It was revealed recently that the Southern Baptist Convention has been covering up allegations of sexual abuse for decades. Mike Papantonio & Farron Cousins discuss more.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             It was revealed recently that the Southern Baptist Convention has been covering up allegations of sexual abuse for decades and Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins joins me to talk about this and many other issues. Finally, this story’s being told. You know, I, I look at this story it’s, they’re, they’re doing a little bit better than the Catholics have done. Catholics have covered this since 1940s and 50s. But now they did an independent search, they did an independent study and the independent study was not good for them, but they’re, they’re willing to talk about it. What’s your take.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah. You know, at least they’re admitting, okay, we’ve got some problems and yes, we, the way we’re structured basically is what led to a lot of these problems and that’s really something that I think most people don’t quite understand here. The Southern Baptist Convention isn’t necessarily like the Catholic church. The Catholic church has dominion over all Catholic churches. They’re all interconnected. With Southern Baptist, each church is basically allowed to do their own thing. We’re not gonna oversee you or dictate you. We don’t even get involved in your problems for the most part. So that’s what actually led to a lot of these problems because they’re happening at these independent congregations. So starting in about 2007, I think it was, they started getting these reports in to the main body of the Southern Baptist Convention and that’s when things start to go a little south for the whole thing. They, they knew that these complaints were coming in. They weren’t exactly taking the action. They said, okay, well, we’re gonna let you guys, you deal with this. This is your business. We’re just here to, you know, sign the paperwork.

Mike Papantonio:             It’s the same conduct.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. Same conduct we, we see with the Catholic church, we see with the Mormon church, we see with all of these cults that are arising everywhere. Okay. So suppress the reports, do everything that you can to suppress the reports. Cover it up, make sure it doesn’t ever see the light of day, whether it’s sexual abuse, no matter how horrendous the sexual abuse is. And then resist reform. Okay. As long as we can, resist reform, we don’t want to talk about it, because it’s gonna hurt us. And then the other thing is vilify and attack the people who are making the accusations and hope they go away. Isn’t that kind of what’s happened here?

Farron Cousins:                  Oh, absolutely. And you know, that is also another big part of this too. It’s not just, we’re gonna ignore it. We’re gonna pretend it’s not happening. We don’t want the bad publicity. It is, let’s discredit the men and women that are coming forward with these allegations of abuse. These people that have been through these horrifically traumatizing experiences, let’s make their life hell.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  Let, let’s make it so much worse for them rather than admitting and solving a problem. Listen, there’s so many organizations out there that have had instances like this, you know, whether it’s the Boy Scouts, the Catholic churches as we mentioned, we’ve talked about tons of ’em on this show. The difference is what do you do with this?

Mike Papantonio:             Mm-hmm.

Farron Cousins:                  If there is a bad actor in your organization, purge the bad actor.

Mike Papantonio:             Right.

Farron Cousins:                  Make sure you let people know that, yeah, we had a problem. We’ve fixed it. We’re making sure there’s no other problems. It always comes back to the cover up and it always ends up getting exposed, which makes the problem 10 times worse for the organization.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. They protect and support the abuser. They vilify the victim. They, matter of fact in this there’s, there’s a real split here in the, I don’t, I know you’ve seen this. There’s two very distinctive divisions in the Southern, in this story. One is that, that division that says, well, we’re just gonna attack everybody. We’re just gonna say, matter of fact, one of, one, a woman that came forward to help get this out there, they said it was a satanic scheme to distract from our evangelism. So you have that side. And then you’ve got other folks that are saying, no, this is a good thing because we can come up with a system like the Catholics still refuse to do, you know, since 1940, they still won’t do it. They’re still clergy, you know, sexually abusing across the board. There’s still priests and that move up the, the ladder of importance in the Catholic church and they don’t do anything about it. But the, the Southern Baptist are saying, well, you know, at least part of them are saying, this is a great opportunity because we can fix this right now if we’ll get hands on. What, you think, to me do you see some differences here?

Farron Cousins:                  I absolutely see differences. I mean, the Catholic church would rather, you know, just kind of bury their heads in the sands. Pretend that, oh no, this isn’t a problem. That person was moved. Well, you didn’t mention that they were just moved two towns over and given a whole new congregation, everything was covered up. At least with this one, there are plenty of people on the inside who say, we have to do something about this. These individuals have to go. This story has to be publicized. And, and going back to that as well I, I know there’s been a lot of news happening in the last two weeks, but this story has already died.

Mike Papantonio:             Oh yeah, yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  And that’s, what’s truly remarkable. I mean, you’ve got, you know, countless victims here that are seeking justice, that are trying to speak out.

Mike Papantonio:             Mm-hmm.

Farron Cousins:                  And the media’s already moved on.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. So you’ve got two things that can come out of this, that the Catholics we’re to do a long time ago, that the Boy Scouts were told to do a long time ago, that the Mormon church was told to do a long time ago. Didn’t do it. That is to have a centralized information service. A center where we keep up with this music teacher who has been reported three times for improper conduct with children, put that into a centralized system where we can take a look and we can find out where these people are and what are they doing. That’s the first thing. And the second thing is they’re talking about doing away with the non-disclosure agreements, to where, if your pros, if, if we come after you and you have to pay money, you can’t hide that. This non-disclosure thing is not gonna be permitted anymore because it’s so destructive.

Farron Cousins:                  Right. And that again, huge problem with all of these organizations is that if allegations have been leveled against one person and it’s not publicized, there is no way for them to know when they try to move to a different area that this has happened with this individual.

Mike Papantonio:             Right.

Farron Cousins:                  Or has been alleged to happen. The database would solve that problem like that.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.