Southern Baptists should investigate churches that cover up abuse, says SBC president

Religion News Service | 2/18/2019 | Staff
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (RNS) — J.D. Greear, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said the denomination’s executive committee should immediately investigate 10 churches named in a report by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Times-Express, including 2nd Baptist in Houston – one of the largest churches in the SBC.

If any churches were found to have covered up abuse and refused to mend their ways, Greear told a a gathering of Southern Baptist leaders, then the convention should consider removing them from the denomination, a process known as “disfellowshipping.”

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“We must take bold and decisive steps to send an unequivocal message: Churches that have a wanton disregard for sexual abuse and for caring for the survivors are not in good fellowship with this convention,” Greear said.

Greear made his remarks at a regularly scheduled meeting of SBC’s executive committee at their offices in Nashville, a week after the two Texas newspapers published the results of a major investigation of abuse in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. The newspapers found that 380 Southern Baptist pastors and other church leaders had been accused of sexually abusing more than 700 victims in the past 20 years.

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He told members of the committee and other leaders that Southern Baptists had to hold themselves accountable for mishandling claims of abuse and making it easy for abuse to be covered up.

Individual Baptists who “aided or abetted” abuse must repent, he said, “but as a convention, we need to repent of a culture that has made abuse, cover-ups, and evading accountability far too easy, he said.

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Greear, who is the pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh, N.C., also called on Southern Baptists to repent for failing to listen to victims, for being slow to call law enforcement and for offering easy forgiveness to abusers.

In some cases, Greear said that churches have “directly...
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