Saturday, May 2, 2009

Wake up, Morris!

“One sexual predator in our midst is one too many.”

Remember that line? It’s what SBC honcho Morris Chapman said at the 2008 Southern Baptist annual meeting, when he was explaining why the Southern Baptist Convention was NOT going to create a review board to objectively assess clergy sex abuse reports. (Don’t strain your brain trying to make sense of how that line could be part of such an explanation, because the simple truth is that it doesn’t make sense.)

It’s a line with a good public-relations vibe to it. That’s all. It sort of sounds tough, but at the same time, it implicitly suggests that the numbers of Baptist predators are few.

A whole lot of people applauded Chapman when he said it. But more and more, it just sounds lame, doesn’t it?

After all, what did the SBC actually do besides a bit of fine preaching and some glossy brochures?

If your company had a serious problem, and your boss asked what you were going to do about it, and you said, “I’m gonna preach about it,” would that get the job done? Would people be okay with that? I doubt it.

Chapman’s tough-sounding talk rings all the more hollow when it’s juxtaposed to a real case involving real kids.

Last week, at First Baptist Church of Benton, Arkansas, long-time music minister, David Pierce, was arrested on a felony count of sexual indecency with a child.

Lo and behold, the church gave investigators the names of 3 more adult men who had also claimed they were abused as teens by Pierce.

In an exceptionally rare display of interest, the Baptist Press published news about the arrest -- possibly because it realized that, with FBC-Benton being such a prominent church, the story would make big news anyway, and so it wanted to get out ahead of it. But of course, I can’t help but wonder why the Baptist Press publishes so few other news stories about kids being abused by Baptist clergy. Don’t you think parents in Baptist pews would like to know just how widespread this problem is?

I would think so, but it’s obvious the Baptist Press thinks otherwise because they sure as heck aren’t covering the stories.

And even on the exceptionally rare occasion when they deign to cover one, look at what they do. They focus on singing the praises of the SBC.

In the Baptist Press, the story is reported with paragraph after paragraph re-iterating the tough-talk of Morris Chapman. “The Southern Baptist Convention is on record for having stood strongly against sexual abuse,” said Chapman.

Yeah, right. “Stood strongly” on the sideline with feet firmly planted in cement.

And then the Baptist Press again paraded out that “One sexual predator in our midst is one too many” line.

Wake up, Morris!

There are more than one. A lot more. And there have been for a long time. Just because your Baptist Press doesn’t choose to cover the stories doesn’t mean the stories aren’t there.

In fact, even as the Baptist Press was trolling out that tired public relations line of yours, in the real world, in the same week, still another Southern Baptist pastor was pleading guilty to the sexual abuse of teen boys just a few miles from you in Memphis. Worst of all… there were similar accusations against the pastor back in the 1990s.

How many more, Morris? How many more kids are going to be hurt before you do more than just talk tough?

Wake up, Morris! You’re late getting to work! And children are depending on you.


Christa Brown said...

I've copied these 2 comments from the end of prior posting because they're really applicable to this story involving FBC-Benton.

Christa said: "So here's what I wanna know. If church leaders knew about 3 men who said they were abused when they were younger, when exactly did church leaders know about them? There's something about the pieces in the article that just don't seem to fit together quite right."

gmommy said: "That was my question but I didn't get it out. I wish the police and the members would see that information was concealed to protect a child abuser. Inexcusable and a crime."

gmommy said...

LOL anon 2:34.
I get almost all my information from reading Christa's site. She keeps the Stop Baptist Predators page up to date. I didn't realize she had posted the update on the Memphis predator until I had already read and posted from my local newspaper.
Sorry my concern bothers you. I'm not going to change.
I'm sure there is a blog available that discusses the issues that are important to you.

Christa Brown said...

For those who are wondering... I deleted the Anon 2:34 comment because I've been following the guy's comments and he's a troll. I deleted it at the very same time that gmommy was answering him, which is why gmommy's reply doesn't seem to follow anything. Sorry gmommy.

Anonymous said...

Morris is only concerned about his high salary and high status job.