The leader of the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. says Southern Baptists need to own up to – not try to explain away or blame the media for – the reports of child sexual abuse in their churches.
The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News scoured police blotters and local news stories trying to gauge the scope of sexual abuse within the Southern Baptist Convention. What they found is that over the last 20 years, roughly 380 Southern Baptist church leaders and volunteers have faced allegations of sexual misconduct – leaving behind more than 700 victims. Church leaders have reacted with genuine sorrow and remorse for the ruined lives.
The newspapers further accuse SBC churches of allowing known abusers to transfer to other churches, even after being caught.
Dr. Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary, is heartbroken. "I'm appalled at what appears to be the number of churches that disregarded this in terms of not telling other churches or churches that knew about it and didn't do anything about it," he tells OneNewsNow.
According to Baptist Press, SBC president J.D. Greear (pictured) says the denomination needs to own this – not shove it aside.
"There's a problem. And we want to respond to this with humility ... [and] by owning a wrong," Greear stated during a meeting on Tuesday. "If there is a time and a place to defend ourselves, maybe that will come later, but it is not now. We'll trust God to defend us; we'll trust God to bring truth to light."
Some have said the newspaper reports, by interviewing Rev. Thomas Doyle, purposely tried to portray this sexual abuse scandal as comparable to that in the Catholic Church. Doyle is a priest and former high-ranking lawyer for the Catholic Church who in the 1980s was one of the earliest to blow the whistle on child sex abuse in the church. Thousands of abusive Catholic priests were harbored and/or actively transferred over decades – and the accounts of tens of thousands of victims were dismissed.
In comparison, the investigation into the SBC found about 380 abusers who violated 700 victims over a 20-year period – during which the SBC took into its care a conservative estimate of 20 to 30 million children in Sunday school classes and Vacation Bible School programs. (Numbers extrapolated from SBC's Annual Church Profile data)
Greear also attempted to derail arguments blaming the newspapers' reporting – or pointing out that, by comparison, the priest sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church is much worse.
"I do not believe you can in any way push this aside as an agenda-driven thing put out by the secular media to try to destroy us," Baptist Press reports.
"This is not a time for sermonizing, virtue-signaling, posturing or trying to point out where else it happens," he added. "The safety of victims is more important than the reputation of Southern Baptists."
2/15/2019 - Sidebar added.