Sexual Abuse in Southern Baptist Churches

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southern baptistSexual Misconduct Discovered in Southern Baptist Churches

What many perceived to be a problem with the Catholic Church is being exposed as one in the Baptist Church as well. In a CNN article, Religion Editor Daniel Burke explains that, according to an investigation by two Texas newspapers, 380 Southern Baptist leaders and volunteers have been accused of sexual misconduct since 1998.

The newspapers searched databases and interviewed police departments to find that nearly four hundred Baptist officials, including “pastors, deacons, Sunday school teachers, and volunteers” had been the subjects of credible accusations. Over two hundred of these people were convicted of sex crimes.

Did the Baptist Church Hide The Allegations of Abuse?

There is currently no accusation that any Southern Baptist Church has engaged in a purposeful or conspiratorial cover-up of sexual abuse and misconduct within its ranks. But the results of the investigation are sufficient to cause concern over the fact that the Baptist Church has no central reporting or enforcement policy which may make it difficult to track child sex abuse.

Who Is Protecting Victims Abused By Baptist Church Officials?

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is comprised of more than 47,000 individual churches, and each one is autonomous. The SBC has little if any power to over these churches and is unable to enforce policies or procedures. Why? Because it is not a governing body. It is a service organization. “Each church is self-governing,” according to Sing Oldham, the SBC spokesperson.

The SBC does not maintain its own registry of sex offenders. It has, however, according to the author of the article, encouraged churches to report immediately to law enforcement any allegations of sexual abuse. The SBC also passed a resolution in 2013, though non-binding, that encourages churches to stay vigilant when it comes to sexual abuse and the safety of congregants. It supports background checks and the use of other resources. The resolution states:

“We remind all Southern Baptists of their legal and moral responsibility to report any accusations of child abuse to authorities in addition to implementing any appropriate church discipline or internal restoration processes, … [w]e likewise call upon all Southern Baptists to cooperate fully with law enforcement officials in exposing and bringing to justice all perpetrators, sexual or otherwise, who criminally harm children placed in our trust.”

Exposing Sexual Misconduct In The Baptist Church May Make Help Victims Come Forward

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, seems grateful that the report came out although he is horrified by the abuse allegations. He states, “No church should be frustrated by the [newspaper’s] reporting, but should thank God for it.”

It seems that no religious organization is immune to sexual abuse within its ranks. It is unknown whether there will be a more widespread investigation into allegations against Baptist leaders in our country. If you have been the victim of sexual abuse by a member of the Baptist church or another religious group, contact our sexual abuse lawyers at Alonso Krangle, LLP to protect your legal rights. Call 800-403-6191 to discuss your legal rights.