Chris Lange, FISM News
In response to an explosive investigation, the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee released a list of pastors, church leaders, and other church personnel involved in a swath of sexual abuse allegations spanning decades.
The 205-page database was made public late Thursday and includes over 700 alleged abusers in cases spanning from 2000 to 2019.
The existence of the database came to light with the Sunday release of a Guidepost Solutions report detailing the SBC’s mishandling of sex abuse allegations. The report details the way in which the convention’s executive board stonewalled accusers in an effort to protect itself from liability and allowed alleged perpetrators to remain in leadership positions.
In a joint statement to the Baptist Press, Executive Committee leaders Rolland Slade and Willie McLaurin said publishing the list is “an initial, but important, step towards addressing the scourge of sexual abuse and implementing reform in the Convention.”
“Each entry in this list reminds us of the devastation and destruction brought about by sexual abuse,” they said. “Our prayer is that the survivors of these heinous acts find hope and healing, and that churches will utilize this list proactively to protect and care for the most vulnerable among us.”
The Guidepost report was the culmination of a seven-month investigation that exposed disturbing revelations about the extent of the widespread allegations of abuse, the executive committee’s deception in failing to disclose or act on the allegations, and the SBC’s callous disregard for the victims. One portion of the report revealed that former SBC spokesman Roger Odham and the committee’s former general counsel August Boto kept their own private list of abusive ministers, the existence of which most committee and staff members were unaware. Both men retired in 2019.
“Despite collecting these reports for more than 10 years, there is no indication that (Oldham and Boto) or anyone else, took any action to ensure that the accused ministers were no longer in positions of power at SBC churches,” the report said.
Prior to releasing the database, attorneys for the Executive Committee redacted names and identifying information of victims, confidential witnesses, and alleged abusers about whom allegations have not been confirmed.
Slade described the release of the list as an act of faith.
“To me, we have been asked to step out of the boat and walk with our Lord on the water. We must keep our eyes focused on Him or we will sink,” Slade said. “The time is now for action, not words. We must move forward with focus, intentionality and determination. If we do not, we will not see healing.”
A hotline maintained by Guidepost is now open for survivors to report abuse allegations: 202-864-5578 or [email protected]. Callers will be provided with care options and connected with an advocate, the statement said.
Guidepost said information will be kept confidential but added that it will not investigate allegations. The joint statement described the hotline as a “stopgap measure for survivors” until reforms are passed during this year’s national meeting scheduled for June 14-15 in Anaheim, California.
The task force expects to make its formal motions based on the Guidepost report public next week, which will be presented for a vote in Anaheim.
Editor’s Note: Any incidents of abuse in the church, and particularly at the hands of ministry leaders, are disturbing and a misrepresentation of God and His calling on pastors and the church. While leaders fail, God does not. FISM News’ intent is never to sensationalize the failings of anyone. However, we report on these tragedies for the sake of accountability, to shine light on the truth, and to hopefully challenge all believers to “watch and pray, lest you fall into temptation” (Matthew 26:41).