Here’s the lead in an Associated Press report dated yesterday, February 21:
The victims’ advocates who dogged the Roman Catholic Church over sex abuse by its clergy have now turned their attention to the Southern Baptists, accusing America’s largest Protestant denomination of also failing to root out molesters.
I offer two brief responses to this report. First, every person who reads this story should weep. We should weep and pray for God’s grace to be poured out on the broken lives mentioned in this tragic piece. SBC churches should be neck-deep in extending the redemptive love of Christ to individuals and families who have been torn apart because of this kind of sin. Not only that, SBC churches need to become all the more vigilant about protecting the little children to whom they minister.
Second, the title and the lead of this report suggest an analogy between leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention and elements within the Roman Catholic hierarchy that infamously tolerated child-molesting priests. But this is a scurrilous comparison at best, and the analogy hardly rings true. There is no hierarchy in the Southern Baptist Convention. In keeping with our congregational polity, the convention has no power to compel or coerce any church to do or to believe anything, much less hire and/or fire ministers. (For those who need a brief primer on the congregational polity of Baptists, see here and here.)