CHURCH GOVERNANCE & POLICIES, Failure to Report Crimes, Sexual Abuse/Assault and Churches, Southern Baptist Convention, Sovereign Grace Ministries, Sovereign Grace Ministries Lawsuit

SBC Developments: Brave Action, Not Vague Resolutions, Stops Crimes against Kids

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There has been positive development with regard to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and a sex abuse resolution proposed by pastor and blogger, Peter Lumpkins.  The following video shows Peter Lumpkins presenting the resolution to SBC President Fred Luter.

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Peter Lumpkins has posted the original resolution along with noted changes of the vetted resolution at his blog:   Resolution on Sexual Abuse of Children adopted with amendment 

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The Washington Post reports:

HOUSTON — The Southern Baptist Convention has passed a resolution calling on all Southern Baptists to report allegations of child abuse to authorities.

The article later adds:

It is unclear whether the amendment was aimed at any specific person or practice, but it comes after some Southern Baptist leaders expressed support for Sovereign Grace Ministries. That group faces accusations that church officials covered up child sexual abuse.

Those of us in the blogosphere certainly know the pressure has been on church leaders to deal with this issue of unreported sex abuse in churches.  It’s wonderful to see that this resolution was passed, but Amy Smith of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) tweeted a reality check earlier this evening:

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Screen shot 2013-06-12 at 10.23.20 PM

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Well, there you go.  What a no-brainer!!  It’s shameful that there needs to be a resolution to “remind” church leaders of something most of us see as basic and obvious.


Pam Palmer, mother of a plaintiff in the Sovereign Grace Ministries sex abuse cover up lawsuit joined Amy Smith to bring awareness to the situation outside the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Houston.

Associated Baptist Press (ABP) reported that SNAP referred to the event as a ‘”feel good” public relations move that “basically protects no one.”

“Brave action, not vague resolutions, stops crimes against kids,” said a statement on the SNAP website.’

There is definitely more awareness with regard to sex abuse in churches, but until we see a change in heart and much more accountability, the adoption of Lumpkins’ resolutions may be nothing more than just a band-aid to appease, not a real solution.

In the comments area of the ABP article, Judy Jones of SNAP wisely stated:

If the SBC officials are serious about exposing child predators and protecting innocent kids, there needs to be accountability and severe consequences for the church officials if they do not follow their own rules.

Also, the statutes of limitations needs to be removed for child sex crimes and for those who cover up their crimes. This would be the one for sure way to stop this abuse and protect kids today.

Church officials tend to protect their image and their institutions over protecting children.

As a recap, let’s not forget what happened just last week, timed shortly before the SBC convention.  You may recall, Amy Smith received a voicemail from Houston Police Department.

Minutes ago, Amy provided me with a recording of that voicemail.  This call is from an officer at the Houston Police Department Criminal Intelligence Division.  Yes, I did in fact type “criminal.”  Amy Smith – – a criminal?   Wow.

Here are Amy’s words:

Did someone from the SBC or HFBC call the Houston police department days before our plans to host this awareness event at the SBC meeting?

Listen here to the voicemail from the police department as an officer asks Amy about plans for a protest or demonstration.

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The news is mixed.  But we cannot dismiss this voicemail from the police officer.  Who initially called the police and why?  Why would someone at Amy’s church be concerned about her involvement in protecting defenseless sex abuse victims?  Isn’t it interesting that Amy is doing what a godly Shepherd should be doing – caring for the defenseless?   . . . . . . Why would church leaders care – – –  unless the church shepherds view Amy as a threat.  hmmmm.  Why would Amy be a threat?   Perhaps because she is exposing the cover-ups at church?  These churches need to quit playing games once and for all.  Report crimes and protect children and put Amy out of her job that she shouldn’t have to begin with.  Enough already!

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29 thoughts on “SBC Developments: Brave Action, Not Vague Resolutions, Stops Crimes against Kids”

  1. I am glad that the Peter Lumpkin’s Resolution passed. (Thanks, Peter!) I am very glad the protection of kids from sex abuse in churches was being talked about and voted on at the Annual Convention of the 2nd largest Christian denomination. Our church congregations – the leaders and members – need to hash out the details, though, on the issues related to sex abuse in our churches. One non-binding resolution, while a promising start, is NOT the END of the problems that we face. The “devil is in the details”!
    I look forward to the day, when it will be standard practice in all churches to adopt the SNAP recommendations on how to handle sex abuse in your church:
    (just substitute “pastor” or “church member” for “priest” — this list is great!)
    SNAP has 25 years of experience dealing with this issue. SBC Pastors, you would give more “meat” to your Resolution, if you sought out their wise counsel on this topic!! I look forward to the day when congregations everywhere would host G.R.A.C.E. conferences to educate their church families and leaders on how to handle sex abuse. Like this:
    I see the passing of this Resolution as a watershed moment. The grassroots movement of survivors of sex abuse, largely ignored by church leaders, is not going away! In fact it is growing. Awareness of sex abuse cover-up in churches is on the rise and I firmly believe, that the heart of God is to protect kids and that He is the One who is bringing this hidden evil to the forefront of the Evangelical church. We would all do well to listen to Him! Let’s bring sex abuse out of the church closet — deal with it, have a real, open, written plan and stop the cycle of hidden abuse. Let’s help the multitude of survivors of sex abuse in our churches heal. I encourage everyone reading here to go back to your church family and make sure an appropriate written policy is implemented.


