Thursday, November 10, 2011

Al Mohler Wakes Up... Finally!

R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the flagship Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has written a good article about lessons Southern Baptists can learn from the firing of Penn State's Joe Paterno and president Graham Spanier and the arrest of former assistant coach and perpetrator, Jerry Sandusky, as well as the indictments of the former AD, Tim Curley, and Senior Vice President for Finance and Business, Gary Schultz. Heads have most certainly rolled at Penn State this week. The grand jury's findings can be read in full here.

Mohler concludes, "The detonation of the Penn State scandal must shake the entire nation into a new moral awareness. Any failure to report and to stop the sexual abuse of children must be made inconceivable."

Are you just now realizing this, Dr. Mohler? Or did the worldwide reporting of such a large scandal at a big-name university involving a legendary coach force you to no longer be able to remain silent?

Mohler continues: Sometimes Christians are reluctant to report suspected sexual abuse because they do not feel that they know enough about the situation. They are afraid of making a false accusation. This is the wrong instinct. We do not have the ability to conduct the kind of investigation that is needed, nor is this assigned to the church. This is the function of government as instituted by God (Romans 13). Waiting for further information allows a predator to continue and puts children at risk. This is itself an immoral act that needs to be seen for what it is.

There's a lot of truth in that paragraph, but actually, Dr. Mohler, it's an illegal act not to report. Let's stop sugar-coating premeditated crimes by calling them "moral failures" or "sins" or merely "mistakes." (See Sammy Nuckolls.) Many times, as with the Penn State story, they're a lot more concerned with protecting "the brand" or some good old boy's job or career than they are with making a false accusation or the protection of children.

A Christian hearing a report of sexual abuse within a church, Christian organization, or Christian school, needs to act in exactly the same manner called for if the abuse is reported in any other context. The church and Christian organizations must not become safe places for abusers.

News flash! That ship has sailed. The church and "Christian" organizations already are safe havens for abusers! It's the blatant lack of accountability, trust in "men of God" just because they say they're "called by God" and can quote scripture and toss out spiritual sound bites, and the unwillingness by church leadership to report abuse or suspicion thereof to the authorities and their congregations that have resulted in churches being safe havens for these perverts for years. (Another one from Bellevue's past has recently come to light, and a lot of people apparently knew about him. One former staffer was quoted as saying they knew this guy was a "pedophile" for years but no one was willing to contact authorities.) Will Mohler publicly (or privately) criticize church leaders who are guilty of covering for confessed child molesters? Or will he continue to speak at their churches and invite them to speak at SBTS chapel services? Mohler spoke at Bellevue as recently as June of this year.

Greg Belser, who covered for John Langworthy, spoke to SBTS students and faculty at their October 25th chapel service.

Any report of sexual abuse must lead immediately to action. That action cannot fall short of contacting law enforcement authorities. A clear lesson of the Penn State scandal is this: Internal reporting is simply not enough.

Again, it's taken the Penn State scandal to clarify this for you?

After law enforcement authorities have been notified, the church must conduct its own work of pastoral ministry, care, and church discipline. This is the church’s responsibility and charge. But these essential Christian ministries and responsibilities are not substitutes for the proper function of law enforcement authorities and the legal system. As Christians, we respect those authorities because we are commanded to do so.

Yes! Amen! GLO ree! Thank you! It's about time! But why is a man of Mohler's impressive credentials just now seeming to grasp this concept when most of the sheeple in the pews and, for that matter, "the world," haven't had to pause for one second to consider what to do in a situation like this?

The other day Mohler decided to crack open the policy handbook for the institution he's headed for almost 19 years and discovered that the seminary's policy on reporting of any sexual abuse, even that of a child, could have conceivably led to another Penn State situation. Oops! Dodged a bullet there, didn't we?

I discovered yesterday that the policy handbook of the institution I am proud to lead calls for any employee receiving a report of child abuse, including child sexual abuse, to contact his or her supervisor with that report. That changes today. The new policy statement will direct employees receiving such a report to contact law enforcement authorities without delay. Then, after acting in the interests of the child, they should contact their supervisor.

