SNAP goes after the Baptists

SNAP goes after the Baptists

I suppose SNAP is going to have to change its name to SNAM. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is turning its attention to the Southern Baptists.

The Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests has started a campaign to call attention to alleged sex abuse committed by Southern Baptist ministers and concealed by churches.

SNAP presented a letter Monday to Southern Baptist Convention executive committee members in Nashville, asking the group to adopt a zero-tolerance policy on sex abuse and to create an independent review board to investigate molestation reports.

As usual, SNAP takes a bull-in-the-china-shop approach to the situation, ignoring the Baptists’ response that because their demonination is so decentralized, there isn’t a lot of teeth to put into any national policy.

Church leaders concede there have been some incidents of abuse in Southern Baptist congregations, but say their hands are tied when it comes to investigating complaints across the denomination.

Unlike the Catholic Church, with its rigid hierarchy, Baptist churches are independent. They make their own decisions about hiring ministers and conducting investigations, Baptist leaders say.

The usual problem with groups that arise out of the pain of its members in response to a specific situation is that when that original situation doesn’t need the same level of attention any more, their gaze begins to drift in search of new situations. This is where mission creep happens and when your only tool is a hammer every problem looks like a nail.

Just because both situations involve sexual abuse by ordained ministers doesn’t mean that the problem or the solution will be the same. For one thing, Baptist ministers are hired by the congregations, not assigned by a bishop. For another thing, the individual churches are independent in most ways from the denomination. If they don’t want to obey the national group, there’s not much the national group can do about it.

Like most other elements of the Scandal, there are a lot of good people who support the group and its purported aims, but there’s something about the leadership and its activity that make me wary and uneasy.

Technorati Tags:, ,