  2. Peter Lumpkins is a true hero, but that he needed to write the resolution at all, I do agree, is very very sad. The fact that SNAP has had to even exist for the past 25 years is and continues to have to fight and be the voices for victims is very sad. But, CONGRATULATIONS Pam and Amy for doing such a great job. My cheers and prayers were and will continue to be with you and SNAP!



  3. Call me crazy, but haven’t SNAP (ahem) ‘protested’ silently in the past there? I could have swore they did. Although I will admit I could be all wet with that statement. If they have done that prior – why the attention now, and not then?


  4. But high-sounding symbolic resolutions are such doublepluswarmfeelies!

    “You have a saying: ‘Knowledge is a three-edged sword.’ We also have a saying: ‘PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS!'”
    — Captain Sheridan, Babylon-5


  5. Hannah Thomas,
    I’m not sure if SNAP has done an “awareness event” there before. As to the question of why now, someone named SBCLayman left an interesting comment on a TWW post:

    It seems there is a lot of SBC politics involved in hosting a convention. (And SBC political aspirations for the pastor of the hosting church) I suspect that, plus the growing drama with SGM and Mohler’s connections, had a lot to do with HFBC’s hissy fit this time.


  6. After reading SBC layman’s response, it seems not only politics is at stake, but money is at stake as well. Which brings up the point, the more I read about CJ Mahaney’s connections with Mohler and Dever, the more I see that their motivation for defending their “friend” probably has just as much, if not everything to do with the future potential cashflow they perceive CJ as bringing to the table. It doesn’t make any sense as CJ is losing supporters left and right in his own camp, but I wonder if they think those losses will not affect their gain?


  7. My interview in today’s Houston Chronicle article:

    Amy Smith did not expect the resolution to pass and called it a great start at raising awareness, but said it is not enough. Smith, a lifelong Southern Baptist, is the Houston director for the support network Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

    She called on the executive committee to not just urge churches to adopt good policies, but set a national standard for all member churches and ensure it is met.

    “Selective outrage,” Smith called the convention’s mixed history of addressing child abuse at the top levels of leadership.

    Jack Graham, a Dallas pastor and former convention president, spoke on a panel about leadership, yet Smith said he did not report a former member of his staff to police when he fired him in 1989 for inappropriate activity with a teen. That man since has been convicted of multiple felonies in Mississippi for sexually abusing children.

    Smith also noted that Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, was an outspoken critic of the unreported abuse involving a former Penn State University assistant football coach.


  8. I think this guideline needs to be emphasized:

    “14) Support the accused priest PRIVATELY.
    Calls, visits, letters, gifts, and prayers – all of these are appropriate ways to express your love and concern for the accused priest. Public displays of support, however, are not. They only intimidate others into keeping silent. In fact, it is terribly hurtful to victims to see parishioners openly rallying behind an accused priest. You may want to publicly defend a priest, collect funds for the priest’s defense, and take similar steps. Please don’t. Express your appreciation of the priest in a direct, quiet ways. Even if the priest is innocent, somewhere in the parish is a young girl being molested by a relative or a boy being abused by his coach or youth leader. If these children see adults they love and respect publicly rallying around accused perpetrators, they will be less likely to report their own victimization to their parents, the police, or other authorities. They will be scared into remaining silent, and their horrific pain will continue.”


  9. Ok- so, isn’t the right to assemble a first amendment right and shouldn’t Southern Baptists we strong advocates of that right? So glad I left Dever’s church over this lack of accountability of church leaders.


  10. Darrell: One brave response would be to NOT allow CJ speaking privileges at conferences. After all, some of these leaders spoke out against Sandusky before his case went to trial, yet they keep their mouths shut for CJ. Keep in mind the SGM lawsuit encompasses many more cases of abuse, crosses state lines, in multiple places, ongoing for a couple of decades. Also keep in mind that CJ has endorsed their books and promoted them, so is this a case of “don’t bite the hand that feeds you?”


  11. Darrell:

    The SBC has had a very long time to address this issue and really did not want to address it this time but all the publicity especially-Amy Smith, Peter Lumpkins, etc. “forced” them to do something IMO.


  12. are the mandatory reporting requirements, for pastors, the same in every state and municipality?


  13. Tom: my point is this The SBC can’t do much more than resolutions because they are made up of autonomous churches and have no ability to exact punishment or rule over the churches that make up its members. The harshest thing they could do in my view is vote out churches that allow such things to continue and i have only seen them do that once in my lifetime. In my view the resolution was probably the best they could do. I wish there was more that could be done but we don’t work under a hierarchy.


