Why Southern Baptists’ Social Justice Spat Is Actually About the Sufficiency of Scripture

"The Founders documentary trailer uncovers a larger disagreement over how to approach secular theories around race and gender." - Christianity Today

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Jay's picture

Mark, who is my neighbor?

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Bert Perry's picture

dcbii wrote:

 

Bert Perry wrote:

 

Regarding "believe the accuser", that's more or less (IMO) an overreaction to what many have observed all over regarding sex crimes, which is "disbelieve the accuser."

 

 

I suspect that "innocent until proven guilty" will always feel to the accuser like "disbelieve the accuser," yet the principle of "innocent until proven guilty" is writ large in both scripture, even if not by name, and our system of law, so I'm going to have to err on that side of things, if necessary.  I most assuredly would not be able to lie by saying "I believe you" as a "tactical consideration."

<snip>

That last bit is why I favor "I take this seriously.":  Regarding the notion that innocent until proven guilty will often sound like disbelieve the accuser, that might be the case in some cases, but in a lot of others, including those profiled by the Houston Chronicle, the PII/ABWE report, the GRACE/BJU report, and others, what's going on is not reasonable skepticism, but is rather outright rejection of accusations by people who really had no reason for skepticism:

  • MSU coaches and Title IX staff told victims of Larry Nassar that they didn't know what they were talking about--despite having zero evidence from anyone not professionally connected to Nassar.
  • Victims are routinely accused of just being in it for the money--Jacob Denhollander joked back that it was for premium ice cream.
  • How can you explain the failure to prosecute Jeffrey Epstein back in 2008 if you don't include the hypothesis "they disbelieved them."?
  • In Minnesota, which has a very good far better than average conviction rate of 5% vs. the national 2%, only 20% of reports made to police actually get a good basic investigation, according to a report by the Star-Tribune.
  • Over 250,000 rape kits (physical evidence) remain unprocessed.  You can always find a speed trap or a dope bust, though.  Might have something to do with the fact that police get revenue from speeding tickets and asset confiscation.
  • See the BJU/GRACE and PII/ABWE reports for a lot of clear examples of victims being disbelieved.  Generally the mood was "you violated student rules, so you deserved it." 
  • Advocates routinely point out that in media reports, perpetrators are reported to have "had sex with" minors, when really the correct term is "raped." 
  • Sum total of subpoenas issued by the FBI in the Nassar case, which crossed state and national boundaries and certainly was a federal case: zero.  Known job offers entertained by FBI officers from USA Gymnastics over a beer: at least one.

If you want more examples than you can stomach, start looking at the Twitter feeds of people like John Manly, Rachael Denhollander (or her husband Jacob), or a bunch of others who have had front row seats to a lot of this nonsense.  What is going on does not qualify as reasonable skepticism, but at the very least as "I don't take this seriously", and really more likely "I disbelieve you."  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

uhh... what does that have to do with giving millions to people for suing schools because some person tangentially employed by them "supposedly" raped (I say because a court of law has not determined guilt of the accused) and then the victim says the president was "mean" to them?

Or, with TVC, the church fires the accused and cooperates with the police, but that isn't good enough. Sue.

Now, the SBC Powers that Be produce a nebulous document called Caring Well.... which is a rather dubiously premised document that is based on the idea that pastors are too stupid to know that dad's aren't supposed to beat their sons to a bloody pulp, or that 15 year old girls are free targets... I ask you, WHO IS YOUR NEIGHBOR?

EDIT: In other words, Jay, my gut tells me the SBC leadership plan to deal with abuse is itself a "coverup" of the poor leadership and direction of the SBC for decades, by their own admission.

GregH's picture

When I read this thread, a few things occur to me:

* Perspective and personal experience is going to affect the way this kind of thing is perceived. I used to be more aligned with some writing here but then I went through a situation that led to a ton of research and that helped me. Many here are eventually going to go through some experiences that will change how they view this; even the most dogmatic ones.

* I think today's conservatives are wired in such a way that they can tend to handle these things very poorly in favor of abusers. That is because conservatives generally have a bias toward historical precedent, and historically (all the way to very recent history), women (who are usually the abused) have not had equal power and rights of men. Look at divorce law all the way until the middle of the 20th Century and you will see how little power women had, even in abusive situations. 

While false accusations are a serious problem, this thread reflects the reality that the church still has some growing up to do. They are behind the curve on this issue.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Bert Perry wrote:

What is going on does not qualify as reasonable skepticism, but at the very least as "I don't take this seriously", and really more likely "I disbelieve you."  

No, I don't need more examples.  I agree that many times things have been handled poorly, and it's precisely because of that that I think accusers may hear "presumption of innocence" as "I disbelieve you."  I'm in agreement that the accusations must be taken seriously, and handled as well as possible.  I'm just against an overreaction to "I believe you" because things were done poorly in the past.  Handling them rightly now means trying to not swing the pendulum to wrong on the other side, but balancing it.

