Baptist Pastor Convicted of Murder

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Baptist Pastor Convicted of Murder

Postby Big Daddy Weaver » Wed Jan 20, 2010 11:55 pm

Former Texas Baptist pastor Matt Baker has been convicted of murdering his wife, Kari.

Here's the link.
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Re: Baptist Pastor Convicted of Murder

Postby William Thornton » Thu Jan 21, 2010 9:52 am

Christa Brown of Stop Baptist Predators gives many of the ugly, ugly details on this miscreant's case at her blog. In a blog two years ago Christa gave a disturbing histoy of this guy's acts - Why didn't Baptists bust him?. The history included people from Baylor, the YMCA, and churches all ignoring what he had done.

Whatever one thinks about autonomy, that a minister can move around and find new places of ministry with a pattern and history like his is appalling. It is no surprise to many pastors that clergy who have consensual (and I understand the problematic use of that word in the present case where the guy seduces a counselee) adultery or who have a pattern of groping or other inappropriate behaviors may well move freely with churches and members just keeping quiet.

Sometimes this is deadly.
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Paris Trout

Postby Stephen Fox » Thu Jan 21, 2010 10:05 am

The Bible says the Heart is Evil and Desparately Wicked, Who Can Know it.

Fleming Rutledge says the Axis is here and There and Everywhere it Runs Through Each and Everyone of Us.

She also has a sermon Titled God Damned Christians which I have not testimony from, no statement from either Thornton or BDidd they have read to date. On that count I am 6 years ahead of them.

In Chinatown the Fellow says: Mr Goetz in the right set of circumstances most people never have to come to understand they are capable of anything.

Poor paraphrase, but I think that goes for Thornton, Christa Brown, and BDidd as well as the rest of us.

Paris Trout, another movie goes begging to be seen by Thornton and BDidd and at a minimum anybody near around or has any fascination with Macon, Georgia; in that Movie Paris Says:

I do the same thing again. See the trailer easily googled up.

I don't want to get into it with Christa Brown. I am hoping Texas Monthly or Frontline will take a look at her personal story.
I do think she has poor etiquette, is overconcerned with her cause on occasion, and has signs of being something of a Pharisee, Holier Than Thou, but I may be wrong.
I was disgusted with her that in the thread on the Baptist Contribution thread there is nothing good that can be said about 400 years of Baptist Witness cause of a Bad Apple in Waco Texas.
She coulda started her own thread on that one.
But I don't want to get into it with her.
I will let some other jury decided the merits of her cause, and the way she pursues it.
This is a horrible thing that Thornton and Bdidd report.

My point there are some good movies and sermons out there that speak to the darkness in all of us; else the Bible is not true and Adam never took the Apple; and as I understand this board, on that point there is not much errancy among us
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Re: Baptist Pastor Convicted of Murder

Postby Dave Roberts » Thu Jan 21, 2010 10:17 am

When will church search committees wake up to the fact that they have a moral responsibility to check on prospective pastors and staff members down to the second and third levels beyond listed references. Always ask a reference if that person can supply someone else who knows this person well. The next issue is to always do criminal background and credit checks on the person. Churches need also to check with ministers in other denominations in towns where that person may have served. Often these have picked up people who are telling their stories to them. It's another sad chapter in the church not checking as well as it could.
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Re: Baptist Pastor Convicted of Murder

Postby Mark » Thu Jan 21, 2010 10:35 am

BDiddy wrote:Former Texas Baptist pastor Matt Baker has been convicted of murdering his wife, Kari. Here's the link....

Wow... What a stunning conclusion, with the mistress testifying against him and all. :o

As I said to Christa Brown in the other thread in which this case was briefly discussed, I recognized Matt Baker's photo from a gripping episode of either "Dateline" or "48 Hours Mystery" I watched a year or two ago. I know this shouldn't necessarily be a factor, but something about the guy just looked guilty to me from the beginning. Hopefully, justice has been rendered.
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Re: Baptist Pastor Convicted of Murder

Postby Big Daddy Weaver » Thu Jan 21, 2010 11:52 am

Matt Baker may have victimized numerous women along the way (including obviously killing his own wife in cold blood). But I'm not willing to buy into the portrayal buy his own ex-mistress, Vanessa Bulls, whose quotes are cited on Christa's blog, as a victim.

