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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release
Giving Voice to Victims

 

For Release:
February 18, 2007

"Address Clergy Child Sex Abuse," Victims Tell Attorney General

Gonzales Speaks to Nation’s Largest Denomination Tuesday

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 nation’s largest Protestant denomination in Nashville.

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 charges.

"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 SNAP’s requests.

"It’s discouraging when men who profess to follow Jesus Christ don’t even answer their mail from deeply wounded victims of horrific child sex crimes," said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP’s National Director. "If they won’t respond to actual victims, who can believe they’ll protect potential child victims?"

On Monday Feb. 19, a handful of SNAP members plan to hand out flyers at Nashville’s Renaissance Hotel and Southern Baptist headquarters where the Executive Committee is meeting. A copy of SNAP’s 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.

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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 children’s safety, and that’s why I’m 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 nation’s most powerful law enforcement officer talks to the most powerful Baptist officials, it’s 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 SNAP’s letter with specific proposals to Southern Baptist officials. Thank you, and my very best wishes to you.

Sincerely,

Christa Brown
SNAP-Baptist Coordinator
christa@stopbaptistpredators.org
512-217-1730

David Clohessy
SNAP National Director
snapclohessy@aol.com
314-566-9790


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org
 


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