When I look at moralists like Southern Baptist Theology president Albert Mohler Jr., I’m going to think of him and them a little less for their Southern Baptist Convention association than I did even yesterday.
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has recently proven why it is that children are at risk for sexual abuse in our society: It’s easier not to protect them, and especially easy to issue ineffectual platitudes while looking the other way.
According to the Associated Press, the SBC has concluded that its decentralized structure of independent churches makes it impossible for it to establish a website of pastors credibly accused of child sexual abuse, or even to require the reporting of such crimes to the police. Yes, you read that right: The SBC is citing these lame procedural reasons for not taking the most basic steps to protect children from devastating abuse that can have repercussions that leave victims suffering for a lifetime (and that severely taxes society in medical and other resources).
…In short, there is a basic procedural answer to what the SBC has portrayed as an insuperable barrier – agree among all independent entities to coordinate. If Baptist churches cannot coordinate on a shared, national strategy in favor of children at risk, they rightly lose a great deal of moral capital.
This past week they had their annual convention, and decided the following:
“One sexual predator in our midst is one too many,” Chapman said. “Our denomination and our local churches must condemn publicly this vile act.”
The executive committee announced Tuesday it would not create a national database of Baptist ministers accused or convicted of sexual abuse. The church representatives – called messengers – asked the committee last year to consider creating such a database.
“The convention has no ecclesiastical authority over local churches,” Chapman said.
Instead of a Baptist-only database, Chapman and other Southern Baptist leaders argue that churches should use the national sexual offender database, maintained by the federal government.
Christa Brown, the Baptist outreach coordinator for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the decision was disappointing but expected.
“A database is not a threat to local church authority,” she said. “It would give churches a much needed resource.”
To quote Matthew 7:3-5 on the denomination’s condemnation of homosexual marriage to the point of supporting a California initiative to repeal the recent California Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality, while not adequately setting in place a denomination wide system to track church employees (including pastors) accused of child sexual abuse:
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Oh yeah, the Southern Baptist Convention has the moral authority to condemn marriage equality…right?
Yeah, well…not right.