"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Odds and Ends For the Weekend

Item One

This Friday night ABC television will air a two part series on the news program 20/20 which will examine Sexual Predators in the Southern Baptist Convention. I predict this program will be a shocker for many around the nation. I am hopeful that we who are part of the SBC can show legitimate, thoughtful concern for the problem in our midst and take concrete steps to protect our children and our churches by establishing a national data bank in Nashville that tracks men affiliated with the SBC who have been convicted of sexual harrassment or sexual abuse.

The Dallas Morning News has already posted a press release about actions being taken at the San Antonio Southern Baptist Conventon this summer to address the problem and appropriate steps to deal with it. The full press release can be read here.

Item Two

I received the following email this morning from Brian Cleveland about his dad, my friend and fellow Southern Baptist blogger Bob Cleveland.

Just wanted to let you know that dad appears to have had a TIA or Transient Ischemic Attack [some people call them a mini stroke] this morning. He is in a local Hospital and doing very well. His only symptom was some slurring of his speech. The CAT scan and MRI's have come back negative and all of his symptoms were gone as of 5:00 pm. They will be doing some additional test tomorrow and the neurologist thinks he will be able to go home tomorrow afternoon, or Friday morning at the latest.

I know he is going to be ok as he was asking for his laptop this afternoon to check the blogs :)

We would appreciate your prayers, God has already been answering today as we have seen the symptoms disappear and dad is his normal [ok, that is somewhat subjective] self.

Why don't you stop in and send Bob a get well message on his blog Eagle's Rest.

Item 3

Today is my daugher's 20th birthday. Charis is an absolute delight to her mom and dad and we will be traveling to Waco, Texas to spend the day with her tomorrow.

I look forward to posting again later this weekend.

In His Grace,

Wade

66 comments:

Anonymous said...

Convicted sexual abusers are already tracked on various databases. While I don't object to SBC ministers with such records being listed on an SBC database, what should be done with confessed abusers who have never been convicted?

William

Wade Burleson said...

Good point.

I'm open to any recommendations to identify 'confessed' child abusers, but I wonder how 'confession' would not lead to 'conviction?'

Maybe I'm missing something.

wade

Debbie said...

Wade: I cannot believe Charis is twenty. I remember when both our kids came up to the kneecap(well my kneecap anyway). That makes Merrill and I.....oh well, time marches on. :) Happy Birthday Charis.

I also wanted to say that I support the stand you, Ben and CB are taking. I say this for very personal reasons that have nothing to do with Southern Baptist. Anyway from this grandmother and mother's heart, thank you.

Les Puryear said...

Wade,

You have my complete support for the database.

Regards,

Les

Emily H. M. said...

Pastor Wade,

I wonder what you would think of a similar resolution on wife abuse. I know that it is not necessarily something in the press, but I have been doing quite a bit of work recently in the matter of wife abuse in the US and the church's response (or lack thereof). The statistics are staggering. Sadly, Christian homes fair no better. In fact, in some studies, they are worse.

I understand the resolution you are raising is specifically focused on child sexual abuse (and I applaud you for it!), but wife abuse is on my heart and mind. I wonder what you think. (Perhaps the SBC has addressed this in the past and I am simply ignorant of it.)

I appreciate your leadership,

Emily

Wade Burleson said...

Emily,

Definitely in favor of a database on that as well.

wade

Robert I Masters said...

Wade,
It seems that Mr Boto has already had alot to say about what convention can and should do about abuse.
http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=25021
Is the 20/20 program about Southern Baptist Churches only? I concluded that from your blog but not from SBC Outpost!
Databases about people are general a bad idea. What happens when someone gets falsely tagged! The Duke Lacrosse players might have something to say about that database. I personally know of a pastor who spent 20 years trying to clear his name
SDG
Robert I Masters

Bob Cleveland said...

Wade (and others):

Odds and ends is right. That was really odd. I'll put up a post about it but, in the meantime, thanks for the prayers. There's no doubt they helped get me released today.

I'm back to whatever normal was before I got all abnormal yesterday morning.

God bless.

Pamela said...

Pastor Wade,

I would like to ask a sincere question since you pastor a congregation.

Have you read an article that appeared within the past week or so about a United Church of Christ (I think) church struggling with allowing a convicted child molester attend the church? I believe another article also came out about a Lutheran church with similar issues.

Here is the first article: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/northcounty/20070325-9999-1n25whattodo.html

I'm asking because it seems like only the victims of abuse are dealt with in most cases but rarely if ever does a church reach out and minister to those that are guilty of committing such horrible sins such as child abuse. They try to be sensitive to those in the congregation that have not forgiven the molesters or have not been able to walk through and receive healing from the pain they suffered. Those that are guilty in most cases are not allowed to attend, even though in many cases that person did nothing to anyone in the congregation.

I know a few people that were victims of child molestation. I also have a friend that turned in his father when he found out that he was molesting a half brother years ago. That man went to jail for a brief time IMHO (2 years), then spent 10 years on the sex offenders registry. He is now active in a church that I believe is SBC here in the Tulsa area. I do not know if they know of his past or not. I have no personal experience of child abuse.

