Thursday, September 3, 2009

Review of David Clohessy

Survivor's Story Shows Collusion of Baptist Leaders
by David Clohessy

In a groundbreaking memoir and exposé, Christa Brown tells the story of clergy sex abuse and cover-ups in the largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention. Her new book, This Little Light, is one of the most powerful survivor stories I’ve ever seen, and in the work I do, I see a lot them.

This Little Light takes you on a journey. It’s the sort of journey in which you keep wishing you could turn back, and yet you can’t. The book is a page-turner. From beginning to end, Brown takes your hand and takes you with her.

She starts off by going straight to hell. That’s where the call of “God’s will” led her when she was a young, faith-filled church girl. She retraces the terrain of that hell as she tells of being sexually abused in the name of God, by a man of God, and in the house of God.

But that’s only the upper-level of hell. The tour of hell’s lower-level begins when Brown, as an adult, attempts to report her pastor-perpetrator. Even though church leaders knew what he had done, he was allowed to move on to work in other Baptist churches, including very prominent ones. Ultimately, Brown notified 18 Baptist leaders with her substantiated report of abuse, but the perpetrator remained in ministry until many months later when the media got involved.

Brown doesn’t hold back as she recounts this part of her journey through the Kafkaesque maze of the cold-hearted Baptist machine. It’s a journey in which some of Baptist-land’s highest officials are seen lurking in some awfully dark corners.

Though it’s a hellish journey, Christa Brown ultimately brings courage and hope into Baptistland’s barren terrain. Her book is a must-read for anyone concerned with the safety of children and the abuse of power in evangelical churches.

David Clohessy is the national director of SNAP, the Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Review of Rev. Thomas Doyle

Reverend Thomas Doyle is the whistle-blower priest and former Vatican canon lawyer who, twenty-five years ago, warned Catholic bishops about the looming clergy sex abuse nightmare. They ignored him, but Doyle’s prophetic words proved to be tragically true.

In 2007, Doyle wrote to Baptist officials with a similar warning. They too ignored him.

Here is what Reverend Doyle said about "This Little Light."

This book should rightly make any honest Christian furious. The smooth-talking, Bible-quoting, God-invoking perpetrator is disgusting enough but the real anger surges forward as one reads page after page of the twisted, lie-filled and hypocritical response of the Southern Baptist bureaucracy. “Praise the Lord and be saved” suddenly means nothing as the self-righteous, self-appointed guardians of God’s authentic words reveal the shallowness of their understanding of the scriptures they endlessly quote and of the mission of the Lord they claim to follow.

Christa Brown is a lawyer who has survived the nonsensical brainwashing inflicted by her church. She has survived the sexual molestation and devastating abuse by the duplicitous pastor who used her naive faith to molest her. Most important, she survived every attempt by the mighty Southern Baptist Convention to shut her down. She has become what her church could never be, a true presence of Christian justice and compassion.

Christa’s vivid story is much more than a narrative about sexual exploitation by a minister. It is about yet another main-line denomination that continually used the words and mission of Christ for its own self-serving ends, but has never had the courage or even the spiritual ability to do the challenging word of Christ.

My own written exchange with the highest level of Southern Baptist leadership was an exercise in futility. Placed in the context of Christa's story it is obvious that the Southern Baptists, like the institutional Catholic Church and several other denominations, have, beneath their piety and smooth god-talk, a core of dishonesty and alienation from the Lord they all proclaim as their inspiration. They utterly fail to live those challenging words of Christ, “When you do this to the least of my brothers, you do it to me.”

Saturday, June 6, 2009

What People Say

"Moving, eye-opening, shocking and even suspenseful . . . Christa Brown does not hold back in this courageous account of her journey from impressionable clergy sex abuse victim to tenacious advocate."
-- Luci Westphal, filmmaker, All God's Children

"Christa Brown had me pacing and angry after just a few chapters … oh hell, the book pulled all my strings. In the end, I could not put it down."
-- Mojoey, blogger, Deep Thoughts

"Frightening, heart-breaking, gripping, and an incredibly thorough account. Christa maps out and documents, step by step. . . the utter indifference of the Southern Baptist Convention and the outright contempt it has demonstrated for victims of abuse by its own clergy."
-- Jeri Massi, author, Schizophrenic Christianity

"You will weep with her, and you will cheer for her. This Little Light pierces the darkness."
-- Foremost Press

