GA--“Punish secretive church officials,” victims group says

By Barbara Dorris
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests
November 16, 2016

Atlanta area church officials admit they had a convicted child molester in their midst but kept this information from their flock. Now he’s hurt more kids. This is alarming. Heads must roll.

Mark Greer volunteered in youth ministry at Harvest Baptist Church in Acworth, despite being convicted in Tennessee for sexual battery.

Now, members of the congregation say their church didn't tell them about Greer’s past and want to know why they were kept them in the dark. The answer is both sad and simple: Church officials who hide abuse are never punished. So they keep doing it, because it’s easy and convenient and self-serving for them. Being brave enough to honor our civic and moral duty to call police is hard.

So three steps must be taken now.

We call on law enforcement officials to investigate church officials and see if any of them can be prosecuted for intimidating victims, threatening witnesses, destroying evidence, endangering kids, obstructing justice or similar charges.

We call on church members and staff to insist on a church-funded but totally independent investigation (perhaps using an agency like GRACE) to determine who knew what when and publicly punish and denounce the wrongdoers, so such wrongdoing will be deterred in this church and other churches in the future.

And we urge every single person who saw, suspected or suffered child sex crimes and cover ups in churches or institutions to protect kids by calling police, get help by calling therapists, expose wrongdoers by calling attorneys, and be comforted by calling support groups like ours. This is how kids will be safer, adults will recover, criminals will be prosecuted, cover ups will be deterred and the truth will surface.

This means current and former church-goers too. Too often, congregants sit passively by, waiting for church staff to do what’s right, and ringing their hands when ministers do little or nothing. So we especially beg those who pay the salaries at Harvest Baptist Church to step up, take actions, seek out the wounded, comfort them, and prod them to call police. The job of protecting the vulnerable and healing the wounded and exposing the truth and deterring more secrecy at Harvest Baptist isn’t just the obligation of Rev. Mark Carr or Rev. Dan Reed. It’s everyone’s job.



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