While I applaud Mohler for finally educating himself on his school's policies and changing the policy immediately... better late than never as they say, with all the publicity in recent years about the numerous cases of sexual abuse, often involving children, within Southern Baptist churches, I can only wonder why it took a story on the scale of the Penn State scandal to awaken Mohler.

Christa Brown, SNAP representatives, and others have been trying to get the attention of Southern Baptists for years only to be at best ignored and many times demonized, maybe not by Mohler himself (he seems to have remained silent) but by many of his peers. Frank Page described some who speak out against clergy sex abuse "opportunistic persons who are seeking to raise opportunities for personal gain." Did Dr. Mohler ever renounce Frank Page's statement? Paige Patterson called them evil-doers. Did Dr. Mohler call him out? All I heard was crickets.

FBC Jax Watchdog has written a good series of articles on the Penn State story:

At Least in College Football, Failing to Report a Molester Is a Crime - But How Does Joe Paterno Still Have a Job?

The Ugly Truth About Joe Paterno and the Sandusky Rape of 10 Year Old - And What We Can Learn From It

Paterno Out: A Legendary Football Coach is Held Accountable for Turning Blind Eye Toward a Pervert

Let's see what happens now.

1. Will Al Mohler have the courage to reintroduce the motion Wade Burleson proposed at the 2007 SBC?

2. Will he lead the rally to support Burleson or another messenger who proposes a similar motion in 2012?

3. Will Mohler now implement mandatory training for all seminary students in how to handle any knowledge or even suspicion of sexual abuse? (This shouldn't be "uncharted waters," but apparently it still is for many, including seasoned pastors.)

4. Will he publicly rebuke Southern Baptist "ministers" who are caught committing these crimes? Not to publicly humiliate them but to warn people about these wolves. Or will he continue merrily on with his CBMW agenda warning against the evils of women teaching men, not submitting to their husbands, and young people not getting married as soon as possible and popping out as many babies as nature allows?

5. Will he now begin to publicly rebuke Southern Baptist pastors who knowingly cover for confessed child molesters? Or will he continue to bring them in to speak in chapel services and fill the pulpits of their churches? The "elite" among the SBC seem to think they're "appointed by God." Someone needs to explain to them that while they may be called by God to preach, they are hired by people to perform a job. Otherwise they wouldn't be so concerned about their salaries (and keeping them a secret).

This 2006 BP article illustrates this point precisely. Translation: We are appointed by God, we are being "persecuted" because we are "God's men," and you are to overlook any wrongdoing by us "men of God" because we are... "appointed by God." You can't touch us. Just shut up, grab a broom, and help us sweep it all under the rug.

As David Clohessy, national director of SNAP said, "It's easy to say stuff; harder to do stuff." So will Mohler now "do stuff" or will a change to the handbook, which apparently even the president himself hadn't read until this week, be Mohler's only response? Come on, Al. Do the right thing! Don't just say stuff, DO STUFF!

November 18th update:

We're making progress... >> My Letter to the Southern Seminary Community: Our Duty to Report


Anonymous said...

as someone else pointed out,
"Mohler is a big phoney"

check this out
Mohler's PUBLIC defense of CJ Mahaney in the Courier Journal

"Seminary president Albert Mohler is forcefully defending C.J. Mahaney, a Maryland pastor and popular author who has taken a leave of absence over allegations of spiritually abusive and dictatorial practices in church network he leads."

"Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, has worked closely with Mahaney for years as leaders of a revival of teaching on Calvinist theology,male authority and church discipline among some conservative evangelicals."

“There is nothing disqualifying in terms of anything that is disclosed in this,” said Mohler, who regularly speaks on programs along with Mahaney. “It’s just evidence we knew all along, that C.J. is human but a deeply committed Christian and a visionary Christian leader.”

"Mohler said he saw no reason for Mahaney to take a leave from other leadership positions."

"Mohler, Mahaney and two other ministers share leadership of the group Together for the Gospel, which has brought thousands of mostly young pastors and other attendees to conferences such as one held last year at the Kentucky International Convention Center. They are also on the board of a similar group, the Gospel Coalition, according to the group’s Web site."

