Thursday, July 23, 2009

"Knowing him" doesn't yield knowledge

North Carolina Baptist pastor Gene Scarborough wrote to me, urging that I should remove from the website the news story about Cale Camp director and former Southern Baptist missionary Stephen Carter. “I believe it is premature to keep it up,” he said, “because, as you can see in the Biblical Recorder responses, people who know him are being supportive and this includes our editor who knows him personally.”

Take a look at those comments under the July 16th Biblical Recorder article. Two are comments of the Biblical Recorder’s editor, Norman Jameson, who confirmed for me by email that the comments of “Norman” are indeed his.

Norman Jameson, editor of the Biblical Recorder, states in that publication: “I guarantee a positive outcome for Cale and for Steve will be trumpeted here.” He then talks about how “innocence is to be assumed.”

In another comment, Mr. Jameson points out that, at the Baptist-sponsored camp, many young people “prayed to receive Christ,” and he praises Stephen Carter for having “trained and recruited an outstanding summer staff.”

I wonder if Mr. Jameson can imagine how his public comments might look to a Baptist abuse survivor. If there were any others who were considering making a complaint against Carter, or against some other Baptist minister, do you think it will make them more inclined to speak up when they see comments like that from the editor of the statewide Baptist newspaper? Or will it make them less inclined?

Lots of “I can’t believe it” sorts of comments were also posted on the WITN news site. People said “Steve didn’t do this;” they sang his praises because he “brought a lot of children to Christ;” and they said it was “just a trumped-up charge.” Again, I wonder whether any of these people have any clue about how it becomes even more difficult for clergy abuse survivors to speak up when they see that so many in the community are so determined not to believe accusations and so ready to heap praise onto an accused minister.

In his email to me, Mr. Jameson stated: “This is a rare case in which I am very familiar with the person involved, I know him personally and I would be surprised if the allegations proved true.” Mr. Jameson also stated “as a journalist I’m neutral.”

What I wish I could help Mr. Jameson to understand is that there is nothing “rare” about this case. In virtually every case, there are people who are “very familiar with the person involved” and who just can’t believe the accusations. Other church staff, congregants, and people in the community almost always rally around the accused minister. This is the usual pattern. Often, they also vilify the accuser.

We have seen this pattern in far too many cases with allegations of Baptist clergy sex abuse, including those involving David Pierce, Jeff Hannah, Rick Willits, Larry Neathery, Larry Reynolds, Leslie Mason, Keith Geren, Mark Brooks, Lonnie Broome, Tom Wade, and many more.

This common pattern is exactly why Southern Baptists need to establish a review board with trained professionals and church-outsiders who can more objectively and responsibly assess clergy abuse reports and relay those assessments to people in the pews.

Only a very small percentage of clergy molestation cases can be criminally prosecuted. Most cannot. This is why other major faith groups have implemented denominational review boards to assess clergy abuse allegations. But Southern Baptists haven’t. Consider what this means.

The most typical scenario is a person who was sexually abused as a kid and who seeks to report the abuse two to three decades later. It’s too late for criminal prosecution, and so he tries to go to denominational authorities, thinking that someone will surely want to look into the matter to try to assure the safety of others.

In most other major faith groups in this country, there are processes for doing that. But for people who want to report abuse by Southern Baptist clergy, there are not. Instead, Baptist leaders tell people to report the abuse to the church of the accused minister.

Given how common the “I can’t believe it” pattern is even when police have already determined there is enough evidence for indictment, can you imagine how much more common the “I can’t believe it” pattern is when an outsider tries to simply go to a church and tell them something so awful about their beloved pastor?

It doesn’t work. It cannot work. It will never work.

The reason it cannot work is reflected in the comments of Gene Scarborough and Norman Jameson. Those who “know him personally” cannot possibly be objective about an accused minister. They think they "know," but they don't.

In other major faith groups, hundreds of clergy have been removed from ministry based on the assessments of denominational review boards. These are men who were never criminally convicted of anything, but for the greater safety of kids and congregants, they were nevertheless removed from ministry by action of the faith community.

But with Baptists, the prevailing standard seems to be that a minister is “innocent until proven guilty” under criminal law, and if he hasn’t been criminally convicted, then he can still stand in a Baptist pulpit. This is a very dangerously low standard for men who occupy a position of such high trust.

Innocent until proven guilty” is a criminal law standard for whether a person should be deprived of liberty and put in prison. It is not a standard for whether a minister should be allowed to remain in the pulpit or whether he should be allowed to work with kids.

At this point, despite Mr. Scarborough’s entreaties, both public and private, I have no intention of removing from the website the news articles about the indictment of Stephen Carter. If I removed articles every time I got an email from someone who “knows” the accused, then the website wouldn’t have very many articles.

Besides, countless cases have demonstrated that those who “know him personally” are probably some of the least likely to have any genuine knowledge about the truth or falsity of clergy abuse allegations.


Anonymous said...

If this is the response for mentioning a public charge against a Christian leader, can you imagine what it must be like during the discovery and court process for these victims?

All those Christian leader 'character' witnesses for the one charged. What victim stands a chance?

Yeah, that 'journalist' is real neutral! Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

Some of the biggest shocks in my life have come from those I knew so well yet found out later about adultery, porn, etc.

Recently, a minister and his wife that I had known well for 20 years as very good friends, was outed by his wife as being addicted to porn. She finally went to the church leaders because she could not live the lie with him anymore. They even found where he had visited porn sites on his computer at church! Of course, the leaders swept it under the rug so the larger church would not find out. He left for 'another position' somewhere out of town. And the pew sitters are none the wiser and he was never had to face his brothers and sisters in Christ that he had been teaching for 20 years!

He was the last person on earth I would have suspected.

Michelle said...

When my abuser was jailed I defended him as a 10 year old child. I couldn't believe that he had raped anyone, surely what he did to me was my fault!

His grandparents in deposition during my case said that they believed Scott was the victim and that the charges were blown out of proportion. That's AFTER Scott made a confession AND someone walked in on him sadistically raping a disabled kid.

My uncle abused his stepkids and my grandmother who supported him to the nasty end screamed at me once: "THEY molested HIM." That was such a shock to me, I started just shaking when she said that. I love both my grandmother and my uncle but...WOW. That's some heavy duty denial.

