Baptist Sex Scandal

Full immersion baptism is shaping up as the next sex scandal to hit Christian churches across the globe as numerous born-again Christians launch a class action against Baptist ministers accusing the Baptists of covering up a horrendous sex scandal.

Jenny Smegden, now 45, claims she was 13 when she was first molested.

"I was too young at the time to understand why Pastor Brownjohn kept baptising me," she said from her home in Rooty Hill. "No one ever told me you were only supposed to be baptised once. I never knew how to say no."

Pastor Brownjohn, who was preparing his sermon when we spoke to him, disputes Smegden's story.

"I have never had sexual relations with that woman. She is an unmarried mother who has been nothing but trouble for this Church. A temptress from hell, ask anyone in the congregation," he said.

Mrs Brownjohn is standing by her man. "My husband is a good preacher, a good father and a good pastor to the church," she said.

"This trouble all started when Jenny came back to the church. She is not the same since she came back from the city. She is unmarried and wears short dresses and too much makeup. I think she is just trying to find a husband."

Jenny Smegden claims she was over serviced by the church. "I know I have been backsliding," she said. "I have had my share of problems. When I was first baptised I was told that if I gave my life to Christ everything would be alright. Then I would backslide and not go to church for awhile, Pastor Brownjohn always welcomed me back to the church but said it was important to re-dedicate my life to Christ and be baptised again. Altogether I was baptised over 15 times. Well, 17 if you count the rehearsals.

"Every time I had to wear a thin white robe. We were encouraged not to wear underwear. It was only many years later, when my own daughter was baptised I realised what was going on. The Church was packed, there were a lot of old men sitting near the front of the church. The baptism pool had a glass window in it. You could see everything clearly. My daughter looked so radiant when she first walked out. But as she went into the water her white dress, just like the one I wore, started to bellow up. The Pastor had his arm around her. She looked horrified and tried to cover herself. It was embarrassing. I felt ashamed. Everyone was looking at me and smiling.

"They all came up to her and congratulated her afterwards while tea and refreshments were being served, but they were just pawing at her and the other girls.

"Afterwards when I spoke to the Pastor he said I should consider re-dedicating my life to God. I felt like slapping him," said Jenny Smegden, obviously distressed.

Others in the congregation see it differently. One church-goer who did not want to be named blamed Jenny Smegden.

"This was a happy church until Jenny came back," she said. "Now Pastor Brownjohn and his wife are under so much strain. It is distressing to see a Christian couple tormented like that. It is not doing the church any good. Mrs Brownjohn has been a good wife and always helped at Church functions. But I think God is testing them and they will be stronger for it afterwards."

Pastor Brownjohn's neighbour, who is not a church member , expressed surprise.

"They seemed such a nice couple," said Mrs Dradge. "She was always doing the washing. I only noticed because there were always a lot of white robes hanging on the line. At least 3 or 4 times a week. Very white and not stained at all. I don't know how she did it. Mind you they didn't look like adults clothes at all. Mrs Brownjohn told me her husband's church was very popular with the young people. Always doing stuff for the kids. Outreach, I think she called it."

Jenny Smegden blames Baptists for allowing these practices to flourish for so long saying the Church treated baptism as nothing but a wet t-shirt competition.

Jenny has been undergoing repressed memory therapy to help her come to terms with the ordeal.

This has helped her understand why she was always bad at maths at school, never taken to dances by decent boys and is now obese.

"My lawyer has made me understand that this is not due to chocolate, overeating, cigarettes or a low IQ. It is post traumatic stress disorder caused by Pastor Brownjohn. My life has been ruined."

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