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Author Topic: How Should an Association of Churches Respond to Charges of Sexual Abuse  (Read 1674 times)
Linda
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« on: February 11, 2019, 12:14:49 pm »

Sunday, February 10, 2019, the Houston Chronicle published the first of three articles exposing sexual abuse by SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) leaders as well as cover ups of this abuse by other leaders and attempts to silence victims.

Here is a link to the article.

https://www.chron.com/news/investigations/article/Investigation-reveals-700-victims-of-Southern-13591612.php

It's an all too familiar sad story.

Sexual abuse by clergy.
Victims not listened to, or told to forgive.
Cover ups.

On June 12, 2018, J. D. Greear was elected Southern Baptist Convention president at the annual meeting of the SBC.

Here is how he responded to the article via Twitter.

I am broken over what was revealed today. The abuses described in this @HoustonChron article are pure evil. I join with countless others who are currently “weeping with those who weep.”

He expressed grief over the effects of the sin of leaders on the victims.

The voices in this article should be heard as a warning sent from God, calling the church to repent. As Christians, we are called to expose everything sinful to the light. The survivors in this article have done that—at a personal cost few of us can fathom.

He understood that God used the determination of the survivors who exposed the sin as a warning and call to repentance of the church. He did not criticize the victims for finally finding a way to get their story of abuse heard.

We must admit that our failures, as churches, put these survivors in a position where they were forced to stand alone and speak, when we should have been fighting for them. Their courage is exemplary and prophetic. But I grieve that their courage was necessary.

He acknowledged that the church failed the survivors and placed them in a position where they had to courageously stand alone against the system. He did not blame the "personality type" of the leaders who failed to do due diligence while criticizing the victims/survivors for going public with their stories.

We—leaders in the SBC—should have listened to the warnings of those who tried to call attention to this. I am committed to doing everything possible to ensure we never make these mistakes again

He admitted that the SBC leaders in the past did not listen to those who tried to call attention to the sin. He did not say, "Oh, we knew about this 18 years ago, but, oops, we dropped the ball." He expressed a desire to correct the system that led to these major moral failures.

It’s time for pervasive change. God demands it. Survivors deserve it. We must change how we prepare before abuse (prevention), respond during disclosure (full cooperation with legal authorities), and act after instances of abuse (holistic care).

He demonstrated a desire to change the system and help those who were abused find healing. He did not tell them they needed to "forgive and move on with their lives".

I will pursue every possible avenue to bring the vast spiritual, financial, and organizational resources of the Southern Baptist Convention to bear on stopping predators in our midst.

He said he was going to use SBC resources to identify and stop predators in the SBC.

There can simply be no ambiguity about the church’s responsibility to protect the abused and be a safe place for the vulnerable. The safety of the victims matters more than the reputation of Southern Baptists.

He acknowledged that the primary responsibility of church leaders was to protect the flock and NOT TO PROTECT THE SHEPHERDS.

The Baptist doctrine of church autonomy should never be a religious cover for passivity towards abuse. Church autonomy is about freeing the church to do the right thing—to obey Christ—in every situation. It is a heinous error to apply autonomy in a way that enables abuse.

He acknowledged that a church being "autonomous" doesn't mean that the denomination/association sits back and removes themselves from clergy abuse situations in the individual churches.

As a denomination, now is a time to mourn and repent. Changes are coming. They must. We cannot just promise to “do better” and expect that to be enough. But today, change begins with feeling the full weight of the problem.

He accepted the full weight of the sin. He mourned with the victims/survivors. He called for repentance.


Evergreen and GCC. If you are wise, you will learn from this.

You, and some of your employees have done exactly the opposite of this.

You have shamed the victims repeatedly.

You criticized, shamed, and threatened those of us who were trying to get the story told.

You allowed an employee to publicly (on the forum) suggest Suzanne was lying or that she was crazy and there is proof that leaders in ECC and GCC knew about this shaming by an employee and did not stop it.

