I just found this old news article which quotes Jerry Falwell regarding the clergy sex abuse scandal at Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL. I’m not attempting to target Falwell himself, especially considering he’s gone on to his eternal reward. The reason I’m pointing this out is because it clearly states the attitude which is common among the upper echelon of church leadership. This is why nothing is being done in Protestant churches to address clergy sex abuse – leaders don’t think it matters. They will say they think it matters, because to actually say it doesn’t matter would make them look horrible. Bad PR. But in statements like this, to say nothing of the general inaction, church leaders accidentally make it completely clear where their values really lie.
You can read the entire article here, dated Oct. 2006.
Jerry Falwell called high-profile allegations that a former pastor of a prominent independent Baptist church molested and raped numerous children over the course of decades a “bump in the road.”
“When you hit a bump in the road–the pastor has mentioned six months here of challenges–forget the bump in the road. That’s all it is. You’ve got to move on,” Falwell said in a keynote address of a three-day meeting of the Southwide Baptist Fellowship at Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla.
Robert Gray, the former 30-year pastor who led the church out of the Southern Baptist Convention in the 1960s, was arrested in May. He is scheduled to stand trial Nov. 27 on two counts of capital sexual battery, because two of his accusers say he molested them when they were 6 years old.
Twenty-two people, including one man, have come forward since May to accuse Gray of abusing them. The other allegations involve children older than 12, meaning they cannot be prosecuted due to a statute of limitations…
…a column last week in EthicsDaily.com by Christa Brown, founder of Voice to Stop Baptist Predators, and coordinator of SNAP-Baptist, prompted long discussions at an unofficial Web forum on BaptistLife.com.
Brown criticized Falwell’s dismissive choice of words. “When 22 people report having been sexually abused as kids by a church’s founding pastor, it cannot rightly be minimized as a mere ‘bump in the road,'” she said.
She said what Falwell should be sermonizing on is, “Why did no one in the church put up a roadblock and stop this man?”
Filed under: abuse and the church, Abusive Leaders, Fundamentalist Christianity, Speaking Out, The State of the Church | Tagged: abuse of power, abusive church leaders, accountability, church authority, church leadership, Clergy Abuse, clergy sex abuse, fundamentalism, Fundamentalist Baptist Church, fundamentalist Christian, fundamentalists, modern Christianity, sex abuse, spiritual authority, spiritual leaders, spiritual leadership, Theology |