You Didn’t Really Think That It Was Only The Catholic Church That Had This Problem, Did You?

From the Houston Chronicle:

For 20 years, leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention — including a former president now accused of sexual assault — routinely silenced and disparaged sexual abuse survivors, ignored calls for policies to stop predators, and dismissed reforms that they privately said could protect children but might cost the SBC money if abuse victims later sued…The historic, nearly 400-page report details how a small, insular and influential group of leaders “singularly focused on avoiding liability for the SBC to the exclusion of other considerations” to prevent abuse. The report was published by Guidepost Solutions, an independent firm that conducted 330 interviews and reviewed two decades of internal SBC files in the seven-month investigation….

“Survivors and others who reported abuse were ignored, disbelieved, or met with the constant refrain that the SBC could take no action due to its (structure) — even if it meant that convicted molesters continued in ministry with no notice or warning to their current church or congregation,” Guidepost’s report concluded….

Above are some of the 220 people who, since 1998, worked or volunteered in Southern Baptist churches and were sentenced for sex crimes.

It is an old, tragic story, and one which organizations resolutely resist planning for, though every single one of them is vulnerable. Organizations, like human individuals, have a natural impulse to see survival and avoid pain that can and often does cancel out ethics alarms. One would think religious organizations, dedicated to missions of doing good for communities, members and the world, would be exceptions, but they are not. In fact, thank to the Saint’s Excuse, Rationalization #13 on the list, the more good an organization does (or the more important the leadership of an organization perceives its mission to be, correctly or not), the more likely it is for the entity in the grip of a scandal is likely to justify a cover-up “for the greater good,” so that a “few bad apples” don’t risk the organization itself.

And how many “bad apples” is too many to hide, when those metaphorical rotten fruit hurt children? A thousand? A hundred? Ten? How about one?

Any organization that engenders a child’s trust in adult authority will inevitably attract child sexual predators. Religious organizations, social services, the Boy Scouts, Hollywood, elementary and high school teaching are obvious examples. Such organizations should be on alert and actively trying to detect such abusers, yet most of the time, they don’t.

For that reason, such organizations cannot be trusted by parents unless adults with access to children are carefully and effectively monitored.

Now tell me again why there’s nothing improper about allowing teachers to discuss their sex lives and orientation with third graders…

21 thoughts on “You Didn’t Really Think That It Was Only The Catholic Church That Had This Problem, Did You?

  1. It’s going to continue to be a problem so long as organizations keep their eyes closed to the way predators work. I teach Sunday School. I’ve been a member of my church for 29 years. I still had to undergo a background check to be able to work with minors. There are rules in place that require me never to be alone with a child, to limit physical affection and to report anything that I feel may be a concern.

    I wish all church organizations did the same. They don’t, though. Like the secular world, volunteers are few and far between. They are desperately needed and seem like a godsend when they show up eager to be around kids. No one wants to believe someone like that is capable of harming anyone.

  2. Of course it was never only the Catholic church. We just got targeted because we had an organizational structure that has someone at the top (so there is someone to blame) and because we happen to be pro-life and they would love nothing better than to have us destroyed or discredited.

  3. There’s no crowing allowed by any of us Catholics. Just more head shaking and repeating that celibacy is not the cause of sexual abuse. It’s a much deeper and bigger issue. The Christian Science Monitor in 2002 published an excellent article on the wide spread and under reported problem of sexual abuse in all Christian churches (https://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0405/p01s01-ussc.html). The problem is exacerbated when power and “the good of the (name organization here)” are more important than the abused. Whether it’s a minister, news reporter, politician, or a family member, nothing changes until we are honest and stop worrying about reputations, losing face/power, and making people uncomfortable.

  4. “Any organization that engenders a child’s trust in adult authority will inevitably attract child sexual predators.” Based on personal experience over fifty years ago, I’d include colleges and universities as well as K through 12.

    • Absolutely. Children crave attention, especially those not receiving positive attention at home. Or, as young adults transitioning to the bigger world of thoughts and new role models. Education has been a ripe field for predators for ages. It continues to be so. Jack has explored the issue of attractive women teachers taking advantage of students and getting a slap on the wrist. The uneven power dynamic is attractive to predators.

      • Yes. College is a happy hunting ground for sexual predators. I think lots of faculty consider sport fucking a perquisite of the job to make up for what they consider to be the low wages paid for their services. It certainly was back in the ‘sixties.

        • They’re the last to complain. They get huge amounts of time off, get lo lecture on autopilot and have their students obey them like gods, and, once they get tenure, they are essentially untouchable. Eventually they get to retire after a relatively low stress life and enter the stress-free world of retirement without getting shot at, running into burning buildings, stressing over trials, holding others’ lives literally in their hands, or sweating out actually making a profit. Why chase the perennial sweet young things and put all that at risk? Oh, that’s right, because until about 30 years ago, and still sometimes now, sorority girls who accused professors of abuse would just be brushed off as liars, sluts, or nuts.

    • Progressives loved attacking the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts using this topic because of their hatred for the politics of both organizations. They downplay those in K12 and colleges, but those institutions are no longer getting a press pass.

