Christa Brown is author of This Little Light: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and His Gang. She blogs at Stop Baptist Predators.
For too long, Baptist officials have used their local church autonomy doctrine as a legal strategy to shield denominational structures from the risk of liability. That may be ending.
If churches are to “act justly” in dealing with clergy sex abuse allegations, outsiders are essential.
Who will answer a mother’s call for accountability for the sexual abuse of her son?
The unmistakable message of silence and do-nothingness is that, among Baptists, clergy sex abuse is typically treated as “no big deal.”
While other major faith groups have recognized the need for clergy accountability mechanisms, Southern Baptists persist in denominational do-nothingness.
Penn State has hired former FBI director and federal judge Louis Freeh to investigate gaps in how the university handled allegations of child sex crimes involving former football coach Jerry Sandusky. To assist him in the task, Freeh has assembled a team of former FBI investigators and federal prosecutors. Many have expertise in child predator cases.
The American Cancer Society estimates that the year 2011 will bring 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer among women in the United States. I’m one of those cases.
Most major faith groups in the United States have denominational processes for assessing reports about clergy sex abuse. The Southern Baptist Convention does not. Instead, the SBC has chosen to denominationally do nothing. That choice makes the world a more dangerous place, especially for children.
Last week, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice released the results of a five-year study on the “causes and context” of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests. Though the study was commissioned by United States Catholic bishops, it provides useful data for understanding child sex abuse in a broader context. As the report itself states, it provides “a framework for understanding not only the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests, but sexual victimization of children in any institution.” Hence, if Baptists care about kids, they too should pay attention.
As Holy Week unfolds, I find myself thinking about Pontius Pilate, the powerful Roman leader who thought he could wash his hands of an innocent’s blood by shoving responsibility onto others.