Wednesday, February 16, 2011

More of what's deplorable in Georgia

Yesterday, a man who identified himself on Blogger as “Nathan Palmer” tried to post a comment to my December column about a former Arnoldsville Baptist Church minister who was sentenced to 13 years in prison for molesting a 13-year-old girl.

Palmer “signed” his comment as “The Pastor of Arnoldsville Baptist Church.”

Pastor Palmer ranted about my prior blog post and also ranted about the Athens Banner-Herald, which reported on both the 2006 case and the 2010 case against Norman Pugh, the former Arnoldsville Baptist minister.

Yeah – that’s right. This involved a former Southern Baptist youth minister who got criminally prosecuted on child molestation charges twice.

As reported by the Athens Banner-Herald, in 2006, church members “rallied around” Pugh; the pastor’s wife posted his bond; and ultimately, a jury failed to find Pugh guilty under the strict “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of the criminal law.

Several years later, Pugh was again arrested, and this time “on charges of aggravated child molestation, sexual exploitation of a child, electronically furnishing obscene material to a minor and making obscene telephone calls to a child involving a different victim.”

This time, Pugh didn’t get off. He’s now serving a 13 year prison sentence. Thank God.

But get this – Pastor Palmer still doesn’t believe it. He’s still proclaiming Norman Pugh’s innocence.

Even worse, he tries to publicly shame the kids.

In his comment, Pastor Palmer smears the 14-year-old who reported Pugh back in 2006. Then he identifies the 13-year-old victim whose case sent Pugh to prison.

Let me repeat that so it’s clear. In a comment that “The Pastor of Arnoldsville Baptist Church” tried to post on this public blog, he identified a 13-year-old child molestation victim.

It is utterly unconscionable. It is deplorable. It is beyond ignorance. It is mean and hateful. Words fail me.

No way, no how, will I allow such a comment to go up on this blog. I’m offended that Pastor Palmer would even imagine that he could use my blog to publicly post such ugliness.

But Pastor Palmer has surely answered the question I posed in my prior posting when I pondered whether Arnoldsville Baptist Church would now seek out that 14-year-old kid who reported their youth minister in 2006 and offer to pay for her counseling. Given that Pastor Palmer is now trying to smear the kid, it seems self-evident that he’s not likely to shepherd his church to do the right thing and pay for the kid’s counseling.

Are you sickened by this story? I hope so. But here’s the clincher.

“The Pastor of Arnoldsville Baptist Church” ends his ugly comment with this statement: “I agree that any clergy, pastor, priest or any person in authority should be held accountable for all actions. Especially hurting a child. It is deplorable. . . . but just because you read it somewhere doesn’t mean you have the whole story.”

Hold up a mirror, Pastor, because you yourself did something pretty deplorable. Your comment would have publicly identified a 13-year-old molestation victim and smeared a 14-year-old. If you’re even remotely capable of seeing the ugliness in your actions, then you should hold yourself accountable.

Furthermore, what good does it do for a Baptist pastor to “agree” in the abstract that clergy should be held accountable for hurting children if he can’t bring himself to see such hurtfulness in the real world, even when it’s staring him in the face?

Self-righteous platitudes will not protect kids. “The Pastor of Arnoldsville Baptist Church” has demonstrated why Baptistland is such a perfect paradise for predators: There are too many people who want to talk about how much they deplore clergy predators but too few who will actually open their eyes to reality.

Despite multiple allegations, multiple charges, a grand jury indictment, a guilty plea, and a 13-year prison sentence, “The Pastor of Arnoldsville Baptist Church” is still conjuring excuses for refusing to believe what is now beyond doubt: The church’s former youth minister was a child molester.


Valarie said...

These idiot preachers feel they can say you are going to hell for telling the truth about a horrible sin against children.
I feel comfortable saying this minister is behaving like a devil.
What kind of an adult would do what the law and the press do not do and name the victim???
He feels he must also smear the another victim...a 14 year old minor child. What a sorry excuse for a human much less a so called preacher. What is he afraid of?
I guess his seminary training trumps the legal system and the judge who sentenced this child molester?? Shameful, wrong, and disgusting.
This "pastor" is victimizing (again) the victims of sexual abuse that happened under his watch.
PARENTS take your children out of this church!!! They aren't safe with a minister such as this man has shown himself to be.

Jim said...

Mr. Palmer (I refuse to call that troll "Pastor") is an embarrassment to honorable clergy, everywhere. Wish you would redact the victim's name and send his letter to his hometown newspaper. Maybe, just maybe, his congregation would see it, discover what a disgusting person he is, and then fire his sorry ass. Pardon my language, but that man should not be engaged in ministry, in any form.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Who in the world are we allowing to be preachers in our pulpits! Words fail me I'm so angry.

Dr Who said...

And remember, all these men within this state are under the direction of men such as Robert White, Gerald Harris, Mike Everson, Wayne Robertson, Wayne Hamrick, Bray, Dickerson, Evers, and the bunch.

Georgia is fast becoming the cesspool for the undesirables within the ministry.

With Robert White, anyone goes as long as he can get those men to "pass the plate" please!

Christa Brown said...

Yes. I know all too well how recklessly uncaring Georgia Baptist leadership is. My own perpetrator spent years working as a children's minister at FBC-Atlanta. After I finally tracked his career to that point (with no help from anyone in Baptistland), and after I notifed Georgia Baptist officials, including Robert White, I got absolutely no help. To the contrary, they acted as though they had never heard of him . . . even though he had spent years working with former SBC president Charles Stanley at one of the most prominent churches in Georgia. And even though my abuse report was substantiated (by another Southern Baptist minister who knew about the abuse when I was a kid), and even though it could be readily confirmed (because the Baptist General Convention of Texas put his name in its secret file of ministers who have been reported by churches - presumably one of his prior Texas churches - and for whom there is an admission or "substantial evidence" of abuse), the Georgia Baptist Convention did not undertake to warn people in the pews in Florida, which is where I finally learned that my perpetrator had gone after leaving Georgia. Nope. They were apparently content to simply leave Florida kids and congregants at risk and without any warning.

Not only because of my own case, but also because of the many other people I hear from, I'd say that about the only statewide Baptist conventions who have shown as much or more uncaring duplicity than Georgia are perhaps Texas and Florida. But of course, these are also some of the biggest, most populated, and most powerful of the Baptist statewide conventions.