"This book should rightly make any honest Christian furious . . . as one reads page after page of the twisted, lie-filled and hypocritical response of the Southern Baptist bureaucracy."
-- Rev. Thomas Doyle, J.C.D., author, Sex Priests and Secret Codes

"Despite the extraordinary recalcitrance of Baptist officials, Christa's story is not one of fatalism and bitterness, but of courage and hope."
-- David Clohessy, National Director, Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests

"Christa Brown is a courageous, tenacious campaigner against sexual abuse among Southern Baptist clergy -- some of whom have taken it upon themselves to lecture the nation on personal morality. As this book so ably demonstrates, clergy sex abuse is not confined to the Catholic Church.
-- Mark I. Pinsky, author, A Jew Among the Evangelicals

Christa Brown "has become the public face of victims of abuse who hope to force the Baptist church to acknowledge their allegations and take concrete action to identify and sanction abusers."
-- Austin American-Statesman

Friday, June 5, 2009


"In this groundbreaking memoir and exposé, Christa Brown tells the story of clergy sex abuse and cover-ups in the largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention. As she shares her journey from trusting church girl to tenacious advocate for children's safety, Brown shines a light on the patterns of preacher-predators and the collusion of evangelical leaders.

This Little Light speaks of the unspeakable, and in doing so, testifies to the transformative power of truth-telling."

Christa speaks to the press in front of Southern Baptist headquarters in Nashville. (EthicsDaily photo)


"What do Baptist leaders do about a minister reported to them for child molestation?


Nothing even when another minister knows about the abuse and says so. Nothing even when the largest statewide Baptist organization in the country concludes there is "substantial evidence" the abuse took place. Nothing even when the man is still working in children's ministry.

Do they warn people in the pews? No. Do they provide counseling for the victim? No. Do they remove the man from ministry? No.

This is the reality that Christa Brown encountered in Baptist-land when she tried to report the minister who molested her as a kid. It was a reality she couldn't accept.

This Little Light is the documented true story of her determination to assure that what was done unto her would not be done unto others."

Foremost Press

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


The decision to write this book did not come easily. Why in the world would I choose to speak publicly about something so unspeakable?

In the words of my favorite childhood song, I decided to let "this little light of mine" shine in the hope that it might illumine a path for others and open a gateway to change.

Please don't think of me as a "victim." Though some of my memories are so unthinkable that they long rendered me mute, my life has also been marked by immeasurable grace.

My thanks to every reader who shares my journey.

Media request?

Journalists: I'm happy to talk with you and appreciate your interest.

I frequently serve as a source, provide quotes, or give background information on matters related to Baptist clergy sex abuse and cover-ups.

If you already have my phone number, feel free to call. Otherwise, drop me an email and I'll get back to you just as fast as I can:


About me


Once upon a time, I was a successful appellate lawyer who worked mostly on underdog sorts of cases. Without really realizing it, but without regret, I let that life slip away. Now I spend most of my time on volunteer efforts to try to bring clergy accountability to Baptist-land and to support clergy abuse survivors.

When I see myself described as "the public face" of Baptist sex abuse survivors, I ponder how in the world that happened. I can look back and see the steps: ABC 20/20's "Preacher Predators" program spotlighting me, newspapers across the country quoting me, and radio call-in shows talking with me. But that doesn't really explain the "how" of it, because I'm basically a shy person. Maybe it's because I've always liked "Powdermilk Biscuits." You know the kind I'm talking about — the kind that "give shy people the strength to get up and DO what needs to be done." (Hat tip to Garrison Keillor. I'm a Prairie Home Companion fan.)

I figure I can rightly call myself a runner even though I'm slow. I've completed five half-marathons, and once in a 5-K, I even managed to place second in my age-category. It was a rainy, cold, miserable day, but I showed up and slogged through it. Now my goal is to win a first-place medal when I'm 85. I figure if I pick an awful enough day, and show up, I might just stand a chance.

Coffee is my biggest vice. Whether it's a cortado, latté, cappuccino, or café crème, I'm always happy with hot java in my hand. Grab a cup for yourself and let me know what your thoughts are. You can leave a comment on this blog or on my StopBaptistPredators blog.

My husband and I are native Texans, and sometimes it shows. Our daughter just graduated from college, and she crossed the stage wearing cowgirl boots with her cap and gown. I guess we raised her right.

Happy trails.