OK… how would you deal with this scenario (as reported by Associated Baptist Press):
A Southern Baptist megachurch reportedly filed a police report on a church member who raised questions about news stories alleging that nearly 25 years ago leaders of the congregation failed to alert authorities about credible accusations of child molestation by a staff member.
Chris Tynes, a software engineer and member of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, for more than a decade, says he spoke with a detective about a complaint labeling him a “suspicious person, possibly violent” after he was ordered by security personnel to leave the church premises March 5.
Tynes says he showed up at his church anyway, after a staff member who had previously scheduled a meeting with him backed out and relayed a message that there was no reason for them to talk.
Tynes said the whole thing started about a week ago after he watched an HBO documentary about the sexual abuse cover-up in the Catholic Church. With stories like the Penn State scandal and the pope’s legacy still fresh in his memory, Tynes posted on Facebook how upsetting he found the whole idea.
Someone responded by pointing him to a website that aggregates news links about clergy sexual abuse in Baptist churches. There he found articles mentioning his own congregation’s alleged non-reporting of a former music minister convicted in Mississippi who avoided prison in part because it took so long for allegations against him to be brought to light.
Tynes couldn’t find anything about it on the church website, so he sought answers on Prestonwood’s Facebook page. He linked to a story in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger about John Langworthy, 50, a former staff member at Prestonwood who pleaded guilty in January to molesting multiple boys in Mississippi in the early 1980s.
The story detailed a two-year personal quest for justice by Amy Smith, who worked with Langworthy as a college intern at Prestonwood, when Langworthy was reportedly fired for similar allegations in Texas in 1989.
That post was deleted, and Tynes followed up with another posting informing page administrators he had captured a screen shot and asking if they thought deleting his original message was really a good idea.
“I didn’t know what I had opened up,” Tynes said March 8. “I didn’t want to think it was a cover up.”
Before long Tynes was blocked from Prestonwood’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. He followed up with a series of e-mails directed toward church leaders, including one written in frustration asking how he and his family might go about having their names removed from the membership rolls.
That prompted a phone call from a staff member, who said he was unfamiliar with the social-media incident but would get answers and call him back. A meeting was scheduled on Wednesday, March 6, with Executive Pastor Mike Buster, but Tynes said he learned Monday night the meeting was canceled and would not be rescheduled. He went to the church on Tuesday and waited in the parking lot for Buster to return from a meeting, but before Buster arrived, a security team approached Tynes and asked him to leave.
I’m sure that there’s more than meets the eye here… but from what is written here… do you think the church is responding appropriately? Why or why not?
I’d love to hear your thoughts?
And… have you (or would you ever) file a police report on a member of your church for an incident like this?
Would you have deleted facebook and twitter posts? Or responded to them publicly?
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