April 29, 2019
By Christa Brown
Within hours of each other, two men emailed me with harrowing stories of having been sexually violated as kids on a church trip to Glorieta Baptist Conference Center (now defunct) in New Mexico. They both told of having grown up in the same Southern Baptist church in Louisiana, and they both named the same music minister as their perpetrator.
I asked if the two of them had been in touch, but they said they hadn’t spoken in over 20 years.
This unlikely coincidence happened in 2007 when survivors were flooding my inbox with their stories of Baptist clergy sex abuse and church cover-ups. Because of the providential timing, the story of these two men has remained with me.
The saddest part of it was what they told me about their futile efforts to seek help from Southern Baptist Convention officials.
The first man, whom I’ll call Bill, was the son of an ordained Southern Baptist minister. He was 14 at the time he was abused, and he told of significant physical and psychological harm.
Years later, as an adult, he called the SBC offices, asking to speak with someone about the abuse. According to Bill, the man who returned his call “spent more time trying to show the error of my homosexuality than providing a listening ear.” He insisted that the perpetrator had “turned (Bill) gay,” and emphasized that “the SBC held no responsibility.” He did nothing to extend compassion or care to Bill or to responsibly address his allegations.
The second man, whom I’ll call Brad, was 16 at the time he was abused by his music minister. He told his parents, who informed the senior pastor, but the police were not notified.
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