“Third time’s the charm”, that’s what we’re told, right? On their third attempt to honor the wishes of Messengers, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee voted 44 to 31 to waive attorney-client privilege (albeit in a VERY limited manner) and agree to the contract with Guidepost to begin the investigation on sexual abuse.
But let’s be honest, this is not an investigation on all cases of sexual abuse within the SBC. It’s only about the last 20 years and only within the SBC EC. Is there already a documented case of libel regarding a case of sexual abuse? Yes. And will there be more cases of cover-ups/abuse/etc.? Most certainly. But now, only because of waving ACP is there the remotest of chances to get to the truth.
And it almost didn’t happen.
I watched the entire session. Well, the ones that weren’t behind closed doors. And it was clear there was a division within the ranks. Both sides offered passionate arguments that they BOTH genuinely believe. And that’s the hard part to take as a survivor of sexual abuse perpetrated by an SBC minister.
Phyllis Inghram all but said when she quoted Matthew 10:16, that we the victims of sexual abuse, had created a “hostile environment” and called US the wolves in sheep’s clothing. She said “they” needed to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.
Were they all being harmless when Jen Lyell was slandered by the SBC EC and many of the SBC members?
Were they being harmless when they called Christa Brown evil?
Were they being harmless when they told me, “sorry, nothing we can do for you or to stop a known sexual predator, but we’ll pray for you.”?
Yes, I know Ms. Inghram has resigned from the EC, but does it matter now? Her words cut like a knife to my soul and I wasn’t the only she impaled.
Even now, because of the SBC’s and Georgia Baptist Mission Board’s failures, a KNOWN, ADMITTED sexual predator is back at a church and trying to sell books about how to be better at worship. Going so far as to ask for media interviews to promote said books and asking if one would make a good movie.
This would be a ridiculously absurd joke if it wasn’t a cold, disgusting fact.
Joe Knott, attorney, and EC member said these things:
He went into great detail about law and order. Explained to us how God created the United States and its laws for our protection. Explained to us how law and order was from God. As if we needed his explanation on law on order.
Was he insinuating that a vote to waive ACP is vote against God? Sure sounded like it.
He went on to say, “Laws are to restrain evil. Laws come from God.”
So what are we as survivors of sexual abuse? Are we the evil in need of restraint in this narrative of his? And what about the laws broken when we were molested and raped? Do those not count in his perspective?
He continued, “what we are about to do is create chaos.”
So now WE are the ones creating chaos? What about the chaos of 3 decades of my life because none cared to hear my story or stop a predator? And I am not the only one. Now there is an admission from my abuser and from several other victims who’ve come forward to say it happened to them also.
Said Knott, “There may not be a Convention to face”.
Again, a convention before a soul? One single soul? It’s ridiculous.
As Dr. Diane Langberg said at the SBC Caring Well event, “Jesus was not crucified for our systems.”
And over the last 3 weeks we’ve heard these things ad nauseum, “this will void our insurance” & “All advice we received is against waiving privilege”.
The attorneys hired by the SBC EC were only presenting one side. They were only giving one argument. There were no attorneys asked to give the alternative argument. Even though Rachael Denhollander was posting publicly in every place she could WHY they could and should waive privilege.
I also kept hearing the arguments against waiving privilege being about “loss”. Loss of insurance. Loss of fiduciary responsibility. Loss of money. Loss of a Convention.
You know what I didn’t hear? Not one single time?
The concern for what victims of sexual abuse have lost.
Victims of sexual abuse have lost their way, their identity, lost our minds. We’ve lost jobs, families and in far too many cases, our lives. Suicide, overdoses, premature deaths from trauma.
And what about the souls lost because of sexual abuse? Isn’t that what the SBC is supposed to care the most about? And yet predators and their enablers have made it so there’s no way many victims would ever again be receptive to God. What about THAT loss?
When they broke from their last private Executive session, in which I am sure every single attorney gave their hardest (possibly intimidating), attempt to persuade against waiving privilege, there is an immediate motion made to replace the Wellman motion.
At the last minute there was a clear intent, by using Roberts Rules of Order (parliamentary rules), to confuse and frustrate members in order to defeat the motion put forward by Jared Wellman.
But thankfully, pastor Rolland Slade took a moment, gathered good information and was able to get the EC back on track. The final vote being 44 to waive and 31 against.
It’s a win but not a big win. And certainly not anywhere near getting the SBC and all its churches and members to a place where sexual abuse is actively worked against, victims are properly helped with trauma-informed care and predators are named, exposed, and forever prohibited from serving in any SBC church or any conceivable entity with ties to the SBC.
A former SBC VP, just yesterday, said that the efforts made by survivors to persuade EC members to waive ACP were “online attacks against good men and women…Carnal, ungodly & evil…the ends never justify the means.”
Really Mr. former 2nd VP? We are carnal, ungodly, and evil? This folks, is the battle we face in ridding the SBC from sexual predators and their enablers.
There’s a long way to go.
Dave Pittman is the Director of Together We Heal and part of the Safeguarding Initiative Team at GRACE. He teaches churches, schools, and families how to talk with their kids about sexual abuse, how to better identify predatory behavior, and how to properly respond to those who’ve been victimized.
Copyright © 2021 Together We Heal, Inc.