Thursday, July 10, 2008

SBC leaders need to lead

Kudos to the Tennessean for today’s insightful editorial!

It sees that the problem among Southern Baptists is a lack of leadership. Ordinary people in the pews put trust in their leaders, and those leaders have failed them on the very issue that families care about most -- the safety and well-being of kids.

Why should anyone imagine that Southern Baptist leaders will be able to prevent clergy child molesters they don't yet know about when they do nothing about clergy child molesters they are specifically told about?

That’s right -- Southern Baptist leaders do nothing to responsibly and objectively assess clergy abuse reports in the way that other major faith groups now do. And they do nothing to warn people in the pews.

If Southern Baptist church-goers fully realized how far behind the curve their leaders are in addressing clergy abuse, they would stand on the pews and demand action. Or perhaps they would simply march their families down the street to a church in one of the other denominations that is doing more to protect against predators.

Oh, but Southern Baptist leaders put out some nice brochures, you say? Yeah, right. Deeds protect kids, not words.

And why should anyone imagine that Southern Baptist leaders will be able to prevent clergy child molesters they don't yet know about when they don't even bother to remove convicted, charged and admitted child molesters from their own ministerial registry in Nashville?

Six times during the past 20 months, Southern Baptist leaders were repeatedly and publicly told about convicted and charged child molesters on their ministerial registry. The Tennessean's fine reporting on this was the seventh time.

What sort of real-world message does it send when the highest leaders of this denomination don't even bother to remove convicted predators from their own ministerial registry, despite being repeatedly told about it?

The message it sends to wounded clergy abuse victims is "We don't care."

The message it sends to clergy-predators is "You're safe among us."

Today’s Tennessean editorial got it right: “It is about trust.”

Why should people in the pews trust leaders who, by their deeds, send such dreadfully dangerous and uncaring messages?

The Tennessean is also running these pieces today:
“Reader views: Should the Southern Baptist Convention do more to let members know about sexual predators?” (Answer: Yes!!!)
“Cost plays a role; child safety a priority” (guest column by Rev. Wade Burleson, who sponsored the database motion)
“Convention takes this issue seriously” (guest column by SBC official Roger “Sing” Oldham)

[The photo, from the Tennessean, is the Centennial Tower of the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville.]


Weemaryanne said...

All due respect, Christa, but I disagree. Sometimes it's the followers who need to lead -- right out the door.

Catholics walked out of the church that wouldn't protect their children and wouldn't honor their wishes to have the truth brought into the open. They were right. Back when I was a Catholic (nearly thirty years ago now), I would have insisted that the church doesn't belong to the priests; it belongs to the people. I still think so.

The leaders won't lead? Fine. Then let them continue to not-lead a smaller congregation.

Christa Brown said...

Yes... "right out the door."

Good point, weemaryanne.

Anonymous said...

I am curious. Are there any updates on the Jeremy Benack Case?

Christa Brown said...

Anon 4:13 - I need all the help I can get. There are so many of these Baptist abuse cases around the country that I can't keep up. If you find any more published news links about the Jeremy Benack case, feel free to email them to me or post a link here.

Lin said...


Actually, the congregations need to call the police and fire them. There was a time when Baptists believed in the Holy Priesthood. Now that we have had 30 years of teaching 'hierarchy' in the church, the congregation of lemmings think their popes can do no wrong. They simply do not believe it or if the facts are presented, they explain it away with cheap grace. After all, he is only human and makes mistakes. This is simply ignoring scripture and making up your own religion.

First thing is to get them in prison, we can minister to them there.

But Christa is right, as she explained on another thread, we talk a good game about protecting children but our actions both in the civil sphere (short sentences) and most shockingly in the spiritual realm speak of the opposite. In this case, words mean nothing. Children are the least of these and if the adults aren't outraged, then who will protect them?

The ones that really get me are the situations where Christian leaders write the judges and ask them to be lenient in sentencing sexaul predators.

As we see more and more teaching on the subordination of woman and the authority of men, within the SBC, expect to see this problem increase. Yes, there is a correlation.

Any abuser listening to Bruce Ware teach about abuse being linked to a woman NOT submitting to her husband tells us where their hearts are. IF you listen to him closely and for a long time as I have, he teaches men that a wife is to fulfill HIS will. Not God's, mind you...the husband's will.

Anonymous said...

"lin" is right. they need to be jailed, treated, and then kept until their "Judge" returns!