Leaders of the Southern Baptist Conference, America’s largest Protestant denomination, stonewalled and denigrated survivors of clergy intercourse abuse over nearly twenty years whereas in search of to guard their very own reputations, in response to a scathing 288-page investigative report issued Sunday.
These survivors, and different involved Southern Baptists, repeatedly shared allegations with the SBC’s Government Committee, “solely to be met, time and time once more, with resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility from some throughout the EC,” mentioned the report.
The seven-month investigation was performed by Guidepost Options, an unbiased agency contracted by the Government Committee after delegates to final 12 months’s nationwide assembly pressed for an unbiased probe.
“Our investigation revealed that, for a few years, a couple of senior EC leaders, together with exterior counsel, largely managed the EC’s response to those studies of abuse … and had been singularly centered on avoiding legal responsibility for the SBC,” the report mentioned.
“In service of this aim, survivors and others who reported abuse had been ignored, disbelieved, or met with the fixed chorus that the SBC may take no motion resulting from its polity concerning church autonomy — even when it meant that convicted molesters continued in ministry with no discover or warning to their present church or congregation,” the report added.
SBC President Ed Litton, in an announcement Sunday, mentioned he’s “grieved to my core” for the victims and thanked God for his or her work propelling the SBC to this second. He known as on Southern Baptists to lament and put together to vary the denomination’s tradition and implement reforms.
“I pray Southern Baptists will start getting ready at the moment to take deliberate motion to handle these failures and chart a brand new course after we meet collectively in Anaheim,” Litton mentioned
Among the many key suggestions within the report:
- Kind an unbiased fee and later set up a everlasting administrative entity to supervise complete long-term reforms regarding sexual abuse and associated misconduct throughout the SBC.
- Create and keep an Offender Info System to alert the neighborhood to recognized offenders.
- Present a complete Useful resource Toolbox together with protocols, coaching, schooling, and sensible info.
- Limit the usage of nondisclosure agreements and civil settlements, which bind survivors to confidentiality in sexual abuse issues, until requested by the survivor.
The intercourse abuse scandal was thrust into the highlight in 2019 by a landmark report from the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Specific-Information documenting a whole lot of instances in Southern Baptist church buildings, together with a number of during which alleged perpetrators remained in ministry.
Final 12 months, 1000’s of delegates on the nationwide SBC gathering despatched the message that they didn’t need the Government Committee to supervise an investigation of its personal actions. As a substitute they voted overwhelmingly to create the duty power charged with offering oversight of the third-party evaluation. Litton, pastor of Redemption Church in Saraland, Alabama, appointed the panel.
Government Committee members have had per week to evaluation the report earlier than it was publicly launched Sunday afternoon. The duty power’s suggestions primarily based on Guidepost’s findings will likely be offered on the SBC’s annual assembly in Anaheim, California, on June 14-15.
In February, the Government Committee provided a public apology and a confidential financial settlement to sexual abuse survivor Jennifer Lyell, who was mischaracterized by the denomination’s in-house information service when she determined to go public together with her story in March 2019.
Lyell publicly disclosed that she was a sexual abuse survivor after studying the person she accused of abuse, a former Southern Baptist seminary professor, had lately returned to ministry. She mentioned she got here ahead together with her story to stop the person from partaking in additional abusive acts.