For immediate release: Thursday, Jan. 30 2014
Statement by David Clohessy of St Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
We in SNAP are grateful for Rev. Brenda Jones' strength and courage. She has wisely realized that our courts are the best place to expose sexual predators and protect vulnerable congregations. We applaud her for her bravery.
But this is about more than a sexual predator. It's also about a very unhealthy, self-serving church hierarchy that rallies around the accused, attacks the accuser, and deters victims, witnesses and whistleblowers from speaking up. Bishop Kirkland and other AME officials should be deeply ashamed of how they misused their power and position to scare others with information about clergy sex crimes and cover up into staying silent.
The AME church has an inspiring history. AME church officials and members played key roles in the civil rights movement. The Selma to Montgomery voting rights march started an AME church. Rosa Parks' memorial service was held at an AME church. In fact, the AME church grew out of an anti-segregation protest in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1787.
With all due respect, however, it's time that top AME officials support the civil rights struggle of innocent kids, vulnerable adults and wounded victims who deserve to be protected from predators and treated with compassion and dignity.
For starters, we urge church officials to read and distribute our brochure "What to do when your minister is accused of abuse" on our website.