It is not rational to expect objectivity from friends and relatives.

Kristi said...

I have discovered through my own situation that there are those who simply cannot afford to lose hold of whatever story it is that they're clinging to. They NEED their story — to lose it would be devastating. They cannot handle disillusionment, so they hang onto what they "know" for dear life.

So many abusers are excellent actors who are adept at pulling the wool over people's eyes. Even those close to them may not see how manipulative they are or that they lack a conscience.

We cannot force someone to believe something they don't want to believe. We can only keep telling the truth and hope that eventually they'll be able to see it. Thanks for shining the light!

Phyllis Gregory said...

Amen, Kristi. Many times the abused also have to hold on to their story of "the perfect life" or the "perfect childhood" because they know down deep that they are not yet ready to accept the truth.

You are so correct -- you cannot force someone to believe what they choose not to believe or do not want to believe. I just need to remember the "truth-telling" part. I tend to cave in and not speak when I know the truth is not appreciated. I need to be able to be strong. Thanks for what you said.

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with some of the comments on the Biblical Recorder. We all need to proceed with caution in every area because we are dealing with a man's life and reputation as well as the well being of a child. They are not separate issues but both important issues to be considered.

Remember, in our country a man does not have to prove his innocence but the state has to prove his guilt--and rightfully so. The sad part is that even an arrest causes people to jump to unwarranted conclusions.

Let's wait for the facts to be known before we rush to judgment. Ruining an innocent man's life and ministry is a high price to pay if he is indeed innocent.

Christa Brown said...

How I wish Baptist leaders would exercise as much caution for protecting kids as they do for protecting preachers.

"Innocent until proven guilty" is a criminal law standard for whether a person should be deprived of liberty and put in prison. It is NOT a standard for whether a person should be allowed to carry the high trust of being a minister or to continue to work with kids.

Encompassed within that criminal law presumption are extraordinary protections for the accused. For example, courts of law often preclude the jury from considering some types of evidence even when it is the sort of evidence that experts would routinely take into consideration. Also, a person who is criminally accused must be proven guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt." In other sorts of cases, the proof can be greatly less -- akin to "more likely than not."

Our criminal law system is designed on the assumption that it is better for 10 guilty men to go free than to convict one innocent man. In other words, in our country, we ASSUME that many who are in fact guilty will nevertheless walk free of their crime in a court of law.

These are realities that most other major faith groups in this country have already recognized. They don't wait for a minister to be convicted in a court of law before they will make an administrative assessment of whether or not he should be allowed to carry the high trust of a minister or work with kids. It is extremely sad and very dangerous that Southern Baptists continue to tolerate such a low standard for their clergy -- essentially allowing men to remain as ministers so long as they aren't criminally convicted. Kids deserve better. Families deserve better. And people in the pews deserve better.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the opinion but I'll stick with the premise that they are innocent until they are PROVEN guilty. When you just accept the presumption of guilt then you also accept rumors, inuendo, and false accusations.

Christa Brown said...

I haven't urged a "presumption of guilt." What I have urged is that every allegation should be treated seriously and should be responsibly assessed by an objective, professionally-trained review panel. This is what is needed for the 95 percent of clergy abuse allegations that cannot be criminally prosecuted.

About 800 Catholic priests have now been removed from active ministry based on "credible allegations." Less than 5 percent have ever been "proven guilty" in a criminal court of law. By Southern Baptist standards, they would still be in ministry and would still be able to work with kids.

Ironically, because Stephen Carter used to work for the SBC's International Mission Board, this case brings to light the fact that Southern Baptist leaders actually agree with me on this... but only as to their missionaries. The Southern Baptist Convention has adopted a policy of having an "assessment team" review abuse allegations against a missionary based on a "more likely than not" standard, and they expressly acknowledge that this is less burdensome than the standard of proof applied by the American criminal justice system.

I don't know how often SBC leaders have actually put this policy into practice, but the very fact that they adopted such a policy shows that they recognize the need for objective, professionally-trained review panels who use a standard that is less than the criminal justice standard of "proven guilty" beyond a reasonable doubt. Now... if only they would also see how urgently such review panels are also needed for the assessment of abuse allegations against Southern Baptists' 101,000 ministers and for relaying assessment information to people in the pews.

Ramesh said...

Thanks for the opinion but I'll stick with the premise that they are innocent until they are PROVEN guilty. When you just accept the presumption of guilt then you also accept rumors, inuendo, and false accusations.

Anon ... Do you have any daughters or grand-daughters or sons? Would you place your children, under these people who are being credibly accused or charged, under their care, mentoring and guidance?

That is would you risk seeing your children sodomized by these perps? Or is it only other children, for whom you have no care?

In someways, I understand your noble sentiment to protect the possible abusers, but protection of the victims and innocents takes a higher precedence. That is why we have police on the street. That is why sometimes, they act proactively, to defuse threats in extreme cases.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the opinion but I'll stick with the premise that they are innocent until they are PROVEN guilty. When you just accept the presumption of guilt then you also accept rumors, inuendo, and false accusations.

July 26, 2009 7:44 AM

Then I am sure you would want someone charged with molesting a child to babysit your kids, right? After all, a charge does not mean guilt.

And therein lies the problem with such charges. How to protect kids until it has all been investigated and tried. In the secular world, they err on the side of protecting those who cannot protect themselves. But Christians don't?

Jeri said...

In the Trinity Baptist case, even after Bob Gray confessed to french kissing .little girls, several stalwarts insisted that he did not. I agree that it is a shame that these cases have to be trumpeted on web sites, but since the SBC refuses to set up a church court, there is no other choice.

Anonymous said...

You're right, Christa. Those who think they "know" are the least likely to ever "know." They think they ALREADY "know" and that shuts their eyes to any possibility of seeing what is really in front of them. They see only what is already in their own head.

Anonymous said...

Its always interesting that whenever someone disagrees or questions you folks then you bring up whether we want a child molester taking care of our kids. Of course not and you should be ashamed for even asking.

