A former staff member of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention was found to be keeping a list of SBC pastors, staff, and lay leaders who had been convicted of or had admitted to sexually abusing – in the vast majority of cases – children in their care. The EC released it last Thursday night, page after page after page of abusers.
EC chairman Pastor Rolland Slade is devastated. "My computer says 205 [pages]. And I said, 'Oh, Lord.' Not having seen it before, I never imagined I'd be opening a 200-plus-page document," he admits.
A May 15 report from Guidepost Solutions recommends the denomination keep a similar database for SBC churches to consult when hiring. Southern Baptist messengers, meeting in Southern California June 14-15, need to approve such a database; but if they do, Slade says it needs to be curated very carefully.
"[They need to] put someone, or a team, that's dedicated to maintaining it, whether it be a database or this information," he tells AFN. "They need to make sure that it's someone's primary responsibility – not just an added responsibility to something that they already do."
There is some concern within the denomination that the sex abuse scandal – along with its somewhat "top-down" solution – is a bridge too far for churches that believe scripture mandates their independence from hierarchy. Slade says he's been hearing from pastors and churches.
"There's been some pushback on it," he shares, "but I think all in all, Southern Baptists want their fellowships, their congregations to be safe."
The Associated Press reported on Friday that the 205-page document – which "contained several explosive revelations" – includes more than 700 entries from cases that largely span from 2000 to 2019.
Editor's note: The SBC offers two options to report an instance of abuse – by phone at 202-864-5578 or SBChotline@guidepostsolutions.com. Survivors will be notified of the available options for care and will be put in touch with an advocate. All information will remain confidential.