Christa Brown of StopBaptistPredators.org has been sounding the alarm for many years that there was a major problem, widespread, among Southern Baptists regarding sexual abuse. Unfortunately, she was largely marginalized, rebuffed, rejected, and her claims were met with denial, by high profile SBC personalities and official entity responses. History has vindicated her. The recent Houston Chronicle article documents and details a pattern of sexual abuse and cover-ups in SBC Life. Ms. Brown actually deserves an apology from the personalities and entities that questioned her motives and veracity.
In 2010, my heart bled for how the SBC was treating Ms. Brown. I wanted to encourage and affirm her, and let her know that, I, for one, thought her story was authentic, and her claims were valid that there was a larger problem in SBC life regarding this issue.
God always sends warning before judgment. The SBC ignored the warning from the “prophetess”—Christa Brown. Now, the SBC is facing judgment.
Another warning: Sherri Klouda, Karen Bullock, and Wendy Norvelle are three SBC women who were all mistreated professionals in SBC institutional life. They were all denied tenure, positions, demoted or fired, simply because they were women. The same conservative, inerrantist, trustee board that hired Sherri Klouda to teach the Hebrew alphabet at SWBTS, fired her because she was a woman teaching the Hebrew alphabet. Sherri Klouda’s firing was inexcusable and indefensible. Yet, SWBTS did so, unapologetically. It is no secret that SWBTS is experiencing major enrollment decline and financial challenges. Judgment for the ill-treatment of Sherri Klouda and denying Dr. Karen Bullock, tenure, may have already begun.
I would hope that SWBTS/SBC does not wait for a secular newspaper to document and detail all the women who have been professionally violated and mistreated in SBC Life before they repent, lament, and declare a change of heart, leading to a change of actions.
Wendy Norvelle was appointed Interim VP at IMB. But trustees would not support a woman being permanently named to such a position, although there is nothing scripturally that forbids a woman functioning in such a capacity. Junia, Phoebe, Huldah, Deborah, Priscilla and Lydia are excellent biblical role models that would have not been allowed to function in today’s SBC, because of views toward women, out of sync with Scripture. The three SBC women were serving in roles analogous with their biblical role models; yet, the SBC denied these women.
I, for one, want to go on record, again, acknowledging the SBC’s complicity and guilt in the maltreatment of Sherri Klouda, Karen Bullock, and Wendy Norvelle. I pray that the powers that be in the SBC would offer an apology to these women before judgment fully comes.
In 2007, I resigned as a trustee after serving for only one year for several reasons. Included were health concerns, church leadership, and my wife’s feeling as if I had been rejected by the trustees and SWBTS leadership; therefore, I could not be effective as a trustee; and Cornerstone needed, respected and appreciated my time and input, more so than SWBTS. In many respects, when SWBTS leadership recommended to the SBC that I be removed as a trustee, they were attempting to silence and marginalize me, just as they had done Sherri Klouda and Karen Bullock. Later, they recanted their recommendation and asked me to remain a trustee. By then, I was exasperated. Those factors did weigh heavily upon my thinking. But an underlying factor, that I have never expressed publicly before was, I did not feel comfortable serving on a board that could treat Sherri Klouda as she was treated without any repentance or remorse. My presence on the board made me complicit; in my conscience, I could not live with that thought. Therefore, I resigned.
The same mentality that says Sherri Klouda cannot teach Hebrew, Wendy Norvelle cannot be a VP at IMB and Karen Bullock cannot teach church history or speak in Chapel—all on the basis of gender—is the same mentality that devalues women, solely on the basis of gender and contributes to a mentality of abusing women, because they are viewed as less valuable. God, forgive us and grant us mercy as you give us space to repent (Revelation 2:20-23).
Just as sexual abuse is systemic in SBC Life, denying women professional opportunities outside of the role of senior pastor is also systemic in SBC Life; and…God is displeased with both practices in the SBC.
In January, my wife and I have re-enrolled as students at SWBTS. We are enjoying every second of it. But, I pray that the day will come that apologies are extended to Dr. Klouda and Dr. Bullock before judgment comes.