What I am saying though is that we need to let the legal system run its course before we pronounce someone guilty and destroy their lives if they are innocent. I have enough faith in the legal system that they will prosecute the valid molesters.

While you are worried about my kids being babysat by a pervert, how would you feel if your pastor had his life, ministry, and family destroyed become someone accused him falsely?

The book of James told us to slow down and that's what I'm suggesting. Its not an "either-or" but a "both-and."

Anonymous said...

I grew up in the First Baptist Church of Swainsboro Georgia and was was preyed upon so much that thirty years later I wouldn't consider stepping foot on the property. The Southern Baptists have got to be the biggest hypocrits in Christaindom. All they can do is worry about homosexuality, devalue these people as well as women. They're willing to be militant and in a constant state of denial about themselves and the real world. They're starting to look like the country's biggest cult. And they're potentially abusive; just look at the resolutions they've passed on their website. And they do all of this in Jesus's name. Amen. Can you say "Anti-Christ."?

Christa Brown said...

"I have enough faith in the legal system that they will prosecute the valid molesters."

That's a misplaced faith and a faith based on ignorance, as virtually all experts would readily confirm. Prosecutors themselves recognize that the criminal justice system cannot deal with most allegations of child sex abuse, and have publicly said so. In 2007, the National District Attorneys' Association unanimously passed a resolution urging state legislators to reform statute of limitation laws that prevent the prosecution of child sex crimes. In doing so, they stated: "Recognizing that it is often much later in life when victims equate the injuries they suffer with the sexual abuse they experienced as a child, national prosecutors are acutely aware of why... offenders often escape responsibility for their criminal actions.

In commending the resolution, Marci Hamilton, who is a board member on the National Association to Prevent Sexual Abuse of Children, stated: "It is unfortunate that most child predators are never prosecuted... and clearly, our nation's prosecutors understand that."

Prosecutor James Backstrom, who spoke on behalf of the resolution, stated: "It is obvious that the criminal justice system cannot solve this enormous problem on its own. Therefore, it is imperative that we explore a multitude of ways to expose the perpetrators of these crimes and prevent further victimization."

Christa Brown said...

Anon 4:56 - Welcome to the blog.

A couple different people have told me about a book they once saw called something like "Southern Baptists: Cult of the South." Both of them said it had the word "cult" in the title. Neither of them knew who the author was. I haven't been able to find any book like this. Do any of you all know what book these people might have been talking about?

Jeri said...

It is the duty of church elders to investigate complaints and grievances and administer church discipline. The SBC needs to go read the New Testament. The church does not wait upon the state to be made pure. The church purifies itself by its faithful adherence to the Scripture, which the SBC refuses to do in these matters.

Anonymous said...

"What I am saying though is that we need to let the legal system run its course before we pronounce someone guilty and destroy their lives if they are innocent. I have enough faith in the legal system that they will prosecute the valid molesters."

So, in the meantime, because legal process is long, whatever do we do with those accused whose jobs are working with kids?

You keep ignoring the obvious. Do they stay in their jobs working with kids? Since you are so adament about innocent until proven guilty and letting the legal process work, we are all wondering what you want to do about the children just in case the charges are true. Which is why we asked if you would want them to babysit your kids. You seem to be unconcerned about everyone elses kids.

Anonymous said...

Some of you always seem to play the card of "we don't care about the kids" but that's just bunk. Noone I know doesn't care about the kids but I also care about everyone in a situation. Don't cast stones at me about not knowing what you've gone through because I was molested when I was 16, but I got over it.

As I've said many times before, just slow down and discern the facts before you crucify someone.

John said...

Just an idea!
For all those who want to ignor any charges against church stff members when sexual assault charges are brought against them, I am sure you would be willing to put the asscused on leave with pay. That way they continue to be able to support their families until they are convicted. Since most church staff molesters are not convicted you could be defending this person with your money for a long time!
The truth is, very few churches believe enough to do this. Those who do would soon grow weary. And that puts us back to square one. Let the accused perp run freely though out all the churches subjecting more people to his dangerous and perverted behavior.
It is amazing. You start spreading the cost of automatically wanting the accused perp to go free until conviction and no body wants to spend the money. It is still all about the money for leaders!

Anonymous said...

"of you always seem to play the card of "we don't care about the kids" but that's just bunk. Noone I know doesn't care about the kids but I also care about everyone in a situation. Don't cast stones at me about not knowing what you've gone through because I was molested when I was 16, but I got over it. "

You are still refusing to answer the question. When someone is accused of such a heinous crime, what do you do with them during the legal process is finished and they are either found innocent or guilty. Do you allow them to still work with kids during that time?

Do we err on the side of protecting children or protecting the adult? If you have another option, please share it with us.

Christa Brown said...

"... just slow down and discern the facts before you crucify someone."

This blog posted news about a Baptist camp director and former Southern Baptist missionary who was indicted on child sex offenses. It was news that had already been widely reported by a couple secular media outlets, and it was news that was more extensively reported in the Associated Baptist Press and the Biblical Recorder. I don't think it constitutes "crucifying someone" to report the same news here.

I wish all the people who are so quick to post public comments of support for clergy who are accused would "slow down" and think about what the impact of their public comments might be on Baptist clergy abuse survivors. Will their public comments help others to speak up? Others who may have even been told by their perpetrator that "no one will believe you"? Others who may have absorbed that "no one will believe you" expectation whether or not it was directly stated?

I'm reminded of the Great Hills case in which, at the very time when police were publicly asking that any other victims be helped to come forward, the senior pastor chose to hold a public rally of support for the accused minister. How could anyone imagine that a public rally in support of the accused could possibly be helpful in encouraging any other victims to speak up? Yet, that's what a prominent pastor of a very prominent Southern Baptist church chose to do.

Anonymous said...

I never said I was supporting the accused but I also don't want to destroy someone's life and ministry if they are innocent. Trust me, if the accusations are false and the staff person if proved innocent their ministry and lives are already ruined.

I'm not sure of the best solution. I do like the idea of putting them on paid leave until the issue is resolved one way or another. The damage will be done if they are innocent but they will at least be paid. The offender will then be sentenced if he is guilty so that works out too. I would also support removing them from any leadership position with children since I am assuming the word would be out about their situation.

