In the News

“If religion matters at all, it matters enough to be taken to task.”
 — from the manifesto of Killing the Buddha

— In talking about the extraordinary work of Australia’s Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette points out that Christa Brown has long urged “something akin to a truth and reconciliation commission” on clergy sex abuse in this country. “Whether it’s an attorney general’s office or some other outside organization… yes, it is needed.” “Could a grand jury find sexual abuse among non-Catholic organizations? Religious leaders say yes,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 6/25/18. [Reprinted as “Victims’ advocates: Abuse not a ‘Catholic problem’,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 6/25/18.]

— Quoted stating that “very little” has changed “institutionally” since SNAP first wrote to the SBC in 2006: “I believe it is inevitable that, eventually, the denomination will cooperatively empower an independent review board that receives and archives abuse reports — hence, a database. Sadly, I think it will take many more wounded kids, many more high-profile scandals, and many more lawsuits. But someday — I do believe it is inevitable.” “Southern Baptists and #MeToo: Advocates for church sex abuse victims push for reform,” Salon, 6/18/2018.

— In responding to Al Mohler’s call for independent third-party investigations of abuse allegations, I’m quoted challenging him to make the same call with respect to his own faith group, the Southern Baptist Convention. An independent review board and archive of abuse reports “are still much-needed if this denomination wants to get real” about dealing responsibly with sexual abuse. This article provides a condensed history of efforts to foster accountability in the SBC and also tells my story. #AlMohlerToo: Did a Southern Baptist power broker just get woke?” Baptist News Global, 5/30/2018.

— Quoted at length in a story about a pastor’s serial abuse of teens at First Baptist Church of Modesto, the church cover-up, and the pastor’s continuing career at Highlands Church in Scottsdale, Arizona. “This pattern of protecting the ministry is one we’ve seen over and over in evangelical churches, and the time for change is long overdue.” “Back rubs with teen girls evolved into sex; another former Modesto pastor accused,” The Modesto Bee, 4/21/2018.

— On the resignation of Southern Baptist Convention CEO Frank Page, I’m quoted: “… his legacy is also notable for how he disparaged and dismissed those who tried to bring to light clergy sex crimes against children….” (by publicly branding us as “opportunists”) “For many clergy sex abuse survivors, that hateful slur is what we will most remember about Frank Page — that and the fact that, on his watch, no one in SBC leadership would help us in seeking to warn others about abusive ministers.” “Southern Baptist leader steps down over moral ‘indiscretion’,” Baptist News Global, 3/28/2018.

— Responding to an evangelical pastor who urges complementarian theology for the prevention of sexual abuse, I’m quoted: “Because complementarian theology promotes a power differential between men and women, it fosters the sort of abuse of power that devolves into sexual abuse.” “Evangelical pastor claims traditional gender roles can prevent sexual abuse,” Huffington Post, 3/26/2018.

— In California story of a Baptist minister who had 30-year career in ministry even after others knew about his abuse of a kid, I’m quoted: “What about all the other people who knew, who for 30 years could have raised some question of whether this guy was fit to be working in a position of trust, and kept their mouths zipped…? Until the cover-uppers face consequences, this will keep happening.” “Former Modesto pastor placed on leave at Kansas City church,” The Modesto Bee, 3/1/2018.

— Quoted in case of Baptist clergy sex abuse cover-up in California: “The notion that you better forgive and the grace of God will redeem him is lovely sounding in the abstract, but it can get twisted to be enabling. There need to be consequences for cover-uppers.” “Teen said Modesto pastor abused her. Church ‘swept it under the rug’,” The Modesto Bee, 2/24/2018.

— On the subject of sexual abuse in evangelical churches, I’m quoted in the Huffington Post: “The toxicity of this combination — a lack of accountability structures and a patriarchal theology — taints evangelical culture at its very core…. What most evangelical groups now have is a system that tells abuse survivors to take their complaint to the local church ― i.e., the church of the accused pastor. This is akin to telling bloody sheep that they should go to the den of the wolf who savaged them.” “First woman to accuse Nassar says church can be one of ‘worst places’ to go for help,Huffington Post, 2/2/2018. (Reprinted at Yahoo News)

— The Washington Post quotes me as “an expert on church abuse scandals and coverups”: “Religious leaders use forgiveness theology as a cover and as an avoidance of accountability. And it’s a way of further shaming victims. … Faith can be a very powerful thing, and power without accountability is a dangerous thing.” “A pastor admitted a past ‘sexual incident’ with a teen … His congregation gave him a standing ovation,” Washington Post, 1/10/2018.

— In connection with the sexual abuse allegations against Paul Pressler, I’m quoted explaining how religiosity often gets used in the grooming process: “In the stories of scores of Baptist clergy sex abuse survivors, I have heard this sort of religious messaging used as a weapon for perpetrating terrible crimes against kids. When forged with the evil intent of a child molester, the voice of God’s authority creates a weapon more powerful than any gun for ensuring the quiet compliance of kids who have been raised in the faith community’s bubble.” “SBC leaders mostly mum on Pressler lawsuit, but bloggers fill the void,” Baptist News Global, 12/14/2017

— On the Baylor/Ken Starr scandal, I was quoted and my book referenced: “The Findings of Fact reveal patterns of institutional failure at Baylor that are similar to what we have seen in the handling of sexual assault allegations within many other organizations, including many Baptist organizations,” I said. “They are systemic and embedded patterns, and it will take a strong and long-continuing institutional commitment to eradicate them.” “Baylor shake-up continues with Starr’s resignation,” Baptist News Global, 6/1/2016.

