I won't even start to link to all the blogs that have tried to crack this nut. I have greatly enjoyed participating in the discussion at several sites. In general, I believe that it is impossible for the SBC to do anything about this problem that both (a) enjoys any chance of making a substantive positive difference, and (b) does not violate Southern Baptist polity. But how about this? Why not pass secular federal legislation requiring every institution (schools, churches, day cares, Chuck E. Cheese) that interacts with children to perform a thorough criminal background check on every employee? I could not support legislation in which the government dared to tell a church whom it could hire or couldn't hire (violation of the First Amendment), but if the government required every church to run the check, then no church could hide behind the excuse that it didn't know it was hiring a convicted sexual offender. Churches that knowingly hired sexual predators would quickly be out of business, I imagine. Finally, let me mention—at great personal risk of being accused of being soft on sexual predators—another reason I could not support federal legislation preventing churches from hiring convicted sexual offenders. Currently in Texas, if I understand the law correctly, there is no legal distinction made between the following two situations, as far as "sexual offender" status goes:
- An eighteen-year-old boy falls in love with a sixteen-year-old girl, has sex with her, her parents find out and hit the roof, they call the police, and the boy is charged with and convicted of statutory rape.
- A thirty-five-year-old man molests his seven-year-old nephew.