Sunday, November 9, 2008

Baptist propaganda

At SNAP’s last press event at the Baptist General Convention of Texas, I was told the BGCT’s media person talked about how, for Baptists, the problem involves clergy “sexual misconduct” with adult women rather than with kids. I wasn’t surprised. I’ve heard this public relations line of theirs before.

In fact, the Baptist General Convention of Texas made a training video about preventing “sexual misconduct” in churches, and on the video, you can see BGCT director Sonny Spurger saying, “Most of ours are heterosexual relationships with adults.” (See part 4 of the video on “clergy issues.”)

I’ve even seen well-respected Baptist academics spout this view that, for Baptists, the clergy “sex” problem involves “misconduct” with adults and not the abuse of kids as with the Catholics. These are people who ought to know better and who ought to be demanding some data before they simply regurgitate the propaganda of the Baptist machine. But, of course, even highly educated academic people can still have blind spots when it comes to seeing the falsity in their own faith group where they’ve built their lives and careers.

Whenever I see this “our problem is adults, not kids” propaganda, it really burns me. Here’s why.

  1. How the heck do they know? How can they possibly go around suggesting that, for Baptists, the problem is primarily about “misconduct” with adults rather than abuse of kids when no one in Baptist circles is even keeping any good records? What data do they have to support this claim? Answer: They have none. Why? Because no one in Baptist circles even cares enough to keep track of clergy abuse reports made by the victims themselves.

  2. After massive media pressure, the Catholic leadership commissioned a multimillion dollar two-part study from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice to try to get a handle on the extent of the problem. The first part of the study, completed in 2004, had some serious flaws, but at least it provided the beginning of a yardstick for assessing the clergy abuse problem among Catholics, and it’s WAY more than Baptists have bothered to do. Baptists have cared so little that they haven’t even attempted to get a handle on the extent of the problem.

  3. Based on the limited data that actually DOES exist -- insurance data obtained thanks to the Associated Press -- Baptists do indeed have just as big a problem with clergy abuse of kids as do the Catholics. So, when the Baptist General Convention of Texas spews its “our problem is adults” propaganda, it’s just flat-out contrary to what the data actually does show. If they want to refute that data, then they need to make a conscientious attempt to assess the extent of the problem instead of just spewing propaganda.

  4. The Baptist General Convention of Texas is effectively USING clergy abuse of adults as a shield to divert attention away from their clergy abuse of kids problem. Why? Presumably because they think it makes them look better. I can just hear them now: “Oh… we know it’s bad… but at least our clergy aren’t abusing kids like Catholic priests did.” This does a terrible disservice to BOTH groups -- to those abused as vulnerable adults AND to those abused as kids. It effectively exploits those who were abused as adults to further the BGCT’s own propaganda, and it denies the reality of the many who were abused as kids.

  5. The fact that it’s the Baptist General Convention OF TEXAS doing this spin-job makes it particularly troubling. Texas is one of the few states whose laws make a clergyman’s sexual exploitation of an adult a felony. So, when BGCT officials talk about ministers having “affairs” and committing “adultery” with congregants, there’s a high probability that what they’re really talking about is felony conduct. They’re using the soft terminology of “sexual misconduct” to minimize what really amounts to sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, and sexual assaults.

  6. People in the pews put their hard-earned dollars in the offering plate, thinking that a portion will be used for missions work through the Cooperative Program. But a sizeable chunk of their hard-earned dollars -- dollars that they think are going for God’s work -- are really being used to pay for public relations people who spew such hurtful propaganda as this. It’s propaganda that serves only to protect the institutional image and that keeps kids, families and congregants at greater risk. People in the pews deserve better.


Unknown said...

As one who was abused as a young adult, I agree - it does do disservice to those of us who were abused as adults. While it maybe isn't quite as shattering as being abused as a child, it is extremely shattering, nonetheless. And for anyone to say that when a pastor abuses an adult, that it's an 'affair', well, that person doesn't know what they are talking about.

Christa Brown said...

"For anyone to say that when a pastor abuses an adult, that it's an 'affair', well, that person doesn't know what they are talking about."

I absolutely agree. I was abused as an adolescent girl, but I've been told that, years later, my perpetrator counseled new young mothers -- with the door locked, blinds pulled, and instructions not to be disturbed. I can't actually know what happened in those counseling sessions, but I do know what the man is capable of. Whether new mothers are 18, 28 or 38, they are often extremely vulnerable. Many women will tell you that there was never a time in their life when they felt more vulnerable and more psychologically destabilized than in the first months after the birth of their first baby. Their whole self-identity is in flux, their hormones are out of whack, they're extremely sleep-deprived, often depressed, often arguing with their spouse (who is also going through a huge adjustment), etc. etc. etc. It grieves me greatly that my perpetrator was allowed to "counsel" new young mothers, and the fact that they may have been 18 doesn't make me grieve for them any less.

Anonymous said...

Such nutty responses...abuse of authority is still abuse of authority. And horrible in not understanding that they only retraumatize the situation. To those conservatives who squelched the social work programs in the seminaries....they need to get the boot...

Anonymous said...

We now have Ed Young preaching at Fellowship Church (Baptist) that every married couple should have sex every day for a week beginning this coming Sunday. He even preaches with a bed on the pulpit area.

Wonder what this will do to the already raging hormones in some of these Baptist preachers?

Anonymous said...

And we wonder why the world at large ignors the voice of the church? Sickening

gmommy said...

I used to be so offended when people would talk about how ignorant and redneck the baptists seemed to them.

All the baptists have to do is open their mouths now for me to understand what those other people saw that I couldn't at the time.

That has to be all I say or I will write for an hour.....

I saw that idiot minister on the noon news today....the men interviewd were drooling.
It's so embarrassing to have spent so many years as a baptist.

Christa Brown said...

For those who might wonder what gmommy is talking about... I think
this video might explain: "Lust Vegas week" at the Fellowship Church.

Anonymous said...

Notice that Ed Young called his sermon a "talk." This is just another gimmick of his to get people into church. Sickening.

Anonymous said...

What confuses me is that people still wonder why the perverts get their inspirstion from going to church. From the carelessness of the pew to the words of direction from the pulpit, they thrive on "church-going"