“I assume he would retain every position in leadership,” Mohler said. “I expect he should be very quickly returned to leadership of Sovereign Grace.”

"Mohler contended that Detwiler has “an obvious vendetta” against Mahaney and attributed the document dump on the Internet to him."

"Mohler added: “Any time you’re going to take on the role of leadership, you’re going to have critics.”"

Let hear it for Mohler

Hip Hip Hooray!

New BBC Open Forum said...

as someone else pointed out,
"Mohler is a big phoney"

As far as I know that was not said here.

Ruth said...

Well,seems the information I received several years back (from a former minister of music outing himself as gay)was not only correct about but worse than I understood about ES. I want to be shocked but I'm just sad. I've seen pics of his beautiful children.

Ruth said...

I didn't see an email for Amy. I'm wondering how well known the information is about ES. When I passed the link along,several people who know families whose children are around ES are concerned to know if this has also been covered up.

Anonymous said...

Ruth, don't confuse being or acting gay with someone preying on young boys, or young girls for that matter.

Marriage is only a cover.

Ruth said...

I don't confuse being gay with being a predator. I've always stressed that to others. However, it happens.
The fellow minister of music (he "came out" to me) who told me of his 1st hand information about this person was also chasing a 19 year old male student himself....& trying to justify it. My "friend" was in his mid 40's at the time. So I would err on the side of protecting children everyday.

New BBC Open Forum said...

I didn't see an email for Amy.

Ruth said...

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Ruth, why do you think ES is still not at Bellevue (or SS and others)? They are hot potatoes that are passed along, just like the Catholic church did.

No one wants to out them, it would hurt the image of the church that does.

Parents needn't be concerned, as long as their children are not vulnerable.

Anonymous said...

Other reasons why churches don't deal with this or Bellevues cover up:

• Some witnesses felt that, because the molestation happened seventeen years ago, there had apparently been no reoccurrence over that time frame, and Paul’s employment record had been outstanding, there was no threat.

• Some witnesses felt that, since Paul had confessed and asked forgiveness of his son, his wife, and the Lord, so it was “under the blood,” and there was no need to deal further with the issue.

• Some witnesses noted that no one currently on staff had ever had to deal with this type of problem before.

• There was a reliance on others that had knowledge of Paul’s history and the assumption that, if some action was needed, they would have taken corrective action.

• There is a lack of policies, procedures, and training in dealing with issues of this type.

• There was always a desire to keep the circle of knowledge as tight as possible to protect the family of the individual.

"It should be noted that several witnesses, for reasons that were not entirely clear to the Team,

declined to be interviewed.

One witness would not agree to be interviewed except in a group setting.

Ultimately, the Team felt that asking the questions it wished to ask could not be done properly and confidentially in such a group setting, and therefore, the Team decided not to interview this individual. Although the individual was a significant witness, the Team felt that the information this witness might have offered basically was corroborative of what other witnesses had stated. The absence of this interview was not a problem for the investigation."

"Jamie Fish, of the Biblical Guidance office, and Webb Williams had knowledge and should have expressed concern. Some of these individuals, based on their training and experience, would have been in a position to express concern for the effects on the welfare of the church and any legal ramifications."

"Paul Williams was sexually abused as a child, then he sexually abused his son.

Paul is a victim, as is his son and the rest of the family.

Our laws require any individual to notify legal authority when they have knowledge of active abuse of a child. One could argue that this would leave no place for an individual to seek help. The safety and health of a child should be our primary concern, but we as a church need to be able to minister to all people.

God’s Word says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Anonymous said...

For anyone who would like to compare how a church handles a pedophile vs how the people in Pennsylvania are handing their case, read this

Bellevue Baptist

Investigative Team Report

Findings and Recommendations from
the Paul Williams Investigation

JohnWayneforPresident said...

To Anonymous 9:48P.M.11/11/11,

I wanted to respond to your post regarding reasons why you felt BBC covered up the PW fiasco. First let me remind you that what it came down to was PW confessed to Steve Gaines that he sexually abused his son 17 or so years prior. The pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church had no problem with allowing a minister to remain on staff who sexually assaulted his own son. Forget about whether he was going to report this to the police. To Steve he had no problem with allowing him to continue in ministry. After this became public and after the resulting furor then Steve suddenly decided to put PW on leave while the investigative team went through the motions, and surprise surprise, after a careful investigation of the facts decided that PW had to go.

