The Southern Baptist Convention purports to be studying the problem of clergy sexual abuse. But if the SBC is sincere about wanting to get a handle on this scandal and to understand its institutional failures, it should authorize an independent commission to delve into its files containing reports of abuse.
Two months after a series of investigative newspaper stories reported widespread sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention and while denominational leaders ponder solutions, the numbers of Southern Baptist clergy in the criminal system for alleged sex offenses continues to grow.
Survivors of clergy sexual abuse and experts from across the country traveled to Maine March 29 to support legislation making it a crime for clergy members to abuse their positions of trust to have sexual relations with adults.
By suggesting the need for prior judicial determinations, the workgroup set in place a remarkably high threshold for denominational action, effectively rendering even egregious cases outside the realm of inquiry.
Changing male-dominant leadership and language that have been the norm for thousands of years may not always be easy or comfortable, but when we understand the suffering that results from failure to do so, we can change.
As an American Baptist leader, I take clergy misconduct very seriously. I want to be heartfelt in my support of the vast majority of our clergy who are people of integrity. But I will be vigilant in dealing with those who are not.
“Our sins have “found us out.” Wrongs swept under the ecclesiastical carpet or committed inside the church’s dark corners have gone public, requiring us to move beyond casual piety to encounter the pain, depth and gift of repentance.
We live and worship in religious systems that function like a moving walkway of institutional sexism. Most of us nonsexist people are still benefitting from a sexist culture moving us through sexist systems.
Churches must address three foundational issues if they are truly going to become safe spaces for children.