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

Preventing Child Abuse Is A Calling For Us All

At the San Antonio Convention this Tuesday morning, at 8:40 a.m., I plan to introduce the following motion:

“I move that the Southern Baptist Convention requests the Executive Committee to conduct a feasibility study concerning the development of a database of Southern Baptist ministers who have been credibly accused of, personally confessed to, or legally been convicted of sexual harrassment or abuse, and that such a database be accessible to Southern Baptist churches in order to assist in preventing any future sexual abuse or harrassment.”

The issue of preventing child abuse must be dealt with by all Christians, including the Southern Baptist Convention. I don't have all the answers, but I know that we must do all we can to stop the victimization of our children, and we cannot turn a blind eye toward those who commit such crimes.

Recently, Lane Aspinwall, the national marketing coordinator for the 501C-3 non-profit organization called Darkness to Light, contacted me to ask our church staff to participate in their online training. This organization is committed to help train adults to "prevent, recognize, and react responsibilty to child sexual abuse."

Our children's directer, Paula Minx, and my personal secretary, Barbara Ebert, both took the on-line course. The cost is $15.00 and both ladies told me it was very helpful in learning how to prevent child abuse.

Paula says of the The Stewards of Children Course:

The Darkness to Light truly brings to light the epidemic of child sexual abuse through the Stewards of Children training. The interactive training engages the participant through video testimonies of victims, child advocacy workers, pediatricians and other professionals. The program also incorporates an interactive workbook that contains the full program curriculum for further reference. The format of the program is well done, but the content is life changing.

Darkness to Light opened my eyes to many startling statistics, such as experts estimate that one in six boys and one in four girls will be sexually abused by their eighteenth birthday. That is an epidemic. But, less than one in ten will tell about the abuse. That is heart breaking. Darkness to Light provides insightful training on how adults can help in the battle against childhood sexual abuse through the 7 steps to protecting children. These include learning the facts, minimizing opportunity, talking about it, staying alert, making a plan, acting on suspicions, and getting involved.

The Stewards of Children program has personally led me to assess programs within my church, to determine questions that I should be asking my own children, and to discover how I can be proactive in the fight. Remember, we are the adults. We are the people responsible for the safety of our children. This training helps us to know how to keep the children in our lives safe. I would encourage everyone to join the fight against child sexual abuse, and the Stewards of Children training is a great first step.

Paula Minx
Director of Children’s Ministries
Emmanuel Baptist Church

Barbara Ebert writes . . .

I just finished taking the course and want to say that I would highly recommend it to parents, teachers, children’s workers, youth workers, grandparents, or anyone involved in the stewardship of children.

The training is thorough and easy to follow, although it was somewhat confusing at first to get logged in and get started.

Anyone completing this course will be better informed and equipped to protect children from child sexual abuse. If abuse has already occurred, this program outlines step-by-step procedures to follow; but especially teaches an adult how to sensitively deal with a child who becomes a victim of such abuse.

This course would be especially important to our children’s workers here at Emmanuel, even to Sunday school teachers.

One thing that stood out to me is that the more informed children and adults are, the less sexual abuse is likely to occur. Even those who would abuse children are put off if they know the child is informed of potentially dangerous situations and empowered to say ‘no’.

Darkness to Light has trained over five hundred facilitators in forty three states, and has to date seen over sixty thousand people in five countries trained on-line.

Our own Paula Minx plans to be trained as a facilitor of this ministry, and if you would like to join her to be certified to help people in your community to prevent, recognize and responsibly react to child abuse, we hope to be offering in Oklahoma a regional certified facilitator seminar in the near future. The Charleston Association of the Southern Baptist Convetnion in South Carolina is already a step ahead of us in this, but we hope to catch up soon.

Preventing child abuse is something the Southern Baptist Convention should be proud to be able to set the standard.

In His Grace,


Wade Burleson

I will post beginning Sunday night from San Antonio and will have daily updates from the SBC all next week.

60 comments:

bill scott said...

Wade,
Amen. May the efforts be fruitful and may such a study lead to a plan of action to prevent this most horrible of crimes.
Bill Scott

Glen Woods said...

Wade,

Hi there! I have been watching from the sidelines for a long while. :)

Thank you for the information. As a Children's Pastor for many years, I have learned the value of continually upgrading my skills in this area. I will definitely check out the online course.

I do have a question for you. Practically speaking, what would be the criteria for "credibly accused?" It seems to me that single phrase could be a problem for the motion due to vagueness. I would hate to see your motion run into problems if others within the SBC raise similar questions to mine. Just a thought. I wish you the very best in making it happen.

Blessings,

Glen Woods

Wade Burleson said...

Glen,

The phrase 'credibly accused' was recommended by a couple of child advocacy organizations. I personally do not know the legal implications, but I'm sure attorneys will insure the wording when the official recommendation comes back to the SBC from the Executive Committee.

My motion only calls for a study.

I'll be unavailable for comments until Sunday.

texasinafrica said...

Hi, Wade, great post on an important issue. Just one point: I think you meant "Paula" instead of "Paul" in your third-to-last or so paragraph.

Wade Burleson said...

Thanks TexasinAfrica. Corrected

Wade Burleson said...

Glen,

I meant to say, "I'm sure attorneys will insure the 'proper' wording when the official recommendation comes back from the Executive Committee."

Anonymous said...

I'm all for a database, as long as only the people that need to be on it will be. I don't to see innocent people drug thru the mud, proclaimed guilty until proven innocent. I don't want to see ministers of the gospel lose their calling over disgruntled laypeople making false accusations.

