Friday, February 13, 2009

"Looking into that"

David Clohessy and I wrote to Southern Baptist president Johnny Hunt back on November 14, 2008. In our letter, we urged “real and meaningful action to rid the ranks of clergy predators and to minister to those who have been wounded.” We reminded him of some very specific needs:
“The only way people in the pews will find out about clergy child molesters is if victims feel safe in reporting them. And victims are never going to feel safe if they have to report abuse by going to the church of the accused minister. Telling clergy victims to "go to the church" is like telling them to go to the den of the wolf who savaged them. It is cruel to the victim and unproductive toward the end of protecting others.

This denomination needs to provide (1) a safe and welcoming place for victims to report clergy sex abuse, (2) an objective, professionally-trained panel for responsibly assessing victims' abuse reports, and (3) an efficient means of assuring that the assessment information reaches people in the pews -- i.e., a database.”
A few days ago, David Clohessy received a response at SNAP’s headquarters in Chicago. Dr. Hunt’s complete letter is set forth below, but here’s the gist: Dr. Hunt says the Southern Baptist Convention is “looking into that.”

Some of you may recall that prior SBC president Frank Page said the exact same words when he spoke with ABC’s 20/20. When asked about the many published reports of Baptist preacher predators and about the need for a denominational database to track them, Page said “I know we’re looking into that.”

Of course, Hunt and Page aren’t the only ones who seem to like that phrase. We’ve heard the same “looking into that” language from other Baptist officials as well. We’ve heard it often enough that we finally understand the unique Baptist lexicon.

In Baptist-land, “looking into that” seems to translate as “we won’t do diddly-squat.”

Let’s hope that, someday, Baptist leaders learn a new language.

You’ll notice, of course, that Dr. Hunt doesn’t actually address any of SNAP’s specific requests.

If any of you want to drop Dr. Hunt a line, his email address is

February 3, 2009
(dictated Dec. 4, 2009)

Survivors Network
Mr. David Clohessy
700 N. Green St. #504
Chicago, Illinois 60622-5474

Dear Bro. David,

Greetings to you in Jesus’ name. I trust this letter finds you doing well and abounding in Jesus.

Thank you for your letter dated November 14, 2008 concerning clergy sex abuse and cover up. You can rest assured I am concerned about this and desire the same as you do concerning the problem. In fact, during our Executive Committee meeting in September there was much discussion on this issue and what we as a denomination should do to help the problem cease. I assure you we are looking into that and you will hear more about it in the days ahead. It will come up at our national convention that meets in June 2009 in Louisville, I am sure.

What an encouragement it is to me to see folks like you and your organization so passionate about issues that are so degrading this nation and so displeasing to our blessed Lord. I commend you and encourage you to continue in the fight as the Lord leads.

I pray God’s rich and abiding blessings upon you.


Dr. Johnny M. Hunt

Mr. Clohessy,

We apologize for the delay in our office mailing Dr. Hunt’s reply to your letter. Please forgive our oversight!

Ruth Blakney
Pastor’s Administrative Assistant


Anonymous said...

Pardon me for taking up so much space but as a former SBC'er may I offer a little inside interpretation of Dr. Hunt's letter. There is a hidden message that unless you have been given the oppertunity to watch it at work you might miss it.
Whenever an SBC official uses the expression "rest assured" they are simply saying, "Now, leave us alone. We have the world to be concerned about!"
Then he used the expression that they want to "help the problem to cease". This is a backhanded slap at every victim by saying we are somewhat concerned about the pastors but not the least bit interested in offering any help to the victim.
Then he used two classic remarks, "looking into that" and "forgive our oversight". It is almost funny when you realize that he has just said we are so interested in looking into this problem that it has fallen victim to our oversight!
Lastly is the display of arrogance with the phrase, "folks like you". To the SBC we are not part of them nor are our concerns theirs.
So to sum it up, "thanks but leave us alone as we will overlook you folks because we do not believe the problem is real.

Christa Brown said...

Thanks for the insider translations. Your insights are always much appreciated.

Here in Texas, we have all sorts of colorful expressions that others don't always quite catch... things like... "He's one taco short of a combination plate" and "His bread ain't baked"... both of which mean essentially "His lights are on but no one's home."

I think Baptist leaders also have a lot of unique expressions, and one of these days, I oughtta try to put them all together in a little dictionary. A lot of their expressions seem to simply be nice-sounding ways of saying "not my problem."

Anonymous said...

He is quite the smooth'dictator'. :o)

The fact the problem does not outrage him into serious action says it all.

I had the same impression as John about the staff predators. he just wants them to 'cease'.

You see, this is kinda embarassing when you are trying to explain to the world why the 16 million members figure is more like 5 million. You can't grow big churches that pay lots to the SBC if it gets out they are trying to round up pastor perverts. Better to ignore it and pretend it is not there. Or better the victims opportunists.


Victims beware of the SBC.

Ramesh said...

Off Topic:

Fbc Jax Watchdog blog is going critical.

Fbcjax leadership is pursuing the disciplinary process to extract their pound of flesh.

Fbc Jax Watchdog: Church Discipline - The Process Continues