What CAN We Do?
There's been a lot of talk lately ... rightfully so ... concerning abuse and molestation within the SBC family. Stories of large-scale sexual misdeeds within the denomination (the SBC's own website used to use that word, so I will, too ....) have gotten the attention they so richly deserve, but was so sadly avoided, for too many years.
But they're there, like black clouds hanging over the SBC, and will be until we collectively take some action.
Most of what I have heard and read, lately, revolves around the oft-repeated recitations of what the SBC cannot do. But little has been said about what the SBC can do.
So: What can we do, denominationally, to address the problem? Or maybe solve it?
Let's brainstorm a few.
- Nothing. We're now witnessing the results of that. Explained by the old mantra about doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.
- Explain again that we're all autonomous churches so the SBC itself cannot do anything. See #1 for the expected results.
- Re-form as a true Denomination, with the power to mandate what the local church must do. That is not going to happen, and probably needn't, and really shouldn't.
- Put some teeth into Peter Lumpkins' Resolution, passed by the 2013 SBC assembled in Houston, calling on all SBC churches to report accusations of abuse to the authorities. Perhaps by declaring that churches which fail to do that will no longer be "In Friendly Cooperation" with the Southern Baptist Convention.
- Start that SBC Database of "credibly accused" abusers that Wade Burleson suggested in 2007, but that was rejected by (as I recall) the EC, saying they were powerless to actually do anything with the results (See #2 for details)
Then notifying the member churches, reminding them of the Lumpkins Resolution, and stating that failure to report abuse or molestation is cause for dismissal from the SBC.
Then, let's say there's such an incident at an SBC Church. The deacons .. or perhaps elders ... decide to quietly dismiss the offender, as has almost always been done by SBC Churches.
Down the road, the abuser repeats his crime at his new place of service. Can you imagine what the plaintiff's attorney would do with that information when he drags the former church into his lawsuit?
Do you think the first church would want that sort of exposure in those following years?
I don't think so. And I don't think the SBC would want it, either. Especially when it could have done something!
The SBC is not going to re-form as a more conventional denomination, but such a Registry could be done, and done now. Without undue expense.
Particularly when compared with the price of doing nothing.