The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

Statement Regarding Clergy Sexual Abuse
in Southern Baptist Convention


June 14, 2006

Statement by David Clohessy, SNAP National Director,
and Miguel Prats, SNAP Coordinator for Texas

Today in North Carolina, Southern Baptists are gathering many thousands of delegates for the denomination’s annual meeting. Southern Baptists are the largest Protestant denomination in the country, with over 100,000 clergy. Yet, even though their own Southern Baptist scholars report that clergy sex abuse is as prevalent among Protestants as among Catholics, Southern Baptists have "no national policies" and abuse is "routinely covered up." (Trull & Carter, Ministerial Ethics at p. 162, 2004)

SNAP calls upon Southern Baptists to implement policies for the protection of kids against clergy predators. The safety of kids depends on it because ministers who prey on the young are hiding among Southern Baptists just as they are among Catholics.

In fact, exactly twenty years ago, when Southern Baptists gathered over 50,000 delegates in Atlanta, the minister in charge of child care arrangements was a minister about whom a Dallas church recently issued a stark apology for the "very serious sexual abuse" that he inflicted on a young church girl named Christa Brown. Another Southern Baptist minister has made a sworn statement showing his long-standing knowledge of that abuse, and yet the man was allowed to move on to other churches and was ultimately put in charge of child care and teen babysitters at the 1986 annual meeting. His name was even placed in the secret file of "known offenders" that is kept at the Baptist General Convention of Texas. But even with his name in that file in Texas, and even though the victim notified 18 Southern Baptist leaders in 4 different states, the man was still able to continue in ministry at a prominent church in Florida. Finally, Ms. Brown gave up on Southern Baptist leaders and filed a lawsuit. Only then, when a Florida reporter wrote about Ms. Brown’s lawsuit, was the man finally made to resign.

When 18 denominational leaders can be informed of a substantiated report involving a minister’s sexual abuse of a minor...and the man remains in ministry...Southern Baptist parents should have cause for concern. How many kids have to be hurt before this denomination even begins to make some united and effective effort at removing abusive clergy from the ranks? Surely congregational autonomy cannot relieve moral obligation.

SNAP calls upon the Southern Baptist Convention to take action for the protection of kids. As a bare beginning, Southern Baptists need a centralized location for receiving reports of clergy abuse, a means for tracking reported abusers across state lines, implementation of a nationwide "zero tolerance" policy, an objective review board to consider reports of clergy abuse, and a procedure for notifying the people in the pews when a report has been made about a minister who worked in their congregation. Until such procedures for accountability are in place, how can anyone possibly know one way or the other about ANY Southern Baptist minister as to whether he might be someone that a prior victim tried desperately to report only to meet with the sort of stonewalling and intimidation tactics that Ms. Brown met with?

SNAP is the largest support network in the country for survivors of clergy abuse. SNAP was founded by survivors of abuse committed by Catholic priests, but lately SNAP has been receiving more frequent calls from survivors of abuse committed by Southern Baptist clergy. All victims of clergy abuse can find a starting place for support and information at SNAP works to heal the wounded and protect the vulnerable.

For more information:
See Dallas Morning News 4/28/06 op-ed, "No more church secrets about sex abuse," with links to 10/22/05 Orlando Sentinel article by Mark Pinsky and 3/3/06 Baptist Standard article:

David Clohessy, 314-566-9790, [email protected]
Miguel Prats, 713-305-0159, [email protected]




Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests