My general take on this as with all these things is:

Every case here is a tragedy, but I see zero evidence that Christian pastors are any more exploitative than people in other authority roles. Collect similar data for legislators and see how things stack up!
Many evangelical enthusiasts who envision themselves as aa special elect set apart for righteousness, who think faith is about a deeper and truer kind of sincerity and love, who abhor the idea of a "Christian culture", who practically spit on the idea that *Christians sin*...
... as well as a lot of atheists looking for a stick to beat the church with will advance the nonsensical idea that pastors should be *better* than average.

That would of course be nice, and they may very well be! We don't know!

But pastors have some major risk factprs...
Pastors are:
1) Men, so that makes their baseline risk of sex abuse like 9x as high
2) Doing a job that makes them feel morally good: "moral license" is widely studied and *known* to increase all sorts of bad behaviors
3) In a job with lots of unsupervised exposure to vulnerable
What are other male-dominated professions with high moral license and lots of exposure to vulnerable people?

There aren't many. Maybe soldiers in a warzone?
Maybe male NGO workers or male therapists? idk. My point is, it's difficult to know exactly what the "right baseline" should be. If pastors have higher rates of abuse than society at large but lower rates than other *men*, is that a good or bad outcome?
So with that in mind, let's turn to the horrible awful damning report @DavidAFrench mentions.

The report identifies 409 SBC-affiliated *accused* abusers. It's unclear if that is 409 in churches *right now* or 409 *ever*. I'll assume *right now*.

Also, that's *accused*.
There are obviously tons of abusers who have never been accused, and some of the accused are probably innocent.

But that 409 number gives us a starting point.
So 409 abusers.... out of how many?

Well, right now the SBC has about 45,000 active churches. Assuming 2 personnel per church seems reasonable, so 90,000 people. Assume 75% male, and that 100% of abusers are male. So that's one accused abuser *per 165 SBC ministers.*
How high is that?

Well, there are about 170,000 men in prison for sex offences, with average sentences around 2 years. About two-thirds will be repeat offenders, and only about 1/12 of reports to the police end in jail time. There's about a 45 year window of peak sex crime.
Overall, this means that of the 80 million or so men in the general at-risk age range today, about 8-20 million will *ever be accused* of *any kind of* sex crime. This is some extremely rough Fermi math just to get a broad scale.
So among SBC ministers it seems like the rate of sex abuse *reported the church* (which likely means *related to the church*) is about 1-in-165. For men on the whole, sex abuse *related to the justice system* is maybe 1-in-4 to 1-in-15.

These numbers are NOT strictly comparable
And they're also extremely crude ballpark estimates.

But it's difficult to imagine a way to get the SBC stats above the general-male-population stats. This report *seems* to suggest the average SBC minister is a low sex abuse risk than the average American man?
I know a lot of people who really want to go white knight for evangelicalism will dislike this kind of discussion but I just don't think that the math on this report is actually that unfavorable for the SBC. cc @DavidAFrench
There's also just a lot of weird moments of storytelling.

This story right here is a story of a sex abuser *being fired for it*, but somehow the SBC is the badguy in it, even though *they fired him*.
There do seem to be *lots* of reports about men at the very top of the hierarchy. So that's bad. AT the same time, the top of the SBC hierarchy has almost nothing to do with SBC churches: they have a super loose congregational polity, and this is exhibit A on *why*.
The historic Baptist view was that institutional hierarchies are too dangerous, giving people exploitive power they can't handle, which should be reserved for Christ as the true head of the church. And here's a nice case of why they think that's a good idea!
Also, as someone raised as a non-Baptist evangelical, I laughed bitterly at the reference to "the evangelical Church."
Obviously, the coverup behavior by baptist leaders is real bad. Surprise surprise, executives at the top of an organization will prioritize reputation management for that organization! Crazy how human organizations work!
To the person saying "But the church should be different!"

