Survivors Network of
those Abused by Priests
Giving Voice to Victims
February 18, 2007
"Address Clergy Child Sex Abuse," Victims
Tell Attorney General
Gonzales Speaks to Nations Largest Denomination
SNAP Wants Him to Prod Baptists to Take Steps to Protect Kids
On Monday, Group will Leaflet Key Baptist Officials
Victims of childhood clergy sex abuse are asking US Attorney General Alberto
Gonzales to prod top Southern Baptist officials to work harder to protect
kids from child-molesting clergy. On Tuesday, Gonzales will speak to the
highest decision-making body of the nations largest Protestant denomination
Leaders of a support group called SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused
by Priests, want Gonzales to urge Baptists to move more quickly to oust
clergy predators and set up an independent review panel to handle molestation
"No one wants to see a repeat of the Catholic sex abuse and cover-up
scandal, but unless Southern Baptists start dealing with the problem effectively
and compassionately, that may happen," said Christa Brown of Austin,
TX. She was sexually assaulted as a child by a Baptist minister and runs
a website called StopBaptistPredators.org. "We hope that Attorney
General Gonzales will convey this message to Baptist officials."
For months, clergy sex abuse victims have been frustrated by the refusal
of key Baptist officials to respond to their requests for action to make
churches safer. They want an independent panel for reviewing reports of
clergy sex abuse and the implementation of a tough, nationwide zero-tolerance
policy. Denominational officers, however, have ignored SNAPs requests.
"Its discouraging when men who profess to follow Jesus Christ
dont even answer their mail from deeply wounded victims of horrific
child sex crimes," said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAPs
National Director. "If they wont respond to actual victims,
who can believe theyll protect potential child victims?"
On Monday Feb. 19, a handful of SNAP members plan to hand out flyers at
Nashvilles Renaissance Hotel and Southern Baptist headquarters where
the Executive Committee is meeting. A copy of SNAPs letter to Gonzales
(sent Saturday by FedEx, fax and email to his Washington office and through
3 members of the Texas congressional delegation) is below.
Dear Attorney General Gonzales:
Though I doubt you would remember me, we met once while you were a justice
of the Texas Supreme Court. I served for many years as a staff attorney
for that court, prior to your tenure. I know that you care greatly about
childrens safety, and thats why Im writing you.
On Tuesday, when you address the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist
Convention, I respectfully request that you include in your remarks a
few sentences about the scourge of clergy sex abuse and the need for denominational
leaders to address it forthrightly and effectively.
In SNAP, we have been receiving more and more reports of child sex abuse
committed by Baptist ministers, and of hush-it-up responses made by other
church officials. Numerous published news accounts tell of children all
across the country who were sexually abused by Baptist ministers, who
were nevertheless able to continue in ministry. We are deeply concerned
about the extent of this problem in Southern Baptist churches, but we
have met with repeated frustration in attempting to establish a dialogue
with Southern Baptist leaders.
You, however, command great respect with Baptist leaders. When the nations
most powerful law enforcement officer talks to the most powerful Baptist
officials, its a real opportunity to make churches safer for kids
by urging denominational leaders to take proactive steps to prevent abuse.
Even a few comments from you on this critical issue could be very fruitful.
Additional information is on our website at StopBaptistPredators.org,
including SNAPs letter with specific proposals to Southern Baptist
officials. Thank you, and my very best wishes to you.
SNAP National Director
of those Abused by Priests