Chuck Bryce said...

Important issue that we need to do everything in our power to address. I do agree with Glen that "credibly accused" is an invitation for problems. When push comes to shove, legally, it seems to me that the SBC would only be able to list of those names convicted or possibly even indicted.

Have a safe trip to SA.

Chuck Bryce

blackhaw66 said...

Wade,

You know the BGCT recently put up their database on the web. right?

http://www.bgct.org/texasbaptists/Page.aspx?&pid=4288&srcid=824

It is rather interesting that you bring this up rigt after they do that. (I think they did it this week) Why did you not mention the BGCT in your post?

It is a good thing though. However I too have worries about what "credibly accused" is. I would not want to put an innocent man or woman on a web site of sex offenders.

Chuck Bryce said...

Oops,

"list those"

and

"indighted"

What a doofus I am!

OC Hands said...

Wade,
My wife and I say "It's about time!!" This has been a growing problem in Christian circles for a long time, and it is encouraging to learn that there is an organization dedicated to training people in the detection of this type of abuse. Such abuse should never happen in a Christian setting, but being aware that it does happen is part of the solution. Thank you for bringing this to the attention of the convention.
The next step should be a similar motion regarding spouse abuse, but I don't see that happening any time soon. Reason? Too many believers are the culprits, according to authorities.
But this is a good start.

OC Hands said...

Chuck,
"Indicted' is correct. Stop beating yourself up.

volfan007 said...

wade,

dont we already have this database and the govt. is footing the bill? it's called the sex offender registry. why would we need to have something like it in the sbc...more beaurocracy....more money....false accusations and lawsuits...etc, etc, etc.

i agree with whoever said that some innocent people are gonna be turned in to this just because someone's mad at them. then, the lawsuits will come!

why cant churches looking for a staff member just check the sex offender registry on the web? why cant they just pay...it's ten dollars around here....the local sheriff's dept. to do a background check?

i really dont think that we ought to go this direction. i'm all for protecting children. i'm all for making sure that these guys dont get access to children. but, we already have these things in place, and we...sb's....are not liable for the mess ups!

david

Bob Cleveland said...

I find it curious that there's a resolution about alcohol and all that stuff, but there's resistance to something like this. We trust folks, apparently, to go it on their own on this issue, but think that the mass must speak to any consumption of beverage alcohol.

Or, maybe we've been better at hiding abuse by ministers, than drinking by members.

It's symptomatic. I think one of the reasons the Integrity of Membership Resolution was shot down last year is that we could never find a way to spin a reduction of 30 or 40 or 50 percent in membership into something positive. We'd have to admit we'd been misrepresenting things all along.

I'm more concerned about what God thinks about this.

Tripp said...

Bob Cleveland is exactly right. If our Convention can pass resolutions regarding the use of alcohol, there is no reason what so ever that we can't tackle this issue.

Wade, thank you for your action on this front. This is a very serious issue that we as Southern Baptists must confront. Our children are our most precious gift from God...we should see to it that we protect them at all costs.

I do worry a little bit about the "credibly accused" phrase. We do not want this to become a "witch hunt" nor do we want someone to be branded a child abuser who is not guilty.

There would need to be some concentrated oversight regarding this. Yet, action needs to be taken. I applaud Wade for taking that step.

docjoc said...

As a physician I have learned that Pedophilia is much more common that most of us imagine.

I personally know of a very active fellow church member….in my own Sunday School Class who was arrested for pedophilia. I knew this man or thought I did. He was close to me…a married man with wife and children…and a long time Baptist. By every indication he was a true believer and deeply interested in serving the Lord. I was his teacher. After he was arrested I asked myself how I failed him. What should I have done differently?

My only thought afterward was that we Christians do a very poor job of dealing with sin. We often treat it as a ubiquitous problem that every Christian has which of course is true, but we end up not dealing with is early enough to stem it from blossoming forth into a terrible action.

In our own community I know of a Baptist pastor pedophile…a Baptist pastor found dead whose house was searched to see what caused his death only to find drugs under his bed…a Baptist Sunday School teacher convicted of murder.

These terrible events could have been prevented…if those only dealt with earlier.

Regarding pedophilia, everyone church must have a policy in place for all people who work with children- first to prevent it and secondly in dealing with it should it occur.
Every worker should know that this policy exists and what will be done if it is only even suspected. The worker should also be made to sign a release of his work record to any other church or police authority if requested.

Christa Brown said...

Numerous questions, including questions about the "credibly accused", were asked on a different Baptist blog months ago. In response to that prior dialogue, I put up a FAQ page with some thoughts on it - here. Perhaps it may be helpful or give some of you some additional thoughts.

I am encouraged by Wade's revised motion and urge Southern Baptists to support it as a step forward toward making kids safer.

gmay said...

This is a subject that must be thought through carefully and anyone who raises concerns can easily gain a label they do not deserve. As I see what Wade is doing, it should not be compared to a resolution on alcohol because he is advocating a study committee, not a mere resolution. The study committee would be required to report back to the convention.

I expect the convention to pass his motion and that to be followed with a careful and thorough approach by the executive committee.

Knowing that I share a name with two other pastors in the SBC, I couldn't help but wonder if one of them were to end up on this BGCT confidential list, could I be confused with them?

gmay said...

BGCT list addendum!

In fairness to those who share my name. I have no reason to believe their names or mine are on the BGCT list.

Anonymous said...

Wade,

I don't know if you know about this site, http://www.familywatchdog.us/
but you can already find out about registered sex offenders. I think churches should at least be checking the names of people working with their children by a site like this.

