Opinion

To Baptist clergy sex abuse survivors: 10 tips from the trenches

Thousands of Southern Baptist Convention delegates voted on a new president and several resolutions at their meeting on June 10, 2014. Photo by Van Payne/Baptist Press

(RNS) — As the media spotlight focuses its glare on the clergy sex abuse scandal in the Southern Baptist Convention, we who have been dealing with abuse issues for years already see familiar patterns of institutional protection and image management in the Southern Baptist leadership’s response.

To Baptist clergy sex abuse survivors, therefore, we’re offering these tips in your efforts to confront the dysfunction and intransigence you may be encountering in the days ahead.

Know that you aren’t alone. The cruelest lie that clergy abuse survivors can believe is that their experience is unique. It isn’t. Experts say that more kids are likely being abused among Protestants than among Catholics, and the recent Houston Chronicle exposé makes plain that the extent of the Baptist problem is horrific.

Find a trauma therapist. When horrific memories begin to intrude, many survivors make the mistake of thinking, “I can handle it.” But almost without exception, every abuse survivor will be able to “handle it” better with the support of a skilled therapist. Get one sooner rather than later, and make sure she or he is licensed by the state. Faith-based counselors who are typically ill-equipped for dealing with such serious trauma have further wounded countless numbers of survivors.

Contact law enforcement. A crime was committed against you, so you should report it. Short statutes of limitation often preclude the prosecution of child sex crimes, but the fact that a case cannot be criminally prosecuted does not mean that a crime was not committed. As statutes of limitation are changing all the time, you also shouldn’t assume that time has run out.

Reporting the crime will begin a paper trail that can be crucial documentation for yourself or other possible victims. You may also help solidify in your psyche the reality of what was done to you: It was a crime, and you are not at fault. Consider reporting to one of the clergy sex abuse hotlines in states where the attorneys general are pursuing abuse investigations. You might also contact journalists, confidentially if you like, who are investigating Baptist clergy sex abuse.

Find a good lawyer. Many Baptist survivors are reluctant to go to lawyers because they’ve grown up with the religious instruction that a believer shouldn’t sue another believer. But filing a civil lawsuit creates a public document that makes it easier for journalists to report on abuse allegations and thereby helps inform the public about abusive clergy.

Many abuse survivors don’t contact attorneys because the thought of testifying about what was done to them is terrifying. (See #2: A good therapist can help you deal with that fear.) Consulting an attorney doesn’t mean you have to file a lawsuit, and even if you do, it still doesn’t mean you’ll be required to testify in court. But know this: Many church officials have attorneys at the ready with experience in intimidating abuse survivors. You deserve to have the counsel of an attorney who is on your side.

The Southern Baptist Convention headquarters in Nashville, Tenn. Photo courtesy of Baptist Press

Don’t go to the church. If you talk to anyone from the church about your situation, the odds are excellent that you will be revictimized with shaming tactics, and that little will be done about your perpetrator. Churches cannot investigate themselves. In the rare event that a church does claim to hire an “independent investigator,” it often leaves church officials in the driver’s seat.

Don’t fret over forgiveness. No matter how it is defined, “forgiveness” doesn’t preclude justice. It certainly doesn’t mean that clergy child molesters should be shielded from consequences. Some survivors refer to “forgiveness” as the “f-word” because so many religious bureaucrats have exploited “forgiveness” theology to silence them and enlarge their suffering. Feel free to think of it that way if it helps you fend off those who wield “forgiveness” as a weapon.

Think twice before signing a nondisclosure agreement. SNAP, the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests, has long advocated against the use of nondisclosure agreements with clergy sex abuse survivors. Church officials are trying to buy your silence when they or their attorneys shove one of these immoral pieces of paper in front of you. Such agreements do nothing to protect others, and many survivors have expressed regret about signing them.

Don’t give church leaders the benefit of the doubt. Choosing to protect an institution over the safety of children is a devil’s bargain so incomprehensible that survivors tend to believe that if we make church leaders understand, they will surely take action. Only after decades of confronting Catholic officials did most survivors finally accept that the church’s failures derived not from lack of understanding but lack of will. The Baptist scandal is perhaps 20 years behind, but the patterns already look similar.

