Shining light on Baptist clergy sex abuse  
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SNAP makes a difference at the Southern Baptist
Convention in San Antonio

 

June 2007:  Just a block from the Alamo, we took a stand for the safety of kids in Southern Baptist churches.

Ten of us stood in the sun and handed out almost 2000 flyers, inviting delegates to a prayer vigil and urging them to transform their churches into safer sanctuaries. That means a whole lot more people are now more aware that clergy sex abuse is a problem for Southern Baptists...just as it is for other faith groups.

We also urged convention delegates (or "messengers" as Baptists call them) to support Rev. Wade Burleson's motion for the SBC to study the feasibility of creating a database of convicted, confessed and credibly accused Southern Baptist clergy sex abusers. The motion passed by a near-unanimous vote of the 8615 registered messengers, and the SBC Executive Committee is instructed to report back to the convention in June 2008.

We applaud every Southern Baptist messenger who supported the motion. With such a strong vote, I hope Southern Baptist officials will now realize that Baptist believers have spoken, and they want real action for making kids safer in Southern Baptist churches.

Unfortunately, SBC president Frank Page described it as merely a "moot point." That doesn't bode well....it looks as though he's intent on turning a blind eye, not only to clergy abuse victims, but also to the will of Baptist believers. (San Antonio Express News columnist, Roddy Stinson, provided a vivid picture of the bullying ways of SBC powerbrokers and bureaucrats. Though he said not a word about clergy sex abuse, I can sure relate to his descriptions.)

Barbara Garcia Boehland, SNAP's San Antonio director, and David Clohessy, SNAP's National director

The motion was just one small step, but it was a good step, and I believe SNAP made a difference. Much, much more needs to be done among Southern Baptists, and we in SNAP will continue to watch.

Media coverage of SNAP's San Antonio effort was phenomenal. All the major TV stations covered it; American Family Radio covered it; and newspapers from Kentucky to Oklahoma to California covered it. We reached a lot of people.

Many thanks to SNAP-San Antonio members, to Barbara Garcia Boehland (SNAP San Antonio director), to others who drove in from Houston, and to David Clohessy (SNAP national director) for being part of 2 extraordinary days of good work toward making kids safer in Southern Baptist churches. I am always humbled, awed and inspired by the courage and commitment that I see in abuse survivors.

Keep on making a difference: Write to the officers of the SBC Executive Committee's workgroup that is tasked with considering how to implement the motion for a clergy predator database.

The banner shows a few who did not survive the trauma of clergy abuse but were lost to suicide. Barbara Garcia Boehland's son, Eduardo Ramon, is shown at right.