Saturday, January 2, 2010

Clergy sex abuse is a top Baptist story

Clergy sex abuse was the top Southern Baptist story of the decade on the BaptistLife forum.

Bruce Gourley, site administrator, reports that there were 9,373 views of the forum’s discussion on clergy sex abuse in the fall of 2006. That was over 1,800 more views than for any other topic on the forum during the entire decade.

Some of you participated in that 2006 discussion on the BaptistLife forum. You shared pieces of your clergy abuse stories and you tried to engage a dialogue with Baptist ministers on the forum. I know it was painful for many of you at the time. The cold callousness of some of the posted responses was very hurtful. The hateful pettiness of some was downright bone-chilling.

Yet, for many of us, we made that effort to engage Baptists in a dialogue on clergy sex abuse because we held the vague hope that it might help to open hearts and to eventually bring about change within the denomination.

That’s why I’m letting you know about this. You deserve to know. That discussion wound up being the most-viewed discussion of the decade on the BaptistLife forum. This was before the first big Associated Press article on Baptist clergy sex abuse, before the 20/20 show, before the published insurance data and the comparative analysis of it, and before countless other stories made their way into the public light. On the BaptistLife forum, and on many other Baptist blogs as well, many of you were there . . . trying to tell them . . . trying to help them understand.

Give yourselves a huge pat on the back for that. The fact that most of these men won’t hear -- and the fact that they sure as heck won’t actually do anything -- is not our shame. It’s theirs.

We put ourselves on the line by even talking about something so profoundly painful. They put nothing on the line.

In the Associated Baptist Press, clergy sex abuse also made the list of top-10 Baptist news stories for 2009.

So . . . the topic continues to garner attention. But of course, what’s needed is action.


William said...

While we don't agree on all of the solutions to clergy sex abuse in the SBC, BaptistLife welcomes any discussion of the matter. I regret that there were a few jerks who responded inappropriately on BL in the past.

You and those who follow your blog can be assured that anything new on the subject will come up on

john said...

Sorry "William"! Too much experience to trust your statements

Lydia said...

The word is getting out.

gmommy said...

Thank you for any light you shine on this very real issue in the Baptist churches. But we'd really like the old news dealt with honestly so there will be much less NEW news about ministers getting away with sexual abuse.

What could be more relevant to Christianity than believers caring for and protecting the innocent, the vulnerable, and the wounded? The lack of honesty and progress in this area boggles my mind.
I WISH only a few jerks had responded inappropriately.

If I didn't know the Lord personally, the way Baptist leadership have responded to victims and predators would completely turn me away forever.
There is nothing pure or noble about clergy sexual abuse.

Why do people go to such lengths to protect such liars and perverts but turn their backs on those wounded?? When the good ol boys retire...will the next group be business as usual???
Not asking you all this William...just asking myself...trying to make sense of this "in your face" evil.

William said...

I'm not much for trying to discuss things in a comment stream, John but what don't you trust? That clergy sex abuse issues will be welcomed and discussed on BaptistLife? The record speaks for itself on that - dozens of topics and thousands of posts and views.

If you are referring to the jerks who sometimes respond, I can guarantee that we will attempt to minimize that, no small task on any online forum.

Have a nice new year.

Christa Brown said...

"...the way Baptist leadership have responded to victims and predators would completely turn me away forever."

Based on the people I hear from, it's Baptist leaders' cover-ups and do-nothingness -- even more than the abuse itself -- that ultimately causes them to abandon their Baptist heritage. And for many, it's what ultimately causes them to abandon faith altogether. It's so sad how these Baptist leaders who claim to value faith so much are the very people whose falsity yanks the rug of faith out from so many.

"When the good ol boys retire...will the next group be business as usual???"

Well . . . we know the next group is being trained at Southwestern Baptist seminary under the leadership of Paige Patterson (the former SBC president who turned his back on so many who tried to report Darrell Gilyard's abuses and assaulats), and so things don't look optimistic, do they?

John said...

I have seen so much from "SBC leadership" when it comes to getting even with anyone who dares to call their hand that I just wonder how far any group or individual will go to expose the sin of their failure to protect our children. They will go after your reputation and try to ceate doubt as to your credibility in order to cover themselves.
My failure to trust promises made in this area come from too many years of expeience.
Forgive me if this is not true bout you or your organization. I guess I need proof and action that does not fade away when the heat is turned up.