Unlike many today, I'm just unwilling to accept an additional 10% error rate on convicting innocents in the name of convicting more who are actually guilty.  And while I absolutely agree that churches need to get the state involved immediately on charges that may be criminal, by that same standard, I'm against those who say that after a supposedly unjust state verdict of not guilty, then the church needs to take extra action to judge guilty when the state doesn't.  That's pretty much like wanting to have your cake and eat it too.

Dave Barnhart

Jay's picture

So a few days ago, I wrote this:

It continues to fascinate me how many Christians are OK with lying and slander because of incipient liberalism.

That post wasn't aimed at anyone here, and especially not Mark Smith, who took offense.  I was talking about the people who have seen the original Founders Trailer, heard/interacted with the 'opposing' arguments, and who continue to downplay the issue as 'just a 1.5 second clip' or who argue it is 'overblown'.  CrossPolitic (the firm that made the trailer for Founders) have publicly stated that those attacks were deliberate and intended.

Those people are the ones that I'm addressing.  I'm sorry, Mark, that it seemed like I was attacking you personally.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Ken S's picture

dcbii wrote:

No, I don't need more examples.  I agree that many times things have been handled poorly, and it's precisely because of that that I think accusers may hear "presumption of innocence" as "I disbelieve you."  I'm in agreement that the accusations must be taken seriously, and handled as well as possible.  I'm just against an overreaction to "I believe you" because things were done poorly in the past.  Handling them rightly now means trying to not swing the pendulum to wrong on the other side, but balancing it.

Unlike many today, I'm just unwilling to accept an additional 10% error rate on convicting innocents in the name of convicting more who are actually guilty.  And while I absolutely agree that churches need to get the state involved immediately on charges that may be criminal, by that same standard, I'm against those who say that after a supposedly unjust state verdict of not guilty, then the church needs to take extra action to judge guilty when the state doesn't.  That's pretty much like wanting to have your cake and eat it too.

I like what you've said in this post, but have a question about the part in bold. If a church feels that the state verdict of not guilty is unjust, why can they not take actions they feel are appropriate?

Jay's picture

That is because conservatives generally have a bias toward historical precedent, and historically (all the way to very recent history), women (who are usually the abused) have not had equal power and rights of men. Look at divorce law all the way until the middle of the 20th Century and you will see how little power women had, even in abusive situations. 

Not to mention that many pastors/men are not used to being challenged or questioned, and that the nature of ministry has always drawn unstable men with dangerous tendencies (Driscoll, Mahaney, MacDonald, etc) to it. We haven't always been good about culling them from our 'herds', particularly if they get popular enough.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Jay's picture

EDIT: In other words, Jay, my gut tells me the SBC leadership plan to deal with abuse is itself a "coverup" of the poor leadership and direction of the SBC for decades, by their own admission.

Oh, there's no doubt in my mind that the SBC is guilty of poor leadership and direction.  I'm not going to argue that at all.

What I do think is that they are at least awake to the issue now, and want to make the appropriate changes.  That's a great thing and I want to encourage them in that.  It's part of why I'm going hard on this topic - Founders is essentially undercutting the SBC by putting their stamp on the trailer which attacks what they are doing.  They are also responsible for the malicious slander of other members and bore false witness against a few people.  Those are all sin issues that should be publicly noted to bring about repentance.

There are plenty of other good churches not in the SBC who would do well to start thinking about these topics and reading more about abuse as well.  This isn't just an SBC issue, but the SBC has the tools and financial ability to do things like the "Church that Cares Well for Abuse" book.  Most of our churches don't or may be left to the advise of unsaved & possibly unscrupulous attorneys and advocates.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Jay's picture

Jacob just put this quote on Twitter.  Since it's germane to this thread, I wanted to quote it:

When advocates say "believe women" or "believe victims," they don't mean "discard due process" or "accept all claims uncritically." It's simply a way to expose what is too often the status quo victims experience, which is "disbelieve women" and "suspect victims of lying."  And yes, I am sure there are some people who might want to do away with due process, but their existence doesn't negate what most people mean when they use this terminology.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Larry's picture

Moderator

When advocates say "believe women" or "believe victims," they don't mean "discard due process" or "accept all claims uncritically." It's simply a way to expose what is too often the status quo victims experience, which is "disbelieve women" and "suspect victims of lying."  And yes, I am sure there are some people who might want to do away with due process, but their existence doesn't negate what most people mean when they use this terminology.

If this is what Jacob means, then why doesn't he say this and encourage others to say it? Saying one thing while meaning something else is always going to be a bad method of communication and sow the seeds for problems. The whole idea of "believe victims" begs the question. I can completely agree but also acknowledge that I don't know who to believe until the investigation and adjudication has taken place. It is easy to say, "I am listening to you and I will help you. I take you seriously." So let's say that. It lessens the possibility of miscommunication.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Ken S wrote:

dcbii wrote:

 

Unlike many today, I'm just unwilling to accept an additional 10% error rate on convicting innocents in the name of convicting more who are actually guilty.  And while I absolutely agree that churches need to get the state involved immediately on charges that may be criminal, by that same standard, I'm against those who say that after a supposedly unjust state verdict of not guilty, then the church needs to take extra action to judge guilty when the state doesn't.  That's pretty much like wanting to have your cake and eat it too.

