A shocking report released this week reveals an alleged systemic problem of sexual abuse cover-ups within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), oftentimes allowing abusers to remain in their posts as ministers with no recourse.
The report was released at the conclusion of a seven-month-long investigation which concluded that members of the SBC’s Executive Committee (EC) were guilty of stonewalling accusers of pastors and other members of leadership within the denomination.
The EC commissioned the investigation from Guidepost Solutions after delegates to the SBC annual conference last year pushed for more action to be taken about the allegations, The Associated Press reported.
“Our investigation revealed that, for many years, a few senior EC leaders, along with outside counsel, largely controlled the EC’s response to these reports of abuse … and were singularly focused on avoiding liability for the SBC,” the report stated.
“In service of this goal, survivors and others who reported abuse were ignored, disbelieved, or met with the constant refrain that the SBC could take no action due to its polity regarding church autonomy – even if it meant that convicted molesters continued in ministry with no notice or warning to their current church or congregation,” it added.
The report focused heavily on accusations that a former president of SBC, Johnny Hunt, allegedly sexually assaulted the wife of a pastor after orchestrating to have her housed in a condo rental next to his on a beach vacation, and told her that he wanted to have sex with her three times a day.
Hunt has adamantly denied the allegations, yet Guidepost deemed them “credible,” as The Christian Post reported.
The Daily Wire reported that top figures within the SBC were quick to denounce the findings of the report.
“There are not adequate words to express my sorrow at the things revealed in this report,” current SBC President Ed Litton said in a statement Sunday. “I am grieved to my core for those who have suffered sexual abuse in Southern Baptist contexts, both for those named in this report and the many who are not.”
Litton also called for a need to “implement desperately needed reforms.”
“We have so much to lament, but genuine grief requires a godly response,” he said.
“Truth is, this report shows Southern Baptists in the worst light,” Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler wrote in an op-ed following the news. “We have to face that fact. But I must move ahead with the confidence, based on long experience, that faithful Southern Baptist laypeople, pastors, and denominational leaders will do the right thing, once they know what that right thing is.”
He noted that this is “one of the most difficult moments ever experienced by my beloved denomination.”
“Every Southern Baptist church member should read this report and ask the Lord to awaken us to an honest assessment of just how far we have drifted in our churches from His holy Word,” Tom Ascol, a candidate for SBC president, told The Daily Wire.
“The Bible is crystal clear about how we are to handle sin in our churches. Yet, as this report makes obvious, too many of our churches are falling short in this area.”
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