I know that there will be confidentiality issues with my question but I would like to know how you would handle a situation if a child molester (repentant) wanted to attend your church in Enid. If Christ paid the price to redeem all it seems like the body of Christ should be there to train those that have been caught up in sinful behavior that we might find really offensive. If they cannot come to the church for help where will these people go?

I want it clear. I totally understand the seriousness of this sin, especially when the victims are innocent ALL THE TIME. I will never forget when my friend came to me about his father not long after I met him. It was a horrible time to watch him go through that process. At the same time as Christians we say that we love the sinner but hate the sin. I would hope that more would see child molesters as people that Christ died for just like He died and suffered for the rest of us. The article(s) seem to communicate that the body of Christ is willing to deal with the less repugnant sinners than all sinners. This is NOT the message of the gospel. All can change through the gospel.

When I scrape up enough nerve I plan to ask the pastor of the church (non-SBC) that I attend about how the leadership would handle this. I have not been a part of this congregation all that long. This issue is really bothering me.

I would love your input on this.

Wade Burleson said...

Pamela,

We have a serial exposer in our church. He was arrested in a supermarket exposes himself to girls. We have offered him support, counseling and friendship.

He would tell you to this day that he considers our church a place of acceptance and forgiveness.

However, there are some consequences to his sin including:

(1). He can never work with children.

(2). He can never be in the church alone, he must at all times be with a family member or staff member.

(3). We have informed him this will not change until the Lord calls him home to glory.

I guess what I'm saying is this. We forgive molesters, but they will live with their crime until the day they die.

Christa Brown said...

Robert I Masters: Saw your comment on SBC Outpost saying I was "less than honest." But neither I nor SNAP was ever “less than honest”, and I was greatly offended by the Baptist Press’ distorted spin. If you or anyone else would like to read something other than the Baptist Press version, here is my account: http://www.stopbaptistpredators.org/opeds/
mistakes_apologies.html

Would you say it was “less than honest” when the SBC wrote me that it had no record of my perpetrator still being in ministry...even though he was actually still working in children’s ministry in Florida? (This is a man who was a long-time ministerial colleague of a former SBC president and then of a former Florida convention president - seems strange that no one knew about him or was able to locate him.) Does anyone at the SBC even consider it to have been a mistake to give me information suggesting the man wasn’t in ministry? No one has acknowledged that it was a mistake, and certainly no one has apologized for it. Yet, I think most would view it as a failure of potentially much more serious consequence than a misplaced brush-off letter. (The SBC reply letter that was misplaced at SNAP’s Chicago office said “continued discourse will not be positive or fruitful” - it was a mere brush-off.) I suppose SBC leaders might say it wasn’t their job to locate such a man, and therefore that they bear no obligation to apologize for the misleading information. But it wasn’t my job to go up to Chicago and find out about a misplaced brush-off letter either. Nevertheless, I took on the burden of organizational responsibility and apologized for the fact that the SBC's brush-off letter was misplaced at SNAP’s Chicago office. Why doesn’t anyone within the SBC take on the burden of organizational responsibility and apologize for misleading me into thinking my perpetrator wasn’t still in ministry. I guess it’s because the buck stops nowhere in SBC circles. And what about an apology to parents in Florida for the fact that SBC officials knew about a reported child-molesting-minister and didn't take steps to inform them? If your kids were in one of that man’s churches, wouldn’t you have wanted to at least know whatever information was available? Even if the SBC can't exercise authority over a church, can't it at least provide information to people in the pews? How about using the Baptist Press for something like that?

volfan007 said...

do we not already have venues in place where we can check on someone.....to see if they are a molestor or not? i can get on this computer and check on many states and not only see names of convicted child molestors, but most states have thier pics on the site as well. so, why do we need an sbc database? the money it would costs? more burocracy? more lawsuits(people who were falsely identified)? etc.

this just looks to be an sbc nightmare to me....to get the sbc to be involved in such a thing.

david

Robert I Masters said...

Christa,
I dont think you really understand how Southern Baptist Church polity works. You made a public accusation about a verifiable letter to the press! You made public amends...I acknowlege that point.
My only point was that you were originally "less then honest"...my point stands!
The SBC does not tell local churches what to do. An Example...no one from the SBC told President Clinton that he could not be a member of his Little Rock Church. Individuals might have....but not as an identity for the SBC. There is no SBC church!
Baptist Press has no mandate to tell the
the churches how to act or believe either.
Personally; I tend to be a bit skeptical when people go to the secular press to promote an agenda. I just dont believe that out of the 42,000 plus churches that fellowship in the SBC, someone will not advocate for justice for you.
SDG
Robert I Masters

bobby gilstrap said...

Wade,

This is a very important issue. For individuals and our SBC churches. But let me ask, is it good stewardship of our time and money to basically duplicate what is already being done? I can look up convicted sexual predators at any time and even locate their homes. The SBC would have to spend an enormous amount of money and most likely never achieve the accuracy of state and local law enforcement agencies.

Let me re-post a few comments from my response on SBC outpost.

As an associational director of missions, when I train Pastor/Staff Search Committees, I highly recommend that they do the full background check on any candidate that they consider seriously. In fact, I recommend that they mention that as a policy very early in the process … if a prospect has a problem … they will likely withdraw. HOWEVER, beyond the formal background search, I highly recommend that committees commit time to doing research on the internet on any serious candidate. I recommend that they take every combination of the person’s name (aliases, abbreviations, etc.) and run them through several Internet search engines.