The hypothesis that *the church is different* is popularly known as "Roman Catholicism," please convert if you have interest in it.
However, this hypothesis turns out to just be wrong. The church is a community of sinners whose regeneration has begun but proceeds ever-haltingly. You will experience sanctification as a Christian-- and then you will denigrate yourself again.
The church is instituted by God, but it is today an institution of humans which operates by all the principles of human sociality and incentives. It has a divine purpose and mission, and God by His extraordinary grace works efficaciously through it, but that is *miraculous*.
If you look for a rational explanation on how it is that God does His work through the church, if you suppose that His work is accomplished by the superior morality of Christians, then you are sorely deceived and desperately in need of a better understanding of grace.
This does not exonerate anyone from sin: this article and the report it is based on is a litany of innumerable damnable sins which demand confession, repentance, discipline, and reconciliation.
For the many people replying Christian pastors should have a higher standard:

Yes, of course. *Christians* should have a higher standard, and pastors specifically are called to be above reproach. I totally agree.

You're a nut if you believe that means there won't be abusers.
If the fact that among hundreds of thousands of pastors there were a few hundred abusers, and that it turned out that power and money collecting at the top led powerful people to make bad choices, is a massive shock to you.... maybe you should read some history.
This. Always. Happens. With. Power. It's horrible.

If your ability to worship in an institution is predicated on the belief that *the institution* is in fact immune to the frailties of human behavior and sociality, then your bitterness is on you. That was an absurd belief.
Obviously, I want all the people who were covering this stuff up given the boot and kept far away from power.

Also, the next group to gain power is going to do pretty much the same thing. In the long run, there are no goodguys in power.
Which means that even as we seek to impose discipline on those who violate against the community, and even as we hope to create somewhat better and safer communities (and again, the SBC report suggests they *did* create a safer community!), we also have to realize...
... that as time goes on and power accumulates, the probability of spectacular abuses rapidly approaches 1.
Anyways, I'm not and never have been an SBC member. I've worshiped in a variety of churches which have experienced a variety of challenges led by people of varying competence and quality. And I've read Acts, where within days of the Ascension they're squabbling over money.
Like legitimely folks the first act of church governance after the selection of Judas' replacement is.... appointing deacons because left to its natural devices the community was being super racist against Hellenized Jews and denying their widows and orphans any support.
Acts exists to remind us that the miraculous work of God's grace is not thwarted by the fact that the human faces of the church are incredibly bad and dumb. Like days into "being a church" they're already like "lol, let's be systematically racist, just because"
And it just keeps going for the entire book of Acts! By the end of it Paul and the Jerusalem church are like practically suing each other in Roman courts!
I completely agree with this, and nothing I have said contradicts it: but a lot of the outrage over the SBC report is shock, surprise, pearl-clutching that such a thing could occur. Such a thing *shouldn't* occur but *always will*
I feel like none of you have watched the Gospel of Firefly, chapter Serenity. It's a nice explication of my point.
omg, okay, i didn't read the full report, but this from it is a nice ending:

the grand total number of accused abusers currently in ministry is in the *single digits*
they did a huge investigation with a big report which found a grand total of, i am not kidding


current SBC pastors who are accused of sexual misconduct.

so the 409 number I mentioned must be from the whole history of the church, which makes the denominator astronomically larger.
Anyways, what we are learning here is the Donatist and Novatian heresies are very popular in the American church today!
First of all, tons of people care if abuse is surprising or not--- MOST of the discourse I've seen on this basically suggests that abusive pastors represent a challenge to faithful teaching *generally*.
The argument I'm responding to is specifically that the existence of, literally, *7* abusive SBC pastors in ministry today is indicative that all of bible-believing American Protestantism is a rotten orchard, as @DavidAFrench seems to suggest.
We are talking about very small numbers of admittedly very powerful people.

As far as the "travesty of institutionally frustrating justice," I think this is conflating several different issues.
Some of the cases in question are potentially serious crimes, including sexual offences against children. In that case, the SBC's choice not to report can reasonably be called frustrating justice.
But many of them are not. Many of them are non-criminal, consensual sexual acts. They are sins, but it's not clear that it is the appropriate function of a *national* body to address them. Again, SBC is an *unusually* decentralized denomination.
Moreover, it's worth noting that if the SBC becomes aware of a crime because victims reported it to them, the obvious route for a victim who is upset that SBC didn't report it to the police is *to report it to the police*!
Again, this is not all the cases, and I really hate to be in the position of defending the SBC, a denomination whose theology and ecclesiology I regard with no small amount of disdain. But folks we are talking about seven (7!) active ministers today.
Out of, like, 100,000 or so.
More to the point, if you are the SBC's executive council, and a person comes to you and says, "Pastor X abused his power and manipulated me into having an affair," what precisely are you supposed to do about it? NOW the SBC has JUST created a procedure for more formal discipline
But that was controversial because like the whole point of the polity Baptists adopt is precisely to ensure no powerful central authority to check congregational freedom can exist!

