Malcolm Yarnell Thread on Autonomy and Discipline

"Does Local Church Autonomy keep the Southern Baptist Convention from dealing with its sexual abuse crisis or even from realizing the extent of that crisis?" - SBC Voices

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Jay's picture

This came across the Twitter wire today - The SBC, the Baptist General Association of Virginia and the Petersburg Baptist Association are all specifically named by the plaintiffs in a civil lawsuit working its' way through the Virginia court system. 

As far as I know, this is the first time the SBC's use of "local church autonomy" is being challenged by lawyers.  It could be a huge decision if they rule that those entities should be held legally liable because it could open up the entire SBC to lawsuits like the RCC was.  I think that the SBC will lose the argument for a couple of reasons I won't unpack here.

Links:
Capstone Report (This was the initial report that I saw with background of the case)
NBC12 News Report
Subpoena Request (the subpoena is to an SBC-affiliated church with no clear tie to the civil suit).

"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

If the SBC is a club with club rules--call it something like the "Baptist Faith and Message"--then that club can enforce the rules and exclude members who break the rules.  We simply have to decide what the key rules are.

The way I see things, congregational church polity does not mean that churches and associations can not warn other churches about known bad actors, and it does not mean that an association cannot keep a list of known bad actors that churches can use to avoid hiring and employing them.  It simply means that one church gets to make its own decisions, and other churches can chose whether or not to have fellowship with them. 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

Jay wrote:

This came across the Twitter wire today - The SBC, the Baptist General Association of Virginia and the Petersburg Baptist Association are all specifically named by the plaintiffs in a civil lawsuit working its' way through the Virginia court system. 

As far as I know, this is the first time the SBC's use of "local church autonomy" is being challenged by lawyers.  It could be a huge decision if they rule that those entities should be held legally liable because it could open up the entire SBC to lawsuits like the RCC was.  I think that the SBC will lose the argument for a couple of reasons I won't unpack here.

Links:
Capstone Report (This was the initial report that I saw with background of the case)
NBC12 News Report
Subpoena Request (the subpoena is to an SBC-affiliated church with no clear tie to the civil suit).

Jay,

The SBC and the state convention and the local association have absolutely no control over local church operations. None. They cannot tell a local church to do anything! At best, some court will try to rule that they could eject the church from the association. That is all they can do to "control" a church.

Mark_Smith's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

If the SBC is a club with club rules--call it something like the "Baptist Faith and Message"--then that club can enforce the rules and exclude members who break the rules.  We simply have to decide what the key rules are.

The way I see things, congregational church polity does not mean that churches and associations can not warn other churches about known bad actors, and it does not mean that an association cannot keep a list of known bad actors that churches can use to avoid hiring and employing them.  It simply means that one church gets to make its own decisions, and other churches can chose whether or not to have fellowship with them. 

Bert, In theory the SBC can eject a church for violating the BFM. Historically, it has to be egregious, and I mean EGREGIOUS, for the SBC to do that. It is serious politics to eject a church. Only things like ordaining women or homosexuals get close to ejection, and even then several megachurches have ordained women and survived. To make a long story short, the consensus of the SBC is that they don't want to use the BFM to control people externally.

Joeb's picture

Xxx. 

Joeb's picture

If they won't get rid of churches repeatedly protecting male pedophiles, but get rid a of church for having a gay minister then let the whole local state national SBC associations and churches burn from civil lawsuits.  You don't associate with criminal organizations period.  Be it the SBC ABWE or Ethnos 360 AKA: New Tribes Mission.
 

Unfortunately the SBC Nationally and at the State level along with some GARB churches Evangelical Churches and former GARB Educational institutions don't want to hold anyone accountable.  As long as the so-called parties are repentant, which is usually an empty I'm sorry.  Everything is all right with the Lord even though they are still protecting criminals.  So be it let the lawsuits squeeze every dime possible out of all of them.   
 

Funny   I just read an article written by a former Professor of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary  (SWBTS). This prof made the statement that the problems at SWBTS had nothing to do with "LIBERALS" but had everything to do with misogamy and Gothardite heresies.  I guess this former profs opinion was right because the new SWBTS Seminary President is having all those stained glass windows celebrating the triumph of Conservatism  over Liberalism removed from the Chapel. In particular the one dedicated to Paige Patterson and his wife.    

