Home » Baptists, Clergy Sex Abuse, Crime » A Denominational-Specific Database of Sexually Abusing Pastors?

A Denominational-Specific Database of Sexually Abusing Pastors?

Clergy Sex AbuseClergy sex abuse is a topic that I suspect most of us are tired of hearing about. 

In the past seven days, (Sat. Aug. 6-Friday, Aug 12, 2011) these items have appeared in the news: 

But I appreciate that there has been a proposal before the Southern Baptists to establish a data base of Southern Baptist pastors who have been “credibly accused of sex crimes”.    Unlike the Catholic Church that has been so much in the news, Southern Baptist Churches (like the Christian Churches I have served) are each independent and able to hire their pastors. 

Now, sadly, I must add that the Southern Baptist Convention defeated the proposal as unfeasible, saying “the convention lacked authority to investigate local churches, which are free to call their own ministers. Time Magazine ranked the decision as one of the top 10 under-reported news stories in 2008.”

Under the proposal, churches in which a pastor had been “credibly accused” of sex crimes would be asked to report that to the national database.  Then when a pastor was in the hiring process for a new pastor, they could check the database to make sure that there was nothing there about the pastoral candidate.

This proposal is in the news again because the Oklahoma pastor who led the drive to form the database was commenting on a current sex abuse case as an example that the database is still needed. 

I cannot speak about the Southern Baptist situation, but I know that among the fellowship of churches I have served for many years (Christian Churches and Churches of Christ) there numerous times were quiet conversations about pastors who had been fired for sexual indiscretion at a church quickly being hired by an unsuspecting church in another part of the country. 

You would hope that churches would do reference checks and that references would tell of such things, but apparently one or the other (or both) are not happening. 

Christa Brown, a victims advocate who was one of those advocating for the Southern Baptist database has said, “Other safeguards are desperately needed. Even if denominational assessments can’t put a predatory preacher in prison, they can at least assure that he will not be able to use the power and trust of his ministerial position as a weapon.”

I wonder if other denominations have established similar databases?  Is that something of which you have heard?

Again, you can find the article about the database here

Baptists, Clergy Sex Abuse, Crime

2 Comments to “A Denominational-Specific Database of Sexually Abusing Pastors?”

  1. I think the resolution to this problem begins with the honorable pastors in the community of the Church. I have noticed for years that there seems to be a silent pact among pastors to protect their own, even when their own have been dishonorable. This is not God’s way. Those who have brought dishonor upon themselves should be fully exposed and prevented from serving. All we have to do is to look at the qualification for Elders (pastors are Elders). If the pastors would not hide and protect their own dishonorable members it would go a long ways to stopping the rehiring of these abusive Pastors, not only sexual abuse, but abuses of all kinds including those who have/had committed adultry or on the pathway to such.

  2. Bob:
    Thanks for the comment. I totally agree.

    I realize that our aversion in independent churches to interfere in the affairs of another congregation as well as the threat of a lawsuit being brought by the accused minister either for slander or for unlawful denial of employment are real. They are not legitimate excuses, but having to defend oneself in the legal system is very expensive even if one is in the right and ultimately wins, you still have had to pay out lots of money to defend yourself.

    Again, those are not adequate excuses, but it does factor in.

Leave a Reply

(required)

(required)