As far as Harold O'Chester and his rally, I know Harold well and did not support what he did. That still doesn't mean that we automatically assume guilt when there are accusations made.

Michelle said...

Imagine how the victims must feel if Stephen Carter IS guilty? They must feel like hell. All these people they looked up to, defending the man who hurt them so badly, saying it never happened. Saying Carter is a "good" man.

What sort of heinous life do the words "good" and "godly" take on for children in these situations?

It is there ability to hope and wonder and love and trust and live a fulfilled life. The tragedy of these events are endless, which is why I firmly remain with the victims, trying to show love to them from so far and in such ignorance in whatever capacity I am able.

That's where my priorities lie. Not with an adult male who has so many resources and the cards stacked in his favor. I don't doubt that Carter is going through a tough time, and I don't rejoice in that if he is innocent.

The paper does not even begin to explain the evidence against him, so all I'm left with is the knowledge of how my abuser was charged. As I've repeated over and over, after several investigations someone finally walked in on him sadistically raping a severely disabled child.

Knowing this, I am inclined to believe the victims and the police.

Christa Brown said...

"Trust me, if the accusations are false and the staff person is proved innocent their ministry and lives are already ruined."

Actually, it isn't true that Baptist ministers' careers are ruined even when the accusations are proved false. In some cases, even when a Southern Baptist minister is criminally convicted, he is STILL welcomed back into ministry in a Southern Baptist pulpit. People explain it by saying, "We believe in forgiveness." E.g., Jeffrey Hannah

And even when a Southern Baptist minister had a paternity judgment against him -- i.e., DNA evidence and he admitted to fathering the child -- he STILL stands in a Baptist pulpit. E.g., Dickie Amyx

If ministers' careers aren't ruined even when they admit such deeds and even when they're criminally convicted, why do we keep imagining that the harm to the minister will be utterly irreparable if he is in fact shown to be innocent? In any event, an adult is far better able to rehabilitate damage to their career than a kid is able to process and rehabilitate the damage done to their psyche and soul by the sexual abuse of a trusted minister.

Anonymous said...

That still doesn't mean that we automatically assume guilt when there are accusations made.

July 27, 2009 2:10 PM

Again, I do not understand why you are so upset that Christa posted about a NEWS STORY.

When it comes to children we cannot automatically assume innocence like so many have already done. Why are they doing that?

And you have missed the whole point of this entire post:

1. What do do with the person while this is being investigated to protect children. You have finally agreed they should be removed from contact with children. Thank you.

2. What all the support of the accused says to victims. Many are doing the opposite of what you are so concerned about. They are saying it cannot be true because they know him. This is done all the time but few rarely think of what this tells victims who might come forward but now won't.

Anonymous said...

You are right, Christa, even the guilty have not always been 'ruined'.

I can remember a case when the pervert was convicted and an SBC leader wrote a letter to the judge on letterhead of his baptist job asking for leniency in terms of serving time. He was concerned about the how it would affect his family.

Funny how the pervert did not think twice about his family when raping the kid. that did not seem to concern the baptist leader much.

John said...

The fact that some agree with my "tounge-in-cheek" remark is proof they d not understand the true nature of the problem. if the accused perpis both inocent and trully concerned about the image of the church as well as their own, why not step down and trust God to provide for them?

Ramesh said...

I would like to say something unsettling.

For lot off the abusers, it is more of a compulsion. For their minds have been in a rut or a LP player groove and they are stuck in their thoughts. And most of the abusers, have themselves been abused when younger. Of course, this is not true for everyone.

One thing that overcomes these ruts of thinking or acting, is the practice of meditation. It helps to disassociate one's thoughts from compulsions, and ultimately to not act on those thoughts.

This takes time, patience and discipline.

That is why I sometimes regret that in the western culture why more effort is not expended in controlling one's own mind through prayer, meditation and other disciplines.

Anonymous said...

if the accused perpis both inocent and trully concerned about the image of the church as well as their own, why not step down and trust God to provide for them?

July 27, 2009 5:32 PM

Excellent point, John. As a matter of fact, under this cloud is a diversion from ministry.

But what some are missing on this thread is that SOMEONE is going to be ruined. It is either the victim forever or the perp who is either guilty or innocent.

What I am hearing is that some folks want to err on the side of protecting the accused's reputation in case he is not guilty instead of protecting the children in case he is guilty.

We cannot get around the fact that SOMEONE is going to be hurt. So the question comes down to protecting those who cannot protect themselves. The least of these.

And we have ample proof that many in the SBC protect and provide for even those who have been found guilty. But not for the victims.


Phyllis Gregory said...

I'm sorry, but I just don't think an abuser, a pervert, a pedophile, can just meditate their way out of their compulsions. I just don't think it works that way. I think it is much more complicated than that.

Michelle said...

I agree Phyllis.

One of my college reports from when I was 16 discusses the ability of perpetrators to rehabilitate. I wrote the report when I was still enmeshed with the abusive church. I re-read it now and even then, with my piles of books read, my scholastic attempts to "jive with" the church's belief system came to naught. I ended in a keen, a lament for my own childhood and seeming impotency to stop it from happening to someone else.

While some predators HAVE been rehabilitated in that they no longer abuse(from my reading it appears to be 1/2 which is about the same rate that serious drug rehabilitation has) it cannot justify EVER allowing them near children again. The rate is just too high. Why would we risk our children? And seriously, why would we as a society put an alcoholic next to the drink, or a smoker next to a cigar shop? I don't think the urges ever stop.

I think pedophilia is very much like an addiction. I've heard stories of predators trying to replace one drug (raping children) with booze or video games or religion. There is so much we don't understand about it, but I consider it much like a disease.

I think the more we objectively (broken heart tucked under our arms for a time) understand it, the better we can identify it and stop it when it's under our noses.

I know my views may be different from others. I've accepted that, and if I ever insult anybody with them, please tell me. I can talk too much sometimes and hurt people without meaning to. It's sort of constitutional, sometimes I'm afraid to speak because I'll hurt people when I do.

Anonymous said...