I like what you've said in this post, but have a question about the part in bold. If a church feels that the state verdict of not guilty is unjust, why can they not take actions they feel are appropriate?

I'm not at all against a church taking appropriate action if they so choose.  I don't like the idea that seems to be present in this new approach towards abuse that first says the church must not do its own investigation (even in parallel after notifying the state), but if the state doesn't convict then the church must take action.  Maybe I'm reading into this from the comments and various things published, but it certainly seems the church is being hung for not turning certain things over to the state, but then if they do and the state somehow "gets it wrong" (i.e., the accuser doesn't "get justice") then the church must act.  It seems like a form of double jeopardy to me for the accused, and a double standard for the church.

If the church immediately gives the investigation to the state, then I believe they also have no obligation to investigate further or take further action if they trust that the state will take appropriate action to determine the guilt or innocence of the involved parties.  What they choose to do afterwards (especially if new evidence is uncovered) is up to them, and they definitely need to consider the spiritual state of the parties involved, but they should still be careful to not get themselves into legal trouble.

Dave Barnhart

Jay's picture

Someone else noted this:

Innocent until proven guilty only applies to alleged abusers in some circles. Victims coming forward are deemed guilty of lying until proven innocent. It's a disgusting double standard.

That's a great and succinct way of putting one of the problems I've seen a lot of.

If this is what Jacob means, then why doesn't he say this and encourage others to say it? Saying one thing while meaning something else is always going to be a bad method of communication and sow the seeds for problems. The whole idea of "believe victims" begs the question. I can completely agree but also acknowledge that I don't know who to believe until the investigation and adjudication has taken place. It is easy to say, "I am listening to you and I will help you. I take you seriously." So let's say that. It lessens the possibility of miscommunication.

I think it's just easier to say "believe the victims'" than it does to write out "I am listening to you and I will help you. I take you seriously."  If anyone here has read or listened to Rachael, they should have picked that exact message up from what was said.  I know I did.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Larry's picture

Moderator

Innocent until proven guilty only applies to alleged abusers in some circles. Victims coming forward are deemed guilty of lying until proven innocent. It's a disgusting double standard.

Isn't this the problem with "wokeness." Isn't it dead wrong?

Innocent until proven guilty is about the burden of proof when you are going to accuse someone of a crime. An accused person does not have to prove they didn't do it. They are presumed innocent. A victim coming forward (notice the assumption that Wilson identifies that the victim has been pre-identified before any investigation) is not being accused of a crime. Therefore, there is not presumption of innocence or guilt. The presumption of innocence is for those being accuse of a crime.

There is a designed investigative and adversarial process by which the accuser's charges are to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Short of that proof, the defendant is presumed innocent.

Now, if someone make a legal charge that an accuser is committing perjury, filing false testimony, or some other criminal act, then that accuser is entitled the presumption of innocence, that they have not committed a crime. 

I think it's just easier to say "believe the victims'" than it does to write out "I am listening to you and I will help you. I take you seriously."  If anyone here has read or listened to Rachael, they should have picked that exact message up from what was said.  I know I did.

I agree that is easier to say one thing than to write out another. That's the problem, isn't it? People want to take the easy way out rather than being clear. We live in a world of sound byte sloganeering rather than clarity. 

Why not simply say what we mean and be clear about it? We are talking about a private conversation. It is easy enough to say, "I hear you. I take you seriously. I will help you."

Jay's picture

This seems part of the absurdity of wokeness, though I have no idea who this is. Someone thinks they are so brillliant to make this point. But isn't it dead wrong?

How is it "wokeness" to say "I hear you. I take you seriously. I will help you" and then follow up on it so that the woman gets a chance to put her assailant behind bars?  Doesn't it strike you as odd that so many will argue for "the benefit of the doubt" or a criminal conviction for the accused and then say that we can't trust the story of the crime itself when it's first disclosed? 

We're so close to agreement, and then you throw a description of "wokeness" out there that makes me wonder if you understand what I'm saying at all.  This isn't a "woke" issue (which, by the way, is almost exclusively used within discussions of race and prejudice, not rape or sexual harassment).  Nobody is disputing that the accused [whoever they are] are entitled to due process and a legal defense; that's what we all want. I completely agree with you when you said:

Innocent until proven guilty is about the burden of proof when you are going to accuse someone of a crime. An accused person does not have to prove they didn't do it. They are presumed innocent. A victim coming forward (notice the assumption that Wilson identifies that the victim has been pre-identified before any investigation) is not being accused of a crime. Therefore, there is not presumption of innocence or guilt. The presumption of innocence is for those being accuse of a crime.

There is a designed investigative and adversarial process by which the accuser's charges to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

The victim is always pre-identified because they have to 1. file the police report and 2. be prepared to give detail in court.  That's part of why it's so hard to get convictions or even criminal complaints filed.

I've also been very careful to separate the judicial process from ecclesiastical procedures in this thread, but you keep conflating the two as though they are the same.  I don't understand that either.