You preached sermons against the manner in which Suzanne brought this to public attention. Just how were the victims supposed to be heard when you failed to acknowledge that some of you had known about this for many years and did nothing to stop it. You put the victims/survivors in a position where they were alone because you did not do your "due diligence" because of your "personality types".

You, who claim to be shepherds, did not protect your flock.

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Janet Easson Martin
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« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2019, 12:43:29 pm »

"He said he was going to use SBC resources to identify and stop predators in the SBC.

There can simply be no ambiguity about the church’s responsibility to protect the abused and be a safe place for the vulnerable. The safety of the victims matters more than the reputation of Southern Baptists.

He acknowledged that the primary responsibility of church leaders was to protect the flock and NOT TO PROTECT THE SHEPHERDS.

The Baptist doctrine of church autonomy should never be a religious cover for passivity towards abuse. Church autonomy is about freeing the church to do the right thing—to obey Christ—in every situation. It is a heinous error to apply autonomy in a way that enables abuse.

He acknowledged that a church being "autonomous" doesn't mean that the denomination/association sits back and removes themselves from clergy abuse situations in the individual churches.
...

Evergreen and GCC. If you are wise, you will learn from this.

You, and some of your employees have done exactly the opposite of this.

You have shamed the victims repeatedly.

You criticized, shamed, and threatened those of us who were trying to get the story told.

You allowed an employee to publicly (on the forum) suggest Suzanne was lying or that she was crazy and there is proof that leaders in ECC and GCC knew about this shaming by an employee and did not stop it.

You preached sermons against the manner in which Suzanne brought this to public attention. Just how were the victims supposed to be heard when you failed to acknowledge that some of you had known about this for many years and did nothing to stop it. You put the victims/survivors in a position where they were alone because you did not do your "due diligence" because of your "personality types".

You, who claim to be shepherds, did not protect your flock."




Well said, Linda!  

It would also follow that those telling their story here of real abuses by GCx (Great Commission Churches and aliases associated with them) should not be twistedly attacked and slandered either with false accusations by GCx leadership, who are deceitfully protecting their reputation at the ruin of others'.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2019, 01:42:52 pm by Janet Easson Martin » Logged

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Linda
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« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2019, 05:40:43 pm »

You know what else J.D. Greear didn’t say in response to sexual abuse on the part of church leaders? He didn’t say this, but Brent Knox did:

“Your sin against God is so much greater than anything anybody else has ever done to you...Your God absorbed your debt...he absorbed death, can you not absorb the sin of somebody else."



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Linda
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« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2019, 12:33:58 pm »

ECC/GCC could learn a thing or two about how healthy churches respond to abuse.

Here is an article by JD Greear (president of the SBC) and Pastor Brad Hambrick (a counselor at JD’s church who specializes in betrayal trauma and addiction issues).

https://jdgreear.com/blog/700-not-total-number-get-help/

“People in our churches and community need to know that we are concerned about their safety, not about our reputation. Until that confidence is restored, no one who has been abused will feel safe in our churches. The way we respond in this moment—either in protecting and caring for victims, or defending ourselves and our institutions—will either obscure or adorn the gospel we claim to preach.”
« Last Edit: February 12, 2019, 04:07:43 pm by Linda » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2019, 09:49:20 pm »

re: You allowed an employee to publicly (on the forum) suggest Suzanne was lying or that she was crazy and there is proof that leaders in ECC and GCC knew about this shaming by an employee and did not stop it.

Were you suggesting, Janet Easson Martin, that Jeromy Darling did this? That was the person under the employ of ECC?

-Blonde
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Linda
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« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2019, 10:02:55 pm »

Blonde,
I think Janet was quoting me.