— In connection with a proposed resolution “on sexual predation in the Southern Baptist Convention,” Patheos.com linked to my column and stated, “Christa Brown discusses the limits of that resolution, and what more the SBC needs to do.” Patheos.com, “The Revolution is just a T-shirt away,” 4/20/2016.

— Law professor, religion-writer, and former sex-crimes prosecutor Boz Tchvidjian quotes from my book in his “Rhymes with Religion” column about the dynamics of spousal abuse in connection with the case of NFL player Ray Rice. “How some churches support spousal abuse,” Religion News Service, 9/12/2014.

— In discussing how Southern Baptist churches often demonize those who attempt to report clergy abuse and allow predatory clergy to church-hop, I state: “Until Southern Baptist leaders can honestly acknowledge the wrong in what they have done in the past and until they will hold accountable those pastors who have covered up for clergy sex crimes, no one should expect the future in Baptistland to be any different.” “Trial shines light on alleged abuse cover-up,” ABP News, 5/14/2014.

— My book, This Little Light, is quoted by Rachel Marie Stone in a Religion News Service article: “One of the saddest aspects of clergy sex abuse is that it not only inflicts the grievous trauma of sexual abuse but it simultaneously yanks a powerful resource for healing.” “A new haven opens for survivors of clergy sexual abuse,” Religion News Service, 3/14/2014.

—  My book, This Little Light, is described by Religion News Service writer Boz Tchividjian in his column, “A church silent in the face of evil is no church at all.” Religion News Service, 2/14/2014.

— From an article by Frederick Clarkson of Political Research Associates: “Christa Brown… suggests that SBC leaders have not created mechanisms for disciplining those who ‘cover-up for the unspeakable crimes of their colleagues,’ either because they are afraid or because they just don’t care. She also observes that there is no denominational process for assessing clergy abuse reports, keeping records of ministerial abuses, or providing a way to inform congregations about accused ministers. ‘One of the best ways to protect children in the future,’ Brown concludes, ‘is to hear the voices of those who are attempting to tell about abuse in the past. Those voices almost always carry ugly, hard truths – truths about not only the preacher-predators but also about the many others who turned a blind eye or who were complicit in covering up for clergy child molestations.’ “When the ‘Family Values’ agenda includes child sex abuse,” PoliticalResearch.org, 1/27/2014.

—  Quoted on the subject of a $12.5 million clergy sex abuse verdict against the Florida Baptist Convention: “Cases such as this are what it will take for kids to eventually gain better protection against preacher-predators in the Southern Baptist Convention…. I believe it is only a matter of time before courts will recognize that, in the context of clergy sex abuse, Southern Baptists are distorting their doctrine of local church autonomy so as to make it function as a legal strategy for minimizing the risk of liability rather than as a true religious doctrine. When courts finally recognize that reality, Baptist denominational entities will not be protected against their long, immoral and unconscionable history of do-nothingness in the face of clergy abuse reports.” “Lawyer: Abuse verdict possible game-changer,” Associated Baptist Press, 1/22/2014.

— “A leading advocate for victims of sex abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention offered a remarkable idea. Christa Brown of Stop Baptist Predators suggested a Truth and Reconciliation commission, modeled on the one that helped South Africans put the horrors of apartheid behind them, might also help the Southern Baptist Convention come to grips with its child sex abuse scandal.” Frederick Clarkson, Child Sex Abuse Crisis of the Religious Right Grows, Daily Kos, 12/10/2013.

— Quoted extensively on the subject of why outsiders are essential to any organizational system of accountability in Rick Cohen’s article on “The Dangers of Keeping Organizational Secrets.” Nonprofit Quarterly, 11/7/2013.

— In “Evangelicals behind Catholics on Abuse,” my book is referenced and I’m quoted talking about “many of us who were abused by the sexual predation of evangelical ministers and re-abused by the bullying of other evangelical leaders who wanted to keep the abuse quiet.” Baptist News Global, 9/27/2013. Also in Evangelicals ‘worse’ than Catholics on sexual abuse,” Christian Century, 10/10/2013.

— Quoted extensively by award-winning religion writer Peter Smith on evangelicals’ need for something akin to a “Truth and Reconciliation” Commission for confronting clergy sex abuse in their ranks. “Evangelicals urged to confront sexual abuse,” Louisville Courier-Journal, 8/15/2013.

