Patriarchy poisons everything

This is Franklin Graham, evangelical leader of the Southern Baptist convention, son of Billy Graham, yesterday, the 23rd of May. He’s got his priorities.

What’s somewhat surprising about this is that the day before, the Washington Post broke the news of a major scandal among the Southern Baptists. You’d think this should be a 5-alarm crisis for the evangelical leadership.

Leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention on Sunday released a major third-party investigation that found that sex abuse survivors were often ignored, minimized and “even vilified” by top clergy in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

The findings of nearly 300 pages include shocking new details about specific abuse cases and shine a light on how denominational leaders for decades actively resisted calls for abuse prevention and reform. They also lied to Southern Baptists over whether they could maintain a database of offenders to prevent more abuse when top leaders were secretly keeping a private list for years.

The report — the first investigation of its kind in a massive Protestant denomination like the SBC — is expected to send shock waves into a conservative Christian community that has had intense internal battles over how to handle sex abuse. The 13 million-member denomination, along with other religious institutions in the United States, has struggled with declining membership for the past 15 years. Its leaders have long resisted comparisons between its sexual abuse crisis and that of the Catholic Church, saying the total number of abuse cases among Southern Baptists was small.

Somehow, I don’t think the campaign to bring back McDonald’s fried apple pies is going to be an adequate distraction from the bad news.

Franklin, and the rest of the world, might want to read that 300 page report. It begins…

For almost two decades, survivors of abuse and other concerned Southern Baptists have been contacting the Southern Baptist Convention (“SBC”) Executive Committee (“EC”) to report child molesters and other abusers who were in the pulpit or employed as church staff. They made phone calls, mailed letters, sent emails, appeared at SBC and EC meetings, held rallies, and contacted the press…only to be met, time and time again, with resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility from some within the EC.

Our investigation revealed that, for many years, a few senior EC leaders, along with outside counsel, largely controlled the EC’s response to these reports of abuse. They closely guarded information about abuse allegations and lawsuits, which were not shared with EC Trustees, and were singularly focused on avoiding liability for the SBC to the exclusion of other considerations. In service of this goal, survivors and others who reported abuse were ignored, disbelieved, or met with the constant refrain that the SBC could take no action due to its polity regarding church autonomy – even if it meant that convicted molesters continued in ministry with no notice or warning to their current church or congregation.

It’s a familiar story that we’ve seen again and again. Women are harassed, they report the problem to a designated authority, said authority buries the report, the offenders continue to offend (maybe with the advantage of being reassigned to virgin territory), and the hierarchy responds to queries with What? No, we don’t have a sexual abuse problem. My files are empty of cases!. We’ve seen it in the Catholic church, and also in smaller entities like the James Randi Educational Foundation.

Maybe the problem isn’t religion. Maybe the real root of the problem is patriarchal social structures. We should start dismantling every organization that has a mob of men at the top, where processing reports of abuse is handled by a chain of men. That seems like a reasonable starting point to fixing an issue.

Alternative explanation: maybe Franklin Graham is right and the real problem is that McDonald’s now bakes their apple pies, rather than frying them.

After all, God speaks directly to the Graham family.


  1. ajbjasus says

    That’s no pie, more like an appley version of a sausage roll.

    Good to see Graham and his mate taking the first opportunity to enjoy some British food and culture.

  2. says

    Since this morning I posted this comment that must be rang out throughout the internet and social media:

    Anyone who sides with the abuser rather than the victim (whether male or female) is just as guilty as the abuser himself (or herself).

    In this case it doesn’t matter whether they like their apple pies baked or fried, everyone siding with these abusive pigs in all church denominations and ministries is as guilty as the abusers themselves.

  3. submoron says

    Why didn’t someone get an order banning this piece of of ordure from the U.K.? If he needs real British cuisine send him to Glasgow for dep fried Mars Bars; that should pack him off to heaven in short order!

  4. whheydt says

    The patriarchy may or may not poison everything, but Franklin Graham is poisonous all on his own.

  5. robro says

    Not that it matters a whole apple pie, but Franklin Graham is not formally affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, nor was Billy Graham. In fact, they have their own religious organization, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. That organization was founded in 1950 by Billy in Minneapolis, MN…bet you didn’t know that…and later moved to Charlotte, NC. However, the affinity with the SBC is strong, which I know from personal experience. When I was a teen I got involved with the neighborhood SBC church, mostly for social reasons, but I was strongly influenced by Billy Graham because of the affinity between his style and the preacher at the church. I grew out of all that a few years later.

  6. says

    I remember over the years listening to a local Christian Radio station that made numerous “excuses” for why people are staying away from churches, blaming it all on The Devil who’s keeping people away from churches by offering them excuses such as “the services are too boring” and “the pastor’s voice is too loud.” Never mind that this is all made up to deny and gloss over the real reasons why people are leaving and staying away from church such as what the WaPo have reported yesterday along with racial and gender hatred, embracing pseudoscience and creationism, zero respect for women and babies born and unborn, pastors worshiping that Stupid Idiot who once profane the WH a few years ago, gross displays of patriotism, fake repentance sideshows, robbing people of their hard earned cash, and shutting out people who question and challenge their authority.

    All these things are the best “excuses” for leaving and staying away from church.

  7. PaulBC says

    McDonald’s no doubt has reasons of “enlightened self interest” for changing their pie preparation. It is amazing how much conservatives imagine for-profit corporations being part of a vast liberal conspiracy. They wouldn’t make the change if it didn’t improve their bottom line. All hail capitalism!

    If you want yummy (deadly) fried food, nobody is stopping you from getting it. I’m sure you could do a lot better than McDonald’s ever did with a deep fryer at home. The issue is not individual pies but how much fast food contributes to obesity on a population level. McDonald’s does that whether they bake or fry their pies, but a modest reduction in fat is probably a good thing.

    One thing I remember about the old pies is that they were a serious burn hazard straight out of the fryer and even had a warning to that effect. So I wonder if rather than trying to make the recipe healthier, McDonald’s actual motive was to avoid having to deal with burn injuries (like the famous coffee lawsuit, which involved 3rd degree burns and is no laughing matter). OK maybe not, if they only changed it in 2018. But I remember the baked pies from much earlier than that, and another source says 1992, which fits the coffee timing.

    (Indeed, an effective distraction from allegations of sexual abuse.)

  8. says

    …everyone siding with these abusive pigs in all church denominations and ministries is as guilty as the abusers themselves.

    Yep, that’s why Jesus died for them: to wash away their guilt with the Blood of the Lamb so they’d still go to Heaven no matter what they’d done. /s

  9. marner says

    I give the Southern Baptists some credit for ordering this investigation, opening up their records and releasing the report. Damning with faint praise, but I don’t see any other religious institutions doing it.

  10. wzrd1 says

    After all, God speaks directly to the Graham family.

    That was God? Wow, I thought it was the pool boy.

    As for how the pies are prepared, corporations have focus groups to determine what is popular, not what some power hungry for-profit minister has to Tweet about.
    Still, with bigger fish to fry, he fixates upon a tiny serving of apple “pie”. Decidedly odd, given that the cherry pies were far tastier. Although, I have appreciated my cholesterol count dropping below one million since they started baking the damned things.

  11. robro says

    Owosso Harpist @ #10 — I suspect one of the biggest reasons people are staying away from church is because Sunday is one free day a week to do chores around the house, shopping, and entertainment (think pro football in the fall/winter). When I was under 7 in the early 50s, my parents went to a Baptist church three times a week where they taught “Sunday School” and “Training Union”, and my dad was even a deacon (despite his regular beer). We moved to suburban track house when I was 7, put in a swimming pool* and all that stopped. In the South where I grew up, “blue laws” meant that a lot of places were closed on Sundays, except for churches of course.

  12. mordred says

    And here in Germany another Catholic bishop hits the news because he promoted a priest accused of sexual harassment (adult victims this time). The bishop doesn’t see a problem, the harasser has said he was really sorry.

  13. says

    Wow. Tweeting pictures of your food. Just like the kids do nowadays.
    He’s obviously one of those hip preachers who can talk to the young.

  14. robro says

    marner @ #14 — “I give the Southern Baptists some credit for ordering this investigation…” Well, the membership perhaps. The leadership wasn’t doing it, so the membership voted at the convention last year to get an “independent” investigation to look into the mater. The key was the membership, and the other was having an independent investigation. If the leadership had investigated themselves, you know what they would find…nothing.

    wzrd 1 @ #15 — Are thinking of Falwell, Junior? Of course, there may be some pool boys in the SBC scandal.

  15. robro says

    Heather Cox Richardson covers the SBC investigation report in her morning email, but what’s really interesting is this part (emphasis added):

    The modern Southern Baptist Convention story begins in 1967, when Paige Patterson, a seminary student, and Paul Pressler, a Texas judge, met in New Orleans to discuss taking over the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. and ridding it of liberals, purging those who believed in abortion rights, women’s rights, and gay rights. By 1979 their candidate was elected head of the organization, and in the 1980s, Southern Baptists, who then numbered about 15 million people, were active in politics and were staunch supporters of the Republican Party.

    Between 2003 and 2018 the church lost a million members. Both Pressler and Patterson were accused of sexual misconduct and by 2018 had been forced out of leadership roles, and a new leader called for “a new culture and a new posture in the Southern Baptist Convention.” While he set up new systems for responding to abuse, other leaders continued to blame the victims. In one internal email, senior staff member D. August “Augie” Boto, who drove much of the church’s response to abuse allegations, wrote: “This whole thing should be seen for what it is. It is a satanic scheme to completely distract us from evangelism.”

