The longtime goal of some abuse victims and their advocates is for the SBC to fund and manage a database of convicted, confessed, and credibly accused clergy abusers. The Executive Committee of the SBC has long declined to take this step. The concrete proposals I have seen call for the Executive Committee to create and fund an independent panel of abuse experts that would receive and investigate reports. The panel would also maintain records of reports received. Some hierarchical churches utilize this system. I don’t know of any organization of autonomous churches that does this. If you know I’d be interested to see it.
While the SBC does not have any database, preferring to link inquiries to several existing database of convicted abusers and offenders, it does have a Credentials Committee that accepts submissions of wrongdoing by SBC churches. There is no mechanism for SBC action against any individual minister, since the SBC doesn’t ordain clergy. Individual churches make up the SBC, not individual ministers.
The name of the new, independent database is “Baptist Accountability.” I don’t know who put it together but it is easily found. The site says,
This site relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact us and we will gladly correct it. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.
Thus far, the database includes 29 individuals classified under “Allegations.” I recognize most of these name from news articles and discussions. It includes 331 convicted abusers and 19 “covered up” abusers.
I think the idea was to show how easily a database could be created. It doesn’t look that easy to me but you can check it out and decide for yourself.
While I’m open to the concept of an SBC database, I don’t see a way around a number of difficulties but there are people who have given this a lot more scrutiny than I. The SBC doesn’t ordain ministers. It doesn’t hire ministers. It doesn’t supervise ministers and it doesn’t fire ministers. We all understand that the various SBC and state entities do hire, supervise, and fire clergy. No church is required to check any database, consult the SBC at any level, or take any SBC-approved action when calling or ordaining a minister.
The sole action that any level of SBC life – association, state convention, national – can take is to exclude a church.
It may be that associations, state conventions, and the SBC Executive Committee could create and recommend a list of best practices to the churches. These could require that the best practices be followed but I don’t see any practical way to do that unless the association, state convention, or Executive Committee completely comandeered the clergy hiring, supervising, or firing tasks.
I didn’t link the independent database. You can find it. SBC Voices notes its creation. While you are there, read the terms and conditions of the site, about 7k words. It’s complicated.