SBC Investigation Uncovers Over 700 Victims of Sexual Abuse

Over 300 church members have been accused

Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) leaders have pledged actual change after two prominent newspapers carried damning reports of sexual abuse done by hundreds of church volunteers and leaders. The said investigation is being published in three parts, with the first of the three installments published on February 10. The report stated approximately 380 pastors belonging to the Southern Baptist convention, church volunteers, Sunday school teachers, and deacons have faced sexual misconduct allegations since 1998. Over 200 have been brought to book or took respective plea deals. About 100 perpetrators are now serving prison sentences.

The report was damning, to say the least. The number of victims are more than 700. The numbers include children and teenagers. Some victims were as young as three years old when they were raped or molested. These crimes were mostly done inside Sunday school classrooms and in studies of their respective pastors.

The torture went on for decades. To the prosecutor, it is easier to commit crimes in the Southern Baptist fold compared to Catholic Church and a number of other distinct Christian denominations. This is as the convention is essentially a cluster of about 47,000 autonomous churches. The central authority has minimal power to enforce its policies on the member churches. However, as per Sing Oldham, the Southern Baptist Convention spokesperson, the SBC does not give any governing policies to its churches as it cannot be termed as a governing organization. It is, he underlined, a service organization and each church governs itself. He added that the SBC has requested the churches in its fold to report any crimes like sexual abuse as soon as possible to local law enforcement. He claimed that SBC has offered the relevant resources to churches so that congregants can be protected from predatory church personnel.

Multiple victims have pointed out how their abuse chronicles were either silenced or ignored by successive church leaders. One particular victim, who was raped and also impregnated by a pastor during her teenage years, said when she informed church leaders, they urged her to abort the child. When she refused, church members threatened her and her child.

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