Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What befell Bob Allen?

Several people have asked me “What happened to Bob Allen?”

I understand their curiosity and concern.

Bob Allen is the fearless journalist who has written more articles on Baptist clergy sex abuse than any other journalist in the country. As the managing editor of EthicsDaily, he put into print more than 75 pieces on Baptist clergy sex abuse. You can see links for a whole lot of them at the bottom of this piece.

Starting two years ago, with SNAP’s first trip to Nashville, Bob Allen worked diligently to cover the news about the Baptist clergy sex abuse problem and the calls for accountability. He was the first to break some of the stories, and he covered some stories that weren’t covered by anyone else.

So I understand how many of you might imagine that Bob’s work didn’t exactly endear him to Baptist leaders. And many of us have already seen the lengths to which some Baptist leaders will go to try to keep ugly news quiet, haven’t we?

Of course, for many of us, it doesn’t take much to imagine bad things happening. After all, we’re people who were terrorized and traumatized by those we trusted most and in places we thought most safe. Then we watched the bizarre surreality of others who covered for the dastardly deeds as though it were no big deal.

For people like us, the world can seem pretty unpredictable and unsafe. We KNOW that the most trusted people can be people who wear masks and who do terrible things that no one would ever believe possible… and that they usually get away with it.

So, it’s not too hard to imagine the dire possibilities of what might have happened to Bob Allen:
  • SBC officials threw Bob in a lion’s den.
  • A certain big-game hunting seminary professor put Bob’s head on a trophy.
  • A prominent Memphis pastor was seen hopping Bob’s fence, and Bob hasn’t been seen since.
  • A Nashville pastor shoved Bob in the dumpster along with the church’s financial records.
  • The FBI put Bob in the witness protection program.

But of course, none of those things actually happened.

Bob Allen left EthicsDaily and went to work for the Associated Baptist Press, which describes itself as “the only independent daily news agency that reports on and for Baptists.” (In other words, it’s not funded by or beholden to the Southern Baptist Convention like the Baptist Press is.)

If you want to continue to follow Bob Allen’s work, you can find his articles at abpnews.com.

Hopefully, Bob will continue to chronicle Baptists’ lost-in-the-wilderness journey toward clergy accountability.


Unknown said...

Is ethics daily funded at all by the SBC? Does it have to answer to them in any way?

Christa Brown said...

Elisabeth: As best I can tell, EthicsDaily does not receive funding from the SBC in Nashville. However, it might receive funding from other Baptist entities that are affiliated with the SBC, and this makes the "in any way" part of your question something I can't really answer. I usually find it very difficult to even attempt to follow all the networks of alliances, affiliations, and funding-connections among Baptist groups. For example, the Baptist General Convention of Texas lists both the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Southern Baptist Convention as "partners" on various pursuits. So, although it is a statewide Baptist convention affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, it is also connected to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and presumably exercises influence with them. (And because it is the largest of the statewide conventions, it has a lot of dollars that can potentially assist other Baptist organizations in funding various endeavors, and I suspect that this potential may also give it some influence in other ways.)

You can see who EthicsDaily lists as some of its funding partners here, along with its board of directors.

Although Bob Allen has now moved on, I remain very, very grateful for the courageous coverage that EthicsDaily provided, for a very significant period of time, on the Baptist clergy sex abuse issue.

gmommy said...

LOL on the "possibilities" ...especially the fence hopping one :)

Christa Brown said...

Glad you saw the humor, gmommy!

Anonymous said...

The SBC left the APB when the APB insisted on publishing "all" the truth and stories about the conservative take over and those involved. The is standard practice for the SBC, if you do not play by our ever changing rules we will take our marbles and go home.
Such openness and maturity wouldn't you say?

Ramesh said...

Book says Southern Baptist women stronger than confession suggests - Reviewed by Bob Allen

"While professing to believe the Bible teaches them to submit to their husbands, Southern Baptist women tend to function as equal partners when it comes to most decision-making in the home, according to a new book by an author familiar with Southern Baptist women.

