Referring to his adultery with Bathsheba the prophet Nathan says to David, “However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die,” 2 Samuel 12:14.
For almost twenty years victims of sexual abuse and those who knew something should be done communicated to the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention the names of child molesters and other sexual abusers who served on the staffs of SBC churches. “They made phone calls, mailed letters, sent emails, appeared at SBC and EC meetings, held rallies, and contacted the press…only to be met, time and time again, with resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility from some within the EC.”
At the national convention in Nashville in 2021 the messengers voted to create a Sexual Abuse Task Force to investigate the claims. Guidepost Solutions LLC was tapped to conduct an independent “inquiry into the actions and decisions of EC staff and members from January 1, 2000, to June 14, 2021, with respect to allegations of abuse, mishandling of abuse, mistreatment of victims, patterns of intimidation of victims or advocates, and resistance to sexual abuse reform initiatives.”
The Guidepost Solutions “investigation revealed that, for many years, a few senior EC leaders, along with outside counsel, largely controlled the EC’s response to these reports of abuse. They closely guarded information about abuse allegations and lawsuits, which were not shared with EC Trustees, and were singularly focused on avoiding liability for the SBC to the exclusion of other considerations.
“In service of this goal, survivors and others who reported abuse were ignored, disbelieved, or met with the constant refrain that the SBC could take no action due to its polity regarding church autonomy – even if it meant that convicted molesters continued in ministry with no notice or warning to their current church or congregation.
“As survivors became more vocal and the issue of sexual abuse became more prominent in the media divisions became apparent within EC leadership. In recent years, as some within the SBC have been more open to reforms, they were met with opposition and antagonism from those resistant to change.”
The quotes given above were taken verbatim from the summary of a 288 page report on the findings of Guidepost Solutions. One person who read the report said it took him seven hours to read it. From what I have read in the summary I cannot imagine it would be a pleasant read.
Let me summarize even further. The Executive Committee is the body that directs the day-to-day business affairs of the Southern Baptist Convention. The men who served on that committee were advised by legal counsel that the SBC had no authority to act on what happened in local churches and to get involved might incur liability for the SBC. Their inaction only served to perpetuate further incidents of abuse; their failure is reprehensible.
I was raised in a SBC church in Jacksonville, Florida. Being raised in an SBC church instilled in me a high view of Scripture as being the inerrant Word of God and the final authority in all matters of faith and practice. What might be the legally allowable thing to do may not always be the right thing to do. I was taught to always do the right thing, because our God always does the right thing.
The Executive Committee in this matter sought to protect the denomination from legal liability, but they had a higher moral obligation to take the appropriate actions to protect those who had been victimized by sexual abuse.
Like David, they “have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.”