Wednesday, June 6, 2007

BGCT Clergy Sex Abuse Measures

See the story in the Dallas Morning News here (written by reporter Sam Hodges and reporter-associate Ben Cole) My evaluation:

  1. Database: Well-intentioned bad idea, for reasons mentioned here.
  2. Hotline: Well-intentioned great idea. The first thing they need to say on the hotline is "call the police."
  3. Putting pastors on a list without legal review merely because "church officials are convinced of the misconduct" (and the misconduct here could include having watched a dirty movie last weekend): Really bad empower-bad-people-to-ruin-somebody's-ministry, get-your-convention-sued-for-a-sackload-of-money kind of bad idea.

13 comments:

joerstewart said...

Do you ever sleep?

Bart Barber said...

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ...........

Gary said...

Sorry Joe,

But anyone who is blogging at 1 am can't ask that question. I know you're not as old as I am but maybe you will be some day.

Gary

Bowden McElroy said...

I have a few questions.

What about predators who move from church to church as lay volunteers? I would guess that is a much wider problem than clergy abuse. Why the emphasis on clergy and not sexual predators in general?

Does "making it easier for its 5,600 affiliated congregations to report sexual misconduct by a pastor include legal but immoral activities (i.e. extramarital affairs, porn on the church computer, etc.)? Not as heinous or attention grabbing, but still a big problem in churches.

Well intentioned but misguided is a good way to phrase it. It's trying to fix the wrong problem. The SBC's problem isn't administrators knowingly moving employees from one church to another while covering up the predator's behavior. The SBC's problems include churches who have their head in the sand and imagine it can't happen to them, congregations who fear law suits for speaking the truth about former staff members, and church leaders who don't educate themselves about their state's reporting laws and/or believe they are best qualified for investigating possible sex abuse and treating offenders.

We need to address these problems rather than importing a solution that was designed for another system.

volfan007 said...

bart,

i agree with you. this is a bad idea and a waste of money. we already have this kind of thing set up with the govt. footing the bill.

david

Amy Downey said...

Bart,

I am somewhere in the middle on this issue. My father was a Baptist and he was exceptionally careful to not even given the hint of anything. When he counseled he took every precaution possible, even having my mother sit outside the open office door but not close enough to hear anything. He reported abuse to the police as soon as the words were out of the person's mouth.

However, my parents also worked at Buckner's for a time and his first two ministry stops was a children's minister. Therefore, I have seen the damage that abuse can do. And Baptists can and must do more?

Is there a happy medium option possible?

On a side note, have you ever noticed that the only pastor that Sam Hodges' ever mentions is BSC? Is there not a single other Baptist pastor in the DFW area that can be used for comment? :-) Makes you wonder who is the reporter and who is the source for a lot of issues that have shown up in the "Morning News" lately? :-)

Amy

Bart Barber said...

Bowden,

First, thanks again for your help with regard to the situation our church faced this year. Obviously, because of that, I entirely agree that any solution incapable of addressing the lay volunteer problem is no solution at all.

I agree about the legal-but-immoral activities, but would note one problem. With illegal activities, churches can take advantage of the fact that an extensive legal system exists to investigate the allegation and make a considered determination. The real challenge of the legal-but-immoral category is the ease with which some of it can be falsely alleged (thus, my "dirty movie" example). Others of these situations (you have mentioned affairs, porn apparently found on the computer) are more verifiable.


Amy,

This is personal for me, too.

Bowden McElroy said...

Bart,
I'm not necessarily suggesting we track immoral activity; I'm pointing out there is a larger problem of how we deal with sex in general.

I'm all for the Christa Browns of this world that point out the problems we have; SNAP is not the enemy. I do think we need to have meaningful solutions to our particular system; not merely replicating what another system does.

The challenge will be motivating 40,000 different congregations to address the various problems we have surrounding sexual misconduct. I think figuring out how to provide some kind of financial incentive to get churches to educate themselves and take appropriate action will be needed. I have no idea what that would look like.

Amy Downey said...

Bart,

Thanks for the response but I am not sure to what you are referring? Do you mind clarifying?

Amy

Amy Downey said...

Bart,

Related to our confab:

www.tzedakahministries.org

Amy

Paul Kullman said...

First of all I agree that something should be done to stop this evil. But my concern is over a "hotline" and how it is used. Before someone points the finger and says "he did it" I want it verfied before it hits the street. An established ministry can go down in flames due to one angry person who received "bad counsel" and seeks revenge. To file a false report to the police is a crime, but to file a false report to a Baptist entity may not be. We need safeguards to protect both victim and those innocently accused of wrongdoing.
On a similar issue, Amy's comment about sitting outside the pastor's door during a counsel is important for each of us to understand. I have designed numerous church offices and always schedule the door to have a window. When I come back, once the staff has moved in, the glass is almost always covered with mini-blinds or fabric. I understand the need for privacy but the minister needs protection also. Amy's parents had the right idea.

Bart Barber said...

Paul,

I think the best value for a hotline would be not as a reporting mechanism but as an advisory mechanism. Right now, a church's insurance agency can be a source of really good advice, but there is a need for a church facing such a traumatic situation to know immediately exactly whom to call.

Bart Barber said...

Paul,

In other words, not every church would think immediately to call the insurance agency. Not every minister would know off the top of the head how long they have to notify the police. Etc. Etc. A well-staffed hotline could provide churches the good advice that they need at the moment when they need it.