Be wary of your desire for a quick fix. In fighting for institutional change, it can be tempting to accept a few easily tossed bones. But if we yield too hastily to our own yearning for a happy ending, we do a disservice to the thousands of clergy sex abuse survivors whose stories remain shrouded in secrecy.

Church officials may make carefully worded apologies, but even if they’re sincere, apologies alone won’t bring about change. Half-hearted responses like weekend workshops on abuse amount to little more than feel-good occasions where church officials publicly pat themselves on the back. Perpetrators must be removed from ministry, but this is a starting point for action, not an end. If kids are to be safer, there must be effective accountability mechanisms put in place for both perpetrators and cover-uppers.

Don’t despair. Never doubt the value, and indeed the sanctity, of your efforts at bringing truth to light. You may never see the sort of justice you yearn for — many survivors don’t — and even if you do, by the time it arrives, it may seem a pyrrhic victory.

But just because church officials choose to do nothing even after you’ve told your truth doesn’t lessen the courage you showed in speaking out. Applaud yourself and keep on keeping on. The work of institutional change is a multi-generational ultra-marathon, and every voice matters. Hope resides in the cumulative power of your stories, and eventually your truth will shine through all the denial and duplicity of Baptist officials.

(Christa Brown is the author of “This Little Light: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and his Gang” and serves on the board of advisors for the Child-Friendly Faith Project. David Clohessy, the former longtime director of SNAP, currently serves as SNAP’s volunteer director for St. Louis. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily represent those of Religion News Service.)

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  • From the Houston Chronicle article:

    They left behind more than 700 victims, many of them shunned by their churches, left to themselves to rebuild their lives. Some were urged to forgive their abusers or to get abortions.

    Imagine that. Then there’s this:

    The SBC has ended its affiliation with at least four churches in the past 10 years for affirming or endorsing homosexual behavior. The SBC governing documents ban gay or female pastors, but they do not outlaw convicted sex offenders from working in churches.

    To quote Dana Carvey’s Church Lady, “How conveeeenient.” But pity the poor “Lavender Mafia” avengers – it seems there’s no need for their efforts in the Southern Baptist Convention since it would appear that most of the victims cited were females being preyed upon by powerful men.

  • “Find a trauma therapist. When horrific memories begin to intrude, many survivors make the mistake of thinking, ‘I can handle it.’ But almost without exception, every abuse survivor will be able to ‘handle it’ better with the support of a skilled therapist. Get one sooner rather than later, and make sure she or he is licensed by the state. Faith-based counselors who are typically ill-equipped for dealing with such serious trauma have further wounded countless numbers of
    survivors.”

    Talk therapists of every stripe and color have been studied extensively over the decades.

    Despite their belief otherwise, the research seems to support the conclusion that 1/3 of talk therapy is of varying degrees of benefit, 1/3 is of no particular benefit, and 1/3 actually detriments the client’s outcomes.

    You can help minimize the damage and increase your odds of a positive outcome by avoiding any and all agenda-driven counseling, particularly so-called “survior” groups who maintain a near constant state of war with one or more religions.

    Hate and anger are not beneficial.

  • There’s some good advice here. I would especially agree about not blurring the concepts of forgiveness and accountability. Sexual abuse is a crime as well as a sin. It’s God’s job to deal with the sin part and it’s the criminal justice system’s job to deal with the rest.

  • Wait, what? This is a Southern Baptist problem, too? Do tell.

    From the time the abuse mess in the Catholic church began to be exposed, many white evangelicals, echoed by right-wing white Catholics allied to them, have led the way in accusing the Catholic church of having a unique problem of abuse, one not found in churches like the Southern Baptist churches, because the Catholic church has a high percentage of gay priests. Suddenly the “gays are the problem” meme has been radically problematized by the emergence of reports — and they will not go away — of widespread abuse in one of the most rabidly homophobic (and heterosexist and male-dominated) of evangelical churches, the SBC.

    Not only are almost all pastors in the SBC married, but they are expected to marry. An SBC pastor who chose not to marry would be regarded with great suspicion and would find it well-nigh impossible to be called to pastor a church. What links the Catholic church and the SBC is the refusal to ordain women, resulting in a governing structure in both churches that is all male and resistant to women as church leaders and to women’s rights.