My question to you and the members of BBC is what changed about Steve's world view that caused him to decide to fire PW when previously (before he thought no one else knew) he had no problem with allowing PW to remain on staff. That means Steve is either a liar (he really believes its OK to be in ministry and sexually abuse a child but says he does not believe this and therefore had to fire PW) or a hypocrite (he thought it was ok for PW to stay on staff but decided to fire him because of all the criticism). After all was said and done Steve Gaines never gave a reason why he thought it was ok to have a confessed pedophile continue as a minister at Bellevue.

The fact that this happened 17 years ago is irrelevent. PW asked forgiveness from his son who was a CHILD at the time. What else was he supposed to do? Go to the then pastor or another adult and tell them his dad had sexually abused him? No it took 17 years for the child to become a man and then the matter could be resolved. That's what prompted the whole thing coming out.

It does not matter who else knew about this on staff. Webb and Jamie should have had enough spiritual maturity to bring this to light, if nothing else to protect the children of BBC. If it had been Steve, Jamie, or Webb's sons who were sexually abused matters would have turned out differently. That's called a double standard. I see it every day in politics, the school system, and the corporate world. I never thought I would see it in my own church.

In closing let me remind you of what sexual abuse is. There is no difference between what PW did to his own son and what the coach at Penn State did to those poor kids. If PW was sexually abused that does not justify what he did to his son. If the coach at Penn State was sexually abused are you also going to give him a free pass? What would you think of Joe Paterno if Sandusky went to him and told Paterno he had sexually assulted children, but they had forgiven him, and then Paterno did nothing except allow him to continue to use Penn State facilities anytime? Well that's the equivalent of what Steve Gaines did after PW confessed he had sexually abused his son. Steve had no problem with that as long as the victim had forgiven him. Members of Bellevue how can you justify this?

valarie said...

Many of us couldn't.So we left. Many of us left the SBC churches all together.

Amy Smith said...

Among the very best of all that has been written on the Penn State story, in the New York Times:

The Devil and Joe Paterno

They believed in their church. They believed in their mission. And out of the temptation that comes only to the virtuous, they somehow persuaded themselves that protecting their institution’s various good works mattered more than justice for the children they were supposed to shepherd and protect.

I suspect a similar instinct prompted the higher-ups at Penn State to basically ignore what they described as Jerry Sandusky’s “inappropriate conduct,” and persuaded Paterno that by punting the allegation to his superiors he had fulfilled his responsibility to the victimized child. He had so many important duties, after all, and so many people counting on him. And Sandusky had done so much good over the years ...

The best piece about Darío Castrillón Hoyos was written by the Catholic essayist John Zmirak, and his words apply to Joe Paterno as well. Sins committed in the name of a higher good, Zmirak wrote, can “smell and look like lilies. But they flank a coffin. Lying dead and stiff inside that box is natural Justice ... what each of us owes the other in an unconditional debt.”

No higher cause can trump that obligation — not a church, and certainly not a football program. And not even a lifetime of heroism can make up for leaving a single child alone, abandoned to evil, weeping in the dark.

Anonymous said...

JohnWayneforPresident said...
"what changed about Steve's world view that caused him to decide to fire PW when previously (before he thought no one else knew) he had no problem with allowing PW to remain on staff."

Steve's job is to cover sins (even now?)

Paul Williams said he was sorry, so everything was hunky-dory for Stevie, so it became his job to cover Paul's sin (just kept him out of the childrens' department, so as not to tempt him )until it became a public liability.

Remember Paul Williams was a/the victim here, as he had been victimize by his dad (and so on, and so on, all way back to Noah?)

Amy Smith said...

Please see the link and read this list alerting kids and parents to the signs of a predator in action. These signs were there with John Langworthy. From the concerns I have heard voiced about Eddie Struble, the signs are there too.