A couple of us on Twitter are looking for better phrasing, if "believe the survivors" is so problematic.  So why do you keep going back to the idea that "believe the survivors" really means "cancel due process and execute them immediately"?

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Bert Perry's picture

Regarding the need for the church to take action, isn't that a great part of 1 Corinthians?  The trick with not doing an investigation while the state's investigation is going on is first of all that it can be interfering with an investigation/obstruction of justice, and second of all to give the state the best possible chance to make the case.  They have, and we don't have, subpoena power, the ability to collect physical evidence (e.g. DNA), mandatory rights for the accused and accuser, huge resources (if they choose to use them), and quite frankly people who are trained to have an excellent nonsense detector.  I've seen it in action personally when a friend of my daughter's was making suicidal texts, and I figured I'd get blue involved because while I suspected it might just be "drama queen" behavior, I wasn't willing to find out the hard way I was wrong.

Thankfully, the officer and I were right, and it worked out fine, but I'm glad I visited Macomb's finest that night.

But that noted, the simple fact of the matter is that about 69% of victims don't report to the police at all (keep in mind the shame and the fact that many were threatened with death and you'll understand), and of those that do report, precious few (20% in MN and we're better than average) get a wholehearted investigation, and huge portions of rape kits go unprocessed.  In other words, we want to give the system a chance, but too often, they're more interested in handing out speeding tickets and arresting potheads.

Long and short of it is that a huge portion of victims so appear to be failed by the system--yes raising Hell about it if you see evidence of it in your town might be appropriate--and God calls us to discipline the wayward in our midst.  So in our society, yes, work with authorities and then do your own investigation is exactly what's called for.  If that doesn't happen, then what you're doing is telling victims in your church that they don't matter, and for that matter you're telling God that the purity of His church doesn't matter.  No?

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Ken S's picture

dcbii wrote:

I'm not at all against a church taking appropriate action if they so choose.  I don't like the idea that seems to be present in this new approach towards abuse that first says the church must not do its own investigation (even in parallel after notifying the state), but if the state doesn't convict then the church must take action.  Maybe I'm reading into this from the comments and various things published, but it certainly seems the church is being hung for not turning certain things over to the state, but then if they do and the state somehow "gets it wrong" (i.e., the accuser doesn't "get justice") then the church must act.  It seems like a form of double jeopardy to me for the accused, and a double standard for the church.

If the church immediately gives the investigation to the state, then I believe they also have no obligation to investigate further or take further action if they trust that the state will take appropriate action to determine the guilt or innocence of the involved parties.  What they choose to do afterwards (especially if new evidence is uncovered) is up to them, and they definitely need to consider the spiritual state of the parties involved, but they should still be careful to not get themselves into legal trouble.

I agree with this and don't think the church must take action if the state doesn't convict. That being said, I do think there are times when the church should be able to come to its own conclusions if it feels the state has not pursued the case properly or hasn't reached a right verdict (e.g., the state didn't convict, but who really believes OJ is innocent?). There definitely is always the need to be cautious to avoid legal trouble, but I have also heard a church use that excuse as a reason to not act where it clearly should have.

Ken S's picture

Jay wrote:

Jacob just put this quote on Twitter.  Since it's germane to this thread, I wanted to quote it:

When advocates say "believe women" or "believe victims," they don't mean "discard due process" or "accept all claims uncritically." It's simply a way to expose what is too often the status quo victims experience, which is "disbelieve women" and "suspect victims of lying."  And yes, I am sure there are some people who might want to do away with due process, but their existence doesn't negate what most people mean when they use this terminology.

While I'm 100% behind the sentiment expressed in this tweet, for me the phrase "I believe you" or "believe victims" is problematic even though it's not intended to mean "discard due process". The reason for this is that once I say that phrase, I've automatically positioned myself on one side. It means that in saying to the accuser "I believe you", I've essentially said to the accused "I don't believe you". It means the accuser/potential victim walks away from the conversation thinking that I am on their side and I am against the accused and that I am working toward showing the accused to be guilty. I think it puts me in the position of having already answered the matter before I've fully heard it.

 

Yes, it's more wordy, but in my opinion Larry's response "I hear you. I take you seriously. I will help you." is a better phrase, or something similar to that. I want both the accused and the accuser to know that I am going to search for the truth and follow due process so that justice will be served appropriately.

Joel Shaffer's picture

I was just thinking about that very thing yesterday. Just because someone wants to engage social problems with the Gospel in a faithful way (ala Carl Henry's book), this doesnt mean they've been infected with CRT.

I'm reading an intro to CRT written by CRT scholars, and it is a very dangerous feamework for reality. VERY DANGEROUS. I'm also reading a similar work on intersectionality, and gave identical concerns.

But, we must be careful to not tar everyone who champions mercy ministries and social engagement with a CRT label.  In other words, let's not be the worst examples of 1950s style separatists and be simplistic. 

