INTRODUCTION to 1995 Series Centering on Clergy Sexual Abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention, published in BAPTISTS TODAY

by Dee Ann Miller
from author's home page:

The eight articles contained in this section were written and published in early 1995, in response to a request by Jack Harwell, the editor of Baptists Today. This publication sprung up in the late 80's, as a result of the political take-over of the Southern Baptist Convention. The take-over occurred by ultra-fundamentalists in 1988, after a decade of well-orchestrated moves to get control of the agencies and places of leadership within the Convention.

For those who do not know, the Southern Baptist Convention was organized in 1845 as an act of rebellion. The issue was the desire to appoint a slave-owner as a foreign missionary in Africa! The myth passed down through the years has been that the purpose of the SBC's formation was for the cause of missions.

Baptists Today became one of the free voices for those who were grieving over the take-over and wanted to remain connected to like-minded people. Among its readers were many who had lost careers because of their refusal to go along with the right-winged thinking that now dominates the Southern Baptist Convention.

The articles in this section are as timely today as they were in 1995. Parts of the articles will pertain specifically to structures and terms that will be familiar only to Southern Baptists or former members of this convention. Hopefully, this explanation will help readers to understand the context.

One note of interest: The same week that the invitation came to write these articles, I learned that I had breast cancer. Thus, you will find this fact used as a metaphor in the first articles. Ironically, one of the few blatantly-negative responses I've gotten to my writing came after the first article. It was from a pastor who refused to believe what I was saying about the widespread problems of abusive clergy. He expressed his anger for being misled by the title, for he was also a cancer survivor who said he didn't find any of the promised hope in the article. (Of course the titles were not of my choice, but I saw no problem with them.)

Otherwise, most readers seemed to be simply ignoring this series, though there was some knee-jerk reaction from the Baptist Sunday School Board, a story that's more thoroughly highlighted in Enlarging Boston's Spotlight: A Call for Courage, Integrity, and Institutional Transformation (2017)

Whether you are a Baptist or not, I trust that you will find in the articles helpful insights, regardless of the year you are reading them, even for generations to come.

Articles in this series:
Article 1: Struggles with Cancer Teach Disciplines of Patience, Hope
Article 2: Churches Must Be Honest to Confront Sexual Abuse
Article 3: Denial and Ignorance Hinder Answers to Severe Problems
Article 4: 'Hold Hands in the Dark' with Victims of Violence
Article 5: The Kingdom Is Not Served by Self-Seeking Secrecy
Article 6: Christians Need Courage to Break the Silence Barrier
Article 7: Victim Asks: "What If's?" about Clergy Sexual Abuse
Article 8: 'A Mistake of the System' Calls Out for Compassion

Dee Ann Miller is the author of Enlarging Boston's Spotlight: A Call for Courage, Integrity, and Institutional Transformation (2017) How Little We Knew: Collusion and Confusion with Sexual Misconduct (1993) and The Truth about Malarkey (2000)