Robert Downen Profile picture
Nonprofits/business for @HoustonChron. Fan of Illinois, Hip Hop, em--dashes & Bill Withers. “Painfully up-to-date.” Send music suggestions — for real.
16 Jun
Begins with Ronnie Floyd: I hear you. The Executive Comm respects the messengers. We need this deliberative process. We know that this will make our convention stronger. #SBC21 #SBC2021 #SBCtoo #SBC
NOW: Troy Bush, whose church we covered this week, is now speaking. Accuses the executive committee of not even doing the bare minimum when "investigating" a church

"We believe that the executive comm does not have the ability to handle this task force." #SBC21 #SBC2021 @SBCtoo
Read 8 tweets
16 Jun
NOW: 15K Southern Baptists will debate/vote on a third-party investigation into whether top leaders sought to suppress abuse survivors/stifle reforms/intimidate leaders like Russ Moore. #SBC2021 #SBC21 #SBCtoo

It's prolly more important than you think.

Here's why:
Sex abuse has again dominated discussions here, including in yesterdays presidential election. But that was among a variety of issues at hand.

This tho? It will be a huge indicator of how much Southern Baptists are willing to put on the line re: abuse. #SBC2021 #SBC21 #SBCtoo
Over the last three years, Southern Baptists have shown they're willing to do a lot of things, so long as they are forward-looking. That's great/important.

But true repentance means rectifying wrongs committed, regardless of the toll.

That's how survivors are seeing this vote.
Read 8 tweets
16 Jun
Wednesday at #SBC21 begins with Grant Gaines speaking to his call for a third party investigation into the Exec committee and abuse.

"These are not allegations we can sweep yunder the rug. These are allegations we must get to the bottom to." #SBCtoo #SBC2021 #SBC
Gaines: "We should be bending over backwards to ensure we do everything we can."

Gaines then directs comments to survivors, tells them they matter and are worth fighting for.

A lot of applause. #SBCtoo #SBC2021 #SBC
Read 5 tweets
16 Jun
Litton begins w his story of growing up in a broken home and finding God at 7. He then talks about losing his wife in a car accident 14 years ago. He then married his wife Kathy, whose husband - an SBC pastor - also died in a car accident. #SBC21 #SBC2021 #SBC #SBCtoo
Litton: We both have a profound sense of pain and suffering in our live that has changed us, and I think changed us for the better. #SBC21 #SBC2021 #SBC #SBCtoo
Litton: There are 4.5 billion people on this planet who we feel have not heard the good news of Jesus Christ... WE exalt the Gospel above all else... it means we haev to work and iron out our differences. My goal is to build bridges, not walls. #SBC21 #SBC2021 #SBC #SBCtoo
Read 11 tweets
15 Jun
I didn't hear the exact vote count but it was roughly a 53 to 47 percent vote split. #SBC21 #SBC2021 #SBC #SBCtoo
"We have finally, after all of these decades, begun to overturn the power structure. The messengers are listening and acting on behalf of Christ," said @ThigpenTiffany, a survivor and advocate whose abuses were mishandled by top SBC leaders. #SBC21 #SBC2021 #SBC #SBCtoo
Read 7 tweets
15 Jun
ITS A RUNOFF. Stone and Litton going toe-to-toe now.

Full results:

Mohler: 3764, 23.62%
Stone: 5216, 36.48%
Litton: 4630, 32.38%
Adams: 673, 4.7%

#SBC21 #SBC2021 #SBC #SBCtoo
This is precisely what many people thought would happen -- and the stakes for the SBC abuse crisis are pretty massive.

Stone has been at the center of ongoing scandals regarding allegations of coverups, intimidation by top SBC leaders.

From yesterday:

houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-t…
Meanwhile Litton has wide respect/support among survivors, advocates and pastors who've been outspoken on abuse issues.

Hard to overstate how much is on the line here. #SBC21 #SBC2021 #SBCtoo #SBC
Read 5 tweets
15 Jun
RESOLVED: MY computer issues. Just in time for resolutions. Tweets in thread below. #SBC2021 #SBC21 #SBC #SBCtoo
Guy at mic now reading the below tweet from a prominent, anti-CRT activist. #SBC21 #SBC2021 #SBC
LOL @david_bumg: Ive been two three different mics and Im begging you, for all that is holy, turn on the air conditioning.

