Southern Baptists address abuse in the church
by Harvest Prude
Posted 6/10/19, 12:04 pm
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has recommended changes for handling claims of sexual abuse in its churches ahead of the denomination’s annual meeting this week in Birmingham, Ala. The SBC formed the Sexual Abuse Advisory Group in July 2018 and the group issued a report on Saturday containing first-person accounts from survivors and acknowledging a variety of failures in how the SBC has responded to abuse, including minimizing incidents and failing to report crimes.
In February, the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News released an investigative report detailing abuse accusations from more than 700 victims within the denomination against 380 Southern Baptist leaders.
The advisory group’s report offered 10 recommendations and cited action the denomination has already taken. A nine-member team has put together a training curriculum for churches and seminaries to improve responses to abuse. Among other measures, the study group also is considering new rules for background checks of church leaders.
Russell Moore, president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, encouraged all members of the denomination to read the report, calling it a “starting point, not the final word from this group or on this issue—but a significant document nonetheless.” Delegates from the SBC meet Tuesday and Wednesday, with the advisory group presenting its findings on Wednesday.
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Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.