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Friday, July 1, 2022

Southern Baptist agrees to keep list of accused sex abusers

ANAHEIM, California ( Associated Press) — The Southern Baptist Convention voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to create a way to track pastors and other church workers who have been accused of sexual abuse and further reforms in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. A new task force was started to monitor the

The vote came three weeks after an outside adviser released a blockbuster report on the long-running scandal, revealing that Southern Baptist leaders mishandled cases of abuse and stoned victims for years. Thousands of Southern Baptists are here in Anaheim for their large national gathering.

The vote fell short of what some survivors of abuse in Southern Baptist churches demanded, such as a compensation fund for victims and a more robust and independent commission to oversee the operation of their churches for – and abuse – abuse. And it also faced opposition from some who objected that the crisis was exaggerated and interfered with the independence of Baptist churches.

But Bruce Frank, who led the task force recommending the reforms, made an emotional request for church representatives to accept them, as they gathered here at the start of their two-day annual meeting. He called the steps “minimal”.

“It will take a few years for the culture and direction to change,” he said. “But without action to act differently, there is no remorse.”

He challenges those who say that these steps interfere with Baptiste’s focus on the mission, saying that “protecting the sheep from the wolves” is essential to the mission.

“How are you going to tell a beholding world that Jesus died for them… when his church won’t even do its best to protect them?” Frank asked.

He acknowledged that implementing these recommendations would cost “a lot of money”.

“But it’s not going to cost nearly as much as what the survivors paid for,” he said.

During the debate, some Baptists criticized the consulting firm operating the report, GuidePost Solutions, for their recent tweets in support of Pride Month, which goes against the SBC’s view that homosexuality is sinful.

“I didn’t even like their tweets,” Frank said, noting that it’s important to recognize that the company’s outlook on sexuality and gender is radically different from the views of the Christian denomination. “The issue isn’t what the guidepost thinks about LGBT? The issue is what Southern Baptists think about sexual abuse.”

The report, which focused on how the denomination’s executive committee handled cases of abuse, also revealed that it had secretly accused pastors and other church workers of abuse, even Even after claiming for a long time it could not do so without infringing on the autonomy of the congregations. The committee later apologized and released the list, which had hundreds of accused activists.

Frank also reiterated the need for a database of abusers, which he said has been discussed by the SBC for more than a decade. He said a database is vital to ensure that abusers are not moving from church to church, hurting more vulnerable people.

Brad Eubanks, senior pastor at Petal First Baptist Church in Petal, Mississippi, urged envoys to approve the recommendations. Eubanks was sexually abused as a child by a music minister at a Southern Baptist church in Mississippi. He said these recommendations should serve as a “starting point”.

“As a pastor I have spoken to countless survivors and victims,” ​​he said. “The world is watching. This is not everything that needs to be done, but it is a starting place. Please start the healing process today.”


Smith reported from Pittsburgh.


The Associated Press religion coverage is supported by the Associated Press’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. Associated Press is solely responsible for this content.

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