Tag Archives: #SBC

Abuse of Faith: The SBC

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?

Click here to read the full article: Houston Chronicle “Abuse of Faith” (includes several short video clips).

Here is a link to the database of known abusers that the Houston Chronicle uncovered.

Sign petition to encourage abuse disclosure protocol, training & a database for the SBC

Mary DeMuth

Please sign this petition to encourage the SBC to take action against abuse now. The story of is one of too many.

Click here to sign: Establish SBC Abuse Database, Abuse Disclosure Protocol and Ministry Leader Training Now

Anne Marie Miller was sexually abused by a Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) youth pastor when she 16-years old.

More than 11 years after this information was disclosed to officials within the SBC, her alleged abuser, Mark Aderholt, was arrested on July 3 charges of sexual assault against a child under 17 and two counts of indecency with a child — sexual contact. 

In 2007, upon identifying the reality of the abuse later as an adult, Anne courageously contacted the International Mission Board (IMB), the Southern Baptist missionary organization where Aderholt had worked for seven years as an overseas missionary. The IMB conducted an investigation into the abuse. They found that Aderholt not been truthful with IMB officials and had  “more likely than not” engaged in what the IMB termed an “inappropriate sexual relationship” or what the state and most people educated on abuse would term “sexual abuse.”  No one from the IMB reported the sexual assault to the authorities.

The IMB knew of Anne Marie Miller’s abuse for 11 years before Mark Aderholt’s arrest. Her abuser was able to continue working as a missionary, pastor and convention leader in the SBC with access to other children and vulnerable populations in his ministry roles.  They never investigated his overseas ministry to see if there were further victims. They still will not take responsibility. 

SIGN NOW to tell the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), the International Mission Board (IMB) and SBC President J.D. Greear that the SBC must:

  • Establish a clergy abuse database
  • Establish abuse disclosure protocol
  • Establish new and improved training procedures for pastors, seminary students and all SBC ministry leaders. 

Despite the apparent confirmation of Anne’s abuse via the 2007 investigation,  the IMB allowed Aderholt to quietly resign. Within two months, he was again employed by a church in the SBC before enjoying a successful ministry career culminating in his position as Chief Strategist for the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

Having been led to believe that Aderholt was terminated by the IMB for her abuse, Anne was perplexed by his continued, successful career.

Sarah Smith at the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth, TX reported on the follow-up action Anne took :

“On Feb. 13, 2011, she sent another email to Gaubatz [IMB attorney who participated in the investigation].

How can Mark still pastor inside SBC churches like he is?” she wrote. “Isn’t there some checks and balances with something as serious as what he was terminated for?”

The For Such A Time As This Rally met on July 11 with the office of J.D. Greear, President of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Rally spokesperson, Ashley Easter shared the need for action  with Todd Unzicker, Associate Pastor at The Summit who was representing J.D. Greear, SBC President. She asked that the SBC take steps to protect others from abuse like what Anne Marie Miller experienced and offered a partnership with the president’s office. 

The For Such A Time As This Rally initially had held an event outside the June 2018 Southern  Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Dallas, and is continuing to work to meet its three goals:

  • Goal #1 – Women to be respected and honored within the churches of the SBC. 
  • Goal #2 – Establishment of a clergy abuse offender database for the SBC. 
  • Goal #3 – Best practices training of all pastors, ministry leaders and seminary students on the issues of handling domestic abuse or sexual assault disclosure or incidents.

Even in the last few weeks following Mark Aderholt’s arrest, the IMB has not reached out to Anne to apologize for their mishandling of the investigation.  Anne has asked the IMB to answer questions about how Aderholt was allowed to continue a meteoric career rise within the SBC after the IMB’s investigation.

One of the most significant questions is how the IMB could still have been referring to criminal sexual ABUSE as merely an “inappropriate sexual relationship.” Education is imperative, as is the establishment of human resources protocol for addressing employees involved in abuse.

A secondary but equally significant question is why the IMB did not further investigate Mark Aderholt’s ministry overseas while he was employed by them. There is no way of knowing if he engaged in any other sexual misconduct or abuse while being supported by SBC funds. We need to know if there are more victims.

SIGN NOW to tell the SBC, J.D. Greear and the International Mission Board to:

  • Let them know that you stand with Anne Marie Miller and want to see the SBC take action NOW.
  • Let them know that you want an SBC that will not tolerate the abuse of our children.
  • Let them know that  it is not acceptable for the SBC to move abusers along to the next church and allow an abuser’s career to be uninterrupted while the abused suffers lifelong consequences.
  • Let them know that you stand with the For Such A Time As This Rally and its three goals.
  • Let them know that you need to see the SBC establish a clergy abuse database, abuse disclosure protocols, and new training and education protocols for all ministry leaders.

