November 16, 2017
Why not a standing committee to deal with clergy sex abuse reports?
To the editor:
In “State Baptist body weighs disqualifying CBF churches,” we learn that a Southern Baptist state convention has voted for the creation of “a standing committee to monitor moral and theological positions” of churches.
I confess this confuses me. Why? Because we’ve long heard from Southern Baptist officials that “local church autonomy” precludes any denominational committee, state or national, from even considering whether multi-accused and credibly-accused clergy sex abusers are fit to carry the mantle of pastoral trust under the Southern Baptist brand. Yet now, apparently, “local church autonomy” is not impinged by a committee to monitor churches’ moral positions.
Furthermore, according to the article, the committee to monitor moral positions can also make determinations about whether a church should remain in good standing. Yet Southern Baptist officials have consistently asserted that “local church autonomy” precludes any denominational interference with churches known to have hired, retained, kept quiet about and covered-up for clergy child molesters. For those dangerous deeds, no denominational committee will make any sort of determination at all.
The Southern Baptist version of “local church autonomy” sure appears to be a malleable doctrine. Maybe some would just chalk it up to “God works in mysterious ways,” but what I see is that, in Baptistland, those ways are very detrimental to the safety of kids and congregants.
Christa Brown, Denver