Debbie said...

gmay: This is calling for a study, it has and will be thought through but is necessary. I think the ones that believe they will be unjustly accused need to take the necessary precautions that this will not occur. I think the needs and welfare of the children must come first. It must.

gmay said...

Debbie, the purpose of my comments were to call attention to the fact that it is a proposed study and not a resolution. I am encouraged that you and others are trusting the executive committee with the responsibility.

OC Hands said...

Debbie,
I agree with you--the children's needs and welfare must come first.

R. L. Vaughn said...

This post title, “Preventing child abuse is a calling for us all,” brings up an issue on which surely all of us can agree. Of course, there may be disagreement over the details of how preventing child abuse might best be handled, but surely all of us can agree on the desire to prevent it. Therein lies the possiblity of working for the same goal, even if we’re not on the “same team”.

I grew up in a rural area without ever hearing of child abuse by the clergy. This doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, just that I never heard of it. It hasn’t been that many years ago that I would never have thought of something like this happening. Some of us are way behind the game. While others are doing something about it, some folks are still coming to grips with the reality of it.

A few months back, I read what seemed to be an antagonistic attitude of SNAP toward the SBC, child predation and church autonomy. My first thought was that rather than trying to “reinvent the wheel” (overcome autonomy for the good of the children), a better plan would be to figure out how to work with autonomy in protecting the children. I suppose at this juncture, I still have more questions than answers.

Local church autonomy is a doctrine, not only of Southern Baptist churches, but almost all Baptists that I know. Not being a Southern Baptist, it nevertheless sounded to me a little like the SBC was being “picked on”. I don’t believe they have a “false wall of church autonomy”. But I do believe we can be inconsistent in our application of church autonomy. The association I grew up in was not SBC. They were much more loosely structured. But it is a simple fact that every year the association passed resolutions condemning this and/or recommending that. In about 1982, something came up that evidently was troubling to leaders of missions, seminaries, etc. They did not want it to be discussed in the association. The method they chose was to go into “full local church autonomy mode.” This was “a local church issue” they said. It should not be discussed in the association because each church must decide for itself. Really? What issue did they ever discuss that was not a local church issue, that ultimately had to be decided at the local church level? None. While we may not hide behind it, we at least apply autonomy inconsistently.

But this local church autonomy brings up another issue. I understand that the SBC is “front and center” on this issue because they are by far the largest Baptist association. But, if I am not mistaken, over half of the Baptists in the United States ARE NOT in the Southern Baptist Convention. So, though whatever solution the SBC achieves will be good, it does not touch over half the churches in the U.S. There is still a great problem to grapple with. And, while “the real clincher” – that ABCUSA does it so the SBC ought to, as well – might convince some conventions/associations, it is a fact that there are thousands of Baptist churches that are COMPLETELY UNAFFILIATED. So, it seems to me, at some point in this continued battle, we must come to grips that a “top-down” approach or a "convention-planned" approach will not work for all Baptists.

These thoughts are not offered in opposition to suggestions that Wade, Bart and others have made, but rather in addition to them.

Frank said...

Wade, we appreciate your leadership in this, so much. I am married to a survivor of clergy sexual abuse and claim zero objectivity. That being acknowledged, let me say that the world is watching to see if Southern Baptists are indeed People of the Book. Do we believe that it is better to have a millstone put around the neck and be thrown into the sea than offend one of these little ones?

These little ones are offended and suffer for years. My wife is one who did not lose her faith in God and, in fact, serves as the greatest missionary I know. So many, though, equate the criminals with the God who the criminals misrepresent.

I am not a lawyer, but I can tell you this: lawsuits are coming against evangelical churches that shelter abusers, with or without this action...and they should! For the sake of Christ, we need to do all that can be done to protect the children of today and help those who were the victims of yesterday.

Que Dios le bendiga

Frank

Anonymous said...

I agree with the doc. This is VERY prevalent. I have a volunteer position with survivors of child sexual abuse and the stories are terrifying. The scariest part is how they never tell anyone until they are grown. It isn't "acceptable" to tell and children feel ashamed and responsible, so they just don't tell. You can bet if someone tells it is probably true. It takes alot of nerve to tell on a predator because you are also telling on yourself.

Renae said...

Several posters mentioned checking the sex offender registry. The problem with leaving it at that is that so many of the offenders are never reported, never prosecuted, never convicted.

Every church should take part in training in preventing abuse, and have a plan in place to deal with abuse if it occurs.

In addition to children, young adults are often victims of sexual abuse by clergy. Pastors and staff members of a church should be held to the same ethical standards as doctors and therapists, but these cases are all too often seen as "consensual" and the victim is written off by the church while the pastor is defended.

The more safeguards that can be put in place, and the more informed each church, each church member, can become, the safer our kids will be.

It is irresponsible of us to sit back and say that nothing needs to be done about these issues.

I hope the resolution passes, and I hope the study returns concrete plans to implement safeguards for our children. Kudos to you Wade Burleson!

PS - If you have been abused - there is help out there. Start with Christa Brown's site www.stopbaptistpredators.org or Dee Miller's site www.takecourage.org.

Debbie said...

