As Southern Baptists, we don’t have a choice. We must create a database which works in cooperation with state conventions and local associations to create a national database. The time has come; our culture demands it. The Catholic Church has hidden behind the “don’t ask, don’t tell” philosophy which has cost them dearly both in dollars and credibility. When did you hear your last priest joke?
I was disappointed at the Executive Committee’s report on this issue. The report cited, “it would be impossible to assure that all convicted sexual predators who ever had a connection with a Baptist church would be discoverable for inclusion on such a list.” What? If you can’t list them all, you won’t list the ones you know? Guys, that just doesn’t make sense. Let’s use this same argument on another position. Since we know we’ll never win everyone to Jesus, let’s just quit evangelism. Since we won’t get everyone on heaven’s role, why do it? My illustration is ludicrous, I know, so are the Executive Committee’s comments.
I believe it’s time we quit hiding behind the “autonomy” of the local church position. It’s an excuse more than a conviction. Our convention is anemic in its fight against sexual abuse! Morris Chapman cited resolutions passed in 2002 and 2007 that advocated the punishment of sexual predators. Doesn’t everyone know that a resolution is non-binding and is only the opinion of those in attendance at a particular annual meeting? We need to quit citing opinion and get to work. We must stop talking about it and begin doing something about it. Sounds like a word and deed principle here.
Do we really understand what is at stake here? A life, a family, a church, and reputations are all jeopardized and damaged when a sexual predator strikes in a local congregation. Are we willing to destroy lives and churches (reputation and credibility) because of the local autonomy of the church? Are you willing to put people in harm’s way because you won’t be able to get every offender on the list?
A Southern Baptist Sex Offender Database says to the family, “we care about you and your kids!”