The sexual relationship began in March. Baker murdered his wife in April. And the affair continued through June and into July. Bulls was told by Baker that he was going to kill his wife well ahead of time, Bull said and did nothing, Bulls knew he had previously attempted to drug her and again said or did nothing. After the murder, Bulls did not keep quiet. Instead, she lied over and over to police and investigators. She continued her affair and did so in public.

It was not until Tuesday that Bulls finally came clean with the truth. Baker maybe "warped" her mind to some extent. I don't know. Whatever effect Baker had on her, I don't think it absolves Bulls of moral culpability and legal scholars have said that it may not completely absolve her of legal culpability EVEN though she was granted some sort of testimonial immunity.

No doubt that Baker was a skeezy adulterer - even his own lawyer admitted that. I think Baker's background demonstrates the difficulty in dealing with He-Said, She-Said scenarios. I don't think we have enough information available to really determine whether Baylor appropriately handled the original accusations. She said he forced himself on her, groped her, rubbed on her, etc. He of course denied. And then supposedly the girl had made a similar accusation back in high school, I believe. Those who investigated the incident ultimately believe Baker. And he walks.

The details are a bit more fuzzy and FBC Waco. And it does appear that FBC Waco didn't handle the situation appropriately. I'm not sure how many parishioners ever found out about the accusations.

There doesn't seem to be an easy answer, no blue-print on how to proceed. A little more than a year ago now, another Truett student was arrested on the accusations that he assaulted a youth member, similar to the accusations made against Baker while at Baylor. However, charges were never filed because prosecutors determined that the young teen was lying.

The accused minister was not allowed to continue his job upon the accusations and I doubt he'll ever work with youth again even though the accusations turned out not to be true.
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Re: Baptist Pastor Convicted of Murder

Postby Stephen Fox » Thu Jan 21, 2010 12:28 pm

Bdidd:

Your time would be better spent bringing Parham and Vaughn and Common Word to Waco with Charles Kimball than obsessing and doing your own Nancy Grace exploration of this mess.

Where are Joel Gregory, Hankins and Truett on Common Word????
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Re: Baptist Pastor Convicted of Murder

Postby Dave Roberts » Thu Jan 21, 2010 12:58 pm

The mistress obviously turned "state's evidence" in the hope she could get a deal to protect her from serving much or any time for her silence and lies during the investigation. That's an old and familiar story.
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Re: Baptist Pastor Convicted of Murder

Postby Big Daddy Weaver » Thu Jan 21, 2010 2:59 pm

Foxy,

Did you see Common Word? Don't dodge the question again.

I will bring Charles Kimball to campus when you decide to have a detailed discussion with me on some of your past book recommendations.

In the past week alone, I have reread Noll's Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, Larson's Summer of the Gods, Marsh's The Beloved Community and God's Long Summer and currently making progress on Gaustad's The Religious History of America. I now have 80-some odd books left to read in preparation for my exams.

So, when I'm not reading, I do like to play a little Nancy Grace from time to time. I also enjoy a little Hardball with supper and browsing YouTube for parodies/covers of Pants on the Ground! :thumb:
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Re: Baptist Pastor Convicted of Murder

Postby William Thornton » Thu Jan 21, 2010 3:08 pm

Fox, your comments about CB were gratuitous and rude. She doesn't need my protection from goofballs like you but you should have better sense and better manners. If you want to discuss the issues, do so, but leave off the personal stuff.
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Re: Baptist Pastor Convicted of Murder

Postby Jonathan » Thu Jan 21, 2010 3:18 pm

Big Daddy Weaver wrote:Foxy,

Did you see Common Word? Don't dodge the question again.

I will bring Charles Kimball to campus when you decide to have a detailed discussion with me on some of your past book recommendations.


BWAAA-HAAAA-HAAAA!!! Thanks for the great laugh (now I'll have to do a Jane and clean the coffee from my monitor).
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Re: Baptist Pastor Convicted of Murder

Postby Christa Brown » Thu Jan 21, 2010 3:47 pm

And then supposedly the girl had made a similar accusation back in high school, I believe.

Actually, as reported by renowned investigative journalist Scott Hollandsworth of Texas Monthly magazine, it was Matt Baker himself who claimed that a university official told him this. Baylor officials themselves refused to comment. So, it seems that you are effectively smearing that college freshman girl based on nothing more than what Matt Baker himself said -- i.e., a guy who has now been convicted by a jury of murder.