Anne’s abuse is not an isolated incident, but it is a recent example of what is so broken within the SBC.

Abuse survivor, Christa Brown has established a website, Stop Baptist Predators to document other abuse incidents.

SNAP (the interdenominational Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) and the Associated Baptist Press reported on the sad case of convicted sex abuser Shawn Davies who was allowed to abuse boys at four different SBC churches before being arrested while employed by First Baptist Church, Greenwood, Missouri.

The For Such A Time As This Rally has suggested to the SBC that they reach out to Boz Tchivijdian and Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (G.R.A.C.E.). It could assist with an independent investigation and review into the deeply flawed 2007 IMB investigation of Anne Marie Miller’s abuse, and provide assistance in establishing a much-needed new training protocol for all SBC ministry leaders.

Many states have passed laws in the last decade that require schools to disclose credible child abuse from teachers or other employees so that they cannot continue to move around school districts.

As representatives of the Gospel, churches should be leading the way in creating and passing legislation that protects the most vulnerable among us.

Sign Now to stand with Anne Marie Miller, the For Such A Time As This Rally, and all those who have experienced abuse to call for immediate action by the Southern Baptist Convention!

Rally Outside SBC Annual Meeting Brings Abuse to Light

SBC rally

DALLAS, TX – June 5, 2018 – Discussing and responding to the epidemic of abuse within Protestant Christianity’s largest denomination has long been overdue. A rally to outline the prevalence of abuse and its enablement within the Southern Baptist Convention will be held at the SBC Annual Meeting in Dallas, Texas, on Tuesday, June 12th. Called the For Such a Time as This Rally, the organizers will gather outside the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. and invite any who are concerned about abuse in the Church to attend.

Organizers are gathering for these reasons:

1. The time has come for women to be respected and honored within the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention—as Scripture teaches. 2. The time has come for a clergy sex offender database for the Southern Baptist Convention. 3. The time has come for mandatory training of all pastors and SBC seminaries on the issues of domestic abuse and sexual assault.

Many rally organizers and attendees are involved in Southern Baptist Churches or have deep roots in the SBC. “The event is not anti-Southern Baptist or anti-Christian,” said Cheryl Summers, one of the rally organizers. “We are advocating for a reform of culture, and for training of pastors and church leaders. We follow Christ’s example who treated women with dignity and honor as equal, valuable members of His Church when the culture of His day did not.”

Cheryl noted the recent scandals that made this rally necessary, saying, “In recent weeks as the Paige Patterson scandal has erupted, the faulty ideas within the SBC about women, abuse and sexual assault have proven to be tragically systemic. We are praying for reform, but also are moved to respond, insisting that respect for women is rooted in Scriptural teachings and the culture within the Church needs to change.”

Speaking at the event will be abuse survivors and victim advocates including Ashley Easter, founder of The Courage Conference, an annual gathering of survivors and advocates; author, speaker, and advocate Mary DeMuth; the pastor of Emmanuel Enid Church, Wade Burleson; author and speaker Dr. Christy Sim, Carolyn Deevers, abuse survivor, writer and advocate and Gricel Medina, a pastor, writer, and advocate.

“The same systemic failures that silenced the victims of Paige Patterson also enabled him to remain in power for years,” said Ashley Easter, noting Paige Patterson’s abusive teachings and behaviors were known for decades. “We believe the time is long overdue for Christian women—and men—to work together and insist systemic changes in the treatment of women in the SBC.”
Carolyn Deevers, an abuse victim advocate and survivor of an abusive marriage to a pastor added, “When an abused spouse comes to the church or an institution with abuse allegations they are often told to be silent, submit, and stay in the abusive relationship. This faulty advice leads to more abuse as well as death,” Deevers indicated, citing how similar advice from recently-terminated SWBTS President, Paige Patterson, was used to keep women in dangerous situations. “The Church’s track record on these cases has made it one of the least safe places for victims to find help,” Deevers concluded.

Reference guides by victim advocates and professionals on how to respond to abuse disclosures will be distributed at the rally. Included will be a recommended reading list for pastors to build knowledge and understanding on how abuse works and ways to minister to the wounded and vulnerable. Rally organizers aim to share these best practices with the hundreds of Southern Baptist pastors and Southern Baptist Convention leadership who attend the annual conference. Rally organizers chose the name “For Such a Time as This” in reference to Queen Esther, a woman who was a victim of sex trafficking and refused to be silent to her authoritarian husband, the king of Persia. Esther’s story shows the courage that is required to speak necessary, hard-to-hear truths (cf. Esther 4:14).

###

________________________________ About For Such a Time as This Rally: For Such A Time As This Rally can be found on Twitter as @SBCForSuchATime, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/forsuchatimeasthisrally and the web at http://www.forsuchatimeasthisrally.com.