I wonder if this makes me a moderate? Would I have been one of the guys in the Fuller orbit back in the day saying, "guys, we ALL KNOW neo-orthodoxy is BAD, but let's make sure we're careful about throwing out the label whenever someone says something that could be interpreted as neo-orthodox ..."?

Very true.  And also in the past, I've shared why I hold to a version of White Privilege, however, I define it quite different than others within the CT/CRT camp.  https://sharperiron.org/comment/95060#comment-95060.   But I am using the term as an analytical tool in a limited way without compromising Scripture along the same lines as how the SBC resolution 9 articulates, "affirm Scripture as the first, last, and sufficient authority with regard to how the Church seeks to redress social ills..."    

To truly discern if a person has compromised to the spirit of the age when it comes to social justice, we need to pay close attention to how they define their terms and what is and what isn't being said.  In other words, what is their authorial intent of what they write or say?  I find it ironic that many conservative Christians within the anti-social justice camp are very faithful to the importance of authorial intent when it comes to the writers in Scripture, doing all research and grunt work to make sure they are not reading their own bias into the text, but do not hold to  the same standard when critiquing their fellow conservative Christians words who happen to see Social Justice as a vital implication of the Gospel.  Rather they have unknowingly embraced a more reader's/researcher's intent such as the example that I gave above with Josh Buice critiquing Eric Mason in his racial justice article on the Founders Blog. https://sharperiron.org/comment/111431#comment-111431   The Anti-Justice Founders group has every right to ask the question, "By Whose Standard" in discerning truth from error, but if they continue embracing an inconsistent standard of their own where they take a more post-modern approach, where the intent of the reader/researcher determines the meaning of the writings and statements of the people that they are disagreeing with, they have failed in their discernment and should not be looked to as experts to equip the church in how to discern truth from error when it comes to CRT/CT.  

Larry's picture

Moderator

Anti-Justice Founders

The Founders folks are against justice??

Larry's picture

Moderator

How is it "wokeness" to say "I hear you. I take you seriously. I will help you" and then follow up on it so that the woman gets a chance to put her assailant behind bars?

I didn't say that was wokeness, and I used quotation marks to indicate I wasn't using it precisely how it is often used. The point is that there are a lot of people who think they are really up to date and enlightened who say silly stuff even though they mean well. To confuse the idea of presumption of innocence seems well-meaning but is wrong. The presumption of innocence has no meaning with respect to an accusation or allegation. 

So it sounds really enlightened and caring, but it is nonsense.

  Doesn't it strike you as odd that so many will argue for "the benefit of the doubt" or a criminal conviction for the accused and then say that we can't trust the story of the crime itself when it's first disclosed? 

No, not at all.

It is not about trusting one or the other. We absolutely should give the benefit of the doubt for an accused person until the case has been investigated. It is a biblical requirement, it is biblically wise, and it is legally required in the judicial system.

Nobody is disputing that the accused [whoever they are] are entitled to due process and a legal defense; that's what we all want.

Actually there are some who seem at the very least very close to saying that. This was part of the problem with GRACE and their investigations. Legitimate investigations are adversarial. A representative of both sides questions the people involved. GRACE does not do that. They interviewed the accusers and write a one-sided report. An accused is not given a chance to cross examine witnesses, to examine evidence, and to present a defense in most cases. That's why GRACE can be helpful in helping organizations plan and protect, but they are not an investigative body designed to get at the truth.

The victim is always pre-identified because they have to 1. file the police report and 2. be prepared to give detail in court.  That's part of why it's so hard to get convictions or even criminal complaints filed.

Again you make the mistake that Wilson is trying to address. You presume that the person filing a police report is a victim. That has to be established by investigation. A victim cannot be identified until after an investigation has taken place. Until that point, they are an accuser. Consider the Jessie Smollett case. He was a victim. Until it turns out he wasn't a victim at all. Many people rushed to judgement and were wrong to do so. The proper approach to accusations is, "I hear you. i will take you seriously. I will help you." And then wait until the process takes place.

I've also been very careful to separate the judicial process from ecclesiastical procedures in this thread, but you keep conflating the two as though they are the same.  I don't understand that either.

Where did I conflate judicial and ecclesiastical. I don't think I have said anything about ecclesiastical procedures have I? I do not believe that ecclesiastical standards and judicial standards are necessarily the same.

A couple of us on Twitter are looking for better phrasing, if "believe the survivors" is so problematic.  So why do you keep going back to the idea that "believe the survivors" really means "cancel due process and execute them immediately"?

What do you mean looking for better phrasing? What's wrong with "I hear you and take you seriously. Let me help you"? You don't have to look for it. You simply have to use it. It doesn't make a great slogan to be sure. But it has the added benefit of being correct.

BTW, the whole idea that X% of things go unreported seems a nonsensical statistic. Since they don't report, how do you know they didn't report? There is no way to know what isn't known. 

Jay's picture

A representative of both sides questions the people involved. GRACE does not do that. They interviewed the accusers and write a one-sided report. An accused is not given a chance to cross examine witnesses, to examine evidence, and to present a defense in most cases. 

Did you read any part of the GRACE report on BJU?  Or any of their other investigations? 

