Group Urges Houston Mega Church To Help Prevent Sexual Abuse By Ministers

Members of a child abuse victim support group gathered outside a mega church in Houston today to highlight recent abuse cases involving ministers. The group urges victims of sexual abuse at churches to come forward.

SNAP, or Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, held a news conference in front of Second Baptist Church in west Houston to denounce the abuses by at least one former minister.

Chad Foster, who was a youth pastor at Second Baptist in Cypress, was convicted last year of sexual assault of a 16-year-old church member.

Amy Smith with SNAP urges potential additional victims to come forward.

“We think there’s more victims because research has shown that perpetrators rarely have only one victim… And so we know they’re out there and we hopefully like to send a message to them wherever they are that it’s never too late to come forward and seek justice.”

The group says Second Baptist as well as other churches whose clergy have been accused of child sexual abuse are not doing enough to address the problem. Smith says she used to be a member of Second Baptist herself.

“The response has not been as public as the Catholic Church, and so we fell like, in my personal opinion, kids even in Baptist Churches might be in more danger today because it’s not being addressed publicly. The Catholic Church at least has tried to do that and we have not seen that same kind of active response from the leadership of Baptist Churches as well as other evangelical churches.”

Second Baptist Church would not comment. But the website for the Southern Baptist Convention provides links and records for churches to, quote, “protect your church from the devastating effects of sexual abuse and other moral failures of those in ministry.”

Miguel Prats, a supporter of SNAP and sexual abuse victim as a child himself, says no large institution is good at policing itself, whether that’s the military, the Catholic Church or Protestant churches.

“The Baptist Church says each church is its own little kingdom. ‘They’re autonomous, we can’t tell them anything.’ Yet, if a Baptist Church tried to ordain a woman or marry a same-sex couple, you better believe the Southern Baptist Convention would let them know about that.”

KUHF contacted the Southern Baptist Convention by email but wasn’t able to get a comment before deadline.

SNAP says the church could make a big difference by using the pulpit to encourage victims of sexual abuse to come forward.

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Florian Martin

Reporter/NewsLab Coordinator

Florian Martin is the KUHF NewsLab Coordinator. While guiding and overseeing interns, he works on his own stories and is always on call to cover breaking news and other media events...