“Transparency is not about restoring trust in institutions. Transparency is the politics of managing mistrust.” Ivan Krastev
I just spent the day with my Mom at Urgent Care. Sadly, the difficulties she is experiencing are due to her extreme age. She is frustrated when things don’t “work right” and believes there must be a pill to fix it. It is difficult for the medical folks to tell her that no medication or procedure will cure her. Sometimes, it is hard to know how to help her; today was one of those days.
The hotline is expensive and worth it.
Two days ago, I posted Valerie’s story: Valerie Swope: I Thought He Needed a Babysitter, but Former SBC Youth Pastor, Christian Watts, Had Other Ideas. A Survivor’s Story of Sexual Abuse. She reported her abuse to the SBC hotline. I am sure this resource has received many sad and difficult stories like hers. There is no question that the hotline for survivors of sexual abuse in the SBC is well worth it, whatever the cost. I know that I have referred others in that direction.
Today I spoke with someone and said, “I don’t care if it costs $10-20 million. The SBC has so messed up in the area of abuse that any efforts to change how they used to deal with abuse are sorely needed. The current SBC President, Bart Barber, admits that the entity is “expensive.” He gives the example of lawsuits filed against the SBC in the past. He believes that the hotline is one way to prevent such legal action, which is highly expensive and draining of the SBC’s financial coffers. I assume he means the defense and the settlements with victims.
Listen as he explains it.
The cost of doing something.
The cost of doing nothing. pic.twitter.com/rpyAWUXWro
— Bart Barber (@bartbarber) January 17, 2023
Barber talks about “God’s economy.”
The Roys Report posted SBC President Bart Barber Says Sexual Abuse Hotline Worth the Cost:
Barber said despite the high costs, he believes having the hotline is the right thing to do.
“I think according to God’s economy and according to the way that accountants look at the economy,” he said, “it’s a good investment for Southern Baptist to do everything that we can, even if it costs some money to do it, everything that we can to assist our local churches to prevent abuse and to comfort those and provide support for those who are survivors of abuse.”
Barber is referring to the Paul Pressler lawsuit
Shortly after I started blogging, I was contacted by those who wanted me to write about Pressler’s abuse. Unfortunately, no one was willing to come forward with their story then. They were afraid that Pressler, a prominent attorney, would sue them. I had nothing to work with. Over time, I, along with Amy Smith, continued receiving information that many prominent SBC leaders knew about or were told about Pressler’s abuse and chose to do nothing about it. These are names that might surprise you. Well, maybe they wouldn’t.
According to Baptist Press in Barber says sexual abuse hotline worth the cost:
The case Barber is referring to is a civil suit against Paul Pressler, which is currently being heard in the Harris County District Court. The charges in the case date back to the 1980s.
Pressler, a former SBC Executive Committee member, former SBC first vice president (2002 and 2003) and former Texas legislator and judge, is being sued by Gerald Duane Rollins. In the suit originally filed in October 2017, Rollins alleges Pressler raped him in 1980, when Rollins was 14 years old and attending a Bible study at Pressler’s church. According to the affidavit, Pressler continued to rape Rollins, “over the course of the next 24 years or so” as Rollins progressed into his 30s.
However, will the SBC ever release the exact cost of the project?
I have been in conversation with some folks who have pointed out difficulties in getting exact numbers for anything. Take the North American Mission Board as an example. Are the messenger’s ever told exactly how many church plants have occurred, were houses bought for these church planters, and what happened if the church failed? How many church plants fail? How much do they pay their leaders?
I am digging into the finances of the SBC and am somewhat surprised how little is shared with women like Auntie Harriet, who is willing to use her estate to help the “poor missionaries.” I hope that the SBC will become as transparent with its finances as it is about its failings in sexual abuse. That means telling the messengers exactly how much the hotline cost and how it was conducted. I’m sure other denominations are watching this process, and such transparency will also help them.
In the meantime, I’m waiting patiently, hoping the SBC can figure out how to curb sex abuse in their churches while claiming church autonomy. How it will happen remains to be seen.