This post is incredibly painful for me to write. I’m sick with disgust and anger. This post may end up being a rant. The podcast certainly did. I’m going to try to keep it calm enough to post.
I discovered last night that an issue I thought was outside the church is, in fact, already in the church and may even be worse in the church than in the world. We have pedophiles (and their enablers) behind our pulpits! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read this article series before going any further.
If that article series doesn’t turn your stomach and tell you we have a catastrophe in our churches, then I don’t know what will. Just to recap for those of you who didn’t bother to read the article, here are a few facts. According to the investigation of the newspaper, hundreds of teenage girls, and a few boys have been sexually assaulted by Baptist youth pastors, pastors, music leaders, school teachers, and so on over the last generation. Not just any Baptists either, but the ultra-conservative Independent Fundamental Baptist pastors and their ilk. As if that wasn’t bad enough, leadership in these churches, instead of taking it to the authorities, covered it up and often helped the sex offenders get free passes out of state to different churches where they would continue to prey on teenagers. Among those named as culpable in the cover-ups are several names known to the broader Independent Baptist community, including the late Jack Hyles who allegedly covered up his son’s misdeeds, and Jack Trieber, founder and President of Golden State Baptist College.
Ordinarily, I would like to give the accused the benefit of the doubt. After all, we live in America where, as much as elements of the left may not like it, you’re entitled to due process and you’re innocent until proven guilty. However, I cannot do that in this case. There are too many testimonies to dismiss them all. I can’t tell you which of the men who are named are guilty, but I can tell you we have a systematic problem in our churches.
When the Roman Catholic scandal broke a few months ago, I guess I was incredibly naive to think that Baptists might not be quite so bad. All men are equally capable of sin. But from experience, I should have known better. See I spent many of my formative years as a teenager in an Independent Baptist environment. When I went away to college, this exact scenario played out in that church. I won’t go into any details but the individual who should have gone to prison was protected because he was related to an important person in the church. Obviously, my family and I no longer attend that church.
However, my poor experiences did not end there. This part gets kind of painful. In college, I was molested, likely repeatedly, by a roommate who called himself a Christian. The response from the administration was….mediocre. Admittedly all they had was my word it had happened so I don’t fault them too much…but it did change me. I know who I was before, and what I am now. After nine years of compressing it, I’m finally starting to put the pieces together and get past it. But that’s part of the reason this is so devastatingly personal to me. And why I will never, ever let an accusation slide against anyone, no matter who makes it.
Moving past the debris, how do did we get into this mess? In this case, unlike many other denominations, it was not an abandonment of core Bible doctrines. Instead, in many cases, Baptist pastors, either out of fear or out of lust for power, have turned their churches into mini-cults, where their word supersedes the Bible But they only got to that point because the congregation let them. We cannot be sheep and expect not to be ravaged by wolves.
So how do we recover? The first thing to do is throw out everyone who can be demonstrated to even have a whiff of this on them, no matter how popular or wonderful they are, they have to go. You cannot cover up this kind of thing and escape without consequences, and if you did it once, you’ll do it again. That means if anything can be demonstrated against Golden State, Trieber needs to be forced out and the school shuttered. The independent Baptist movement needs to be cleansed with fire, or it will die.
Folks I’m an independent Baptist at heart, but this cannot be tolerated. Don’t think that this is me trying to destroy the movement. It’s me trying to put out this fire! We cannot let this continue. No wonder we’re losing 80% of our young people! They smell hypocrisy and the Baptists REEK of it right now! Clean house! If you are in this situation ever and you suspect, or can prove that someone in church authority is molesting children, go to the police, do not try to keep it quiet. They are not working for God at that point, they’re working for the enemy and they need to be dealt with as such.