Open Letter to FBC

May 1, 2023

To the Administration of First Baptist Church and Christian School:


We are writing to inform you that as alumni of the school, former members of the church, and otherwise invested parties we have grave concerns with the church and school’s response (or lack thereof) to the allegations against Robert Lazzell (former principal charged in case 21-CF-703).  In addition to failing to protect the children and other vulnerable people in your care, you remained silent when two other prominent staff members Roger VanRaden (former music pastor and Bible teacher) and David Cornelius (former science and Bible teacher) both plead guilty to sex crimes against children.  Rather than making good faith efforts to accept responsibility and prevent further abuse in the future, you have shown a wanton disregard for the safety of your students by ignoring complaints of concerned parents regarding Lazzell’s troubling public behaviors, which in retrospect were only the tip of the iceberg. 

In addition to failing the minors in your care, you have thus far failed to issue even a generic public apology to the known victim or make any effort to encourage other potential victims to get help and counseling.  Furthermore, you have intentionally used your position of authority to attempt to silence advocates for the victim in 21-CF-703 by implying that you speak on behalf of the victim who would prefer nothing be made public, when he has made no such statement and wishes his story to be heard to help spare others this type of abuse.

For the record - his name is Michael Young, and you have failed him on multiple levels, both in the past and presently.  In order to set the record straight, he wishes it publicly known that he grieves the lack of any show of public remorse on the part of First Baptist and its leadership.  He mourns the fact that no substantive changes have been made to policy or practice that would protect future students from suffering the way he did, even though he has generously offered input for such changes privately. 

Michael and the Blue Shirt Coalition take this public stand to combat the misinformation that has been circulating about this case, as well as to reject the systematic silencing campaign that has been leveraged to protect the institution at the expense of the children in its care.  Silence only protects the abusers.  Michael refuses to allow his story to be used to silence advocates and other potential victims any longer.

Finally, there is NO PUBLICLY AVAILABLE Child Protection Policy posted on either the church or school website, shared on the church or school’s Facebook pages, or available upon requests previously made by alumni in good faith.  There is no mention of how to report abuse in the school’s handbook (which is freely available for download) or what process exists for how abuse disclosures are handled.  This overall lack of transparency only increases the concerns surrounding the church/school’s lack of accountability with regard to previous failures and lack of interest in preventing future abuse.

You have violated the trust of every adult and minor involved in your programming.  You have placed the reputation of the organization above the wellbeing of the most vulnerable among you.  You have repeatedly prioritized the institution above the people involved.  You have avoided participation in any system that would provide oversight and supervision and instead prized secrecy and control.  Thus it falls to us, as former members and students who invested years of our lives into this place, to call you to repentance and accountability on a public platform - where you cannot hide from the light of day.  We present to you a list of demands that provide an opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to prevent such abuse in the future and to be a place that knows how to respond when abuse is reported.  We await your response.


Michael Young

& The Blue Shirt Coalition

The above letter was mailed to First Baptist Church, First Baptist Christian School, and the top three administrators on May 1, 2023.  Enclosed was a petition of demands for changes to practices, policies, and personnel at First Baptist in order to make the church and school safer places for children.  If you're interested in reading and/or signing our petition to add your name - you can SIGN OUR PETITION HERE.