"The fact is any cleric--Catholic or Protestant--who molests a child to satisfy his own dark urges should be immediately dismissed and severely punished. Period. However, church leaders have gone blind to their responsibilities."
Jerry Falwell directed these remarks, published in 2002 by Baptist Press, mainly at Catholics, but Southern Baptists need to take a look at themselves.
Particularly in light of the Foley scandal, this would be an opportune time for the Southern Baptist Convention to get its own house in order and to institute accountability procedures for protecting kids against clergy predators. After all, as a group of religious leaders recently wrote in an open letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert, "protecting children is a biblical responsibility."
Not long ago, 18 church and denominational leaders were informed of a substantiated report that a Southern Baptist minister had sexually abused a minor church girl, and yet the man was allowed to remain in ministry. These leaders were in four different states and at national headquarters.
Whatever the reasons--whether they were trying to avoid scandal or protect a colleague’s career--those leaders were "blind to their responsibilities."
Baptist scholars report that clergy sex abuse is as prevalent among Baptists as among Catholics. Yet this denomination has no procedures for tracking abusive clergy across state lines, for removing them from ministry, or for informing people in the pews.
The betrayal of trust is simply beyond reprehensible. As is the hypocrisy. These are the "family values" people and yet they're unwilling to police their ranks.