By Danni Moss
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Christa Brown has written another exceptional blog post regarding Southern Baptist leadership and their statements about clergy sex abuse and abusers. You can see the entire post here. It is the post entitled “Patterson & Vines: Their words raise questions,” dated Jan. 16, 2008. Christa points out the inconsistencies and gaping holes in the excuses offered by these SBC leaders.
I wanted to add a couple thoughts to one of these statements, so I’ve excerpted it below with my comments.
Former Southern Baptist president Paige Patterson now says:
“Mr. Gilyard is very convincing and he always denied the accusations.”
This is one of the consistent huge problems I see in church leaders’ responses to accusations of abuse, whether against clergy or against church members. If the abuser is convincing the leaders give themselves an automatic “out” and the subject is closed. Do any of these people ever watch Law and Order or other cop shows? Doesn’t everyone know by now that guilty people almost always deny their guilt, usually with believable sincerity and often even in the face of obvious proof to the contrary???
If the accused is not guilty he will deny his guilt (not gender specific; can be male or female). If the accused is guilty he will deny his guilt. A denial of guilt does not conclude or decide anything. The belief that denial equals innocence is a profound bit of flawed reasoning church leaders continue to embrace!
One of the qualifications for church leadership is supposed to be an ability, “by reason of use,” to “discern good and evil.” If this excuse is actually the truth – in other words, if “he is very convincing” was convincing enough – this is glaring evidence that these leaders are not qualified for church leadership. I’m not saying this out of any personal angst; this is just a reasonable Biblical conclusion.
The church has completely abandoned its function of making right judgments within the church. Apparently the church doesn’t want to step up to the plate of this Biblical function of church leadership. But the fact that this has become common practice (or lack of practice) does not excuse those who have set themselves up to be leaders in God’s church.