    The “celibacy permits gay priests to hide in the Catholic church and abuse minors” meme sounds less compelling, doesn’t it, when one looks at the extensive abuse now being found in SBC churches — which overwhelmingly have married heterosexual (or purportedly heterosexual) males at their helms? And none of this is even to mention how the reports now breaking forth — and they, too, will not go away — of widespread abuse of nuns by priests also radically complicate the “gay priests are the problem” meme.

    Looks like those who have wanted to claim that the abuse mess is a more or less exclusively Catholic problem due to gay priests have some major revising to do.

  • “Wait, what? This is a Southern Baptist problem, too? Do tell.”

    Sin is a human problem. It existed before Christianity.

    The difference between the Catholic abuse, and the Southern Baptist abuse, according to the sex and age of the victims is that the Catholic abuse was in excess of 80% male-on-male and the victims were predominantly minors.

    On per capita basis – abusers divided by number of potential abusers – the largest and also almost totally unvestigated venue is public schools.

    A few, very few, public schools systems have addressed it.

  • ” But filing a civil lawsuit creates a public document that makes it easier for journalists to report on abuse allegations and thereby helps inform the public about abusive clergy.” We all know what a paragon of virtue the press is!
    It does no good to disobey the Lord for the press or anyone else. I am not suggesting that the abuse be hidden, whatsoever, but, very little good will result from a court case, rather than a monetary judgment, and sorry, that doesn’t make the memories go away – only God will do that, and if we follow what He taught, more than likely it will turn out better than going on our own and not following Him

  • “not blurring the concepts of forgiveness and accountability.” Christ forgave us for what we did to Him

  • Of course he did and I hope I’d be able to readily forgive any person who offended against me. But if that offense involved a crime, that person is still accountable to the law of the land.

  • The good that results from making abusers publicly known is that it makes it harder for them to abuse again.

  • How many times have you driven over the speed limit, as an example only. Sometimes only Christ can make things right again, and with sexual abuse, I would say that falls into His hands.

  • It certainly arms potential victims with more knowledge. Sex crimes should be brought into the light of day. That’s one of the consequences of committing them.

  • Surely you’re not equating sexual crimes with speeding, are you?

    If I speed and I’m pulled over, I deserve a ticket. And if I raped somebody, I’d deserve to go to prison. Christians are every bit as accountable to the law as anyone else. Paying one’s debt to society is also part of making things right again.

  • rock, I’ve worked with sex offenders, and I don’t minimalize the wrong whatsoever, I’ve seen more harm come from being a victim of the abuse than good when it is reported. The women go through Hell, and I’m sure the males then become emasculated. No one but God can make things right, and He does.

  • Sandi, I appreciate your conviction in the matter, but there is no way that I would ever support keeping abuse secret. That attitude has exacerbated this problem for decades if not centuries. These things must be brought into the light.

  • 1 Timothy 5:20
    As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.

    I don’t recall similar comments when the Catholic Church was the offender.

  • By reporting it, there is the chance that the perpetrator gets punished and hopefully won’t do it again. Without reporting it they will likely continue the behavior. You’re not suggesting that the abuser should be allowed to continue until God punishes him/her?

  • Who can punish us worse than the Lord? Have you ever felt His chastisement?
    Women being raked over the coals because of the perfume they wore and men having their masculinity questioned because of sexual abuse going through the courts, comes close to being abused again, if it isn’t.

  • Not at all Jim.
    All churches experience these problems. It is the problems after the abuse that I am wary of – the difficulties because one chose to report it.

  • I’m not suggesting keeping it secret. I just think if the public gets too involved, things then go wrong. The Lord knows what He is doing though.

  • It really gets complicated if you commit sexual crimes while speeding.

    Retributive justice demands a proportionate punishment.

  • I’ve seen a guy finish 2 1/2 years and go out the next month and rape a 91 year old woman. No. If a person is inclined to rape, they will – the enormous amount of it in the churches is just another example of it. It is an evil that jail does not rectify,
    Throwing them in jail makes us feel good. They say the victim gets a sense of justice, if the court case goes their way – and only if it does,.
    I agree it shouldn’t be secret in any degree, the rapist needs to be avoided, but, no one but Christ can fix the damage.
    We have a woman on the blog, who I believe was sexually abused by a priest – you may know her. Had she given Christ a chance – rather than rejecting Him because of what some man did to her, her bitterness may not even be an issue for her.
    What do we do with the rapists, I really don’t know.

