Friday, March 8, 2013

Megachurch calls cops on member who speaks out

A Southern Baptist megachurch reportedly called the cops on a longtime church member who raised questions about news stories that church leaders had “failed to alert authorities about credible allegations of child molestation” involving a staff minister and had kept quiet while the minister moved on to work with kids in another church.

As the Watchdog blogger succinctly explained it, the church didn’t call the cops on the child molester – a minister who has since been convicted – but did call the cops on the member who asked questions about it.

That’s Baptistland for you.

Jack Graham
The church is Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. With about 32,000 members, it’s one of the largest churches in the Southern Baptist Convention. Its senior pastor, Jack Graham, is a former two-term Southern Baptist Convention president, and he heads a ministerial staff of about 40.

You’d think there would be somebody in the mega-sized-leadership of this mega-sized-church who would do the right thing, wouldn’t you?

You’d be wrong.

So far, they have not only failed to do the right thing – over and over again – but they have affirmatively done the wrong things – over and over again. For two decades, Graham and other Prestonwood church leaders kept the allegations against their former minister under wraps, and in doing so, they allowed many more kids to be placed at risk of sexual predation. And now, they try to bully a member who simply seeks to ask some questions.

The story has been repeatedly reported in the media. Just take a look at that long list of articles at the bottom of today’s story in the Associated Baptist Press (which, incidentally, is a news service that’s independent of the Southern Baptist Convention). It’s also been reported on WFAA TV and CBS News, in the Clarion-Ledger newspaper, and in numerous postings by numerous bloggers, including myself. It’s a story that shows an abdication of institutional responsibility and an abandonment of moral responsibility.  

So why don’t the people in the pews see this? Why don’t they speak up? Why don’t they demand accountability?

That’s always the mystery, isn’t it? Southern Baptists say they care about children, but in a church with 32,000 members, only one man speaks up.

Chris Tynes
That man is Chris Tynes. Remember the name. I think you’ll wind up hearing more from him. He’s polite, but very persistent. He's not one of the silent many. You can follow the continuing developments in this story on the Facebook page that Tynes has started called People Against Prestonwood’s Silence on Allegations of Sexual Abuse. Ever the optimist, I'm hoping that many more will eventually join Tynes in his efforts.

Meanwhile, I’m still remembering the over-the-top editorial that the Dallas Morning News wrote about Jack Graham back in 2008, when another one of Prestonwood’s ministers was arrested on child solicitation charges. The News heaped undue praise onto Graham for the simple fact that he addressed the congregation after the minister’s arrest. But of course, by the time Graham spoke, the story of the arrest was already making headlines, and so Graham didn’t have the possibility of keeping things quiet in that case. Now, since the news about this two-decades-long scandal has finally come to light, we see what happens when the possibility for keeping things quiet does exist.    

In the end,” wrote the Dallas Morning News editorial, “the real scandal in cases like this comes not from the sins and crimes of sexual offenders. No church will ever be free of that. The truly damaging scandals arise when church leaders mishandle these crises by failing to treat them with the gravity they deserve. Many in church authority have failed their calling and their congregations under similar conditions through defensiveness, dissimulation and deferring hard decisions. Not Jack Graham.”

Yes . . .  Jack Graham.

Thanks to for linking and quoting this posting under Fred Clark's "Smart people saying smart things" column, March 11, 2013.
Thanks also to Deep Thoughts blogger, Mojoey, for spreading the word about this "unholy scandal" in "Baptist hell."