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Lakewood Times

Lakewood Times

Lakewood Times

    Southern Baptist Leaders Investigated for Sexual Assault


    Since 1998, around 380 Southern Baptist leaders and volunteers have been accused of sexual misconduct towards children and teenagers, according to an investigation by two Texas Newspapers. The victim count is up to 700.

    The Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News investigated and found that in the past 20 years, more than 700 children, teenagers and adults have been abused and sexually manipulated by members of the church. Several of them have been pressured to get abortions and to beg forgiveness from their abusers.

    The Newspapers said that their investigations included state and federal court databases, prison records and official documents from more than 20 states and by scanning sex offender registries nationwide. Ultimately, the list was compiled of pastors, deacons, volunteers, and Sunday School teachers.

    The investigation brings attention to other religious bodies, such as the Catholic Church, in which abuse was kept quiet for decades. But unlike the Catholic Church, Southern Baptist has an extensive collection of 47,000 autonomous churches, with little to no power to tell churches how to conduct themselves. The Southern Baptist Church is the largest Protestant denomination in the Unites States, with about 15 million members.

    Russel Moore, president of Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, exclaimed in a blog post that the abuses were alarming and scandalous. “Church autonomy is no excuse for a lack of accountability,” he said later on.

    In 2013, Southern Baptist leaders passed a non-binding resolution on sexual abuse. “We remind all Southern Baptists of their legal and moral responsibility to report any accusations of child abuse to authorities in addition to implementing any appropriate church discipline or internal restoration processes,” the document states.

    The resolution continued to urge Southern Baptist churches to take advantage of background checks on potential and current leaders. However, the Southern Baptist Convention does not contain a sex offender registry.


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