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Author Topic: Abuse Of Faith: Credible Allegations of Sexual Assault by Southern Baptists  (Read 1319 times)

ehbowen

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Abuse of Faith: Houston Chronicle Article

Quote
Abuse of Faith
20 years, 700 victims: Southern Baptist sexual abuse spreads as leaders resist reforms

By Robert Downen, Lise Olsen, and John Tedesco

This is sickening. And these stories are new to me; I have been almost entirely in small churches which, thankfully, have been free of this stain. I am not reconsidering my choice to worship with a church of the Southern Baptist Convention, nor am I reconsidering my foundational theological principles, but I do most assuredly call for action to be taken to combat this evil. As the article notes, if we can (correctly) act to sever fellowship with churches who tolerate homosexuality or transgenderism, then we can, should, and must act to shine the light on and separate from those who practice, facilitate or tolerate these forms of sexual assault, abuse, and perversion. To think that Dr. Ed Young, a man whom I used to respect, refused to testify in that assault case because it might affect his TV ministry...perhaps I now know why that inner feeling kept me far, far away from the ministry of Houston's Second Baptist.

This is the first of a planned three parts. I'm sure that many more millstones await.
--------Eric H. Bowen
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Uneryx

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Abuse of Faith: Houston Chronicle Article
 As the article notes, if we can (correctly) act to sever fellowship with churches who tolerate homosexuality or transgenderism, then we can, should, and must act to shine the light on and separate from those who practice, facilitate or tolerate these forms of sexual assault, abuse, and perversion.

UM. No?? A whole stinkin' lotta no?

First off, let me state that this is in refutation to the entire idea that this is an isolated problem to be excised, not just the above cited line (which I would argue is part of the problem).

Just because you haven't seen this going on in your back yard doesn't mean that this is an isolated incident. Abuse of all stripes - not just sexual - gets shuffled under the rug because the particular strain of Christianity that the SBC is one small part of is ride-or-die for being culturally dominant. Showing any kind of weakness or vulnerability would discredit (evangelical) Christianity's claims that it is perfect, that once you're saved God comes down and makes everything all better and no one ever screws up on this scale anymore.

Don't "but that's not--!" at me. I spent 30 years FERVENTLY attending pentacostal and evangelical churches, and for the last two I've been off-and-on having arguments with my family that I'd just be "so much happier" if I reconverted. I know what I'm talking about - evangelical Christianity is rife with this issue.

Because of the claim that Christianity is perfect, any appearance that it is not makes y'all look weak. And frankly, FAR TOO MANY Christians would rather be a hypocrite than be perceived as weak.

So instead, abuse of all stripes - spiritual, emotional, sexual, social - is allowed to covertly flourish. And the reason it happens in the first place is because of Authoritarianism. When one group or person demands control and conformity at all costs, then abuse happens. And it's all too easy to say, when someone makes a public whoopsie that CANT be swept under the rug (for example, josh duggar's sexual abuse of his sisters), that he's SO SOWWY he's a sinner and Jesus TOTALLY FORGIVES him and he'll do SO MUCH BETTER and everyone who is holding his feet to the fire is mean.

It's getting old, frankly, and you'll have to excuse me for rolling my eyes over your surprise at these allegations. Either you haven't been paying attention or you've been deliberately ignoring the news.

But okay, lets address what you said in the above phrase. That churches who don't tolerate LGBT+ folks are right to do so. And that you have to "shine a light and separate from" those who commit sexual assault.

1. the treatment of LGBT+ people in the church is a shining example of abuse.  Social ostracism is abuse. Showing up to a kid's high school graduation to sing crass, anti-gay perversions of hymns directly at him is abuse (a thing! that happened at my sister's graduation to her best friend! you don't get to say "but but but" because this stuff HAPPENS A LOT!!). Denying homeless people shelter on a cold night, leaving them to die, simply because they're gay or trans, is abuse. For a group that loves to talk about God's endless love, turning the other cheek and loving thy neighbor, this is some PRETTY NOT-THAT BEHAVIOR.

