Southern Baptist Bylaws Group Clears 6 of 10 Churches of Violating Sex Abuse Standards; Some Fear Reform Will Never Come to Convention

Executive Committee chairman Mike Stone asked EC members to “do all you can” to protect children from abuse. | Photo: Baptist Press/Morris Abernathy

Just days after the president of the Southern Baptist Convention called for an evaluation of 10 churches that were highlighted in a recent investigation on sex abuse, six of those churches were cleared of acting indifferently toward abuse.

While condemning the “abominable horror of child sexual abuse,” the SBC Executive Committee bylaws workgroup stated in a report released Saturday that “in virtually all reported cases, the abuse and cover-up of abuse were criminal acts undertaken by a few individuals within a church. The church body rarely knew about these actions and even more rarely took any action to endorse or affirm the wrongful acts or the actors themselves.”

Among the six churches that the workgroup found “no evidence” of showing disregard for sexual abuse is Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, one of the largest churches in the country.

“It appears that the church has had, and continues to have, significant, detailed procedures and policies in place to prevent abuse and properly respond to charges of abuse. We believe no further inquiry is warranted based on that information,” the report said of the Houston megachurch.

In response to the report, The Warburg Watch — led by two women who reveal “disturbing trends within Christendom” — believes that ultimately, no reforms will be made within the SBC in regard to sex abuse.

“The new and improved SBC is still the same old SBC. They’ll just get some SBC sanctioned child protection rules in place. And then they will figure out how to exonerate any church which screws up,” it said.

Last week, SBC President J. D. Greear proposed an amendment to the church body’s constitution that would allow for “disfellowshipping” or cutting ties with churches that do not give assurances that “they have taken the necessary steps to to correct their policies and procedures with regards to abuse and survivors.”

Churches that show clear “indifference” to sexual abuse — by employing a convicted sex offender, allowing a convicted sex offender to work as a volunteer with minors, continuing to employ a person who unlawfully covered up sex abuse, or willfully choosing not to report child abuse to authorities — would warrant disfellowshipping.

Greear specifically asked the bylaws workgroup to look further into the 10 churches named in a Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News investigation to determine if they should continue as an SBC church. That investigation had revealed at least 700 victims of sex abuse over the past two decades at the hands of hundreds of SBC leaders and volunteers.

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Source: Christian Post