Mary Kate Cary, former White House speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush, writes in U.S. News & World Report:
For the hierarchy of the church to imply that the controversy is a “challenge” coming from outside the community of believers is just wrong. The people who are most worked up about the charges of sexual abuse are not the so-called enemies of the church, but the young Catholic victims and their families, the lay parishioners and parents of children being raised in the church, and the good priests whose reputations are being tarred by this. At another Easter Mass in my neighborhood, at a parish so full of young families they have overflow seating in the gym every Sunday, the monsignor got a standing ovation after saying he thought the children would have been better protected if women had been in the leadership of the church in the first place, and that the bishops involved should resign. I’ve never seen a standing ovation in church in my life. It’s the community of believers who are as mad as hell. Really, it’s heartbreaking.
Ouch? Regarding African-American Baptist pastor Dwight McKissic’s April 7 excoriation of the Southern Baptist Convention for failure to live up to its 1995 renunciation of racism and slavery, Bob Allen of the Associated Baptist Press wrote:
McKissic, once a rising star in denominational life until he disagreed publicly with influential leaders over a decision to stop appointing missionaries that use a “private prayer language,” said most systemic, institutional and individual racism in SBC life is “passive, not intentional.”
Well, he didn’t call McKissic a “has been,” even if the summation was lame. That disagreement was a full-bore, denominational uproar in which McKissic’s stand played an important role. Most spectacularly, in August of 2006, McKissic gave a sermon at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary chapel in which he discussed his use of private prayer languages. Seminary president Paige Patterson did not have the sermon posted on the school website. Debate & turmoil. In June of 2007, McKissic resigned from the seminary board of trustees.
Ok. Was Enid, Oklahoma, pastor Wade Burleson also “once a rising star” until he disagreed publicly with influential leaders over private prayer languages (and other matters)? Specifically associated with his role as a member of the International Mission Board, from which he resigned in 2008 — an experience he documents in “Hardball Religion: Feeling the Fury of Fundamentalism.”
Maybe not the right characterization, but the official SBC reaction to McKissic is still dismissive. Allen writes that “Sing Oldham, vice president for convention relations at the SBC Executive Committee” said that “a motion referred by the convention in 2009 to study ways to more actively involve ethnic churches and ethnic leaders in serving the needs of the SBC.” And McKissic’s blog post “will certainly be a resource.”
Former prominent Canadian Bishop Raymond Lahey, who last August brokered a $15-million settlement for victims of sexual abuse by priests of the diocese of Antigonish in Nova Scotia and who was already facing child porn charges, is being accused in a civil lawsuit of sexual abuse by a former resident of the infamous Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John’s.
Lahey was arrested in September for possessing and importing child pornography. At the time, Ronald Martin, who launched a class-action lawsuit on behalf of himself and others who were sexually abused by priests in the Roman Catholic diocese of Antigonish and who saw Lahey frequently while negotiating the settlement, said the incident “was the ultimate revictimization for every single one of us.”
Lawyer John McKiggan explains that a core goal of the Antigonish settlement was to compensate abuse survivors while avoiding the revictimization which inevitably occurs in a public trial.
The Roman Catholic Church in Canada sought last year to minimize the issue, but Halifax Archbishop Anthony Mancini has set a somewhat different tone, saying last week:
We have been hit by a violent wind of protest and criticism, and not without cause.
The most recent claim against Lahey involves abuse which is alleged to have occurred in the early 1980s, “before Lahey rose through the ranks in the Roman Catholic Church, eventually becoming a bishop,” CBC reported.
A Florida federal district court refused this week to dismiss the claim by blogger Tom Rich (FBC Jax Watchdog) that Assistant Fla. State Attorney Stephen Siegel violated Rich’s right to speak anonymously, and trampled on the Establishment Clause because defendants had no secular purpose for their actions.
The lawsuit alleges Siegel issued subpoenas that helped Jacksonville police officer Robert Hinson — who was a member of First Baptist Church of Jacksonvilla, Fla. — identify Rich when there was no evidence of criminal activity.
Dismissed in the same action were civil claims against State Attorney Angela Corey for her office’s role.
Rich’s claims against the police officer and against First Baptist were unaffected because they weren’t involved in this motion to dismiss.
Emerging standards for unmasking anonymous bloggers were certainly not met in Rich’s case.
To prevail in this instance, Rich must now prove the violations he alleges. But even at this juncture, the case is a caution for those who would twist legal authority to unmask an anonymous blogger without compelling legal justification. Abuse of power has a price.
[H/T: Religion Clause]