According to the Survivors blogs Godly Paige Patterson is already out preaching at SBC churches.  I'm sure he is collecting honorariums along the way.  Also the Survivors blogs are saying that neither the National Association nor state associations are not making one peep of protest about Paige's speaking engagements   Like I have said before even a Circus Chimp could figure out this is wrong yet people with all these theological degrees can't   It seems those demon liberals and gays are worse then pedophiles and rapists   Being a liberal or gay is not a criminal act.  

Bert Perry's picture

Mark, so in your mind, tolerating rapists in the pulpit and in children's ministry isn't egregious?  Really?  Precisely what behaviors would SBC churches and associations need to see before they fire a man or put him on a list as "unsuitable for ministry"?  Would murder qualify?  Or do we need multiple murders with aggravating circumstances like torture and dismemberment?   (or maybe if he has a beer or dances...maybe that's more of the "egregious sin" as defined by the SBC?)

What you wrote is just plain obscene, Mark.  You should be ashamed.  If congregational church polity means, to you, that a church can tolerate a rapist in ministry or fail to warn other churches when that rapist is shown the door, that doctrine can go where the sun doesn't shine.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

Mark, so in your mind, tolerating rapists in the pulpit and in children's ministry isn't egregious?  Really? 

Bert, I'm not going to even dignify that silly question with a response. I was attempting to tell you the politics of the SBC since you know nothing about it, sir.

I wasn't giving my opinion, oh genius of Sharper Iron. I was educating you on what SBC folk have thought for 50 years about autonomy.

Rather than jump on me for a comment on a thread, how about you read the 10000+ articles on SBC Voices, the thread this blog links to, to find out SBC thinking.

Mark_Smith's picture

Joeb wrote:

If they won't get rid of churches repeatedly protecting male pedophiles,

What SBC church has "repeatedly protected male pedophiles"?

Mark_Smith's picture

was the SBC is not set up to throw church out for not toeing the line on the BFM. Shoot. All kinds of churches violate the BFM for all kinds of things. Because of that, no one wants the BFM used to start chucking people out. That is reality.

There are better ways to handle the sex assault issue than expelling churches.

Mark_Smith's picture

2 Things the SBC will never do:

1- Start throwing out churches for violating the BFM.

2- Start a denomination wide ordination process.

Many in the SBC pride themselves as a loose organization united around one thing, missions. Other than that, leave me alone. That is a pervasive attitude in many SBC churches.

 

Bert Perry's picture

Mark, regarding your contention that the SBC is not set up to expel churches that tolerate rapists, no less than the President of the SBC disagrees with you.  Come on, Mark, you yourself said that the behavior had to be egregious to warrant expulsion.  Well, doesn't tolerating rapists in the pulpit qualify?  Shouldn't it?  Or does it have to be something really serious like having a beer or dancing?

Now perhaps there is yet a Paige Patterson wing of the SBC that ignores basic tort law and thinks--as did the Roman Catholic Church until recently--that somehow the courts are going to bow to canon law and ignore the fact that people are being raped by pastors with the knowledge of the association, but I have the hope that this wing will wake up before the courts slap them into next week too many times. 

In this case, the subpoena indicates that the plaintiffs have some idea of what documents are out there, just like the complaint in the lawsuit against SWBTS and Patterson.  End result is going to be, IMO, that SBC churches are going to make some huge payments, many facilities will be lost, and eventually the Paige Patterson wing is going to realize that tolerating rapists in the pulpit is a big deal.

A side note here; if by some horrible chance the SBC evades accountability at the soap box (e.g. here) and the jury box (e.g. this case and the SWBTS case), Frederick Douglas warned that people have two other avenues for recourse; the ballot box (e.g. laws changing the landscape) and the cartridge box.  Folks, it could be really expensive to learn the lesson suggested here, but it's far less expensive than having large numbers of raped youngsters and their parents being told they will get no recourse in tort law.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Joeb's picture

The general attitude by  SBC males was clearly demonstrated when Al Mohler made light of the allegations regarding CJ MAHANNEY with MAHANNEY on stage with him at a conference. Now afterwards Rachel DeHollander brought Al Mohler to his knees in repentance, but only after the whole survivors network confronted him. This alone shows the attitude of SBC Male Leaders attitude which is grossly sinful.  All you have to do is watch Paige Patterson crowd types attacking Beth Moore and Rachel DeHollander just as John McArthur did regarding Moore.  Being that McArthur has been accused of pulling a Paige Patterson it makes it that more gross. 
 

On my old job I watched a very interesting live video one time.  It was a shooting at an airport.  The moral of the story was  shooters can come from no where.  
 