2. "Shine a light and separate from" huh? So what poor sod is gonna be the sacrificial goat for everyone else's sins? Because we all know that's totally what's going to happen. Someone is going to take the heat for everyone else, so that the media and those critically examining the SBC can hate and throw tomatoes at them, while the other offenders get off scot-free and silently fade into the background, free to abuse another day.

It's happened before. It'll happen again and again and again until Authoritarianism finally dies its slow and painful death.

---

For everyone else, here's an article over on Patheos I saw yesterday about this news, with some analysis on authoritarianism and how this problem got where it is.

[Edited to fix link code - SP]
« Last Edit: February 12, 2019, 06:42:01 pm by SunflowerP »

EclecticWheel

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Abuse of Faith: Houston Chronicle Article

As the article notes, if we can (correctly) act to sever fellowship with churches who tolerate homosexuality or transgenderism, then we can, should, and must act to shine the light on and separate from those who practice, facilitate or tolerate these forms of sexual assault, abuse, and perversion.

It looks to me like you're comparing LGBT people to sexual abusers and perversion as if they belong in a similar camp to be separated from.  As a gay person I see this kind of comparison made all the time.  In my case personally I've had even more overt statements like that directed right to my face.  Not that it's surprising.  I've seen this so much that I'm sort of used to it.  But it never fails to appall me.
My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

ehbowen

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It looks to me like you're comparing LGBT people to sexual abusers and perversion as if they belong in a similar camp to be separated from.  As a gay person I see this kind of comparison made all the time.  In my case personally I've had even more overt statements like that directed right to my face.  Not that it's surprising.  I've seen this so much that I'm sort of used to it.  But it never fails to appall me.

For both you and Uneryx, please do keep in mind that when one extreme is obviously wrong it does not logically follow that the other extreme is therefore right. My God has clearly stated his positions on aberrant sexuality, and those positions are not subject to review or compromise. But, at the same time, it is also a sin to do as in Uneryx's example and mock or deride others. Make it clear that their behavior is unacceptable, yes; de-humanize them and ignore the dignity inherent in their personhood, no. It is possible...and necessary...to hate the sin while loving the sinner.

And we need to make it clear that sin has consequences. That's why I posted this article, to acknowledge that my denomination is at fault for not moving aggressively to counter this evil and to state that it is my intention to take whatever steps I can to push us towards accountability and responsibility in the future. Saying, "I'm Sowwy!" IS NOT ENOUGH. There need to be harsh consequences...much harsher than offenders experience today. I believe there is a reason why my God called for rape and similar crimes to be punished by death...some actions are too heinous to be adequately dealt with by any human court. No, I'm not calling for the return of lynch mobs...until and unless it is changed, the law is what it is and needs to be enforced accordingly and impartially. But those of us who stand by and make it possible for crimes such as this to be "tided over" heap the same guilt upon our own heads.

While I do believe in forgiveness and mercy on a personal level, the courtroom and the jury box are the proper venue for righteous and even vindictive justice, in the truest sense of that word. And I say this knowing full well that I voluntarily place myself under the same standard. "He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just,
Both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord (Proverbs 17:15 NKJV)."
--------Eric H. Bowen
Where's the KABOOM? There was supposed to have been an Earth-shattering KABOOM!

EclecticWheel

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For both you and Uneryx, please do keep in mind that when one extreme is obviously wrong it does not logically follow that the other extreme is therefore right. My God has clearly stated his positions on aberrant sexuality, and those positions are not subject to review or compromise. But, at the same time, it is also a sin to do as in Uneryx's example and mock or deride others. Make it clear that their behavior is unacceptable, yes; de-humanize them and ignore the dignity inherent in their personhood, no. It is possible...and necessary...to hate the sin while loving the sinner.

And we need to make it clear that sin has consequences. That's why I posted this article, to acknowledge that my denomination is at fault for not moving aggressively to counter this evil and to state that it is my intention to take whatever steps I can to push us towards accountability and responsibility in the future. Saying, "I'm Sowwy!" IS NOT ENOUGH. There need to be harsh consequences...much harsher than offenders experience today. I believe there is a reason why my God called for rape and similar crimes to be punished by death...some actions are too heinous to be adequately dealt with by any human court. No, I'm not calling for the return of lynch mobs...until and unless it is changed, the law is what it is and needs to be enforced accordingly and impartially. But those of us who stand by and make it possible for crimes such as this to be "tided over" heap the same guilt upon our own heads.

While I do believe in forgiveness and mercy on a personal level, the courtroom and the jury box are the proper venue for righteous and even vindictive justice, in the truest sense of that word. And I say this knowing full well that I voluntarily place myself under the same standard. "He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just,
Both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord (Proverbs 17:15 NKJV)."

Suffice it to say that I and many others do not agree with you that the bible is clear about homosexuality or many things for that matter, nor do we accept a fundamentalist reading of it, and I certainly do not accept your opinions as the mouthpiece for God.  And I will say as well that in my moral code at least, to liken me and other LGBT people to those who commit sexual assault is to sorely "miss the mark" to put it very mildly.

In fact views that stigmatize us arguably create an environment conducive to violence against us notwithstanding your apparently sincere protest of violence within your religious tradition.

You cannot affirm the dignity of my personhood while condemning the way I love and relate to both men and women -- sexuality is much more than just sex.  It affects my caring for women, how I bond to men whether friends or lovers.  It touches every aspect of my life.  How can you call my very mode of human relationship a perversion and claim to respect my dignity?

And as long as we're delving into the unverifiable realm of what God(s) says, I experienced God speak to me at age fifteen when I cried out to whoever was listening about the suffering I knew I would endure simply because of my mode of relating, my gay sexuality.  God was a multiplicity and a unity and an unfathomable abyss of love that words are utterly shit to convey.

And my loves, they/(s)he showed me, were just an infinitesimally tiny piece of this wondrous love engulfing me and penetrating me and emanating back out of me.  And (s)he didn't give a damn that some of those loves were romantic or directed toward other males.

I doubt that will change your mind.  But that is what God showed me about my supposed perversion-- that it is a part of God and splendidly beautiful.
My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

ehbowen

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Suffice it to say that I and many others do not agree with you that the bible is clear about homosexuality or many things for that matter, nor do we accept a fundamentalist reading of it, and I certainly do not accept your opinions as the mouthpiece for God.

You certainly do not have to accept me as "the mouthpiece for God;" Moses and Paul have done so very plainly and their words are official and canon. But while I will not presume to tell you what to post, my intention here was not to engage in debate on anyone else's sexual practices but to point out and plainly acknowledge where my own church has failed in recent years. I suspected that such things were most likely going on hidden from view but I had no details; with the publication of this article I now do and I state that we have been wrong and need to make the situation right. But we do not make a wrong situation right by turning to other situations where we currently are right and making them wrong.

While I do not question your memories of your experience I must state that in my opinion the chances that the entity which was behind it had any connection to the God whom I worship are vanishingly small to the point of impossibility. And I must also question whether said entity had your ultimate well-being in mind at all.
--------Eric H. Bowen
Where's the KABOOM? There was supposed to have been an Earth-shattering KABOOM!

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While I do not question your memories of your experience I must state that in my opinion the chances that the entity which was behind it had any connection to the God whom I worship are vanishingly small to the point of impossibility. And I must also question whether said entity had your ultimate well-being in mind at all.

I don't then think that you would understand what is in the interest of my wellbeing in this regard.

I must agree that my experience likely did not come from your god if you are correct about his opinions on my loves and sexuality.  But in that case I have no regard for him as he is not in my best interests.

To refrain from derailing your thread I will not post here again unless I have more to add on the main topic.  I have no more interest in engaging you on this topic.
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While I don't agree with Eric even remotely about homosexuality or transgenderism, I do agree with him about churches, communions, and organized religion, and how it should respond to sexual abuse and other forms of religious exploitation.

Frankly, I believe that there are lots of small churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples that are totally free of sexual abuse. While it's important to avoid a 'not me' attitude, it's also important to avoid demonizing entire religious organizations because some members of said organizations commit abominable acts.

Not all Baptist pastors are sex abusers; not all Baptists churches cover-up sexual abuse; Southern Baptism as an ideology shouldn't be condemned for the actions of those members who do commit crimes, any more than Roman Catholicism should be condemned, as an ideology, for the actions of some priests.

Rather, the specific people who do these things should be ostracized and condemned, legally, socially, and spiritually, as well as anyone directly involved in covering-up for said people. Those members of the church who aren't involved or aware of these crimes shouldn't be blamed for them; that's a fast road toward religious intolerance.
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

Zlote Jablko

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While I don't agree with Eric even remotely about homosexuality or transgenderism, I do agree with him about churches, communions, and organized religion, and how it should respond to sexual abuse and other forms of religious exploitation.

Frankly, I believe that there are lots of small churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples that are totally free of sexual abuse. While it's important to avoid a 'not me' attitude, it's also important to avoid demonizing entire religious organizations because some members of said organizations commit abominable acts.

Not all Baptist pastors are sex abusers; not all Baptists churches cover-up sexual abuse; Southern Baptism as an ideology shouldn't be condemned for the actions of those members who do commit crimes, any more than Roman Catholicism should be condemned, as an ideology, for the actions of some priests.

Rather, the specific people who do these things should be ostracized and condemned, legally, socially, and spiritually, as well as anyone directly involved in covering-up for said people. Those members of the church who aren't involved or aware of these crimes shouldn't be blamed for them; that's a fast road toward religious intolerance.

While I don't agree with Eric even remotely about homosexuality or transgenderism, I do agree with him about churches, communions, and organized religion, and how it should respond to sexual abuse and other forms of religious exploitation.

Frankly, I believe that there are lots of small churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples that are totally free of sexual abuse. While it's important to avoid a 'not me' attitude, it's also important to avoid demonizing entire religious organizations because some members of said organizations commit abominable acts.

Not all Baptist pastors are sex abusers; not all Baptists churches cover-up sexual abuse; Southern Baptism as an ideology shouldn't be condemned for the actions of those members who do commit crimes, any more than Roman Catholicism should be condemned, as an ideology, for the actions of some priests.

Rather, the specific people who do these things should be ostracized and condemned, legally, socially, and spiritually, as well as anyone directly involved in covering-up for said people. Those members of the church who aren't involved or aware of these crimes shouldn't be blamed for them; that's a fast road toward religious intolerance.

The sad truth is that this happens everywhere. I was actually involved in a pagan group in college where one of the leaders turned out to be a sexual predator. I've learned that every group potentially has both the best and the worst of humanity, as well as everything in between. The pagan community is no exception, in my experience. I think that's one of the reasons I ended up embracing moral dualism, despite being pagan.

Really, I've been disappointed by every group at one point or another. Christians, Jews, Pagans, Atheists/Skeptics, etc. That's the problem with tribalism. It gets you to think that all the good or bad people are in one group, instead of being scattered here and there.

This does not mean that we should avoid religious groups or communities, because connections to other people are important. However, it is possible to be a part of a community without putting it on a pedestal.
Sometimes the best thing you can do for your community is to *not* spare it from scrutiny and judgment.

Hariti

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Sometimes the best thing you can do for your community is to *not* spare it from scrutiny and judgment.

Well said.
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

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Re: Abuse Of Faith: Credible Allegations of Sexual Assault by Southern Baptists
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2019, 07:05:12 pm »
For everyone else, here's an article over on Patheos I saw yesterday about this news, with some analysis on authoritarianism and how this problem got where it is.

The link code was borked (did you compose that post on something that auto-inserted quote marks and an extra 'http://'?), but I've fixed it.

