I know the question which forms the title of this post is not a pleasant one, particularly for those of us who have experienced positions of leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention. However, I feel we must ask this tough question because of the nauseating truth uncovered in the murder trial, and ultimate conviction, of Matt Baker. Last week a Waco jury found the former Southern Baptist pastor guilty of murdering his wife. Details of the case are gruesome. Testimony during the trial was sickening. This man deserves death, not 65 years in prison (which is what he received). I will not rehash the case, you may go to Christa Brown's website for a comprehensive synopsis, but I will simply point out some of the sickening known facts about Mr. Baker's past--events that occurred prior to Baker murdering his wife.
(1). Matt Baker attempted to rape an athletic trainer while at a Southern Baptist school. The attempted rape was reported, but school authorities did nothing to inform others of Mr. Baker's perverse actions, including the police. They simply placed the incident in the confidential file of Matt Baker.
(2). Matt Baker sexually accosted several young ladies while working in Southern Baptist churches. One pastor who had been received information about the incidents from a victim herself, kept it all quiet--not wanting to be the person responsible for ruining Mr. Baker's ministerial career.
(3). Even after Matt Baker's wife was murdered and questions were being raised about Mr. Baker's illicit affair with a woman in his congregation who had come to him for "counseling," Mr. Baker was recommended, and hired, to a position working with college students within the Baptist Convention of Texas.
(4). The Southern Baptist Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention voted down my recommendation in 2008 that we keep a data base of ministers "credibly accused or convicted of sexual misconduct." The church that Matt Baker pastored in Waco, Texas at the time he murdered his wife is listed in the Southern Baptist catalogue of churches on the SBC's own database (see Crossroads Baptist Church). May the pastor search committee of Crossroads benefited from a data base kept at SBC headquarters? If our Convention leadership took seriously any allegations of sexual misconduct by ministers been the impetus needed for others to report Baker's misconduct to them?
(5). If we as Southern Baptists don't do something to track sexual predators in our pulpits, how can we not be held responsible when one of those predators winds up killing his wife?
My question is a sincere one.
In His Grace,