Sunday, June 15, 2008

Southern Baptists hubris

The Southern Baptist convention moved away from tracking sex offenders by killing a proposal to track offenders in a central database. Their new strategy appears to be focused on increasing sales baptisms.

The nation's largest Protestant body also essentially killed a proposed database that would track Baptist clergy who have been convicted or accused of sexual abuse, in part because of the autonomy of local churches

Morris Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, told delegates that the denomination's role ''is to encourage, empower and educate local churches as to how to best do their local work to protect our precious children.''

After spending the last year investigating whether to create a database, the Executive Committee instead offered new resources to local churches - including an online link to the Department of Justice's national database - and urged them to contact authorities about any sex abuse accusations.

Source: Southern Baptists elect president, dismiss abuse database - Salt Lake Tribune

Their logic is insidious. They claim that because of local autonomy, building a central database would be difficult. When the reason they need a central database is because of local autonomy. The reason Baptist churches have such a large population of sex offenders living in their midst is because sex offenders can maintain their anonymity. Without a registry, sex offenders are free to move from church to church. Only those who have been arrested and convicted will find it difficult to re-establish themselves.

The message is clear. Convert! Convert! Convert! Our children are collateral damage. The greater good is a baptism.


a said...

Ah, but if they don't track the pedophiles, using instead the Federal database and telling members to report abuse, then they aren't responsible in a court case, are they? This may be more about financial CYA than religion...

Rob said...

An impressive (and depressing) list (over the weeks I've been reading) of sex-crime offences by the religious. This latest entry is by now unsurprising.

I would like to know, though, how much greater incidence of abuse (including child rape) there is amongst the clergy than amongst people with similar opportunities (parents, of course, and teachers spring to mind, and I remember a story from years ago about a man in charge of a group of golf caddies). Finding a comparable statistic might be hard.

But I'd like to know. Is the religion as much a part of the problem as it seems?

Or does it just accentuate the "ick" by adding hypocrisy?