— Quoted on the subject of the SBC’s 2013 annual convention, calling it “another year of Baptist do-nothingness” on clergy sex abuse and noting that Southern Baptists promised nothing but prayer for clergy abuse survivors. Associated Baptist Press, 6/14/2013,

— “‘I just can’t imagine a more recalcitrant church hierarchy’, Clohessy commented … after witnessing interactions between Southern Baptist Convention leaders and SNAP’s then-Baptist representative, Christa Brown. ‘I’ve seen Baptist officials be stunningly cruel to her — in person and in print.'” “SNAP leader shames Mahaney supporters,” Associated Baptist Press, 5/30/2013.

— Quoted by Rachel Marie Stone in a PRISM Magazine article, stating:  “It is a huge blind-eyed mistake for faith communities to seek to explain the harm of clergy sex abuse by focusing only on the clergy perpetrators. Faith communities must take a hard look in the mirror and begin to see the ways that they themselves inflict egregious additional wounds through complicity and a failure of compassion.” PRISM Magazine, Jan.-Feb. 2013

— Quoted on the case of a multi-accused Baptist pastor in Missouri who remains in the pulpit: “If a minister isn’t literally sitting in prison, he can find a Southern Baptist pulpit to stand in.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 12/8/2012

— Quoted on the subject of a church’s First Amendment defense: “Merely because something may be legally possible doesn’t make it morally right.” Louisville Courier-Journal, 11/27/2012

— An article on “Millennials losing their religion” quotes my book as saying that clergy sex abuse is a “soul-murdering” offense. Associated Baptist Press, 6/25/2012

— Quoted: “It will take the long dogged development of the law to eventually prod [the Southern Baptist Convention] into action.” Associated Baptist Press, 6/12/2012

— Quoted and my book referenced in article about $12.5 million verdict in sexual abuse case. “The denomination must provide a safe place where clergy abuse survivors can make a report with a reasonable expectation of being objectively and compassionately heard.” “Florida Baptist Convention found liable for former pastor,” Orlando Sentinel, May 17, 2012.

— Provides a brief description of what happened in my case: “It is the community that often causes even more harm than the molesting minister …. She contacted 18 Baptist leaders in churches, state conventions and the SBC, and all responded it was not in their job description.” “Advocate says Baptists ill-equipped to address sexual abuse by clergy,” Associated Baptist Press, 10/14/2011

— Quoted saying that a church’s legal argument for privilege with respect to information about suspected child sex abuse was “tenuous.” And “even if it is a possibility as a legal argument, that doesn’t necessarily make it a morally right argument, particularly when it’s an argument being asserted by the church. ” Associated Baptist Press, 9/1/2011

— Investigation Discovery’s “True Crime with Aphrodite Jones” interviewed me as an expert on Baptist clergy sex abuse for its “Twist of Faith” program about “murdering minister” Matt Baker. The program aired on April 28 and May 1, 2011.

— In its March 10, 2011 issue, Réforme magazine published a profile story about my book, This Little Light, and about clergy sex abuse among Southern Baptists. Réforme is the largest Protestant publication in France. Kudos to journalist Alexis Buisson for a stellar article! You can read an English translation of it here.

— The French book review magazine, Books, published a review of my book, This Little Light, titled “L’Eglise Baptiste, Paradis des Pedophiles.” Books, Nov. 21, 2010.

— On April 14, 2010, Jaime Romo, of Healing and Spirituality, interviewed me about my book, This Little Light: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and His Gang.

— “Southern Baptist officials have made a response that amounts to little more than a Band-aid on a spouting femoral artery. If a man can remain a Southern Baptist minister until he is convicted and shows up on a sex-offender registry, then this sets a terrifyingly low standard for Southern Baptist clergy.” “SBC officials recommend against national database of clergy sex offenders,” EthicsDaily, June 11, 2008.

— The Associated Press quotes me: “Having a review board that would assess the credibility of allegations against clergy could be a great resource for local churches, especially small churches. It doesn’t step on the toes of local churches. It helps local churches.” “Southern Baptists elect a president, reject sex-abuse database,” USA Today, June 10, 2008.

— Eileen Flynn of the Austin American-Statesman writes my story, names abusive minister Tommy Gilmore, and describes me as “the public face” of Baptist clergy sex abuse survivors. In the Southern Baptist Convention, she says, “the buck stops nowhere.” “Crusader confronts Baptists on abuse,” Austin American-Statesman, June 9, 2008.

— I ask: “Why was there not one other person in that all-white, all-male room who would even call his colleague on the carpet for such harsh language directed at a Baptist clergy abuse survivor…. Any wonder that victims don’t report abuse? It’s the same ‘kick-the-messenger’ pattern in most churches.” “Clergy sex abuse survivor questions fairness of SBC Executive Committee study,” EthicsDaily, September 21, 2007.

— For program aired in April 2007, ABC 20/20 interviews me for its show on “Preacher Predators.” (link shows parts 1, 2 and 3)

— Bob Allen tells my story, naming abusive minister Tommy Gilmore. I’m quoted: “No one wants to see a repeat of the Catholic sex-abuse and cover-up scandal, but unless Southern Baptists start dealing with the problem effectively and compassionately, that may happen.” “Group asks Southern Baptists to address clergy sex abuse,” EthicsDaily, 2/19/2007.

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