I am writing this morning’s Daily Article with a grieving heart.
I became a Christian in a Southern Baptist Sunday school class and was baptized in a Southern Baptist church. I was licensed and ordained as a vocational minister in that church. I attended college at a Texas Baptist university and graduate school at a Southern Baptist seminary. I taught on that seminary’s faculty and pastored four churches affiliated in various ways with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
Southern Baptists support nearly nine thousand missionaries around the world, are training more than 22,000 seminary students, served more than 2.9 million meals last year to those in need, and assist those in crisis with practical compassion. God has used Southern Baptists to share the gospel with multiplied millions of people around the world.
And so, this story in yesterday’s Houston Chronicle pains me deeply: “20 years, 700 victims: Southern Baptist sexual abuse spreads as leaders resist reforms.” Reporters at the Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News began an investigation last year “to compile an archive of allegations of sexual abuse, sexual assault and other serious misconduct involving Southern Baptist pastors and other church officials.”
What they discovered is tragic.
380 credibly accused leaders
The reporters “found complaints made against hundreds of pastors, church officials and volunteers at Southern Baptist churches nationwide.” They focused their search on the last twenty years, concentrating on individuals who had a documented connection to a church listed in an SBC directory published by a state or national association.
They spent more than six months reviewing thousands of pages of court, prison, and police records from more than twenty states and conducting hundreds of interviews. They also searched sex offender registries nationwide.
Ultimately, the reporters compiled information on 380 credibly accused officials in Southern Baptist churches, including pastors, deacons, Sunday school teachers, and volunteer leaders. They verified that about 220 had been convicted of sex crimes or received deferred prosecutions in plea deals.
They learned that at least thirty-five church pastors, employees, and volunteers who exhibited predatory behavior were able to find jobs at churches over the last two decades. In some cases, church leaders apparently failed to alert law enforcement or warn other congregations.
Victims as young as three were molested inside pastors’ studies and Sunday school classrooms. Some victims were adults seeking pastoral guidance who say they were seduced or sexually assaulted.
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: Christian Post, Jim Denison