Southern Baptists Promote Book by Pastor Who Mishandled Girl’s Sexual Abuse Case

By Sarabeth Caplin
Patheos blog
September 25, 2019

As we posted on this site in July, Matt Chandler, the pastor of The Village Church in Texas, was at the center of a sexual assault controversy. He hadn’t done anything abusive himself, but after a member of his church was accused of sexually violating an 11-year-old girl, we learned that Chandler didn’t tell his own congregation who the accused person was. In fact, he told them the accused person didn’t have “access to children at the Village Church”… which was only technically true because the suspect no longer worked there.

Then it got worse. Even after Chandler knew about the allegations, he emailed the congregation to say the man was leaving the church due to an “alcohol abuse problem.” Nothing else. The church gave that man a severance package. The third party that was hired by the church to oversee an investigation happened to be owned by people who also served as legal advisers for the church. The victim is now suing the church for $1 million.

In short, Chandler was a perfect example of how to do everything wrong after learning about a sexual abuse incident.

And yet, just days before the Southern Baptist Convention is holding a conference on caring for abuse survivors, the group is promoting a book written by Chandler.

Not the smartest of PR moves.

Bob Allen at Baptist News Global explains that the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is hosting a conference in early October on the topic of “Equipping the Church to Confront the Abuse Crisis.” It comes in response to the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News coverage of sexual abuse scandals within the SBC.

And yet this is what the SBC tweeted over the weekend:

Joy in the Sorrow by @MattChandler74 is a moving, compelling, hope-filled book that will bolster your faith in times of trial. 

Look at that: A “moving, compelling, hope-filled book that will bolster your faith in times of trial”… written by someone who cared so little about abuse that he covered up a scandal in his own congregation.

The ERLC commendation for Chandler’s book sparked a twitterstorm among abuse survivors and advocates already skeptical about how seriously to take promises of reform coming down from denominational leaders.

“This tweet is ‘Exhibit A’ why so many abuse survivors and others have little trust or hope in the leadership of this denomination,” replied Boz Tchividjian, a law professor at Liberty University and one of the attorneys who is representing the anonymous woman suing The Village Church.

A man who is rightly facing the consequences for not taking abuse seriously enough has no business telling us how to “suffer well.” And the SBC is foolish to promote his project. As if this is all a calamity far beyond his control. No wonder people are leaving the SBC in droves.

Regardless of whether or not people still hold Christian beliefs, this group has proven many times over that they cannot be trusted.


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