The one potential weakness with this kind of search is that if there is no conviction it may not appear. Although, if there was an arrest, it may still appear in the media.

In the future, if there were an accusation or an arrest of a minister, this kind of background research would show due diligence in attempting to discover a history of problems.

Out of curiosity, I just “Googled” the name of one of our former associational pastors that was arrested several years ago and is now serving a prison term … his name popped up all over … newspaper reports and blogs about his arrest and imprisonment. Interestingly enough, when I dealt with regional TV and newspaper reporters, they were all thoroughly confused by the SBC system. All were Catholic in background and just could not understand why I (as a denominational worker) would not take action. I had to explain repeatedly that any action was a local church decision.

Because the local church must be responsible for all of this, I also recommend that Pastor/Staff Search Committees ask any candidate to sign a “Reference Release Authorization Form” that can be sent to all references, giving them the legal ability to speak freely. Again, if a candidate has a problem, this will most likely not be signed.

The final item I recommend is that the church have any staff sign an “Employee Lifestyle Agreement.” In this covenant, the employee agrees that he/she will not be involved in any conduct, which would normally not be considered as compatible with the Church’s mission. It also gives a lengthy list of specifics (i.e. homosexuality, sexual sins, etc.).

I firmly believe that the time will come soon when insurance companies will no longer insure churches that do not have a screening process in place for sexual predators. A process should be in place for more than just staff. Screening should occur for all volunteers working with any minors.

Where should the “ball” of responsibility end up??? It has to end up in the hands of the local church … especially for SBC churches.

Anonymous said...

Wade,
IS it actually true that the use of pornography is eliminating 50% of men applicants to be missionaries which was reported in comments on your blog?

In connection with “Sexual Predators in the Southern Baptist Convention”, what is the reasoning of asking missionary applicants “When was the last time you used internet pornography?

I mean, does it have an effect on a person that leads to sexual misconduct either with children or adults? Have studies or research been made that show pornography is a danger or is a stepping stone to ‘greater’ sins? Have actual problems on the field of missions occurred?

If all this is true, should the same question of pornography be asked of applicants being interviewed to be a pastor? I doubt this question has ever been asked, but if it was maybe it would cut down on “Sexual Predators in the SBC.”

What do you think?
Rex Ray
PS, I noticed someone else besides me said their password would not work anymore. Is it us, or what?

Anonymous said...

In reference to sexual abusers who have no conviction, this could come from an incident too old to prosecute but for which a confession or acknowledgement by the abuser is made (see SNAP for one incidence of this type, the Bellevue case would probably fall here as well).

This is not a particularly simple matter but its importance demands that the SBC look closely at it.

William

Pamela said...

Pastor Wade,

You answered how I expected. I'm very grateful that you did not turn that person away. I would hope that other pastors would have the same graciousness that you have, that is, to reach out with the gospel. I agree that safeguards are needed just to be cautious. It just seemed to me that more pastors would have come up with safeguards as you did then just to say they cannot come.

Thanks so much for your response. It is appreciated. I will probably ask the pastor where I attend the same question.

Christa Brown said...

Robert I Masters: You are willing to accuse me of being "less than honest" because I didn't know about a brush-off letter that arrived in a SNAP office many miles away. And you make that harsh accusation even though, as soon as I learned of the letter, within less than one day's time, I contacted every reporter I had spoken to, and within another couple days, I had put together a public press release apologizing for SNAP's mistake. And that letter that I didn't know about wasn't even a letter of any consequence. It was a tacky, mean-spirited brush-off.

Yet, even though you're such a harsh judge of SNAP's mistake, you do not seem to see any problem with the fact that the SBC wrote me that there was no record of my perpetrator being in ministry...even though he was. Why does that not merit the label of "less than honest"? Why are you not such a harsh judge of your own organization? And the SBC has never even bothered to apologize for that. In fact, I don't have any reason to think anyone even considers that failure to have constituted a mistake. It must be nice to be part of an organization in which no one has to take responsibility for such a mistake...and yet a misplaced clergy child molester is surely a matter of much more serious consequence than a misplaced brush-off letter. And therein lies the problem. The lack of accountability may be nice for those in positions of power, but it can have devastating consequences for the weak, the young, and the vulnerable. Without effective systems for accountabilily, it is too easy for abuse to go unchecked.

And as for my going to the secular press? After having gone to 18 Southern Baptist leaders in 4 different states, and after having waited over a year, and after learning that my perpetrator was indeed still working in children's ministry, I felt something had to be done, and it obviously wasn't happening in Southern Baptist circles. And the reason I went to so many Baptist leaders? Because I myself was completely incapable of believing that there wouldn't be someone somewhere in Baptist circles who would want to do something. If I have any regret, it is that I was naive in trying to hold on to that belief for way too long.

Bob Cleveland said...

Wade:

In reference to sex abuse (or other forms of abuse) policy, the important thing is to get something going. Just sitting and doing nothing isn't that, and neither is trying to come up with something that pleases everybody.

My Dad always said "Pleasing everybody pleases nobody", and I believe it.

