"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


curiouser and curiouser

The SBC Executive Committee has rejected endorsing the creation of a sex offender database for SBC churches. The reason for their decision is based partly on practical issues (it would be really hard to do) and largely on the autonomy of the local church.

Now, look, obviously the SBC and its members don't support sex offenders and do believe that children and other church members should be fully protected from such individuals. I'm not here to comment on that, although I do think that Baptists are digging ourselves a hole from which it will be increasingly difficult to escape if we don't effectively deal with the issue of clergy sex abuse soon.

But I find it terribly interesting that a convention and leadership that is and has been so overly concerned with the activities and orthodoxies of local churches suddenly has such strong respect for the historic Baptist principle of local church autonomy. Ve-ery interesting.


Blogger Tauratinzwe said...

Let's see, it's OK to boot churches that have women pastors (no congregational rule here) but it's NOT OK to provide a list of sex offenders to churches (they must research this themselves to preserve congregational autonomy).

Could there be some strange perversion linking a fixation upon patriarchial rule/privilage and an unwillingness to confront pastoral abuse of power, even in the realm of sexual immorality? They seem to occur in the same context too often.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008 12:34:00 PM

Anonymous Sister said...

The Baylor School of Social Work just received a grant from the Ford Foundation to study clergy sexual abuse and how to prevent it. Diana Garland will not be stopped! At least someone's doing something to help churches address the issue...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008 1:35:00 PM

Blogger CharlieMac said...

One of the stronger arguments against creating a Southern Baptist sexual offender data base is that the feds already have a data base on all convicted sexual offenders.

Duh? The purpose of a Baptist list, at least in part, would be to help protect churches from sexual offenders who may have resigned or been fired without charges having been filed in court.
This would serve to protect Baptist churches from the sort of problems some priests of the Catholic church and some baptish pastors have fostered in the past.

So, as has happened in the past, an offender can still confess to his pastor and be forgiven (if he agrees to resign or seek another "call") and move on to (fresh meat) a new church. A local autonomous church which must not have a woman as pastor (or an ordained woman on staff), but a "forgiven sex offender" youth director is OK. At least according to the majority of Southern Baptists attending the convention in 2008.

I hope their consciences will not bother them when a child is harmed by someone who slipped past the background checks because Southern Baptists did not do everything they should or could to protect their members.
Charlie Mac

Thursday, June 12, 2008 8:15:00 PM


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