You can say whatever you may like, but for at least the BJU report, they did speak with both sides, and they did compare the claims to the responses by the administrators and staff.  That's how investigations are supposed to work.  Are they supposed to just clear whoever they investigate?  Are they not supposed to report failures and blindspots in the organizations they are investigating when they're complete?

What's wrong with "I hear you and take you seriously. Let me help you"? You don't have to look for it. You simply have to use it. It doesn't make a great slogan to be sure. But it has the added benefit of being correct.

I've already ceded this point to you.  I'm not sure why it's coming up again, but I have no objection to this phrase.  If it's really that much clearer and less inflammatory, then fine.  So why are you parking on it?  Is it because we use the term "victim" instead of "accuser"?  

BTW, the whole idea that X% of things go unreported seems a nonsensical statistic. Since they don't report, how do you know they didn't report? There is no way to know what isn't known. 

You know, NY just passed a law permitting people to come forward and either press charges or reopen old investigations.  As of yesterday's report, US News said that 427 cases had been opened or filed.  There's a slew of reasons why people don't report, as Bert and I have mentioned.  I've given you specific detail on one case I was involved in.  It's not just a matter of "this statistic is nonsensical, therefore it is bogus".  Read part of the USN report: 

Scores of people in New York state who were sexually abused as children sued institutions, including the Roman Catholic Church, on Wednesday, the first day a new law temporarily enabled them to file lawsuits over decades-old crimes.

By the close of business of Wednesday, 427 such lawsuits had been filed in courts across the state, according to a courts system spokesman. The vast majority of them were against the Church and its various dioceses in the state, as claimants accused priests of sexually abusing them as children and Church leaders of covering up the priests' crimes, according to state court records.

The state's landmark Child Victims Act includes a provision that lifts for one year a statute of limitations that had barred older complaints and which critics said was too restrictive. Although the majority of the new lawsuits appeared to be against the Church, other people sued schools, hospitals and individuals, and at least two people sued the Boy Scouts of America.

Here are some reasons why people don't report:

  • Some people don't want to report immediately because they don't want to deal with the publicity of a trial.
  • Some people don't want to relive the attack over and over again for others they don't know.
  • Some people just want to try and rebuild their lives.
  • Some people muster up the courage to report and then find out there's no way to prosecute (statue of limitations, etc).
  • Some people don't even realize they were assaulted for years (Several of Nassar's victims, in particular, said this although they knew it wasn't right).
  • Some people feel like the judicial system isn't going to take them seriously.
  • Some people know that the judicial system won't take them seriously - would you believe the sex assault claim of a prostitute?  It happens, though, and more often than you might think.

There's a dozen reasons that I could give, and I'm not even an abuse victim.  Is it that terrible to say "we should investigate a persons' claim"?

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Joeb's picture

It flopped at Gordon College and Cedarville for the same arguments Bert and Others are making.  The New Conservative Of President of Gordon did the usual in covering up for a Serial Rapist on Campus to include victim blaming and all.  This all came apart when the Serial Rapist was arrested for raping a 15 year old local girl.  The Police then reexamined the rape at Gordon and all the Rapists Student Buddies changed their stories mighty quick.  Plus they found out the Rapist who was a Baptist Pastors Son was thrown out of another Christian college for raping a female student. Hence the hailed return of a Conservative to Campus was s FLOP in my mind especially in light of all the media coverage of BJU before the fact.   

Cedarville’s return to the perceived conservative leanings involved appointing Paige Patterson to the board.  Someone may correct me on this it’s just what I read. However it would explain Cedarville joining at the Hip with Ethnos 360 AKA: New Tribes Mission in a Special Grad Program.  If that’s conservatism give me the Liberal bent any day of the week.  At least I’d know my granddaughters or daughter were safe on campus.  

Larry's picture

Moderator

Did you read any part of the GRACE report on BJU?   

Yes, I read all of the BJU report. I have known many of the people in it personally for almost my entire life.

You can say whatever you may like, but for at least the BJU report, they did speak with both sides, and they did compare the claims to the responses by the administrators and staff.  That's how investigations are supposed to work. 

You missed the point completely. The point isn't that they spoke with both sides. It is rather that there was no cross examination of witnesses. In a court of law, there is an adversarial process by which claims are made and then questioned. It is basic legal procedure. It's part of the Bill of Rights. Someone on one side tries to make a case, while someone on the other side tries to disprove the testimony, or poke holes in it, causing reasonable doubt (or greater). The same person cannot be both the prosecuting attorney and defense attorney. It requires two different people. No one at GRACE does that. And that's a major problem with the GRACE. Their investigations have no adversarial process. They play both sides and they are biased towards victims. They should be. They can't try to prove an accuser wrong. They are victim advocates. But that will color their approach. And in a significant sense, that makes it worse than a criminal investigation because an accused person has no chance to defend themselves. 

Remember the recent events with Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford. Remember how virtually everyone believed her until the adversarial process started and it turns out there were all kinds of problems. Kavanaugh had no chance to question the accuser. He had no real way to defend himself. But those problems were not raised by a process like GRACE. No one does that in a GRACE investigation. I am not saying they should do that but it colors the approach and the result. 

