The decision by the Southern Baptist Convention to release a list of alleged sex abusers is making national news, including in Alabama, where a TV news station reported a pastor named Charles Brown is on the SBC's now-infamous list after he led a congregation at Evergreen Baptist Church.
The problem with that news report is what Mark Twain said about a lie: It will travel halfway around the world before Truth gets its shoes on. And that is the situation for Charles Brown, a second Baptist pastor and an innocent man. But his photo was nonetheless found by a TV reporter and used in a news segment that described the other disgraced Evergreen pastor.
“In four minutes,” Pastor Brown says of a mistaken TV news reporter, “this guy destroyed 80 years of my life.”
Displaying some mercy and grace, Pastor Brown allows there was room for mistakes. Both men share the same name, even the same middle name “Edward.” The disgraced pastor led the Alabama congregation at Evergreen Baptist Church. So did the innocent pastor, although that congregation was across the state line in Mississippi.
After the TV news station checked its own facts, and realized the terrible mistake, it made the inevitable on-air apology. “We incorrectly showed a picture of Charles Brown, who served as pastor of Government Street Baptist church for 45 years,” an anchor explained. “Dr. Brown is not under investigation.”
But the damage has been done and Pastor Brown is fighting for his good name.
“When the bell makes the dong, you can't put the dong back in the bell,” Dr. Brown says of the terrible mistake. “This is devastating. There's not much I can do about it.”