SNAP stands in solidarity with For Such a Time as This Rally; urges secular investigations of Southern Baptist Convention
In a joint investigative report published in February 2019, the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News identified more than 700 known victims of predatory pastors, church leaders and volunteers in the SBC. Since the story’s release, the newsrooms have heard from more than 350 others, many with additional stories of abuse and cover-ups. SNAP is confident that these documented victims are just the tip of the iceberg.
The “sordid tale” made public in that investigative report has been “an open secret for decades” – decades during which “the Southern Baptist denominational leadership has systematically ignored, suppressed and denied” the voices of clergy sex abuse survivors and has rejected reforms to weed out predatory ministers. The time for meaningful denominational action is long overdue.
For the safety of kids and congregants, SNAP urges the country’s largest Protestant denomination to create an independently administered database of Southern Baptist clergy sex abusers – those criminally convicted, those who have admitted to abuse, and those credibly accused of abuse.
It was 13 years ago, in 2006, when SNAP first began advocating for the creation of such a database in the SBC. Institutionally, little has changed since then. The SBC still needs such a system (1) to prevent predatory pastors from church-hopping, and (2) to provide a “safe place” where abuse survivors may report clergy-perpetrators with a reasonable expectation of being responsibly and compassionately heard.
“Many kids could have been spared the soul-searing devastation of being sexually violated by clergy if Southern Baptists had taken action back in 2006,” asserts Christa Brown, an SBC abuse survivor who authored a memoir and exposé titled This Little Light: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and his Gang. “How many more kids will it take?” she asks.
At this year’s SBC annual meeting in Birmingham on June 11, SNAP is standing in solidarity with the For Such a Time as This Rally in again urging immediate action for the creation of such a database. David Clohessy, SNAP’s former executive director, and Christa Brown, the former SNAP-Baptist coordinator, will be speaking at the Rally.
For too many years, SBC officials have demonstrated that the denomination is unwilling to protect children by providing effective clergy accountability structures. Currently, 20 state attorneys general have launched probes into clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church, and a few of those, including New York, Virginia and California, have extended those probes to include other faith groups. This sort of secular investigatory work is what is needed, but on a more massive scale.
SNAP urges a full-scale national inquiry into sexual abuse within ALL faith groups, including the Southern Baptist Convention. “The pervasiveness of the problem and the high stakes of children’s well-being compel the need,” said Clohessy.
CONTACT: David Clohessy, SNAP Missouri Volunteer Leader ([email protected], 314-566-9790) Christa Brown, SNAP Member ([email protected], 512-217-1730) Zach Hiner, Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected])
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)