For more years than I care to recall, churches have covered over stuff. If you have someone who's lousy at a job, let's get him to resign and then give a favorable recommendation so he can then go do a lousy job somewhere else; that sort of thing. Well ... that doesn't get it any more (if it ever did).

Thanks for all the prayers. I know I must be back to as normal as I ever was, because I'm now noticing spelling errors, as well as misuse of the word "it's".

C'est la vie...

Bro. Robin said...

Bro. Bob

Glad to see you are back on the net. I would agree with you that something, needs to happen, but that something is the right thing. How will a database in Nashville prevent what is going on. We already have the capability to locate those who have done such things. And, how would a data base prevent a first time abuser or someone who has never been caught?

I applaud Wade for bringing this to our attention. But let's keep the data base on someone else's plate. The issue we are facing is how to prevent such things from happening. First, we must keep these men who have practiced their evil from ever being put into a position of trust in the church. So, how do we do this. Would a database that is kept up by the SBC do the trick. I would say it won't do enough. There are already data bases available for churches to utilize if they do a proper criminal background check. Why should we expend money and duplicate the system?

What I propose is to either organize our own agency (task force) or cooperate with someone already engaging in educating churches on how to prevent sexual abuse from occuring in the church. This could be fed down through the state conventions to the local associations with the DOM's working as a liason between the task force and with the local churches to implement policies and do criminal background checks on all pastoral candidates. This task force or agency would continually educate our churches and offering assistance to help prevent the abuse that has gone on in our churches for years.

To only have a data base keeping track of those who have already done this will not offer protection to those who are abused by pastors, S.S. teachers, or ministers who have never been caught or who will engage in this type of activity for the first time. Churches must be education and policies implemented that include practices on the local church level and especially policies to do thorough criminal and credit background checks.

While no system will be 100% fool proof, just having a data base will never meet the need that is out there.

Again, Wade I applaud your effort to bring this to the forefront of our thoughts. I would hope these suggestions could be added to your motion. Maybe a revision of the motion to not only include your proposed data base, but to investigate what would be the most feasible action or actions from the proposed data base or a task force that would operate in a similar fashion I have described.

Sorry I broke your rule concerning the comment being shorter than the post. I just hope this adds to the discussion and the best is done to protect the innocent that come in our churches.

God Bless

Christa Brown said...

An Emory U study concluded that a male offender who abuses minor girls has an average of 52 victims before he is caught, and the offender who abuses minor boys has an average of 152 victims. And only 3 percent of these crimes are detected. Because perpetrators tend to have multiple victims, the best way to prevent abuse is to stop people who have done it before. But with a 3 percent detection rate, you aren't going to stop them if you only stop the criminally convicted. It's flat-out normal for victims to bring forward their accounts long after the limitations period for criminal prosecution has run. This means that there needs to be some other mechanism for considering allegations of abuse...and yes...even mere allegations should be taken seriously and looked into in a responsible, compassionate and conscientious manner. Most churches (who hopefully don't encounter this on a regular basis) lack the experience, training,and education to appropriately investigate and consider a clergy child molestation report. And even if they had all that, they would still lack the objectivity. This is why there must be some sort of resource outside the confines of the local church to which victims and witnesses can make reports with some reasonable expectation that the matter will be conscientiously considered. Even if that resource board doesn't have any authority over the local church, it could at least provide them with investigatory expertise and objective conclusions. (If the church had a building foundation problem, wouldn't it likely consult with a foundation expert? Why not when it has an even more serious "foundational" issue?) AFter getting some objective expertise, the church could still decide for itself what to do....though I imagine that if they kept a minister who was determined by an objective review board to have abused a kid, that the church's insurer might exercise some persuasive power at that point.

Colin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
volfan007 said...

there are some people out there who seem to think that ministers know others who are child molestors and are keeping hush hush about it. well, let me just say....as a minister...that i dont know of any other ministers that are child molestors and we're all being hush hush about it. also, i haven't heard any of my minister friends over the past twenty-six years saying anything like..."hey, david, so and so is a child molestor, but let's keep it quiet." that aint happened.

so, before we all go on a minister witch hunt, lets keep things in perspective. sure, there are a few ministers out there who have molested children. and, if they are convicted.....you know, innocent until proven guilty....then they are put on a state sex crime offenders list for all to see with just a few pushes of a few buttons on the computer. and, instead of pouring thousands of cp dollars, and time, and more beaurocracy, and more lawsuits of those falsely listed on some sbc sex offender list; why dont we just use the one the states already have?????

david

Debbie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Colin,
You said, “I would submit that pediphilia stems from pornography in most cases.”
That’s the only opinion or facts that anyone has answered my 4 questions:

1. Does pornography have an effect on a person that leads to sexual misconduct either with children or adults?
2. Have studies or research been made that show pornography is a danger or is a stepping stone to “greater’ sins?
3. Have actual problems on the field of missions occurred?
4. Should pastor applicants be asked, “When is the last time you used pornography?”

Until my questions are answered, you, others, and I, (like Bob Cleveland said) are only “thought police.”

I wholeheartedly agree in your asking, “Of all who read this, how many of you profess Christ and regularly view pornography?” But I predict you won’t get any answers.

