Friday, June 12, 2009

Baptist leaders must consider possible consequences

Southern Baptist pastor Matt Baker church-hopped through Texas, leaving a trail of sexual assault and abuse allegations. Yet, no one stopped him. Now he's indicted on a murder charge.

Matt Baker didn't even have to move across state lines. Every step of his career, Baker was in churches and organizations affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Yet, even within that single entity, no one was keeping track of the many allegations against Baker.

A Texas Monthly investigative journalist offered this explanation for why Baker was able to keep getting jobs in Baptist-land despite the many accusations against him:

"To avoid defamation lawsuits, leaders of a church have an incentive to keep their mouths shut when it comes to questionable behavior among clergy, which is perhaps why First Baptist officials said nothing about the allegations when other churches later called, interested in hiring Matt.”

So, Baker was able to keep moving on, and the trail of allegations grew longer.

Now, he's charged with having murdered his wife. It's alleged that his motive was a desire to pursue another young woman in his church.

Of course, the question of Matt Baker's guilt or innocence on the murder charge will be decided in a courtroom. But whatever the murder-charge verdict may be, it won't answer the question of why so many sexual abuse and assault allegations were allowed to stack up against Baker, with no one in Baptist-land doing anything about it. That's a question that Baptist leaders ought to have to answer -- and especially leaders at the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

Many experts say that, when predators are allowed to get away with abuse, they often become emboldened and their conduct escalates.

Would Kari Baker still be alive if Matt Baker had been made to answer for all the abuse and assault allegations instead of simply being allowed to move on?

I don't imagine we can actually know the answer to that specific question. But I do think Baptist leaders need to seriously consider all the possible consequences of all their do-nothingness in the face of clergy sex abuse.

CBS News 48 Hours aired an update on the Matt Baker story on June 9, 2009. (It's 42 minutes.)

For more details on Matt Baker's career, including the Baptist churches and organizations where he worked, and including news links, see my prior blog posting: Why didn’t Baptists bust him?


John said...

what bothers me when trying to talk to active SBC pastors about the abuse problem is that what you are asking for is so simple and attainable. We all owe you a hugh debt for being willing to come forward and not run away when you encounter such gross failure.
I plan to get your book and pass it around like I did Jeri's.

Ramesh said...

If anyone who wishes to contact NPR for a possible story on Christa's book, please do so.

NPR > Suggesting Story Ideas to NPR.

Ramesh said...

About cognitive dissonance, from Under Much Grace Blog by Cindy Kunsman.

Ramesh said...

Because It Matters ~ Freedom In Christianity [Dani Moss] > The Invisible Holocaust in Our Church.
I just finished reading a book, which is as profound as it is powerful. I honestly have no good words.

This book is so important to the church as an organization and to every individual who claims to be a Christian, a simple review is not adequate. EVERY believer, and I do mean EVERY believer, needs to read this book.

Christa Brown said...

Don't miss the comments of Lydia, Jeri and others on the Associated Baptist Press article. They're here - scan to the comments at the bottom.

Ramesh said...

Permalinks for comments in ABP are not setup properly. Maybe Bob Allen can intervene and fix this too :)

Ramesh said...

BECAUSE IT MATTERS ~ FREEDOM IN CHRISTIANITY [Dani Moss] > The Church Holocaust Through One Person’s Eyes.

Please read the above post. It contains excerpts from Christa Browns's book "This Little Light".

It shows how not only was Christa raped sexually, but spiritually and soulfully. It is truly sickening.

Where is God in all this? Why is Grace only shown by the Church to the abusers but not to the victims?

This is one of the primary reasons why there is so much hypocrisy and why ordinary people do not trust Church officials. May God have mercy on their souls on Judgement Day.

Anonymous said...

EWWWW. I watched the 48 hrs video. Looks like the girlfriend rated him out after all. Anyone notice how sincere and innocent he sounded with all the explanations?

Ramesh said...

The Wartburg Watch > The Next Billy Graham Goes To Prison?.

Anonymous said...

I personally sat in audiences and private meetings where Adrian Rogers and Paige Patterson unashamedly proclaimed D. Gilyard as the "next Billy Graham."

I'm sure Paige is embarassed (if that is a possibility for him) and Adrian is probably rejoicing he is Heaven now and doesn't have to mess with any of us.

Just goes to show you that not all people have the gift of discernment.

Anonymous said...

I personally sat in audiences and private meetings where Adrian Rogers and Paige Patterson unashamedly proclaimed D. Gilyard as the "next Billy Graham."

Don't forget these were times that having a conservative Black preacher affiated with the SBC was worth it's weight in gold. I have no doubt several uncomfortable things were overlooked because of that. AFter all, the allegations started when Gilyard was at Criswell under the mentorship of Patterson who got him a scholarship.

gmommy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Texan said...

I have a solution to propose that you all might find effective:

Have a committee in every Baptist church made up of dads who have children and then let them deal as they see fit with the offending pastor.

I am a pastor and would love to get my hands (and shears) on some of these pathetic excuses for men.

Christa, I can be on call whenever you need or want me.....

Christa Brown said...

Texan: Your cattle are gonna need to change their spots before I'll be calling on you for help. I haven't yet forgotten your prior recent comment.

Texan said...

Sorry Christa but I stand by my statement that some of the thinking on here is deluded. Just read what is written.

I still do appreciate you, your writings, and your actions even though sometimes I do think you are a little over the edge. Doesn't mean you are wrong, just over the edge for some of us.

Keep up the good work!