The Southern Baptist Church (SBC) has become embroiled in a sex abuse scandal that has matched or possibly exceeded the Catholic diocese sex abuse lawsuits in recent years. According to a newly released 288-page investigative report from the independent investigation firm Guidepost Solutions, the Southern Baptist Church and Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee (SBCEC) members willfully ignored or tried to hide hundreds of credible reports of sexual abuse dating back to the early 2000s, possibly sooner. In the report, more than 700 different pastors, ministers, judges, reverends, and other church members are named as sex abusers who used their positions of power to take advantage of churchgoers, some of them were children at the times of the assaults.
Rather than investigating any of the accusations, the SBCEC allegedly approached the situation with the intent to silence the accusers. The investigators uncovered stories from dozens of men and women who said they were told to be silent and never speak of the abuse again when they tried to speak up. As inexcusable as such a response from the SBC might be, it is mild compared to other actions it apparently took against sex abuse survivors.
According to the investigation, the SBC tried to silence sex abuse survivors by:
- Using its internal SBC news arm to create articles and posts that publicly shamed and humiliated accusers.
- Preventing concerned SBC staff members and churchgoers from creating a publicly available list of suspected or known abusers.
- Claiming that the “Devil” had possessed some of the accusers to lie about their stories of sexual abuse.
It seems that at no point did the Southern Baptist Church or its executive members attempt to seriously investigate the accusations. Even when the wife of a pastor accused the then-President of the SBC of sexual assault, no action was taken to protect her or investigate the accused. In response to the incendiary report’s release, a spokesperson for the SBC continued to try to dodge any accountability by saying that the Church was not responsible for the actions of its “autonomous” members and institutions. Although it might be true that the Southern Baptist Church did not directly control who was allowed to be active church members like pastors and ministers, it is untrue to suggest that it had no ability to investigate sex abuse accusations and take action.
Can Sex Abuse Survivors Sue the SBC?
It is expected that the Southern Baptist Church and the SBCEC will soon face a wave of sex abuse lawsuits, just as the Catholic diocese has in recent years. Following the legal steps taken in such cases, SBC sex abuse survivors might be able to join together to file their claims against the Church, which could combine into a class action lawsuit. Such a lawsuit could demand compensation to penalize the SBC for its inaction and offensive conduct that belittled the survivors who found the courage to speak up. It might also be the first step in ensuring that the Southern Baptist Church reforms its administrative and executive processes, such as the implementation of an actionable response plan to credible accusations of sexual abuse among its church members.
With this said, it is important that everyone who has been abused by a member of the Southern Baptist Church come forward now. Even people who were abused many years ago as a child can still have the right to take legal action against the SBC. The more people who speak up together, the stronger every individual case becomes.
KMD Law – We Make Them Pay
At KMD Law, we have dedicated our law firm to the staunch representation of sexual assault survivors in difficult cases brought against their abusers. We have fought religious institutions, school districts, and even high-powered celebrities on behalf of our clients. If you were sexually abused by a member of the Southern Baptist Church, then please know that we are here to provide moral support and tenacious legal representation. Your story deserves to be told, and you deserve compensation and justice. Let us be the legal team that helps you.
We offer confidential consultations to SBC sex abuse survivors. Call (833) 456-3529 now.
- “Guidepost Solutions’ Report of the Independent Investigation” (Sexual Abuse Task Force Team)
- “Southern Baptists Refuses to Act on Abuse, Despite Secret List of Pastors” (Christianity Today)
- “Report: Top Southern Baptists stonewalled sex abuse victims” (AP News)
- “Southern Baptist Leaders Mishandled Sex Abuse Crisis, Report Alleges” (The New York Times)
- “The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee’s third-party abuse investigation report was just released. It’s horrifying.” (CurrentPub)