As for any investigation by Baylor officials, I have seen no indication that they ever did any sort of investigation. And the girl who reported it to Baylor officials said that Baylor officials "asked her not to contact police." That girl, now grown up, feels enormous guilt and believes that, if she had NOT done what Baylor officials told her to do, then Kari Baker might still be alive. How sad that it should be the freshman girl who reported a sexual assault who winds up feeling guilty. Do you think any Baylor officials feel any guilt?

And furthermore, it was the courage of that freshman girl, now grown up, who, by speaking out once again, and bringing her report to investigators, helped to reinvigorate the Matt Baker investigation and put away a murderer. And still . . . even to this day . . . people want to try to cast doubt on her. How? By quoting the words of the convicted murderer. Amazing.

The question is this: With so many accusations of sexual abuse and assault -- (at FBC-Waco alone, there were 2 accusations that we know about and at least 2 ministers there who knew of them, not to mention the Baylor accusation, etc. etc. ) -- why was there no system in place to even allow for the possibility that someone in Baptistland might connect the dots on this guy and put a stop to his career as a trusted minister?

Every step of the way, he was simply allowed to move on -- always in churches, schools, and organizations affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the Southern Baptist Convention. It's a huge institutional failure.
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Re: Baptist Pastor Convicted of Murder

Postby Christa Brown » Thu Jan 21, 2010 4:18 pm

In fact, that woman who, as a freshman girl, reported Matt Baker to Baylor officials just got through testifying for the sentencing phase of the trial, literally minutes ago. If anyone's actually interested, you can read what she said in the Waco Tribune's live blog of the trial.
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Re: Baptist Pastor Convicted of Murder

Postby Christa Brown » Thu Jan 21, 2010 4:27 pm

And furthermore, if you look at Matt Baker's statement on that blog of the trial, you'll see that he claimed he couldn't even remember the name of the Baylor official whom he claimed had told him that the girl had made a similar accusation in the past. And yet here we are, to this day, on this Baptist blog, with someone using that reported statement by Matt Baker, who is now a convicted murderer, to effectively call a sexual assault victim into question. Yet, that sexual assault victim was one of the very few people in this whole sordid saga who actually showed some courage.
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Re: Baptist Pastor Convicted of Murder

Postby Big Daddy Weaver » Thu Jan 21, 2010 4:55 pm

I qualified my statement with the phrase "I believe" and "supposedly." Hardly a smear when I'm plainly expressing uncertainty on the matter.

You are correct that it was Baker who made the claim since Baylor did not comment.

From today's testimony, we know that the girl reported, what was described as an "attempted sexual assault" by Hewitt/Waco police to the head athletic trainer back in 1991. But what we don't know is what the athletic trainer told the unnamed Vice-President who apparently Baker met with. Or do we even believe that Baker met with a VP? After all, you have to believe Baker in order to conclude that a member of the Administration knew about the accusations.

Baker said in the interview that he had been told that the girl had falsely accused 1 or 2 football players while in high school of sexual harassment. Per Tommy Witherspoon of the Waco Tribune:
Q: There would be, once again I’ll say, the cynical people who would say, you’ve lost a baby, you’ve lost your wife. People are going to accuse you of bad things at Baylor. We haven’t talked about that. What happened with that girl at Baylor? Baker: The incident took place, there was a group of us cleaning. We were student trainers. I was a sophomore, she was a freshman. Q: What year would this have been? Baker: Fall of ‘91. Yeah, late fall of ‘91. After football games, there was a group of five or six of us who would clean the facility the visitors would use after football games. Q: At Floyd Casey Stadium? Baker: Yeah, at Floyd Casey Stadium. It’s underneath. It used to be where the home team and visitors shared, but then they built their new one, so it’s different. A group of us were down there cleaning. We’re on our way out. I’ve got the key to lock the door, so I’m turning the lights out. There’s like master lights for the whole facility. So I’m turning the lights out and I did not know she was back in one of the rooms. She comes running out from the dark screaming. I open the door and she runs past me, runs past the rest of the group, runs and keeps going. Never thought anything of it. The lights are off. I lock the door. We keep going. I never heard anything of it at all until I was registering for the following semester for classes. You get to the point where you’re paying your final bill, what meal plan are you going to have, all those things. There was a hold on my account. Go see one of the vice presidents. I don’t remember what his name was. I had to go see him. I went into his office, went over there immediately, and sat down. He told me at that point that I had been accused. And I read her statement that she gave to the Dulins’ private investigators which does not coincide with what was said to me that day. He told me that I was accused of sitting on her lap and she bit me on my back to get me off her and then ran and screamed and all that. Then in the investigator’s I know she says something that I put her on a sink and she had to bite me on my chest to get away.