Can a pedophile be rehabilitated? If saved, they can be delivered but lets get real. If they are saved, they can be saved behind bars. As Jonathon Edwards pointed out, it takes time to prove there is true repentence. it is not a matter of saying 'sorry'.

There is a debt to be paid to society for such crimes and many Christians want to ignore that, thinking forgiveness means no consequences or a lighter jail sentence for those who were professing Christians in the first place!

Phyllis Gregory said...

I do not think a pedophile can be rehabilitated or delivered. I'm sorry but getting "saved" takes care of heaven but does not make you become someone you are not on earth.

Michelle, I agree with all you said. And I think these sexual perverts are just like alcoholics and drug addicts. You can be in recovery; you can stay away from it; you can choose not to do it -- but you will always be the addict, alcoholic, or sexual pervert.

I personally think anyone who says they have been "delivered" is just one who has a very tight control over their actions right now. Whether or not they will be able to do that tomorrow or not is another question.

Ramesh said...

I would like to clarify my earlier comments.

Abusers have to start somewhere. Either it is genetic or social interactions that predispose them to these acts.

What I was loudly thinking out, if say from childhood, everyone is taught to control their mind, to distinguish between thoughts vs. actions, and the origin of thoughts and how to disregard wild thoughts, some of these behaviors could be minimized.

I am not saying this will work for everybody or this a cure for abusers.

There was a documentary couple of years ago called "The Dhamma Brothers". This is about the practice of meditation in a prison of the state of alabama. The prisoners there were convicted killers. The documentary shows changes for inmates who practice this meditation. Sadly, this program was shut down due to state officials did not want buddhism being preached/practiced in state prisons.

I always advocate precaution when dealing with abusers. Absolutely.

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

Forget about the Baptist trying anything out of the box to stop sexual perversion. Unless they are forced to they won't even call it perversion(unless they can connect it to homosexuality).

The Baptists can't differentiate between clergy abuse and an affair by consenting adults. Whichever it actually is... we are told all sins are the same (more of the Baptist playing God)therefore the burden is on us to "forgive". It's so screwed up.
The fact that Gilyard was allowed to stay in the ministry of predators for so many years should not surprise anyone who knows the history of Christa's rapist/predator. How that man stayed in business for so long should make everyone sick...especially Christians!

No matter what crap I hear from well meaning, stupid, or evil people...I don't believe a sexual deviant will be cured or healed.
They are so cunning and manipulative they fool themselves sometimes.

Phyllis Gregory said...

Amen, gmommy to what you said --
"No matter what crap I hear from well meaning, stupid, or evil people...I don't believe a sexual deviant will be cured or healed.
They are so cunning and manipulative they fool themselves sometimes."

I just don't see how anyone could see it any other way.

Ramesh said...

Gmommy: I agree with you.

Whether abusers are eventually cured or not, or the causes of their "disease" is ever discovered, it does not matter to the current debate.

For the focus of Christa and SNAP is to advocate Southern Baptists to identify abusers, provide a safe harbor for abused (and not just for abusers), provide an objective, independent evaluation of abuse claims outside of the Church where they occurred are the main issues.

The biggest issue of all is for Southern Baptists to realize the enormity of the problem and numbers of abused who are left floundering, because there is no one who takes them seriously or considers their plight. This is such a travesty.

Ramesh said...

On reflection, I think my earlier comments are not right here. So please forgive me. I have no desire to hurt anyone who is already hurt. Sometimes, I tend to think out loud and lot of times it may not be appropriate. I will yield to everyone on this issue.

gmommy said...

Hey TP,
Nothing to forgive! Please always voice your thoughts. I don't know that meditation wouldn't help an abuser...I just don't think we can hope that the very ones who won't face this issue would suggest anything out of the box to deal with what they won't deal with....did you get that :)
I don't know enough about meditation to have an opinion on how it might help those who are wounded. But I am certainly not closed to learning more.
I always appreciate your insight!!

Anonymous said...

Its hard to believe that anyone on here could believe that a deviate cannot be cured or healed. Obviously and hopefully most of you are believers with some knowledge of the Bible and for you to make a statement like that is to deny the truth of Jesus and His ministry. There is nothing that He can't fix.

Ramesh said...

Off Topic:

I would encourage everyone to read this post. This is pivotal.

Fbc Jax Watchdog > The Transformed Media Landscape.
Maurilio Amorim has an excellent blog post about how the Internet and its new social networking tools are radically changing communication - both between humans and how humans interact with organizations. Maurilio embedded a very thought-provoking video presentation by Clay Shirky, an expert on social impacts of Internet technologies and author of "Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations". Shirky's talk starts off explaining the current explosion of Internet social networking and how it fits into the historical context of the old style communication that we all have grown up with in the 20th century.
I am going to share some thoughts about this video, and in this and a few upcoming articles I want to discuss some of the points Shirky makes about how organizations respond to this media transformation.

Christa Brown said...

"I don't know enough about meditation to have an opinion on how it might help those who are wounded."

Me neither... I just don't know enough. But I know this much... I like to sit alone and listen to the ocean for long stretches of time. Perhaps that's sort of like meditation? (I only wish I could visit the ocean more often.) And sometimes I think that my brain is in a sort of moving meditation when I'm running. So who knows?

On the question of whether a child molester can be "cured or healed" through some faith-based process... I tend to think it's a mostly irrelevant question... because none of us mere humans can possibly know whether or not an individual has been "cured" and it makes no sense to EVER put kids at risk of such horrific harm simply because someone says he's been "cured" or because we may want to believe it. If a person has molested a kid even once, he should never, ever again be put in a position of trust where kids might look up to him, and he should never be able to work with kids again.

I also think that, if a pedophile had truly been "cured" by faith or had even simply arrived at a genuine understanding about his conduct and the horror of its harm to others, he would likely be the first to recognize that he shouldn't work with kids again. That is, of course, if he's genuine.... and that's a huge "if" for clergy child molesters who are almost invariably extremely skilled con-men.

Ramesh said...

About meditation:

I truly do not desire to proselytize people to this form. The link I am giving below is from a hindu. But he has passed away 10 years ago. His method of meditation cuts across all spiritual boundaries.

I will admit that this method does run counter to what Our Lord Jesus Christ says about prayer.