  • So how far to you want to carry this idea that God alone punishes? What would be the purpose of our justice system then if the abuser is allowed to keep abusing?

  • Let’s just do a simple math here based on the graphics summarizing the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News Research, which was published on February 10, 2019. Let’s see, there are:

    (1) 3 Convicted Criminals: Darrell Gilyard in 1980s, John Forse in 1994 and Chad Foster in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

    (2) 2 Potential Criminals but Eventually Dismissed or Recused: Edwin Young in 1992, 1994, 2010, 2013 and 2015, and Paul Pressler in 1978-1979, 2004, 2017 and 2018.

    (3) 4 Compromising Church Leaders: Steve Gaines in 2006, Paige Patterson in 1990s and 2007, Jerry Vines in 1990s, and Frank S. Page in 2007 and 2018.

    (4) > 15 Million Innocents: Southern Baptist Convention in 2015, according to Wikipedia.

    BOTTOMLINE: 15 million Southern Baptists minus 3 convicted criminals, minus 2 potential criminals but eventually dismissed or recused, minus 4 compromising church leaders, all equal to … hmm … let’s see now … where’s my calculator … oh yeah STILL 15 million INNOCENT Southern Baptists!

  • Mark, I’m truthfully not sure what I am proposing, except that it not be kept a secret. Then again, there needs to be a witness for that, as I don’t think anyone is more believable than anyone else. I’ve seen women who have done horrific things; I’ve seen men who have done horrific things. And, no one knows what really happened in most cases.
    Rape is an act of evil. The courts do not stop it. Jail doesn’t stop it.
    (edit)
    There was a study done with ex-abusers. They were linked up with a church and members would meet them for coffee several times a week – the rate of recidivism decreased dramatically.
    Will that be the answer, I don’t know.
    Sexual abuse is just pure evil.

  • sorry – accidentally posted this above

    Mark, I’m truthfully not sure what I am proposing, except that it not be kept a secret. Then again, there needs to be a witness for that, as I don’t think anyone is more believable than anyone else. I’ve seen women who have done horrific things; I’ve seen men who have done horrific things. And, no one knows what really happened in most cases.

    Rape is an act of evil. The courts do not stop it. Jail doesn’t stop it.

    There was a study done with ex-abusers. They were linked up with a church and members would meet them for coffee several times a week – the rate of recidivism decreased dramatically.

    Will that be the answer, I don’t know.

    Sexual abuse is just pure evil.

  • This comment should dig me in deeper with many, but I’ll risk it…
    That “me too” thread – I think it was totally wrong. It was one person’s word and no room for the other and many men, I’m sure, should never have been put on the list. It was as hateful as what the women asserted had happened to them – and the reason is proof
    Most times, it is his word against her word. Yes, there are examinations to show some degree of bruising, etc, but, without a witness, no one knows what happened.
    I have no stake in this other than opinion, but women are just as capable of evil as men are and our culture seems to forget that – as it is so anti-male, it’s pathetic.
    So, a woman declaring rape, in most instances, can be false. In fact, I think I would believe a man saying he was assaulted, first because it is more damaging to him than it would be a woman – that said, it damages both sexes – if it is true.
    In this “I’m offended” era, things that really used to matter, get lost in the hubub of the “i’m offended” being made to believe it is something severe. A man touching your knee is wrong, but, it is not a sexual assault. Things are blown out of proportion so badly that the real offence is rarely seen as severe as it is. That is what the “me too” trash did to our culture.
    Back to the law on this now…..most times, court cases depend on who has the better lawyer – unless the perpetrator confesses. North America does not have a good history with minorities and crime either. So, depending on who you are and what you can afford has more bearing on the result.
    The courts have become a farce.
    In most cases, the only two people who know what happened, are the two people involved, unfortunately.

  • So you want special treatment of sex abusers, how about homicide? If someone murders my mother, should I just let Jesus handle it? Allow them to possibly murder other folks parents? Where do we draw the line on the sins that we let Jesus handle? All of them? Do away with justice systems?

