“Having resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” ~~~ Malachy McCourt

Pastor David C. Harrison Arrested for Domestic Violence

My thanks to al.com in Alabama for this story.

Staff Reporter

A Daphne pastor was arrested Wednesday after a quarrel at his home, police said.

The Rev. David C. Harrison faces a third-degree domestic violence charge, according to Daphne Police Capt. Daniel Bell.

The 45-year-old pastor of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church on Main Street was arrested about 7:45 a.m. Wednesday after his wife suffered an injury to her hand and called police, Bell said.

The woman did not require immediate medical attention and was not hospitalized, Bell said.

Harrison, who lives on Eagle Creek Drive, was taken to the Daphne Jail, where he remained until Wednesday evening, according to jail officials.

He was expected to have bail set at $1,000, which is standard for domestic violence cases, Bell said, but a magistrate also may add certain restrictions on Harrison’s release.

Bell said police had no record of a history of calls at Harrison’s address.

Alabama law defines third-degree domestic violence as a Class A misdemeanor, in which the suspect commits an assault, menacing, reckless endangerment, criminal coercion or harassment, and the victim is someone who has a relationship with the suspect.

The crime is punishable by up to one year in jail.

One More Thought about “Taking Advantage”

I also wonder about the statement regarding people using the issue of clergy abuse for personal gain.  In what way is anyone using the issue as a means of personal gain?  The only possible justifications I can see for this statement would be

  • attorneys who get paid for services
  • victims who may be financially remunerated
  • people who are involved in visible organizations to fight clergy abuse, organizations which require financial support to remain active
  • people who become involved in victim advocacy or victim counseling, who may be paid for services rendered

Hmmm, as I remember, pastors get paid for the work they do. Does that mean they are taking advantage of the church for personal gain? Of course not! Attorneys who defend abuse victims deserve to get paid – it’s their job and if the church would crack down on clergy abuse from within this cost would be significantly reduced.

Victims deserve every penny they can get and it could never possibly be enough to “pay” for permanent damage done. Again, if the church would self-regulate this cost would be reduced.

Abuse advocacy organizations have become a necessity because the church will continue to cling to it’s inaction until there is an outcry so strong they cannot politically afford to ignore it. These organizations are staffed, either formally or informally, by people who spend hours of their lives working, and the organizations have overhead costs as well. Financial “gain” is required for the work to continue. That’s not greed.

Those who will dedicate their lives to helping victims find healing are also “worthy of their hire.” In this age when the church is abdicating its responsibilities for the healing and well-being of its members others are having to step into the breach. It is an unfortunate fact of our times. These people have families, electric bills and rent/mortgages to pay. Again, this is not an issue of greed.

For the most part, those who are speaking out for victims of clergy abuse are doing it because it needs to be done. They are no more motivated by greed than all the clergy who serve in churches. And don’t get me started on that one either! Clergy are not without blemish on the issue of using the church to satisfy their personal greed! Should we fire all the pastors because some use their position for personal gain in a spirit of greed?

 Another way any of these parties might be seen to “gain” from the issue of clergy sex abuse is by gaining personal fame or recognition.  Just like the correlary with pastors seeking financial gain through the church, some people may use the issue of clergy abuse to gain personal recognition.  And so do many pastors.  Unfortunately, power will draw those who crave it, wherever they can find it.  This is a definite problem among clergy, probably more so than among victim advocacy groups.

And it’s not just the SBC…

I’m still jagging on that last post and have a few more comments, just to be clear and even-handed.  This problem is not just within the SBC, it exists within all Baptist churches, and within all churches of other denominations.  In fact, pedophile organizations (yes, they exist) openly recognize that churches are one of the best places to find prey because church people are generally naive and church leaders will not do anything major to stop them.  While a pedophile may be expelled from a church when they are caught, there’s a good chance they won’t be reported to the police if the pedophile sheds convincing crocodile tears (we have to forgive, remember?)  And their sins almost certainly won’t follow them to the next church.  This applies to clergy sexual abusers and all other abusers within the church since church people don’t want to be tale-bearers, especially in case those crocodile tears might have been real repentance.  (And just to be perfectly clear – this is NOT a good reason!  Crimes must be reported to the authorities and abuse in all its forms is a criminal action.  If a crime is worth reporting to the authorities, it also merits warning other churches.  This isn’t tale-bearing, it is being responsible.)

