Southern Baptist executive group urges caution before investigating church abuse

Religion News Service | 2/26/2019 | Staff
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(RNS) — A Southern Baptist working group urged a cautious approach in investigating churches linked to allegations of sex abuse but has agreed that three of 10 churches named by Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear in a report about sex abuse last week should be investigated.

In the seven other cases, the group said no inquiry into the alleged abuse was required.

Group - Executive - Committee - Southern - Baptist

The working group said the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, in general, “should not disrupt the ministries of its churches by launching an inquiry until it has received credible information that the church has knowingly acted wrongfully” in specific ways.

Those ways, that Executive Committee work group announced over the weekend (Feb. 23), include employing a convicted sex offender, permitting such an offender to do volunteer work with minors, employing someone who illegally concealed from law enforcement sex abuse by a church employee or volunteer, and “willfully disregarding compliance with mandatory child abuse reporting laws.”

Remarks - Executive - Committee - Greear - Churches

In his remarks to the Executive Committee in mid-February, Greear cited 10 churches that he believes should be investigated by the SBC’s Executive Committee.

But the work group took a different tack. It encouraged all Southern Baptists to “avoid publicly calling the names of churches without having documentation of criminal convictions and giving prior notice to the church.”

Authority - Church - Convention - Inquiry - Kind

It added: “No individual possesses the authority to declare a church to be under a Convention inquiry of any kind.”

Greear pushed back with his own statement, saying Tuesday that churches should be willing to show they are above reproach and that a public approach to abuse allegations is appropriate in light of public media accusations. He added that victims and authorities need to be included in discussions when a church has been challenged about its handling of abuse.

Mistakes - Southern - Baptist - Churches - Past

“If mistakes were made by Southern Baptist churches in the past,...
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