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Southern Baptist leaders covered up sex abuse, lied about secret database, report says

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Its leaders have long resisted comparisons between its sexual abuse crisis and that of the Catholic Church, saying the total number of abuse cases among Southern Bapitists was small.The investigation finds that for almost two decades, survivors of abuse and other concerned Southern Baptists have been contacting the Southern Baptist Convention’s administrative arm to report child molesters and other abusers who were in the pulpit or employed as church staff members.The report, compiled by an organization called Guidepost Solutions at the request of Southern Baptists, states that abuse survivors’ calls and emails were “only to be met, time and time again, with resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility” by leaders who were concerned more with protecting the institution from liability than from protecting Southern Baptists from further abuse.“While stories of abuse were minimized, and survivors were ignored or even vilified, revelations came to light in recent years that some senior SBC leaders had protected or even supported alleged abusers, the report states.While the report focuses primarily on how leaders handled abuse issues when survivors came forward, it also states that a major Southern Baptist leader was credibly accused of sexually assaulting a woman just one month after he completed his two-year tenure as president of the convention. The report also includes private emails showing how longtime leaders such as August Boto were dismissive about sexual abuse concerns, calling them “a satanic scheme to completely distract us from evangelism.”In an April 2007 email, the convention’s attorney sent Boto a memo explaining how a SBC database could be implemented consistent with SBC polity, saying “it would fit our polity and present ministries to help churches in this area of child abuse and sexual misconduct.” The report states that he recommended “immediate action to signal the Convention’s desire that the [executive committee] and the entities begin a more aggressive effort in this area.” That same year, after a Southern Baptist pastor made a motion for a database, Boto rejected the idea.For a denomination designed to give more democratic power to its lay leaders or “messengers” who voted to commission the third-party investigation, the report shows how lay Southern Baptists allowed a few key leaders, including Boto and the convention’s longtime lawyer, James Guenther, to control the national institutional response to sex abuse for decades.Guenther, the longtime lawyer for the SBC, said he had not read the report yet. The decision over attorney-client privilege also led to the resignation of the convention’s attorneys, who are named throughout the report.Newly leaked letter details allegations that Southern Baptist leaders mishandled sex abuse claimsAccording to the report, Floyd told SBC leaders in a 2019 email that he had received “some calls” from “key SBC pastors and leaders” expressing “growing concern about all the emphasis on the sexual abuse crisis.” He then stated: “Our priority cannot be the latest cultural crisis.” Floyd did not immediately return a request for comment.Christa Brown, who told SBC leaders that she was abused by a youth pastor that went on to serve in other Southern Baptist churches in multiple states, has long advocated a churchwide database for years and was met with hostility.

As said here by Sarah Pulliam Bailey