I do not understand
I was told that the SBC already had a committee looking into this
Either you all do not know about this – which I would wonder why
Or I was lied to
I need to know which it is

I went to religious leaders
I told them I had proof that this so called “Man of God” was the father of my child
I told them that I made a tape recording of him that shows I was only 14 when this started
I told them that he was still the Pastor of a Baptist Church
I told them from what he told me, I was very concerned about another young girl
No one would do anything to warn his church
This was not and is not just my word against his
So tell me why is he not only still the Pastor
But I think I was just lied to by the SBC

Someone explain this to me

For the others who have made some comments

I am sorry for you – but
First off – going what I have gone through and want I know others have gone through – what the heck makes you all think that someone would make this up and make false accusation – tell me really what are the odds of this and is it high enough to put at risk so many young people – children

Second off – By the time someone is able to tell
The statue of limitation comes into play and therefore there is no criminal conviction
So what good does it do to just release names of those only convicted
What do you think helps them to continue doing this

I am sorry, but I just read that the BGCT actually has a program to help these men who are abusers to return to the ministry
This is beyond belief
Who would be stupid enough to put a “Recovery” drug addict to work in a pharmacy
So why would you put abusers back in a position that puts them in a place of temptation and opportunity -- It is not worth the risk

Sorry but there is something very wrong

I have tried to give the benefit of doubt to Baptist Leaders – BGCT – SBC and others, but what I have seen and heard and read this week – is really pushing my ability to do so

Explain to me how this battle of words can go on so long and no real action taken

I am sorry, but I have tried not to speak too harshly before
But this cannot continue
Please care enough to do something

Anonymous said...

If a "search committee" simply asks for two(2) things, they will be pretty well protected(along with checking out EVERY reference and checking references NOT listed):
a) provide a printed DOT driving record for the last 10 years from the state(s) in which they resided
b) provide a printed criminal history record for the individual

a)can be obtained from any state Dept. of Transp. or Dept. of Revenue office
b)can be obtained from most police depts., and all medium to large city depts.
Each cost about $10.00

I know a church that is hiring 3 childrens workers now. One as director of daycare. The pastor and committee do NO background checks. They say they "can tell if there's a problem". Well, in three words, "NO YOU CAN'T".
DON'T BE NAIVE and PROTECT OUR CHILDREN!!!!!!!!

Debbie said...

I am sorry
Do to some things I have heard and read this week - I was upset
I re read and I misunderstood
This is what was written:
"Around 1990, the Baptist General Convention of Texas Ministers Counseling Service launched a restoration program to help ministers put their lives back together after sexual misconduct.


The two-year program began with six months of career assessment, intense personal counseling and prohibition on any ministry-related involvement. During the second six months, the minister was allowed limited volunteer involvement in ministry and was required to participate in monthly counseling sessions. In the next six months, the minister was permitted to do vocational Christian work under close supervision. The last six months was spent preparing for re-entry into full-time vocational ministry.


BGCT Counseling and Psychological Services no longer sponsors a structured restoration program. "

So they are not longer doing this
Thank GOD
but why did they do this in the first place

Still Confused

Debbie said...

Debbie: This is Debbie K. I too post under the name Debbie and to avoid confusion would appreciate if you would put your initial behind your name or other form of identification so that your signature and mine will not get confused. Thanks.

Christa Brown said...

debbie #2: I repeatedly pointed out how bizarre it was that the BGCT offered readily available counseling for clergy sex abusers(and did so with BGCT funds received from local churches) but didn't offer counseling for the victims of clergy abuse, and instead relegated victims to try to seek counseling assistance from churches, who are often recalcitrant, in denial, and hostile, and as a result, often wind up inflicting still more hurt and harm on the victim. I virtually begged BGCT officials to at least draw up a list of counselors in the major cities of Texas who have experience with the dynamics of clergy sex abuse, so that they could at least refer clergy abuse victims to experienced counselors, because I know that for many victims, even finding a suitable counselor is a HUGE hurdle, and they are often in desperate need. That wouldn't have even cost any money, and yet the BGCT wouldn't do it. Yet, for years they had a restoration program for ministers (and though I could be mistaken I think they DO still provide counseling for ministers, but simply don't call it a restoration program). Why was there not an equal or even greater level of concern for restoring the spiritual, emotional, and psychological well-being of clergy abuse victims??? Why isn't that concern there even now? Obviously those are rhetorical questions. I've given up on getting any real answers or transparency from the BGCT.

OC Hands said...

Christa,
I am in agreement with you regarding the victims of sexual abuse. They often are overlooked, ignored, or forgotten in the discussion over ferreting out the predators. It was discovered that one of our missionaries had sexually assualted some of our children, long after he had left the field. Was anything done to help them? In a word, no.
While it is shocking to think that those in religious institutions could prey on innocent children, it is even more shocking that there seems to be little help for the victims. My wife recalls a converstation with a colleague who was in private practice and had a contract with the county to testify when those accused of sexual abuse appeared in court. He stated that a large number of the cases involved conservative Christians, some Baptists. There needs to be a full-scale program for those who suffer from the sexual abuse of anyone related to the church--pastor, youth minister or just member.

Brenda Maxwell said...

I cannot thank you enough for sponsoring such a motion. We have experienced leadership abuse of a family member in a SBC church. My husband and I moved our membership to a church that was more proactive in protecting vulnerable populations from those that would prey on them. Our children chose not to attend church anymore.

In the six years since the abuse of our family member came to light, I have had countless friends and colleagues confide in me that they were abused in their youth by someone they knew and trusted. It is sad this occurs in our society and inexcusable that it happens in our churches. If your motion is successful, the numbers of those that fall victim to clergy abuse should be greatly reduced in the future. Clergy, leadership, and/or congregational sexual abuse of vulnerable populations cannot be tolerated in our churches.

Brenda Maxwell

Carla said...

My first reaction was simply why do we need a special Southern Baptist database? Isn't the national database of known sex offenders good enough? Just charge pastor search committees with taking every name they get and feeding it into that database.

