Southern Religion

This Little Light of hers outshines the abusers

The Rev. William Thornton offers a concise, powerful review of Christa Brown’s book, This Little Light: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and His Gang.

Thornton’s summary of what follows Ms. Brown’s decision to seek justice after having been emotionally and sexually molested by a Baptist minister, is searing [links added]:

What you get is: a lot of people wishing you would go away, a lot of people just ignoring you, some people in the BGCT making promises and then silently letting them slide by; you get hardball tactics from church and BGCT attorneys, mellifluous words from some Baptist leaders in private but never in public; encouraging words from SBC Executive Committee members in private, but followed by “you can’t ever tell anyone I said that”; you get a lecture from the clergy sex abuse expert in the denomination; you get snubbed by some denominational leaders and rudeness from others. You get called a liar and a long list of other things, none good. You learn that there is BGCT money to help abusers return to ministry but none for victims. You learn that the BGCT accepts reports of abuse by clergy, but only from churches and not abused individuals. You get to hear the SBC pronounce that there were 40 cases of abuse in 15 years, at about the same time you have difficulty in managing your email in-box from other abused individuals telling you their stories.

What should happen when a 16-year-old girl is sexually abused by a Baptist minister and decades later, after she has fought her way out of the predator’s brainwashing, seeks justice and proves her case?

Punish-the-victims denial still occurs and meaningful institutional reform has been rejected.

In 2008, the SBC made Number Six on Time Magazines list of under-reported news stories by refusing to create a central SBC database of church staff and clergy convicted or indicted on charges of molesting minors.

Now there’s a crying human issue for Richard Land’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, if he will take a break from carrying water for the health insurance and coal industries.

Meanwhile, Thornton at, Brown at Stop Baptist Predators and this blog, are accepting recommendations.

September 8, 2009 Posted by | Churches, Crime, Law, Medical Care, Religion, SBC | , , , | 1 Comment

SBC’s Richard Land to help present anti-health reform petitions [with addendum]


Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Conventions’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, has announced plans to meet with other Salem Radio Network hosts tomorrow to deliver anti-health reform petitions to Congress on behalf of the National Center for Policy Analysis and SRN.

The National Center for Policy Analysis is a conservative think tank which is financed in part by the insurance industry and which had such close ties to the Bush administration that it fired staff member Bruce Bartlett upon publication of his book Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Regan Legacy.

Similarly conservative and sometimes controversial, SRN, syndicates Janet Parshall, Land and Hugh Hewitt, among others, and is owned by Salem Corporation.

Land said:

This petition is indicative of a spontaneous grass roots eruption of protest against a government takeover of the American health care system. Anyone who doubts the strength and vitality of this movement needs only have attended one of the thousands of town hall meetings to know that this is real.

Characterizing professionally-promoted petitions which are “signed” online by clicking an eagle icon and filling out an online form as “a spontaneous grass roots eruption of protest” should strain even Land’s credulity.

Similarly spontaneous, delivery of the dubious petitions to Sens. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) is take place a few hours before President Obama’s health care address to a joint session of Congress.


Dan Gilgoff writing for USNews somehow finds in this stunt with delivery via gurneys and ambulances what he calls “a clear indication that the sore feelings between the GOP and its Christian Right base that were in evidence in the run-up to and aftermath of the 2008 presidential election are fading.” Because Republican Senate heavyweights who were just involved in the desperate, failed attack on Obama’s school speech have involved themselves.

In August, 2008, Gilgoff applauded Richard Land’s anointment of Sarah Palin as the Christian Right’s and allegedly the Southern Baptist Convention’s Republican vice presidential selection. Also a stunt, which may not have turned out so well for John McCain.

September 8, 2009 Posted by | Health, Religion, SBC | , , , | 1 Comment

Christian Fundamentalists find their voices on Obama’s school speech [Addendum]

American Christian fundamentalists aren’t wearing tin-foil school-speech hats with conspiracy-theory conservatives. They are instead speaking in faithful, reasoned support of President Barack Obama’s school speech tomorrow.

Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, calls conservative uproar over the speech “a national embarrassment:”

Furthermore, this controversy smacks of disrespect for the President and, by extension, disrespect for the presidency itself. Both fly in the face of Christian responsibility to pray for those in authority. Respect for our government, though never as an end in itself, is part of our Christian responsibility. This controversy threatens to sow seeds of permanent distrust and suspicion in the hearts of the young. In an age of rampant cynicism, this is inexcusable.

John Piper, the well-know Minneapolis author and pastor, wrote of his own embarrassment at remarks by the governor his state and prayed for the president’s success:

Father, the condition of our schools and families is so broken that nothing seems to be working, especially for the poor in our urban centers. Help our president to have the courage to use his amazing place of influence to speak into this situation in such a way that boys and girls would take their studies seriously

Piper, who recently saw a tornado as God’s warning against homosexual-tolerant policies to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, concluded his blog on Obama’s school speech: “I hope my daughter hears the speech.”

World Magazine [via GetReligion] referred us to Craig Dunham, who teaches at a Christian school in the St. Louis area, who wrote:

Am I missing something here? If it’s not in the home (and why a homeschooling family would not use this as an opportunity for discussion I have no idea – we are), I would think parents would at least want their kids engaging live presentations like President Obama’s in a Christian school, where I as a teacher am going to ask questions like “What can we affirm?” (importance of education, faithful study, etc.) or “What needs to be challenged?” (ideas different from Scriptural truth, etc.). It shouldn’t matter who the speaker is – these are the conversations I would think a parent would be PRAYING to take place. Why keep your kids home from them? This logic does not compute; after all, why are they/we here?
At some point, folks, Christians have got to stop putting the mental in fundamentalist and start interacting with the world. Teaching our kids to stick their heads in the sand and ignore anyone they may not totally agree with is, in a word, unChristian. Folks, we can’t counter the culture unless we encounter the culture, so let’s take off the blinders, read through Acts 17 again, and be some salt and light around here for crying out loud.

The sadly counterfactual Christian Coalition of American blog hyperventilating about Obama’s speech still has none of the corrections good journalism requires, but other sources are getting the facts out.

Public opinion polls thus far suggest that attempts to inspire a political panic were not only an embarrassment, they were also a failure. The two available — one in California and the other in Missouri — show overwhelming support for the speech. No surprise, because a President of the United States who encourages children to stay in school and get an education is in that a thoroughgoing reflection of mainstream American values.


From North Carolina comes the voice of a Baptist state newspaper editor calling for adherence to the faith, not partisan furor.

September 8, 2009 Posted by | Churches, Politics, Religion, SBC | , , | 1 Comment