I have been numb all day. I’ve had so many emotions. I’ve been angry, hurt, heartbroken, and downright mad. For over 24 hours, I have been processing the findings of the Sexual Abuse Task Force report on sexual cover-up within the Southern Baptist Convention and by the Executive Committee in particular. I can’t express how heartbroken, sickened, and crushed I felt as I read the report. In short, the allegations from victims of sexual abuse in the SBC were true, and the power brokers in the convention were lying. For years, there has been cover-up, lies, and sexual sin. On May 22nd, the investigative firm Guidepost Solution report came out concerning sexual abuse and cover-up in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
Russel Moore gives a good summation of the report:
The conclusions of the report are so massive as to almost defy summation. It corroborates and details charges of deception, stonewalling, and intimidation of victims and those calling for reform. It includes written conversations among top Executive Committee staff and their lawyers that display the sort of inhumanity one could hardly have scripted for villains in a television crime drama. It documents callous cover-ups by some SBC leaders and credible allegations of sexually predatory behavior by some leaders themselves, including former SBC president Johnny Hunt (who was one of the only figures in SBC life who seemed to be respected across all of the typical divides).
And then there is the documented mistreatment by the Executive Committee of a sexual abuse survivor, whose own story of her abuse was altered to make it seem that her abuse was a consensual “affair”—resulting, as the report corroborates, in years of living hell for her.
The report found that many people were victimized at the hands of pastors, teachers, and leaders of the SBC and a cover-up followed. Instead of protecting the victims, the Executive Committee protected the perpetrators. This cover-up has gone on too long and must be stopped. As I consider the findings, I try to imagine if my daughter had been a victim. What if these monsters sexually abused my granddaughters, and a group of powerful men covered up the gross immorality and illicit, illegal activity? My heart breaks for the many victims. We must do everything we can to ensure every church is a haven for everyone. Let me also offer my sincere thanks to the women who so courageously stood for truth and were not only sexually abused, but also had to suffer further abuse at the hands of self-righteous men. Thank you.
In full disclosure and to help you know more:
The complete report can be found here.
The Albert Mohler response can be found here.
Russell Moore’s entire reply can be found here.
Christianity Today’s Article can be found here.
What are the next steps?
Our first step must be one of lamenting and repenting. The SBC is guilty. This is personal repenting and a time of convention-wide corporate lamenting. It can not only be a personal season. There must be a corporate season of confessing and repenting. This is not OK, and we cannot allow these actions to continue. As Mohler concludes, “This is a moment for sackcloth and ashes. That is where we have to start. The gospel of Christ makes clear that’s not where the story can end. But we are going to be wearing sackcloth for some time to come.”
Secondly, at the SBC Annual Meeting in June, we must swiftly vote to incorporate all the suggestions the report handed down to us. We must, with due diligence, create the necessary standard so victims have a voice and the guilty are held responsible. Together we must be agents of change. We must do everything possible to keep people safe in our ministries and prevent such horrific events.
Third, every church must continually look for ways to create a safe environment. At First Southern Baptist in Salina, we continually look for ways to create safe environments. All of our workers are screened, we have video recordings in many strategic parts of the church, and our goal is to have two teachers in each room when possible. And all our church members keep a vigilant lookout for any suspicious behavior. We must continue to be diligent in this work. We can not tire of doing this work. I was very proud of the Kansas Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists which created and passed an important resolution on Sexual Abuse. If you would like to see it, please contact me.
Finally, please contact us if you have been involved in sexual abuse and need help. We can find someone to talk to and walk with you through a time of healing. At FSBC, we genuinely care about you. Days like this make my heart yearn even more for heaven where there will be no more pain, suffering, or sin. Until then, may we do everything to do the right thing? Help us, Jesus.