That is due in large part, says author Susan Shaw, to the fact that Southern Baptist girls are taught from a young age to believe they have direct access to God -- without any need for an intermediary like a husband or a minister.
Shaw said Southern Baptist women are a diverse lot, but one thing they share across the spectrum is belief in the Baptist distinctive often termed "soul competency" or "priesthood of the believer." Because of that belief, Shaw says in the book, whether or not a woman views herself as a complete equal to her husband or is assigned to a helper role, she answers only to God in matters of faith."

Christa Brown said...

Thy Peace: So glad you saw the review Bob Allen did of Susan Shaw's book and thanks for posting the link to it! Susan Shaw was raised Southern Baptist, went to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky, and was ordained as a Southern Baptist minister. Now, she's head of the Women Studies Program at Oregon State University.

She is a woman for whom the Southern Baptist faith was an essential part of her identity, and she has the ability to articulate both the good and the bad of that.

I felt genuinely honored that Susan included me in her book and talked about the work of StopBaptistPredators to push Southern Baptists toward developing a system for reporting on clergy abuse. Though I'm not Southern Baptist - and can't even imagine ever again calling myself "Baptist" - it's nevertheless true that I was raised Southern Baptist and it remains a part of me. And seeing myself in Susan Shaw's book made me feel as though, in some strange way, perhaps I'm still a small part of something much bigger.

Jeri said...

Bob Allen has certainly worked very hard to keep an honest light focused on Baptist abuses. I also hope that he is able to continue his "true journalism".

Anonymous said...

I beleive he will have a greater chance with the APB. My experience has been that they want to print the news even if it costs someone something. I simply pray that he will cotinue to be a voice of concern and action on the part of all abuse victims.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for letting us know what happened to Bob Allen...yes, we were wondering! His voice--which was an arm to our voice--is missed. So glad the "possibilities" we were all imagining were just that: imaginings. Praise God.

Susan Shaw's book on Southern Baptist Women gives mention of the cause of clergy sexual abuse. Hats off to her, and to Christa, Dee Ann Miller, Diane Garland, et al, for their courage in tackling this issue.

Sharon Rose

Lin said...

My personal thanks to Bob Allen for his reporting on this issue and I will look forward to reading him at apb news.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for this post. I am not as literate as most who respond, but I do honor and appreciate your dedication and efforts to this most important issue.

Christa Brown said...

Anon 9:40 - You seem plenty literate to me. Please feel free to join us any time.

Obviously, I can't possibly know whether Anon is a clergy abuse survivor or not, and so this isn't directed at Anon, but it's just a chance to point out that one of the hallmarks of clergy abuse survivors -- something that a whole lot of us wind up doing in big ways and small ways -- is to demean ourselves. We've been so dehumanized that we wind up absorbing it into our own self-image without even hardly realizing it. We tell ourselves that we're not good enough, not smart enough, not literate enough, not articulate enough, not biblically-trained enough, not this, not that, and on and on and on. I do it too - not as much as I used to but still too much. So... if you're like me... let's all just work on it. Let's just try to stop it! We're ALL good enough!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Christa, I am in total agreement with you. We all, I think, have been stuck in that at one time or another. You are right, too. We don't realize it -- we really think we are ugly, dumb, stupid, all the crappy things that have been stuck in our heads by our abuser(s) or because we were abused.

Also, all the "shoulds" and "should nots". I should have -- mainly I should have been a better daughter, I should have made my children go to church as much as my parents made me. I should not -- mainly I should not ever question any thing I hear preached from the pulpit, I should not ever dance or drink alcohol.

Oh well. Life is funny. Thank God those years have passed; and thank God I did not raise my kids like I was raised.

gmommy said...

"something that a whole lot of us wind up doing in big ways and small ways -- is to demean ourselves. We've been so dehumanized that we wind up absorbing it into our own self-image..."

Give me the formula to unabsorb, please!
This particular aspect of my life wears me out...I hate it.
This is (in part) what I refer to as "my demons".

Christa Brown said...

Oh how I wish I had a formula... but I don't.

But of course, a little Bruce Springsteen can sometimes help! ;-)

gmommy said...

I tend to use older guys myself(Rachmanonoff):)... and some other ones I can't spell...but whatever the melody used to self sooth ...it's all about
Never Surrender!
Never Give Up!

Wonder if Oprah could get Bruce to sing on the show when you appear?? !!!
Great idea!!! More viewers!

Don't think PP can top that :)