I just read, for the first time, Marty Braemer's entire post on accountability related to the situation regarding the late Bob Gray. Prior to this, my exposure to Braemer was found in the fireworks exchanged between Marty and Jeri Massi (Schizophrenic Christianity). I was too blown away by the fireworks to even take the time to read Marty's opinions.
Here it is, three years later, and I discovered his article linked in, of all places, the Lavender Liberal, a gay themed blog that highlights the hypocrisies of the so-called religious right. The blogger has a page devoted to the Bob Gray scandal where he quotes Marty Braemer.
Now, I had read Marty's letter to Shelton Smith before, but after finally reading the entire post, I have to say he offers the best assessment on the scandal regarding Trinity Baptist Church, written by a fundamentalist Christian, since Don Boys wrote Fundamentalists must face sexual abuse by pastors..
My first exposure to Marty Braemer occurred just before I screened Bible Madness at The Egyptian Theater in Hollywood on September 13, 2005. He commented on my blog Why I made Bible Madness.
I'm sorry to hear of your departure from the faith. No, I'm not trying to convince or convert you. It's just sad to think your experiences drove you to abandon faith in Christ.
Pastor Marty Braemer
Fort Plain, NY
I get equally sad when I think of people who have been trapped, and enslaved, by their fears instead of liberated by Truth.
Truth needs no apology, or apologists.
Well, that was before Gray's arrest in 2006!
Now, let's read some of Marty's comments from his article, Accountability:
I believe in local church autonomy. If a pastor sins or mishandles himself then I believe it's between him, God, and his congregation. When a pastor crosses a line into a moral failure that also violates the law then it is no longer a simple matter of church discipline. Dr. Gray has been charged with molesting girls between the ages of 6 and 9 years old over two decades.
As Fundamentalists we like to claim autonomy on these issues. "Let Trinity handle it. It's a local church matter," is the usual montra. Really? Then why do we chide Pensacola Christian College for their lavish campus or Jerry Falwell for becoming a southern Baptist or churches who incorporate a "praise & worship" style of music into their local churches? Aren't they autonomous, too?
Notice how Marty blows away the excuse of 'local church autonomy' when it comes to dealing with someone who has been accused of child molestation. How can fundamentalists simply say 'it's a local church matter' when they've been criticizing other local churches on minor things such as 'praise & worship' music?
Does that sound like someone hiding their head in the sand?
He wrote a very diplomatic letter to Sword of the Lord editor, Shelton Smith, which reminds me of a military court where a prosecutor accuses a superior of a violation worthy of a court martial, yet must still show respect to the accused.
The typical independent, fundamental Baptist approach to a scandal like this is first to deny it. I understand that. I truly do. None of us wishes to believe that people we loved and admired and followed could be capable of such sinful acts, especially against children. Then when it is realized there may be merit and teeth to the charges we ignore it. I mean we’ll remove Bob Gray’s picture from our websites, remove his name from our missionary lists, reprint conference flyers that once featured his name as a guest speaker, and gather up all of his preaching tapes. Neither his name nor anything about him will ever be mentioned from the pulpit in any conference where he once spoke. It will almost be as if he never existed.
Dr. Smith, there is a better way… a more biblical way. Let’s face it. I mean let’s address it. At one time Dr Rice used to print the names of southern Baptist officers who owned properties which they rented out to the owners of liquor stores, movie houses, and taverns. How much more accountable should we hold those who claim to be called by God to an office that features a list of character and moral requirements that includes mandates like “blameless” and above reproach?
Jeri Massi raked him over the coals for allegedly making excuses for the child abuse scandals of fundamentalists!
Check out this review of her book which references Marty:
Christa Brown, founder of the Baptist arm of the Survivors Network of Clergy Abuse (SNAP), writes that Schizophrenic Christianity, "illuminates many aspects of this battle for clergy accountability and shows how Christian fundamentalism allows monstrous men to prey on the flock while still maintaining a mask of goodness."
Others, most notably Fundamental Baptist pastors, disagree. Pastor Marty Braemer of Fords Bush, New York, has written that Massi "died of intellectual honesty over a decade ago." His opinion has
been seconded by Pastor Guy Beaumont of Allentown, Pennsylvania. Both men are former students of Hyles-Anderson College, the unaccredited Baptist seminary that Massi identifies as a nest of abuse.
from: New Book Analyzes and Reports on Clergy Abuse in Baptist Churches Schizophrenic Christianity.
It's even more amazing that Jeri criticizes this man who so eloquently pleaded with Shelton Smith to not duck his head in the sand:
It is sad that Evangelist Tim Lee and Pastor Marty Braemer, as well as others, have become so deeply offended that I am running a conference to hel (sic) the victims of church abuse. Some great reversal has occurred in their thinking, I believe, about what Christianity actually is.
from: 5 Responses to “The Lambs of Culpepper - churched abuse victims.
I never bought her assertion that Marty Braemer had a plant at her conference, or threatened her life, any more than I believed her implication, from Schizophrenic Christianity, that Brenda Hyles purposely backed up her car to run over her step son. Read the book and notice how she practically screams at a police contact for insinuating that was an accident!
Maybe it takes being smeared by the same broad brush, but I will come out and say that I sold Marty short! After reading his article, albeit three years too late, I have to regard him, as I do Don Boys, as one of the good guys.
Very, very few people were willing to take a stand during the first few weeks after Gray's arrest. I feel a little bad that I was distracted by the fireworks to not see that Marty should have been complemented for his letter instead of being smeared.
Association with this type of broad brushing is the kind of thing that will rob child advocates of credibility. It's not enough that someone addresses this issue, but the facts must also be accurate and without the hint of agenda.
That takes discipline.