

Until then, their standard "because there are no bishops excuse" is self-defeating. It assures that they WON´T institute effective measures to address Baptist clergy sex abuse.

This means that kids in Baptist churches won´t receive the same sorts of protections as kids in Catholic, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Lutheran and Methodist churches.


"Because there are no bishops."

It´s their standard line, but Baptist leaders are making a dreadful mistake when they keep saying it. "Because there are no bishops" can never be a good enough excuse for failing to protect kids against credibly accused clergy child molesters.


Anonymous said...

Maybe Ms. Paynter should ask some of the credibly accused clergy child molesters. I'm sure they could give her some concrete suggestions on what could be done within the SBC organization and churches that would have prevented them from abusing in the first place and repeatedly, even moving on to other churches. "Because there are no bishops" is a lame excuse.

Anonymous said...

There are a couple of reasons why Baptists won't do this on a large scale:
1. The denominational and church structure. Baptists believe in the autonomy of the local church. That means that no association/convention can deal with the members of a local church.
2. The fact is, this is not dealt with because the mal-practice is a result of a lack of true Biblical preaching and teaching. This is a problem that has been going on for at least two generations.

There is a solution that is simple....the church in which the abuse is found should notify the state and local association/convention (providing they have enough proof so as to not be convicted of libel). Said association/convention should then send a circular letter to all member churches as a warning.
Of course, that takes grace.....something that is in short supply these days. Grace is not only forgiving and kind, but it is also the strength we need to stand for the right.

Jeri said...

I'm Presbyterian, and we don't have bishops either, but we still have accountability.

You don't need a bishop: you need rule by law, which is a Christian concept of just rule and goes right back to the Bible. And you need a church court made up of elders from churches that are in fellowship with each other. They rule on cases in which either party appeals to a higher authority than the local pastor. It's a means of preventing corruption cases from being hushed up in a local assembly. And it works.

The SBC could implement such a system within a year or two. Church courts go all the way back to the ratification of the New Testament. Trying to excuse themselves from it is just one more sign of gross ignorance and contempt for God's Word that the SBC so often shows in these matters.


gmommy said...

Do you have an update on Gilyard????

Anonymous said...

No bishops is an interesting point.

In the RC church...the bishops were as big a problem as the abusers. The problem went underground for decades because bishops could settle matters privately with money (not their own) and no disclosure clauses in the settlement agreement. Then transfer the priest somewhere else and use the same methods when the abuse happened again.

Also, after the Boston Scandal and the subsequent Dallas Charter to protect was clear that appealing to religious solutions was not workable. The problem has never been cast in religious and moral terms...only in terms of public relations and tort law.

In fact, the archbishop of Boston...who was removed from office by popular demand...said this about clergy sexual abuse...

"It's a psychological problem with moral overtones."

Exactly what is a "moral overtone"?

But there is a practical and appropriate approach. As the Boston archbishop discovered...he could only remain in power as long as the people tolerated him.

It is ultimately for the faithful to decide whether they will tolerate obstructionist leaders.

In the RC church purses all over the country slammed shut. In Los Angeles the archbishop has had to take out loans to pay the 660 million dollars it agreed to last year. It has put up six of its schools as collateral. It is the people in the pews who will have to pay back those loans. It will be interesting to see if they put the necessary funds in the collection plate.

In another diocese...and for mismanagement not sexual abuse...the faithful simply stopped sending money to the diocese. The collection money was put into a trust administered by the laity. Some simply sent their money to the electric company to pay the light bills for the diocese. The bishop had to come to the trustees for money...he no longer controlled the purse.

The point being that people can control their recalcitrant leaders. And they should. No excuse.

Unknown said...

I've often thought that the way this would stop is when people became aware that their pastor did this kind of shit, they stop going to, and giving to, their church.

Christa Brown said...

gmommy - No update on Gilyard. Anyone else? Update on Two Rivers - they voted NOT to expel the so-called renegades...barely.

Jeri said...

elisabeth, yes you would think people would do something other than just keep going and giving, but many do not. (Hey, I just wrote a book about that!---Whoops!)

And Christa, great news on Two Rivers. Even if the vote was a close one, it's a digital result, (either fully in or fully out), and they are in! I am so glad. In so many horrible churches, innocent people are either voted out on the pastor's say-so, without being allowed to speak for themselves, or they are voted out by a majority, but still with no means to state their case clearly.

I'm glad the "renegades" are in!

Christa Brown said...

Yeah! Way to go Renegades! Keep on keepin´ on.

Anonymous said...

