1. Please don’t look away in disgust that I wrote this article pointing out some failings of the SBC.
2. I have lost friends and had others mad at me for writing about the SBC. Please don’t allow the article to make you uncomfortable.
3. If you think perhaps the Houston Chronicle overstated its case and made up facts; I assure you that what they reported isn’t even close to accounting for all the cases of abuse within the SBC, or other churches for that matter.
4. I want to be clear; it is not just the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) that has problems with predators. Child predators, teen predators, and adult predators plague every denomination, non-denominational, non-profit, and para-church organization.
5. This article mentions 220 abusers with more than 700 victims. These are the 700 known victims. Statistically, if you add in abuse by pedophilic offenders who held places of authority over children you will find a victim rate of over 100 children per abuser. Most victims never report their abuse. (Stat: according to Osage County, Oklahoma, sex crimes investigator, Montgomery County Sheriff, Kansas, and the Kansas State Attorney Generals’ Office when they interviewed me for the investigations against my former husband).
6. Lest you think that the below mentioned abusers worked at one church, were caught, and then subsequently removed from ministry; that is not the case. More often than not, they leave one church and move around the country. Some of these men are still in positions of leadership within the SBC while some have switched affiliation to stay under the radar. Also, this is no small problem in mainly rural locations by pastors from small churches. This issue spans all ages, geographical locations and sizes of churches.
7. Educating the church about such predators is a passion of mine because my first husband was one of these people. He was affiliated with the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ and is now in prison for the rest of his life.
8. Ask your church if they have policies in place to prepare for abuse allegations, to discourage abusers preying upon church members, and to train staff , leadership and volunteers. The best place for help in this area is GRACE – Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment.DISCLAIMER: I’ve been having significant formatting problems with my writing platform; as you will see (nothing I do fixes it). It has a mind of its own. For this reason, I haven’t been publishing and I’m in the process of setting up a new website under a different platform. It will have a new name, new look, and better formatting capabilities. As soon as it’s finished I’ll publish the link on this website so you can follow at my new address. THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE. I’ve been waiting for this article in the Houston Chronicle by Robert Downen, Lise Olsen, and John Tedesco with multimedia by Jon Shapley to publish. These writers did an excellent job researching, investigating and interviewing for this piece. Here are a few quotes from the Houston Chronicle’s article: “It’s a perfect profession for a con artist, because all he has to do is talk a good talk and convince people that he’s been called by God, and bingo, he gets to be a Southern Baptist minister,” said Brown, who lives in Colorado. “Then he can infiltrate the entirety of the SBC, move from church to church, from state to state, go to bigger churches and more prominent churches where he has more influence and power, and it all starts in some small church.” Wade Burleson, a former president of Oklahoma’s Southern Baptist convention, says it has long been clear that Southern Baptist churches face a crisis. In 2007 and 2018, he asked SBC leaders to study sexual abuse in churches and bring prevention measures to a vote at the SBC’s annual meeting. Offenders return to preach: The SBC Executive Committee also wrote in 2008 that it “would certainly be justified” to end affiliations with churches that “intentionally employed a known sexual offender or knowingly placed one in a position of leadership over children or other vulnerable participants in its ministries.” Current SBC President J.D. Greear reaffirmed that stance in an email to the Chronicle, writing that any church that “proves a pattern of sinful neglect — regarding abuse or any other matter — should absolutely be removed from fellowship from the broader denomination.” But Greear said in an email that he is limited by local church autonomy. “Change has to begin at the ground level with churches and organizations,” he wrote. “Our churches must start standing together with a commitment to take this issue much more seriously than ever before.” “The election last year of Greear, the 45-year-old pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, N.C., was seen as a signal that the SBC was moving away from more rigid conservative leaders such as Patterson. Greear has launched a group that is studying sexual abuse at the request of Burleson and others.” As far as I know, and someone feel free to correct me if you know differently; a limited study is as far as this project has gone at this time. I hope the Houston Chronicle’s article will push the study into implementation of a registry. Here is a troubling line from the article: Some registered sex offenders returned to the pulpit. Others remain there, including a Houston preacher who sexually assaulted a teenager and now is the principal officer of a Houston nonprofit that works with student organizations, federal records show. Its name: Touching the Future Today Inc. Some offenders are twisted, are psychopaths, and others suffer from narcissistic personality disorder. Please understand, any of these aforementioned personalities would get a kick out of naming their nonprofit “Touching the Future Today” and laugh themselves silly over the fact that they are telling everyone, upfront, exactly what they hope to do to future victims while believing no one will ever catch on to the sick truth in the title pointing to their sexual sins. There are churches that claim no responsibility for abuse in their buildings on the grounds that they have no written procedure for how to handle sexual abuse allegations. Seriously. The sad and frustrating part of this truth is that some of their reasoning falls under scriptural precedence: Forgive. Don’t take a brother to court…but using such scriptures is taking God’s words out of context. Christa Brown, several years ago said, “For the safety of kids and the sanctity of congregations, Southern Baptist leaders should take action now, without waiting until they are finally pressured into it by investigative journalists, brave victims and outraged congregants.” Unlike in 2008, Burleson last year directed his request for a sex offender registry to the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, which does moral advocacy on behalf of the Southern Baptist Convention. For the first time, the study of his proposal has been funded. I wish all churches would set up a centralized reporting system to track these abusers. If we do not it will continue to worsen because abusers know there is easy prey within the church community and that Christians have a difficult time believing such duplicitous individuals exist within their ranks. For SBC members who are disappointed or angry at me for ‘jumping on the band wagon’ and claim I’m harming the name of Christ by airing the church’s dirty laundry; I disagree. I believe Jesus can protect his own name and reputation and that he wants us to fight for the oppressed. Reporters and victims who speak the truth are not the problem. The abuse is the problem. This is why I spoke at the For Such A Time As This Rally about the need for a database for tracking abusers. I hope the SBC doesn’t complain about Robert Downen and the Houston Chronicle’s story. The SBC and other churches, should hold sexual predators in their midst accountable. When we don’t…someone else will do it for us. As a side note, to add insult to injury, a large publishing company has asked a Baptist pastor, Ed Stetzer, to write a book about abused victims of the church. Why is this an insult? Because abuse advocates allege they have attempted to be heard by Mr. Stetzer in past years but did not gain an audience with him.
The best experts on the subject are those who have lived through abuse and those who specialize in counseling the abuse survivors. There are numerous well-known and strong voices in this field; some of whom are published. Why were they not asked? With the world at the tip of their fingers why didn’t the publisher check out the internet for those already in the trenches who know the subject, are passionate about the survivors, and could sit town and turn out such a book within weeks?Here is a link to the database of known abusers that the Houston Chronicle uncovered.