MS-Victims want review of MS Baptist church

Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests

For immediate release: Sunday, 4/26

For more info: Amy Smith, SNAP leader Texas, 281-748-4050,
David Clohessy, Executive Director, SNAP, 314-566-9790,

Survivors urge outside review of Baptist church
State lawmaker implicated in cover-up
Convicted music minister may have molested more kids, group fears
“Awareness training” not enough, group says
Transparency and action keep kids safe, they urge

On the eve of a church “sexual abuse awareness training,” a clergy abuse survivors’ group is asking church officials to take a hard look at their own failures in connection with a clergy sex abuse and cover-up scandal.

Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (, are writing to Morrison Heights Baptist Church officials about the church’s handling of abuse allegations against former music minister John Langworthy. In 2013, Langworthy pled guilty to five felony counts of child sexual abuse. He is now a registered sex offender.

[Associated Baptist Press]

Morrison Heights church officials—including attorney and Mississippi Speaker of the House Philip Gunn—have been blasted for keeping allegations against Langworthy secret and hiding behind the “priest-penitent privilege.”

[Associated Baptist Press]

While SNAP would like to support any education program that builds awareness for sexual abuse, they believe such programs are worthless when men and women who may have covered-up abuse are not investigated or punished.

“Morrison Heights has failed its children for decades,” the letter says. “We are asking you to honestly acknowledge that failure and to do something about it. Until then, we cannot be assured that the crimes of the past are not continuing and thriving within your church’s walls.”

“If kids are to be protected, then no one’s conduct should be above scrutiny,” said SNAP’s executive director David Clohessy, “and that includes even prominent people such as senior pastor Greg Belser and church elder and Mississippi Speaker of the House Philip Gunn.”

The safety of children at Morrison Heights and the healing of survivors are the group’s primary concerns.

“Actions speak louder than words,” said Amy Smith, a SNAP leader in Dallas who was instrumental in bringing to light the child sex crimes of former Morrison Heights minister John Langworthy, who is now a registered sex offender. “Morrison Heights cannot whitewash its abysmal conduct in the Langworthy scandal by simply hosting an awareness training.”

In its letter, SNAP asks Morrison Heights officials to allow an outside investigatory organization such as G.R.A.C.E. to fully review church officials’ conduct in connection with the Langworthy matter, including review of the church’s internal records.

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