The Southern Baptist Convention released a massive third-party investigation on Sunday, May 22, 2022, that found top clergymen in the nation's largest Protestant denomination choosing to disregard and hide the reports of abuse and assault from sex abuse survivors over the years.
The roughly 300-page report contains startling new details about particular cases of abuse and sheds light on how denominational officials actively opposed efforts for abuse prevention and reform for decades. According to the investigation, top officials also lied to Southern Baptists about their ability to retain a database of offenders to avoid further abuse while discreetly holding a secretive list of names for years.
As sex abuse from members of the clergy has become more prevalent worldwide, a variety of religious institutions have been losing their members causing a downward trend as the number of religious offenders increases.
According to the report, survivors of abuse and other outraged Southern Baptists have been contacting the Southern Baptist Convention's administrative office for almost 20 years to report alleged sexual predators and other accused abusers who were part of religious institutions.
A prominent Southern Baptist leader was accused of sexually abusing a woman just one month after completing his two-year term as convention president; just one example from the report that mainly focuses on how survivors were treated after coming forward with their abuse to their religious leaders.
According to the study, another instance is Johnny Hunt, a well-known Georgia Southern Baptist preacher and senior vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention's missions arm, was credibly accused of assaulting a woman on vacation in Florida in 2010.
The current Southern Baptist Convention president, Ed Litton, made a statement sharing "We must be ready to take meaningful steps to change our culture as it relates to sexual abuse." We can only hope this recognition is the starting point of revealing the ongoing coverups of sexual abuse, assault, molestation, and harassment.
Rev. Thomas Doyle, a well-known and liked priest and lawyer, also made a statement where he expressed concern that SBC leaders may be falling into some of the same tendencies as Catholic officials in not addressing clergy sex abuse. His hope is that Southern Baptists learn from what we've experienced watching from the Catholic church and act quickly to adopt structural reforms that will make children and their parents feel safe again.
If you or a loved one has been sexually abused by a Southern Baptist pastor or volunteer, you have important legal rights. We believe in you and feel that your voice should be heard. Take a stand for justice today.