Implicit SBC clerical sexual predator policy [Neglect?]
The inflexibility with which the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) disfellowships member churches which affirm homosexual behavior may surpass Roman Catholic application of excommunication to other issues. The Catholic Church is more tolerant of homosexuality, but like the SBC, faces unrelenting problems with clerical sexual abuse.
The 500-member Royal Lane Baptist Church of North Dallas, Texas, recently placed itself in peril of ejection from the Baptist General Convention of Texas and from the SBC when the diaconate voted to rewrite the About Us section of its Web site to include:
Royal Lane Baptist Church is an inclusive, multi-generational congregation joined in Christian community. We are a vibrant mosaic of varied racial identities, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and denominational backgrounds.
That did not represent a change of heart by the church, as Sam Hodges of the Dallas Morning News reported:
“In effect, this is a collective coming out about who we are and have been for a long time,” said Ruth May, vice chair of the deacons.
. . .
[The Rev. David] Matthews, who became Royal Lane’s pastor last year, said the Bible “understood through the prism of Jesus” calls for full acceptance of gays and lesbians.
Debate over the issue immediately related BGCT/SBC action against local churches with regard to homosexuality and their failure to apply similar force to sexual predators. Nathan Barnes wrote:
The leadership of the SBC and apparently the BGCT are not willing to sacrifice church autonomy to catalog and track sex offending clergy but are willing to sacrifice it to keep GLBT folks from serving the Lord.
In rejoinder, another commenter said, “If aberrant behavior is to be accepted as normal and within God’s provision for human sexual expression, why not pedophilia, or bestiality, or??” and Barnes responded:
BUT pedophila is already accepted. No church has been disassociated from the SBC or BGCT for passing on sex offending clergy to other churches.
It’s not a double standard. It’s the standard.
Christa Brown said at Stop Baptist Predators:
Mr. Barnes got it exactly right. Baptist leaders have so twisted the doctrine of local church autonomy as to make it little more than an easily manipulated excuse to serve their own ends. It’s pure contrivance for Baptist leaders to say they can’t do anything about clergy predators because of local church autonomy. After all, look at how quick they are to interfere with churches that admit to having gay members.
Like the Roman Catholic Church, the SBC is attempting to assert ethical/spiritual authority in the midst of a long public parade of evidence of its failure to protect young Christians from predatory members of its own clergy.
Both have other priorities.
Like hiding what they can behind confidentiality agreements. To protect the church’s reputation and authority, of course.
As the Irish Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse wrote in 2009 that the Catholic Church pre-occupation”in dealing with cases of child sexual abuse” was “the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church, and the preservation of its assets.” Not the protection of the children.
Suffering little children are a lower priority for the SBC than keeping women pastors out of the pulpit, keeping homosexuals out of the pews and barring otherwise somehow insufficiently fundamentalist churches from affiliation.
Realistic minds in both denominations must foresee, absent restoration of their reputation as safe places for the young, a future of empty pews.
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