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SBC abuse task force creating non-profit to address claims

ARITF Chairman Josh Wester speaking Baptist Press/Southern Baptist Convention

SBC abuse task force creating non-profit to address claims

Chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force Josh Wester on Monday said an organization outside the SBC would have more credibility with abuse victims and more flexibility in assisting churches. He added that the SBC remained committed to providing both spiritual assistance and legal remedies to victims of in-church sexual abuse.

What is the Convention itself doing to achieve those goals? Wester said the SBC is working on publishing a database that would hold records of both criminal convictions and civil judgments related to sexual abuse claims within affiliated churches. He said members of the Task Force had cleared many of the obstacles to publishing the database but had a few more insurance and legal challenges to work through. He did acknowledge that churches are “easy targets for abuse” but that churches with access to proper information and advice “tend not to make headlines.”

What sort of abuse scandals have marred the SBC in the past? In 2019, the Houston Chronicle began releasing reports saying that over the previous two decades, nearly 400 church leaders had left behind roughly 700 sexual abuse victims. It alleged religious leaders had not enacted meaningful changes to protect victims or prosecute their alleged abusers. The SBC later that year issued a “Resolution on the Evils of Sexual Abuse.” In 2021, the convention resolved that any individual who had engaged in sexual abuse would not be allowed to hold office within the SBC for life and urged its member churches to do the same.

Dig deeper: Read Mary Jackson’s report in Relations on the Southern Baptist Convention’s new tone on abuse.

Josh Schumacher

Josh is a breaking news reporter for WORLD. He’s a graduate of World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College.

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