 However, ironically, the SBC is probably the most able Baptist denomination when it comes to being able to take action against clergy sexual abuse.  The SBC is the most centrally coordinated Baptist denomination in existence.   While it isn’t as centrally controlled as the Catholic church or even some other Protestant denominations such as the Methodist church, there is a central organization.  The mere existence of a central body, however loosely comprised, makes it possible for the organization to corporately address the issue of clergy sexual abuse. 

And it is not enough just to make a “resolution” about it.  A resolution is the religious equivalent to a political platform statement.  At best, it is just what we would “like” to see happen.  At worst it is a manipulative tool to attract voters – and SBC leadership is definitely political in function and form.  This is a fact of SBC leadership structure, not an emotional statement.

Tracking Clergy Sex Abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention

I found a good blog/article regarding clergy sex abuse in the SBC that really got to me. The full piece can be found at MondayMorningInsight.com. But I wanted to just excerpt a bit and comment.

EthicsDaily.com reported 11 arrests, three convictions, two lawsuits and one suicide involving alleged sexual abuse by clergy in 2007. They also cite another story that included a church that allowed a convicted sex offender to preach from its pulpit while knowing about his past and comments by the president of the Southern Baptist Convention denying clergy predators are a “systemic” problem and accusing victim advocates of using the issue for personal gain…

SBC President Frank Page told a Tennessee newspaper in May there are instances of sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches, just like there are in all public institutions. “I do not believe we have a systemic problem,” the pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C., told The Tennessean…

“Please realize that there are groups who claim to be one thing when in reality they are another,” Page said in a commentary article in the Florida Baptist Witness. “It would be great if the many groups who are claiming to be groups of advocacy and encouragement in ministry were that which they claim. Please be aware that there are groups that are nothing more than opportunistic persons who are seeking to raise opportunities for personal gain…”

Former SBC President Jerry Vines denied the denomination’s leaders are soft on sexual abuse by clergy but said their hands are tied. “The denomination has no authority over local churches but can provide resources to help us face this problem and deal with it,” the former pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., told Agape Press. “As a denomination, we do make resources available.”

First of all, for a leader in the SBC to deny there is a systemic problem is a big problem all on its own. Anyone who is willing to look at the issue without choosing deliberate denial can see there is a systemic problem. No, clergy sex abuse is not happening in every other church. But I will tell you what is happening. Because the entire denomination refuses to acknowledge the seriousness of sexual abuse in the church, abusers and pedophiles know they are generally safe to prey in churches. If the leadership isn’t responsible at the highest and most foundational level, they’re not being responsible below the head either. And there are even more people involved in youth group and children’s ministry leadership who are predators than there are pastors who are predators. This problem does affect a high percentage of churches.

Also, when the issue of sexual abuse at the top is denied, there is no hope whatsoever for church members who are experiencing abuse in their own homes where it’s not even happening within the church building. Denial is denial is denial. You can’t deny it at the very most critical point – the top of the ladder – and expect the church to do anything about the rest of the monster lurking in the church.

Regarding the statement that groups and individuals are using the issue for personal gain – what kind of lame excuse is that? We’re going to let church members, mostly small children, be scarred for life and possible turned against God forever because some people might be using the issue for personal gain? This is outrageous! And by making this statement, the SBC president is implying that the issue is not only irrelevant but one created primarily for satisfaction of the greed of a few bottom-feeders. It is a classic “politicians” spin – to make an issue go away, tar it with a brush that makes it’s advocates look like quasi-criminals in their own right. I’m not just outraged – there are no words to describe how cruel, and even wicked, this insulting statement by the SBC president is.

Then there is the former SBC president’s pitiful hand-wringing. He says there is nothing they can do because local churches are autonomous. This is another patently lame excuse. Most (but not all) local churches contribute to the convention. Most (but not all) local churches benefit from the convention in some way. That is the very foundational principle of the SBC co-operative program. Their entire missions and other outreach programs are centered in the basic fact that all those local churches are banded together and work together. Don’t try to say there’s nothing we can do because local churches are autonomous! At the very least, churches who are in the convention can be required to list their staff for the safety and well-being of members and any church foolish and irresponsible enough to insist on employing staff who have been reported to the convention for sexual, or other, abuse can be expelled from the convention. This one possible option does not require excessive thought, and I’m sure if they even try they can come up with other options as well.

Bottom line, the SBC leadership just doesn’t care. It would cost them too much, either in time, potential loss of position or power for daring, or whatever. It is a very sad day when these “costs” could outweight the price of a life. And not just one life – the lives of all those affected by clergy sexual abuse.