The ever gutsy Dave Miller over at SBC Voices got hammered for suggesting we no longer need the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. Some raced in to tout the helpful work of the ERCL. I still am looking for evidence. Instead I keep finding reasons to question if this is money well spent and if we can point to any real benefit beyond re-capitulating the Republican National Committee’s platform.
My religion reporter friend knew I was on vacation. Greg also knew I have been disturbed by the ERCL-Richard Land Debacle. He sends over a piece on Florida Baptists. The default Baptist response has been autonomy. We get some of the religious liberty side of our heritage. We do not do so well with the ethics side. I care not to debate but one issue characterized in this sentence from the linked article,
The verdict, which came at the end of a two-week trial, found the state convention negligent for failing to check with former employers of Douglas Myers, now in prison for molesting a 13-year-old boy he met at a church he started with support from Southern Baptists in Florida.
No one checked. My friend David Phillips served on a Church Planter Assessment Team for the Maryland-Delaware Baptist Convention. Their success rate over the past five years – 100%. (It actually may be better than this but I am working from memory here while on vacation.) Why? Due diligence. References were called.
How is this an ERLC matter? Would that our Ethics Czar spent time calling for a clergy sex-offender registry as an ethical response to a moral crisis in our Country and denomination just maybe a 13-year old boy would have been spared. And, this is just one instance. Wade Burleson has been championing this matter since at least the SBC Annual meeting in San Antonio. Christa Brown has been cajoling the SBC for longer than that. But, when we are worrying more about who is in the White House than who is in our pulpits and positions of leadership we witness what is really important.
This is not only a Richard Land fail. This is an ERLC Trustee fail. This is an SBC fail. How I wish the Court could mandate the SBC to establish an offender registry since we do not have the fortitude to do so. We claim manpower issues. We claim autonomy. Here is the ethical connection for me. Having counseled more than my share of people suffering from such abuse I see it a total inconsistency to shout from the rooftops and pass out roses at State Capitol Buildings that we value life yet refuse to illustrate it across the board.
I read some who did not like the association of racism with abortion over at SBC Voices. I am sure the same will not like this connection. But, let me say it strongly. Why would we advocate for the not-yet-born inviting them into an environment and potential circumstances where the life we value is not cared for with the same intensity once they exit the womb?