  • I don’t care to comment on every point in your post, but I will say that I completely disagree with your assertion that our culture is anti-male.

    Who hold most positions of corporate power? White men. Who hold most political offices? White men. How about the decision makers in Hollywood and the news media? Again, white men.

    I am a white American male and I recognize that I am part of the most privileged class of human beings on the planet. To suggest otherwise is beyond ludicrous.

  • But the SBC doesn’t treat them the same. It considers child molestation and (hetero)sexual assault to be just fine. Homosexuals, on the other hand, aren’t to be tolerated at all. 

    Different treatment … decidedly not “the same thing.” 

  • Re: “We have a woman on the blog, who I believe was sexually abused by a priest – you may know her. Had she given Christ a chance – rather than rejecting Him because of what some man did to her, her bitterness may not even be an issue for her.” 

    Wow. Are you ever a piece of work! 

    You say someone is a victim of priestly abuse, but then declare whatever “bitterness” she might feel is her fault — because she insolently dares not to bow and scrape to your almighty sky-tyrant. Forget whatever monster victimized her … oh no, there’s no way that guy could ever have caused any “bitterness.” Right? 

    You’re evil, you know that? Not as evil as a child predator, perhaps, but evil nonetheless and in your own way. You’re a great example of what’s wrong with religionistic miltancy. 

  • “It [the SBC] considers child molestation and (hetero)sexual assault to be just fine.”

    I am not a Southern Baptist, but I must defend them here from this calumny. I have never heard of any SBC leader, or Christian leader of any denomination for that matter, who considers child molestation and heterosexual assault to be “just fine.” This is simply a hate-filled slander, false and malicious.

    From Russell Moore: “All rape and sexual exploitation is evil and unjust. Sexual abuse is not only sin but also a crime. All of it should be prosecuted in the civil arena, and all of it will be brought before the tribunal of the Judgment Seat of Christ. But nothing is worse than the use of the name of Jesus to prey on the vulnerable, or to use the name of Jesus to cover up such crimes.”

    From SBC President Greear: “The abuses described in the Houston Chronicle article are pure evil.”

    See also https://albertmohler.com/2019/02/11/reality-sexual-abuse-hits-home-happened-now/ and https://www.russellmoore.com/2019/02/10/southern-baptists-and-the-scandal-of-church-sexual-abuse/

  • Thanks for your honesty Psi but we all make a decision……not only do we give our sins to Christ, we do our hurts and pain. Some pain, only He can take care of.

  • We’re all living and growing people, Psi. Christ deals with each of us at our own time. If this is true about SBC – perhaps this is the time Christ chose for them to make things right.

  • Not male enough, rock. Little boys are growing up in the hate of feminists and feminist emasculation.

  • Sorry for my weak writing; it’s hard for me to express my thoughts.

    But, from your response, you seem to be in denial.

    “Sin is a human problem” – As representatives of the Christian faith, they are held to a higher standard in the of the public.

    “difference between Catholic and South Baptist abuse” – It doesn’t matter whether the abuse was man-man or man-female; ABUSE IS ABUSE! They both committed the same degree of EVIL.

    “largest and also almost totally uninvestigated venue is public schools” – When i scored low on tests as a kid, my mom would ask me how i got a low score. My first excuse was to claim there were others who scored much lower than i did. Do you understand what I’m saying? Don’t turn the focuses to others!

    I am a Christian. As Christians, as a group, we’re supposed to be a light in this dark world. The Churchs should have thrown out such manipulative leaders to the authorities long before it became a norm to connect the Christian faith to a group of rapists.

    We should take responsibility for our own failures.

  • No, I have never been sexually abused in any way by anyone!

    My reaction is discust that you would propose not prosecuting rapists and other sex abusers! Who gives a shit if the abuser feels emasculated? They should be at least castrated. Or drowned in the sea, as Jesus stated.

  • We live in a capitalist society. Economic power rules the world.

    I’m not insensitive to Sandi’s concern about overcompensating in gender roles, but “Me Too” happened for a reason.

  • No, economic power does not rule the world, and Sandi is pointing that out.

    “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” has more content than simply an aphorism.