Big Daddy Weave said...

John, is simply an online message board. No reason to doubt William when he says that clergy sex abuse will not be ignored in the forums at

Christa Brown said...

William is a BaptistLife discussion moderator, and he opened the topic of Baptist clergy sex abuse on the BaptistLife forum in the fall of 2006 after a few EthicsDaily articles. I believe it was probably the first big blog discussion ever had on Baptist clergy sex abuse. Subsequently, William opened several additional threads on the topic, and he also did a review of my book on the BaptistLife forum.

For all of this, I am grateful. I appreciate William's effort to engage and foster discussion. However, I also sensed the "rightness" in Sandy's comment yesterday on the BaptistLife forum: "Baptists have a knack for measuring progress by the amount of dialogue taking place, rather than by the amount of action."

In addressing clergy sex abuse, what's needed in Baptistland is action.

john said...

Thanks eveone for the info. I just naturally doubt some things. William, sorry got it wrong.

gmommy said...

I appreciated the book review William did.
I feel like the discussions are an important link to any change that may take place. When the good ol boys could control all the discussions from behind closed doors or control what version of the truth people heard by what they said from the pulpits...the rancid elephant just sat boldly and nameless in the middle of the room.
When we have people like William who aren't afraid to point out the elephant or speak it's ugly name...eventually...hopefully... someday there will be accountability for clergy sexual predators and help for victims.
In the mean time people like Christa and Debbie V and so many others take more abuse b/c they know someday people will have to listen.
Someday people will have read about clergy sexual abuse enough times that they will tire of obeying the self anointed "shepherds" who tell them not to read those "gossiping" blogs or that we are just a few "opportunists".
Someday people will come to their senses, use their brains, and realize the degradation, pain, and humiliation of sexual abuse is not an "incident", not a mere moral failure of a minister,and certainly not any kind of "opportunity" for the victims.
But until that day comes...we keep talking. We never stop.

Christa Brown said...

"...the degradation, pain, and humiliation of sexual abuse is not an 'incident', not a mere moral failure of a minister,and certainly not any kind of 'opportunity' for the victims."

Well-said, gmommy!

ksocks said...

Sexual abuse is a problem of the world. People using their presumed "power" and position to gain even more power over individuals. The world has consumed the church. All of this talk about Baptists and Baptist associations is really irrelevant since Christ is supposed the head of the church. The issue comes to the heart of man. The heart of man is "deceitful above all things and desperately wicked" (Jer 17:9) and the only cure for it is Christ Himself. The call of the "church" is to glorify God. I ask you, is overlooking sin glorifying God. God is love but He is perfect love which encompasses compassion, HOLINESS,and JUSTICE to name a few attributes of love. I can tell you of some atrocious things that have happened with some well known "Baptist" ministries in some states up north. In one case the congregation rallied around the minister and he only served a few months prison time. What does that say to his daughter? It is ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING! The church of today resembles nothing of the scriptural church. Paul wrote to the Corinthians to admonish them in the way they weren't dealing with sin. Our society is a reflection of the failure of the church to be holy and just. We are filled with compassion but it is used in the wrong places. It has become too embarrassing to the bigger ministries to let it be known and in some cases the law isn't being called in. It is easier to sweep it under the carpet and let them be moved to another ministry or become some other church's problem. Christ demands holiness in His people. Sin is a big thing with God!!!!!

We are under the laws of the land. In one case, the pastor was livid that the police were called. The man committed a crime against a child. The pastor knew about it and chose to try to deal with it himself. It was WRONG to try to cover it up. And don't get me started on the subject of gossip. It is not wrong to expose sin and it is NOT gossip. To do so maliciously and with the intent to deceive, yes, but not to expose sin. I would tell everyone I knew with children if a pedifile moved into my neighborhood. It is my duty to protect the innocent.

ksocks said...

In rereading the topic and what I wrote, I realize that Christa is addressing the Baptist clergy and it is a brave thing to do. My statement that it is irrelevant to discuss Baptist associations was only to vent and address the broader issue of the heart. It gets so discouraging to see the name of Christ smeared. And smeared by the very people we are supposed to trust.

Christa Brown said...

"It is easier to sweep it under the carpet and let them be moved to another ministry or become some other church's problem."

Yes. This is exactly the problem in Baptistland.