SBC releases 200-page database of credibly accused sexual abusers

Nearly 9,000 Southern Baptist messengers at the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting on June 11, 2019, vote to pass an amendment regarding churches and sexual abuse.
Nearly 9,000 Southern Baptist messengers at the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting on June 11, 2019, vote to pass an amendment regarding churches and sexual abuse. | Van Payne

The Southern Baptist Convention has released a list of alleged abusers compiled by a former member of the SBC Executive Committee, following a report which showed that the United States' largest Protestant denomination failed to adequately respond to abuse allegations.

SBC Executive Committee Interim President Willie McLaurin and Executive Committee Chairman Rolland Slade released a joint statement Thursday announcing the list's public release.

Both men consider the list's publication an "initial, but important, step towards addressing the scourge of sexual abuse and implementing reform in the Convention."

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"Each entry in this list reminds us of the devastation and destruction brought about by sexual abuse," they stated. "Our prayer is that the survivors of these heinous acts find hope and healing, and that churches will utilize this list proactively to protect and care for the most vulnerable among us."

The 205-page list is presented as it had been given to Guidepost Solutions for their monthslong investigation into SBC's handling of credible abuse allegations involving churches affiliated with the convention. 

This list includes the full name of the abuser, the year they were reported, the state where it happened, links to news stories about the allegation and the denomination. Not all of the entries on the list belonged to the SBC.

There were also redactions made at various points to protect the identity of victims and those whose guilt has not been confirmed.

"We note that there will be more exhaustive research and analysis of the redacted entries and we anticipate that some of the redacted entries will be fully released in the future," McLaurin and Slade added.

"We felt it was more important to release the list and redact rather than delay and investigate."

Earlier this month, Guidepost Solutions released a 288-page report that concluded that SBC leaders had a pattern of intimidating victims of abuse and refusing to adopt measures aimed at making churches safer because they wanted to avoid liability.

Presented to the SBC's Sexual Abuse Task Force, Guidepost found that multiple SBC Executive Committee leaders exerted strong control over abuse allegations within the denomination and "were singularly focused on avoiding liability for the SBC to the exclusion of other considerations."

"In service of this goal, survivors and others who reported abuse were ignored, disbelieved, or met with the constant refrain that the SBC could take no action due to its polity regarding church autonomy — even if it meant that convicted molesters continued in ministry with no notice or warning to their current church or congregation," stated the report.

News of the report sent shockwaves across the SBC, with many viewing the findings as disturbing and showing a need for reform.

The report stated that since 2007, an Executive Committee staff member had collected a private list of accused pastors in Baptist churches that had not been disclosed publicly. 

First Baptist Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffress told Shannon Bream of Fox News that he considered the report "absolutely horrific" and hopes it will serve as a "wakeup call for churches."

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler Jr. said on his podcast that he considers the report "devastating, heartbreaking, and infuriating."

"Southern Baptists must see this report as part of a reckoning that will reveal God's wrath, but also as mercy each in rightful proportion," added Mohler.

"Some see this report as an opportunity to condemn the Southern Baptist Convention and to castigate its churches, members, and leaders, as implacably opposed to dealing with this challenge with grace, truth, compassion and with the power of the gospel."

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