A Lutheran’s view on “the harm SNAP does by mounting little less than an anti-Catholic smear campaign”

On the site of First Things there is a good article about SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests) by Russell E. Saltzman, mission development pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Gothenburg, Nebraska.

Saltzman writes with my emphases:

I no longer believe the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is in any way primarily an advocacy organization for sexual abuse victims. Instead, I think it is more a noisy little group that hates the Roman Catholic Church and has discovered a way of making a living off the victimization others have suffered. My poor opinion of SNAP was formed some time ago, but the organization returned to my attention as I’ve followed the most recent scandal unfolding in the Kansas City–St. Joseph diocese.

As regular readers know, I am a Lutheran with no axe to grind against the Roman Catholic Church, not even on the subject of priestly sex abuse involving adolescent boys. We Lutherans have our own sex scandals though they rarely make the press because they usually involve a male pastor and a female parishioner. Ho-hum, some might say. Even the rare incidents involving young boys get passed over because headlines about Lutheran pastors aren’t nearly as invitingly lurid as “pedophile priests.”


SNAP has never to my knowledge examined scandals among mental health professionals. It never says anything of public school districts, where reports say children are at far greater risk of abuse. Nor has it said anything of volunteer youth organizations. The simple fact is SNAP targets Roman Catholics. If SNAP routinely seeks “donations” from settlements, well, Catholic pockets are easier to reach, for a lot of reasons starting with media bias.

Whatever genuine aid SNAP may provide victims of priestly sex abuse is well matched by the harm SNAP does by mounting little less than an anti-Catholic smear campaign and wantonly portraying every priest as a sexual predator waiting to happen and every bishop an enabler.


There are resource links at the end of the article. Go there to find the links but here are the names:

  • Lutheran sex abuse in Texas
  • Forum Letter
  • Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph
  • SNAP IRS 990 2009 Filing [PDF]
  • Better Business Bureau Charity Review

Read the whole article over there.  It is well worth it.  Interesting things about SNAP’s finances, too.

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  1. Devin says:

    I am not the biggest fan of SNAP because they are using a bad situation (admittingly self-inflicted by the Church) to attack her teachings. But to attack SNAP because it only focuses on the Catholic Church is a little disingenious. That would be the same as attacking a Pro-Life Group for not advocating against the death penalty or not having more focus on feeding the homeless. By the same standards, you would expect a group set up to protect children in public schools to also be concerned with the ongoings of religous organizations.

  2. mrose says:

    How good-willed of him, a Lutheran cleric, to be honest and frank and recognize the painfully obvious anti-Catholicism at work, and recognize the problems in other Christian groups as well as other activities and organizations involving youth. I have heard too that the problem is supposedly much worse with the clergy in the schismatic Eastern churches – they too are just harder to sue. It is nice to see someone who can state the obvious about this issue from outside the Church.

  3. jbas says:

    I think I see Devin’s point, but SNAP’s very name gives the impression that the crime was worse in, or was controled differently by, the Catholic Church than by other groups in society at the time. A “survivors network of those abused by authority figures” would make more sense.

  4. samgr says:

    SNAP’s tax filing reports “clergy abuse” as its focus. There’s no mention of Catholic clergy or priests to the IRS.

  5. jasoncpetty says:

    I agree with the guy completely that the group’s nothing more than a Satanic front (he said that, right?), but it’s called Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, so you can’t get after them for going no further.

  6. Mrs. O says:

    I know the state I am in, SNAP encouraged/helped those young men who had been abused by a Baptist youth minister to come forward and press charges. I also know of a man who has personally picked in front of Baptist Convention office to being awareness. I wonder if it depends on area and the unfortunate fact if it includes priest, will get press?

  7. Tony Layne says:

    “I agree with the guy completely that the group’s nothing more than a Satanic front (he said that, right?), but it’s called Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, so you can’t get after them for going no further.”

    You’d think. But it’s almost like an organization called Survivors Network of those Robbed by Black Men : by limiting the focus like that, you inherently imply that the problem only exists within those bounds. They’re not bound by the name; they’re bound by their narrative of victimhood, which only admits to Catholic priests as sex abusers, not any other religious or secular figure.

  8. PrairieHawk says:

    Of course SNAP focuses on the Catholic Church, that’s where their people got hurt. We brought all of this upon ourselves. Even if the Devil is propping them up, it’s still the consequences of the Church’s actions. I’ve been on their website and I feel nothing but sorrow for them.

  9. Jennyfire says:

    It’s a pity that SNAP receives so much attention. There truly are people who believe that priests are more likely than anyone else in society to sexually abuse a minor. This kind of erroneous thinking can only lead to more cases of sexual abuse in my humble opinion. Some parents will not pay (as much) attention to non clergy abusers. Please, all parents, as unpleasant as the subject is, educate yourselves about signs of sexual abuse and what to look for, including the different types of abusers that exist and what kind of personalities often go along with this criminal behavior.

  10. PostCatholic says:

    I think it’s a fair point. I have found BishopAccountability to be a much more responsible organization.

  11. chcrix says:

    It seems to me though that they need to not accept donations from the plaintiff bar.

    One issue I have with them was mentioned by a commenter at the original article site – i.e. the assumption that accusation = guilt.

    Another is a practice of reporting details of abuse cases with the intent of encouraging others to come forward. The details of course can be used lend an air of verisimilitude to the otherwise bald and unconvincing narratives of potential false accusers. This is particularly egregious in the case of men who died years ago.

    Like ambulance chasers or race-baiting political figures they have gone beyond their original mission and become a self-perpetuating business.

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