My wife and I watched the 60 Minutes interview with the family members of Bernie Madoff, the man who swindled American people out of 50 billion dollars through an elaborate Ponzi scheme disguised as a top-tier New York investment company. Andrew Madoff and his mother, Ruth Madoff, deny any knowledge of Bernie's twenty year fraud, which is now considered the largest white collar corruption case in America's history. The interview was so riveting that I purchased the book--released today--which compelled the Madoff family to grant their interview with 60 Minutes. Truth and Consequences is the account of life inside the Madoff family from the perspective of Andrew Madoff, Andrew's fiance Catherine Hooper, and Ruth Madoff.
Chapter One, entitled "An Unthinkable Turn of Events" is revealing. Carolyn Hooper recounts the day that her fiance turned his father into the Securities and Exchange Commission for fraud. The couple lived together in a posh Upper East Side apartment with Andrew's two teenage girls and Catherine's three year old daughter. The apartment had floor to ceiling windows, common for New York skyline views. When Catherine, who is an expert in helping Fortune 500 companies survive catostrophic events, learned of the extraordinary extent of her future father-in-law's fraudulent activities, she says that the first question that came to her mind was one of survival: "How do we get to tomorrow?"
"The answer came to her (Catherine) almost immediately: curtains.
She would put them up within twenty-four hours; everything else, she would deal with later."
I couldn't help but think of Southern Baptist evangelist Sammy Nuckolls and his family when I read the above two sentences. After being arrested on felony charges, Sammy Nuckolls put curtains up. Sammy is an expert in social media, but within hours of the charges being made public, Sammy's Facebook account was deleted, his Twitter account was deleted, and his web page was deleted. Maybe some would find Sammy's actions understandable under the circumstances, but what is surprising to me is how fast the Southern Baptist Convention's Lifeway Resources, who used Sammy as a guest speaker for SBC summer youth camps for the past ten years, immediately pulled down any web page, Internet article or other on-line information that associated Sammy with the SBC.
The curtains were put up very fast.
I realize that in our litigious society the first reaction of people in trouble, or those associated with people in trouble, is to pull the curtains and withdraw from anyone and everyone. In our Internet age, the on-line curtain is thrown up via the DELETE button.
My question is "Why do Christians do the very thing the world does when trouble comes?" Why do we pull the curtains and keep information from people? Why do we hide the truth of what has actually occurred to try to alter or stem public opinion? Why do we try to act as if things have not really happened the way they actually did? Should we not want all information, for the sake of any potential victims, available for review by the public? Should we not be asking questions like, 'How many victims are out there?' Should not the Executive Office of the SBC issue some kind of statement encouraging those who may have been victims of Sammy's crimes to contact law enforcement? Should not we leave the information of Sammy's involvement with the SBC up for all to see and simply issue a statement condemning his illegal activities and expressing our desire to help potential victims?
I have already attempted to contact Sammy and let him know of my prayers for him and his family. He knows of our desire to help him, his wife and child during this justly difficult time. We will not abandon sinners. However, we will also be open and honest about the horrible nature of the crimes Sammy has confessed to committing. He should go to jail to help society understand the danger of such invasive criminal actions. I do not know the victims (they, rightfully, have not been publicly identified). I am just as concerned for them, and if they read this blog, I hope they know that there are people who genuinely care for them.
Christian organizations must learn how to deal with problems and not put up curtains or the they will find it very time consuming as they constantly attempt to re-hang the curtains that others keep pulling down. The Internet has become a game changer. The professional organizations of the future will get out in front of tough issues--keeping the glass uncovered--and be respected for their actions. Those who continually put up curtains will be seen as organizations with something to hide.