  • We can debate what ruling the world means, but I’m afraid that would lead down a rabbit hole.

    I’ll cut to the chase. I believe a societal course correction needs to be made in the protection and empowerment of girls and women, as this article demonstrates. I don’t believe acknowledging that reality is threatening to men.

    Gotta get ready for work. Enjoy your day.

  • NOT “the graphics summarizing the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News Research, which was published on February 10, 2019”.

  • If it would lead down a rabbit hole, then you misspoke to Sandi.

    In short, it is a lot more complex then economic power.

  • Yes, more complicated, and I get the wisdom of the saying about the hand that rocks the cradle. Mothers have more influence on how a child turns out than anyone else. True enough. But the Harvey Weinsteins of the world had hands that rocked their cradles too and they didn’t turn out so good.

    It’s a complex world and traditional gender roles are changing, like it or not. Some of that is good and long overdue and some is frightening and moving too fast. But the frightening part doesn’t justify going backwards.

    One thing I do know is that when people talk about the good old days, they usually mean days that were good for people like them, not for others. The problem with nostalgia is that we tend to pick and choose what we remember.

  • Oddly many women comment on the pre-feminist era as the good old days, which seems to me to indicate the issues are much more complicated than the modern political power/economic power analysis.

  • Well, I’m glad to hear that.
    You prove they have raped then, David. IF YOU CAN PROVE WITHOUT A SHADOW OF DOUBT THAT THESE MEN HAVE SEXUALLY ABUSED, OR RAPED ANYONE, THEN PASS THEIR NAMES ALONG, otherwise, you are nothing more than a slanderer, as with the “me too” people,

  • Re: “From SBC President Greear: ‘The abuses described in the Houston Chronicle article are pure evil.'” 

    Well yeah, of course they’re going to admit it’s “pure evil,” now that the lid has blown off. I’m talking about the disparate treatment and enforcement they mete out. 

    They are, in short, willing to cut ties with people, and churches, over homosexuality, but not willing to cut ties with people, or churches, over child molestation. That’s clear, from what’s described in the stories. 

    I don’t understand how or why any ethical person could consider this acceptable in any way. But sure, you go right ahead and trot out these quotations and use them to assert they actually care about what they’re doing. 

  • I get it. You’re doubling down on your “victim blaming.” Thank you for making clear just what sort of a vile, reprehensible creature you are — and for providing such a magnificent example of why I’m proud to say I’m no longer a fundagelical Christian (or any other kind of Christian, either). I couldn’t have done a better job of explaining what’s wrong with your religion, than you just did. 

    Again, my hat’s off to you! Muchas gracias. 

  • Re: “If this is true about SBC – perhaps this is the time Christ chose for them to make things right.” 

    Why would they? They’ve already insisted, previously, there’s nothing they can do ’cause all their constituent churches are independent. They’ve washed their hands of the matter — just as Pontius Pilate supposedly did, 2 millennia ago. 

  • Not if you read the article.
    Pilot was following what God knew he would do; it was part of a plan,
    Molesting children doesn’t seem to be a part of some godly plan, although if true, He can turn it into something good, but, sounds to me like the SBC is working toward dealing with the problem,
    The difficulty is, how does one know if the allegation is true?

  • No victim blaming, but nice try. My understanding is “innocent until proven guilty” Now, if you have changed that to “hang them and find out afterward”, I never got the memo

  • I did read the article. I’ve read quite a lot about it. The SBC has repeatedly insisted it cannot cut ties with any church over child molestation, but has, and will, cut ties with any church that accommodates gays. 

    You’re making excuses for something that cannot logically be excused. By all means, keep up the illogic and double standards. I enjoy watching you exemplify everything that’s wrong with militant Christianism. 

  • Yes you did blame the victim. Grow up and own up to it already. We know you to be a walking piece of garbage; all that remains is for you just to admit it already. 

  • When you can definitively state that you saw all of the accused assaults and are willing to stand up in court attesting to such, then, they did not work hard enough. Until then, innocent until proven guilty

  • It’s not up to me, personally, to do all of that, and I have no clue why you would think I should. Things that happen in SBC churches aren’t mine to deal with … they’re the SBC’s. They won’t handle them, though, unless it’s “gayness” in which case they’re happy to cut ties. 

