Monday, March 22, 2010

Outside Baptistland, there are consequences

As reported in the Waco Tribune-Herald, former Baptist preacher Matt Baker was disciplined in jail for “making obscene sexual hand gestures” toward two female inmates.

According to jail records, Baker was cited for “disorderly conduct, making sexual advances and creating a disruption.”

For this bad behavior, Baker was made to face some consequences.

The consequences lesson is one that Baker never had to learn during his many years in Baptistland. So now he’s learning it in prison.

Remember Matt Baker? He’s the “murdering minister” who, despite numerous reports of sexual abuse and assault, was able to continue his career through churches, schools and organizations affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas. He was always able to simply move on, and no one stopped him.

Not until he was arrested and tried for murder did people in the pews find out about his “secret life as a sexual predator.” That’s when prosecutors announced they had evidence that, during the course of his career, Matt Baker had made unwanted sexual advances and assaults on at least 13 young women, including 4 minors.

Of course, that’s just the ones they were able to find out about.

And now, Matt Baker has shown the same pattern of conduct even in prison, confirming what prosecutors demonstrated in court: “Matt Baker is a sexual predator, as well as a murderer.”

The difference is that, this time, there are consequences.

This time, Matt Baker will face consequences for even an obscene hand gesture. That’s more than he ever had to face in Baptistland even when he was reported for sexual assault of a freshman college girl, for cornering a teen church girl in a closet, and for accosting a female church custodian.

And even though other Baptist leaders knew.

For all this and more, there was no revocation of Matt Baker’s credentials, no suspension of his ministry, no docked pay, no negative letter of reference, no disciplinary deterrent, no nothing of any consequence. In fact, despite the many prior abuse and assault reports, and even after he was arrested on murder charges, Matt Baker’s paycheck still continued. Even at that point, he was merely suspended with pay.

Can you imagine any other job in which someone could repeatedly get away with so much horrific conduct while facing no consequences?

That’s Baptistland. It’s a paradise for preacher-predators.

Not only was there no consequence for the bad conduct of the preacher-predator, but there was no consequence for any of those who turned a blind eye either. And there still isn’t.

That too is Baptistland. It’s the land where clergy sex abuse is ignored, and clergy sex abuse cover-ups are ignored as well.

Baptistland: It’s the land of no accountability.

But now that he’s in prison, Matt Baker is learning that he’s no longer in the magic land of no accountability.

In the world outside of Baptistland, bad conduct has consequences.

For Matt Baker, it’s a lesson long overdue.

Related posts:
Baptists threw kids a rattlesnake, 1/26/10
Complicity of Baptist leaders, 1/24/10
It shouldn’t take a murder, 1/21/10
Guilty! Jury says pastor murdered wife, 1/20/10
Excerpts from the Matt Baker murder trial, 1/20/10
Baptist leaders silent at start of murder trial, 1/12/10
Baptist leaders must consider possible consequences, 6/12/09
Risk: Another lesson from the Matt Baker story, 12/31/08
Baptists at their best? 12/30/08
Why didn’t Baptists bust him? 2/23/08


FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Great post. Yes, discipline for obscene hand gestures, more discipline than he ever faced as a minister. How ironic is that?

Good thing officials in the prison system don't care that he's "God's man" or is a "minister". My bet is they are more wary of jailed "ministers" than they are other common criminals.

Keep up the great work Christa.

You going to be in Orlando in June for the SBC annual meeting? My family and I will be there...

John said...

This is good news! I only wish they would put him out in the generl population. Even murders and crooks hate lowlife sexual predators. They let these people stay together so that the othere inmaes will not be able to administer jailhuse justice to these jailhouse religious fakes. I have worked in a prison as have several of my family members. It is a real sweet place for these types!
Good job Christa. I do not know how ou manage to keep us so well informed but we do appreciate your work!

James H said...

I have a question. THe Catholic just got through with their audit those figures were relaesed today.

I guess reading from you blog and site that the SBC does not do that.

Can you tell what the pprcedures are for the United Methodist Church , Episicopal Church USA, and the main Presybtarians USA bodies. I guess I am curious about these since these are Faith communities I interact with. Is it a database, an audit like the Catholic Church USA, or nothing

I am just curious as to Protestant Denominations what model they are using and what success they hav3e had . I thought you might know.

Christa Brown said...

James H: You're right -- The Southern Baptist Convention does not keep records on clergy abuse allegations in the way that the Catholics do. No records - no trace - no trouble. It's part of how the Baptist problem is able to stay under the radar more easily than the Catholic problem.

To my best knowledge, United Methodists, the Presbyterian Church USA, and the Episcopal Church USA all have regional and national review board processes for the assessment of clergy abuse accusations; and disciplinary measures can be imposed based on those denominational processes, including the removal from ministry of credibly accused clergy and/or clergy for whom there is substantial evidence of abuse. That sort of process does not exist for Southern Baptists. And though most Baptist leaders seem to think the clergy accountability measures we're asking for are outrageous, we're actually asking for LESS than what most other major faith groups in this country are already doing. We haven't even asked for a disciplinary process by which the state or national Baptist bodies would remove men from ministry. Baptist leaders have emphatically claimed that such a process would be contrary to their religion. So, what we asked for, instead, was the creation of a denominational review board that could more responsibly assess abuse reports in a professional and more objective manner and that could then assure the assessment information reaches people in the pews.

It's been a while since I dug around for it, but I know that the Methodists and Presbyterians used to have a lot of information about their clergy abuse review processes on their national websites.

John said...

Afetr reading your latest post cncerning the school principal and coach in Arkansas I am really beginning to wonder if the refusal of the SBC to do anythig is because they do know moe than is revealed at this time! Maybe they are afraid that some of their sins or those of their friends will be revealed. I do not like to venture into speculations but I am sick of their stonewalling!

Christa Brown said...

This is the Arkansas story that John is talking about. You're really on top of things, John. I just got it up on the website about an hour ago.

The first complaint about this Arkansas guy was made 11 years ago to church officials! No one did anything.

John said: "I am really beginning to wonder if the refusal of the SBC to do anything is because they do know more than is revealed at this time!"

I absolutely believe this. Too many are too afraid that their own dark deeds of cover-up will see the light of day.

James H said...

Thanks for the INFO. I was really wondering how the Methodist it because they would would seem most akin to the Baptist in culture of the local Church though I suppose their "Bishops" might have some limited power to remove. I would have to think about that.

I am going to comment on you latest posting on my blog today.

I think you are very right to pick up on the similar nature of what the problem was as to oversight and how the the situations between Batist (Local Church autonomy) and Catholics (Its my DIocese get out) are similar