Thursday, October 19, 2006

Evangelical clergy misconduct

It's not just members of the Catholic clergy who sexually abuse the young. It's time the evangelicals got their house in order. I want to call your attention to an article entitled "Baptist Leaders Blind to Their Responsibilities" written by an adult survivor of clergy sexual abuse. Here's part of what it says:

"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.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ellie

    My rather exhaustive search programmes pick up most references to clergy abuse. I don't mention them because it is not part of my self-imposed remit. However, it is by far the the number one reported religious news item in the world - number wise. In the States alone there are at least one or two new cases reported everyday. I can state categorically that the word "pastor" comes up as often as the word "priest." What I don't know is if the percentage of offenders in ministry is higher than the percentage of offenders in the general population.


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