No Baptist media source has given more timely and thorough attention to the issue that almost every Baptist preacher wants to avoid than The issue is child-sexual abuse in Baptist churches.

As Mark Twain penned, “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.” Denial is the spiritual, moral and organizational state all too common among North American Baptists about predatory preachers.

For the longest time, Baptist news services ignored the issue. Baptist state paper editorial pages were mostly mute. Baptist state conventions engaged in overstatement of concern and misdirection about inaction.

The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, claimed powerlessness, hiding behind local church autonomy. Media staff at a large, moderate Baptist state convention criticized’s coverage that included “that woman,” Christa Brown, a tireless advocate for reforming the way Baptists evade responsibility.

Thankfully some media outlets have given the issue a flurry of attention. The SBC did pass a resolution in June, albeit a rather weak one.

The Alabama Cooperative Baptist Fellowship adopted a good policy a few weeks ago regarding clergy sexual abuse that an advocacy group for victims hopes will become a model for other Baptist groups.

The Kentucky Baptist Convention and Alabama Baptist State Convention passed resolutions of concern last week.

The Baptist General Association of Virginia also received a report from its Christian Life Committee that challenges Virginia Baptists to confront the issue. The report said, “The Baptist Center for Ethics has taken the lead among Baptists in addressing sexual abuse issues in the church.”

Child-sex abuse is on the Baptist agenda, even if it’s not on every Baptist state convention agenda. And regrettably, it is not on the workshop agenda of the New Baptist Covenant, a significant mistake that should be corrected.

This controversial and explosive issue would not be receiving the attention it is now without the relentless coverage of and its managing editor, Bob Allen. has posted over 60 news stories, columns and editorials about the systemic abuse of children by Baptist clergy. The first article appeared over 13 months ago.

Given e-mail criticism and phone calls, I’ve had concerns that we were giving the issue too much attention. Given Baptist state convention and fellowship actions over the past several weeks, I’m glad we didn’t back down to the “nattering nabobs of negativism.”

We will neither back away from the issue nor be lulled to sleep by non-binding resolutions marked by emotional accent instead of reformatory content. clearly matters as a voice for justice, with clergy sex-abuse of children being one important example of what we’re contributing to the advancement of the common good.

We hope that most of our readers agree that has made a difference on the clergy sexual-abuse of children issue and applaud our efforts.

If you do, and you are a regular reader, I need you to make a contribution today.

We have enough daily readers to underwrite the cost of, to pay for a significant upgrade in our Web site and to ensure the unshakeable autonomy necessary for the needed prophetic witness through 2008.

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Of course, the simplicity of mathematics and idealism of our appeal never translate into fund-raising reality. We know that only a faithful fraction of readers will contribute.

I’m appealing today to those who have not given this year to show your support for what we provide and for the good we advance. I’m also asking our faithful fraction of readers to give again, to make a year-end donation.

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Robert Parham is executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics.

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