One of the more troublesome cases of an SBC minister sexually abusing children, many of them over a decades long period, is that of David Pierce, former music minister in Benton, Arkansas. He was convicted in 2009 and has been in prison for a couple of years of his ten year sentence. The matter is news now because he is up for parole. A hearing has been postponed until next year on that.
At his sentencing in 2009 there were many requests for leniency, described as an "inch thick" stack of letters.
Christians shouldn't be vindictive or cruel people but it would be troublesome to me if this case, actually an unknown number of cases, dozens, over many years, is not seen as particularly egregious in a Christian church context.
What the music minister did was to target boys for his special mentoring, discipleship if you will, program. The boys would be checked, held accountable for " ‘the four S’s.’ He would check us spiritually, scholastically, socially and sexually." The quote is from a victim.
You can easily access the details of the crimes, the fourth "S", in which the boys were used for the his sexual gratification.
Is there not something particularly abhorrent about taking something so essential to Christianity, discipleship, and perverting it into evil? The man would even use the example of Jesus having only twelve disciples in his grooming of the boys for his special group. Is there not something that deserves harsh punishment for polluting what is sacred to us?
Christa Brown, whose blog is Stop Baptist Predators, is often criticized for being unreasonably vindictive towards the Southern Baptist Convention and SBC officials. Her story of being abused by an SBC minister is widely distributed.
While it is not difficult for me to understand her anger at the SBC in the context of what she suffered at the hands of an SBC minister, I often am puzzled by the lack of anger of some SBC colleagues when such crimes occur in the context of our vocation and at the hands of those called to serve.
David Pierce committed crimes and was convicted and punished. How long the punishment should last, how much he should spend in prison, should be and is a secular, not an ecclesiastical, decision. If he is paroled, so be it.
But as a Christian and as a Christian minister, I doubt I would be inclined to ask for leniency for someone who uses the church and Christian discipleshp for such perversion. In fact, I would likely do just the opposite.
Let's see if another "inch thick" stack of letters asking for leniency for David Pierce is produced next month when authorties consider his parole.