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Investigation uncovers sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches

by Kent Covington
Posted 2/11/19, 09:58 am

Hundreds of Southern Baptist church leaders and volunteers have faced accusations of sexual misconduct over the past 20 years, according to a report by two Texas newspapers released Sunday. The six-month investigation by the San Antonio Express-News and the Houston Chronicle found that since 1998, nearly 400 church leaders were accused of victimizing more than 700 people, including small children.

Hundreds of alleged offenders have been convicted or have taken plea deals, with dozens of cases still pending, according to the report. More than 100 are registered sex offenders, and some have returned to the pulpit. The report also said victims have accused several past presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention and other church leaders of concealing or mishandling abuse complaints.

Russell Moore, who heads the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, spoke out forcefully in support of the story and commended the investigative reporting.

“The report is alarming and scandalous, the courage and grace of these survivors is contrasted with the horrific depravity of those who would use the name of Jesus to prey on them,” he said in a statement. He also said churches should report all suspected instances of child sexual abuse to police, and the self-governance of churches in the Southern Baptist Convention “is no excuse for a lack of accountability.”

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Kent Covington

Kent is a reporter and news anchor for WORLD Radio. He spent nearly two decades in Christian and news/talk radio before joining WORLD in 2012. He resides in Atlanta, Ga. Follow him on Twitter @kentcovington.

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  • SN
    Posted: Mon, 02/11/2019 01:31 pm

    The apostle Paul gives this disturbing description not of the world but of the professing church in the last days:

    2 Timothy 3:1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these. 

    Posted: Mon, 02/11/2019 04:15 pm

    I have gone to church since I was born. Southern Baptist until teens. Community Church in adult years. Now I stay home. I have witnessed so much wrong in churches (both). In S.B.C. Deacons smoked while they told you dancing was wrong. (Kids can see.)

    I taught Sunday School and volunteered for many things in the church until I could not stomach hippocrites anymore. It's very difficult when you find your church is more secular than it should be. When the men who run it look for secular answers to keep it going and to get more people to come. You can NOT put your faith in the world and expect people to flock to your church. It is very difficult when the "christians" in your church are shacking up and know it's wrong, wear clothing that exposes their breasts, and vote for ABORTION. The abortion voting is WAY OUT THERE! That just blows me away!

    I still believe in God and know he is in control, but I'm human and it's still difficult. I'm thankful for a loving Chistian husband and Christian daughter. 

  •  Brendan Bossard's picture
    Brendan Bossard
    Posted: Mon, 02/11/2019 08:54 pm

    News2me, my heart goes out to you.  Please be encouraged to find a good congregation where you can feel safe.  There are lots of them.  My family attends a Calvary Chapel (the one in Philadelphia, led by Pastor Joseph Focht), and used to attend a Bible Fellowship Church.  Both have been wonderful for our family.  But there are great churches in every denomination.  You just need to know what you need and find it.

    I have stayed home from church in the past, and became spiritually malnourished.  My dad was a great spiritual leader in our household, and he brought his family to church every week.  I am thankful that he did it, because I developed lasting friendships with other Christians.  My youth group especially helped me through a very difficult adolescence.

    I am personally encouraged by the complete openness of SBC leadership to confession of sin within its ranks.  I feel very hopeful that this denomination is on the right path, and will lead a badly needed American revival.

  • DWBrown
    Posted: Tue, 02/12/2019 08:19 am

    Bredan, that was a good answer to News2me, had the same response when I read her comments. Understand Jesus calls us individually and we will be responsible for our words and actions individually. Regardless how others are twisted by the devil, go forward each day in the faith, knowledge, and joy Jesus has saved you to help and guide all those you can to the wonderful home greater than we can imagine that he has waiting for us. The more I study, learn, and hear, I have everyday a joy and anticipation in my heart that will not go away, good day or bad day for the new home we Christians have for our next step in this adventure we call life. We are given free will to make our choice for Jesus or the many deceptions of the devil with this one shot life we have on earth. Jesus tells us how Church people will react to his word in the parable of the sower, I feel soooo sorry for those that are deceived, they will have forever to remember it.