Remarks by Christa Brown at the For Such A Time As This Rally
Wow. Look at all of you! Back in 2007, when David Clohessy and I stood outside the SBC annual meeting in San Antonio, just a few steps from the Alamo, there were 10 of us that day.
And now - look at you. HERE is where hope resides. Right here. It’s not over there with those religious leaders. No. It is here with you.
For those who don’t know me, I was sexually abused as a kid by a Southern Baptist pastor … but THAT was only the beginning of the nightmare. I also survived all the horrific aftermath of what so many others did in trying to silence me and bully me. I wrote a book about it all … but in truth, my story is dreadfully common.
It is a bloody awful road that SO MANY OF US have traveled in this blind-eyed faith group.
Almost every Baptist survivor I’ve ever spoken with has said that the trauma from the INSTITUTIONAL betrayal far exceeded the trauma from the abuse itself.
Imagine. As horrific as child sex abuse is – EVEN GREATER HARM is being done by the complicity of so many others in this denomination that turns its back.
This massive institutional enablement of horror must be addressed on an equally massive scale.
The path forward is with the creation of an independently administered database of Baptist clergy sex abusers – those criminally convicted, those who have admitted to abuse, and those who have been credibly accused, as determined by an independent panel.
Many others are now urging the same thing – a database – it is so obviously what is needed – and yet the SBC still balks.
So, here’s what I want to know: How many kids will it take?
700 victims, documented in the “Abuse of Faith” series. 350 more people who have contacted them since then. Thank God for the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News!
How many kids could have been spared if SBC officials had taken action to create a database back in 2006 when it was first proposed? It’s been 13 years!
And how many MORE kids will it take before the Southern Baptist Convention will finally do what other faith groups do and at least start keeping records on clergy sex abusers?
And now I want to say just a few words to survivors – not only to you here today, but hopefully, to a lot of others as well – many of whom have long-since given up all hope that this faith group will ever truly care – and many of whom wouldn’t dream of setting foot near a religious gathering like this because it would be too triggering.
You who have survived the fires of this faith’s cruelty – I celebrate your survival. ALL OF YOU. Whether nowadays you are Baptist or Buddhist, a None or a Done, an Ex-vangelical or evangelical – or whatever – Keep on healing and RAISE HECK WHEN YOU CAN.
Your voices matter.
It is YOU -- survivors and advocates – who are prodding the conscience of this faith group and forcing this conversation forward.
It is YOU who are leading the exodus out of this land of oppression and into a land of truth and accountability.
“Through many dangers, toils and snares, we have ALREADY come.”
Now take it on home, my friends. And bring this righteous cause to fruition.
I know you will. Hallelujah.
Remarks of Christa Brown, delivered at the For Such a Time as This Rally outside the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Birmingham, Alabama, on June 11, 2019.