I think it would be appropriate to change “regularly” to ‘any’. Of course the key word is “view”. You can’t check out of the grocery store without seeing questionable material. It’s like not being able to keep birds from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building a nest.
Rex Ray

Anonymous said...

Mr. Masters, slow down, stop arguing and defending and just listen. Can you "hear" her? Do you really understand what she is saying and does she know you are hearing and understanding her?

Kevin Bussey said...

Wade,

I'm glad you are making this motion. I don't know all of the answers to this difficult subject but something has to be done. There are too many hurting children and adults who were abused as children in our churches. I deal with them daily.

It has to stop.

volfan007 said...

kevin,

how will this motion stop child abuse?

how will it be any different than what we already have? the govt. sex offender registry?

david

Anonymous said...

After watching the 20/20 segment last night, I wonder if some chickens have come home to roost.

DP

Anonymous said...

One wonders how law suites are going to evolve. "Follow the money" could mean from church to church, if an abuser was known but not defined and notice given, as he went from place to place.

Don

Robert I Masters said...

Anonymous,
Your response sounds pretty wimpy.
Should I get in touch with my inner self?
Maybe I should go to hear Joel Osteen?
I deal in facts! Like Bavinck writes...Our Reasonable Faith.
Its a Reformed thing ......see Gods Glory is more important then an emotional feeling of love.
SDG
Robert I Masters

Kevin Bussey said...

David,

You are amazing. You are always against everything. Why are you so negative?

Children are more important than your precious "autonomy."

We ought to try something. What are you doing about out it except being against any kind of reform in the SBC?

volfan007 said...

kevin,

i noticed that you didnt answer my questions. you just called me negative.

believe me when i say that i am against child abuse. i would be for keeping convicted child molestors out of positions where they would be around children. i am for child molestors being punished. what i am saying has nothing to do with being for or against child abuse.

what i am saying is why do this? for what purpose? what difference will it be from what we already have, and the govt. is paying for it instead of us? would not a resolution against child abuse and calling for churches to do more to stop child abuse be more in order? i mean, why set up a sbc sex offender registry? we already have one....paid for by uncle sam, and all it's beaurocracy takes care of it.

i'm not against reform.....if reform is needed. i just dont see that this is a good idea. in fact, i only see it as leading to more cp dollars spent needlessly....to more beaurocracy to take care of this registry, which leads to salaries(more money)...and possibly to more lawsuits(we had better be very careful who we put on this sbc list)!

david

david

Kevin Bussey said...

David,

I've answered this already. Those lists don't do squat. You have to check every state they have lived in. You are going to trust the government to protect our children?

"If reform is needed?"

You've got to be kidding me. Did you see all of the pastors who were paraded on 20/20? I've dealt with this mess for way too long. I've had a close family member who was molested by a pastor who is still in a Baptist church. Don't tell me reform isn't needed.

Christa Brown said...

volfan007: I can assure you that I never, ever, ever encounter anyone who tells me that they are in favor of child sex abuse. It's not a matter of being for or against it. It's a matter of what do you do to prevent it. I hear an endless stream of stories about ministers who have been allowed to go on their way even after there was information that should have been reported to police and parents. It's the nature of denial. People choose not to see it. No one says "Oh well...I know he's a child molester, but that's fine with me." What they say is instead something like...."Well...I don't really know EXACTLY what happened, and I don't want to risk hurting this guy's reputation"...or "Well, he confessed and repented, and he told me that he really didn't do much anyway, and I gave him a stern talking to"....or "Well, she's been away from the church for so long, and she's not even a part of our church family anymore so why should we believe her over him?"...or "Well, she's 15 and seems mature for her age, and so I'm sure she must have done something to entice him"...the variations in how people minimize, deny, and excuse this crime are just about endless. But the pattern has shown itself over and over and over. Mostly it's not a problem of bad people or unGodly people who consciously allow child molesters. Instead, the problem is that good people too often do nothing. That's an age-old problem that has cropped up in lots of other contexts, and this is one of them. When confronted with something horrifically awful, people often blind themselves to it, because if a person really and truly sees it, then the very seeing of compels action, and taking action often involves taking some risk....and the status quo is a whole lot easier and less frightening.

Leigh Ann Powers said...

A database could be helpful to churches. I do think it would be helpful if churches had some way of reporting incidents where no charges were filed, however. I know of one situation where a youth minister engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a high school girl, but no charges were ever filed because of her lack of cooperation with investigators. If we went this route, though, there would also need to be some procedure for rebuttal on the part of the accused because of the danger of false accusations.

However, something else we might want to consider is putting resources into educating and enabling churches in the area of background checks and child safety procedures. For small churches on tight budgets, doing background checks on all volunteers and employees can be costly, especially since they have to be renewed periodically. If the SBC was able to contract with an agency or group of agencies churches could call for background checks at a reduced rate it would be helpful, especially to our small membership churches.

Debbie said...

I deleted my first comment and got called away, so did not get a chance to rewrite it until now.

Christa: I too saw the 20/20 report and I am so sorry this happened to you. I could see the pain in your face still as you spoke of what happened to you. The system definitely failed you.

david: If you would have seen the 20/20 report last night, you wouldn't have to ask that question, Kevin answered it quite well. Because the national data system is seriously flawed. It doesn't work.