GRACE might be a good way to help organizations develop plans and policies for dealing with sexual abuse. It isn't a great way to get at the truth of a accusation.

So the problem is that people treat GRACE like a judicial entity who discovers crimes and declares guilt. But they are no such thing. That's also why it is so difficult to make any comments critical of GRACE because people (as I am sure some will do here) will think I am discounting the accusations and blaming victims, etc. I am doing no such thing. I am  simply commenting on the limits of GRACE's procedures and process.

Are they not supposed to report failures and blindspots in the organizations they are investigating when they're complete?

I would say this is what they are supposed to do. They should not act as both attorneys, judge, and jury. 

I've already ceded this point to you.  I'm not sure why it's coming up again, but I have no objection to this phrase.  If it's really that much clearer and less inflammatory, then fine.  So why are you parking on it?  Is it because we use the term "victim" instead of "accuser"?  

I am not parking on it. It's coming up again because you said several of you on Twitter were looking for a better phrase and I was pointing out that you had already agreed there was a better phrase. So why not use it?

You know, NY just passed a law permitting people to come forward and either press charges or reopen old investigations.  As of yesterday's report, US News said that 427 cases had been opened or filed.  There's a slew of reasons why people don't report, as Bert and I have mentioned.

Again, you completely miss the point. Prior to yesterday, you had no idea there were 427 unreported cases. There was no way to know because they aren't reported. And there are no way to know how many will be reported next week or next month. Because we don't know how many there are. How is that not so incredibly clear? How would we know how many things we weren't told about?

BTW, my guess is that many of those will get thrown out. There is a statute of limitations for a reason and it probably won't be overruled for long. Statutes of limitations are to protect the cases and people from the deterioation of evidence over time. 

Here are some reasons why people don't report:

Of course, there are all kinds of reasons why people don't report. Some are good and some are bad. That is again, completely missing the point. The point is that they don't report and there is no way to know how many people don't report because they don't report. 

To say X% of assaults are not reported requires knowing how many people were assaulted and how many people report to do the math to figure the %. By virtue of reality, you only know the people who report. You don't know the total number of assaults to begin with.

Is it that terrible to say "we should investigate a persons' claim"?

Not at all. That is what I have said all along. I am glad you agree with me on this.

Joeb's picture

Larry the point is in almost half the BJU cases Berg and/or his associates advised the gals not to go to the Police which in other words the  matters were buried.    Hence the victims never got their chance for their day court criminally and/or civilly. So claiming that since no court ruled on the matters one can’t accuse another of bad actions is baloney.  There is still a viable admin action if one is a pastor or one is currently still employed in the said institution.  In any other educational institutions Berg would have been FIRED.  Also BERG and his associates  still demonstrated clear sinful wrong and unethical behavior.  Stop the old court of law routine that’s what all the offending institutions and people go to when the want to defuse the allegations   Oh since it was not proven in court it can’t be said to be true   

Pastor Savage from the Mega Church in Memphis got fired along with the Senior Pastor and two other Pastors that covered up the matter 25 years ago were fired by their churches.  Savage lied to the bitter end then when an independent investigation which was caused by the bloggers nailed Savage to the wall Savage as he went out the door finally admitted he attacked the young lady and forced himself on her.  No court no jury that was denied by the other Pastors 25 years ago Larry  

Due to all these situations in churches and major institutions I never want to hear them say anything regarding public school teachers or government employees.  

In regards to those fine BJU people today Larry Petitt is still visiting a church that has been a bad actor for years or off shoots and associates who are also bad actors to. The one Church is by me and another one is by me and all Pastored by BJU grads.  They all keep coming up in the funny Papers as recent as this year or two years ago.  I’m not talking about Calvary Baptist in Lansdale which is a very fine church.  

The one BJU Trained Pastor this year told a women to submit to her boyfriend a church member even though she told the Pastor he is raping me and my daughter.  Oh yeah Larry proven in court.   Also the other associated church by me was involved in the BJU Trained missionaries in Australia.

 The  brother of the Pastor of the central bad church was the offending missionary. The BJU Trained Missionary brutally beat and raped his wife for forty years.  The one son finally got the sending Church Pastor to do something.  Yeah he did something alright he never called the cops and took them off the field and COUNSELED THEM ie Cover Up and Internally Handled again. I’m sure Berg style Counseling was used and then the Counseling Pastor returned them to the field.  

Well guess what Porno Watching Missionary Daddy starts raping and beating his wife again and the wife finally goes to Australian Police and Husband dearest gets five years.  

Well this whole thing splits the family.  One son backs mom and the other backs Daddy. It’s all on Australia’s version of 60 minutes on You Tube.  The Reporter interviews the son siding with Daddy who says the matter should have never been reported to the Police and handled by the church.  The Reporter interviews the Counseling Pastor stateside who admits he knew their was a risk that daddy could get violent.  I won’t mention the name but Bert confirmed it before.  Bottom line why is Pettit still visiting and dealing with these offensive clowns.