I don't say this as someone who is in any kind of denial of how widespread this problem is. I've been in hospitals and treatment facilities beside victims of sexual abuse for a little over half my life. And, now the problem has really pierced my heart as my little twin nieces were sexually abused by their father when they were 3 years old.

If I could wish anything done in the face of this issue, I would wish the men (and women too, of course) prepared to teach in Sunday School classes, to do whatever, to BE THERE. I would wish there could be men to show little girls with no daddies who have been given so much reason to think that men are bad and women are worthless, to show them that there is another way to see reality. Oh, I'm probably not making any sense.

Then, can I throw a prayer request at ya. Think about the mama of these little girls. She had just gotten saved. She was trying to do the right thing by letting her little girls spend some time with their father. And, she's spent years furious at God for His choice not to protect little girls. How can such mothers listen to theology when their babies are still having nightmares? How many more mothers are there like her out there?

Debbie said...

I am Debbie V. -- I am sorry Debbie K -- did not mean for anyone to misunderstand and not know we are two different people. I am new at this - not sure how to change it, but I will start out stating my name like this -- is that ok

I still do not understand

the SBC told me that there was already a committe looking into this

So can someone explain to me what is going on

Want to talk to someone who is impartial

Glen Woods said...

Hiya Debbie V and Debbie K,

In case you're interested, if you go to your blogger dashboard and click on edit profile, you may edit your user display name to say whatever you want, such as Debbie V or Debbie K. Just thought I would let you know!

Blessings,

Glen Woods

Debbie said...

I hope you took no offense Debbie V. I probably sounded sharper than intended. I just didn't want anyone to think I was schizophrenic. :)

DK

Debbie Kaufman said...

Done deal Glen. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Just curious... are these men who have done this awful. horrendous sin against these children redeemable?

Glen Woods said...

God can forgive them and redeem them if and when they repent. But the society and the church would be wise NEVER to allow them to be around children again, especially in a position of trust.

Blessings,

Glen Woods

Debbie said...

This is Debbie V
I did not take offense Debbie K
I just did not know
I believe God can does forgive all sins - but does not mean you are not accountable for them. Forgiving is one thing allowing them to hurt someone else again or even giving them the chance to is wrong. The Bible speaks agains it.

I CORINTHIANS 5: 11-13

But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler, With such a man do not even eat.
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”

EXODUS 21:29

If, however, the bull has had the habit of goring and the owner has been warned but has not kept it penned up and it kills a man or woman, the bull must be stoned and the owner also must be put to death.

MATTHEW 18:6

But, if anyone causes one of these little one who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.


There are more, but I figure this is enough for now

I hope people will look into the problem of ministers who do abuse and the system we have now that does not do much to protect our children and makes it to easy for them to go from church to church.

PLease Pray and think about this and open your minds and ears and hear

Thanks for listening

Debbie V

mmprats said...

Dear Wade,
Thank you for talking about the issue of clergy abuse.
Most people don't want to even discuss it much less do anything about it. I am the former State Coordinator of SNAP Texas. For the past 5 years I have taken call after call from Baptists who were molested because they had nowhere else to turn. They thought SNAP was only for Catholics but that is not true. Debbie V does a wonderful job of giving us biblical
evidence that Jesus would want us to take concrete steps to stop these horrible crimes. Folks, it's not just a sin IT'S A CRIME. Noone is above the law, not even priests, bishops, rabbis, preachers, ministers, teachers, law enforcement officers, judges
or presidents. Clergy sexual abuse doesn't just wreck lives, IT KILLS.
Some people can't take the pain and the hypocrisy of seeing the man that raped them up there preaching on Sundays and they end it all. Believe me, it happens. Keep up the good work Wade. I'm praying for your success!
Your Brother In Christ,
Miguel Prats, Founder,
Maria Goretti Network

Anonymous said...

at what point do we allow them to be redeemed? are we to cast them out permanently? is this sin worse than others? if so, who is the measuring rod by which we judge one sin worse than another? if not, why do we allow other sinners back into the "fold" but not this type of sinner? (with the understanding that they repent and that we monitor where and when and how they serve in the church, etc.) i understand by the way that true repentence would recognize that there are consequences to our actions regardless of the sin. if one isn't willing to accept consequences, then i question the validity of their repentence. but from my reading of the bible for the past 10 years or so tells me that the only unredeemable sin is unbelief - that all other sins are forgivable and that means not JUST accepting their apology and true repentence, but welcoming them back into the fold - restoring them to fellowship and the like.

having been affected in my family by this atrocious sin has not only caused me great sadness, anger and heartbreak - but also, it has caused me to ponder what the true christ-like response should be both towards my family members that have been sinned against (children) and towards the sinner (parent). i would love to cast this person overboard into hell (so-to-speak) for what has been done to innocent children in the name of lust, but really, what gives me or anyone else the right to deem anyone caught up in this sin as unredeemable? and what role do we play in the God's redemptive plan for this person?

Renae said...

There is a difference between forgiveness and stupidity. The consequence for a clergy person that abuses a member of their flock should ALWAYS be removal from their position. They certainly have the right to be restored to fellowship, but they NEVER have the right to be restored to a position of trust and power. Most of the perpetrators never repent and never do the hard work required to ensure they never offend again. I am not suggesting the person be ostracized from Christian fellowship forever, and certainly God will forgive any truly repentant heart, but forgiveness does NOT equate to restoration of position. A doctor or lawyer or therapist that violates in this way loses their license. A clergy person should lose his ordination. Period. It isn't worth the risk to ever allow them back into a position where they can again abuse their power.