      • Corporate America is helping out.
        https://www.nationalreview.com/news/state-farm-launches-program-to-distribute-lgbtq-books-to-kindergartners/

        “The project’s goal is to increase representation of LGBTQ+ books and support out communities in having challenging, important and empowering conversations with children Age 5+,” the email from Jose Soto, State Farm’s Corporate Responsibility Analyst, to all Florida agents reads.

        “Nationwide, approximately 550 State Farm agents and employees will have the opportunity to donate this 3 book bundle to their local teacher, community center or library of their choice,” the email added, confirming that the effort will extend beyond Florida.

        Beyond State Farm, GenderCool lists other major American companies as its partners and supporters, including Dell, Intuit, Nike, NBC Universal, Adobe, General Mills, Capital One, Intel, Indeed, HP, VmWare, Bank of America, Bayer, Out & Equal, Sprout Social, Prudential, CBRE, Oracle, USDA, Abbvie, JLL, and All State.

      • I was Boon, my naive girlfriend of three years was Katy (Karen Allen), and a young assistant prof. was Professor Jennings (Donald Sutherland).

  5. I am a minister in a Church of Christ. We are non-denominational, but as a whole we share a common belief system that tends to be the same from church to church. For those of you who aren’t familiar with that that means, it means our core beliefs are the same, but each church operates under a group of people that are native to that church and meet the biblical requirements of elder.

    I started my minister back in 2004. Though I went to a college almost 500 miles from my hometown, I tried to get an internship at a local church that was associated with the Church of Christ in the town I grew up in. It came down to me and another young gentleman and while the church was kind to me, the reason they gave me for not giving me the job is that they did not want a local. Fair enough, I wished them luck and ended up and ended up taking a internship in a different state altogether.

    I bring this up because less than 1.5 years later I returned to that church with my new wife for the Christmas holiday. The size was almost 1/2 less than I remembered and the general atmosphere was somber. We figured many of the members were traveling as well and didn’t think much of it except for the very end where worship was highjacked by the leadership (without letting the visitors know) to take a survey.

    Question one: What do you think we could have done better?

    Done what better I asked the person next to me? It was there I learned a terrible truth. Their youth minister (the guy who interviewed me for the internship) of 20 years had been sexually abusing girls. My first thought was I dodged a huge bullet, there was no way I would have not been associated with that. My second was… how did this possibly take 20 years to come out? Many people in many different places had to know something about it. This wasn’t even a small church, so you talking 25-50 teens on average going through this church their whole lives and every single one of them either keeping quite about it or not being believed.

    Unfortunately, I think this is partly the church’s fault in the way we present sin. Christians view sin as damning disease with only one cure: the blood of Christ. However, to get people to understand the nature of sin and why they need Christ’s blood for forgiveness, the church has often relied on three powerful emotions to get people to come to terms with sin: fear, shame, and guilt. These same emotions are the top three of the top five reasons sexual assault and rape victims never come forward. This is what Jackson health has to say about it:

    Shame: Even though sexual assault is NEVER the fault of the victim, often those who experience it feel as if something is wrong with them for having experienced it. If you are ashamed of something, you are less likely to share it with others.
    Fear: Fear of not being believed, fear of retribution, fear of how others will react to you and treat you, fear of how police will respond, fear of being ostracized, fear of being judged. These are just some of the types of fear that people may feel when thinking about telling someone what they experienced.
    Guilt: Sometimes when people experience sexual assault they go over the incident in their head again and again, trying to make sense of what happened to them. Victims may blame themselves, which leads to feelings of guilt. And like shame, when someone believes they are guilty of something, it is difficult to tell others about it.

    What do we expect these children (or really any adult) to do about it? Sin is personal. It requires focus and self reflection, but often times victims will eternalize assault turning it unto their own personal sin. Instead of seeking help and justice they ask themselves questions like why do bad things always happen to me?, its out of my control, it’s fate (God’s will), why did I do this to myself, what did I do to deserve this? If there is one thing I’ve learned about fear, guilt, and shame is that they often lead to the fourth most common reason why people don’t report: uncertainly.

    Uncertainty: People who experience sexual assault may not know they have rights. As a result, they are less likely to know what they would be required or not required to do if they disclose that they were a victim. They may not know that they don’t have to report to the police*, or that they don’t have to have a rape kit if they don’t want to. People may also be uncertain if what they experienced is assault. Some people don’t recognize a sexual assault as such until someone else points it out to them.

    In the church, there are two responses to sin. The first is forgiveness. This means asking God for forgiveness and asking the person who you committed the transgression against for forgiveness. A large number of victims often go back to their abusers seeing because they think it will never happen again and they can forgive them or they believe their actions of sin brought about the abuse as punishment. If this is the case, the church needs to be shamed for its actions by allowing us to get to a place where either of these things can happen.

    The second response to sin is avoidance or the fifth most common reason people don’t report sexual assault.

    Avoidance: It is not uncommon for people who have experienced sexual assault to want to forget it happened and “move on.” They believe they can do this by not thinking or talking about what happened. Additionally, talking and thinking about a traumatic experience can be painful, thus, people may avoid this at all costs.

