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.
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.”
Christa Brown challenged Baptist ethicist David Gushee’s echo of self-exculpatory Baptist propaganda in an
otherwise now, as revised, excellent commentary on churches and sexual abuse. To his credit, Gushee responded:
Christa, I thank you for this challenge, and grieve along with you that the evidence leads where it does. I should not have written that last paragraph as it now stands.
The keystone statement in Christa’s blog, to which Gushee’s comment is attached:
There is simply no comparative data to support David Gushee’s suggestion that, for Protestants, the problem has more to do with married ministers who “have affairs,” while for Catholics, the problem has more to do with priests who abuse kids. To the contrary, the data that exists — two decades’ worth of insurance data gathered by the Associated Press in 2007 — suggests exactly the opposite. It suggests that Baptists likely have every bit as big a problem as Catholics with clergy who sexually abuse kids.
Today a revised version of my article will appear on ABP that reflects the lessons learned through this exchange. Thank you.
Gushee revised his column. His introduction says:
(Editor’s note: The original version of this column, published March 29, contained an assertion — regarding differences in clergy-sex-abuse scandals between the Roman Catholic context and the Protestant context — that many readers found unsupportable. The author agreed to change the column. The version published below contains a slight alteration to the second sentence of the second paragraph, elimination of what had been the eighth paragraph, and a replacement of the final paragraph.)
His revised conclusion [bold face is ours]:
An angry population of abused Christians and those who love them and advocate for them is demanding that churches of all types stop the child sexual abuse in their midst. While many other structures of modern life have heightened the protections offered to children, the churches have lagged behind — with disastrous consequences. The Baptist situation may be no better than the Catholic, only shielded more deeply from view. This situation demands reform, immediately, for the sake of the vulnerable and abused children among us — not to mention for the sake of the gospel witness, so desecrated by the abuse behind our stained-glass windows.
Please read the entire piece here.
In his letter smuggled out of Birmingham jail, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. mourned of his fellow clergymen how, “too many have been more cautious than courageous.” He wrote of how he had watched “churchmen stand on the sideline and mouth pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities.”
Christa Brown of Stop Baptist Predators says today in her memorial to Dr. King:
Much the same could now be said about Southern Baptist leaders’ lack of courage in stepping up to the plate to effectively address clergy sex abuse. Instead of taking action, they stand on the sideline, mouthing “pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities” about “autonomy” and “polity” … as if any of that could possibly be more important than protecting kids against clergy who molest and rape them.
If Southern Baptist leaders expect others to view them as champions of morality, then they need to start acting like champions and go to battle to clean up the mess in their own ranks.
Where are Southern Baptist leaders when standing up for those oppressed by their own clergy would mean actually doing something?