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Southern Baptist Convention to Release List of Accused Offenders


Southern Baptist Convention | Image by KCEN-TV

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During a public meeting on May 24, the Southern Baptist Convention revealed that the organization plans to release a list of alleged sex abusers, The New York Times reports.

The announcement by organization leaders comes days after a report from an independent firm contracted by the SBC’s executive committee was released. The report alleged that SBC leaders repeatedly “mishandled” claims of sexual abuse at the hands of pastors and other authority figures over several years.

An attorney for the executive committee, Gene Besen, apologized to the survivors, adding that the committee would release the compiled list “as soon as [its members] are confident that [they] have redacted all survivors’ names, confidential witness names, and any unsubstantiated allegations.”

Besen added that more claims would be added to the list if they could be substantiated.

The independent firm that carried out the investigation was Guidepost Solutions. It looked into SBC for seven months and claimed it found that former SBC executive committee vice president D. August Boto and former SBC spokesman Roger Oldham privately collected information on the claims for more than 10 years.

“[T]here is no indication that [Oldham and Boto] or anyone else, took any action to ensure that the accused ministers were no longer in positions of power at SBC churches,” the report stated.

The report detailed that those who made abuse claims were “ignored, disbelieved or met with the constant refrain that the Southern Baptist Convention could take no action due to its policy regarding church autonomy.”

It also stated that church members were not notified of potential problems in the ministry, nor were accused individuals removed from their positions in the church.

The report claims that membership within Southern Baptist churches is at an all-time low and that these allegations are partially to blame. There are also reports of division among church members due to the abuse claims.

However, according to the report, not all SBC leaders were privy to this information. According to Guidepost Solutions, the abuse allegations were not shared with trustees of the executive committee.

The current SBC president, Ed Litton, commented that he is “grieved to [his] core” by the report’s findings. Litton added, “I pray Southern Baptists will begin preparing today to take deliberate action to address these failures and chart a new course.”

Litton will not seek re-election as SBC president, The Christian Post reports.

The report from Guidepost Solutions recommended that the SBC form an independent commission that will later become permanent to oversee comprehensive long-term reforms considering misconduct, including sexual abuse, within the organization. The company also recommended that the SBC create a system to alert member churches to potential offenders.

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