Christa Brown's book on clergy sexual abuse

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Christa Brown's book on clergy sexual abuse

Postby William Thornton » Mon Sep 07, 2009 6:08 pm

Christa Brown was kind enough to send me a copy of her book This Little LIght: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and His Gang. She is known from her website Stop Baptist Predators and has blogged about the book on her blog, here .

You are a 16 year-old girl as active in your Southern Baptist, Baptist General Convention of Texas affiliated church as a kid can be; a kid who doesn't smoke, doesn't drink, never been on a date, never been kissed, never even held hands with a boy, when your married youth minister zeros in on you with sexual innuendo and physical horseplay, finds ways to isolate you from the rest of the church kids, and who uses perverted spiritual talk and Bible quotes to call evil good and wrong right and eventually end up with you doing pretty much anything he wanted you to do sexually - 16 year-old kid, married adult clergy staff minister. Along the way, you are forced to apologize for seducing him. You finally spill things to another staff minister in the church who already has some knowledge about it, and eventually come to understand that perhaps others in the church and community knew something was going on if not exactly what was going on. Your minister/abuser eventually moves on to a larger churches and years of high level positions in his field in some of the largest churches in the SBC. You are left with the emotional and spiritual wreckage of the abuse out of which pretty much every church memory is soiled, but decide three decades later that this wasn't right and isn't right and someone should do something about it.

And you decide to do it.

You expect at least some level of apology, compassion, and at least some degree of justice from the church, the abuser, the BGCT, and the SBC, any or all of them.

What you get is: a lot of people wishing you would go away, a lot of people just ignoring you, some people in the BGCT making promises and then silently letting them slide by; you get hardball tactics from church and BGCT attorneys, melifluous words from some Baptist leaders in private but never in public; encouraging words from SBC executive Committee members in private, but followed by "you can't ever tell anyone I said that"; you get a lecture from the clergy sex abuse expert in the denomination; you get snubbed by some denominational leaders and rudeness from others. You get called a liar and a long list of other things, none good. You learn that there is BGCT money to help abusers return to ministry but none for victims. You learn that the BGCT accepts reports of abuse by clergy, but only from churches and not abused individuals. You get to hear SBC pronounce that there were 40 cases of abuse in 15 years, at about the same time you have difficulty in managing your email inbox from other abused individuals telling you their story.

You eventually spend a lot of your own money and time and wrest an apology from the church but no church leader then or now ever looks you in the eyes and says, "I'm sorry."

You finally conclude that any person or entity with the name "Baptist" will be of no help.

_____________________

Aren't there any good guy Baptists in this sordid tale? Bob Allen in a big way, Wade Burleson in a smaller way. That's about it for the Baptist bruthus.

The book is a greatly expanded version of what CB has on her website. It is extensively footnoted, 286 to be exact, with court filings, articles, news reports, even BLife threads.

I plan to post additional reactions to the book later.
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Re: Christa Brown's book on clergy sexual abuse

Postby William Thornton » Tue Sep 08, 2009 4:56 pm

Maybe I'll talk to myself on this one...

Thoughts from CB's book:

A 16 year-old girl is sexually abused by a staff minister in a church. She confesses the abuse to another staff minister. He counsels her, "It would be better if you don't tell anyone else." The matter is never mentioned again between the two. Her parents aren't notified. Law enforcement isn't called. This was in a different age, 1969, I believe.

Would such a confession be handled in the same way today? I'd like to think not. The BGCT's website, and most other state conventions I suppose, plainly state the reporting laws. Has enough happened that staff ministers would tell the pastor, the parents would be notified, and law enforcement called in? What should be done?

______________

An ordained Southern Baptist minister is considered to be a child sexual abuser and is placed on a list of such ministers kept by the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Their attorney reviewed the evidence against the man and deemed it sufficient to cause this man's name to be placed on the list. Well, it's a secret list, although churches can find out if a minister is on the list by asking. (The BGCT does have a public list of convicted sexual abusers who were or may have been serving in BGCT affiliated churches). They will be told "yes" or "no," and that's it. Christa Brown knew (a) that her abuser was on the list, they disclosed that to her, and (b) that her abuser was serving in a church in another state. So she wrote to a long list of Southern Baptists officials - national, state, associational, and local whom she thought should know about this. One state convention head wrote her back thanking her for the information. The rest did not respond.

Exactly what do we expect Southern Baptist officials to do when so informed? Nothing? Notify laypeople in the abuser's present church (the pastor of the church was notified by CB)? If you were the pastor and this abuser worked in the area of children's ministry in your church, would you want to know? What would you do about it?

Apparently, the answer to all of those questions was "nothing," "no," "no," and "nothing." I don't get it.

Has anything changed now that there is such consciousness of clergy abuse in SBC churches?