    Regardless of why they don’t come forward, they are still victims and they are still minors. They should have adult advocates and adults in their lives they should trust. If the church finds someone who is doing this they should take Paul’s advice in dealing with sexual sins in 1 Corinthians 5:1-2: “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.”

    Since then, when I interview for new jobs, I always ask what their policy is on sexual harassment/assault. If they don’t have one I ask why not? This is happening way too often among people claiming to love God and love your neighbor both of which are broken by committing this horrendous act. Church leaders should only have one choice when confronting a abuser: put him out and let the police handle it. It you’re not mature enough to do the right thing, you have no business being in a place of leadership.

  6. I’m a life long Southern Baptist and wanted to add some “inside baseball” to this report. The SBC is a bottom-up organization (no snickering in the back) of fiercely independent churches that are completely autonomous. A large majority of these churches are small and often rural churches of 50-100 people. They work together in regional associations (think 1-5 counties), state conventions, and the national Southern Baptist Convention. The state and national conventions have no authority over individual churches or their staff and primarily serve to coordinate cooperation and pooling of resources among these like-minded churches.
    With that background, this report primarily focuses on an investigation into the leadership of the national organization and not much about actions of individual churches. There has been a lot of fierce disagreements among Southern Baptists about those in leadership, with many (including me and many people I respect) wanting them out of these roles. The national convention holds an annual meeting every summer; this issue was supposed to be addressed the summer of 2020, but there was no meeting due to Covid. Last year during the 2021 meeting, attendees called leadership to the carpet and overwhelmingly voted for this investigation to happen, to be from an independent investigative organization, and fully funded by the denomination. They also voted to ask leadership to wave attorney-client privilege when speaking with investigators to have as transparent of an investigation as possible. The 2022 meeting will be held in a couple of weeks, and I truly hope there will be additional actions taken as the result of this report.
    While heartbroken about abuse and how it was covered up, I am proud that the rank and file stood up to make this happen without excuses or further coverups. I hope that changes are made to follow the recommendations of the report and ensure we do what we can to try to prevent this abuse in the future.

    • Shadow,
      Amen! Thanks for clarifying the role of the SBC vis a vis the local churches, and for making the same points I would have made had you not beat me to it. As one who has a small leadership role in my local Southern Baptist church (membership about 150) I was part of a team that established vetting standards and a process for investigating out all employees and volunteers who work in our church in any capacity, almost thirty years ago after a sex abuse scandal at another Protestant church in our area made the news.
      Fresh from a three-year stint as a child abuse investigator, I helped lead the charge for an investigative process that many felt was overkill, but we ultimately prevailed. We also developed a sex abuse prevention training course required for all who work with youth, and another course (with parental consent) for our pre-teen and teen youth. The investigation and training functions currently reside in the Safety and Security Team, of which I am a part. There are two other retired cops, two deacons and two retired teachers among the team members. We are a multi-generational group, and I plan to “retire” from the team later this year except to occasionally fill a security post as needed.
      One policy that we have found indispensable is the mandatory involvement of parents in all youth-related activities. As In many communities, there are some parents here who do not attend church but send their children. We welcome these “unaccompanied” children, but we also have parent volunteers closely watch over them. We think our robust vetting process and strong parental involvement puts potential abusers on notice and discourages them from applying. We also share information and training resources with our regional (three county) Baptist Network. Constant awareness of the threat and prayerful vigilance against it are the keys.
      Great comment!

  7. Remember this post?

    https://ethicsalarms.com/2016/05/02/yecchh-the-daily-caller-and-its-commenters-cheer-on-sexual-predator-teachers/

    Robin • a day ago
    The report calls this kid a “victim”????

    Man I wish I was victimized like that when I was in High School 🙂

    jamessavik • 2 days ago
    I’m sure he hated every minute of the orgy.

    BTW- wtf is he suing over. Most of us have to pay big bucks for a night like that.

    Bill Agans jamessavik • a day ago
    it wasn’t an orgy. it was a 3some. he’s not the one suin’. his mom is.

    SoonerRed Bill Agans • a day ago
    He got his, mom wants hers. It’s the American way… /barf

    OverTheEdge789 jamessavik • 17 hours ago
    The kid’s mother had to be the one behind the lawsuit. No one else involved would want it.

    sbut01 OverTheEdge789 • 9 hours ago
    Dad was too busy high fiving him and saying “that’s my boy”!

    Benedetti jamessavik • 2 days ago
    Parents are suing,he isn’t

    42n81 jamessavik • a day ago
    LOL…

    RatBastard • 2 days ago
    If the kid was my son I’d high-five him and buy him a beer.

    thefireman RatBastard • a day ago
    Where were those teachers when I was in school?

    cydcharisse thefireman • 6 hours ago
    They were there. They just weren’t interested in you.

    scott RatBastard • a day ago
    I’d ask for Parent-Teacher conference, at her house.

    Bob G RatBastard • a day ago
    No, I’d beat the snot out him for opening his big mouth and not letting his old man in on the action.

    _____________

    It goes on and on like this.

    Morons.

    Maybe this explains it.

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