So with this warning:

From Passage Meditation by Eknath Easwaran > 1. Meditation on a Passage.

gmommy said...

I knew someone would say exactly what anon said after I said they can't be cured. I knew Christa would be able to articulate the disclaimer much better than I could.
Even had it turned out to be the truth that the minster of prayer and perversion from BBC had never preyed on another person AFTER he molested his own son...he still should not have been a minister and his son knew not to trust him with his grand children.
But that was not the case. He used his position of trust in the church to prey on many women whose only desire was to serve God.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I see all these camps, youth programs, youth ministers as separating the kids from the family. That should be a red flag in of itself.

Michelle said...

I think meditation is that which, as Karr says in her essay "Facing Altars: Poetry and Prayer", triggers awe. She speaks here of when she is deeply grieved:

Any attempt at prayer in this state is a slow spin on a hot spit, but poetry is still healing balm, partly because it's always helped me feel less alone, even in earliest childhood. Poets were my first priests, and poetry itself my first altar. It was a lot of other firsts too, of course: first classroom/chat room/confessional. But it was most crucially the first source of awe for me, because it eased a nagging isolation: it was a line thrown to my drear-minded self from seemingly glorious Others.

And then later on she quotes the poem that makes me weep:

Every Sunday now in church Rose slices

her ring-finger off, onto the collection-plate;
once the sextons have gathered enough
bodily parts from the congregation, enough

to add up to an entire being, the priest sub-
stitutes that entire being for the one
on the cross: they bring Him down in the name

of brown and rose and pink, sadness
and shame. His body, remade, is yelled at
and made to get a haircut, go to school,

study, to do each day like the rest
of us crawling through this igloo of hell
and laugh it up, show pain a good time,

and read Brighton Rock by Graham Greene.

Christa, the opening to each of the parts in your book reminded me of this.

BTW, I'm sorry if I misled any of you, I'm not a Christian, it's too painful a path for me to walk down. He's "a wonderful door" but not mine.

This whole conversation has been hard, but I don't think that it was bad, just very difficult to traverse.

Anonymous said...

If you don't believe a person can be cured/healed of anything then you simply do not believe the Word of God. It has nothing to do with whether they ever work with children again and that was not the point that was made. At least be honest enough to stick with your original statement even if it was wrong.

Noone in their right mind (and this includes SBC leadership) should ever even think about letting a person who is convicted and/or credibly accused of abuse ever work with children again.

That simple operating fact has nothing to do with the healing and changing power of Jesus Christ.

Phyllis Gregory said...

Anon: 7/29 7:54 A.M.

I am a Christian and I do believe the word of God and I do not believe a sexual deviant can be cured or delivered. I think they can choose to stay away from those children who they desire to harm but I do not believe the urges go away. And do not tell me I do not believe the word of God. You don't even know me.

Anonymous said...

This may be slightly off-topic as regards this current post, but good gravy, WHAT IS IT about the dern youth pastors????!!! I'm tellin' you, everytime I check into this blog, it's another busted youth minister. I simply don't trust any of them. But esp. these high-school and Jr. high ministers. They older they get, the more they like those high-school girls (and boys in many cases). These people are sick in the depraved way. Stop the insanity and eliminate all these bogus youth pastorships. The youth should be subject to big-church just like the rest of us.

Christa Brown said...

And here's the latest one... a youth minister at a Southern Baptist church in Kentucky pleads guilty. According to the report and video, he snuck her out of her grandparents' house and then used the church to have sexual access to her.

gmommy said...

What is the deal with the short sentences or just probation that seem to be so common??
If someone harms a dog or a cat their punishment would be severe...but a vulnerable person harmed by a person in a position of trust...just a slap on the hand!

Michelle said...


I'm sorry I spoke out of turn. My biggest hope for myself and for everyone who's been through what I've been through and worse, is that we find hope and healing. I really care for everyone on this board. I don't know your stories, but I follow your words, and see the heart and hurt behind it.

I get so ANGRY when I think about how all of you have been hurt. And rightly so. I don't want to hurt anyone, and I always seem to say the wrong things. My heart is with all of you.

I'm going to take a break for awhile. I'll be back in October. I am trying to work on some things for my own ex-church and to set up a charity to help victims with counseling (from all faiths). I know I needed it SOOOO badly, maybe it'll help. Hopefully when I come back I'll have a rough outline of where I'm going. I guess pain, like anger, is energy, and while I've got to work hard to harness it, it can be used to help. Sometimes I just feel incapacitated by the horror of it all. You are all such good people and you're always in my heart. I care so much for all of you.

Christa Brown said...

I'm looking back through the comments and still trying to figure out how you "spoke out of turn." Whatever you think may have been "out of turn," I can't find it, and so please don't worry about it.

A common characteristic of people who were abused as kids by clergy is that we often take on undue guilt. We're often people who are ready and willing to take on guilt for almost anything and everything. We often apologize for things that aren't our fault at all... even simple things. I know I tend to do this... and it pretty much drives my husband nuts. He can drop a flower-vase, and I'll immediately say "Oh.. I'm sorry" and then he'll say "What are YOU sorry for? I'm the one who dropped it." You get the picture... it's a pattern of mine that I fall into pretty easily.

Anonymous said...


You're right. I don't know you but I do know what you have written and said and I stand by my statement that you don't believe the Word of God.

If you did, you would recognize and realize the tranforming grace of Jesus and His ability to forgive absolutely anything. The whole point of the gospel is that Jesus can give us a new nature.

Perhaps its time for some of you to quit picking out one sin and making it the unforgiveable--or unchangeable-sin.

Just read the book and go by the owner's instructions.

Christa Brown said...

And just who the heck do you think you are Mr. Anonymous in Plano, Texas? At least Phyllis has the gumption to use her name, which is a heckuva lot more than you've ever done in all your many, many comments here... on this posting and prior postings.

And who the heck do you think you are to presume to tell any of us what we believe or don't believe about "the Word of God?" For some of us, our perpetrators were pretty good at that game, too. Always twisting Bible verses to justify what they were doing... and chastising us for not being willing to trust in "the Word of God." We KNOW the sort of damage that clergy-perps can do when they decide to twist "the Word of God" to serve their own ends. And we also know the sort of rationalizations that other religious leaders can conjure when they decide to twist "the Word of God" into an excuse for doing nothing. Oh yeah... we've seen plenty enough of how a lot of Baptist leaders use "the Word of God" for their own twisted ends.