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Re: Christa Brown's book on clergy sexual abuse

Postby Haruo » Tue Sep 08, 2009 8:10 pm

William Thornton wrote:A 16 year-old girl is sexually abused by a staff minister in a church. She confesses the abuse to another staff minister. He counsels her, "It would be better if you don't tell anyone else." The matter is never mentioned again between the two. Her parents aren't notified. Law enforcement isn't called. This was in a different age, 1969, I believe.

Would such a confession be handled in the same way today? I'd like to think not.

The good old days were more old than good in many ways. And it was largely, I think, liberal rather than conservative activists, religious or secular, and probably mostly secular, that we have to thank for the improvements.
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Re: Christa Brown's book on clergy sexual abuse

Postby William Thornton » Tue Sep 08, 2009 8:16 pm

If you or your church or pastor received a letter from someone who claimed abuse occurred 40 years ago in your church by a minister who was long, long gone, what would you do?

In CB's case, she had corroborating evidence (the staff minister who heard her disclose it) and the fact that the minister was on the secret list of BGCT ministers who had been credibly accused. Absent that, I confess that I'm not sure what should be done or how this should be handled..
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Re: Christa Brown's book on clergy sexual abuse

Postby Mrs Haruo » Tue Sep 08, 2009 9:19 pm

I think a formal, public apology from the highest authorities in the Baptist church for past wrongdoings and "passing the buck" might at least give the victim closure. Nothing can make up for 40 years of emotional turmoil, but at least someone genuinely saying "I'm sorry we didn't pay proper attention, and we will strive to make sure situations like this never happen again" would help to heal.
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Re: Christa Brown's book on clergy sexual abuse

Postby Jim » Fri Sep 11, 2009 8:53 am

This is what is going down in Louisville: The Reverend Sodomite. God help us all.
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Re: Christa Brown's book on clergy sexual abuse

Postby JaneFordA » Fri Sep 11, 2009 11:07 am

Jim wrote:This is what is going down in Louisville: The Reverend Sodomite. God help us all.


Surgically castrate the perp. And keep records that he's injected, regularly, at a licensed facility, with feminizing hormone to keep that "wrong thinking" under control.

If no one is willing to do that, I wonder how the church members would feel if there was a court order to remove every minor out of every household. That might make them sit up and pay attention.
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Re: Christa Brown's book on clergy sexual abuse

Postby Haruo » Fri Sep 11, 2009 4:24 pm

I'm sorry, but "We are convinced that a truly remorseful and 'reformed' sex offender would not even seek a position like minister, just as a truly repentant and sober alcoholic wouldn't seek a job in a tavern," as the letter from SNAP says, misstates the case at least for alcoholics, and very likely for sex offenders as well. There is no reason why a "repentant and sober alcoholic" might not seek work in a tavern. One of my old-timers (whom I never met, but he was a major force behind the hall where I sobered up) Big Pete was a beer-truck driver. He said, "If I were a garbage-truck driver it wouldn't mean I had to eat the garbage." There are AA meetings that meet in bars. It's no hindrance, really, and potentially useful outreach. I don' t know this guy, and I don't know whether he is a proper ordination candidate, and I don't know anything about this particular church. I would say his background ought to be cause for great vigilance. I am not sure how close an analogy can be drawn between pedophilia and alcoholism. I've never been to an SAA meeting, and don't know much about them.
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Re: Christa Brown's book on clergy sexual abuse

Postby Ed Pettibone » Sun Sep 13, 2009 12:37 am

Haruo wrote:I'm sorry, but "We are convinced that a truly remorseful and 'reformed' sex offender would not even seek a position like minister, just as a truly repentant and sober alcoholic wouldn't seek a job in a tavern," as the letter from SNAP says, misstates the case at least for alcoholics, and very likely for sex offenders as well. There is no reason why a "repentant and sober alcoholic" might not seek work in a tavern. One of my old-timers (whom I never met, but he was a major force behind the hall where I sobered up) Big Pete was a beer-truck driver. He said, "If I were a garbage-truck driver it wouldn't mean I had to eat the garbage." There are AA meetings that meet in bars. It's no hindrance, really, and potentially useful outreach. I don' t know this guy, and I don't know whether he is a proper ordination candidate, and I don't know anything about this particular church. I would say his background ought to be cause for great vigilance. I am not sure how close an analogy can be drawn between pedophilia and alcoholism. I've never been to an SAA meeting, and don't know much about them.


ED: Haruo, I think that in the above post, you have presented some ideas that merit serious consideration. Like you I do not know the man or the church but all of us should be praying to God for them, rather than playing God.
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Re: Christa Brown's book on clergy sexual abuse

Postby William Thornton » Sun Sep 13, 2009 7:56 am

Ed Pettibone wrote:
Haruo wrote:I'm sorry, but "We are convinced that a truly remorseful and 'reformed' sex offender would not even seek a position like minister, just as a truly repentant and sober alcoholic wouldn't seek a job in a tavern," as the letter from SNAP says, misstates the case at least for alcoholics, and very likely for sex offenders as well. There is no reason why a "repentant and sober alcoholic" might not seek work in a tavern. One of my old-timers (whom I never met, but he was a major force behind the hall where I sobered up) Big Pete was a beer-truck driver. He said, "If I were a garbage-truck driver it wouldn't mean I had to eat the garbage." There are AA meetings that meet in bars. It's no hindrance, really, and potentially useful outreach. I don' t know this guy, and I don't know whether he is a proper ordination candidate, and I don't know anything about this particular church. I would say his background ought to be cause for great vigilance. I am not sure how close an analogy can be drawn between pedophilia and alcoholism. I've never been to an SAA meeting, and don't know much about them.


