June 7, 2013 Rev. Fred Luter President, Southern Baptist Convention fluter@franklinabc.

com , 504-488-8488 ext 123 Dear Rev. Luter: We are deeply troubled, in a number of ways, with how local SBC churches - and the SBC itself deal with clergy sex abuse and cover up cases. Our concerns are widely-known and long-standing, and it’s likely not productive to re-hash them all here. But as best we can tell, we’ve never raised this particular issue nor made this particular request of the SBC. And while we realize this may seem like short notice to you, we also realize that usually “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” We are very upset at how church officials and congregants respond when child sex abuse allegations surface against Baptist ministers, volunteers and employees. All too often, clergy and congregants immediately and publicly rally for an accused child molester instead of keeping an open mind and urging anyone with information to come forward. In response, all too often, victims, witnesses and whistleblowers with information are then frightened or depressed and stay silent instead of reporting what they know or suspect about child sex crimes. And as a result, all too often, those who commit and conceal child sex crimes walk free, remain hidden, and hurt others. (Recent examples of this hurtful behavior include controversies at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Texas, Sovereign Grace Ministries in Maryland, and The Richmond Outreach Center in Virginia.) So when you meet in Houston next week, we respectfully ask for an opportunity to address the full assembly and share our organization’s expertise on how church members and staff should respond when such accusation arise. We’ve distilled much of what we’ve learned about this subject over the past 25 years into a short pamphlet that’s posted on our website: http://www.snapnetwork.org/links_homepage/when_priest_accused.htm

It’s very hurtful to child sex-abuse victims when people in authority publicly back accused wrongdoers. And it hinders criminal investigations, because it intimidates victims, witnesses and whistleblowers into staying silent. We urge church employees and members to support accused ministers if they must. But do so privately in ways that don’t further harm, depress and scare other child sex-abuse victims into keeping silent and thus helping child predators escape detection and prosecution. Child sex crimes are incredibly common place. Very few children or adults can promptly report their suffering. So very many predators remain free to prey on others. So as responsible adults, we must make it less hard, not more hard, for victims of these heinous crimes and cover ups to step forward, get help, expose wrongdoing, protect others and start healing. In light of this, again, we are asking the SBC officials to let one or two of us speak to the entire convention next week about how SBC staff and individuals SBC church members should respond when accusations of misconduct by church employees and volunteers emerge. We hope to hear from you soon. Amy Smith Houston SNAP director, 281-748 4050, spacecitySNAP@gmail.com David Clohessy, SNAP executive director 314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com CC: Gregg Matte, president of the SBC pastors conference, Senior pastor of Houston’s First Baptist Church Gregg.Matte@HoustonsFirst.org, 713 957 5852 Frank Page, president and CEO of the Executive Committee of the SBC 615 244 2355, bpress@sbc.net Russell Moore, President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (the Southern Baptist Convention’s official entity assigned to address social, moral, and ethical concerns.)sdahl@erlc.com, 615 782 8405 Doug Bischoff, Next Generations minister at Houston’s First Baptist Church,Doug.Bischoff@HoustonsFirst.org, 713 957 7630