Five Absolute Minimum Actions to Show “Good Faith” Efforts on Behalf of Abuse Victims, Advocates, Activists

SOURCE: Twitter thread from December 12, 2018.

NOTES: On January 14, 2020, I reposted this December 2018 thread, noting: “A relevant thread from December 2018 for the SBC now, on how survivors are looking for good-faith efforts that amount to transparency, integrity, and accountability.”

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THREAD: Five Absolute Minimum Actions to Show “Good Faith” Efforts on Behalf of Abuse/Violence Victims, Advocates, and Activists. What do survivor communities look for in those who claim to be allies? Credibility. But what does that mean, and why are some people still suspect? /1 Continue reading

Advocacy Dominoes: One Person’s Record of Courage Can Set Off a Chain of Recovery

SOURCE: Twitter thread from May 27, 2019.

NOTES: Be sure to read the personal story threads I’ve linked to, to get a fuller sense of the impact of how one person’s story and reaching out can spark another person’s sharing of their experiences.

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THREAD, in case you missed this encouraging series of tweets from May 24th. It’s about a chain of “advocacy dominoes” and how individuals credit the courage of others who came before as empowering them to find courage themselves to share their own experiences as abuse survivors. /1 Continue reading

SBC Abuse Solutions: Questions, Realizations, Clarifications

SOURCE: Expanded from a Twitter thread from February 1, 2020.

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I’m continuing to process the material I spent time synthesizing last month while compiling the SBC Abuse Solutions website that brings together years of my writings about concerns for the Southern Baptist Convention — plus closer tracking on social media the past two years the specific issues of sexual abuse, abuse of power, and attempts to change the course of the convention. I think many points apply to other denominations and organizations, and I plan to boil all the checklists and processes into an “executive summary” eventually.

Meanwhile, here are some questions, realizations, and clarifications I came to while working on the website. See what you think, and how it may (or may not) apply to situations you’ve experienced or might currently be in where the organization is wrestling with how to deal with issues of abuse.

1. CONTEXT: MISSIONS

Doesn’t it go against missions-mindedness to remain ignorant of or knowingly ignore the ministry realities for those traumatized by sexual abuse/violence? [That may be about 20-25% of the entire world population.]

2. ISSUES: AUTONOMY

How often are calls for “local church autonomy” that reject outside control really demands for “pastoral autonomy” and inside control? Which means that, in actuality, independence and “autonomy” are code for insulation and “authoritarian leadership,” doesn’t it?

3. ISSUES: ASSOCIATION AND COLLABORATION

Is “Cooperative Program” a misnomer? It implies two-way collaboration, but it seems some participating churches want only positive reputation by association in return–not credentialing (read that as: “control”). Which seems to make “cooperative” more like “consumptive,” doesn’t it?

4. CONTEXT: NEXT GENERATIONS

Some critics suggest the recent “Caring Well” emphasis on ministry to victims of sexual abuse is merely culture-war capitulation to the #MeToo movement. Do they care about cultural contextualization? Because concern for victims of sexual abuse is becoming an indigenous value in younger generations. Will they listen to representatives of an organization with a reputation for scorning survivors?

5. WHERE DOES WISDOM CURRENTLY RESIDE?

When will SBC entity and church leaders–sincere as many may be about confronting sexual abuse issues and ministering to victims–realize that survivor communities know far more on relevant subjects than they do, and so rely far more on survivors to inform and equip them?

Crowdsourcing wisdom isn’t new, as a provocative 2004 Tim Bednar/e-church article showed to those in “emerging ministry” in a postmodern era–“We Know More Than Our Pastors: Why Bloggers are the Vanguard of the Participatory Church.” Doesn’t the SBC’s horrible track record on issues of sexual abuse and harassment indicate they need to listen–not lead? (As a convention overall, the SBC has failed to listen to or learn from survivors of sexual abuse in SBC setting–for decades. It seems to have taken the #MeToo and #SBCToo movements to bring public pressure to bear on the SBC enough for entity and local church leaders to change toward a stance of listening.)

6. TRANSFORMATION MUST BE TIMELY

I came away from a full month of bringing together years of writings about SBC and abuse issues, even more convinced that 2019-2020 is the pivot point for decisive and consistent actions–IF it wants to earn any trust from abuse survivors and advocates.

p.s. That I suggested 2019-2020 constitutes “the pivot point” means I have at least some hope that SBC official entities and the overall body of SBC-associated local churches will indeed make substantive steps that add up to significant strides in trustworthiness.

*All y’all’s choice. I hope you will.*

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New Case Study Website Launched: “SBC Abuse Solutions”

Relevant to the many current discussions about SBC and systemic abuse, I just went live with my “SBC Abuse Solutions” website. I’ve been contemplating this kind of site for several years, as a centralized place to bring together various writings I’ve done on the SBC, to help people identify, research, and resolve systemic abuse.

Researchers may especially appreciate that I’ve provided details/links for each official SBC entity: nonprofit corporation’s legal name, address, webpage on the SBC site, entity website, EIN (unique Employer Identification Number issued by the IRS to a 501c3 non-profit corporation), ProPublica profile page (which links to required Forms 990s), and any recent official statement(s) regarding sexual abuse issue. Accrediting agencies are included for the six SBC seminaries.