Once again you've told it like it is. SBC and BGCT leaders are in denial. I thought with God all things ARE possible? Could it be these leaders aren't really with God, that they don't read the parts of the Bible that say children must be protected at all costs. Yes, the Bible does preach forgiveness but forgiveness does not condone the conduct or let the abuser off the hook. As sinners we're called to admit our wrongs, STOP committing the sin and make amends where possible (which isn't possible when you destroy a child's soul sexually abusing them). What gets me is where are the Baptist moms in all this? They should be demanding their men protect children, their children, at all costs and yet I don't hear them saying a word. I'm a Catholic. I can't for the life of me understand how "we don't have a bishop" is an excuse not to protect kids.

Anonymous said...

Gilyard preached on Sunday, the 4th, and is scheduled to preach through the book of Jonah on Wednesday nights. He didn't appear at the pre-trial further news about what took place.

gmommy said...

Where is he preaching????????

and thank you for the update.
Are there any consequences for his not showing up???
Probably not.

Anonymous said...

He is preaching at First Timothy Baptist Church in Jax--a Southern Baptist Church (is that a wonder?). Gilyard was not required to attend the pre-trial hearing. He is required by the judge to stay away from any of the victims.
The victims in Jax sure need our support and encouragement.

Christa - "There are no bishops," but there sure seems to be a lot of "good ol' boys" who own very little conscience. Thanks for your blog.

Sharon Rose

Christa Brown said...

Anons: Thanks for the news on Gilyard's preaching. I'm heart-broken to hear it, but sadly not surprised. And most heart-breaking of all is that no one in SBC leadership stands up and publicly denounces it.

At Two Rivers, it was reported that the vote was 663 to 337 to oust the so-called renegades, but that was 4 votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed according to the church's bylaws. So the renegades will stay... but the vote still seems sad to me. I hope the renegades persist in their efforts for transparency and accountability.

Unknown said...

They reversed the vote at Two Rivers on Sunday. It seems that the "renegades" had been allowed to vote in the meeting to remove them from membership, and then on Sunday the church voted that those 71 votes shouldn't count - and that vote just had to be by simple majority. So that tipped the vote to the ones who wanted to get rid of them.

Here's the story:

gmommy said...

Texas minister charged in Internet sex sting

Published: 5/16/08, 10:25 PM EDT

BRYAN, Texas (AP) - A minister from a Dallas-area Baptist megachurch was caught in an Internet sex sting and charged with online solicitation of a minor, police said Friday.

Undercover officers posing as a 13-year-old girl communicated with Joe Barron, 52, of Plano for about two weeks. The online conversations were sexual in nature, police said.

Barron is one of 40 ministers at Prestonwood Baptist Church, one of the largest churches in the country with 26,000 members. He ministers to married adults.

Mike Buster, executive pastor, said in a statement that the church had no record or knowledge of previous improprieties or saw any inappropriate behavior in the 18 months Barron was on the church staff.

"We are disturbed and saddened by the reports we have heard and we are praying for the Barron family," he said.

IT NEVER ENDS......the SBC is a safe haven for sexual predators....
compassion for the ministers and his mention of victims.

Anonymous said...

Re: Prestonwood Pastor's arrest...

If you read the article carefully, you'll note that law enforcement did not seize any of his work computers. Why? The church is going to do a thorough search of its own computers to make sure there's "no illegal material" on them.

I'm sure they'll fall all over themselves to disclose any patterns of abuse or illegal or unethical behavior that they find, because Prestonwood and other SBC churches are all about transparency and accountability.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the Prestonwood situation, what does the church need to be doing that it is not currently doing?

I read today where they have accepted the minister's resignation, and that they are cooperating with authorities. From a news article, "We will handle anything we need to handle in terms of our responsibilities and obligations, and any ongoing investigation."

What more do you think they need to do?

Christa Brown said...

Elisabeth, Thanks for the update on the re-vote at Two Rivers.

Anonymous said...

This would not happen so easily if Baptist churches would follow the biblical example and have a group of Elders (plural, as in "several") with authority in every congregation. The Elders should all be co-equal, with no one guy acting like a pope over that congregation. The preacher should NOT be one of the Elders. An Elder can preach, but the pulpit preacher should not be part of the body of Elders. And the Elders should have authority over the preacher. As for the biblical office of Deacons, it is to get things done rather than wield any authority. Churches should stop the practice of ministers doing private counseling. It should just STOP. They are often NOT trained psychotherapists. I see nothing in the New Testament stating that people should seek private counseling sessions with their pastor. Bad idea. If they want to have group sessions dealing with a particular kind of problem, that's ok.

Having said all of that, there are sexual predators in every kind of organization, not just churches. There is a certain percentage of the human population that either already practices sexual predation or would would if given the chance. Unfortunately it is part of the human condition which the church is supposed to deal with rather than be a part of.