Five years ago, the SBC in their annual session passed a resolution “On the Sexual Abuse of Children.” The resolution was offered by a blogger, Peter Lumpkins, and an amendment was added which was offered by a frequent blog commenter, Bob Cleveland. It is my observation that the issue of sexual abuse in churches is more widely reported and discussed on blogs than in any other arena.
The 2013 resolution aimed at not just sexual abuse of children in general but noted that ” instances of sexual abuse have been perpetrated within Southern Baptist congregations, churches of other denominations, and other Christian ministries.” It called for Southern Baptists “to stand with our Lord Jesus in loving and protecting children as He does” and also to
- “remind all Southern Baptists of their legal and moral responsibility to report any accusations of child abuse to authorities in addition to implementing any appropriate church discipline or internal restoration processes”
- “call upon all Southern Baptists to cooperate fully with law enforcement officials in exposing and bringing to justice all perpetrators, sexual or otherwise, who criminally harm children placed in our trust”
- “strongly urge Southern Baptist churches to utilize background checks” and database checks “in screening all potential staff and volunteer workers, particularly those who minister to children and youth”
- “encourage pastors and church leaders to develop and implement sound policies and procedures to protect our children”
- “we encourage all denominational leaders and employees of the Southern Baptist Convention to utilize the highest sense of discernment in affiliating with groups and or individuals that possess questionable policies and practices in protecting our children from criminal abuse”
- “we urge all Southern Baptists to pray for children who are victims of abuse, to stand for their protection from abuse, and to support safe and healthy children’s ministries in our churches and communities”
The 2013 resolution was the latest on the issue. Earlier actions included:
- 2002 resolution On The Sexual Integrity of Ministers in which messengers resolved to “call on our churches to discipline those guilty of any sexual abuse in obedience to Matthew 18:6-17 as well as to cooperate with civil authorities in the prosecution of those cases” among other things.
- 2007 resolution On Protecting Children From Abuse; in which messengers resolved to “renounce individuals, churches, or other religious bodies that cover up, ignore, or otherwise contribute to or condone the abuse of children;”
- 2008 Executive Committee report, Responding to the Evil of Sexual Abuse in which the Executive Committee declined to establish a database of SBC offenders, an SBC office to receive reports of abuse, and an investigative body to gather evidence on offenses.
Has much changed in the past five years in how Southern Baptist churches deal with child protection?
What additional steps can be taken at the SBC level that would help churches keep children and others safe?