Abuse found at Southern Baptist Convention
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Top leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention promised to encourage reforms that protect children and women after a sweeping investigation found more than 700 victims of sexual misconduct by church leaders or volunteers.
The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News compiled more than 380 cases over the past 20 years of church leaders and volunteers who have been charged with sex crimes. Most are now in prison or are registered sex offenders, the report says.
J.D. Greear, president of the Nashville-based Southern Baptist Convention, posted on Twitter that the abuse described in the reporting is “pure evil.” He vowed reforms.
“I will pursue every possible avenue to bring the vast spiritual, financial, and organizational resources of the Southern Baptist Convention to bear on stopping predators in our midst,” said Greear, who became president last year.
Southern Baptists are the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. They believe in local control of the church.
The investigation was spurred on by Southern Baptist Convention leaders’ unwillingness for more than a decade to create a list of sexual predators from affiliated churches, the news outlets said. Together, the outlets created their own.
Greear said the voices in the report “should be heard as a warning sent from God, calling the church to repent.”
Russell Moore, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission president of the convention, said in his blog that the convention would work with cooperating churches and the scandal should be handled as a flock, not as a corporation.