The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
to Governor Mike Huckabee
January 24, 2008
Dear Governor Huckabee,
SNAP is the nation’s oldest and largest support network for clergy abuse survivors. Founded in 1989, we have more than 8000 members and 65 support groups across the country. We are people who have been raped, molested and abused by clergy. We seek to heal the wounded and protect the vulnerable.
With respect, we are writing to ask that you reconsider your January 27th speaking engagement at Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, and that you choose a different venue.
Dozens of people have reported being sexually abused as children by Trinity’s founding pastor, Bob Gray, and also by former Trinity leader, Tony Denton. Pending civil suits allege that other Trinity leaders knew about the abuse and covered up for it. There remain many unanswered questions about who knew what and when did they know it.
We ask you to consider the feelings of the many wounded victims and their families. These are people who have felt betrayed by their faith community, not only because of abuse inflicted on them, but also because of other religious leaders’ lack of transparency. We ask that you avoid any possibility of rubbing salt in their wounds.
We also ask you to consider the impact of your visit on other clergy. If you change your plans, you will be signaling them that sexual abuse is a serious wrong, one that should be exposed, not covered up. You will show them, by your actions, that the mishandling of sex abuse scandals cannot be ignored by other church or public officials. By altering your schedule, and avoiding Trinity Baptist, you will be helping to deter future cover-ups of sexual abuse.
At this time, please do not lend to Trinity Baptist Church the credibility of your presence as a presidential candidate.
Because you are an ordained Southern Baptist minister and a former president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, we also make a second request. If you choose to speak in a Southern Baptist church, please use the occasion to publicly urge Baptist officials to institute the same sorts of protective measures against clergy sex abuse that most other mainline faith groups have already initiated. It is time for the largest Protestant denomination in the country to get its house in order so as to assure that Baptist churches do not harbor clergy predators or conceal their crimes.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests