TN - “No whistleblowing” says prominent Baptist preacher; SNAP responds
For immediate release: Friday, Oct. 18, 2013
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
A prominent Baptist official is telling church members “don’t take matters to the press.”
We hope every Baptist rejects this self-serving, unhealthy and often dangerous advice, especially when it comes to sexual and financial crimes, whether known or suspected.
There may be some “unbelievers” who can better fix the church roof or who give a lower bid to replace the church boiler. And there are definitely some “unbelievers” who can better protect kids, investigate suspicions, prosecute predators and prevent abuse. They are the experienced and unbiased professionals in law enforcement. They should be called promptly – and anonymously, if need be – every time a Baptist church member or staffer suspects that a child has been or is being hurt.
And especially when police or prosecutors are reluctant or unable to help, victims, witnesses, and whistleblowers in churches should call journalists.
We suspect that Rev. Patterson will claim to have “misspoken” or been “misinterpreted” or been “imprecise.” But his words are pretty clear. He apparently doesn’t mention any exceptions to his “no whistleblowing” advice, not even for child sex crimes and cover-ups.
Though our focus is on child sex crimes and cover ups, we also advise church-goers to call police about possible financial misconduct in churches for two reasons. First, it’s our duty as citizens to call law enforcement about ANY suspected crimes. Second, it’s our experience that often clergy steal money to buy expensive gifts for victims or pay “hush money” to them.
Patterson admits that his advice isn’t popular. That’s because it’s wrong. It flies in the face of common sense and civic duty.
Look at what’s happening in the Twin Cities. In the last three weeks, three credibly accused clerics have been publicly exposed for the first time: Fr. Jon Shelley, Fr. Rudolph Henrich, and Fr. Michael Keating.
Shocking revelations about other proven predator priests have also been made: Fr. Curtis Wehmeyer and Fr. Robert Kapoun.
Kids are safer as a result.
Why is this happening? Largely because of a church whistleblower.
Yes, this is a different denomination. But no, cover ups of clergy child sex crimes and clergy sexual misconduct don’t happen just in Catholicism.
More wrongdoing in churches needs to be reported more often to more people who are more apt to stop it and prevent future wrongdoing.
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.