Alabama pastor invokes wife’s clergy abuse to defend Baptist sex abuse ‘distraction’ remarks

By Greg Garrison

Valleydale Church Pastor Mac Brunson defended remarks by a guest speaker that sex abuse was a distraction. Valleydale Church

A Pelham pastor who hosted an SBC presidential candidate that called sex abuse a “distraction” doubled down on his defense of the speaker on social media and told a story about his wife forgiving her sexual abuser without calling the police.

“It simply wasn’t done 60 years ago,” said the Rev. Mac Brunson, pastor of Valleydale Church, in a social media exchange with critics.

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“Yes I believe that police should be called today. It’s hard for young people to grasp there were no report laws back then. Families kept things quiet. Not that it was right it’s just the way it was.”

Speaking at Valleydale Church in Pelham on Sunday, Southern Baptist Convention presidential candidate David L. Allen called the 42 sex abuse lawsuits against Southern Baptist entities a distraction from the gospel.

“We have gotten involved in trying to figure out how to negotiate problems with sexual abuse, how to address that, how to address that in a financially responsible way,” Allen said.

“Many people are unaware of this – the Southern Baptist Convention, either individual leaders or agencies or state conventions, right now are involved in 42 lawsuits.”

Allen, a candidate for president at the 2024 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention scheduled for June 9-12 in Indianapolis, called it a financial drain.

“It is unbelievable, and that is heavily draining financially our Executive Committee,” said Allen, who was a guest speaker at Valleydale Church. “We’ve got to figure out how to get back on track and address this,” he said.

“There are other issues as well that are distracting us from the main thing. The main thing is missions, evangelism and preaching the gospel and church planting. That’s the main thing. All these other things are distractions. They have to be addressed. But we cannot allow our focus to get off on all of these other things and not focus on the main thing.”

The speech angered sex abuse victim advocates, who lashed out on social media.

Brunson, whom Allen had described as one of his five closest friends, defended Allen on social media, saying he was taken out of context and that he has clearly denounced sexual abuse in the past.

“Yes he used the word distractions but not of sex abuse victims. He listed a number of things. Honestly for 5 years going on 6 how to deal with this has been distracting. No sex abuse victim is satisfied – not many others with how it has been handled.”

Brunson then shared his wife’s experience of sexual abuse.

“My wife was horribly sexually abused repeatedly by a Baptist deacon. No police were called, no investigation, no pastor berated because he did not tell the church. She himself confronted as an adult, told him she remembered every detail – and that she forgave him because of Christ.”