Survivors Network of those Abused
SNAP Press Release
Giving Voice to Victims
July 19, 2007
Christa Brown, SNAP Baptist
David Clohessy, SNAP National Coordinator, 314 566
Top Baptist Official Rebuked On Sex Abuse
Clergy From 5 Denominations Want Attacks on Support Group
Self-Help Group Works For Healing and Prevention, Ministers Say
They Fear Harsh Public Comments by Baptist President Intimidates Victims
clergy are asking the top Southern Baptist official to stop publicly criticizing
a prominent national support group for clergy abuse victims.
writing SBC President Frank Page asking that he refrain from "very negative
comments" about SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, the
nation's largest and oldest self-help support group for clergy sex abuse victims.
The ministers call Page's public remarks "misguided and misinformed."
(Links to Page's comments in the Tennessean, EthicsDaily and Florida Baptist Witness.)
"Groups like SNAP would not need to exist if church and denominational
leaders responded in truth and acted with wisdom and compassion," say the
ministers in their letter.
Though better known for exposing abuse in the
Catholic church, SNAP has recently been urging Southern Baptist officials to do
what other faith groups have done by establishing a review board to hear molestation
reports and instituting a 'zero-tolerance' policy.
"We have been
very poorly received by Southern Baptist officials," said SNAP's national
director David Clohessy of St. Louis. "Instead of learning from the mistakes
of others, Southern Baptist officials seem intent on making the same sorts of
mistakes that most Catholic bishops made and still make."
remarks and tactics of Baptist officials have been unproductive and do not serve
to make kids safe against clergy-predators," said Christa Brown, SNAP's Baptist
outreach coordinator. "Their hostility may intimidate victims into staying
silent, with the result that clergy-predators remain hidden." Brown also
maintains the StopBaptistPredators.org website.
Below is the letter from
clergy, sent today by email and fax, to Dr. Frank Page. The letter was sent to
Page at his church, Taylors First Baptist in Taylors, SC, and also to Southern
Baptist headquarters in Nashville, TN.
Congratulations on your election to a second term as president of
the Southern Baptist Convention. We hope you will use your second term to institute
effective action in response to the mandate of Baptist believers as expressed
in their support of the clergy predator database motion.
abuse is one of the greatest challenges that churches of every denomination face.
It is rare for church and denominational leaders to take the initiative and face
this challenge with bold direction and wisdom. Victims and survivors of clergy
sexual abuse seek justice and healing for their hearts, souls, spirits and bodies,
but they often encounter frustration, lies, cover-ups, deceit, arrogance and ignorance
when approaching church and denominational leaders to have their abuse addressed.
The most typical reaction of church and denominational leadership is
to be more concerned about the image of the church than the victims and survivors
who have experienced great trauma and suffering. In all faith groups, leaders
have viewed and treated victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse as threats.
They also mistakenly see clergy sexual abuse as just sin and see the victims and
survivors of clergy sexual abuse as unforgiving and uncaring. Clergy sexual abuse
is also a CRIME. Forgiveness on the part of the victim or survivor does not negate
the consequences of the crime. Church and denominational leaders have often viewed
survivor groups like SNAP as opportunists and somehow on a crusade to attack the
church. This is nonsense. Survivor groups like SNAP would not need to exist if
church and denominational leaders responded in truth and acted with wisdom and
compassion to address this great challenge of clergy sexual abuse.
have seen some of your own very negative comments about SNAP and its leadership.
This is sad and disappointing. Your comments, as reflected in the Tennessean,
EthicsDaily, Florida Baptist Witness, and elsewhere, are misguided and misinformed.
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is an 18 year old self-help
group for people who were victimized, often as children, by clergy sexual abuse.
They work tirelessly to comfort deeply troubled men and women, often in crisis.
They also work to educate the public about clergy sexual abuse and try to prevent
it from happening in the future. You may not agree with all of their methods or
their particular requests, but to question their motives and assume ill will seems
inappropriate for the leader of a religious body.
For this challenge we
need to come together and find wise and direct action to address and bring healing
and justice for those who have been traumatized by clergy abuse. As Christians
and members of the clergy, we ask you to reconsider the harsh rhetoric that you
have expressed in public forums. We ask you to consider meeting with the SNAP
leadership and concerned members of the clergy to seek guidance and come up with
effective remedies that will provide help and healing for the victims of this
Fr. Gary R. Hayes
Pastor, St. Alphonsus Catholic
and Survivor of clergy sexual abuse by two Roman Catholic
Rev. Dr. Michael Granzen
of Elizabeth Presbytery,
Pastor, Second Presbyterian Church
Dr. Miguel A. De La Torre
Associate Professor of Social Ethics &
of the Justice and Peace Institute
Iliff School of Theology
Rev. Karl Harman, PhD (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary)
of Dallas Center United Methodist Church
Dallas Center, Iowa
Rev. Mark J. Powell
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Minister of Worship
New Beginnings Baptist Church (SBC-affiliated)
Rev. John Harrison
Ordained Southern Baptist
Rev. Gene Scarborough
Southern Baptist minister, retired
Rocky Mount, NC
Maureen Paul Turlish
William H Edwards
Survivors Network of those
Abused by Priests