Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pastor in strip club shows Baptistland patterns

“Righteousness demands truth.”

That’s what Southern Baptist pastor Randy Robertson preached from the pulpit on Sundays. But during the week, he was spending his time at strip clubs where he spent thousands of dollars.

When Oklahoma City’s FOX 25 news brought this duality to light, it became obvious that Pastor Randy Robertson didn’t really believe what he preached. He certainly didn’t want the truth of his own conduct revealed.

You can see it all on video here:

KOKH FOX 25 :: Special Reports - Pastor strip club investigation

In this story, we can see many parallels to the stories involving Baptist clergy sex abuse. Here are just a few:

There is no effective oversight for the pastor. For months, pastor Robertson was able to spend many hours away from church duties while he frequented a strip club.

The pastor behaves as though he is two separate people. In the video, pastor Robertson even uses a phony name to chat with another man in the club. He says that his favorite strip club is the one that takes credit cards. Why? In pastor Robertson’s words: “If you’re really wild … and sometimes I’m just horny as hell and I … pay with a credit card.” (The FOX report raises the question of whether pastor Robertson may have used offering plate dollars to pay for his strip club visits. FOX doesn’t get an answer to that question, but let’s hope that the church will have the good sense to at least look closely at its past credit card statements.)

There is no one at the church who will receive an inquiry or complaint involving the pastor. At First Baptist Church of Anadarko, Oklahoma, when reporters wanted to inquire about pastor Robertson's financial dealings, no one could even identify the current financial secretary of the church even though there was an office door, clearly visible, that said “Financial Secretary.”

The only way people in the pews find out about their pastor’s conduct is by media exposure. Yet, rather than being chagrined by the church’s own failure to exercise oversight, and rather than being grateful for the information afforded by the work of the media, there are some within the church who instead blame the media for “casting a dark cloud on their church” and say that the media have “no business broadcasting a story about their pastor being in a strip club.”

When exposed, the pastor minimizes his conduct. Pastor Robertson wrote an apology letter to the congregation, but he didn’t mention that the “club” was a strip club, and he spoke as though he had only gone a couple times when, according to the FOX news report, pastor Robertson had actually "been going there for months." And get this . . . Pastor Robertson didn’t even have the gumption to stand before his congregation in person to make his apology. He sent a letter for someone else to read out loud.

State denominational leaders disclaim any oversight and claim it’s a “local church matter.” Nevertheless, the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma stated that it stood ready to provide “assistance and resources” to pastor Robertson.

There is nothing surprising in any of these patterns or in pastor Robertson’s story. And the story certainly isn’t “beyond belief” as one Baptist leader asserted.

Having seen an endless stream of stories about Baptist clergy who sexually abuse kids and congregants, I felt only relief that pastor Robertson’s story was merely about strip clubs.

But the patterns in all these sorts of stories are quite similar.

The repetitive patterns demonstrate that these sorts of stories are not only believeable, but flat-out predictable. This is what you get -- and far worse -- when you have a system that grants power without also assuring effective oversight and accountability.

That’s Baptistland.


Anonymous said...

"The repetitive patterns demonstrate that these sorts of stories are not only believeable, but flat-out predictable. This is what you get -- and far worse -- when you have a system that grants power without also assuring effective oversight and accountability."

far too many put their 'faith' in someone who has been raised up on a pedestal of authority, instead of Lord Christ . . .
and this is the result.

Anonymous said...

Makes you wonder what exactly the seminaries are teaching in those classes where women are not allowed.

Anonymous said...

The reason no one could identify the financial secretary is that there isn't one; the last one resigned recently after it was discovered that she had embezzled almost $100,000 from the church.

The church chose not to pursue criminal or civil charges against her; I wonder if Dr. Robertson led that initiative ... and if so, what he was afraid would come out of a criminal investigation?

Anonymous said...

I'm beginning to wonder what happened to the spiritual brains of the leaders in Baptist land.
It's rather convenient they wash their hands of men like these and claim no authority but would get rid of a woman pastor in a heartbeat.... It's all rather sickening.

Doug said...

Oh me, those resignation letters to unknowing church members who have no clue to what he had done. Seen and fought that before. I had a similar situation after catching 2 ministers viewing PORN. Church turned on me too. Pastor and Deacons wanted to tell the church one of the ministers was "resigning due to health reasons".....I said NO and stood for Christ Kingdom!!! And boy was I attacked!

But don't worry folks, he like others I know that were caught in these types of issues, will be back on the job very soon.

All they have to do is go to a little counseling so that they can say - or have others within their Baptist Convention who say they stand ready to assist - they have "repented" and have gone through "their wonderful Baptist Convention 10 step recovery plan"

Then ploof...just like those I caught viewing PORN on my church computer system, will be employed somewhere else by some church that did not see what I saw and by some Pastor Search Committee who has NO idea!

Forgiveness is one thing, sweeping it under the rug is another -

I wonder who they will blame this on down the road.
Yes it is.... S i c k e n i n g!

Anonymous said...

It's people like him that give Christianity a bad name. This makes me ASHAMED to be a Southern Baptist. It's time for God to CLEAN HOUSE!!!!!

Mojoey said...

This is so sad. They did not even want accountability because of the potential for damage to their church.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the former First Baptist Church Secretary never embezelled a dime....perhaps the Rev. was doing the embezelling. Makes sense to me. He was the one requiring the extra funds for his extra curricular activities...

Anonymous said...

What is even sadder is the response around the blogsphere from PASTORS! they are upset about how the media handled it...and of course, it should be handled in house and those who talk about it on the blogosphere are sinners because they are gossiping!


We have a HUGE pastor integrity problem in the SBC. They really do think they are special. Gee, wonder where they learn that?

Laura said...

"The repetitive patterns demonstrate that these sorts of stories are not only believeable, but flat-out predictable. This is what you get -- and far worse -- when you have a system that grants power without also assuring effective oversight and accountability."

Also, when you live in the fish bowl, there is ENORMOUS pressure. When I worked with my now ex husband in the ministry, people picked over everything from the clothes we wore to my cooking to how often we mowed our own yard (off of church property). When people are always expecting absolute perfection (by their own definition, which differs from others' definitions), you feel this need to do something Bad. You want to get away from it. I think, as anonymous said, part of it can be because they are raised on a pedestal of authority. But sometimes, they're raised on a pedestal of perfection, and they aren't allowed to be human. It's how come I went out drinking, and probably how come my ex husband did what he did. Excusable? No. Understandable? Yes. Church congregations are not entirely innocent of any wrongdoing, and I agree that the lack of accountability, both to a congregation and to the SBC definitely play into it. A pastor can preach about how many hours he works, but only his staff will know how much he is lying. Ministry is hard if you actually care about the people, and incredibly easy if you don't. Therefore, it's a field that often attracts lazy people, not that all pastors are lazy.

A final possibility: people with antisocial personality disorder (psychopaths) tend to not be murderous cannibals. They tend to go into one of two professions:
1. Law enforcement
2. Clergy.

So there you have it.

Christa Brown said...

While the practices that Gregory describes as "safeguards" are good, they're not nearly enough. He describes accountability systems that involve his father-in-law, his wife, and someone else at the church who co-signs checks. All of these people are people within the pastor's own circle of trust and influence. If someone in the church were to try to make an ethics complaint against this pastor, none of these people have the objectivity to responsibly assess such a complaint. Indeed, as I recall, in the video of pastor Randy Robertson, when the reporter asks him if his wife knows about this, he says yes.