Pastor Steve Gaines of Bellevue Baptist Church was included in the federal lawsuit that was filed against the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention that stated that they have covered up instances of sexual abuse by church members and employees as a strategy of denying the rights of sexual abuse survivors.
In case somehow you missed it, the Houston Chronicle in 2022 put a database of Southern Baptist leader sex offenders. Most recently, Paul Pressler was sued and settled in Dec 2023.
The Southern Baptist Convention and others have reached a confidential settlement in a high-profile lawsuit that accused a former leader of sexual assault, ending a six-year legal drama that helped prompt a broader reckoning over child sexual abuse in evangelical churches, expanded victims’ rights in Texas and showed that a prominent conservative activist and Texas House candidate repeatedly downplayed abuse allegations.
In 2017, Duane Rollins filed the lawsuit accusing Paul Pressler, a longtime Southern Baptist figure and former Texas judge, of decades of rape beginning when Rollins was a 14-year-old member of Pressler’s church youth group in Houston.
Rollins claimed in court documents that the alleged attacks pushed him into drug and alcohol addictions that kept him in prison throughout much of his adult life. After disclosing the alleged rapes to a prison psychiatrist, Rollins filed the suit in Harris County against Pressler along with other defendants who he accused of enabling or concealing Pressler’s behavior — including the Southern Baptist Convention and Jared Woodfill, the former chair of the Harris County GOP and Pressler’s longtime law partner.
Rollins’ claims were a key impetus for “Abuse of Faith,” a 2019 investigation by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News into sexual abuse in the SBC, the nation’s second-largest faith group. The series led to major reforms in the SBC, revelations that top leaders had routinely ignored or downplayed warnings about a sexual abuse crisis, and an ongoing Department of Justice investigation.
It’s hard to imagine a more horrible, disastrous imposition of Christian belief than what Bufe describes in his Chapter 17: The Christian Chosen People Mentality and Its Deadly Consequences. He focuses especially on European conquest of the Americas, drawing especially on David Stannard’s book, American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World (which I discussed in my article here on 23 November 2023). By any standards of decency we would embrace today, Christopher Columbus qualifies as a criminal—but he imagined he was doing his Christian thing:
“During his voyages of ‘discovery,’ Columbus routinely planted a cross on newly ‘discovered’ islands, and then read a statement, the Requerimiento (Requirement) to the natives in Spanish, a language they didn’t understand.” It read in part:
I certify to you that, with the help of God, we shall powerfully enter into your country and shall make war against you in all ways and manners that we can, and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church and of Their Highnesses [Ferdinand and Isabella]. We shall take you and your wives and your children and shall make slaves of them, and as such shall sell and dispose of them as Their Highnesses may command. And we shall take your goods, and shall do you all the mischief and damage that we can, as to vassals who do not obey and refuse to receive their lord and resist and contradict them. (Kindle, p. 311)
Bufe notes: “The savagery of Columbus’s Christian conquerors rivaled that of the Nazis or ISIS.” (p. 312, Kindle)
The murderous religious arrogance displayed by Columbus—and most of the other European explorers in both north and south America—is only one element of a catastrophic theological problem here. By far more natives Americans were killed by the diseases the Europeans brought with them, because they had no natural immunities to them. The deaths were in the hundreds of millions. Was this all part of a divine plan? Did the Christian god have no clue this was going to happen? We lose all confidence in the claim that the world is under the watchful eye of an all-knowing, all-powerful god.
Six Degrees of Separation. Two: The gospel writers failed as historians: they created a Jesus based on their own theologies.
The gospel writers never mention their sources. Think about that, take as much time as you need. At the opening of Luke’s gospel there is a reference to eyewitnesses, and at the end of John’s gospel the claim is made that the “beloved disciple” is the one who reported all the deeds of Jesus. But Luke never, anywhere, names the eyewitnesses, and the “beloved disciple” is a character who appears only in John’s gospel—which was written six or seven decades after the time of Jesus. So the professional historians are entitled to dismiss these claims.
Take a look at any modern biography of any famous person. At the back there are many pages listing sources, e.g., letters, diaries, other books: these biographies are based on many hours of archival research. The gospels writers were not familiar with this demanding process. They were theologians, and their agenda was to promote, enhance belief in their holy hero. How did they know what they claim to know? We are so skeptical because they don’t cite credible sources. Just a couple of examples:
In Mark’s gospel, in chapter 1:12-13, we read that Jesus was tested by Satan in the wilderness for forty days. Just two verses. In Matthew 4, this story is expanded to eleven verses, which include Jesus and Satan arguing, i.e., Satan challenging him, Jesus responding. How would the author of Matthew’s gospel know this? Was someone there taking notes? Historians don’t take this seriously.
In Matthew’s gospel, 1:20, the author reports the contents of Joseph’s dream—an angel told him that Mary was pregnant by a holy spirit. Historians want to know how the author knew this. Did he have access to Joseph’s diary? Did he even keep a diary. John Loftus has quite legitimately asked:
“How might anonymous gospel writers, 90+ years later, objectively know Jesus was born of a virgin? Who presumably told them? The Holy Spirit? Why is it God always speaks to individuals in private, subjective, unevidenced whispers? Those claims are a penny a dozen.” (Debunking Christianity Blog, 25 December 2016)
We don’t expect tall tales from historians. Theologians specialize in them
In the Flood story we’re told God wanted to destroy all mankind. In Moses’ day God wanted to destroy all of the Israelites. In Joshua’s day God wanted the Israelites to kill all of the inhabitants of the Promised Land. Saul was told by God to destroy all of the Amalekites. According to Jonah, God was going to destroy the people of Nineveh. God also destroyed and scattered the northern tribes of Israel because he was displeased with them. God allowed the accuser to destroy Job’s health and family life just to win a “bet.” In the New Testament, God will destroy all unbelievers in the lake of fire. He’s a pretty barbaric God, if you ask me. This God is simply the reflection of ancient barbaric peoples.
Christians think the Militant Muslims are wrong for wanting to kill free loving people in the world, and they are. But the only difference between these Muslims and the Christian Biblical God is that they simply disagree on who should be killed. They both agree people should be killed; they just disagree on who should die.
God decreed that a man who picked up sticks on the Sabbath day was to be stoned to death (Numbers 15:32-36). God commanded that anyone who curses his father or mother was to be put to death (Exodus 21:17). Witches, and those of differing religious views were to be killed (Ex. 22:18,20). These are pretty stiff punishments, eh? This God declares that a slave is the property of another man (Exodus 21:21). God commanded men to divorce their foreign wives for no other reason but that they were not God’s people (Ezra 9), and women were helpless if they weren’t married in those days.
God asked Abraham to kill and sacrifice his son Isaac. As I’ve said, if we heard a voice today telling us to do that, we would not think this voice was God’s, although Abraham wasn’t horrified at the suggestion. Enough!
In 2012, only four months after release, publisher Thomas Nelson removed David Barton’s book The Jefferson Lies from publication. Many people blamed or credited a book by Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter titled Getting Jefferson Right for moving the publisher in that direction. What happened?
Building on the foundation of the first two episodes, this installment in the Telling Jefferson Lies series provides the backstory to what was an unprecedented event for one of the largest Christian publishers in the nation. Warren Throckmorton interviews many of the people who were involved and supplies his perspective on what happened and why it happened.