Debbie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
volfan007 said...

to all of you, i ask again, how would a sbc database be any different than what the govt. has out there now? all you have to do is look it up on the computer, or call the local sheriff's dept. and they will tell you. i have done that before, and they were more than glad to give that info.

also, christa, i'm very sorry for what happened to you. i truly am. i did watch the 20/20 report on the net today. christa, how is having a sbc database ...list....gonna expose some of the examples that you gave in your post to me, when these men have not been convicted of the crime? are you for putting men who have just been accused on this list...in this database? what if they were falsely accused? what if they then sue the sbc for millions of dollars due to thier name being dragged thru the mud by the sbc database?

can you and kevin and others see what i'm saying about this proposal?

and, if you say that only convicted men will be on this list....this database.....then, again, we already have this with the govt.'s list. and, kevin, what's so hard about checking out every state where the guy has lived? or, better yet, i beleive that convicted sex offenders have to register in whatever state they are living in.....do they not? so, the guy would be on the states list where he's living at the time that your church is checking him out.


i just need for yall to share with me how this sbc database is gonna work, and how it would be any different than what the govt. has for us already. i will be voting against it in san antonio until yall show me different.

david

ps. i would vote for a resolution calling for churches in the sbc to do more to curb child abuse.

leigh ann powers said...

State databases only report when there is sexual misconduct that breaks the law and leads to conviction. Churches also need to know about other issues of sexual misconduct. The following statement is regarding the BGCT's Clergy Sexual Misconduct Database. I assume an SBC database would operate in a similar fashion:

Though many churches will conduct a criminal background check of potential candidates, many do not realize that sexual misconduct that does not break the law will not be included. For that purpose the Baptist General Convention of Texas maintains a file of congregational incidents of clergy sexual misconduct. The Convention relies on local churches to provide information about such cases. A case is put into the file only when a minister confesses to the abuse or misconduct; there is a legal conviction; or there is substantial evidence that the abuse or misconduct took place. The issue of whether substantial evidence is present is always reviewed by Convention attorneys. Information related to this file can only be submitted or requested by duly elected officers of a local autonomous church or institution which voluntarily relates to The Baptist General Convention of Texas. See Church Reporting of Clergy Sexual Misconduct (pdf).

volfan007 said...

leigh ann,

so, the bgct still depends on churches to report these men? the same churches who dont report sex offenders now?

also, your statement concerning people who are included on the list who were not convicted says....."there is substantial evidence that the abuse or misconduct took place"...who gives this evidence? who decides that the evidence is substantial? what does the bgct do if someone takes them to court because they dont beleive that the evidence is substantial?

kevin, do you see the beaurocracy involved? lawyers, people compiling the list, people checking out evidence, etc.? the money and time involved? and, in the end, will this keep all child molestors from being hired by baptist churches? no. it will still depend on individual churches taking the time and effort to check out the men they call to be ministers. there's the answer....churches taking the time and effort and costs to check out these men thru background checks, calling people in the towns they served in, checking out sex offenders registries, etc.

david

Anonymous said...

Mr. Masters, I would never say you are "wimpy" but yes, that would probably be a good start...might even get your focus off of everyone else, who knows?

Christa Brown said...

volfano: You ask some good questions. Many of your questions were asked so frequently on another blog/forum that I created a faq page to try to provide my views on them. It's here. ( http://www.stopbaptistpredators.org/faqs/
autonomy_and_review_board.html ) Of course, the creation of an independent review board wouldn't require re-inventing the wheel. There are models used in other faith groups that could be adapted.

I agree that any such database needs to have more than just the convicted, and that would require the creation of an investigatory body. It doesn't need to be an investigatory body with any actual authority over churches. But it does need to be independent (indpt of church loyalties and indpt of any concerns for job security or political advancement within the denomination), and it needs to be staffed with people who have training and experience, and who could provide autonomous churches with the resource of objective information.

The BGCT's list doesn't work. It's good PR for them, but it doesn't work. As volfano points out, the BGCT depends on churches (i.e., church officials) to make reports (they don't use the reports of mere victims or witnesses), and those are the same churches who don't want to see something so ugly about their own minister. And on the very, very rare occasions when a minister's name gets onto the bgct's list of "known offenders"....after having been reported by a church and based on a confession or "substantial evidence" according to the BGCT's published policy...it STILL winds up being a completely ineffective list because the BGCT doesn't do anything proactive to warn the poeple in other congregations. My own perpetrator was listed in that file at the BGCT, and yet he remained working in children's ministry in Florida for over a year after I made a written report about him. People in the pews in Florida weren't warned, and nor were people in the other churches where he had worked in children's ministry. His name simply sat in a file in the BGCT's building. And the saddest thing of all? The BGCT likes to brag that it does more than any other statewide Baptist organization in the country to prevent clergy sex abuse, and I believe that's probably a true statement.

Kevin Bussey said...

David,

What I see is a bunch of excuses. I see a bunch of people that should be requested taking advantage of people.

I see reformers like Wade and Ben addressing the issue. Thank God. I see people like Christa who have the guts to tell the truth.

It is time we do something and quit making excuses.

Debbie said...

david: I do see what you are talking about and I too think you ask good questions. These are all things that will have to be worked out. It may not even be perfect at the beginning, so we keep working out the details and that would include making sure there are no false allegations. I hear this as an obvious fear on your part and others. Our children need to be protected and parents need to feel their children are protected, no matter what the dollar price.