    It’s rotten to the core.

  16. PaulBC says

    When child sexual abuse by Catholic priests first came out as a big news story (and it’s been decades) there were a lot of amateur psychologists with their views on the role of celibacy in this crisis.

    I admit to my bias, having been raised Catholic, but it always struck me as a load of offensive bullshit that this was specifically a Catholic problem or that the celibate priesthood had much to do with it*. Any time you put adults in charge of children, you run the risk of attracting abusers. You have to be vigilant. You have to teach the kids to be aware and provide them the vocabulary to report it. You need to treat allegations openly and you need to subject offenders to the full force of the law.

    To be clear, the Catholic church acted as an enabler on a horrific scale and has much to answer for. They went out of their way to hide allegations and move offenders around, sometimes giving them new ground to exploit. But I think it had very little to do with the specifics of the priesthood.

    The main issue is when organizations hide abuse to protect their continued existence and when their followers would rather stay in denial than confront difficult issues. Religion is one way to create this situation, but not the only way.

    *These claims are predicated on the idea that the lack of a sexual outlet is such a hardship to weak men that it leads them to abuse children. (Which really was part of the nonsense spouted when the Catholic church abuse came out.) Bullshit. They were abusers to begin with. The “men lack personal control over their libido” theory is itself part of patriarchal culture.

  17. robro says

    PaulBC @ #21 — Clearly the “celibacy” angle was BS, just as the “boys will be boys” angle is BS. What is clear is that some people in positions of power and authority over other people can be abusive, emotionally and sexually. That’s true of women, too, not just men: ex. Kimberly Guilfoyle was under investigation at Fox for sexual harassment when she left abruptly to work for a Trump PAC. That’s the reason organizations need safe channels for people to report abusive behavior, and then deal with it. The Catholic church hid the abuse and protected the abusers. The SBC hid the abuse and protected the abusers. Fox hid the abuse and protected the abusers. I would not be surprised to learn that there’s a history of abuse hidden in Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

  18. says

    Fruit pies are baked. What’s he’s talking about is a fried fruit-pie-replacement-device. Basically, it’s a Hot Pocket with gobs of sweetener and some fruit inside instead of mystery meat. Some people like that sort of stuff. These are the kinds of foods that are favored by people who like to go to the state fair and eat deep fried sticks of butter (yes, that’s a real thing). Frying everything in sight seems to be a Southern USA thing as far as I can tell. Consequently, I guess this would count as “food virtue signalling”.

    But more importantly, apparently just like everything that comes out of a Graham’s mouth, what goes in is mostly sh*t.

  19. dianne says

    As an ex-McDonald’s employee, I have this to say about the fried pies:


  20. says

    Oh, and ignoring the sexual abuse is not a surprise at all. I expect nothing better than that from his ilk.

  21. dianne says

    I would have been far more surprised if there weren’t rampant sexual abuse or if it were taken seriously by the organization. I’ve yet to see a major institution react adequately to their sexual abuse problem and a church seems hopeless from the start.

  22. robro says

    jimf @ #24 — “Frying everything in sight seems to be a Southern USA thing”…As a Southerner I can confirm that frying is at the heart of traditional Southern cooking. Not everything, of course…we never fried grits although I suppose you could. Perhaps it’s because they had so much lard to use. Or, perhaps it’s because the weather is hot and humid, and roasting things in a oven adds to the misery while frying is relatively fast. I can’t speak to other food styles, although stir-frying is common with Chinese food available in the US.

    And, just as the burgers are “mystery meat” I wonder if the apples are “mystery fruit.”

  23. robro says

    dianne @ #25 — “As an ex-McDonald’s employee, I have this to say about the fried pies: No.” Reminds me of a high school friend who worked at KFC (then called “Kentucky Fried Chicken”). He swore if you knew what it was, you wouldn’t touch it much less eat it. Ergo, I have rarely eaten from KFC. In fact, except when our son was a little boy, I have rarely eaten from any fast food places.

  24. Matt G says

    I’m glad Frankie is using his moral weight to address the pressing issues of our day.

  25. submoron says

    “Man is the pie that bakes and eats himself, and the recipe is separation.” “I refuse to believe men kill each other just to make their enemies rich.”
    Duncan Thaw was too naïve,

  26. unclefrogy says

    well I had to look it up but there are a bunch of recipes for fried grits we ate them when I was a kid though we did not call it that. we called it fried mush and one favorite was scrapple.
    the sexual abuse issue in churches and other organizations probably is more an expression of patriarchy then religion, most of the organized religions especially those that are hierarchical do seem to be rather patriarchal as well. there are a lot of problems that do seem to arise from failing to address our sexual nature in any way like honestly and openly. We are a very social animal for which sex plays a very large roll to ignore that, which we do results in many of the social problems we have abuses like this are just part of it. The root of the abortion issue are attitudes toward sex and sexual activity as much if not more then babies.