I have copied an old post I made prior to the release of the findings that documents some of the things I was referring to. Here it is:

One thing I might add to the mix is that ECC has been quick to imply that MD cannot speak as much as a denial, so apparently, ECC controls the social media commenting of it's employees. It is a curiosity to me, then, that they allow a current staff member, Jeromy Darling, to make rude, offensive, and discrediting personal attack comments about the women and about those of us who say we believe them. Again, the fact that "the powers that be" control the public commenting of some on staff, one could easily infer that they have no objection to the staff member posting and the fact that they have issued no disclaimer (such as the one you suggested) indicates to me that they have no problem with the comments.

To that extent, I do think ECC has followed the Willow Creek pattern of attempting to throw the women under the bus and portraying those supporting them as colluders.

Keep in mind that Jeromy, an ECC staff member and worship leader, said these things about the victims and those who support them:

To Huldah: "You've relentlessly hounded my father and my churches and this movement. You DID force me here when you embraced and spread a lie. Show me the decency of READING the entire letter, not skimming it (otherwise proving you're terrified of the truth)."

To Me: "You want what most of the other regular users on this forum have wanted for years: the humiliation of our churches."

To GodIsFaithful: "I'm sure Jesus and Paul and any number of other godly men may have appeared that way at times - you apparently haven't spent enough time in the Word as I'm only trying to model their behavior."

To Boggs: "This entire website stands as a billboard for the the loveless Christian life"

To g_prince: "I am however beginning to wonder how many pastors have been spiritually abused by their former congregants..."

On why he can violate the rules of the forum and out members: "First of all I outed a two people. Chris and Jason. Secondly, I do not recognize the owners of this website or this website itself as having any Authority in my life, Ergo I dont recognize the rules they set out. "

To me: "And for the record, when you disagree with a public figure - NO ONE EVEN NEEDS TO KNOW. The fact that you think your opinion about a pastor or politician, posted on a website, is valuable to the world is the height of hubris. You've never run a church and don't have the first idea how to. Leaving me to conclude that the only reason you continue posting on this website is for your own personal validation and self gratitude. In fact, since everyone on this site seems so interested in the latest spiritual topics and terms, let me introduce a new one here: spiritual masturbation."

About Suzanne making up the story: "I KNOW no names have been submitted because the evidence points exclusively to Suzanne making all of the victims up. "

About investigation the character of an alleged victim AND HER HUSBAND: "And for the record, this investigator is not only digging deep into my father's life, she's digging deep into John and Suzanne's."

To the group: "Since there is no Biblical basis for running a site like this I can safely assume that most users on here are either grossly ignorant or are not real Christians at all. You guys could all be out volunteering, preaching the Gospel, saving souls, doing anything other than posting here over and over again, spiritually masturbating each other in an effort to validate your self worth and your knowledge, while perpetuating (or silently approving of) disgusting lies about my father."

To me: "Linda, disagreeing isn't hate. Even I know that. You've spent more time on this website than you ever spent in a GCC church or listening to my father speak. You have reserved much of your ire for a man you barely even had any conversations with, and you've dished out all your advice and warnings having never founded or a led a church on any conceivable level. This shows empirically that you're both filled with pride AND hate while simultaneously caught up in a savior's complex the likes of which I've never seen before."

Calling Suzanne a liar: "Suzanne said that my dad asked about her and her current boyfriend's sexual positions, but she didn't have a boyfriend when she met my dad and she and John did not have sex until they were married. Know how I know that? Because Suzanne used to tease John about their wedding night. See John was a virgin. And up until they first had sex he thought women got pregnant through their belly button. I actually always found that very endearing about John and his commitment to sexual Integrity before marriage. Anyone care to unravel this lie?"

Suggesting Suzanne is mentally ill" "See either Suzanne thinks we're to stupid to catch these things, or she's struggling mentally much more than any of you realize - which one is worse?"

To me when I quoted something his dad said to Terry and I at our last private meeting. Jeromy was not present.: "Another fat stinking lie Linda. My goodness. There's enough (Ad nauseam) lies from you, just in this website, about my father, to fill a volume of defamation lawsuits. This is so fantastical and so disgusting  I don't know whether to laugh or weep but it's now your MO."

