Friday, May 22, 2009

It should not be forgotten

Yesterday, Baptist pastor Darrell Gilyard pled guilty to molesting a 15-year-old girl and sending lewd text messages to another. Under the Florida plea agreement, he faces three years in prison.

Where are the voices of Paige Patterson and Jerry Vines now?

These two former Southern Baptist presidents mentored Gilyard for many years of his star-studded career. They continued to promote Gilyard even after numerous abuse allegations had come to light.

It should not be forgotten that literally dozens of young women, college girls, and teens were wounded by pastor Gilyard while high-level Southern Baptist leaders stayed mired in their own complicity.

At least 44 people reported abuse by Gilyard during his career in Baptist churches. That was my count nine months ago, and those are just the ones we know about from published articles. There are likely many more who may have been so traumatized they stayed silent. And let’s not forget that the spouses, future spouses, and families of those abused by clergy are also people who suffer.

According to 1991 Dallas Morning News reports, it was over 20 years ago when female students at Criswell College first started trying to tell Paige Patterson about Darrell Gilyard. Even though Patterson was president of Criswell at that time (and you might have thought he would have felt some responsibility toward the students), Patterson wouldn’t listen to them, they said.

A couple other ministers also tried to report Gilyard to Patterson, as did counselor Don Simpkins. With Patterson in the room, Simpkins listened while six to eight women reported “everything from being raped to being sexually assaulted to sexual affairs that went on with Mr. Gilyard.”

But neither Patterson nor any other Baptist official took action to stop Gilyard. He was always able to move on. In Texas and Oklahoma, Gilyard resigned from 4 churches in 4 years because of sexual abuse allegations.

About the time when the Dallas Morning News started reporting on all the allegations and making them public was when Paige Patterson finally withdrew support from Gilyard. But what did he actually do? Reportedly, Patterson allowed Gilyard to confess to “adulterous relationships,” and Gilyard moved on. (Do I need to point out that “adulterous relationships” aren’t the same as “sexual assaults”? That’s painfully obvious to me, but it doesn’t appear that Patterson made the distinction.).

Gilyard moved to Florida, where former Southern Baptist president Jerry Vines “agreed to forgive” him for his out-of-state troubles. Reportedly, Vines gave additional credence to Gilyard by speaking at Gilyard’s church. It worked out well for Gilyard; his career prospered. But it didn’t work out well for others.

Jacksonville’s Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church settled the lawsuit of a woman who claimed pastor Darrell Gilyard had sexually assaulted her. Another of Gilyard’s Florida churches settled an earlier “sexual misconduct” claim. So actually, counting the two women who brought these Florida lawsuits, we’re now up to 46 known publicly-reported victims of Baptist pastor Darrell Gilyard.

You have to wonder how many it would take before Baptist leaders would take it seriously, don’t you? Would they ever, if the media didn’t get involved?

Finally, Gilyard was brought up on charges for his crimes against two Florida teens. And even as those charges were pending, and despite all the many prior allegations, other Baptist churches, including at least one Southern Baptist church, still allowed Gilyard to preach.

Where were the voices of Vines and Patterson when that happened?

It’s a sad saga, isn’t it?

Clergy predators are able to persist because others turn a blind eye. Gilyard persisted for over two decades.

Shortly after the criminal charges against Gilyard were filed, and after I dug up the old Dallas Morning News articles, SNAP wrote to the trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and asked that they suspend Patterson as seminary president and investigate the claims that Patterson had overlooked past abuse reports involving Gilyard. (See the video of Patterson’s response in this WFAA-TV link.)

In significant part, our letter said this:
As reported in the News, the accounts indicate that Patterson demonstrated a profound failure of moral judgment, a refusal to protect Criswell students who were under his charge, and a failure to warn others at risk about a reported serial predator.

Surely an institution dedicated to the development of spiritual leaders should consider the sort of spiritual leadership exemplified by its own president who reportedly exhibited an extraordinarily blind-eyed response to clergy sex abuse. We ask you to demonstrate this institution’s commitment to treating clergy sex abuse and cover-ups seriously by suspending Paige Patterson, fully investigating, and publicly reporting your findings.

The words of our letter were appropriate then, and they’re even more appropriate now that Gilyard has been convicted.

If Southern Baptists are ever going to effectively address clergy sex abuse, they must begin to see that the problem is about more than “a few bad apples.” It’s about the way in which the barrel itself enables the rot.

That’s what we asked the trustees to do -- look at whether Patterson played a role in enabling the rot. That sort of accountability inquiry is the sort of thing that a responsible organization would do. It’s what an organization that truly cared about the safety of kids and congregants would do.

Why? Because when it takes two decades and at least 46 wounded people before a predatory preacher is stopped, there is something very wrong with the system. Either the institutional safeguards are non-existent or they have failed. And someone in a position of responsibility needs to look into it and to assess what went wrong.

It should not be forgotten that a great many people suffered grievous wounds in this dreadful saga.

What would Baptist leaders do differently to prevent so many from being so wounded in the future? What would Patterson and Vines do differently?

In the photo, Darrell Gilyard is on the left and Paige Patterson on the right.


