Jun 14, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Southern Baptist Convention passes 2 reforms on sexual abuse

This Feb. 12, 2019, photo shows a front-page Houston Chronicle story on alleged abuse in Southern Baptist churches. Photo: Loren Elliott/AFP via Getty Images

The Southern Baptist Convention passed two reforms to address sexual abuse at its annual convention on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The reforms follow a report that found SBC leaders mishandled sexual abuse claims and survivors were "met, time and time again, with resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility" from some within the SBC's Executive Committee.

The big picture: The report, which was conducted by an independent firm contracted by the SBC's Executive Committee, covers allegations of abuse at the SBC from the year 2000 to the present.

  • Clergy abuse allegations originally came to light in a joint 2019 investigative report by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News.
  • Last month, the SBC published a list of hundreds of clergy and other church staff who've been "credibly accused" of sexual abuse
  • The released list was a version of a previously secret document maintained for over a decade by executive committee staff.

Details: The reforms passed on Tuesday include a "mechanism to track credible accusations against ministers and pastors," the Houston Chronicle reports.

  • Top SBC leaders declined to consider the measure more than a decade ago, the Chronicle writes.
  • The other reform passed was an "abuse implementation task force," the Tennessean reports.

Between the lines: Voters overwhelmingly approved the recommendations, but some felt the recommendations would go against the Southern Baptist "belief in church autonomy," per the Tennessean.

  • "It is an assault on our polity," messenger Mark Coppenger said, according to the outlet.

What they're saying: "Today we will choose between humility and hubris. We will choose between repentance or continually being passive in the Southern Baptist Convention," said Bruce Frank, chair of the SBC sexual abuse task force.

  • "Make no mistake, the time for action has come.”
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