Yet, when child sex offenders are brought to justice and serve time for their offenses, they are often released into unsuspecting communities and left free to resume their sexual attacks. -Bob Ney
Southern Baptists from around the country will be heading toward Arizona’s raging fires next week as they converge upon Phoenix. Here’s the latest on that fire, which now covers an area larger than New York City.
Yes, it is once again time for the SBC Annual Meeting, with this year’s theme being “A Great Commission People with a Great Commission Heart.” As usual, the SBC Pastors’ Conference will take place beforehand on June 12-13. The SBC doesn’t hold its convention out west that often, so it seems ironic that when they do the state in which they will gather is battling its second largest wildfire in history. Could these fires also be symbolic of the devastation that is occurring in the SBC because a tremendous danger is being ignored?
That danger is the tolerance of sex predators who masquerade as Southern Baptist pastors. You may remember that several years ago the SBC was considering a sex-offender database, which the Executive Committee studied and subsequently decided was not feasible. Southern Baptist churches are “autonomous”, the leaders claimed… The SBC had an incredible opportunity to demonstrate to a watching world that it was taking serious measures to reduce clergy sex abuse within its ranks. Instead, the media responded to the SBC’s cowardice with headlines such as this: “Time ranks SBC rejection of sex-offender database as 'under-reported' story”.
The article begins as follows:
“Time Magazine ranked the Southern Baptist Convention's refusal to establish a database of clergy sex offenders one of the most under-reported news stories in 2008…
Facing calls to curb child sex abuse within its churches, in June the Southern Baptist Convention — the largest U.S. religious body after the Catholic Church — urged local hiring committees to conduct federal background checks but rejected a proposal to create a central database of staff and clergy who have been either convicted of or indicted on charges of molesting minors," the magazine noted.
The SBC decided against such a database in part because its principle of local autonomy means it cannot compel individual churches to report any information. And while the headlines regarding churches and pedophilia remain largely focused on Catholic parishes, the lack of hierarchical structure and systematized record-keeping in most Protestant churches makes it harder not only for church leaders to impose standards, but for interested parties to track allegations of abuse."
Well, it has been a while since I checked into clergy sex abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention, and I was absolutely stunned to discover that Southern Baptists are still making headlines.
Just two weeks ago a youth pastor at a Southern Baptist church in Georgia was charged with molestation.
According to a WTOC news story,
“The youth pastor at a Statesboro church has been arrested on enticing a child and child molestation charges. Douglas Randall Pope, 31, of Statesboro, was charged with three counts of enticing a child for indecent purposes and one count of child molestation. The Criminal Investigations Bureau of the Statesboro Police Department got a complaint May 20 that a 14-year-old girl was being molested by a 31-year-old man. The complainant told investigators that man was the youth pastor of Merrywood Baptist Church in Statesboro, according to Statesboro police.”
A Georgia Daily article included the following information:
“According to a press release, a 14-year-old girl alleges that Pope inappropriately touched her over the past two years. The victim told police other juvenile females were also involved.
Additional complaints were made against Pope when investigators conducted interviews with other juvenile females, the press release said. Following a search of the suspect’s residence, detectives seized “computers, cameras and related digital media.” The investigation is ongoing and additional charges are expected, the report said. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Criminal Investigative Bureau of the Statesboro Police Department.”
Christa Brown, Baptist outreach leader for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, maintains a website called Stop Baptist Predators. Christa is passionate about stopping sexual predators because she was a victim of clergy sex abuse and considers herself a “survivor”. She maintains a list of other Baptist pastors/leaders who have been charged and/or convicted of sex crimes, which you can access here. These names represent only publicly-reported news accounts involving Baptist clergy.
Please take a look at just SOME of the men in the Southern Baptist Convention who have the dubious distinction of earning their spot on the “Stop Baptist Predators” list.
If the SBC won’t make this information available, Christa Brown surely will.
With regard to the SBC’s refusal to establish a sex offender database, Christa remarked: “The largest Protestant denomination in the land — a denomination that claims 16.2 million members — refused to even attempt to implement the sorts of proactive measures for routing out predators that other major faith groups have.”
The SBC’s refusal to maintain a sex offender database is a smoldering fire that is contributing to the destruction of what was once the largest Protestant denomination.
Lydia's Corner: 1 Samuel 10:1-11:15 John 6:43-71 Psalm 107:1-43 Proverbs 15:1-3