Friday, February 27, 2009

Here's a Baptist database

The Baptist General Convention of Texas created a database. But it has nothing to do with tracking credibly-accused clergy predators.

Instead, the largest state-wide Baptist convention in the country implemented a “customer-relations management system.” It tracks church giving records and other church statistics. Eventually, it will also track product sales to churches.

They created this “customer-relations” database at a cost of $2.14 million.

Did you catch that? In tough times, the Baptist General Convention of Texas took $2.14 million of offering plate dollars and used it to create a database that would track the “giving records” of churches.

Do you think the people who gave all those hard-earned dollars would appreciate knowing that their offering plate money went for a database so that state convention bureaucrats could keep track of churches’ “giving records”?

Or do you think most people in Baptist pews would have preferred to see a database that would track credibly-accused clergy predators and that would keep their kids safer?

Which sort of database do YOU think would have been a better use for $2.14 million?

Consulting fees comprised $484,000 of the $2.14 million. I can't help but wonder whether those consultants may have been related to high-n-mighties in the Baptist building in Dallas? According to Spiritual Samurai, honchos at the Baptist General Convention of Texas don’t seem to have much problem with using offering plate dollars to hire their relatives.

Remember Spiritual Samurai? He’s the courageous Baptist pastor, David Montoya, who brought to light the “Valleygate” scandal in 2007. The Baptist General Convention of Texas lost $1.3 million in misappropriated church-starting funds, and if it hadn’t been for Montoya’s dogged determination, the whole mess would have probably been swept under the rug.

“The investigative team faulted the BGCT Executive Board for poor oversight...” and said that staff had “allowed the misuse to occur.”

So did the BGCT learn anything from that experience? You have to wonder when you see $2.14 million being spent on a “customer-relations” database.

I’m reminded of the conversation I once had with a BGCT official who kept tossing out the phrase “good stewardship” as an explanation for why the BGCT couldn’t do anything more about clergy sex abuse.

I was pleading with him: “Even if you can’t do anything to rout out the clergy-predators, can’t you at least minister to the wounded?”

He answered that they had a responsibility to make the best possible use of God’s money. “Good stewardship,” he said.

But how can these guys even pretend to know the meaning of “good stewardship”? Look at their track record. These are people who let $1.3 million slip through their fingers without oversight and who just spent $2.14 million on a “customer-relations” database.

And by the way… is this what the Baptist arm of the body of Christ is called now? “Customers”?

It’s no wonder so many Baptist officials act more like corporate CEOs than religious leaders. They might as well be trying to sell cigarettes.

But wait… that gives the Baptist honchos too much credit. You would likely find more systems for accountability and oversight among tobacco company executives than you would among Baptist convention bureaucrats.


BaptistPlanet said...

Over-budget Customer Relationship Management software for the gang that couldn't church-plant straight?
Did they really say that more than half of the cost overrun is that they didn't really estimate the cost of the project in the first place.
Or am I misunderstanding?
The Associated Baptist Press reported:
". . . the original projection included only basic equipment costs, and the board was told to anticipate some additional costs. The project actually exceeded anticipated expenses by about 20 percent, rather than 50 percent . . . "
Some additional costs, indeed..

New BBC Open Forum said...

And by the way… is this what the Baptist arm of the body of Christ is called now? "Customers"?

"Customers"... or "giving units." That's another term that's in vogue now.

Christa Brown said...

"Giving units." Such an apt phrase. It's all about money. Sometimes, despite everything, I still struggle with seeing that reality... because once upon a time, I really truly believed that it was all about something else. Duhhhh.

Ramesh said...

Most of the links below are from Fbc Jax Watchdog.

Pie Charts and "Giving Units"

Fbc Jax leadership has extracted their pound of flesh:

A Lie and a Breach of Trust by the FBC Jax Leadership

"The Anti-Criticism Doctrine" of FBC Jacksonville

FBC Jax Votes on Blogger Resolution Brought By Trustees

New BBC Open Forum: This is the "Biblical Pattern" for Church Discipline?

EFF: Bloggers' Rights

Lydia said...

" was pleading with him: “Even if you can’t do anything to rout out the clergy-predators, can’t you at least minister to the wounded?”

He answered that they had a responsibility to make the best possible use of God’s money. “Good stewardship,” he said."

This is a man straining at gnats and swalling camels. Just like the Pharisees.

Christa Brown said...