Anyway, the vice president told me they had done some investigating and it was his opinion that when they investigated they went back to her high school and talked to people in her high school administration and that she had falsely accused at least one or two football players in their school with sexual harassment.


Q: Did you ever get bit? Baker: I did not get bit. Q: You didn’t show anybody a bite mark? Baker: I never showed anybody a bite mark. Q: So you were falsely accused there? Baker: Correct.


OK, so we shouldn't take Baker at his word regarding what he claims he was told by the Administration.

On the other hand, we should now believe that the Administration was fully aware of the accusations based on Baker's own account of a meeting with an unnamed Baylor VP?

Do we believe everything Baker said, nothing Baker said, or do we selectively choose what to believe?


Bottom line, Baylor has not commented. We now know what the girl (testified under oath) told the Athletic Trainer. But we don't know what the Athletic Trainer told the Baylor officials. So in light of those lack of details, can we really judge Baylor officials for some lack of action?

I think we do have enough information to make a judgment about the Athletic Trainer. But again, we don't know anything else.

I'm all for a database and a system within the state and national conventions and other similar reforms which we've discussed in other threads.

However, I'm not sure what proposed system or reform could have stopped Matt Baker. We don't have evidence that Baylor University turned a blind-eye to anything? Perhaps the Athletic Trainer failed miserably at his job and his moral obligation to the girl. But we don't know what Baylor knew. So many necessary details are absent. Perhaps a system in place could turn around and slap FBC Waco for failing in their job. But that's after the fact. That's not prevention.

And I think it would be a huge mistake to view Baylor/FBC Waco/Crossroads Baptist as part of one huge institution. We can't make churches and organizations that identify as "Baptist" into something which they are not and have never been. Any reforms or proposed system has to take into account the autonomous nature which has been a defining characteristic of the Baptist brand. While I don't think autonomy should be used as an excuse to avoid taking certain measures to protect children, I do think we can't flip to the other extreme which centralizes power and control into the hands of a few. That centralized hierarchical polity has not played out that well either at least in terms of protecting children from predators.

I tend to think a bottom-up approach that educates the people in the pews is the way to go in addition to reforms which are compatible with our polity. After all, it is the people in the pews who tend to protect and shield the predator minister when abuse surfaces. All Baptists, not just the leadership, have to bear some responsibility if children are to be protected.
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Re: Baptist Pastor Convicted of Murder

Postby Big Daddy Weaver » Thu Jan 21, 2010 5:10 pm

You know, I too could conclude that:
So, it seems that you are effectively smearing Baylor University based on nothing more than what Matt Baker himself said -- i.e., a guy who has now been convicted by a jury of murder.


After all, everything we know about what Baylor officials supposedly knew is based on the words of Matt Baker to different reporters.

In order to cast judgment on Baylor and in turn link Baylor to BGCT and BGCT to SBC, you had to rely on Matt Baker whom you do not believe to be credible. That makes so much sense...

One more thing, it's worth noting that the conclusions drawn by the Texas Monthly article which Christa cited were based on the words of Matt Baker himself. Baylor refused to comment, citing federal privacy laws, according to the report.

So, Texas Monthly relies on Baker's words, Christa relies on Baker's words to form her judgments about Baylor and then I rely on Baker's words - which I qualify with "supposedly" to express uncertainty - and I'm told that I've "effectively smeared" this girl. Please.
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Re: Baptist Pastor Convicted of Murder

Postby Sandy » Thu Jan 21, 2010 5:47 pm

Big Daddy Weaver wrote:I tend to think a bottom-up approach that educates the people in the pews is the way to go in addition to reforms which are compatible with our polity. After all, it is the people in the pews who tend to protect and shield the predator minister when abuse surfaces. All Baptists, not just the leadership, have to bear some responsibility if children are to be protected.


I tend to agree with that. In the organization and polity of Baptists, there is no way to do the same things other denominations do with regard to predators, and get the same results. There is no way to enforce a denominational policy among independent, autonomous churches. There are some very positive steps that could be taken, but they would not resemble, or have the same enforcement capability, as exists in connectional, top-down denominations. Educating the people in the pews, and pointing out examples like this one, of why it is so important to be aware, is the way to go.
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Re: Baptist Pastor Convicted of Murder

Postby Big Daddy Weaver » Thu Jan 21, 2010 7:41 pm

Matt Baker was just sentenced to 65 years. *I think* that he will be eligible for parole after serving half of that sentence. He is 38 years old now.
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Re: Baptist Pastor Convicted of Murder

Postby Christa Brown » Thu Jan 21, 2010 7:51 pm

After all, you have to believe Baker in order to conclude that a member of the Administration knew about the accusations.

