Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Response from the Southern Baptist Convention to SNAP: we stand by our silence and do-nothingness on sex abuse in our churches

UPDATE 6/6/14: SNAP sends updated letter this week to Frank Page

Read it here.

Associated Baptist Press: SNAP seeks independent review of abuse handling by prominent SBC churches

“This scandal in which an accused minister was allowed to simply move on to another church is one that has received wide publicity and that affects two of the SBC’s most prominent churches,” the SNAP leaders said. “Even if the SBC Executive Committee lacks power to actually do anything to hold accountable those officials who kept quiet about or covered up for minister John Langworthy’s abuse, thereby leaving other kids at risk, surely the Executive Committee can at least assure that an outside expert reviews the entirety of the matter with transparency so that people can have a full reporting of what happened and who was involved.”

Last month, SNAP sent a letter to the President and CEO of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, Frank Page:
Abuse victims seek apology 
Top Baptist official attacked them
He called support group "opportunistic"
Group wants to speak at SBC annual meeting 
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are writing Frank Page hoping to talk about preventing clergy sex crimes before thousands of Baptist who will gather in Baltimore this summer. And they want Page to publicly apologize for what they call his "hurtful comment” in 2007 when he wrote that their group was “nothing more than opportunistic persons motivated by personal gain.” 
"Publicly castigating brave clergy sex abuse survivors effectively demonizes and hurts already wounded men and women who were traumatized as kids," said David Clohessy, executive director of SNAP. “We hope that, over the past few years, [Page will] have reflected on [his] words and realized the extraordinary harm he has caused," Clohessy added. 
Today we received a response from Page who decided to double down on his hurtful comments:



Page says he has "great compassion" for "suffering victims." Where is the action to back that up?

Page says:
I regret having a delayed response, but as I said, I wanted to think through this again [calling sex abuse victims "opportunistic"]. As I have done so, I have found there to be no new or different factors, and therefore, no better course to take than the one we have taken to address the terrible threat and harm of sexual abuse in church settings.
Page admits that the SBC stands by the status quo course of dealing with sex abuse within Baptist churches which has been a refusal to address the pervasive problem.

Last month, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC held a summit on sexuality without any mention of sex abuse on the program:
A victims’ advocate says there is a glaring omission at this week’s summit for Southern Baptist pastors on sexual issues — any mention on the program about the church’s response to sexual abuse.
Amy Smith, a lifelong Southern Baptist who works with Catholics and people from other denominations in an advocacy organization called the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, found the subject “noticeably absent” among topics being covered in the April 21-23 “leadership summit” sponsored by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“How can a summit on ‘The Gospel and Human Sexuality’ not include a topic on the pervasive, devastating, destructive issue of sexual abuse?” Smith asked April 22. “Sexual abuse ravages the lives and souls of people that we hope that churches would be trying to minister to, yet the ERLC doesn’t devote a session, or even a breakout session or panel, to cover how pastors and churches should properly respond to abuse allegations to pursue justice, heal the wounded and protect kids in their midst.”
 Smith said the “accepted, unspoken method” of handling abuse allegations internally has the effect of silencing victims and putting the reputation of the institution ahead of the protection of kids.
“Sex abuse is all around them, in their churches, perpetuated and enabled by their own, yet their silence is deafening,” Smith said of Baptist leaders.
How to Get Promoted in the Southern Baptist Convention

Over 3 years ago I received this email from Prestonwood Baptist Church executive pastor Mike Buster saying that he and senior pastor Jack Graham would "cooperate fully with law enforcement agencies concerning this matter" referring to now convicted (in Mississippi) child sex offender, John Langworthy. Have they? I know that 2 victims of Langworthy child sex abuse from Prestonwood have come forward in the last year. One made a report to Dallas police and one to Plano police. Where is the cooperation with law enforcement, Prestonwood? Why is there no investigation into Langworthy's alleged child sex crimes in Texas?

Prestonwood Baptist Church and the Cone of Silence











In stark contrast to Frank Page's cruel words to victims, here is child sex abuse survivor, an amazing author and speaker, Mary DeMuth with her post "To the Brave Ones."




Update to my story:

I continue to be so grateful to the good people of SNAP who do so much every day to heal the wounded, protect the vulnerable and prevent abuse, more than has ever been said of churches and pastors throughout the Southern Baptist Convention. The likes of Frank Page and Albert Mohler have hardened their hearts, expressing outrage, not at the rape of children by their own and perpetuated by their own, but at victim advocates like SNAP.

I have been disowned and threatened by my parents on behalf of Prestonwood Baptist Church and pastors Jack Graham and Neal Jeffrey, because I reported and exposed child sex crimes by John Langworthy, now a convicted sex offender in Mississippi. Even after Langworthy's guilty plea and conviction, my dad screamed at my husband that, "He [Langworthy] didn't molest anybody!"

This is what Langworthy did to 5 boys, ages 6-13: State of Mississippi vs. John Langworthy [warning: graphic]

Last November, my husband and I made attempts again to speak with my parents over the phone to request a meeting to resolve this conflict. The response by my dad was to scream that he and my mom never want to see me or my family again. He also threatened to "go on the offensive."

The depths of the darkness and evil of child sexual abuse within churches is real. It's disgusting. It's horrific.

The backlash, intimidation, threats and silencing of victims and abuse advocates is real. It's disgusting. It's horrific.

But still, I will not be silent anymore.

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