"...straining at gnats and swallowing at camels." Yes... and what I wish I had said is "What about good stewardship of the next generation?" Good stewardship ought to involve something more than money.

gmommy said...

I know as far as baptist ministers go...Wade Burleson appears to be different from the Page Patterson/ Baptist Identity/Fundy/women must submit to the almighty male authority group. I am still struggling with this comment from him and in general, the whole thread.
"As to whether or not I should say anything about First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, that is a good question.
I am simply fulfilling my promise to never allow a Southern Baptist to be mistreated by an overt abuse of authority without coming to the defense of the powerless."

For the sake of emotion and health...I'm not going to point out the obvious...but it makes my stomach hurt.

Christa Brown said...

No need to point out the obvious, gmommy... it's obvious. Once upon a time, I would have virtually sold my soul for the sake of believing that "moderate" Baptists would behave differently from "conservative" Baptists when it comes to clergy sex abuse. But too many so-called "moderate" leaders at the so-called "moderate" Baptist General Convention of Texas taught me otherwise... in ways that hurt enormously... more than I can say... more than I want to remember... and yet I do. Wouldn't we all like to put this in a box and think that it's about something as small as Paige Patterson? Or even as small as the "conservative/fundamentalist" SBC boys? But what I know for sure is that such an "in-the-box" view of the problem wouldn't be true.

I don't purport to know what's in the hearts of individuals. But this much I DO know: Institutionally, when it comes to clergy sex abuse, the so-called moderates aren't doing any better than the so-called conservative fundamentalists. Of course, if you scratch beneath the surface of some of those so-called "moderates", what you'll find is a fundamentalist... and vice-versa. I just don't think the labels really mean much.

Anonymous said...

I do not think this is an issue that merits the "liberal, moderate, coservative" debate. Just like abuse is about power so is the refusal of the SBC to act more effectively. These men are so focused on being powerful or, in their eyes, the next great Bible-man that this issuse is just something in their way and regardless of which stand they take it will neither hurt nor help their play for power and fame.
To me this issue is about righteousness, fairness, and Biblical compassion. None of these three things leads to worldly success and power.

New BBC Open Forum said...

This just goes to show the Southern Baptists haven't cornered the market on pervert "pastors."

Christa Brown said...

Southern Baptists haven't cornered the market on pervert pastors - that's for sure. But what they've just about cornered the market on is being the major denomination that does the least to combat the problem. No clergy review board system. No effective clergy oversight mechanism. No reporting system. No systematic record-keeping. No policy of providing counseling for the wounded (which might encourage more to report abuse). No system for removing credibly-accused clergy from ministry... and not even so much as a system for warning/informing people in the pews. When it comes to clergy sex abuse, you name it, and Southern Baptists pretty much don't do it. I'd say they've cornered the market on the most do-nothingness.

Anonymous said...

The BGCT, SBTC, and the SBC could instigate a data base on sex offenders in a day's time if they wanted to. The problem is that they just don't want to and aren't going to be pressured into doing it.

Please spare us anything from David Montoya and the Spiritual Samurai. He is a power hungry wannabe and is disliked and not respected by anyone. You lower your standards when you use him as a reference.

Christa Brown said...

What I know is that pastor David Montoya (Spiritual Samurai) is the person whose relentless efforts brought to light the $1.3 million Valleygate scandal at the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Personally, I think every Baptist in the state of Texas ought to be grateful to him. But of course, as is often the case with whistleblowers, he has been widely castigated instead. Since I myself have been called pretty much every name in the book, both by Anonymous people and by self-described Baptist people, I'm not going to place much credence in what an Anonymous commenter says about David Montoya.

Nevertheless, Anon is certainly correct in saying that "the BGCT, SBTC, and the SBC could instigate a data base on sex offenders in a day's time if they wanted to."

Anonymous said...

Thanks Christa. That takes character and conviction.

Anonymous said...

Please don't put David Montoya in a category with yourself. You are far above that.

oc said...

Well, sometimes "religious" people tend to disqualify anyone who uses "unorthodox" procedures to foment change.

But I get reminded often... Jesus didn't play by the rules. He was more than just a bit of a renegade, as far as the established religion was concerned...

Just sayin' that what we may deem as "proper" isn't worth a hill of sappy sentiments and self-protecting arguments in the face of someone who will stand up and confront the wrong. And if Montoya isn't your kumbayah buddy, at least give him credit that he had more cajones than you or I did.

Anonymous said...

I am wit you OC. We have an important job to do that is bigger than any one of us.