No. That's incorrect. As reported by Scott Hollandsworth in Texas Monthly magazine, the woman told a detective that, when she was a freshman girl, "Baylor administrators at the time had asked her not to contact police."

Also reported by Texas Monthly in that same article: "There is no question that the university sided with Matt. Administrators did type up a report, but they took no action." So, while Baylor officials didn't provide any comment for the record, Skip Hollandsworth apparently obtained some confirmation that university administrators had typed up a report. As Scott Hollandsworth said: "There is no question that the university sided with Matt."

And in the excerpts of the woman's testimony reported today in the Waco Tribune live blog, she said "Baylor officials told her that there was no need to contact the police because they would handle it." In addition, she spoke of having talked with Mike Sims, who is described as the head athletic trainer, and also with one of the football coaches.

So, no.... everything the university knew was NOT based on the words of Matt Baker. Also, Texas Monthly did not rely solely on the words of Matt Baker and I did not rely on the words of Matt Baker.

No one ever wants to believe ill of the people and organizations that they love and trust, and in which they invested significant chunks of their life. I appears to me, BDW, that you are reluctant to believe that Baylor university officials may have turned a blind eye to a report of sexual assault, but I perceive that reluctance as being quite similar to the sort of reluctance that people almost invariably feel when their minister is accused of abuse. It's why most other major organizations recognize that you have to have some sort of system for outside oversight. When a cop is reported for excessive force, or for a shooting that he says was self-defense, you can't have a cop's own buddies and colleagues be the ones looking into it.

Education is fine and good, but ultimately, most responsible organizations recognize that you cannot effectively educate people away from the normal human instinct for denial or from the tendency toward bias in favor of those they already know and trust. It's why most responsible organizations have systems that seek to compensate for those normal human instincts.
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Re: Baptist Pastor Convicted of Murder

Postby Mark » Thu Jan 21, 2010 10:38 pm

This brief article from today's Houston Chronicle mentions two of the women Matt Baker allegedly molested.
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Re: Baptist Pastor Convicted of Murder

Postby William Thornton » Sat Jan 23, 2010 10:33 am

The heart of the advocacy of Christa Brown and others for a denominational-level abuse panel that would receive, evaluate, and maintain reports on SBC clergy is the problem with autonomy and clergy mobility among churches and ministries.

In her blog she lists the places where Matt Baker, convicted wife murderer, has worked:

Baylor University
First Baptist Church of Waco
Columbus Avenue Baptist Church
First Baptist Church of Robinson
the YMCA (which reportedly fired him)
Truett Seminary at Baylor (as a student)
Pecan Grove Baptist Church
Williams Creek Baptist Church
First Baptist Church of Riesel
Northlake Baptist Church in Dallas
Waco Center for Youth (where his clergy credentials allowed him to work as a chaplain with emotionally disturbed youth!!!)
Crossroads Baptist Church
Baptist Student Union at Schreiner College


At his first two stops, Baylor and Waco FBC, there were formal reports of sexual abuse but nothing of those went beyond the school and the church. The YMCA fired him but apparently nothing of that went beyond the local organization. The murderer and sexual abuser then moved freely to employment in a number of churches and Baptist organizations, ending with the BSU.

Christa Brown doesn't have a better or more persuasive case that I have seen for some more central organization to receive, review, and maintain abuse reports than this one.

It makes no difference to the mother who lost her daughter, the kids who lost their mother, or the multiple other victims of this murderer, but if he had committed his first reported case of abuse in 2010 at Baylor or Waco FBC, would there be any difference in how he was handled?

Would Baylor have reported the incident to the BGCT to be put in their secret file?

Would Waco FBC?

Would it have mattered if they did since the secret file is by design not utilized unless a prospective church/employer calls and asks.

Would the BGCT itself have checked their secret abuser file before they employed the guy at one of their BSUs?

Would either have called law enforcement?

The only defense the BGCT has here, aside from the usual 'we hate it but we're not responsible for any of this' is to say that they trust, they hope, that things would be handled differently today. Not a very assuring defense.

