Houston Chronicle - first in series Abuse of Faith

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Linda
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Sun Feb 10, 2019 7:35 am

This should call the Church to truth, repentance, and mourning. For too long women and men have been told to be quiet about abuses in the church. If it has been revealed in the Catholic church there is no surprise it is in every church. Homes, communities, etc. Listen to the voice of the abused. Take action. Don't cover up for "someone of character" because they are "a man of God." Guard the young ones.

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/i ... 588038.php
Linda
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Sun Feb 10, 2019 7:48 am

Dr. Russell Moore of the ELRC (Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission) with the Southern Baptist Convention, remarks on the Houston Chronicle article.

https://www.russellmoore.com/2019/02/10 ... ual-abuse/

Southern Baptists and the Scandal of Church Sexual Abuse
February 10, 2019

This morning’s edition of the Houston Chronicle features a major investigation into church sexual abuse in Southern Baptist contexts, looking at the harm done to over 700 survivors, including children as young as three years old. The report also details over 200 offenders who were convicted or took plea deals, demonstrating how a shocking number returned to ministry to abuse again. The report is alarming and scandalous, the courage and grace of these survivors is contrasted with the horrific depravity of those who would use the name of Jesus to prey on them. So how should Christians think about this latest revelation?
Nothing is worse than the use of the name of Jesus to prey on the vulnerable.
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The first is to see with clear eyes what is before us. Some have ridiculed this concern as being some irrational sweep into a secular #MeToo moment, implying that the problem is “political correctness” over an issue that is no real problem within church life. Others have suggested that the church should not concern itself with questions of “justice,” and that preaching the gospel itself will resolve matters of injustice. Others have implied that the horrific scandals we have seen in the Roman Catholic church are due to the theology of Catholicism, the nature of a celibate priesthood and so forth. All of these are not only wrongheaded responses, but are deadly dangerous both to the lives of present and future survivors of these horrors and to the witness of the church itself.
Seeing Sexual Abuse for What It Is
All rape and sexual exploitation is evil and unjust. Sexual abuse is not only sin but also a crime. All of it should be prosecuted in the civil arena, and all of it will be brought before the tribunal of the Judgment Seat of Christ. But nothing is worse than the use of the name of Jesus to prey on the vulnerable, or to use the name of Jesus to cover up such crimes. The issue of predators in the church is not a secondary issue, on which churches should brush up merely because of the cultural moment. This is a primary issue, one that Jesus himself warned us about from the very beginning. The church is a flock, he told us, vulnerable to prey. That’s why, he said, the church would need shepherds who would know both how to feed the flock with the Word of God and also to protect the flock from predators who would tear them apart (Jn. 10:10-14). The Holy Spirit warned us expressly that some would infiltrate the church to carry out their sexually violent depravity (2 Tim. 3:1-9; 4-13).
The sexual abuse of the vulnerable is satanic at its very root, and, just as in the beginning of the cosmic story, the tools the devil and those who carry out such horrors use are twisted versions of the very words of God. How can these predators be back in churches, sometimes just moving down the street to another congregation, to prey again? Often, they do so by appealing to some perverted concept of God’s grace. “God can forgive anything,” they say. “Look at King David.” In so doing, these persons co-opt even the gospel itself (or, at least, a cheap, unbiblical version of it) as cover for their crimes. As the Apostle Paul said of such madness, “God forbid.” If your understanding of the gospel means that rapists and sexual offenders still have access to those who can be harmed, you do not understand the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Moreover, in