Friday, December 19, 2008


TIME magazine named Southern Baptists’ rejection of a sex-offender database as one of the top underreported stories of 2008.

It’s right there on the same “top 10” list with stories about the deadly conflict in Sri Lanka where 300,000 people were forced from their homes and about the civil war in the Congo where a million people were displaced.

So, this story about clergy sex abuse in Baptist-land keeps dreadful company. But though the story was underreported at the time, I am so grateful that a national news publication has now seen the significance of the story and included it on its end-of-year list.

Because, make no mistake about it, when leaders of the largest Protestant denomination in the land plant their feet and refuse to even attempt to implement the sorts of proactive kid-protective measures that other faith groups do, it’s a big story.

Southern Baptists claim 16.2 million members, and they have 101,000 clergy in this country. Without an effective oversight system, these numbers mean that a lot of kids and families are being left at risk. Without even any record-keeping on credibly accused clergy, there’s nothing to prevent Baptist clergy-predators from moving church to church.

Folks, take pride in this end-of-year victory. A major national news publication saw the importance of this story, and also saw that it was previously “underreported.”

We are small Davids in this battle. We have only the pebbles that we lift out of the dirt. By comparison, Baptist officials have tanks and artillery.

At national headquarters and in state conventions across the country, Baptist officials have dozens upon dozens of highly-paid, full-time, professional, public-relations people. They have their own press-arms. They have the money, the time, the resources and the staff to endlessly put forth their self-serving spin of trying to minimize the Baptist clergy sex abuse and cover-up problem.

Yet, despite all that, this story about their failure made national news.

It’s just one publication, and it’s just one story. But someday, the weight of so many of these stories in the public eye is what will tip the balance and compel them to action.

I don’t know when that will happen. I don’t know whether it will be in 2 years or 20. But I believe it is inevitable. It will happen… someday.

As Martin Luther King said, “No lie can live forever.”

I also believe in the mechanism of how it will happen. WE are the ones who will bring about this change through the gift of truth that we carry in our own voices.

So keep on healing, and raise heck when you can.

Shine on, Survivors!

See also:
"Time ranks SBC rejection of sex-offender database as 'under-reported' story," ABP 12/17/08
"Southern Baptists decide against pedophilia database," BaptistPlanet, 12/22/08


BaptistPlanet said...

Baptist Planet concurs.

Anonymous said...


I am hasppy to see that you still believe! The truth will win. It takes time to fight the powers that be. The SBC has some of the best defences for themselves to be found anywhere. However, try as they may, this issue is NOT going away and in time they will have to face the music. Thanks to you and everyone who works with you. I promise you that you remain in my prayers as a modern day warrior in a fight for the very lives of untold numbers.
God Bless You!

George Frink said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
George Frink said...

Having struggled through the Southern Baptist Convention leadership's rationalizations and excuses, I find myself baffled. What is it with SBC resistance to a clerical pedophile database? Although mere obstinacy and simple human pride are no doubt enough to explain any amount of self-inflicted damage to the denominational reputation.

Christa Brown said...

It's sad, isn't it? I believe it is inevitable that, sooner or later, Southern Baptist officials will be forced to recognize their moral responsibility for properly addressing Baptist clergy sex abuse and cover-ups, for treating abuse survivors with decency & compassion, and for assuring that people in the pews get reliable information. If they would take action sooner rather than later, they could at least have some chance of salvaging their own credibility.