Press Release



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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release
Giving Voice to Victims


For Immediate Release:
July 19, 2007

For More Information:
Christa Brown, SNAP Baptist Coordinator, 512-217-1730
David Clohessy, SNAP National Coordinator, 314 566 9790

Top Baptist Official Rebuked On Sex Abuse

Clergy From 5 Denominations Want Attacks on Support Group Stopped

Self-Help Group Works For Healing and Prevention, Ministers Say

They Fear Harsh Public Comments by Baptist President Intimidates Victims

Ten clergy are asking the top Southern Baptist official to stop publicly criticizing a prominent national support group for clergy abuse victims.

They are 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."

"The 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 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.

Dear Dr. Page:
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.

Clergy sexual 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.

We 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 trauma.

Fr. Gary R. Hayes
Pastor, St. Alphonsus Catholic Church
Owensboro, KY
and Survivor of clergy sexual abuse by two Roman Catholic priests
[email protected]

Rev. Dr. Michael Granzen
Moderator of Elizabeth Presbytery,
Pastor, Second Presbyterian Church
Elizabeth, NJ
[email protected]

Dr. Miguel A. De La Torre
Associate Professor of Social Ethics &
Director of the Justice and Peace Institute
Iliff School of Theology
Denver, CO
[email protected]

Rev. Karl Harman, PhD (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Pastor of Dallas Center United Methodist Church
Dallas Center, Iowa
[email protected]

Rev. Mark J. Powell
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Christian Theological Seminary
Indianapolis, IN
[email protected]

Rev. Aaron Turner
Minister of Worship
New Beginnings Baptist Church (SBC-affiliated)
Longview, TX
[email protected]

Rev. John Harrison
Ordained Southern Baptist minister, retired
Tecumseh, OK
[email protected]

Rev. Gene Scarborough
Ordained Southern Baptist minister, retired
Rocky Mount, NC
[email protected]

Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
Victims' Advocate
[email protected]

Rev. William H Edwards
[email protected]



Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests