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Jun 19, 2013

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Joel

Peter, send it to me and I'll submit it through the process in the Maryland/Delaware Convention.

peter lumpkins

Hi Joel. God bless you, brother. Your response is precisely what I'd hope would take place! PTL.

I'll send you a copy...

CASEY

I'll be glad to do it in MISSOURI along with others....

dr. james willingham

Peter: I agree with you that child sexual abuse is a subject that must, I repeat, must be addressed. I had three cases come to in a 3 month period in 1985, and it moved me to enroll in Liberty University's new school of Life Long Learning or Lusll, any way, distance education, a master's degree in counseling that Dec. I wrote a paper on the subject and wound up becoming a counselor for three years at big senior high school, where the counseling staff was so big that they could assign responsibility for particular pathologies. Guess what mine was? Yep, incest and pedophilia. And people are embarrassed and don't want to address the issue, when children are having their very lives and futures destroyed by such events. It takes a remarkably tough kid to endure and bounce back from such abuse, but there are some who do while others need help. One of the things that really needs to be stressed is that it is not the child's fault; it is the adult perpetrator, no matter what a lawyer might argue in a court of law.

One of the areas in which I contemplated going ahead and doing a doctorate in was the effect of such abuse upon the child's future in relation to the age-stage in which it occurred. In one particular case, the child, a girl, was abused during what the researchers call the industry stage, ages 6-9. The effect on this stage ill-prepares the child to become a productive, industrious adult, able to persevere at a job. Whether it would have been a viable doctoral subject is open to debate, but it might have been worthwhile for finding if some method could be found for breaking the cycle of guilt, shame, rebellion against authority, poor image control. One method I would learn about years later had to do with a treatment now used by the VA for PTSD victims from the battlefields. I did recommend a mother to take her child, an adoptee from an overseas orphanage to a counselor certified in the area and she found that it was helpful. I also use the method on the spur of the moment with a woman suffering from a lot of stress (illness of mother and other matters) and found it to be a remarkable helpful for her. The method is EDM, Eye Desensitization Movement. If you will google it, you will find an institute established by the discoverer and developer of this therapy which seems to deprogram a person's nervous system from the trauma done to it by the event involved, be it battlefield, sexual abuse, etc.

Southern Baptists, like most people in this nation, have been unaware of the problem and consequently know little of the legal, emotional, occupational, social, and other issues effected by the trauma of sexual abuse. We need our SBC and State Conventions to provide training and information, highlighting and underscoring the problems involved. For one, I am glad you are pursuing the effort, knowing what I do about the matter and having been involved in the area in counseling.

Louis

Good luck on passing resolutions in all states. I think that you will be successful, especially if you stick with what has been passed by the SBC.

I am also in favor of any training, information and prophetic encouragement that can be provided to churches from SBC agencies (I think that LifeWay has some good things).

You know, it would be good at the annual meeting for the SBC to have a professional in this area speak at the pastors conference. Not a pastor. But someone from the medical or mental health field who has worked with this for years. Maybe it could be a panel discussion with someone from law enforcement who could help educate pastors on what they should do, not do etc. when a case of absuse is reported.

Such a presentation would not be divisive. It would be very informative. But the key is making sure that the panel is composed of people who are true experts in the field and not pastors or people trying to make some sort of policy or personal statement.

I would find that kind of presentation interesting. There could be lots of practical things that pastors could learn. A DVD of the presentation could be made and sent to every SBC church.

I am strongly opposed to the SBC getting in the database business or keeping records on or certifying/decertifying ministers.

While we could try to get a lot of PR for doing that (which everyone likes, especially people in the ministry or non-profit world), that approach would not be effective and cause more damage due to assumptions that the database was accurate, and it would create a lot of potential problems for and possibly the ultimate destruction of the SBC's cooperative missions endeavors.

So much effort and unproductive discussion has gone toward trying to push the SBC to do those things, when there are some great things we can do that do not have the attendant problems.

Lydia

Louis,

Why not we all just pretend Mohler has not been actively protecting Mahaney who used the 1st amendment as a reason his empire did not report child molesters at PDI/SGM? And even helped some of them with a defense and did not tell parents there were molesters in their midst being protected by the church leaders.

Some public confession of a lack of discernment by some of our biggest leaders would be a great first step. Or else we are looking at hundreds of young seminarians/pastors who are being taught by their heros THEY have the ability to discern concerning how this stuff is handled just like Mohler has decided Mahaney is totally qualified as a pastor and celebrity Christian leader.

Dealing with Mohler would send the best message. But we do not have enough real men to get the job done who think those little children at PDI/SGM are worth a celebrity Mahaney and saving face. That is what it boils down to. So anything else would be empty and fake.

We continue to LIVE OUT the idea that a celebrity pastor is more important than children. It is that simple. Our words are becoming more and more empty because we do not act. Mohler should be disciplined by the trustees.

cb scott

I agree with Louis in most everything he has stated in his comment above. I especially agree with him that the SBC should not start a data base. That would create nothing more than an instrument of false security. It would not solve the problem of sex crimes against minor children. I do not believe it would even make a dent in solving the problem.

My point of contention with Louis' comment above is revealed in this statement:

" But the key is making sure that the panel is composed of people who are true experts in the field and not pastors or people trying to make some sort of policy or personal statement."

While it is evident that many pastor types have no understanding of how to handle sex crimes against minor children as is revealed in the comment threads of the two posts I wrote for SBC Voices on the subject; There are pastoral types who are experts in the field just as surely as there are experts in the field among medical professionals and law enforcement. In truth, most doctors and cops are not experts in dealing with sex crimes against minor children although some are. The same can be stated about ministry professionals. Sadly, most haven't a clue, but some of us do.

peter lumpkins

CB,

Thanks. I very much respect your knowledge in this area. Perhaps you can help me with a question. Both you and Louis appear to accept the premise that starting a data base would, in your words, "create nothing more than an instrument of false security." This was one of the primary reasons for rejection in 2008, I think, when this was first proposed to us for consideration. The reasoning, however, has never struck pay dirt with me.

Thus here's my question: Why? Why would a data base for sex offenders create an instrument of false security any more than a criminal background check we now employ create a sense of false security that the man (or woman) we'd like to call to our church in a particular position is a moral person? After all, if his or her record comes up clean, that means they are honest people, right? Well, no. It only means while they've never been formally indicted for a crime, they actually may have committed a number of crimes in several states. They've just never been caught. And, it says nothing about the moral character of the person under consideration.

Even so, we encourage criminal background checks as a viable step in the process of calling a person to the staff of the church. Why? Why is checking and/or creating a data bank considered creating a false sense of security when it comes to sex offenders--in this case, child sex offenders--but examining a data bank for general background checks or traffic citations or credit reports does not create the same false sense of security?

Mary

Peter, have you thought about the fact that if the SBC sets up and maintains a data base that the liability for the failure of that database means the SBC is now liable for all the mistakes made within the entire network of churches? If the SBC assumes a duty it does not now have it also assumes liability it does not now have. Or just to put it very bluntly - no lawyers would be on board with the SBC setting up a data base.

Now I understand there are the regular people howling - all you care about is money! You don't care about children! How hateful to put money first! Is the goal here to protect children or is the goal to destroy the SBC as we know it? Because assuming that amount of liability could very well lead to the destruction of the SBC. The SBC is not the Catholic church with trillions in assets. Can the SBC sustain those kinds of lawsuits?

Rational people need to take control of this conversation. Rational people want to protect children by making the SBC better. There are a lot of things that can be done that should be done to make children in the SBC safer. The problem with these discussions is that the irrational have always drowned out the rational when something like a database is dismissed. You can't deal with people who scream "you want children to be molested if you won't do things my way!"

And as far as victims we need to remember that the SBC has also been a refuge for victims. No one ever mentions that the SBC is full of people who have been hurt in all manner of ways. These people have found comfort, solace, healing and life in SBC churches. Do those victims matter? Or should we just jump on the let's destroy the SBC in the name of protecting children band wagon.

If you're gonna get into this conversation you have to recognize who the players are. Several of these "we put the victims first!" voices are simply people with an ax to grind with the SBC and they want to see the SBC at the very least publically humiliated and their absolute dream is to see the SBC pay and pay big out of nothing short of revenge. Anybody who dismisses concern for what damage this or that solution does to the SBC is more on the side of revenge. These people dismiss all the good the SBC has done and continues to do. They don't care if that good is destroyed.

peter lumpkins

Hey Mary. No, I actually haven't thought through any of all this really. My question to CB was more a philosophical one attempting to get to the core of the give-a-false-sense-of-security argument we often hear. Why does a sex offender database create any more of a false security than any other data base? And, you bring up a much more stimulating question pertaining to liability issues. Certainly that concern raises extraordinary caution in proceeding with any "official" protocol we might consider to better our odds of avoiding a culture for predators to thrive.

And I agree we must bring a calm, collected, reasonable but compassionate voice to the debate. You're right. There is nothing which will satisfy many of the special interest voices demanding we act except full compliance to their stated agenda, an agenda sometimes jaundiced with trauma and emotion. One of the SNAP representatives pooh-poohed our process of resolutions as virtual nonsense. And, while resolutions are "empty" to a certain extent, our ecclesial, free church polity cannot survive top-down edicts, a polity most cannot seem to actually grasp. Resolutions don't carry an enacting authority it's true; but resolutions historically have served us well as a moral authority, a point of reference beyond the subjective opinion of a single individual. That is, resolutions carry the collective opinion of a diversified group of Baptists from various regions, differing age groups, multiple callings, and all levels of giftedness.

Given this profile of those who vote on resolutions, ideally resolutions exist as a moral authority for us to cite rather than an official edict with which to comply. Roman Catholics and mainstream Protestants--not to mention the politico-savvy media--will perhaps never fully appreciate this unique ecclesial dynamic factoring into the equation from our perspective.

I would ask a question: supposing we created some sort of databank filter which utilized the data provided by the government according to parameters we put in place, parameters not germane to the interests of government? For example, we'd attach "tags" so to speak to the government's data which filtered out ordained clergy, sexual crimes, (or even other crimes, etc) to use by Southern Baptists or even the general public. Would this lessen the liability concern since we actually created no data bank but only manipulated the data of the US government? Just asking. This may seem simplistic to people with law backgrounds but understand: I have no law background nor do 99.9% of other Southern Baptists.

Louis

CB:

Was not meaning to exclude pastors from my suggested panel. But pastors who should be included would be ones who are knowledgeable on the topic and not just passionate about it.

Louis

Peter:

I am concerned that the SBC would not be able to invest the expertise and effort that would really make a database run as well as it should to avoid false positives and false negatives. And I also believe that there are some churches who would not report (e.g. Prestonwood).

So, if the SBC announces an initiative like this with the accompanying fanfare, people are going to believe that it has a certain reliability.

If it is not reliable, we will have given an impression that we really cannot be certain about.

Also, i think that the professionals who run databases like this are the ones we should rely on.

Mary brings up another point, though it is not my primary point. It is still important.

Right now, we asked churches to give to the SBC to fund missions and related ventures, and the money we give is very secure because the SBC is really nothing more than a pot of money to which churches contribute for missions causes. The money is given to the SBC, and then sent right back out to the agencies etc.

As things currently exist, that money could not be subject to collection by enterprising plaintiffs' lawyers.

If the SBC takes on a job like maintaining databases and keeping track of sexual predators, and makes a mistake, it could put all of those missions contributions at risk.

If the SBC churches want to do that, fine, but I don't think churches would have the same level of confidence they now have.

So, I am for the SBC doing anything that it can that will actually help and would not threaten the cooperative missionary enterprise, which is the only reason something called the SBC exists.

cb scott

Peter,

Both Mary and Louis have give valid reasons as to why the intentional development of a data base would be an error.

I will add that the great majority of sexual predators who commit sex crimes among local churches are not professional ministry people. The majority of these crimes are committed by someone other than ministry professionals. Therefore, the data base would not sufficiently address the problem. It would be very lacking in scope.

Also, sex crimes against minor children always happen locally. The job of prevention lies with the local church.

You already know the precautions a church should take to prevent child endangerment. You mentioned criminal background checks. As you know, a criminal background check addresses far more than sex crime convictions. Every church should do criminal background checks on employees for a number of reasons. A criminal background check should be done on every individual who works with children and youth. However, that in itself is not sufficient to prevent child abuse.

Another measure that would have far more effect in stopping sex crimes against children among local churches is for local churches to be more pro-active in reporting the accused abuser to law enforcement. Pastors and churches must stop thinking they can handle crime and criminals internally.

Sexual activity in any form between an adult and a minor child is a crime. People who involve minor children in sexual activity are criminals and should be treated as such.

As long as pastors and churches fail to realize that fact, a data base will be nothing more than a false security at best. Local churches and the leadership therein must do their due diligence to prevent sex crimes from taking place and they must learn to immediately report the accused to law enforcement. Those two measures would do far more to remedy the problem of sex crimes in local churches than the development of a national data base. Child sexual abuse is a local problem and always will be. Therefore, the greatest prevention is local prevention. The national data base would be a false security.

Nicholas

Mary said: "And as far as victims we need to remember that the SBC has also been a refuge for victims. No one ever mentions that the SBC is full of people who have been hurt in all manner of ways. These people have found comfort, solace, healing and life in SBC churches."

This is laughable.

Mary said: "These people dismiss all the good the SBC has done and continues to do. They don't care if that good is destroyed."

What good?

Nicholas

cb scott said: "I will add that the great majority of sexual predators who commit sex crimes among local churches are not professional ministry people."

Again, false. The numbers are at least equal: http://www.stopbaptistpredators.org/scandals/sbc_ministers.html

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