That's the entire point!

I think it's nuts! But it is how that system works!
You might say something like, "They could at least publicize it!"

okay sure, the SBC could make a habit of collecting reports about pastors and then maintaining a public blacklist, *what could possibly go wrong*, after all, the SBC has an extensive set of investigators on hand!
Oh wait, you mean denominations *don't* have large police forces and *don't* have the ability to use legal force to extract concessions or protect victims? You mean that using the power of a national bully pulpit to single out specific pastors might possibly have side effects?
Again, there is a lot they could have done! The SBC needed a real procedure for this decades ago. Every denomination needed one. Few developed one, because few institutions of any kind did so.
The scandal here is most religious institutions have unprofessional management and bureaucracies, or else no bureaucracy at all. The most competent bureaucrats rarely end up in denominations, or if they do they're often malevolent.
Which is how you end up with officials just taking a pass on legally mandatory reporting of child abuse, arguably exposing themselves personally to criminal charges in some cases. That's gross incompetence.

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More from @lymanstoneky

May 26
seems even simpler than this.

the cycle goes like this:
media coverage->
people feeling scared and unsafe->
people buying more guns->
more shootings

people feeling scared and unsafe->
people seeing the law can't protect them->
people buying more guns->
people feeling like gun control is aimed *at them*
the thing to understand is that the national outpouring after each shooting does not make gun control easier to pass, it makes it *harder*, because it makes people feel unsafe and thus it makes people *desire to own a gun*
Read 33 tweets
May 26
so, no joke, i've heard from certain "conservatives" over the year that one of the *worries* with policies that reduce abortions is they will increase single parenthood

it's not the typical view, but it does exist! but usually not among the most pro-life elements
key to note here within social conservatives there are kinda two wings: those whose first commitment is to like "the value of hard work" and boostrapping and individualism, etc, and those whose first commitment is some sort of religious value
in that first group, you do have a nontrivial number of sometimes influential voices who would prefer to have a child be aborted than born into poverty and fatherlessness, because their odds of "success" in life are very low in that case
Read 4 tweets
May 25
The Syrian refugee influx into Turkey increased crime wherever large numbers of refugees went, and at a rate higher than low-educated Turks themselves.
Oh this one is spicy.

Exogenous shocks to URBAN DENSITY (in Indonesia) driven by differences in soil types, landforms, etc reveal that higher density --> LOWER social trust.
This one is interesting because they find that exogenous factors influencing density yield *lower* social trust, community participation, etc, but *higher* tolerance between groups.
Read 4 tweets
May 25
in the late 1800s, the average kid spent around 60 full-school-day-equivalents in school per year.

today, almost 150.

which would explain why more shootings happened *at school*
all states increased schooling between 1890 and 2022.

when people spend more time at a place, more stuff happens at that place.

now, that does NOT explain the whole trend. it's also true that school is just quite bad for kids' mental health.
Read 4 tweets
May 25
it is truly remarkable that we allow child abusers to collect social security checks paid for *by the children they abused*
really, there's astonishingly little serious ethical thought put into the intergenerational transfer of social security. like it's kinda nuts that voluntarily childless people can claim social security *at all* right? and even more nuts that child abusers get it!
just seems like you shouldn't be able to claim social security if your contribution to the generation paying for your retirement was... to not contribute to it
Read 22 tweets
May 23
just to be clear, this isn't true.

age at marriage for men in premodern societies was often over 25! not everywhere of course, but a lot times and places had quite late marriage for men!
the actual solution was that most societies had legalized and widespread use of prostitution, or access to other kinds of subaltern women: slaves, victims of foreign wars, etc
my general view is this "solution" is, uh, yeah incredibly awful.

so this thread is wrong, because it doesn't even correctly understand what "marriage 1.0" looked like.
Read 8 tweets

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