Claiming the victims are lying: "Speaking of truth, I know Suzanne, Natalie and Loey are lying not just because I know my dad so well, but because I actually know the other half of THEIR stories."

Claiming Suzanne is lying: "Of course I'm saying she's lying. I've been saying that this whole time."

Claiming Natalie wasn't abused and also mentioning her "failings": "Watching - I know Natalie wasn't abused just from reading her blog. She's redefined "abuse" to include years of "subtle" spiritual abuse and never talks about her own failings."

Evergreen, are you okay with a staff member saying these things? Because, honestly, this reflects poorly upon the leadership, the church, and the integrity of the investigation.
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Mango
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« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2019, 02:16:00 pm »

Haven't been here in awhile but I see not much has changed on this forum from the same old people. Continuing in the same tired old attacks on good people you can't seem to forgive or forget.

Linda, your words and behavior bear it out. "You want what most of the other regular users on this forum have wanted for years: the humiliation of our churches." Even now. Sad.

And Jason, you exemplfy what some would call the loveless Christian life with your attacks and insane emails.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2019, 02:26:06 pm by Mango » Logged
Linda
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« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2019, 12:36:55 am »

Time will tell whether J. D. Greear follows through, but his initial response to clergy sexual abuse in the SBC has been noteworthy because it demonstrated an awareness that sexual abuse in any form is NEVER okay, survivors need to feel free and safe when telling their stories, they need to be listened to, leaders need to repent and grieve over sin and fully demonstrate they understand the damage done by sin that has been committed or covered. Also, it is interesting to note that apologies are coming in from some big shot leaders to the “watchdog” bloggers (mostly female) who reported this abuse many years ago and not only were they not believed, they were publicly vilified by these men.

In Scientology, I believe they call the practice of character assassination “fair game”. It has been sad to see that many ECC/GCC people have used similar “fair game” techniques to try to discredit or intimidate the women who came forward with their stories and those who believed them. Sadly, in spite of the fact that the accusations set forth in Suzanne’s original tweet were found valid, the church has been dismissive of the victims and apparently “fair game” policies are still in effect as demonstrated by Mango’s posts tonight.

I’ll close with a quote from J. D. Greear. ECC would be wise to follow him on Twitter. They could learn a lot.

“Church leaders, the way we respond in this moment—either in protecting and caring for victims, or defending ourselves and our institutions—will either obscure or adorn the gospel we claim to preach.”
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Huldah
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« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2019, 05:30:20 pm »

First point: On this forum, we often get accused of hanging on to things we should have let go of a long time ago. We get accused of bitterness. We get accused of unforgiveness. Now, obviously, I don't see us that way, but apparently you do, Mango. Yet here you are, popping in again to show us that we are still not forgiven in your eyes, and to show us how determined you are not to let this issue go. Dear Mango, if we really are that bad, then why are you determined to be just like us? Perhaps you and the rest of us here are all birds of a feather, in that regard?

Second point, and returning to the original topic: What is your suggestion for churches responding to allegations of abuse? Any church, not just yours. How do you suggest handling it? Did ECC do it right? Did they get it wrong? How about the SBC? Is a victim ever obligated to just keep quiet and cover it up it for the sake of the church? Does it make any difference whether the abuse was technically a crime or not? These questions are addressed specifically to Mango, but of course anyone else is also invited to answer.








« Last Edit: February 24, 2019, 07:10:55 pm by Huldah » Logged
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« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2019, 02:40:45 pm »

I don't have time to respond thoughtfully but just want to be present as a person on this forum who speaks against abuse in the church, any church, any kind of abuse.  Churches should feel humiliated for allowing abuse. 
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« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2019, 05:46:08 am »

Churches should feel ashamed for BEING abusive.
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