I have been reading the last few months about money being wasted on less important things than this, which a data base of some sort or some other solution, in my opinion is not a waste. I as a Southern Baptist member would gladly see dollars spent on this. I am grateful that this has been brought to light by Christa and others, I'm sure it was not easy for them due to the heavy criticism they are receiving, but there has got to be a better system than we currently have.

Children who are molested never get over it, it changes who they are even into adulthood. A price tag or the excuse of autonomy should never be an excuse. Christ was very clear on people that harm children and we should take this seriously. No more excuses, just action.

Anonymous said...

Christa Brown on her report said:
"Q: What about false reports? I’m concerned that good ministers could be falsely accused and have their ministries ruined.

A: Fabricated sexual abuse reports constitute only 1 to 4 percent of all reported cases.
I realize that there is a small but nevertheless real risk of an occasional false report. However, it is important to balance ALL of the concerns. When you weigh all of the factors – the small risk of false reports, the fact that harm to a falsely accused minister is career harm and not life-threatening, the fact that vulnerable kids are at risk, the known fact that most who abuse the young have multiple victims, the risk of life-long serious psychological harm to additional victims – the reasonable conclusion is that there must be a system for accountability. The small possibility of harm to an innocent minister’s career cannot be the sole criteria that outweighs all other factors so as to preclude action for the protection of kids."

I have a friend that fits into that category - the 1 to 4% that is falsely accused. In his case, he had some church members that did not like him, therefore they made up a story in order to get the upper hand.
Wade, Volfan, Kevin, Christa, and others, if people do not like you, they can make up stories to ruin your career and nothing will ruin a pastor's ministry quicker than being falsely accused of child abuse. One such pastor I know spent 8 years in seminary and then he is falsely accused and he has no other training to get a secular job. It has hurt his reptuation and also hurt him financially.
We do need a system of reporting and notifying church of those who commit violent acts against children, but we must be careful that we do not harm innocent people in doing so. One child abused is too many -- one pastor's reputation hurt by false charges is one too many.
As my friend says, "I hope no one gets mad at you - people can make all kinds of accusations and this is one accusation that you are guilty until proven innocent."

volfan007 said...

anon,

i too have a friend that has been falsely accused of child molesting. i wont go into great detail, but let's just say that a teen boy accused my friend of molestation because he was caught by my pastor friend doing something that he shouldnt have been doing. the next thing you know, my friend was being arrested. he is awaiting trial at this time.

it was not only his career that has been hurt....not only his ministry that has been hurt...not only his reputation that has been hurt, but he could also end up in prison over this. and, he is completely innocent. the teen boy is just trying to "get him" and to get out of trouble.

i have also seen several ministers who had women get mad at them and accuse the pastor of making a pass, or trying to kiss them, or something like that....when the minister was innocent. but, the women got mad at them for whatever reason, and hell hath no fury....

i have seen it happen time after time, or i've heard of it happening from minister friends. would these men be on a sbc list?

david

volfan007 said...

christa and debbie,

thanks for you intelligent answers and your attempts to help me see how an sbc sex offender database would be beneficial...also, thanks leigh ann for trying as well. i still just dont see it. i think that we are inviting huge problems and beaurocracies and false accusations into the mix. and, child molestation will still happen at some churches by ministers. i still think that sbc churches should be encouraged and exhorted and maybe even trained to check out ministers before hiring them.

thanks ladies for trying to help me see it. believe me when i say that i am with yall on trying to stop this cankerous, cancerous sore on humanity. child abuse is terrible.


kevin,

wade and ben arent always right about everything. God bless you, bro. i pray that the Lord will do wonderful things in your life this next week.

david

Anonymous said...

If a church wants an unmarried college person to work with their youth for the summer, should they prefer a male or female? Sometimes the pastor may be alone with the youth worker. On the other hand, the youth worker may be alone with one of the youth. So is the priority of the church to be concerned about the pastor or its youth?
Or should the church pick whoever is the best qualified?
Rex Ray

Kevin Bussey said...

I agree we should make sure that it should not be "allegations" only. I should be conviction.

Go look at Christa's website. There are at least 20 pastors who have been convicted. They should be defrocked.

Anonymous said...

If a pastor has confessed or is convicted of child abuse, they should never pastor again, period. However, we do not want people throwing all kinds of false accusations at pastors or other staff members. As a child of God, I have a responsbility to protect children from abuse, but I also have a responsibility to those who are falsely accused- be it 1% or 10%. You ________ (put your name in the blank) can be falsely accused and end up with a wrecked ministerial career. I have no problem with a data base established for those who have confessed or were convicted but other than that, we have a moral obligation to protect both children and those who are falsely accused.
SBC pastors need to be careful in how they set up a data base because if a church member is angry with you and decide that they want to get rid of you, making sure your name is on a data base is the quickest way to ruin your ministry.
In America, a person is innocent until proven guilty. That is what our nation stands on. Oftentimes in child abuse, you are guilty until proven innocence.
As a convention, we need to make some strides in keeping child abusers out of the ministry - we have done a poor (well, terrible job to be truthful) job. Yet, we must also remember that there are church members who loved to spread rumors/falsehoods about pastors.
We need to be careful - because you might be next. Ask yourself: how would I feel if I was falsely accused?

