Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tip of the iceberg

The press is full of stories about the Catholic church's $660M settlement in L.A. Archdiocese sexual abuse case. I don't cover sexual abuse in that Catholic church for two reasons. I am a protestant Atheist, or I should say, I was brought up in a protestant environment before becoming an Atheist. I know very little about the Catholic church, so I don't like to write about their problems. Plus, several website's do an outstanding job of tracking catholic clergy abuse, like the Rick A. Ross institute

I find it interesting that the Vatican felt it necessary to spread the blame today. To quote Father Federico Lombardi, "other institutions should take steps to deal with such wickedness within their own ranks". He's talking about the Baptists. We all understand that... right?

Several people have asked me how many sexual abuse cases are reported each year with the various protestant denominations. According the the Insurance Journal's Rose French, the estimated  is about 260 cases per year.

The largest company, Church Mutual, reported an average of about 100 sex abuse cases a year involving minors over the past decade. GuideOne, which has about half the clients of Church Mutual, said it has received an average of 160 reports of sex abuse against minors every year for the past two decades.

Brotherhood Mutual said it has received an average of 73 reports of child sex abuse and other sexual misconduct every year for the past 15 years. However, Brotherhood does not specify which victims are younger than 18 so it is impossible to accurately add that to the total cases.

260 is the reported number. French estimates the number is significantly higher. 260 is the tip of the iceberg because independent protestant churches are not compelled to report abuse. Some prefer to handle sexual abuse cases internally. If we take a conservative approach and say 100 extra sexual abuse case per year go unreported, then my tag line of "Another week, another Baptist Pedophile" needs revision. Perhaps the line should read "Another day, another pedophile pastor?"



Christa Brown said...

The insurance data suggests that clergy sexual abuse among Protestants may be even greater than among Catholics. Sad thought, huh?

The Catholic church reports that since 1950, 13,000 "credible accusations" have been brought against Catholic clerics - that's about 228 per year. Insurance data shows 260 Protestant cases per year involving persons under 18, but these are just cases in which the insurance companies got involved. In Baptist circles, no one even bothers with keeping track of accusations much less with making any determination of how many accusations are "credible accusations." The fact that the Catholic number includes all credible accusations, not just cases that involved insurance companies, and is still LESS than the number of cases in Protestant churches reported by just three insurance companies, should be sending off alarms. (See comparison and commentary.)

Catholic canon law requires record-keeping on abuse.(See canon lawyer Tom Doyle's statement.)
Protestant numbers might be even much greater if the largest Protestant denomination - i.e., Southern Baptists - kept data on "credible accusations".

Christa Brown
SNAP Baptist Coordinator

aidan said...

Interesting stats christa. I know that in Ireland abuse by Catholic clerics was kept under wraps for years and I'm not at all convinced that there is now a level of transparency that inspires confidence - especially with respect to older case dating back to the 50's and 60's.

Appreciate your insightful post.