This is a troublesome case.
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Re: Baptist Pastor Convicted of Murder

Postby Dave Roberts » Sat Jan 23, 2010 11:44 am

I'm afraid that churches and universities want to protect their own reputations enough to just send someone packing without doing anything to protect the victims. By the time Baker get out of prison at age 70, maybe we will have found a way to accompish what Brown is asking without messing up our Baptist polity. This is indeed a troubling case.
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Waco, Knoxville, Suttree

Postby Stephen Fox » Sat Jan 23, 2010 2:21 pm

Maybe Thornton, BDidd and the BL.com Nancy Grace Team can solve this one as well

At a minimum may revise viewings of Billy bob Thornton's
Man who Wasn't there

and the great line

"The Next Day was a Saturday"

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/24/us/24 ... le.html?hp
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Re: Baptist Pastor Convicted of Murder

Postby Christa Brown » Sat Jan 23, 2010 3:48 pm

...without messing up our Baptist polity.


1. It doesn't mess up Baptist polity to provide churches with information about credibly-accused clergy. To the contrary, it might actually empower churches.

2. I always find it troubling how so many Baptist pastors seem so much more concerned about protecting the abstract purity of Baptist polity (in precisely the shape that they themselves have defined it), rather than protecting real kids against real clergy-predators.
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Re: Baptist Pastor Convicted of Murder

Postby Big Daddy Weaver » Sat Jan 23, 2010 11:34 pm

Bottom line, we just don't have ALL of the facts or even most of the facts regarding Baylor and the FBc Waco situations. We have bits and pieces of information which may or may not be true.

With that said, for a moment let's suppose that the BGCT has a public database rather than a secret file (something which I believe they definitely need...):
William wrote:
Would Baylor have reported the incident to the BGCT to be put in their secret file?


Likely not. Baylor is its own institution. The BGCT does not control Baylor nor do they have much influence over how Baylor operates. That's been the case for quite some time. The BGCT does not have the sort of influence over the institutions it financially supports in the same way that the Vatican through its Bishops in America has control over Catholic institutions.

I would not be surprised to hear Baylor say that federal privacy laws and other liabilities prevent the school from sharing detailed reports of "credibly accused" individuals to an outside organization. Baylor has extremely deep pockets. Can you blame them?

As someone who is at Baylor every single day, the relationship between the BGCT and Baylor is seen in only a few places on campus. It's not the strong relationship that Christa depicts on her blog.

As an aside, I'm not here defending Baylor at all costs. There is not a single person who defends Baylor at all costs, no matter what. We've had 4 different administrations in like 5 years. Pretty much anyone who has been here in those five years has been critical of AN administration at some point along the way.

William wrote:Would Waco FBC?


Maybe, maybe not. It's not like the BGCT could force Waco to do anything. They could, of course oust FBC Waco after the fact. But that's after all was said and done.

We have a rather autonomous polity, thankfully. That's certainly not changing. It's a defining characteristic. That is why I think a top-down approach can be effective in the same way its effective in other denominations. There are real differences between Baptist groups and other more hierarchical groups. A Baptist plan has to be different than a Presbyterian plan. Ultimately, individuals as the local church must step up and bear some responsibility and encourage other Baptist churches to do the same, a bottom-up approach...
Christa Brown wrote:1. It doesn't mess up Baptist polity to provide churches with information about credibly-accused clergy. To the contrary, it might actually empower churches.


That's certainly true. And the BGCT could definitely do much much more.
Christa Brown wrote:2. I always find it troubling how so many Baptist pastors seem so much more concerned about protecting the abstract purity of Baptist polity (in precisely the shape that they themselves have defined it), rather than protecting real kids against real clergy-predators.


Sure, some pastors do hide behind local church autonomy. We have pastors who also, in the past, have hid behind concepts like soul freedom to avoid addressing racial injustices. That's certainly not what Dave is trying to do. I hope we can voice concern for polity without always being accused of some other motivation. Polity matters for Baptists. Always has, always will.

While we shouldn't hide behind polity, we also have to protect polity. It is who we are - like it or not. Anyone can dislike our polity. Baptists have historically found it to be the most biblical polity - a model of the New Testament Church, etc. That's important to remember. Again, local church autonomy is a defining characteristic. That's not going to change. I personally think the positives outweigh the negatives when it comes to autonomy. I'll take autonomy over anything that resembles authoritarianism any day.

We as Baptists can't become something which we aren't.

But we can and must do more.

The "do more" part entails creative solutions which acknowledge the reality that our polity is different from our neighbors polity at FUMC and First Presbyterian.
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