Martin said...

"at what point do we allow them to be redeemed? are we to cast them out permanently? is this sin worse than others? "

If they embezzeled money from the church tithes would you allow them around tithe money again? Probably not.

Who said anything about being not being redeemed? The problem is that this crime rarely makes it to the light of day. And the perp is rarely convicted. Most people want to hide the shame associated with it.

Is everyone familiar with the pedophile minister of prayer (34 years) at BBC? You remember, the flagship Baptist church. His own son, as an adult, had to threaten to out him if he did not tell the new pastor. Guess what? The new pastor did not even fire him immediately. Said, it was 'under the blood'.

We are talking about a minister of prayer who was not even allowed around his own grandchildren...yet...no problem with continuing to being a minster of prayer.

Gee, funny...the minister of prayer never even repented to the entire church...yet was considered still fit for ministry. We just ignore Timothy, Titus, 1 Corninthians, etc. And the pastor who covered this is a big wheel in the SBC! To this day!

This is ONE example. Is it any wonder victims do not say anything for years..usually when they are adults? And people are worried about false accusations.

In the end, the church is the absolute safest place for an abuser.

Wake up folks...send a message...this will NOT be tolerated. Let the abusers know that there sins will be found out and let the victims know this will NOT be covered over. They can come forward without being victimized all over again.

Anonymous said...

renae-
if you re-read my comments - I never once said that the perp should ever be put in a positin of authority - not once. i would never put a person back into a position of authority - that would be the consequnces of our actions that imentioned.

martin- I am fully and painfully awake to the realities of this sin/crime - our family has been through hell and back and back again in the last 18 months because of a family member molesting the children repeatedly over years. lives have been destroyed - or at the very least, it will take years to recover. but the pain of that does not let us off the hook with how we should treat the sinner. the proper response to a sinner is not to run away or cast them aside - Jesus himself said he came to heal the sick, not the well.

both responses to my post are what was exptected... emotional responses to a horrendous sin/crime. i understand that, but we must get past the emotions and look to see what god would have us do in these situations. protect the victims first, then we MUST act in a redemptive way towards the sinner/criminal - this doesn't mean we don't push for maximum penalties and consequences. it means we don't cast them out of society - unless they refuse to repent - then scripture is clear on that - we cast them out and leave them in their own sin - hoping that the conequences will bring them to repentance.

all of this is biblical folks - funny how we conservatives always tow the scripture line on issues that aren't quite so sinister as this one - but when it comes to emotional issues, we do what we want - and not what the bible teaches.

for fear of being painted as being for child molesters and against children (which is why the anonymous posting), we also minster first and foremost to the children and make sure they get the help they need and the affirmation that what was done to them was not their fault. i have a ministry with the children in my etended family that were molested for the rest of my life - something that is both really sad - but also a great privilege to be able to show them that although God, for some reason, didn't step in and stop their pain sooner (try to explain that to anyone let alone a child some time), that He loves them and wants to heal them and wants to be their father - a father who won't hurt them. neither child who was molested has ever had a father who ever really cared about them - and I am looking forward to being able to fill that void if I can - to the best of my ability.it's my obligation both to my family and before God. this response to the children's pain is also biblical...

we can minister on both sides of the issue - furthermore, it's our obligation.

Martin said...

"the proper response to a sinner is not to run away or cast them aside - Jesus himself said he came to heal the sick, not the well."

My post was referring to an 'MINISTER OF PRAYER' in a well known SBC church. We have the qualifications laid out for elders in Titus and Timothy. So, by all means, let us be Biblical.

But, just for the moment, let us go to 1 Corinthians 5. What are we taught there to do with sexual perversion in the church?

4When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

See, it says... so 'he can be saved'. What is so horrible about that? It sends a message just like Ananias and Sapphira sent a message to the early church.


"both responses to my post are what was exptected... emotional responses to a horrendous sin/crime."

This is a straw man argument. I gave facts in my comment. What is emotional about facts? Let me give you another 'emotional' fact...either we deal with this seriously or the media will do it for us. Now, that will continue to be a great witness, right?

"all of this is biblical folks - funny how we conservatives always tow the scripture line on issues that aren't quite so sinister as this one - but when it comes to emotional issues, we do what we want - and not what the bible teaches."

You are reaching here...not once have I advocated doing anything unBiblical. Facts are facts whether you read 'emotionalism' into them or not.

And you are right about repentence being the key to this whole thing. But what would repentance involve in this situation? Public repentance to the Body for accountability? So, after repentence, is the perp going to be invited to babysit your kids? (call that emotionalism if you want but it is a very pertinant question)

If the perp is a pastor/elder then he is not above reproach even to outsiders so he loses his ability to be restored to the ministry. EVER. Notice I said, "ministry"...not the Body.

We need to get very serious about this and send a huge message to the abusers out there. So far, the church has been the safest place for them.

The bottom line is this: We have NOT been dealing with this in a Biblical fashion which is why it is so prevelant in our churches.

Martin said...

by the way, anonymous...how do we deal with the repentance factor?

Think about it...

Did the perp come out and admit what he/she has done? Does the perp have godly sorrow?

Does the perp get 'outed' and then feels 'bad' and 'repents'?

Most victims know the perp well. They know what havoc they will wreck in the church or in their family if they tell..even as adults. Many do not tell for years...

Most victims are children who have been told to keep this secret and are told what problems will arise if they do tell. Most are told that no one will believe them.

Everything is in place to protect the perp.

