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.