Ramesh said...

If Southern Baptists are ever going to effectively address clergy sex abuse, they must begin to see that the problem is about more than “a few bad apples.” It’s about the way in which the barrel itself enables the rot.

Ramesh said...

let's stop pastor darrell gilyard together > Extending Grace - A powerful message.
Darrell was certainly an incredible speaker and knew God’s word, how odd and uncomfortable it had to be for him to hear this. She reminds him that he, as the Shepard abused her daughter inside of the Shepard’s office. Among other things she also reminds him that lives have been destroyed and that he will have to give an account for this.

Her final message is so amazing it is God talking through a wounded person right in the midst of tragedy…she says “Just know God loves us and wants the best for us. I will pray for you as always that at some point you get right with God. You are forgiven by me. I have no malice in my heart as we all have sinned and woe is the man or woman that does not confess and turn from their wicked ways.”

Hallelujah! Praise be to Jesus! To Him is all of the glory and honor and praise! Ministering to the man that hurt her daughter, the same man that was supposed to minister to her

Anonymous said...

There are many of us who will never be silent about this and the fact that many of our SBC leaders protected and promoted this man. Patterson even called victims of sexual abuse as EVIL as the perps!? He is the one who is evil. He is the one who dismissed the words of many women who came to him.

Then Vines goes over and preaches at Gilyard's church after he had to leave the previous one over so many accusations of sexual perversion!

Frank Page called you and other victims 'opportunists'..

Nope, we won't forget and we will bring it up again and again because these leaders have mentored hundreds of young pastors to be just like them. It is far from being over even when they finally retire. Their clones who idolize them will remain.

gmommy said...

With the help of blogs and other social media...more and more people are learning the dirty little secrets of these SBC leaders.

The mother of one of Perverted Pastor Gilyard's victims said:
"woe is the man or woman that does not confess and turn from their wicked ways.”
I think that principal is in the Bible those guys like to wave in the air. It appears by the actions of these men that they don't believe what the Bible says at all.
Who are they servants to??? Where is their love for the wounded? Remember the popular "gimick" WWJD????
He would most definitely NOT behave like these SBC leaders have concerning clergy sexual predators and their victims.

Christa Brown said...

"Whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me."

WWJD? He told people right there in Matthew 25:40. He would treat ALL people, and especially "the least of these" -- the oppressed -- with dignity and humanity and compassion and care and decency.

That is exactly what Southern Baptist leaders at all levels - national, state, and local - do NOT do when a clergy abuse survivor seeks help. No one with an open mind can possibly read those Dallas Morning News articles and fail to see the terrible meanness in how Paige Patterson treated the numerous women who went to him for help... in how he ignored them and sent them on their way unaided.

And Jesus also said that "Whatever you did NOT do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me." Matthew 25:45.

These are the words and standards that Southern Baptist leaders themselves purport to live by. They make a mockery.

Christa Brown said...

...and just to be clear... what they make a mockery of is the very faith that they themselves purport to profess. You don't have to have been raised Baptist to see that mockery. Indeed, I suspect outsiders probably see it more clearly.

If this is what Southern Baptists purport to believe, and if this is the behavior that follows from those beliefs, then why would anyone put credence in a faith such as this? With their own deeds and non-deeds, they make the hollowness of what they preach readily apparent.

Anonymous said...

And Patterson remains at SWBTS as President and a role model for future pastors.

The SBC is dead. The Holy Spirit left long ago. They are fooling themselves

john said...

thank you anon. i have said that for years. as big as the SBC is itv will take time to get the word around. when the world thta judges you has a higher standard of truth than you, SBC,"you're DONE!!
Brave people like those found on this blog can take a lot of credit. Thanks for the fight instead of the fold!

Phyllis Gregory said...

The SBC is dead and will forever be dead as long as vipers like Paige Patterson are in control. Anon you are so right when you said the Holy Spirit left long ago. In some ways when I think of the terrible things I experienced at the hands of SBC leaders and members, and when I think of the things I have read on this blog, I wonder was the Holy Spirit ever part of any SBC church.

Ramesh said...

let's stop pastor darrell gilyard together > Share Your Feelings.
I am curious as to what everyone is feeling at this point. I hear so many different things in talking with people around me and I would like to know what you all think.
I know many are filled with mixed emotion, some are just angry, some are still so hurt, some are still disbelieving, some are rallying around him still, others are lost in grief.

john said...

I think he got off too lightly [in this life}. However, he is a perp and will do it again. Let's hope he meets "Bro. Bubba" while he is in jail

gmommy said...

I'm with you!! but he will probably have people in jail under his spell in no time. Hopefully Bubba won't be one of them. The SBC power brokers have prevented Gilyard from suffering the natural consequences of sin. That's another hard thing to understand!!

Anonymous said...

Yea, I don't understand Vines with knowing what he reaks with a sort of papalike atonement...baptists need to quit trying to find landmarks and get back to ideas of reformation...

Anonymous said...

What about their lawyers that advised them in these matters as well...yea, it is all about ministers what this is systemic throughout the good'ole boy network.

Anonymous said...

You may be right, I don't know too many that celebrated Shavout.