SBC executives exonerated?

SBC executives exonerated?

SBC executives exonerated?

A Southern Baptist pastor isn't surprised that the U.S. Department of Justice's investigation into the SBC has fizzled out.

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has been dealing with accusations of sexual abuse in its affiliated churches since 2022. Among the claims was that the SBC Executive Committee knew about several assaults and covered them up.

The Justice Department has not publicly acknowledged or commented on the investigation since it began 18 months ago, but the inquiry has apparently come to an end.

Howe, Jonathan (SBC) Howe

"On February 29th, counsel for the SBC Executive Committee was informed that the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York has concluded its investigation into the Executive Committee with no further action to be taken," committee spokesman Jonathan Howe recently announced.

Advocates and victims, however, have reportedly been told that though the lead DOJ investigator has no more questions for the Executive Committee, the investigation remains open.

The allegations on which the mainstream media latched included claims of a secret list of 700 offenders that the Executive Committee was hiding.

Pastor Mike Stone, who served on the SBC Executive Committee from 2014-2022 and was elected as chairman in 2018-2020, says there was a list, but it was compiled from news accounts over the years.

"The only reports of sexual abuse that ever came to the Executive Committee were already known in the public arena, and by definition, you cannot cover up something that's already publicly known," he points out.

Stone says the DOJ investigation took its cue from the overwrought, sensationalized mainstream media coverage, and he is pleased with the exoneration.

Stone, Mike (Emmanuel Baptist Church) Stone

"It's almost as if unbiased, objective, professional investigators don't think that deceptive letters, mischaracterized recordings, hearsay reports, and political speeches amount to actual evidence," he submits.

Meanwhile, Howe says the SBC will continue to work with its churches to protect their members.

"We remain steadfast in our commitment to assist churches in preventing and responding well to sexual abuse in the SBC," he has stated.

Last month, a volunteer task force overseeing abuse reform in the SBC announced plans to launch an independent nonprofit to manage the programs, including a database of abusive pastors.