many contexts, church life has fueled the undue shame of the survivors of such abuse. Again, from the beginning, the devil seeks to shame the innocent into hiding, and to cover up the crimes of the guilty. Many survivors feel as though they have committed sexual immorality, or that they are somehow at fault for “tempting” church leaders to abuse them. This is a scandal crying out to heaven. The church’s message to survivors should be a clear communication that they are those who have been sinned against, not those who have sinned, that they are not troublemakers in the church but those who are helping the real “trouble” to come to light. Sexual predation thrives on criminals counting on those they’ve harmed hiding in shame. When churches don’t combat this, we are in active cooperation with the works of the devil.
Dealing with Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is a sin against God and a crime against the civil order. In every case, if there is suspected sexual abuse of a child the church should report the incident to the civil authorities. With the sexual assault of adults, the church should provide a refuge for survivors and should walk with them towards involving the authorities and bringing perpetrators to justice. In all of this, the church should deal openly with what has happened in the church while caring for all those who were harmed. No one who has committed such offenses should ever be in any ministry arena where such could even conceivably happen again.
Moreover, church autonomy is no excuse for a lack of accountability. Yes, in a Baptist ecclesiology each congregation governs its own affairs, and is not accountable to anyone “higher up” in a church system. And yet, the decisions a church makes autonomously determine whether that church is in good fellowship with others. A church that excuses, say, sexual immorality or that opposes missions is deemed out of fellowship with other churches. The same must be true of churches that cover up rape or sexual abuse.
When we downplay or cover over what has happened in the name of Jesus we are not “protecting” his reputation.
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What specifically does this look like in a church context? Our denomination now has a Sexual Abuse Presidential Study Group assigned with investigating all options and reviewing what other denominations and groups have done to keep track of abuses, while hearing from law enforcement, psychological and psychiatric experts, survivors, and many others.
Our approach is seeking to encourage policies and practices that protect children and the vulnerable from sexual abuse in autonomous but cooperating churches, all the while promoting compliance with laws and providing compassionate care for those who have survived trauma. True, we have no bishops. But we have a priesthood of believers. And a key task of that priesthood is maintaining the witness of Christ in the holiness and safety of his church. That means training churches to recognize sexual predation and how to deal with charges or suspicions when they emerge, and equipping churches to stop the pattern, in their church or from their church to others.
Faithful churches that have handled these well, and there are many, should rekindle their commitment, and should be models for others. Faithful Christians should lament this awful scandal, and should refocus our commitment that the churches should be safest places in the world for vulnerable people. Yes, we need godly sorrow, but the kind the Apostle Paul said produces repentance and leads to salvation (2 Cor. 7:10).
We should see this scandal in terms of the church as a flock, not as a corporation. Many, whether in Hollywood or the finance industry or elsewhere, see such horrors as public relations problems to be managed. The church often thinks the same way. Nothing could be further from the way of Christ. Jesus does not cover up sin within the temple of his presence. He brings everything hidden to light. We should too. When we downplay or cover over what has happened in the name of Jesus to those he loves we are not “protecting” Jesus’ reputation. We are instead fighting Jesus himself. No church should be frustrated by the Houston Chronicle’s reporting, but should thank God for it. The Judgment Seat of Christ will be far less reticent than a newspaper series to uncover what should never have been hidden.
gailjean
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Sun Feb 10, 2019 2:05 pm

