March 22, 2007

Sex Abuse Victims Blast Baptist Officials for “Misleading Comments” on Apology

Southern Baptists Still Unresponsive on Clergy Abuse, Self-Help Group Asserts

Misplaced Response Letter From Baptist Officials Was Just a Brush-Off

Last Month, Baptist Committee Took No Action on Group’s Child Protection Ideas

A self-help group for victims of clergy sex abuse has been urging Southern Baptists to do what Catholics and other faith groups have done by establishing an independent review board to hear molestation reports and by instituting a national zero-tolerance policy.

The Chicago-based self-help group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and other Clergy (, delivered those requests to Southern Baptist officials last September. Baptist officials replied with a terse brush-off letter saying "continued discourse between us will not be positive or fruitful."

That brush-off letter was inadvertently set aside at SNAP’s Chicago office and not delivered to SNAP leaders.

"Though she bore no fault, SNAP-Baptist coordinator Christa Brown graciously apologized for the fact that SNAP’s Chicago office had misplaced the Baptist brush-off letter," explained SNAP president, Barbara Blaine. However, in stories written by the Nashville-based Baptist Press, that apology has been repeatedly mischaracterized. SNAP leaders are calling foul.

"For Baptist officials to use their own Baptist Press to publicly twist that apology into a vindication of their do-nothing response was perverse," said David Clohessy, SNAP’s national director. "It’s the sort of self-serving tactics we’ve seen with many Catholic bishops, and it reveals men who are more focused on protecting appearances than on protecting kids."

"I’m deeply disappointed by their tone and tactics," said Brown, who maintains the website. "If Baptist officials would instead use their powerful press arm to inform people in the pews about credibly reported clergy child molesters, Baptist kids could be made a whole lot safer."

SNAP leaders again presented their requests in Nashville last month, but Baptist officials again took no action on them.

"A few brochures and a public relations spin won’t do the job of making kids safer,” said Clohessy. “Southern Baptist officials are unresponsive to the serious problem of clergy sex abuse, and contrary to their recent misleading comments, SNAP stands by that claim."

Additional information with links to documents:

For more information:
David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915)

Christa Brown