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Re: Abuse Of Faith: Credible Allegations of Sexual Assault by Southern Baptists
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2019, 09:30:24 pm »
As the article notes, if we can (correctly) act to sever fellowship with churches who tolerate homosexuality or transgenderism, then we can, should, and must act to shine the light on and separate from those who practice, facilitate or tolerate these forms of sexual assault, abuse, and perversion.

A Reminder:
Hi, Eric,

As you've likely already noticed, your unnecessary dragging-in/centring of SBC positions on GLBT people/issues - barely mentioned in the article - has dominated the thread thus far, at the expense of discussion regarding sexual predators in the SBC.

May I suggest (as staff, and strongly - note the blue box) that in future, you strive to avoid framing things in ways that you know (at least when you think about it) other Cauldronites disagree deeply with you about, and thus derailing your own threads?

The article's own phrasing on this was, 'Even so, the SBC has ended its affiliation with at least four churches in the past 10 years for affirming or endorsing homosexual behavior. The SBC governing documents ban gay or female pastors, but they do not outlaw convicted sex offenders from working in churches;' adhering more closely to this phrasing, or even quoting it directly, would likely have been far more effective. Your rephrase obscured the very sound point made in the article, that if the SBC can end affiliation with churches over GLBT tolerance, they cannot cite 'local church autonomy' as an excuse for ignoring sexual abuse and predation.

This is a 'how to make for better discussion and debate' reminder, not a warning (though I note that the implication - whether you intended it or not - of a causal link between sexual abuse and GLBT comes very close to the rules line).

Thanks,
Sunflower
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Re: Abuse Of Faith: Credible Allegations of Sexual Assault by Southern Baptists
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2019, 09:39:57 pm »
A Reminder:



I should make very clear that Eric's self-derail, while not a rules violation, was not unproblematic - but in ways best addressed through discussion and debate. I want to thank those who've posted in rebuttal, and emphasize that in no way are you being accused of derailing the discussion; once Eric said it, it was part of the thread, and completely fair game for vigorous disagreement.

Sunflower
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Re: Abuse Of Faith: Credible Allegations of Sexual Assault by Southern Baptists
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2019, 01:11:14 pm »
GLBT


What does 'GLBT' mean as opposed to 'LGBT?' I've always seen it put in the latter order, is there some reason why people should be reversing the first two letters? (I hope it's OK to quote your moderator comment to ask clarification to this; I didn't know which other post I could quote.)
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

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Re: Abuse Of Faith: Credible Allegations of Sexual Assault by Southern Baptists
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2019, 02:12:55 pm »
(I hope it's OK to quote your moderator comment to ask clarification to this; I didn't know which other post I could quote.)

A Reminder:

For the record, the applicable rule is: "DO NOT argue with, comment on, complain about, criticize, or otherwise discuss staff decisions on rules issues in public in Cauldron community areas."

Asking a legitimate question about the text of the post -- especially a question that has really nothing to do with the moderation decision -- is not a violation of this rule. The rule is intended to prevent arguing the mod call or otherwise discussing the actual moderation (and thereby derailing the thread).

Translation: Your post is NOT a rules violation.
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The Cauldron's server is expensive and requires monthly payments. Please become a Bronze, Silver or Gold Donor if you can. Donations are needed every month. Without member support, we can't afford the server.

* In Memoriam

Chavi (2006)
Elspeth (2010)
Marilyn (2013)

* Cauldron Staff

Host:
Sunflower

Message Board Staff
Board Coordinator:
Darkhawk

Assistant Board Coordinator:
Aster Breo

Senior Staff:
Aisling, Jenett, Sefiru

Staff:
Allaya, Chatelaine, EclecticWheel, HarpingHawke, Kylara, PerditaPickle, rocquelaire

Discord Chat Staff
Chat Coordinator:
Morag

Cauldron Council:
Bob, Catja, Emma-Eldritch, Fausta, Jubes, Kelly, LyricFox, Phouka, Sperran, Star, Steve, Tana

Site Administrator:
Randall