The floor erupts. Sweat flies everywhere. Madness in every direction. #SBC21 #SBC2021 #SBC #SBCtoo
Read 10 tweets
15 Jun
Aaaaadddd the SBC presidential election is underway, beginning with HB Charles nominating Al Mohler.

I’ll be here and, believe it or not, will be tweetin #SBC21 #SBC2021
Mike Stone has been nominated by Pastor Dean Haun, who praises his years of local church service and work with the SBC exec committee. #SBC21 #SBC2021 #SBCtoo
Former SBC president Fred Luter now nominating Ed Litton, who Luter says "brings a compassionate and shepharding heart. We need a pastor who has a love for God and God's people." #SBC21 #SBC2021 #SBCtoo
Read 7 tweets
15 Jun
The Southern Baptist Convention is officially underway.

Follow this thread for updates on what is sure to be an absolutely wild day. #SBC21 #SBC2021 #SBC
Final messenger registration count is above 13K.
First motion calls to replace the time honoring of SBC presidents with a prayer for unity.

It's met with a round of applause. #SBC21 #SBC2021 #SBCtoo #SBC
Read 19 tweets
14 Jun
Happening in 20 minutes: The first on-the-record meeting of the Southern Baptist executive committee.

I’ll be there Tweetin’ #SBC21 #SB2021
Standing room only meeting.
Meeting begins with motion from @JaredcWellman. He wants the next SBC president to appoint a task force regarding allegations that EC leaders mishandled abuse cases and resisted reforms.
Read 5 tweets
9 Jun
It is not a coincidence that the most outspoken SBC survivors are almost always those who are plagued by guilt/trauma because "leaders" failed to stop their abusers from hurting others.

I feel like that's worth noting, given the current convo about motivations.
-Left: What @Dave_Pittman said in 2019
-Right: What he wrote for @SBCvoices yesterday.

Note who is top priority in both. It aint David Pittman. #SBCtoo #ChurchToo #SBC21
Here's what Debbie Vasquez wrote in 2006. #SBCtoo #SBC2021

And here's what she was up to in 2019, after paying her way to Caring Well a week from serious surgery and confined to a motorized scooter:
Read 6 tweets
8 Aug 20
Y’all. I appreciate the shout outs re: Jerry Falwell, but many, many people have spent many, many years speaking out/reporting on issues at Liberty University — often at great personal cost.

All I did was tweet some publicly available photos that I thought were odd. #Falwell
Rly tho -- @byjoelanderson literally put this (fantastic) story out three hours before my Tweet. #Falwell
slate.com/culture/2020/0…
Reporters at the @MiamiHerald have written at least 90 stories about Falwell.

miamiherald.com/search/?q=jerr…
Read 10 tweets
26 Jul 20
A reminder that there was a recent effort to censure ⁦@jdgreear⁩ because he said churches should consider Paige Patterson’s history before hosting him.

~10yrs ago, Patterson called ⁦⁦@ChristaBrown777⁩ & other rape survivors “as reprehensible as sex criminals.”
Off hand I can name at least a few other people just on this site who would say they were libeled by Paige and others.

So I guess I’m wondering why, given that libeling teenagers is now such a concern, there was an effort to silence an SBC president who spoke out.
Granted, the Covington students’ situation is a bit different.

They were teenagers when the “libel” against them occurred, whereas Christa and other were children when they were assaulted, but adults by the time they were called “as reprehensible as sex criminals.”

So
Read 15 tweets
19 Jun 20
By my count, roughly 20 percent of the Conservative Baptist Network are/have been affiliated with Council For National Policy, an uber-secretive group of right-wing politicians, media folks and activists.

That includes some longtime Southern Baptist exec committee members:
Whoops. Meant "roughly 20 percent of the *steering committee* for the Conservative Baptist Network."
Here's (to my knowledge) the only CNP membership directory that's ever been made public:

As of 2014, Paige Patterson was also a member.

splcenter.org/sites/default/…
Read 5 tweets
1 Feb 20
@JJ_Denhollander "OK but I get to take a few moments to myself and try to calculate the best trajectory right?"

"Nah you gotta run full-speed away from the small ass metal thing for 22 seconds straight and then do it."

"yeah that doesn't sound possible."
@JJ_Denhollander "OK fine. But that small ass metal circle only looks really small from here, right?"

"Nah you idiot it's only like slightly bigger than this thing you gotta throw at it LOL"
@JJ_Denhollander "Alright. Sounds silly. But clearly the small metal thing is easily visible?"