  14. No, Ric, mandatory reporting laws vary from state to state. When I get to my laptop I’ll give you a link. Or use the search field in the right sidebar: “Perfect Storm” or “mandatory reporting”. I’ve done at least 2 articles on the subject. It’s a very important one topic.


  15. Darell: I hear what you are saying but two years ago a local church was kicked out because they called a woman pastor and they were autonomous before they were kicked out. The SBC needs to quit looking for excuses on this issue such as autonomy IMO.


  16. Thank you Julie Anne. Sometimes, comments from folks make it sound like everyone is under the same requirement. We’ve fostered and due to that, became mandatory reporters; but with pastors, I thought it may be different depending on location… will appreciate the link when you have your laptop.


  17. Darrell: @12:58 I don’t have all the answers, but as I posted in my comment above, this link from SNAP is a great start (for Evangelical jargon, change “priest” for “pastor” or “church member” and “parish” for “congregation”)


  18. Darrell, they could do what Christa Brown has been advocating for years: a database of pastors who have been credibly accused of child sexual abuse. Otherwise, the pastors get shunted from church to church (as in the cases of Prestonwood Baptist and of Darrell Gilyard) and no one is ever informed, so more kids are harmed.


  19. Hi Ric: I finally stopped gabbing with my friend and found the links for you. Sorry it took so long.

    Here is The Legal Perfect Storm for Enabling Sexual Abuse This article deals with both mandatory reporting laws and statutes of limitations.

    And: Mandatory Reporting Laws for Clergy: Loopholes for Abuse This link is probably the one you want. It has a chart listing states and their laws as pertaining to clergy exemptions on mandatory reporting laws.

    Bottom line is (as mentioned in the first link), we really need to overhaul both laws so that sex abuse victims can use our judicial service fairly. It’s not fair to penalize victims because they did not report “in time.”


  20. An Attorney said: The SBC recap does not mention the child abuse resolution!

    Boy, that was like looking for a needle in the haystack. I missed it the first time I read it. I then did a search and found one little sentence. I’m surprised at how much coverage there was on Boy Scouts and mental health and so very little on this very important topic. Here is the one sentence that was mentioned:

    Messengers also passed a resolution calling on churches to protect children from sexual abuse and to pray for abuse victims.


  21. Ric: Some states have more nuanced regulations on who is considered a mandatory reporter, when it comes to pastors and priests, in particular. However, as the mother of a sex abuse victim, I strongly feel that no matter what a state’s law, any adult has a personal, moral responsibility to report alleged sex abuse — how much more this personal, moral responsibility should apply to a Christian pastor!

    Put into a parable: Imagine a pastor walking through a grocery store parking lot pushing his cart. A small child runs up to the pastor and tells him that a man just molested her. The pastor looks around, sees the man, who is a faithful member of his church, calling the child in a friendly manner — and doesn’t know what to think. Not wanting to get into a fight with the man about what the child is claiming and not wanting to have a bad public imagine of his church, the pastor keeps walking. After all, the pastor remembers that he is not a mandatory reporter in his state, so he knows he is legally covered from not reporting this alleged abuse. As the pastor pushes his grocery cart into the store, he glances over and sees the man hurrying the child back to his car.

    Is the pastor morally responsible before God for what may now happen to that child, no matter what the mandatory reporting laws are?


  22. Pam you know this mandatory reporter/clergy exemption-thang really gets me riled up. My former pastor continues to blather on about me (as recent as 2 days ago on Twitter) and how evil I was for blogging about him. He talks about how we were trying to send him to prison. Whatever. I had nothing to do with contacting CPS. But someone did – – and it was certainly justified because the offender was tried and convicted. HELLO!!!!!

    The laws must be changed. In Oklahoma, if a pastor fails to report, he/she can be arrested and put in prison. In many other states, nothing happens. My pastor most likely knew of this loophole. This loophole allows for abuse to continue in churches. Pastors think they get to assume the responsibility for taking care of these “sins.” It is ridiculous. We’ve seen how well this system works with your situation and I saw it at BGBC and continue to write about it in articles. That law must be changed at the national level.

    I hope people will read the links I posted earlier. People can get involved by sending notes/emails/phone calls asking to change the mandatory reporting laws. Marci Hamilton is an attorney who is hot on this topic.


  23. Julie Anne (“Anne-girl”),
    You are the Edwin Markham of the blogosphere.

    Here is my favorite Markham verse:

    by Edwin Markham

    He drew a circle that shut me out —
    Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
    But Love and I had the wit to win:
    We drew a circle that took him in!

    And of course I had to parody it:


    He drew a wrecktangle that shut me out-
    pencilhead, beveled, obtuse, umlaut.
    But math and I had the writ to win;
    we drew a trapezoid that took him in.

    so much fun!


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