It seemed only natural to develop my writings about the SBC into a case study site. I’ve participated in SBC churches/ministries for 30 of the last 45 years and have written a lot lately about overlaps between toxic systems and problems in the SBC. The site is about 75% finished. I plan to complete the rest this month.

I’ve designed it for those who believe that SBC local churches and official entities NEED to change–and that we CAN implement genuine and long-lasting systemic changes. But I’m reminded of the old joke:

How many psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb?

Just one, but the lightbulb really, really has to want to change!

Same with the SBC — does it, as a wider system, really really want to change or not? The SBC churches and entities dealing with abuse issues has been a ver-r-ry slo-o-ow train comin’ . And it may or may not ever get to the station. However, 2020 looks to be a watershed year for Southern Baptists, as they must decide whether to make significant progress on systemic abuse as a larger community, or practically guarantee their irrelevance for evangelism, missions, and discipleship in a world where 1 in 3 women is victimized by sexual abuse/violence — same in America, and about 1 in 4 men. With that percentage of the global population reeling from the effects of such trauma, how can we not try to ensure that we get how to minister to abuse survivors and ensure that our organizations are safe places for people to congregate?

SBC Abuse Solutions is likely the most detailed case study I’ll ever produce with background info; analysis of system issues; and practical guidelines for processes to evaluate problems, implement change procedures, and follow through with relational and organizational repairs.

I hope these reference + resource materials help repair damages inflicted during past and present abuse situations in the SBC, and foster stronger intervention into current cases, ministry to survivors, and systemic safeguards for prevention of victimization in the future.

And with that, now I go hide in my office and keep my nose to the grindstone to work on editing the rest of the material for this SBC site, and then continue with the training materials on how to identify and deal with malignant people and toxic systems.

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Analysis of the SBC International Mission Board “Examination Update” and Recommendations from Gray Plant Mooty

 

Post Overview and My Purposes

This purpose of this particular post is to give my analysis of the Examination Update on the Gray Plant Mooty (GPM) legal firm’s independent investigation of the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). GPM’s interim report was posted as a news article on the IMB website on May 22, 2019.

As a futurist, two main concerns I have are to: (1) equip individuals and groups to discern and decide their most preferable pathway forward, and (2) give constructive reasoning and resources for having hope. I have invested much time over the last 45 years, studying systems and abuse issues. Many of my writings come out of those studies and my ongoing interest in developing case studies that help identify systemic abuse in organizations, and give some well-reasoned guidance on how to repair past damages to people, dismantle institutional elements that are harmful and replace them with healthier ones, and prevent future abuse. Continue reading

Review of SBC “Caring Well” Report–1 Background and Executive Summary

Series Purpose and Post Overview

As a futurist, two main concerns I have are to: (1) equip individuals and groups to discern and decide their most preferable pathway forward, and (2) give constructive reasoning and resources for having hope. I have invested much time over the last 45 years, studying systems and abuse issues. Many of my writings come out of those studies and my ongoing interest in developing case studies that help identify systemic abuse in organizations, and give some well-reasoned guidance on how to repair past damages to people, dismantle institutional elements that are harmful and replace them with healthier ones, and prevent future abuse.

This purpose of this particular series is to give my analysis of Caring Well: A Report from the SBC Sexual Abuse Advisory Group (SAAG), posted June 8, 2019. Continue reading

For Such A Time As This–Rally Against Abuse at SBC 2019 Annual Meeting

If you’re going to the SBC Annual Meeting in Birmingham, please consider attending this rally. It highlights crucial issues about abuse, to help the SBC become safer and more sustainable. I see this as especially needed in light of cultural and congregational #MeToo movements of recent years. Here are the goals for this year’s Rally. Continue reading

The SBC and Polity — and Authority, Civic Responsibility, Systems Connectivity, and Toxicity

A Facebook friend of mine asked, “How does Church polity effect reform, in your opinion?

What follows is a compilation I posted on how it could both affect and effect needed reforms related to abuse survivors and predatory ministers.

Continue reading

What Do Abuse Survivors Want? Some FAQs and Observations for Leaders of the SBC

Many people with Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) backgrounds are voicing questions and concerns about abuse, in the wake of the Houston Chronicle/San Antonio Express-News series on “Abuse of Faith” in the SBC. I compiled this article from a series of tweets on February 12, 2019, to offer some basic information and constructive study sources for dealing with problems of systemic abuse, enablement, and concealment. I’ve edited it slightly for publishing here. Continue reading

Houston Chronicle’s “Abuse of Faith” in the SBC – Article #1 of 3 – Resources for Additional Research

Readers new to “abuse survivor blogs” may not be aware, but there is a huge reservoir of research and resource material from abuse survivors, advocates, and activists that corroborates the “Abuse of Faith” series. This page compiles background resources to all the situations and stories covered in the first article of the “Abuse of Faith” series from the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News.

Putting this out there helps show the continuity and solidarity of survivor communities. It also reinforces that the investigative journalists did an exceptional job in piecing together a mosaic of personal stories and institutional responses that help us grasp the big picture of the deep and long-term problems with abuse and concealment in the Southern Baptist Convention.

This resource bibliography prepared by brad/futuristguy, and is cross-posted at Spiritual Sounding Board. Continue reading