So the question begs...how do we know if there is real repentance?

Wouldn't it be wise to remove the perp from any contact with children...just in case it is not 'godly sorrow' and real repentance?

I have interviewed pedophiles in prison...some even professing Christians while committing this horrible crime. One theme that kept coming out was the 'secret' nature of a sin that has very 'public' consequences.

But, what is even more horrible is that the pedophiles in prison usually violate hundreds of children before being convicted. This is not an easy crime to get a conviction on....because of the 'secret' nature and the witness is a child.

I must go back to 1 John to really deal with this. Think of it...if the perp committed one violation and did not have godly sorrow to publicly repent for accountability but goes on to commit this crime time after time... then I must conclude they are walking in darkness.

It is our ATTITUDE toward our sin. We all sin but we cannot continue in obvious heinous sin without being appalled by it and think we are saved.

If I lusted once yesterday, but did not act on it...even then, I should be appalled and repent in godly sorrow. Please let us not dumb down sin. (BTW: yes, I sin all the time and am grieved over it and in continuous repentence daily)

Boy, I can see how confusing this must be for children...when the adults are so cavalier toward such a sin.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for everyone's comments.

Though I fear I have not been understood fully as one who is simply questioning how we deal with perps and not trying to figure out a way to let them off the hook or excuse them for what they did under the disguise of forgiveness - because I am not, I appreciate everyone's comments on this issue. You all have given me food for thought as I work through how to deal with the perp in my family in a Biblical way going forward.

Anonymous said...

BTW Martin: I would handle repentence the way I would handle repentance on any issue: we either trust that someone is being truthful in light of the evdience presented or we don't. We cannot look into a person's heart - so that is our only alternative. Time will tell - and during that time, we don't allow the perp to be around children - we keep them locked up, hopefully for the mazimum time allowable by law - and then monitor them when they are out of prison. If there isn't full repentence - as in the case of the perp in our family - then he is to be cast out until he does.

I would like to ask you a question though that I asked rhetorically 2 posts ago. How do you explain God not bringing this to light earlier? Why did He allow this to go on on our family for over 10 years? I am sure the kids will ask this sooner or later - the adults in my family already are.

Martin said...

"How do you explain God not bringing this to light earlier? Why did He allow this to go on on our family for over 10 years? "

Friend, All I can do is refer to Luke 13.

In the meantime, hopefully our children will trust some adult enough to tell them immediately. But that is what worries me in how we handle perps in the first place...they have to know we will DO something.

I am praying for you family.

Anonymous said...

Luke 13 is nice - but it still doesn't answer the question as concerns them. Being they are teenagers now and abuse is all they have known - they aren't likely to just accept that as a valid answer. The better answer is "I don't know. I'm not God." And then build trust witht hem over time and demonstrate what true love looks like - Agape love - the kind they should have gotten from their parent, but didn't.

Ruth said...

Thank God for Martin's passion!

The minister of prayer from the flagship church molested his own child and that victim has been re injured by the Sr pastor and leadership.

The focus from the leadership was to make the perp into a victim and ignore the true victim.

It was heart wrenching, especially when the victim made his way down the balcony stairs at an open mic meeting to speak to the integrity of the leadership in this matter.

The mic and the meeting were shut down to prevent the victim from speaking. Not one of the gray haired men that watched this young man grow up in the church extended their hand to him.
We shoot our wounded and protect the perps!

This particular minister also interviewed women who had suffered sexual abuse as a child and were volunteering to teach in SS or VBS.

They were made to relive their abuse and the minister had a list of very sexually deviant questions he used to gain power over them.

After confessing to molesting his own child, (because his child was now a parent himself and knew his dad was not fit for the ministry)

Not only did the Sr pastor allow him to stay on staff for almost 7 months....keeping his secret...but he was also given a raise.

So please, keep sexual predators out of the ministry!!!

Do whatever it takes to hold pastors accountable and to keep the innocent and the wounded from being preyed upon.

Don't harp on the alcohol issue until you "out" the sexual predators that are arrogantly walking the halls under the protection of the SBC and the Sr Pastors.

The scripture is clear on the qualifications of a minister.

Those that cover for their CRIME are guilty of disobeying scripture just as much as the one that sins in secret.
Let’s get back to dealing with sin and the consequences.


Let's put the protection of the weak and the wounded before the wallets of the ministers and our fear of being uncomfortable.

Debbie said...

This is Debbie V

There is a difference in allowing someone to come to church and another thing to put them in a position to hurt anyone else.

There is no way for anyone except GOD to know if someone is really repentant.
As for what sin to forgive and let back – well that is simple – whatever the sin is if they are a LEADER in the church and the sin involves hurting someone and by allowing them back as a LEADER makes it possible for someone else to get hurt – then that should NOT be allowed !!

It is NOT BIBLICAL to allow an abuser back as a minister. Show me one scripture that says that. Please read the scriptures at the end of this.

Yes - all sins are forgiven and covered by the blood of Christ. Did not say otherwise. But that does not mean to put them back in a place to hurt others.

How do you expect any child to feel safe to come forward – when they see and hear how adults have treated this matter. If you were a child and were hurt by a minister, with even the way this conversation has been going, would you feel okay to come forward, when you see people supporting the minister who hurt you or others, how could you come forward.

What gives anyone the right to put children at risk.

Tell me what will you say to the parent of a child that gets abused by one of these who you may think repented to come back into a position that allowed that person’s child to be hurt or what will you tell your child if they are the one to get hurt ?

