If I sound angry in this blog post, it is because I AM ANGRY. This morning I found a blog post on StopBaptistPredators blog that literally made me want to throw up.
Last year I blogged here about a 2006 scandal at Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, where an associate pastor named Paul Williams was kept on that church’s staff for six months AFTER admitting he had molested his teenage son some years before. Steve Gaines, the senior pastor at Bellevue, was finally forced to fire Williams after the story became public. Today I found out that this same Paul Williams has been made a Trustee of Warren Community Church in Somerville, TN, another Southern Baptist Convention church about thirty miles from Bellevue. I am angry for many reasons on a variety of levels.
First and foremost, my husband and I are parents of a six year old son. As a parent, it makes me sick to think that parents at Warren Community Church are entrusting their kids to a church that is honoring Williams with the position of Trustee. Of all places we can send our kids to be safe, church should be at the top of the list. For those of you who did not grow up in the Southern Baptist Church, it isn’t just church members’ kids who could be exposed to this predator. Vacation Bible School is held in the summers, and often kids from the surrounding neighborhoods attend a church VBS program even if they aren’t members of that church. This exposes the community at large to Williams, which is utterly irresponsible and frankly, frightening.
Second, as an advocate for the LGBT community I have sat and listened to Steve Gaines and other ministers here in Memphis repeatedly talk about the immorality of the “gay lifestyle.” I have read the blog posts from the Family Action Council that deem homosexuality a threat to children, flying in the face of the data that shows that child molesters are predominately heterosexuals. I have viewed the unbelievably vile video on YouTube that the Family Action Council produced to support passage of House Bill 600, where they depict a world where granting employment protections to LGBT employees of municipal contractors will result in bathrooms ripe for child molestation. What I have not seen is the Family Action Council standing up for the children in the evangelical community who are being victimized by their own clergy. Not a single word about this at all.
Finally, as a former Southern Baptist, I am angry that the Southern Baptist Convention has done absolutely nothing to stop this horrendous placement of an admitted child molester in a position of leadership in one of their churches. To paraphrase what I was taught growing up, don’t judge your neighbor for the splinter in their eye; worry about the two-by-four in your own eye first. The Southern Baptist Convention, headquartered in Nashville, TN, has refused to create a sex offender registry for their clergy. They have a responsibility to the people that they require to have blind faith in church authority on scripture and morality, to actually require their clergy to adhere to scripture and morality. The SBC is amazingly fast to lobby lawmakers, under the guise of promoting “traditional family values,” to deny the LGBT community the same civil rights as this predator enjoys in his “traditional marriage” and as an alleged Christian.
The hypocrisy is deafening, and sickening.