Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Jesus wants to vomit

The Southern Baptist Convention claims that it has no power to provide any sort of oversight for clergy who carry the Southern Baptist name. It claims that it doesn’t even have the power to keep records on ministers reported for sexual abuse, or to warn people in the pews. “We have no bishops,” they say . . . . “Our hands are tied . . . local churches are autonomous . . . there’s nothing we can do.”

And so ministers reported for child molestation simply church-hop through the porous sieve of the Southern Baptist network.

Now mind you, the Southern Baptist Convention is a plenty powerful organization when it wants to be. But ONLY when it wants to be. And therein lies their sleight-of-hand.

In a recent comment, Jim did a great job of explaining how this trick works:

"A majority of clergy ordained by churches affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention are 'examined' for ordination by councils or committees organized or supported by the local Baptist Association. The Association is the closest organization to the local church, in the Southern Baptist hierarchy. Churches belong to Associations, which are resourced by State Conventions, that feed financial resources, names for trustees and committees, etc. to the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention. Each of these entities has an executive leader.

Of course, the SBC talking heads will say that churches are at the core of each of these groups, and there is a kernel of truth in that, but it is not the whole truth. Each of the hierarchical organizations is connected to the other, up and down the chain.

Every year local churches elect messengers to a meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. Every messenger is permitted to register his/her votes on a carefully scripted agenda designed to reflect the wishes of the SBC Executive Committee. When the messengers 'get it wrong' the Executive Committee all but ignores their wishes.

Please, do not allow anyone to assume, for one moment, that the SBC is not a highly organized, interconnected, well-funded organization.

When the SBC wants to act against a congregation who calls a female to be pastor, or one that does not make gender orientation a test of faith, it can act with near lightening speed. It could act in the arena of clergy sexual abuse against children and adults if it chose to do so.

The issue is one of 'will' not 'ability'. There is no will to act.

Right now they are too busy with a 'Great Commission Resurgence' to care very much about the sexual exploitation of women, or little girls and boys being raped under the steeple. I imagine the whole sorry sight makes Jesus want to vomit."


Anonymous said...

I would hope that we would want to stop ALL Predators of Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults. Jesus Love HIS Children, No Matter What Religious Denomination Into Which They Were Born.

gmommy said...

They can't possibly think they are fooling God.

Christa Brown said...

"Jesus Love HIS Children, No Matter What Religious Denomination...."

Of course. That's why Baptists ought to implement denomination-wide, institutional safeguards similar to what other major faith groups in this country are already doing. Kids in Baptist churches need at least the same measure of protection against clergy predators as kids in Catholic, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Lutheran and Methodist churches.

Anonymous said...

Christa Brown, Don't ever kid yourself that the guidelines set up to protect the children of the Roman Catholic Church came easily, or voluntarily. The Catholic Bishops fought the Victims tooth and nail; and are still fighting them whenever the opportunity arrises. What little that has been implemented came about by the Victims themselves standing outside the offices of Catholic Dioceses all across this country, hold news conferences, leafletting churches where children were abused, attending court hearings where priests are up for trial, attending civil court hearing where law suits are involved. The Victims MADE the RCC change their policies; shamed them into changing their policies. May I suggest that any Victims of sexual violation by ANY RELIGION OR ENTITY contact the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP). You will find comfort and support. Just look them up on line. GOD Bless.

Christa Brown said...

Anon 12:35 - Actually, I work closely with SNAP and you can be sure -- I KNOW that the progress that has come in the Catholic church has not come voluntarily or easily. (See the StopBaptistPredators website, showing it as the "Voice of SNAP Baptist.") However, there are significant differences between Catholic structure and Baptist structure, and those differences make attempts to have the problem systematically addressed by the denomination into a different ball-game in Baptistland. For example, many experts recognize that the "relative ease of litigation" against Catholic dioceses, because of their readily visible hierarchical stucture, has contributed greatly to the public perception that clergy abuse is "just" a Catholic problem, when in reality, it's a problem that crosses all denominational boundaries. (And please note that the term "relative ease" is based on legal factors, First Amendment factors, etc. I KNOW that, from the standpoint of victims involved in litigation against Catholic dioceses, it is almost always pure hell.) Another factor is that Catholic canon law requires record-keeping on priests, and meanwhile, there is virtually no record-keeping on clergy in Baptistland. Even when bishops fight tooth and nail to preserve the secrecy of their records, and even when the records are in fact kept secret, the knowledge of their existence nevertheless winds up being a significant factor in the litigation process . . . and in lawyers' assessments on the front end of whether or not to take the cases. These are just a couple of the factors - there are others.

I try to always refer clergy abuse survivors to local SNAP leaders, who are all across the country. Contact info is here. The SNAP toll-free number: 1-877-SNAP-HEALS.