 

I even talked to the Counseling  Pastor a couple times on the Phone once when I was doing business. Seemed like a nice guy.   Now the Counseling Pastor to his credit disassociated with the son siding with the Father.  The closing interview with the mother and the son siding with her basically alleged that they have been abused in an evil cult their whole lives ie Pastors Trained by BJU leading a Cult Of interlinking churches. 

Dont mean to pick on BJU.  Cedarville is openly associating with the worst on going criminal missionary organization there is which is named Ethnos 360 AKA New Tribes Missions. Ethnos 360 makes the  BJU situation and other situations look like the minor leagues.  

So the alleged conservatives in the SBC Gordon and  Cedarville are in my mind all bad actors.  So why would one not want to consider what the middle is saying re social involvement in the SBC.  This is what Moore is sounding off about.  The Conservatives have proven themselves to clearly be hypocrites at least at the SBC and they polluted Cedarville.  Very sad.  

Jay's picture

Don't mean to pick on BJU.  Cedarville is openly associating with the worst on going criminal missionary organization there is which is named Ethnos 360 AKA New Tribes Missions. Ethnos 360 makes the  BJU situation and other situations look like the minor leagues.  

And my entire point is that we all need to get better at handling these types of allegations and charges.  It doesn't matter if it's BJU, the SBC, Ethnos, ABWE, or whoever.  Churches need to improve on this subject.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Bert Perry's picture

Larry, there are numerous researchers who do phone surveys of various populations to determine that a huge portion of people who report actions meeting the definition of sexual assault do not report this to police.  The numbers are messy, to be sure, and I have some concern that there may be a difference in the nature of crimes reported to police vs. those not reported to police, but over the past 25 years or so, a fair number of studies have been done to demonstrate that a huge portion of crimes of various types are not reported.  

Regarding the investigations that GRACE does, what they are is the best we can do without subpoena power and the ability to collect physical (circumstantial) evidence.  Both sides are interviewed, and just like the police doing initial interviews of accusers and accused, they comb through the testimony and try and figure out what really happened.  It's definitely not as good as what the police do (again, when they're motivated), but it is fair to both sides, and does use prosecutorial best practices.  

What it does, really, is to function as an audit akin to those of ISO, and that in turn will allow the organization to see its own culture clearly, its strengths, and its weaknesses.  For example, the strength of BJU, as revealed in the Grace report, was that a lot of the matters involved were already documented.  The weaknesses were that the counseling model tended to blame the victim (often punishing student code misdeeds like fraternization but ignoring sexual assault), and that the school tended to handle things in-house instead of alerting authorities, effectively pushing the matters under the rug until #MeToo encouraged victims to speak up.

Worth noting is that this is about the same list of things observed at ABWE, with the MSU/USA Gymnastics/USOC/Larry Nassar scandal, with the Tina Anderson/Chuck Phelps rape scandal, the Boy Scouts, and the Catholic Church. 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Joeb,

That's a rather strange post in response to me it seems. I am not sure you read anything I said since you didn't address any of it and in fact seemed to imply things I never said. Nonetheless, it sounds like you agree with me in large part so I am glad for that.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Bert,

Phone surveys are fine but they do not provide actual data. As far as GRACE and the best we can do, I disagree. What GRACE does could be very helpful im identifying weaknesses and problems and establishing policie and procedures, but it's not fair to both sides in any meaningful sense of fair. There is no opportunity to cross examine witnesses. There is no collection of physical evidence (which is generally not circumstantial I don't believe). The mistake many seem to make is taking a GRACE report (or similar reports) and giving them the weight of a judicial finding.

I think the best we can do is report where required and encourage others to report and establish good policies for protection. 

Joeb's picture

Larry if I misunderstood you then  I apologize but still disagree about your opinion of using Grace. for an Independent investigation.   Independent Administrative  investigations are a common tool used by Corporations and Nonprofits where the Police due for whatever reasons are not involved ie Statute of Limitations.  

Independent investigations allows corporations to set new policies or remedy a problem like sexual harassment.   They get the results and then fire the offender or financially penalize them like not giving them a bonus. No court no jury period just fired.   So Bert is very correct in bringing this point of an Independent Investigator up. It is best practice in employment situations. Since the victims were cheated out of getting any justice why not an Independent Investigation to fire the bad actors or clarify no criminal activity occurred which was the result of the BJU Grace Investigation. BJU made some adjustments of course and some people wanted more but it’s BJU’S campus and they can operate it as they see fit if they are not breaking any civil or criminal laws.  Also people can vote with their feet and not go there.   

Larry I’ll say this I have a higher opinion of BJU then Cedarville now. At least BJU doesn’t have a love for snuggling up to Organized Criminal Organizations like Ethnos 360 AKA: New Tribes. I’d think I’d trust the safety of my daughter or granddaughter with the Genovese Crime Family then I would with Ethnos 360.  At least they know how to deal with abusers of children.  Like swimming with the fishes.  I’d also would have no problem with my daughter or granddaughter going to BJU safety wise.    

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