February 13 2019

God Revealing the Sins of the People: 700 Victims of Southern Baptist Sexual Abuse

Reporters at the Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News began an investigation last year “to compile an archive of allegations…

Reporters at the Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News began an investigation last year “to compile an archive of allegations of sexual abuse, sexual assault and other serious misconduct involving Southern Baptist pastors and other church officials.”

What they discovered is tragic.

380 credibly accused leaders.

The reporters “found complaints made against hundreds of pastors, church officials and volunteers at Southern Baptist churches nationwide.” They focused their search on the last twenty years, concentrating on individuals who had a documented connection to a church listed in an SBC directory published by a state or national association.

They spent more than six months reviewing thousands of pages of court, prison, and police records from more than twenty states and conducting hundreds of interviews. They also searched sex offender registries nationwide.

Ultimately, the reporters compiled information on 380 credibly accused officials in Southern Baptist churches, including pastors, deacons, Sunday school teachers, and volunteer leaders. They verified that about 220 had been convicted of sex crimes or received deferred prosecutions in plea deals.

They learned that at least thirty-five church pastors, employees, and volunteers who exhibited predatory behavior were able to find jobs at churches over the last two decades. In some cases, church leaders apparently failed to alert law enforcement or warn other congregations.

Victims as young as three were molested inside pastors’ studies and Sunday school classrooms. Some victims were adults seeking pastoral guidance who say they were seduced or sexually assaulted.

“An overseer must be above reproach”

SBC President J. D. Greear called the abuses described in the investigation “pure evil” and said, “I join with countless others who are currently ‘weeping with those who weep.’”

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC, called the report “nothing short of a scandal and a crisis.” He added, “There should be no tolerance for, or covering up of, sexual abuse of the vulnerable ever, especially within the church of Jesus Christ.” (See his larger response here.)

“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. (Read More)