- Clergy abuse victims to leaflet outside big Baptist meeting
- They want independent review of clergy abuses & cover-ups
- And they warn more lawsuits will happen if officials don't act
Holding signs and childhood photos, child sex abuse victims and their supporters will hand out fliers about child molesting clerics to church members attending the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting. The leaflets urge Baptists to:
- insist that their church officials hire independent experts to review child sexual abuse scandals, and
- immediately respond to child sexual abuse reports with openness and compassion.
The fliers also
- warn that more victims will start suing Baptist officials unless the church hierarchy begins to take “real steps” to “expose those who commit and conceal clergy sex crimes,” and
- encourage church members to ask their children or loved ones if they were molested by church workers or volunteers and, if so, call police and therapists immediately.
Wednesday, June 11 at 11:45am- 1pm
Outside the main entrance of the Baltimore Convention Center: One West Pratt Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
4-6 Victims of child sex abuse who are members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org) including the mom of a child sex abuse victim who is suing a Montgomery County-based ministry with ties to the Baptists.
Thousands of Baptists from across the U.S. are in Baltimore this week for their annual convention, and abuse victims want the church-goers to prod their denominational hierarchy to take child sex abuse cases more seriously. (Southern Baptists are the second largest religious group in the nation.)
Twice in recent months, SNAP leaders wrote to Dr. Frank Page, head of the Southern Baptist Convention, asking to speak at this meeting, to help the SBC in shaping practices and policies that help prevent abuse and cover ups. SNAP also asked the SBC to hire and consult with an independent organization called GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) for an independent expert review of the scandal involving a convicted child sex offender and Baptist minister John Langworthy of Mississippi and Texas.
"The Baptist officials’ response, and their historical response, to clergy sex abuse is and has been self-serving, secretive, and irresponsible" said Amy Smith of Dallas, SNAP leader. “If they would just let an independent group review even one of the many reported cases of cover-ups in the church, it might prod them and others to act more quickly, compassionately and effectively in other cases.”
SNAP is also asking that an abuse database study, which was approved at the SBC’s 2007 annual meeting but never actually funded, be finally conducted.
SNAP made some of these requests in April.
Page replied almost five weeks later, rejecting all of them without explanation.
SNAP also predicts that more clergy sex abuse and cover up lawsuits will be filed against Baptist organizations as Baptists victims “get more bold, organized and disgusted at the legal maneuvers by Baptist officials.” The group cites what it calls a “groundbreaking legal victory” in Florida recently, in which jurors found the statewide Baptist organization responsible for child sex crimes committed by a Baptist preacher it had helped pay.
One person at the news conference today is the mom of a girl who is suing Sovereign Grace Ministries in Montgomery County, Maryland, which has ties with the Baptists.
Becky Ianni 703-801-6044 SNAPVirginia@cox.net
David Clohessy 314-966-9790 SNAPclohessy@aol.com