Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Notes from Baptist hell

If there is one thing I know, it is that I would never drink the Kool Aid at a Baptist church. I read two stories yesterday that played to my worst fears.

Pastor Marc Monte: Satan Called. Loves your work. by John Shore

This is “Dr.” Marc Monte, the lead pastor of Indiana’s Faith Baptist Avon, an Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) church. (The quote marks around “Dr.” are because Monte is a doctor like I’m an astrophysicist. He has nothing but one of those “honorific” faux-doctorate degrees that IFB leaders hand out to each other like little boys playing Now you knight me!—except, of course, these pretentious, potato-headed potentates then use their fraudulent titles to bolster the authority they wield over their churches with such impunity. Interesting, isn’t it, how leaders so passionate about remaining “separate from the world” at the same time so avidly co-opt the signifiers of power from that world—such as the title Doctor?)

A Christianity to make Satan proud by John Shore

About four months ago the below was left as a comment to my post The Fundamentally Toxic Christianity. For some reason I didn’t see it until yesterday. I know it’s long. But once you start reading it, good luck stopping.

I was raised Independent Fundamental Baptist; my family lived and breathed it. My mother graduated from Bob Jones University. All of my aunts and uncles attended Bob Jones University. My grandfather is a well-known IFB pastor who is also a graduate of Bob Jones University. From elementary school on I knew that I would attend BJU too, or be literally kicked out of the family on my ear.

Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) churches sound horrible. I did not develop an opinion based on two stories. I've covered dozens of IFB abuse cases over the years. These people are on a different plane of existence; one where truth does not exist. Reality is twisted by the IFB worldview and by a maniacal need to do damage control whenever a case of child sexual abuse surfaces. However,  whenever I think its bad something worse comes along. Christa Brown, of the outstanding but now shuttered blog Stop Baptist Predators, pointed out that something foul is living inside a Southern Baptist megachurch. Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas has a unholy scandal on their collective hands. Leadership failed to alert authorities to credible allegations of child abuse, and then they did everything possible to bury the issue, including retaliating against a member who questioned leadership. Christa writes…

…Its senior pastor, Jack Graham, is a former two-term Southern Baptist Convention president, and he heads a ministerial staff of about 40.

You’d think there would be somebody in the mega-sized-leadership of this mega-sized-church who would do the right thing, wouldn’t you?

You’d be wrong.

So far, they have not only failed to do the right thing – over and over again – but they have affirmatively done the wrong things – over and over again. For two decades, Graham and other Prestonwood church leaders kept the allegations against their former minister under wraps, and in doing so, they allowed many more kids to be placed at risk of sexual predation. And now, they try to bully a member who simply seeks to ask some questions.

I know Prestonwood from former pastor Joe Barron's attempted molestation of a 13-year-old girl, played by a smelly old cop… Prestonwood distanced themselves from the arrest by claiming they knew nothing. The current scandal involves John Lanworthy, who allegedly abused children at Prestonwood back in 1989 before behind passed off to other Baptist churches where he continued his abuse unchecked. Prestonwood did not comply with the Texas state law that mandated reporting cases of abuse, instead, the church exiled the man who questioned why Prestonwood was not following the law. He had been a member in good standing until he spoke up. 

It's enough to drive Baptists to drink… Or… signal the end of another Baptist megachurch.