I struggle to even know what to say about this. :cry:

Both articles, written in different manners, still say the same things, especially about the cover-ups of this behavior, and the blame that falls on the victims.
Linda
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Sun Feb 10, 2019 3:15 pm

We live in a day, and have for a long time, where people get away with harming others for their own selfish pleasure. And these abusers - men/women - come with titles and positions and are therefore believed to be, almost, invincible. Well they are not. I pray for the ones who fight to be heard and then who are in turn called liars. It's sad. Very sad.
Linda
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Tue Feb 12, 2019 6:36 am

It's been uplifting to see SBC leadership, the new President, address this issue from social media platforms and say change is ahead. The light has to shine in the darkness and I applaud those, and the Houston Chronicle for opening the door. Prays for the victims.
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AngelGirl
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Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:49 am

Linda wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 6:36 am
It's been uplifting to see SBC leadership, the new President, address this issue from social media platforms and say change is ahead. The light has to shine in the darkness and I applaud those, and the Houston Chronicle for opening the door. Prayers for the victims.
Am in agreement! It's an extremely difficult subject to address. As any victim can tell you, there is nothing so crushing to the spirit and every aspect of ones personality as sexual abuse and when perpetrated by a person in a position of trust, it is devastating beyond words! Praying for God's healing through the difficult days ahead.
AngelGirl
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Once again, Jesus spoke to the people and said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12 BSB
gailjean
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Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:00 pm

AngelGirl wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:49 am
Linda wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 6:36 am
It's been uplifting to see SBC leadership, the new President, address this issue from social media platforms and say change is ahead. The light has to shine in the darkness and I applaud those, and the Houston Chronicle for opening the door. Prayers for the victims.
Am in agreement! It's an extremely difficult subject to address. As any victim can tell you, there is nothing so crushing to the spirit and every aspect of ones personality as sexual abuse and when perpetrated by a person in a position of trust, it is devastating beyond words! Praying for God's healing through the difficult days ahead.
The abuse itself is horrifying. And the fact that they are victimized again by ignoring or belittling their plight, or shaming some of them publicly, is outrageous.

I'm hoping the SBC comes through with their promise of change.
Linda
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Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:48 pm

Unfortunately happens in positions of power over those who must submit. That is NOT the gospel of our Lord. It is a gospel of sinful pride and power.

Should never be a difficult subject. If one is told of abuse, action must be taken - by law. Too many things swept aside and under the carpet for protection of "ministry" and credibility. I do roll my eyes.
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AngelGirl
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Wed Feb 13, 2019 12:41 pm

Linda wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:48 pm
Unfortunately happens in positions of power over those who must submit. That is NOT the gospel of our Lord. It is a gospel of sinful pride and power.

Should never be a difficult subject
. If one is told of abuse, action must be taken - by law. Too many things swept aside and under the carpet for protection of "ministry" and credibility. I do roll my eyes.
Maybe I should have clarified my remark. I was addressing it from the point of view of an investigator or counselor. If you've ever counseled an abuse victim long term, it usually takes them awhile to be able to verbalize everything (feelings, fears, pertinent facts, etc.) since trust issues are usually involved. Requires a lot of patience from a counselor/advocate and I would think that applies to the job of an investigative reporter, as well.
AngelGirl
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Once again, Jesus spoke to the people and said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12 BSB
gailjean
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Wed Feb 13, 2019 3:25 pm

AngelGirl wrote:
Wed Feb 13, 2019 12:41 pm
Linda wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:48 pm
Unfortunately happens in positions of power over those who must submit. That is NOT the gospel of our Lord. It is a gospel of sinful pride and power.

Should never be a difficult subject
. If one is told of abuse, action must be taken - by law. Too many things swept aside and under the carpet for protection of "ministry" and credibility. I do roll my eyes.
Maybe I should have clarified my remark. I was addressing it from the point of view of an investigator or counselor. If you've ever counseled an abuse victim long term, it usually takes them awhile to be able to verbalize everything (feelings, fears, pertinent facts, etc.) since trust issues are usually involved. Requires a lot of patience from a counselor/advocate and I would think that applies to the job of an investigative reporter, as well.
This also shows why sexual abuse, whether by clergy, family member, friend, or acquaintance, is not often reported immediately, and may take years for victims to finally come forward.
Linda
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Wed Feb 13, 2019 3:31 pm

Thanks, Gail and AG. Brings me back to my point, if any place should be a safe place free from abuse but also with open arms, hearts, and ears to listen - it should be the church. No lengthy process to love as Jesus loves. HOWEVER, a crime should be reported and it is counselor/pastors responsibility to report. They do not have the position at that point to tell someone to simply forgive.
Linda
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Tue Feb 19, 2019 8:25 am

Head of the Southern Baptist Convention stands up for the abused. God bless him!

https://m.chron.com/news/houston-texas/ ... 624796.php
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