Perhaps it's time for you yourself to go "read the book." Maybe you'll learn something about "the least of these."

Phyllis Gregory said...

Anon/July 29, 2009 1:27 PM
I just really need to say one more thing. You never mentioned grace or forgiveness until just now. That's a whole new ball game apart from whether or not a sexual deviant can be cured or delivered. And, I realize, that I just don't like you because of your preachy, self-righteous, holier-than-thou attitude that makes you sound like you think you have arrived. I realize that you sound like all the Southern Baptists I grew up with and somehow that makes my skin crawl.

Christa is right -- Perhaps it's time for you yourself to go "read the book." Maybe you'll learn something about "the least of these."

Lydia said...

"Perhaps its time for some of you to quit picking out one sin and making it the unforgiveable--or unchangeable-sin."

Ever seen a millstone?

Jeri said...

I believe the Word of God, and I know the Word of God has ordered that charges against an elder be received before witnesses and those who are investigated and found to be in sin are to be rebuked before all. There is no secrecy in Christendom. Discipline of elders is to be loving, yes, but also firm and public. That is Scriptural.

gmommy said...

Anon in Plano,
who cares what you think.You DON'T know us but we sure know you. Can't you be a little more creative? That script is worthless. We just feel the love oozing from that new nature of yours! Work on those logs of your own first,honey.

Michelle, do what you need to do but come back!

Phyllis, sometimes we just have to chuckle at empty words and people :)

Christa Brown said...

Amen, gmommy.

Norman said...

Just a clarification of my statement at that "I guarantee a positive outcome for Cale and for Steve will be trumpeted here...." That comment was in response to a previous commentor who said, "I hope, should he be exhonerated, there will be as much disclosure of that as there is right now with the allegations." My comment needs the context of the previous comment to be understood as intended. As used in this post, it appears that I am guaranteeing a positive outcome for Steve. I trust that will be the case, I hope and pray that will be the case. But my guarantee is that, should he be exonerated, that result will be trumpeted in the same space that detailed the charges against him, in an effort to rehabilitate a damaged reputation.

Christa Brown said...

Welcome here.

I linked the Biblical Recorder in the first paragraph of the original posting and so people could readily see the full context of the remarks.

The subsequent context is also interesting. Immediately after your second comment, another person, Brent Hobbs, said this: "Norm, thanks for your work and your words about Steve, anticipating a positive outcome." Thus, Mr. Hobbs also interpreted your remarks as "anticipating a positive outcome" for the indicted Baptist camp director.

I stand by what I said. I hope that you, as editor of the Biblical Recorder, will consider how your public comments would look to the child and family in this case, to any other possible child who may have been abused by this man or by any other Baptist minister, and to other Baptist abuse survivors generally. Perhaps their pain is more difficult for you to see, but it is no less real.

I feel certain that a great many more people read the Biblical Recorder than my blog. While I welcome your comment here, I can't help but think that perhaps any clarification would be more useful if it were printed in the Biblical Recorder.

Anonymous said...

I am Gene Scarborough, a strong supporter of your cause, Christa. I totally agree with the angst and anger that the SBC would not consider taking a stronger stand against preditors.

They are evil. They should be dis-ordained. They should be brought to justice and not allowed to hurt another innocent person!

HOWEVER, there is another point to these considerations WHICH IS: ARE THERE some girls throwing themselves at the minister with a blind trust that he will not respond???

I totally and clearly state--he should not respond! He should handle it in a mature manner. He should recognize it as "transference" which, in psychology, refers to the point at which total trust begins and the counselor should never take advantage of this trust by turning it into a sexual opportunity.

Sadly, few Baptist minister are taught anything about Transference. Even fewer are subjected to the psychological tests required in the United Methodist Church, for example. Such tests are designed to expose perversion and lying. The most often used is the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory).

Baptists tend to be stupid and blind about such matters. They assume that because a person comes forward to state he has been called to the ministry, he has nothing but the highest spiritual motivations and is above temptation. This is patently false!

Take, for example, my first temptation as the new youth minister. She was a high school senior with serious issues about her relationship to her unloving father (in her opinion). She made strong advances to me and even came to my office knowing the Secretary left at 5:00 while she arrived about 15 minutes beforehand.

She even walked across the college campus at the State Youth Retreat in a sack dress replicating my 5-month-pregnant wife. She had turned her senior ring upside down so it looked like a wedding band. When the 3 of us walked across campus, I would ask my wife a question and she would answer before my wife could say anything!

In simple terms--she was mentally unbalanced and she was "in lust" with me.

With my wife's help, we handled the situation and let her know clearly there was no future in her advances. She quit, but she didn't like me as much after the rejection. It was tender ground dealing with my future at the church.

Now, apply this kind of scenerio to whatever happened with any of you who were "molested." What part did your actions do in encouraging the situation to happen? He should have been more mature, but he wasn't. Did he do it by himself? I doubt it!

All I am saying is that the more mature person places blame where it belongs. If we are to blame Steve in this particular case, is there any room to blame an infatuated teen girl who might have lied to force him to comply with her advances?

Anonymous said...

Gene Scarborough (cont.)

What I am saying is---give time and investigation time to find the truth (if it can be found). Don't be so angered you go one a "witch hunt" for any male clergy in some kind of relationship with a girl in his youth group.

Girls (and boys) in this day are over-sexed and over-active. The normal part of growing up is to have a "crush" on an opposite sex teacher / clergy / family friend / etc. person. If the more mature person is wise he/she recognizes it for the innocent and blind trust of a person approaching adulthood.

If the man is stupid, then corruption and abuse is the sad result. God is not fooled. Wise observers are not fooled. Parents are not fooled. They should be the first point of defense, in my opinion.

PLEASE give me a break for advocating patience before casting allegations far and wide. Even if the law does not act properly and the Baptist church which is playing "ostrach-in-the-sand-with-head" game, God is not fooled.

