By Danni Moss
Copyright protected, all rights reserved
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 story here, dated 10/31/06.
Dr. Bob Gray who was pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL, for 30 years, was arrested and scheduled to stand trial in of November, 2007, on two counts of child abuse. In all, 22 people had come forward with allegations of child abuse against him over the course of approximately 50 years at the time of the article’s writing. Of course, for most of those allegations, the statute of limitations was long expired, and the man was beyond the reach of the law.
Dr. Gray hotly denied the allegations until near the end of his life. But once it was proven they were true he fell sick and died before his case could go to trial.
However, Jerry Falwell spoke at the keynote address for the Southwide Baptist Fellowship on Oct. 22-25, 2007, at Trinity Baptist Church and had these words to say. “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.”
Really? Move on? I guess that’s because this was a prominent pastor in a prominent church? How about all those victims. Should they just move on too? Unfortunately, that is a literal impossibility. You can’t just say those words and make it so when you’re a victim. This is another example of calling evil good (and here is more of what God says about it).
Christa Brown, of Stop Baptist Predators, was also quoted in the article and 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?”