Thursday, July 11, 2013

Baptist World Alliance: Talk but no action

Baptists should take "urgent action to implement measures to protect children from abuse, support their physical and emotional welfare, and respond to allegations of abuse," said the Baptist World Alliance in a resolution passed at its annual gathering July 1-6 in Jamaica.

This international umbrella organization for Baptists – the BWA -- resolved that Baptists should take action even in instances "where the complainant has not contacted police, the police have not pressed charges, the police do not consider there is enough evidence, or the prosecuting authority has dropped the case."

The BWA "urges all Baptist churches, conventions and unions to take seriously every case of alleged child sexual abuse, to ensure that proper rules and processes are in place to protect children from harm and to promptly respond to allegations."

Finally, the BWA expresses "profound sorrow at the ways in which children have been betrayed, harmed and sexually or otherwise abused." It states its repentance of any failure by Baptists anywhere "to protect and of the failure to care for those who have been abused." The BWA also states its regret for instances of "neglect to implement and enforce effective policies and processes to protect children from abuse and of the silence of many of our churches on these issues in the past."

Those last three words – “in the past” – give a big clue as to what’s wrong with this nice-sounding BWA rhetoric. They apparently think that Baptist clergy sex abuse and cover-ups are a problem “in the past” – but nothing could be further from the truth. This is very much a current and on-going problem.

And why does the BWA bother to express its “regret” for instances of “neglect to implement and enforce effective policies and processes to protect children” when Baptists’ failure to implement and enforce effective policies and processes to protect children” is a failure that continues to this day? And personally, I think they give themselves too much credit in calling this failure a mere “neglect.” I would call it flat-out recklessness.

To be sure, the BWA has put forth some nice-sounding words, but it’s still nothing more than talk. Where are the deeds?

And surely, the BWA must realize that deeds are what’s needed. Just a couple months ago, it was reported in Great Britain that seven additional men had made child-rape claims against one of the BWA’s own former high-level executives, minister Robert Dando  

Robert Dando
Dando, who previously served as executive assistant to the BWA president and who was a prominent British Baptist minister, is already serving an eight-year prison sentence in Virginia, where he was jailed in 2011 after molesting two boys while on a mission trip in the U.S.

All the BWA talk in the world won’t take care of those kids whom Dando molested.

Nor will mere talk do the task of reaching out to other kids whom Dando may have molested, including to kids in India where Dando also worked for a children’s charity.

And nor will talk do the job of protecting other Baptist church kids in the future.

Talk is too easy; deeds are needed.