God is a master of justice and you can trust him to bring it about in this lifetime--and certainly in the next.

I advocate justice and correction in this life. BUT alongside justice is a need for grace. Don't let the need for revenge replace the need to let God take care of things we cannot rectify in this life.

Rest assured, when God says, "Vengence is mine" he means it. May God help the soul of any person who uses a religious relationship of trust to corrupt the one trusting the more mature person. This applies to women as well who lead the youth group.

Be careful and let God have a hand in this as well as man (women). Time will give us an answer. If it is "innocent" then give this man the same exposure as you now are giving him as the accused.

Christa Brown said...

Gene: If I attempted to answer everything you wrote, I believe I would surely barf. So, I'm just gonna hit the high points.

"What part did your actions do in encouraging the situation to happen?... Did he do it by himself? I doubt it!"

These remarks represent ignorance personified. They're part of the standard "blame the victim" response. They're offensive. Kids are kids. And yes... adolescents are still kids. Whatever a kid may say or do, it doesn't provide the perp with an excuse. And besides, a lot of perps are plenty capable of simply imagining in their own minds that a 12-year old is "coming on" to them.

"Don't be so angered you go on a 'witch hunt'."

I can't see how anyone has gone on a "witch hunt." I posted a link to and commented on a news article that had already been widely reported in the secular media and that was more extensively reported in the Associated Baptist Press. That's not a "witch hunt."

"PLEASE give me a break for advocating patience before casting allegations far and wide."

See above reponse to the "witch hunt" comment. I haven't "cast any allegations" either.

"Don't let the need for revenge...."

We've all heard this "revenge" line about a gazillion times. It's getting kinda old. Besides, in my experience, I haven't seen that clergy abuse victims want revenge. What they want - sometimes almost desperately - is to believe that church will be a safer place for others than it was for them.

"If he is 'innocent' then give this man the same exposure as you are now giving him as the accused."

Isn't it interesting how everyone is always so much more concerned about the accused minister than about the kids who get abused. How come no one ever worries, when a minister is found guilty, about then - finally - belatedly - reaching out with counseling and help and apologies for the wounded? When he's found guilty, then it becomes "Move on - get over it." It's not "Oh my gosh, we're so sorry - we were so wrong to have castigated you and vilified you and doubted you - please let us help you."

And finally, Gene, since you've been so persistent on this... both in private and public comments... I want to say how offended I was by your email... actually by several of them, but one more than others. You ended your email (the one where you also accused me of being "bitter" etc.) by saying "It is possible his legal defense could come after you over false accusations which could quickly bankrupt you."

Direct or indirect, veiled or unveiled, implied or stated, I NEVER appreciate it when people try to convince to take stuff off this blog by suggesting that I might be sued if I don't. Brandishing that sort of talk is NOT friendly. And I've had way too much of it.

Christa Brown said...

And one more thing...
You've certainy made my point for me, Gene. The very fact that you have such strong feelings about this serves to show why it is that Baptists are delusional in thinking that a congregation can responsibly assess abuse allegations against their own minister, when they already know and trust him. There must be independent, objective, professionally-trained review boards to assess such allegations, particularly when they are allegations that cannot be criminally prosecuted, as is the situation with most.

Christa Brown said...

And still one more thing, Gene. People who try to convince me to remove something from the blog or website by telling me I might be sued if I don't are people who lose the privilege of commenting on this blog. Please don't come back.

Phyllis Gregory said...


I feel very sorry for you because I feel that you are a very confused person. You want to support Christa and her work but you are just too Baptist to do it. This camp director, whoever he is, must be a good friend of yours. And, because of that, you just cannot wrap your mind around the fact that this person could have a dark side. Let me only say, that my deacon, Sunday school teacher father looked really good to his church friends. They just did not know what went on behind closed doors on a regular basis at my house. I think you are one of those who think the man in the pulpit is part God. I feel very, very sorry for you. You are so in denial and that is just no way to live. The truth alone sets you free and you will never be free.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Gene. You are very good at talking out of both sides of your mouth. I guess that keeps you in a job.

Gene writes:

"All I am saying is that the more mature person places blame where it belongs. If we are to blame Steve in this particular case, is there any room to blame an infatuated teen girl who might have lied to force him to comply with her advances?"

What possible lie could she tell to convince a minister it is the right thing to do to have sex with her? Are our ministers that stupid?

Or, are you really saying that men just cannot help themselves? Wait..."Christian" men who are leaders of youth cannot help themselves? So blame the one you are supposed to shepherd?

Then they need to GET OUT OF MINISTRY. This includes YOU because you are too ignorant of the truth in several ways...ignoring the facts of who is responsible for sexual molestation in a pastor/follower situation and threatening legal problems for Christa about a story that appeared in the media!

What church does Gene pastor? I think folks need to know his views on sexual molesters in the ministry not being totally responsible. His 'it takes two to tango' defense of ministers. You make me want to puke, man.

Christa, do you hear this a lot? That YOU are to blame for what happened to you?

God help us with the impurity of what some seem to think is His Bride but isn't. And the hirlings in charge.

You are no supporter of this cause. Or of children or even confused sick teen girls. You are part of the problem. You need to get out of ministry. You are not qualified. But you will be supported in your views by many other sick men.


Anonymous said...

"Now, apply this kind of scenerio to whatever happened with any of you who were "molested." What part did your actions do in encouraging the situation to happen? He should have been more mature, but he wasn't. Did he do it by himself? I doubt it!"

I am glad you are not standing in front of me, Gene. I might go Old Testament on you for this insulting comment to your sisters in Christ.

Why do you have "molested" in quotes? It is because you doubt the victims experiences.

Maybe when the ministry money dries up, you will come to your senses as the hirling/wolf you are.

Christa Brown said...

"Christa, do you hear this a lot? That YOU are to blame for what happened to you?"

Yes. I hear it frequently... that I'm to blame for what happened to me, and similarly, that others are to blame for what happened to them. It's pretty disgusting. I've heard (or seen) that exact line - "It takes two to tango" - at least a dozen times. People - even people who presume themselves to be educated and knowledgeable - still find a gazillion ways to blame the kid rather than to see an ugly truth about a minister.