Editorial: Hits and Misses

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Baptists miss an opportunity

Close observers of the Roman Catholic Church's sexual abuse crisis know that a key reason Catholics have been hit so hard by lawsuits has to do with the church's bureaucratic structure. Officials of the church kept meticulous records, so they knew – or should have known – they were assigning people accused of being sexual predators to run parishes. Many Protestant denominations lack such records. Some reformers in the Southern Baptist Convention proposed creating a database that congregations could check for potential ministers or church employees. But this week, the SBC's executive committee shot that down, saying it would compromise the autonomy of congregations – a key Baptist principle. Too bad. Oklahoma pastor Wade Burleson got it right when he said: "A database is only information. What a church does with that information is their decision."