On Friday, the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention, which is the biggest Protestant denomination in the United States, said that the church was under investigation for sexual abuse by the Justice Department and that it would “fully and totally comply” with the probe.
The officials of the church issued a statement in which they indicated that numerous branches of the denomination were being investigated. These branches include missionary groups and seminaries. The statement also said that the church was continuing to “grieve and regret past errors.”
In the month of May, the leaders of the church issued a damning report in which they claimed that senior church officials had covered up allegations of sexual abuse for a period of twenty years.
This study, which was carried out by an independent consultant, covered the period of time from 2000 up to the present and focused on complaints of abuse made by women and children against male pastors, church personnel, and authorities.
An employee of the denomination’s executive committee, the denomination’s national leadership body, was the one who prepared an internal list of 703 persons who were suspected of engaging in abusive behaviour. This was one of the most startling disclosures that emerged from the investigation.
After thereafter, the church issued a report that detailed, over 205 pages, the “credible allegations” of sexual misconduct against hundreds of clergy and other church personnel.
During the month of June, delegates at an annual conference held in Anaheim, California, decided to develop a system that would monitor pastors and other church employees who have been credibly accused of sexual assault.
On Friday, the leaders of the church made a commitment to maintain the measures that are intended to address sexual abuse that occurs within its ranks. They said, “We acknowledge that our attempts to change are not yet complete.” “Our commitment to collaborate with the Justice Department is formed from our proven commitment to honestly confront the scourge of sexual abuse,” said the company. “Our commitment to work with the Justice Department”
The leaders comprised the presidents of the several seminaries, members of the executive committee, and the leaders of the various missionary organisations.
On Friday, a spokesperson for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice would not confirm that an inquiry was under place, and she did not have any immediate comment.
In recent years, pastors and people of Southern Baptist churches have voiced their open frustration with what they have regarded as the passivity of the Southern Baptist Convention. The crisis became public knowledge in 2019, when it was revealed by an investigation conducted by The Houston Chronicle and The San Antonio Express-News that approximately 380 leaders and volunteers of the Southern Baptist Church, ranging from youth pastors to top ministers, had pleaded guilty or been convicted of sex crimes against more than 700 victims since the year 1998. The victims included children, teenagers, and adults.
In recent years, the Justice Department has conducted investigations against Roman Catholic dioceses for sexual abuse charges; however, it has been unable to successfully prosecute any of these cases. According to a story by the Associated Press from June, the Federal Bureau of Investigation started looking into the Roman Catholic Church in New Orleans.
In 1845, Southern Baptists broke from northern Baptists on the subject of slavery. At the time, southerners supported slavery, while northern Baptists opposed it. This disagreement resulted in the formation of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Currently, the SBC has about 14 million members and more than 47,000 congregations spread out throughout all 50 states.