The man who hurt me actually told me that he had the best job. He stated that he could do whatever he wanted and as long as he asked for forgiveness they had to forgive him. Well from what I have seen thus far – He was right. How SAD is this for all of us especially for our children.

What are you going to tell God when asked about this?

I CORINTHIANS 5: 11-13

But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler, With such a man do not even eat.
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”

EXODUS 21:29

If, however, the bull has had the habit of goring and the owner has been warned but has not kept it penned up and it kills a man or woman, the bull must be stoned and the owner also must be put to death.

MATTHEW 18:6

But, if anyone causes one of these little one who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

LUKE 17: 1-3

Jesus said to his disciples “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves.

I CORINTHIANS 4:5

Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time, wait till the Lord comes, He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts.

II CORINTHIANS 4:1-2

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways: we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God.

1 JOHN 1:5-6

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: GOD is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness we lie and do not live by the truth.

EPHESIANS 5:3

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
EPHESIANS 5:8-14

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible.

EPHESIANS 5:15-16

Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

2 TIMOTHY 2:15

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

I THESSALONIANS 5:22

Avoid every kind of evil.

GALATIANS 6:1-2

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

ACTS 20:35

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: “It is more blessed to give then to receive”.

I TIMOTHY 3:2 – the whole chapter is in regards to leaders

Now the overseer must be above reproach

I TITUS 1: 7

Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless – not overbearing, not quick – tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain.

HEBREWS 12:16

See that no one is sexually immoral


I CORINTHIANS 5: 9

I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people

I CORINTHIANS 5: 1-8
It is actually reported that there is a sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. And you are proud ! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.
Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast – as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast. The yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast. The bread of sincerity and truth.

MATTHEW 10:9

And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.



2 CORINTHIANS 1:3-4

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.


Thank you for your time

For the sake of others who will be hurt -- Think this over

David Brown said...

Dear Debbie V: Glad you are still speaking out. It takes the voice of us victims speaking out to bring horrible crime to light. I am so proud to know you. Keep it up. You are in my prayers.

Dear Ruth: You nailed it. The dear victim at the center of this BBC story has more integrity than that of the deacons and Senior Pastor of BBC. It was that question about being fit for the ministry that started this. The minister hid his secret for all those years. I was blessed to have worked with this young man. I told him by his stance he has helped so many more victims he will never know. I feel he helped me more than I helped him.

At the very beginning of this I called and asked for a meeting with Dr. Gaines and I ended up speaking to his "Administrative" Pastor who was not yet on the payroll at the time. I asked DC why they failed to report this to the proper authorties and his reply was he did not know there was anything to report. You have to be kidding. Folks that is very scary. Too many children were at risk. And the same day he told me that the prayer minister was in his still working in his office!

When you have an admission as Dr. Gaines did in June of 2006 you take immediate action to protect all children, not 7 months, a raise and thousands of dollars on an "investigative team" led by the same man that did not know there was anything to report.

Brother Wade: Keep up the fight. The least they can do is start that database. But that would be just the first step in several the SBC should be doing. Until they do, our children are at risk. Please be in prayer that our convention leaders have the courage to deal with this and not blink. It was past time.

David Brown
SNAP director-Memphis/West Tennessee
901/569-4500
davidbrown@bigriver.net

Anonymous said...

I am sorry I upset you Debbie V. This was not my intention. My intention is to explore what our responsibility is - if any - to the perp.

We ALL know what the responsibility is to the children - trust me - I know - I deal with it on a DAILY basis. I was the first one who told the kids in my family that they did the right thing by finally telling (interestingly, it was the younger of the 2 that finally told - the older one still didn't want to tell -she wanted to keep the family - and the family money together - th parent who molested was by dar the primaru bread-winner) and that I was sorry they didn't have the confidence in us (the rest of the adults) sooner to come out with the truth.

SO I am aware of the seriousness of this issue and do not take it lightly.

But the perps are people loved by God too and my intention is to make sure I am not running off, wearing my emotions on my sleeve, looking for a perp to crucify. Maybe that's just my issue - maybe I need a little more clarity of thinking - I am open to that - always have been on any issue - especially within the constructs of the Bible and out faith. But that will be for me to decide and only for me to answer to God for.

On the issue what I would tell God if one I released committed a crime like this again? I am thankful I do not have this responsibility. I have not thought about this question yet - but I do know some things:
1. prison would include therapy - letting them languish does no good
2. he would never be allowed around children again no matter how clean he stayed
3. he would never be in a leadership position involving kids or families

Thanks for the verses - I will use them as I think through this further.

Debbie said...

This is Debbie V.

Thank you David for your kind words. I think very highly of you and appreciate all you have done.

There is no need for anyone to apologize for voicing what they think. Only by sharing and speaking honestly with each other can we learn from each other.

I do get frustrated sometimes and after some other events and words involving this issue were spoken to me last week, I was more sensitive than usual. I try to listen and explain why I feel the way I do but I do read and think about everything I read and hear.

I will try not to be so wordy this time.

I also want to say thank you to Wade Burleson for bringing this motion to the SBC and for caring and doing something about it.

I also want to say thank you very much to Christa Brown and Miguel Pratts and the others at SNAP and all other people who have been working so hard to try to get some changes that would help to protect our children better.

I could write a lot more on this and I have a lot of ideas on what we can do to help many of which has been from listening to others – so do not stop talking – but we need to have some action as well

Thanks

Debbie V

John harrison said...

Thank you for the stand. The bottom line is, do the right thing, stop the abusers, and offer assistance to the abused.We can do the right thing if the right thing is important to us.
john

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