Cecdaddy said...

Perhaps I misread Wade's motion over at Baptist Blogger, but I thought all it calls for is a "feasibility study concerning the development of a database of Southern Baptist ministers who have been convicted of sexual harrassment and abuse, and that such a database be accessible to Southern Baptist churches..."

It seems to be that his specific motion is designed to get us moving in the right direction, to see if it is feasible, and to make any such database available (if it is feasible). It is also specifically for convicted ministers only.

volfan, I am hearing you clearer than I have ever heard you on another post. You are concerned that such a database will do no good. Won't that be determined in a feasibility study? Perhaps the Executive Committee will determine that it won't do any good, but then we will have a study of what is needed, why it won't help, and then we may be able to think of things that will help.

Right now, let's look at all the options available to us as a convention.

David Cecil

Debbie said...

Rex: Note: This is my personal opinion. I believe they should pick whoever is most qualified and take precautions to make sure that neither is alone with either one. It's not the best way maybe, but I believe it to be the safest way.

Cecdaddy said...

Anon,

I can not imagine how I would feel if I was falsely accused, although I am sure I would be angry, depressed, and completely distraught at the very least. When I consider how I feel when I hear about kids being molested or raped, and I look at any kid, but especially my own, I think that those feelings are worse.

Sign me up to take the risk of being falsely accused. My faith in God's ability to care for me is much greater than my fear of losing a "career" because of "church members." Besides, if false accusations make up 1-4% of all accusations, that means a potential false accusation against me represents anywhere from 99-24 true accusations being made.

David Cecil

Debbie said...

While I understand the concern,I am disturbed that this is turning into more emphasis on false accusations than the real problem here, which is the sexual abuse of children.

I believe that a SBC data base or deeer investigation as well as other solutions could possibly alleviate or at least prove the innocence of those falsely accused which I believe are small in number, although I could be wrong. The issue is a solution for the safety of our children.
I think both concerns can be solved with the right people putting their heads together. It seems to me however, that the safety of children should be the bigger concern.

Robert i Masters said...

FYI,
Here is an example I posted at SBC Outpost.What can and does go wrong.
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070410-myspace-prank-gone-bad-leads-to-misuse-of-school-resources-multiple-lawsuits.html
It happens alot....I work in IT trust me.
The world hates righteous men and any tactic is fair game.
SDG
Robert I Masters

Anonymous said...

Where is the 20/20 program on the web? I tried to record it using my very old VCR but it malfunctioned.

Pamela said...

Way too many young people take advantage of the laws that presume guilt when it comes to child abuse. I have had several friends of mine that were raising teenagers at one time. At times when they tried to discipline them they threatened the parents with reporting them to the police as child abusers. They know the game and will use it if they do not like the correct punishment being given for wrong behavior. As mentioned in other posts you also have wicked people in the church that will stoop to slander to ruin people that they hate or are jealous of.

If the issue of false accusation is not addressed well you will see a severe reduction in people willing to serve the Lord in ministry. If you think churches have problems with getting people to work with their children it will probably get worse in the days to come. I would love to see the percentage that truly would be willing to take that risk and lose everything knowing full well that they will be presumed guilty if accused long before any true evidence shows up. It's nice theory. It is totally different when it happens to you. Parents are scared to discipline their own children knowing that the system is against them.

I do not know the answer to this but to not consider liars in this is ill advised. The Lord really needs to intervene in this.

Anonymous said...

Debbie,
Thanks for the reply. Your answer is ideal for being safe. On the other hand, if it’s impossible to keep them under ‘supervision’, would it be better for two adults to be alone, or an adult and a child?

Maybe the problem would be solved if the BFM stipulated all pastors will be female. How’s that for a wild idea?
Rex Ray

Debbie said...

At least with two adults together, one adult could better defend themselves. A child doesn't have as much chance. I am having a hard time however, getting your point.

Two adults can be with a child for safeguarding. The same with two adult workers. There are safeguards that can be put in place, if anyone has an objection then that person would not be right for the job.

Colin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Debbie,
You’re right, my point is hard to see. I guess I’m upset our church voted to hire a male to protect the image of our pastor. I believe the subject should never have been mentioned, but trusted the Holy Spirit to pick the right person without us going overboard in making ‘rules’ like the IMB.

I brought the subject up to see if anyone could justify our church for making such a rule.

Again, I say thanks.
Rex Ray

volfan007 said...

there's a man in the bible who would be on a "list" of sex offenders who was innocent. his name was joseph. and, the incident with potiphar's wife would have put him on a sbc database list. joseph would never have been able to serve an sbc church after that situation.

hell hath no fury like........


david

Debbie said...

Thank you for clarifying Rex.

david: Good point. I do believe this could be a problem but also believe this could be worked out. I am in agreement with you that this would not be a witch hunt.

Pamela said...

volfan007,

You stated in your comments to Christa that you watched the 20/20 program online. Can you post the link please? I would like to view it. I had checked on the ABC web site but could only find the 3 minute highlight.

volfan007 said...

pamela and anon,

the three minute deal is all i could get as well. i wish i could have seen the whole thing.

david