In this instance the Police were escorting a prisoner who viciously raped a man's daughter.  Guess who was acting like he was talking on the phone at a phone booth as the prisoner was being led down the hall way by the Police.  Daddy dearest.  

As the prisoner approached daddy Dadddy turned into the prisoner and emptied his 357 revovlver into the prisoner's guts.  After doing so he handed the gun to the Police Officer and turned around and assumed the position to get handcuffed.  
 

So Bert's statement about the cartridge box is not far fetched and if these Pastors keep doing the wrong thing they're eventually going to run into a father or brother who decides to take matters into his own hands.    
 

Note:  Mark the SBC is not the only offender.  They are just the ones on the chopping block right now.  Believe me lawsuits are going on right now in a very historic church and the alleged Paige Patterson type guy is now the President of a Christian University.  So these things are throughout evangelicalism but the cases against the SBC may set the table for these other matters.  
 

PA is now on course to pass the retroactively dropping of the statutes of limitations on lawsuits for child abuse.  It will take them about three more years but now all sides are committted to getting it done since my Former Republican State  Senator's son Jr lost to a Democrat. This Lady Democrat  was formerly a nurse that handled child abuse cases.  My former Senator Stewart Greenleif was the biggest stumbling block to this getting done.

 In  addition to the Catholic Church who is the biggest offender ABWE hopefully  will be  plucked like a spring chicken.  Remember ABWE shared the same board members with Clark's Summit University and Some GARB churches were allegedly involved in the cover up.  Hence Ketchum's victims may have a bigger pool to go after since there is still standing allegations that ABWE is covering up other names of offenders they protected.  

Bert Perry's picture

I don't know whether I should be proud or ashamed of this, but I believe I've seen that video Joe refers to.  And I confess, along the same lines, that when I saw the video of Randall Margraves trying to get to Larry Nassar to kill him, I was kinda rooting for the bailiffs to miss the tackle.  Sad to say, unlike too many MSU football players I've watched over the years, they made it.  And then you've got--to describe another form of horrific abuse--that one of the ways Harriett Tubman evened the odds with slavers was with the help of Samuel Colt.  Like they say, "God made man and woman, but Colonel Colt made them equal."   And ABWE?  That'll be an interesting case, as the crimes involved happened in Bangladesh.  There may be laws that cover that, but that's going to be an interesting one.

Good news on the evangelical front; Rachael Denhollander is interviewed in the January 2020 Focus on the Family Newsletter.  So millions of people who otherwise might be tempted to remain part of the "Paige Patterson" wing of the SBC (and other churches) are going to hear the other side of the question from someone who is in the trenches.  The ball is moving; three yards and a pile of dust.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert Perry's picture

Mark, what, then, is your point in vehemently pointing out that there is indeed a Paige Patterson wing of the SBC that isn't set up to take action on these things?  What is your point, then, in saying we "know nothing" about certain things?

My take on this particular case is that it's not Boz Tchividjian or John Manly taking it, but the attorney is a graduate of Grand Canyon U. (in other words, at least grew up as one of us and may identify as such still) and seems to be achieving some success just a couple of years after graduating from law school.  He's got the transcripts from the criminal trial of the perp and seems to know where to look for more evidence.  

Now while it's possible that it's not a slam dunk for the plaintiffs here, there are going to be a lot more cases like this as people say "s**ew it, I'm speaking up".  Either the SBC can get their act together and start believing that tolerating rapists is indeed an egregious violation of their club rules, or they can start signing over asset after asset, church after church, to plaintiffs.

Whose side are you going to be on, Mark?  Are you going to stand for the status quo, or are you going to speak up and say "I don't care how long you've been doing this, it's got to stop."

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert Perry's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

 

Joeb wrote:

 

If they won't get rid of churches repeatedly protecting male pedophiles,

 

 

What SBC church has "repeatedly protected male pedophiles"?

As I linked before, Mark, the President of the SBC came up with a list of churches which have done exactly that.  But since you ask, do the names "Paige Patterson" and "Darrell Gilyard" mean anything to you?  It is also alleged that in the case discussed here, the church which employed the convicted pedophile did precisely that.  There is also a set of reports from the Houston Chronicle detailing hundreds of cases of sexual assault in Baptist churches.

Does that count?   Again, the defensive tactics you're using do indeed raise the very real question of your motivations.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Mark_Smith's picture

I pity you sometimes. Read what I wrote, and then try to connect what I wrote to defending any of what you wrote. Honestly... get a clue.