Houston experts list signs of a child predator:
Specific signs of predator's behavior

The Penn State University scandal has pushed one Houston advocate to list off the specific behavior that could point to a predator, Local 2 Investigates reported Monday.

"Your best friend can be a predator to your child," said Paulette Everett Norman, founder of the McKay Foundation of Conroe.

She has written several books and developed curriculum for schools on how to avoid predators, in response to the 1995 kidnapping and killing of her 12-year-old son McKay Everett at the hands of a family friend known as "Uncle Hilty."

"Most predators will abuse 40 to 50 children before they're ever exposed," Norman said.

She said her most intense hope from the Penn State event is that parents and others will step forward to say something more quickly if they spot these signs of trouble in other kid's life, apart from their own families.

Amy Smith said...

The New York Times: Internet posting helped Sandusky investigators

A critical break in the investigation of Jerry Sandusky came via a posting on the Internet: a random mention that a Penn State football coach, years before, might have seen something ugly, but kept silent.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Another one...

FOX News >> Syracuse University Assistant Basketball Coach Accused of Molesting Ball Boy

The dominoes are tumbling, folks.

Anonymous said...

Here's a resemblance of David Coombs and Steve Gaines discussing the firing of Joe Paterno

Should have sent him to another school (ie Church)

Amy Smith said...

Jack Graham, Neal Jeffrey, and all at Prestonwood Baptist Church responsible for enabling predators (I personally know that they covered for and allowed other child sexual predators other than Langworthy to move on by failing to report them to the police), Greg Belser, all Morrison Heights Baptist Church elders, Phil Burchfield, and those at the Mississippi Department of Education who were warned about John Langworthy and failed to act need to read this:
Poignant thoughts on Penn State from a survivor of child sexual abuse:
As outraged, triggered and tearful as I’ve been about this all week long, I actually think all of this could bring about some good. Hopefully, awareness will increase; more survivors will feel freer to seek healing; more predators will be hesitant to abuse.

Most of all, I pray more children–even adult children–will be believed.

And that men and women will rise up to fight for them.

Courage and sacrifice: thoughts on an invisible Normandy

Amy Smith said...

How to protect your kids from pedophiles

Christa Brown said...

If you've got the stomach for it, here is Greg Belser's pastoral "momentary affliction" sermon that he preached at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Why would Al Mohler, who TALKS as though he's so concerned about protecting kids, choose this moment in time to invite Morrison Heights' Greg Belser to deliver a sermon at SBTS's chapel? Maybe because it's really nothing but talk?

New BBC Open Forum said...

We're making progress... >> My Letter to the Southern Seminary Community: Our Duty to Report

Amy said...

Teacher, Pastors, Former Principal Arrested In Sex Assault Case

After a lengthy investigation, multiple interviews and search warrants, deputies said a grand jury indicted four people:

A teacher at Hilltop Baptist School, 32-year-old Terah Allyn Rawlings, is charged with eight counts of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust and obscenity-promotion.

The senior pastor at Hilltop Baptist Church and former superintendent of Hilltop Baptist School, 63-year-old Franklin "Wayne" Knight, is charged with failure to report child abuse or neglect and accessory to a crime. Deputies said Knight is Rawlings' uncle.

The associate pastor of Hilltop Baptist Church and former athletic director at Hilltop Baptist School, 57-year-old Raymond "Allen" Knight, is charged with failure to report child abuse or neglect. Deputies said he is Rawlings' father.

The former principal of Hilltop Baptist School, 51-year-old Jan Ocvirk, is charged with failure to report child abuse or neglect.

James said...

Are those real pictures of Al Mohler?!

New BBC Open Forum said...

Are those real pictures of Al Mohler?!

Yep, his daughter posted them on her Facebook page a few years ago.

New BBC Open Forum said...

These are real, too.

With the helpmeet...

Doin' wimmin's work!


Nicholas said...

Everyone, Al Mohler is a hypocrite and a phony who does not care about sex abuse in the SBC. Please read this article at the Wartburg Watch:

Don't forget to follow the links to the sources it cites.

New BBC Open Forum said...

Eddie Struble information