Before the Houston Chronicle did their series on sex abuse, long before the metoo movement, before Christa Brown, Dee Parsons, or any of the others started writing on the subject, and way back when neither Baptist Press nor any of the state Southern Baptist newspapers and news would report on abuse in SBC churches, reporter Bob Allen was reporting early and often on sex abuse in Baptist churches. I first saw his stories on Associated Baptist Press and then on Baptist News Global. He has hundreds, hundreds of stories of abuse of children and women in Baptist and other churches.
He is leaving BNG. Doesn’t say what his plans are. I hate to see him leave.
Those saddled by youth and inexperience will not recall that there was a time when sex abuse in churches was not something to be read in news media outlet. Baptist Press wouldn’t touch such things. State papers didn’t think it was their job to point to abuse in churches, often by clergy. The result was that pedophiles who weren’t arrested skated, often to a new church and fresh victims.
Almost all of the people featured in the Houston Chronicle series were old cases Allen had already covered. The Chronicle did great work compiling these and pursuing some of them and will win some journalistic awards for it, I expect.
I dropped by the forsuchatimeasthis rally in Birmingham last summer for a bit. Saw some of the national reporters that I recognized. I looked for Bob Allen but didn’t see him. Wish I could have met and spoken to him.
Times are different today. JD Greear called out SBC churches by name for sex abuse. The SBC Executive Committee has a committee that receives reports of abuse in SBC churches. They just expelled a church last month. We have had the widely used MinistrySafe child protection program in SBC churches and institutions. The ERLC has the CaringWell curriculum for education. All these are good.
But, there is no substitute for shining the bright light of publicity on a clergy member who abuses a child. Sex abuse victims and advocates do this most often and news outlets do as well.
Best wishes for the future to Bob Allen.
Some years ago I criticized Bob Allen for what I though was a focus on abuse only in SBC churches (Bob identified with moderates and the CBF). I was, ahem, wrong about that. There are more SBC churches than CBF and more abuse to report on.
You may have noticed that in SBC life almost all news outlets are arms of SBC state conventions, not independent. Much of the reporting is puff stuff, not hard news. Baptist Press has improved under new leadership even though it is not independent of the SBC XComm. I would say that Seth Brown and the North Carolina Baptist paper, The Biblical Recorder, does good work. Perhaps there are others but I can’t think of any at the moment.
photo is from bng site