Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Sexual Abuse More Prevalent Among Clergy Than Other Counseling Professionals

Originally published at Free Tennessee:

The Associated Baptist Press reports that, despite the emphasis on faith-based institutions over the last few years, rate of sexual abuse among clergy far exceeds the client-professional abuse rate among physicians and psychologists.  Exacerbating the problem among Southern Baptists is their claimed emphasis on local-church autonomy, which often shields predators from outside attention.

However, the emphasis on local-church autonomy may be only conveniently and selectively applied.  In 2005, SBC attorneys told a woman reporting sexual abuse by her youth minister 40 years ago that the convention has no control over whom a church appoints as minister. However, in 2003, on the occasion of the SBC dissolving ties with a Nashville church that appointed a lesbian minister, SBC Officer Richard Land told the Associated Press, "In having a homosexual or lesbian minister, they are clearly endorsing homosexual behavior, and thus have defined themselves outside of the Southern Baptist Convention."  While the SBC applied local-church autonomy to allow the hiring of law-violating child predators, it did not apply it to allow the hiring of law-abiding gays and lesbians.

There is a website especially devoted to stopping Southern Baptist ministers who sexually prey on their congregants, even as the SBC is doing very little to stop sexual abuse in Baptist churches.

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