Some time ago in a deacons' meeting, I was speaking on the subject of sexual abuse of children in churches and our church's policies on the same. The sordid subject was in the news as a result of the Roman Catholic scandals and not a few cases of SBC churches and clergy involved in such things.
While we have adopted policies in our church, nothing made the matter more clear to the deacons than when I said, "Here's what we do if someone comes to me with an accusation of sexual abuse: I pick up the phone and call the cops."
Sometimes the beloved brother pastor likes to be dramatic. Sometimes he should.
Take a look at what is happening at Penn State University. The religion of college football has its own cathedrals, altars, and revered priests which is why the alleged child sexual abuse case involving Penn State is so prominently featured in the news.
While the matter will continue to unfold, it looks like someone messed up. Hmmm, they didn't pick up the phone and call the cops.
What's the problem? It's not that the issue is obscure or hidden. It is certainly no longer a matter for closed deacons' meetings and hallway whispers around the SBC.
Every level in SBC life appears to be attuned to the issue of sexual abuse in churches and denominational life. State Conventions, the Executive Committee, LifeWay all have extensive materials for churches on their websites.
Cases involving clergy in SBC churches are regularly reported (usually by Associated Baptist Press, seldom by Baptist Press) and a number of Baptist bloggers focus on them.
In my state you cannot be involved with any camps or conferences involving kids without undergoing background checks. I feel certain that LifeWay has the same policies for Ridgecrest and Glorieta (though as this case illustrates, the checks do not eliminate all problems).
Sometimes an essential action of a pastor doesn't involve preaching, teaching, evangelism, or discipleship.
Sometimes it is simply to pick up the phone. Call the cops.