  27. nomdeplume says

    The tie, the coat, the eyes, the smile, tell you all you need to know about this creature even before he opens the mouth.

  28. Rich Woods says

    I’m not sure which I find more repugnant, his views on humanity or his taste in food and jackets.

  29. blf says

    Why didn’t someone get an order banning this piece of of ordure from the U.K.?

    Where better to meet his controllers than in Londongrad?

  30. says

    The man has no taste. He goes all the way to Britain to eat a plastic Mac when he could sample the original fast food good old British fish and chips. I don’t see the fascination with McDonalds. When they first came to Australia a local cafe put out a large sign advertising “hamburgers like they were before the Yanks got to them”.

  31. brightmoon says

    Why would F graham go to the UK and eat American food? Bring on the steak and kidney pie !

  32. brightmoon says

    What did they expect , these fundies care nothing about women or children . We’re just unimportant property that has to be submissive and under the control of some ( jerk) man

  33. PaulBC says

    garydargan@37 I have had fish and chips in three places (at least that I remember). One was Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey and those were hands down the worst. It didn’t help that while waiting a long time for my order, I was staring at a cardboard box that said “flash frozen Alaskan pollock.” I have no gripe against pollock, but I shouldn’t have to go to Monterey for it. A bunch of other times, though it’s been nearly 20 years, I have had salmon fish and chips at the Seabright Brewery in Santa Cruz. Those are delicious, though admittedly too upscale to be authentic.

    The other time was in Aberystwyth, Wales, even longer ago. I have to assume those were something like authentic fish and chips. They were better than what I got in Monterey, but not enough to go back. I used to eat at the Burger King there sometimes… not great but at least predictable. I tried other places too. I can’t remember liking any restaurants and ate a lot of packaged food during my stay including some frozen curry (reheated of course!). My favorite food item was crumpets from the grocery store. Trader Joe’s sells crumpets in the US and they seem like they should be right, but something isn’t quite the same.

  34. blf says

    PaulBC@40, “I have had salmon fish and chips at the Seabright Brewery in Santa Cruz.”

    Hah! That was — and probably still is (Generalissimo Google™ indicates it still exists) — a good place for a brew or lunch after (sometimes during) our morning bicycle ride. I don’t recall the “salmon fish and chips” specifically — not surprising, I detest battered fried fish, even on the rare occasions it’s not soaked in rancid grease — but do generally recall having fine lunches with great beer outside on the terrace.

  35. PaulBC says

    blf@41 I lived just up the street from the Seabright Brewery at the time. It looks like they have new owners who have changed the name to “Seabright Social.” Who thought that one up? It doesn’t sound like a restaurant name to me. Or maybe I’m just old.

  36. springa73 says

    PaulBC @21

    I wholeheartedly agree with your comment. I was also raised Roman Catholic, and while I am no longer practicing I was also skeptical about the idea that it was clerical celibacy or something else unique to Catholic clergy that caused the abuse of children. At the same time, I wondered if I was biased and too defensive of the Catholic Church due to my background. As I’ve heard of similar patterns of abuse in other organizations, I think that my suspicion that this is not a distinctly Catholic issue has been confirmed.

  37. silvrhalide says

    Why confine your attention to the heavily-male dominated religious organizations? Start with the big problem… the military. Religions come and religions go but armies are forever. In the US, harassed and assaulted people are required to report through the chain of command–usually male–and often the person that they are required to report to is their abuser. You can get dishonorably discharged for breaking the chain of command to report an abuser. Because breaking the chain of command is clearly a worse crime than sexual harassment, assault, rape and homicide. Priorities!

    And just in time for the clime of the times… this:

    Honestly, don’t stop at printing just one.

    Mostly because of this:

    Is it still adultery if there is only one ADULT involved and the other person is legally a CHILD?
    Kind of like how the media portrayed Roman Polanski’s victim as “young woman”.
    She was 13 at the time.
    Notice how most of the congregation rushes to embrace and forgive the pastor? His victim, not so much. Kind of says it all.
    Usually the SBC is pretty quick to shun and in some cases, excommunicate the female victims, all the while embracing and forgiving the predator. Because he said sowwy.

    @20 So… they purged the liberals and kept the sex offenders.
    Keep in mind that the SBC also kicked out member churches who accepted gays.

    Those are some awesome life choices SBC!

    Fake pastor eats fake food.
    You are what you eat.

  38. silvrhalide says

    Blog link but the quoted studies are really interesting. If anyone has a link to the actual studies, I’d love to see the original data.

    The implications though, are pretty profound.

    “If we could eliminate the men who rape again and again and again, a quarter of the violence against women and children would disappear. That’s the public policy implication.”