That controversial Southern Baptist Pastors Conference is getting “$141,549.00 from the Southern Baptist Convention’s operating budget” – funds provided by the “autonomous Southern Baptist churches,” as Christa puts it. At the Stop Baptist Predators blog she goes on to say:
Why do Southern Baptist officials insist that the local churches are so absolutely autonomous that no cooperative effort can be made for the better protection of church kids against predatory pastors, and yet Southern Baptist officials have no problem at all with the local churches making a cooperative effort for the promotion of bigwig pastors at a national conference?
How many well-informed Southern Baptists, who read outside the family of Southern Baptist publications, also wonder? The abuse, after all, continues apace.
No, we don’t think it is.
Justice does not mean letting any of the abusers go unpunished and journalism does not mean leaving any of the abuse unchronicled.
Failing to report child abuse is a crime for which there is no justifiable church exemption. And as Christa Brown brought to our attention, the consequences of failure to report fell on the heads of a New Hampshire Southern Baptist pastor and two elders last week.
In New Hampshire, [at Valley Christian Church] Southern Baptist pastor Timothy Dillmuth and two church elders, Richard Eland and Robert Gagnon, were found guilty of failing to report child sex abuse. … According to the judge’s written ruling, pastor Dillmuth “had met with the parents of a child who had been molested by a member of the church, which he later confirmed after talking to the child.
“The information was shared with other members of the board of elders in September 2009,” and was discussed at some meetings of the church board.
A month later, when another member of the church urged the child’s parents to report the matter to authorities, pastor Dillmuth talked to the concerned church member and told him to “keep his mouth shut.”
They sought a religious exception to the law, the Union leader reported:
The three men, [District Court of Northern Carroll County Judge Pamela Albee] wrote, sought to have immunity from criminal liability in failing to report the case of suspected child abuse, “arguing that they acted in good faith in persuading the parents and the perpetrator to make report of abuse.” The men were arrested in early February by Conway police and charged that they had reason to suspect a girl had been sexually abused but did not report it as required by state law.
Suppression of the sort they sought punishes the victim, is shameful and deserves legal action.
There is no reason to believe Southern Baptist clergy or protestant clergy in general are less sexually abusive than Catholic priests. So you might expect the big protestant denominations so budget substantial amounts of money to controlling the problem.
Yet when Christa Brown looked “at the 2011 proposed budget for the largest statewide Baptist organization in the country” — the Baptist General Convention of Texas — she found just $3,504 allocated to “clergy sexual misconduct.”
Read her account here.
Christa blogs about Baptist organizations and leaders who have tried to persuade her to help suppress cautionary information about the past predatory behavior of a current employee.
Jim is the director of a poverty relief Christian ministry in Tennessee. One of his staff members is an ordained Baptist minister who, in 2006, was charged by Georgia authorities on 16 counts of child pornography, 2 counts of child molestation, and 2 counts of enticing a child for indecent purposes. News about the minister was reported in a newspaper article, which is posted on the StopBaptistPredators website.
A few days ago, Jim wrote to me. He wants me to delete the article off the website.
Someone else wrote her “last week” asking that “articles on convicted Baptist minister Kevin Ogle, also from Georgia,” be deleted from the site.
The answer in both cases (the right answer) was “no” because:
A published news article might be one of the few possibilities by which people could find out about this minister’s prior history.
Checking prior history of current and prospective employees, and denying those with a history of predation positions which give them access to children (potential victims) is a fundamental obligation of all who provide services to children.
Hiding histories of employee predation is the opposite of that.
This morning the BBC will broadcast [Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams] recorded remarks on the Irish Catholic crisis, in which he says, quite in passing, that the church there has “lost all credibility”. This perception is so widely shared, and so close to the truth, that to say it out loud has provoked an enormous row. After the interview was made public, Williams produced an uncharacteristically political apology – which is to say that he regrets the offence he has caused, but not the offending remark; the Roman Catholic archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, could be heard on Radio 4 yesterday biting back the word “insult” when he was asked about it.
No one can blame Williams for pointing this out, nor indeed for getting his own back for years of patronising comments and aggressive behaviour from the Roman church. The official Vatican observer at the last Lambeth conference appeared to say that the Anglican communion was suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Pope Benedict has personally encouraged the schism in the Anglican churches over homosexuality and most recently announced, to the consternation of even his own church here, a scheme to allow the Anglican opponents of women priests to convert in groups.
Both the conflict, and absent clear-eyed Catholic confrontation with the real circumstances, the decline to which Williams correctly alluded will almost inevitably continue.
Reuters terse, “Factbox” roundup is for those not comfortable studiously looking the other way.
The full, English text of the Pope’s message.
In answer to a BBC interviewer, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams told the blistering truth about the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland:
And an institution so deeply bound into the life of a society, suddenly becoming, suddenly losing all credibility – that’s not just a problem for the Church, it is a problem for everybody in Ireland.
Without retracting, Williams responded today to the avowedly “stunned” Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, by saying he meant no offense and regretted any difficulties his remarks had caused.
Indeed, how could he retract? He was talking about a country where a recent poll by the Irish Independent found: “Just over half believe that Pope Benedict, who faces allegations of covering up sex abuse in the US and in Germany, should resign.”
That poll is part of the evidence that both the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church are losing public esteem hand over fist, worldwide. For example, a similar poll in Austria found that 57% believe the pope should resign. While:
More than 53,000 people left the Catholic Church in Austria in 2009, and local figures for the first three months of this year hint that last year’s record number could be exceeded.
Likewise, a Stern Magazine poll found that only 24 percent of Germans still trust the Pope, whereas six weeks ago 38 percent said they did. And “19 percent of Germany’s estimated 25 million Catholics were thinking about leaving the Church in response to the sexual abuse scandal.”
A CBS poll found that in the U.S., 24 percent of Americans view Pope Benedict XVI negatively — a startling change from 4% in 2006. While his favorable rating among Catholics plummeted from 40% to 27%.
Stinging fellow clerics who in passing state the obvious will not reverse the decline, and because sharp protests of the undeniable are not likely to be well-received, may accelerate it.