Newspaper's newest dig at SBC: Too much church autonomy

Friday, September 13, 2019
 | 
Billy Davis, Steve Jordahl (OneNewsNow.com)

Southern Baptist ConventionThe Houston Chronicle newspaper is not done with the Southern Baptist denomination, this time linking church autonomy to sexual abuse.

The newspaper announced in February it has compiled a list of SBC church leaders and volunteers convicted of sex crimes going back 20 years, and now the target of a new Sept. 5 article is church autonomy.

Why that topic? Because the numerous and tragic examples of abuse, the newspaper suggests, can be traced back to churches that operate with great independence and hence the ability for sexual predators to remain in the pews and the pulpit.

There is a financial angle, too. After noting that SBC churches pool approximately $11 billion annually for missions and social services, and other gospel-related causes, the article insinuates that church autonomy helps shield Southern Baptist Convention from financial liability.

church pewsDr. Robert Jeffress, who pastors the mammoth First Baptist Church in Dallas, says the churches mentioned in the Books of Acts were local churches.

“The Book of Revelation was sent to the seven pastors of seven individual churches,” he says, “not to the bishop of Asia Minor.”

The church evolved over time into a local, autonomous body of believers, he adds, “and that’s how Southern Baptists have chosen to operate.”

Writing about the Chronicle story at the sbcvoices.com website, a semi-retired pastor points out a new legal issue: a lawsuit in Virginia, filed by boys allegedly abused by a youth minister, have named SBC leaders at the local and state level, and the Convention itself, as defendants.

Jeffress

The writer, William Thornton, credits the Chronicle story for digging into the legal issue of negligence, since stories of abuse mirror the Catholic Church scandals that have bankrupted numerous dioceses.

“Lawyers love this stuff,” Thornton writes, “while SBC leaders, pastors, and laypeople don’t know and have little interest in such things.”  

According to Jeffress, the current SBC leadership is overreacting to the newspaper's coverage, which found 780 tragic abuse cases stretched out over two decades among 50,000 churches.

“The Executive Committee can certainly give churches advice, and help in handling these cases,” he says, “but it has to be up to every individual church.”

Comments

We moderate all reader comments, usually within 24 hours of posting (longer on weekends). Please limit your comment to 300 words or less and ensure it addresses the article - NOT another reader's comments. Comments that contain a link (URL), an inordinate number of words in ALL CAPS, rude remarks directed at other readers, or profanity/vulgarity will not be approved. More details

FEATURED PODCAST

SIGN UP FOR OUR DAILY NEWSBRIEF

SUBSCRIBE

VOTE IN OUR POLL

Just once, I'd like to see the secular media …

CAST YOUR VOTE

GET PUSH NOTIFICATIONS

SUBSCRIBE

LATEST AP HEADLINES

Curfews ordered in more than dozen US cities
Protests heat up across US, governors call in National Guard
FBI says its top lawyer is leaving the bureau
‘Back in the game’: SpaceX ship blasts off with 2 astronauts
National Guard summoned to aid cities amid police clashes
Pentagon puts military police on alert to go to Minneapolis
What’s behind latest India-China border tension

LATEST FROM THE WEB

Trump says will not allow mob violence to rule
Knife-wielding woman shot and killed by police, days after her brother was arrested for ISIS terror plot
Opinion — Andrew McCarthy: Laws against rioting and terrorism must be enforced against Antifa and other violent radicals
Supreme Court rejects challenge to limits on church services; Roberts sides with liberals
In unusual move, US embassies in Africa speak up on Floyd

CARTOON OF THE DAY

Cartoon of the Day
NEXT STORY
Missing in action: Civility in evangelicals' political discourse

angry woman at town hall meetingA survey finds that a majority of evangelicals want civility and unity when it comes to political discourse – but that seems to be in short supply, even within the group that sponsored the survey.