"hahahah no you can barely see it from your height. AND the thing keeping it up is see-thru and there's a bunch of Sig Chis standing behind it in T-shirts with your girlfriend's face on them."

"huh."
Read 7 tweets
24 Jan 20
NEW: In an interview today, ⁦Southern Baptist President @jdgreear strongly denounced disgraced leader Paige Patterson, and advised churches to consider Patterson's history of mishandling sex abuses before inviting him to preach. #SBCtoo #ChurchToo houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-t…
@jdgreear Greear's comments came after I asked him about decisions by two churches to host/honor Patterson, including a Dallas-area church that recognized him as a "defender of the faith" earlier this month. #SBCtoo #ChurchToo #CaringWell

More on that:
@jdgreear Greear: I advise any Southern Baptist church to consider this severe action before having Dr. Patterson preach or speak and to contact trustee officers if additional information is necessary. #SBCtoo #ChurchToo #CaringWell
Read 9 tweets
21 Oct 19
I want to piggyback off of this. Because I spent ~6 months talking to Debbie before our story, and was amazed at her strength.

Nothing -- absolutely nothing, bold, hyphened, with a billion asterisks -- could have prepared me for what I saw her do at #CaringWell.
First off: Debbie is one of the kindest people I've ever met. And despite everything she has gone through, she has not once lost her faith in God. Not that that matters, but it's worth saying that she is not a person who wishes ill on the church or anyone in it.
When we wrote our first story, I promised Debbie that I wouldn't even mention her whereabouts. It's been five-plis decades since her abuse, and she is still terrified that her family is unsafe.

Think about that.
Read 14 tweets
5 Oct 19
SOON AT #CARINGWELL: Longtime and outspoken survivor advocate, lawyer, Liberty University professor and Billy Graham grandson @BozT

#SBCtoo #ChurchToo
@BozT BOZ BEGINS with prayer for Jesus to have mercy on his churches.

Says he was hesitant to speak at a conference held by the SBC "for such a time as this." #SBCtoo #ChurchToo #CaringWell
@BozT "There are so many survivors that cant afford $200 to come to a conference. They're just trying to make it through another day... “This organization that is responsible for decimating so many lives."

#SBCtoo #ChurchToo #CaringWell
Read 16 tweets
22 Aug 19
*NEW* Ex-Southern Baptist leader Paige Patterson has for years downplayed his role in a sex scandal that some say is emblematic of the SBCs broader abuse problem #SBCtoo #ChurchToo @_PPatterson_

A newly unearthed trove of videos/letters gives new details:
houstonchronicle.com/news/investiga…
@_PPatterson_ Darrell Gilyard was accused of sexual misconduct at churches in Texas, Oklahoma & Florida but was still mentored by Patterson until he confessed/resigned his Southern Baptist church in July 1991.

Gilyard was convicted of sex crimes with children in '08. #SBCtoo #ChurchToo
@_PPatterson_ For decades, Patterson has maintained that he did everything in his power to investigate the myriad claims his protege faced.

But letters + video show that Patterson downplayed many allegations and suggested others remain quiet about them #SBCtoo #ChurchToo
Read 23 tweets
13 Jun 19
Of all the things I’ll remember from #SBC19, what just happened at an airport bar will stand out the most. #SBCtoo #ChurchToo

A brief story about the prevalence of sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention, and just how much work is ahead:
Our flight was full of Southern Baptists, including two guys who spent most of their flight talking about #SBC19 and what they felt was a slow but important shift in the SBC’s broader culture.

I occasionally took breaks from reading, as the subject absolutely fascinates me.
After the flight, I waited outside the gate to see if they’d be up for talking to me a bit more.

Both were, and one had a 2-hour layover, so we sat down at a nearby bar table. He knew of and appreciated our work, and had clearly thought a lot about the issues #SBCtoo #Churchtoo
Read 13 tweets
19 Feb 19
Just arrived at Southern Baptist HQ, where president @jdgreear will unveil reforms re: sexual abuse. #SBCtoo #churchtoo

Stay tuned... gotta feeling there’s a few newsworthy things coming 😬😬
Here’s a teaser of 3 of 10 reforms that I wrote this morning. We will update this link after Greear speaks #SBCtoo #Churchtoo

chron.com/news/houston-t…
.@acwhit leading prayer.

"we come before you tonight with heavy hearts, letting so much sink in particularly from the past week" but from before as well #SBCtoo #churchtoo
Read 34 tweets