Orginally published on Thursday, June 12, 2008 at 8:12 AM
by Todd Rhoades
As I understand it, this has been quite the issue with some in the SBC: Should the denomination compile and support a listing of known sexual predator pastors that have caused problems in SBC churches. That was what a task force was set to decide, and during the annual meeting, the task force said that, even though sexual sins were a problem in SBC churches, there was no need for a database to track sexual abusive ministers. Whether or not a database is the best way to help the problem is far from me. But the reasoning they gave really makes no sense to me at all. Here was their reasoning, according to an article in NewsOK.com:
1. It would be impossible to ensure that ALL convicted sexual predators who ever had a connection with a Baptist church would be included in such a database. (OK... that kinda goes without saying... of course, any database like this will not be 100% complete or accurate. But the hope would be that what WAS in the database could be useful and beneficial).
2. The committee reported that creating a "Baptist only" database would exclude predators previously identified in other faith groups. (You mean there are predators that AREN'T baptist?) My problem here would be the same as in #1. Of course, the database would not be complete, but would it not be somewhat beneficial? The task force said that they urged churches to use the Justice Department's national database for sexual predators. Good idea. But guess what... it doesn't include everyone either!
3. The committee said that due to the autonomy of SBC churches, the convention does not have any authority to require local churches to report instances of alleged sexual abuse to their local assocation, state convention, or national convention. Again, true. But don’t you think that most local churches that were a victim of a sexual predator pastor would want to make sure it was reported in some way? I know that much is swept under the carpet; but right now, there is really no collecting place for these types of cases in the SBC that I’m aware of. Wouldn’t this database be a step in the right direction?
The chairman who was giving the report emphasized the convention’s commitment to eradicating sexual predators from Baptist ministry even though the database concept was not deemed viable. “Never let it be said that we are anemic in the fight against sexual abuse.
Sorry, but if these are the best excuses that you can come up with for NOT doing something more, it makes one wonder.
Please know, I’m not saying that a database is definitely the way to go; but simply saying you’re not going to do it because it wouldn’t be complete, wouldn’t include ‘non-SBCers’, or that you can’t make people report things, seem to be three really kinda lame ways of saying ‘we don’t want to do it’. Instead, say something like, it would be too cost-prohibitive, take too much administration, might incriminate non-offenders, might open us up to lawsuites, or, even the big one: we don’t want to publically admit that there is a big problem in the convention.
Am I too harsh?
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