  • Your take is that all the women stating #metoo are liars?

    Good to know how brainwashed that you have been by your husband & the patriarchy.

    Your rants here have direly undermined the little credibility that you may have held!

  • “Protecting children” sometimes requires cutting ties with people while an investigation is underway. Oh, and let’s not forget, some of these guys worked for SBC churches after being convicted and serving sentences. 

    So there’s that. 

  • I already did, while browsing at Friendly Atheist. Here at RNS it dawned on me as to the hidden agenda of the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News Research: to scandalize the entire Southern Baptist Convention leadership. Hence the title of the graphical summary:

    “Trouble at the top: Six former leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention have directly with allegations of sexual abuse or misconduct involving their church, their employees or themselves … Steve Gaines … Paige Patterson … Jerry Vines … Edwin Young … Paul Pressler … Frank S. Page”.

    To which I say: 15 million Southern Baptists minus 3 convicted criminals, minus 2 potential criminals but eventually dismissed or recused, minus 4 compromising church leaders, all equal to … hmm … let’s see now … where’s my calculator … oh yeah STILL 15 million INNOCENT Southern Baptists!

    In a word, SCANDAL? WHAT SCANDAL?

  • Both of you are right, but at different angles. Sin is one way to describe it, everyone across the sexual spectrum in all instutitions on Earth engage in sexual abuse, and the reason that this is done is because it’s all about POWER AND CONTOL

  • “Your take is that all the women stating #metoo are liars?” David mind reads again!
    “Good to know how brainwashed that you have been by your husband & the patriarchy.” Become a Christian and learn some reality
    “Your rants here have direly undermined the little credibility that you may have held!” That would depend on whether your comments are viable – as most of them are you trying to read people’s minds.
    Good to know you weren’t raped though

  • First, I’m no “SJW,” no matter how vehemently you may think I am. So go ahead and keep calling me that … you’ll remain forever wrong about it. 

    Second, don’t you — of all people — dare presume to lecture me about ethics, after what you said — which I will remind you was: 

    “We have a woman on the blog, who I believe was sexually abused by a priest – you may know her. Had she given Christ a chance – rather than rejecting Him because of what some man did to her, her bitterness may not even be an issue for her.” 

    Like I said the first time I commented on this, you are one helluva piece of work, lady. 

  • Same old trope when you don’t have anything inteligent to say. It was a question, based on your atrocious comments in this thread, about this article.

    I’ve likely been a Christian longer than you, with a theological education from an respected seminary, at a respected church-owned university.

    Your last comment is beyond despicable.

    I won’t respond to any more of your crap today.

  • If you gave me something intelligent, rather than playing psychic, we could have an adult conversation.

  • AGREED: Neil deGrasse Tyson, David Silverman, Lawrence Krauss and Al Franken are “more evidence that god does [in fact] exist!”

  • Since when anyway is The Presstitute ever going to destroy the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention and the Russian Orthodox Church?

  • “Experts say that more kids are likely being abused among Protestants than among Catholics” Wow, that’s saying something!

  • It occurs to me that it’s too bad after reading this “insolently dares not to bow and scrape to your almighty sky-tyrant” pap that we can’t get some video on the look on your face when you exit this life.

  • “They are, in short, willing to cut ties with people, and churches, over
    homosexuality, but not willing to cut ties with people, or churches,
    over child molestation.”

    You certainly managed to cram the facts into your distorted procrustean bed of biases, BS, and baloney.

  • “I have never heard of any SBC leader, or Christian leader of any denomination for that matter, who considers child molestation and heterosexual assault to be “just fine.”
    Phil “Duck Dynasty” Robertson: “You got to marry these girls when they are about 15 or 16.”

  • Oh my, thank you for this article. I am not a southern baptist sex abuse survivor but I was molested in the Missionary Baptist Church that I grew up in. It means so much to have an article that also has advice for us survivors.

  • Is this “the Missionary Baptist Church” where you said last month, “I was molested in the church at ages 5, 12, and 14 by three different clergy [which] I spoke about … in the only place I felt safe–to another priest”?

