By Bob Allen
The Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution June 12 in Houston calling on church members to be diligent in reporting alleged child sex abuse to legal authorities.
The non-binding resolution reminds of the “legal and moral responsibility to report any accusation of child abuse to authorities in addition to implementing any appropriate church discipline or internal restoration process.”
It calls on Southern Baptists to “cooperate fully with law enforcement officials in exposing and bringing to justice all perpetrators, sexual or otherwise, who criminally harm children placed in our trust.”
Messengers approved an amendment from the floor by Georgia pastor Peter Lumpkins, who proposed the original resolution behind the resolutions committee’s statement to encourage denominational leaders and employees to “utilize the highest sense of discernment in affiliation with groups and/or individuals” that have questionable policies or practices to safeguard children from criminal abuse.
The resolution comes amid recent reports of high-profile Baptist leaders voicing support for a pastor named in a lawsuit alleging a massive abuse cover up, failing to report an admitted child molester to police and refusing to share findings of internal investigations into abuse allegations with police.
“There’s no greater time in the history of evangelicalism, and Southern Baptists particularly, that we need a strong resolution about child abuse,” Lumpkins said. “This resolution speaks strongly to that. However I think it needs to be stronger.”
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, which staged an awareness event outside the convention meeting hall, called it a “feel good” public relations move that “basically protects no one.”
“Brave action, not vague resolutions, stops crimes against kids,” said a statement on the SNAP website.