Thursday, June 13, 2013

A resolution that has value: ON SEXUAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN

My friend and fellow Georgian, Peter Lumpkins, submitted this resolution and I confess that my prediction was that it would fail to be reported out of the Resolutions Committee and any attempt to bring it to the floor would likewise fail. Peter would then go home and drown his disappointment, rather expensively, in Starbucks coffee which he never seems to be without (ABP photo).

I was wrong and the SBC did pass an amended resolution but one that Peter favored.

The original resolution had this paragraph:

RESOLVED that we strongly urge denominational servants, entity leaders and our trustee boards to sever all ties, whether official or unofficial, with any evangelical organization, fellowship of ministers, and/or celebrity leader who, presently or in the past, is facing criminal and/or civil litigation for neglecting moral or legal obligations to protect the little children whom Jesus said suffer to follow Him, ties including but not limited to speaking engagements at conferences, entities, and/or agencies supported, whether full or in part, by Cooperative Program monies; and 
The target for this paragraph was C. J. Mahaney who has been loudly praised and touted by some of our SBC leaders, not the least of which is Albert Mohler.

The case of Mahaney, Sovereign Grace Ministries, and sexual abuse of children is long and somewhat complicated. There are horrible allegations of abuse, some while Mahaney was pastor and in his church, though he is not accused of any such behavior. A high profile civil suit has been filed against a number of SGM leaders. The lawsuit alleges that when abuse was reported to the church, church leaders did an in-house investigation and tried to handle it privately.

Background can be found in numerous articles by Bob Allen of Associated Baptist Press (you will not find much from Baptist Press which avoids such unpleasant subjects). The article here is from this week. Also, two blog queens (their own self-description) and their blog The Wartburg Watch 2013 are tireless victim advocates and keenly focused on the SGM scandal. Their research is stellar.

The Resolution Committee quickly deep-sixed that paragraph before they reported the resolution to the floor. An amendment was added from the floor that said:
RESOLVED: that we encourage all denominational leaders and employees of the Southern Baptist Convention to utilize the highest sense of discernment in affiliating with groups and/or individuals that possess questionable policies and practices in protecting our children from criminal abuse; 
You can still read "C. J. Mahaney" between the lines of the above paragraph.

Here's the deal: Even though Southern Baptists have said a lot about clergy sex abuse and have numerous programs to educate churches and pastors of the issue and how to handle such things at the local church level, we have not been very effective in handling cases that touch on our churches or our leaders.

This resolution helps somewhat, but let's be candid here, no one who should have been paying attention to this matter, Executive Committee, Resolutions Committee, high profile leaders like Mohler, thought it important to address it with a resolution at the annual meeting. The matter was left for a small church pastor and blogger. I give Mohler et al credit for realizing that they needed to get on board here.

One of my boasts is that I have never spend a dime on Starbucks coffee. It is one of my life principles not to pay $5 or so for a cup of drugged and flavored water.

But the next time I meet Peter at the Starbucks halfway between us, I'll buy. Good work.

If you are a pastor or church staff and haven't given this a lot of thought, I recommend your state convention who most certainly has a staff member with responsibility for child safety. But start with a couple of my articles:
Pick up the phone, call the cops.

They did not call the cops...and have been arrested.

Also, get Christa Brown's book (available on her website) and read what she has to say. It is ugly but may save your ministry down the road. She started talking about sexual abuse in the SBC before anyone else.

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

The takeaway: not only are resolutions not binding on anyone (or anything) outside of the the 2 glorious days of convention business, the resolutions committee is simply not going to embarrass any sitting SBC office holder on any issue.

In other news, the sun rose in the East this morning.