ED: Haruo, I think that in the above post, you have presented some ideas that merit serious consideration. Like you I do not know the man or the church but all of us should be praying to God for them, rather than playing God.


If one of you guys choose not to, I will start the topic: "Should a convicted clergy child abuser stay in the ministry?"
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Re: Christa Brown's book on clergy sexual abuse

Postby Ed Pettibone » Sun Sep 13, 2009 8:40 am

Ed: Like the rest of us a convicted repentant rehabilitated child abuser should do whatever God calls he or she to do! Hauro has made that case.
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Re: Christa Brown's book on clergy sexual abuse

Postby DEBSWP » Sun Sep 13, 2009 11:44 am

Unfortunately Baptists have not made much change over the years.

I plead with all Baptist please tell the leaders it is time to take steps to protect children from ministers who pray on them.

Not just words - Action

I have spoken to the BGCT and SBC and they have no interest in really taking action to keep sexual predators out of our churches.

The only thing they do is say words - there are no real actions to back their words

I was raped as a teenager by a minister and after years of abuse he got me pregnant

I was made to go before the church and ask their forgiveness for being a pregnant unwed teenage girl

But I was told not to tell who the father was as that would "Hurt the Church"

I kept silent as instructed until he told me about another child.

I will try to keep this brief

Even after his church was given documents of paternity and a tape recording I had made of him which proves I was only 14 years old when he began touching me inappropriately and he speaks about other young girls

His church ( or the few who represent his church ) decided to stand behind him and keep him as their pastor

I have been told by ministers to be quiet - leave it in God's hands
Leave the past in the past ( why could they not understand that it is not past as long as he is in a position to hurt other children )
My problem I was told is that I had not learned to forgive
I was so upset when he told me about this other girl and believing that if I told what he had done to me - I was doing wrong
But at the same time if I do not tell then my silence allows him to hurt others.

This conflict caused me to try to kill myself

The church I was going to at that time - told me I had hurt the church by trying to kill myself and I was told that I was suspended from church for 4 weeks
So they took action against me, the victim
and did nothing about the Pastor who abused me

I realize I told the ministers at that church something they did not know how to handle and that I believe they meant well
But they ended up hurting me

Even after I pleaded that it was not about me, but about others who are in danger - no minister - SBC or BGCT would do anything to warn this man's church of the things I could prove he had done and what he told me about another child They did not want to listen to the tape that backed up what I was telling them

NO man who sexually abused a child or adult for that matter - be put in a position where he could abuse again

The minister that raped me - told me that he had the best job, as he could do anything that he wanted as long as he asked for forgiveness they would have to forgive him -- His church has proven him right
So he could rape a teenage girl - get her pregnant ( which has been proven )- stalk her abuse her and make comments about other young girls
Yet he is still in the ministry - their pastor

Christa is one who was abused and is trying so hard to bring about changes. She has been met with name calling and ugly statements that are not true.

So why do victims who try to speak up and ask for changes get treated so badly and the ministers who are abusers are defended

No one can justify putting a child molester back in the ministry
If anyone does so - then they should be held responsible for any harm that this man causes
I they are not willing to take responsibility then they should we think this issue of putting that kind of person back in the ministry


Sorry this was longer than I meant

Thanks for Listening

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Re: Christa Brown's book on clergy sexual abuse

Postby Haruo » Sun Sep 13, 2009 12:24 pm

Debbie, thank you for sharing that, and don't worry if it ran longer than you planned.

Are you saying that a Baptist church "suspended you from church for 4 weeks" because you attempted suicide??
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Re: Christa Brown's book on clergy sexual abuse

Postby DEBSWP » Sun Sep 13, 2009 3:37 pm

YES they did

I do not believe they meant any harm to me

They just did not know better
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Re: Christa Brown's book on clergy sexual abuse

Postby William Thornton » Sun Sep 13, 2009 4:02 pm

I have read Debbie's story elsewhere and it is an appalling story. If the question I posed in the other topic ("Should a convicted clergy child molester...?") were about this man, I would say that he should leave the Christian ministry permanently. I would not want to serve along side of this man in any Southern Baptist association or other Baptist entity. Of course, a church could make its own decision, subject to Debbie's warning ("No one can justify putting a child molester back in the ministry If anyone does so - then they should be held responsible for any harm that this man causes." ).

There are many questions about what the SBC has or hasn't done, should or shouldn't do. I suggest someone start a separate topic.
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