  • It was two churchs, My father’s family is Baptist but we were raised Episcopalian. I was molested in his family church by a visiting youth pastor at 5, and then later by two separate people in the Episcopal church. Very vulnerable children like me are easy targets, we came from poverty and drug addiction.

  • So you were “molested” in “the Missionary Baptist Church” when you were “14”? But not by “three different clergy”? Then by whom? Does it matter that it was a conservative or liberal church? But “the Episcopal church” was liberal, though, wasn’t it? Or doesn’t that matter now? That Southern Baptist Convention is conservative matters, however, to the present article; so what made you want to comment “a day ago”?

    Speaking of which, who’s on the side of “southern baptist sex abuse survivor”, do you think? Journalists? Clergy? Disqus commenters?

  • I wanted to comment because I found the advice in the column powerful and relevant to my case. I don’t know what to do because in both cases and in both churches the pastors are protecting the abusers, and in both cases the police will do nothing because the case is passed the statue of limitations. And in both cases the guys are still abusing kids. I don’t know what you mean about sides but I wish that more people would be on our side (the kids who got raped). The advice helped me to understand that there is little I can do, that is simply the hardest thing to take. I know Doug is still abusing kids right now–and the other guy too. Its horible. I’m glad the catholic church is having do something, I’m glad SBC is having to do something but my guys will be long dead before this comes around to me. Please remeber HpO that you are talking to someone who was raped in a church, with abuse that centered around the rituals of the church, this is a scar on the soul.

  • JASON BLOCK: “I was molested in the Missionary Baptist Church … raped in [that] church”.

    HpO: Although I believe you, you still haven’t answered, Who exactly “molested … raped [you] in [that] church … the Missionary Baptist Church”?

  • Unless one is a defense attorney for a sex offender, this sort of cross examination of a survivor is not appropriate.

  • How about some evidence for your whiny little assertions there? The idea “agenda” against particular religions exist in therapy is a bold claim. In other words, quotes or I’m calling your bluff that this is just locker room talk for which evidence is lacking.

  • AWW, lookee that, you still can’t get over the ever depressing fact about your greatly devolving species that, as per:

    (1) “Sociologists Ariela Keysar and Juhem Navarro-Rivera’s review [in 2017]”: “Atheists and agnostics [make up] 7% of the world’s population”! HA-HA.

    (2) “The 2015 Pew Religious Landscape survey”: “Of the American population … atheists made up 3.1%”! HA-HA.

    (3) “The World Factbook [of 2013]”: “Non-religious people [in the U.S.] make up 9.66%, while one fifth of them are atheists”! HA-HA.

    (4) “The Encyclopædia Britannica [2013]”: “2% of the world’s population self-identify as atheists and the average annual global change for atheism from 2000 to 2010 was −0.17%”! HA-HA.

    (5) “Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project [2009]”: “In the United States, only 5% of the population did not have a belief in a god and out of that small group only 24% self-identified as ‘atheist'”! HA-HA.

    (6) “A 2004 survey by the BBC in 10 countries”: “8% of the respondents … consider themselves to be ‘atheists'”! HA-HA.

    (7) “The World Factbook [2004]”: “Of the world’s population … about 2.4% are atheists”! HA-HA.

  • As usual you fulfill the role you savor by making assumptions, or else you’re just thick-headed. Dude, I ain’t no atheist, so, the number of them and their effect is not on my high list of interests. Thank you for playing. As a parting gift you will receive a case of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Bye, Felicia.

  • This is 1% better for you, then? Wanna know how IN-significant or use-LESS or LAUGH-able 4% is? WATCH THIS:

    (1) “ONLY 4% of Americans see Saudi Arabia as an ally”, YouGov, October 17, 2018.

    (2) “ONLY 4% of new social houses built by local authorities”, The Irish Times, September 27, 2018.

    (3) “‘ONLY 4% of Kenya’s police officers are corrupt’”, Nairobi News, July 21, 2017.

    (4) “AZ teens puff, drink less, BUT 4% tried meth”, Arizona Daily Star, November 1, 2006.

    (5) “[Of] the proportion of Americans who call themselves ‘unaffiliated’ … [ONLY] 4% … identify as agnostic”, The Economist, May 16, 2018 (“The elusive phenomenon of churches without God”).

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