Report alleges an ‘epidemic’ of abuse in Southern Baptist churches

Report alleges an ‘epidemic’ of abuse in Southern Baptist churches June 10, 2019

A REPORT, to be presented during the Southern Baptists’ annual meeting starting today (Monday) in Birmingham, Alabama, reveals sexual abuse in churches ‘has been and still is more widespread than anyone has realized.’

The report is the result of almost a year’s work by a Sexual Abuse Advisory Group commissioned by SBC President J D  Greear, who, for the record, is disliked among certain hardline Baptists.

Beneath a video posted to YouTube in April this year by the KJV-TV Florida Baptist Network , the following words appear:

J D Greear is the President of the Southern Baptist Convention & pastors a church with over a 1,000 NAMB & IMB missionaries on the denomination’s payroll. But, he embraces abortion providers in his church, advocates for the rights of LGBT agenda, & gives his best efforts to the world & his worst to the church as he dresses in form fitting skinny jeans to ‘serve God’ but gives his best efforts to the Liberal Fake News Media.

The “Caring Well” report is based on an investigation involving “hundreds” of sex abuse survivors, church leaders and national experts.

It also summarises a range of next steps to address the issue, including educating congregations about abuse, preparing them to help survivors and fostering abuse prevention.

The 52-page report says:

We lament the fact that it took a national movement of reckoning for abuse to force us to take this issue seriously in our own convention. It should now be obvious that the problem has been and still is more widespread than anyone has realized, affecting our congregations all over the country, from the smallest church pastored by a bivocational minister to the megachurch with hundreds on staff.

The issue has also affected seminaries, agencies and missions boards, the report said, adding:

All too often, it has not been handled justly.

The first clergy abuse survivor quoted in the report used the word “epidemic” to describe the extent of sexual abuse in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.


Image via Facebook

Says Susan Codone, above, who alleged she was abused by her youth minister and by her pastor who fired him and then continued the abuse, said:

The cause of sexual abuse in the SBC is rooted in our culture of casual indifference to predatory sexual behavior. Worn like a shield, indifference results in the catch-and-release practice of catching predatory staff members in the act and releasing them to move freely among other churches and organizations and harm others.

While Condone chose to be identified – and is in fact one of the speakers at the annual meeting – some of the other survivors had their names changed or were cited anonymously.

The report repeatedly refers to sexual abuse as “evil,” and calls the “meager efforts” outlined in the report only the beginning of what is hoped will be:

A movement of healing and reform.

The report said that the term “clergy abuse” does not apply solely to misconduct involving children.

Clergy abuse not only encompasses abuse to children, but also a ‘consensual’ adult sexual relationship between a clergy member and a congregant. The power and spiritual influence that a member of the clergy wields over their congregants essentially renders consent impossible.

Codone said in the report that the pastor who abused her also had an inappropriate relationship with her Sunday school teacher.

Among the numerous failures named in the report were inadequately training staff and volunteers, declining to report suspected perpetrators to law enforcement and instead recommending them to new employers, and improperly citing church autonomy to avoid acting appropriately.

The report concludes by asking Southern Baptist churches to take an eight-step “Caring Well Challenge” over the next year to help them:

Be safe for survivors and safe from abuse.

The document follows other actions by Greear and fellow SBC executives since the last SBC meeting.

In February, Greear said the SBC Executive Committee should investigate ten churches named in a report by Texas newspapers that found 380 current and former Southern Baptist ministers and volunteers had been accused of sexually abusing more than 700 victims in the past 20 years.

An Executive Committee workgroup responded less than two weeks later by saying just three out of the ten merited investigation.

More recently, SBC leaders have considered setting up an official “Credentials Committee” that would review complaints about how member churches handle abuse allegations. If it is approved by the Executive Committee, Baptists would vote on the proposal during their meeting in Alabama.

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  • rubaxter

    ‘Healing’ has always been a way of avoiding placing blame, but almost exclusively where the blame would fall of a powerful faction that could end up making a lot of people dead, in one way or another, if they actually had blame apportioned.

    It’s always been a way of Forgetting the Dead and Injured, when that becomes convenient for those who either want to avoid getting called out or want to become the NEW Top of the Food Chain.

    It’s merely a deal struck between those with and those who hope to get Power, and amounts to Victim Blaming.

  • Wisdom, Justice, Love

    Healing could be similar to a cut finger:
    Your finger isn’t cut.
    Your finger being cut is a good thing, part of god’s plan.

    Acknowledge the issue. The hardest part is admitting it, especially when one walks around with a pious attitude. Just maybe, claiming to love jesus doesn’t make one flawlessly moral. Church goers may NEED to scrutinize their leaders as well as each other. I would say scrutinize each other more, but apparently they don’t do scrutiny among ther faithful. It makes it even easier to walk around like you earned something. So easy, a seven year old can do it.

    And once you take away the presumed moral stance, church isn’t as fun anymore. The whole charade crumbles.

  • Broga

    Catholic Churches love the names that surround them in sanctity. Also a single noun is never enough for them, so we get the most reverend. I suppose that is different from the reverend. They also throw qualifications around like confetti so we have the late, raucous pain in the butt Dr the Reverend Ian Paisley. The BBC were happy to oblige in stuffing Dr into questions to him.

  • ksharp7

    I hope other faiths take note of how my church has changed over the last few decades. Windows on confessional doors, no longer being “alone” with a minor. It goes to show it’s not about the celibacy. What would be really nice if complaints get to police were there are criminal reporters made and court action taken and medical exams being done. I do not know why an employer or organization is expected to manage criminal allegations? I do not know why the Duggar church has not been fined or decommissioned for failing to report the abuse they knew was happening in the family from the dad of the offender. If they were catholic the DA would be all over the diocese and that individual parish.

  • Steve Crawford

    But the Catholic Pope has asked members who have been molested by a priest or nun to not report the incident to the local police.

  • guerillasurgeon

    And forgiveness, don’t forget forgiveness. Although the victim is rarely forgiven it seems to me.

  • persephone

    I rewatched the Leah Remini special on Jehovah’s Witnesses last night. I learned about many years ago, and I knew the abuse was bad, but the sheer number of abusers safely ensconced in the Witnesses made me feel sick and so dam ned angry. In a court hearing in Australia, they found that there were over a thousand known pedophiles in their ranks. There aren’t even 70,000 Witnesses in Australia.

  • Robert Baden

    Paisley was Protestant.