The Christian Post's top 10 news stories of 2022 (part 1)

Messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting June 15-16, 2021, cast ballots for several motions and elections throughout the two-day event in Nashville, Tenn. | Eric Brown

6. Southern Baptist Convention's report on allegations of sexual abuse 

Over the course of 2022, the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest Protestant denomination, made strides to address allegations of sexual abuse within its ranks.

A May report from Guidepost Solutions detailed the results of an investigation into allegations that SBC leaders intimidated whistleblowers and exonerated churches with credible claims of negligence of sexual abuse victims.

The report identified 700 victims over a 20-year span and found that survivors of sexual abuse encountered "resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility" from some on the SBC's Executive Committee.

At the time, SBC leaders said they were "grieved" by the findings.

At the annual SBC Convention in June, the denomination overwhelmingly voted to pass a series of abuse reform recommendations.

These recommendations included creating a task force to better fight abuse and implementing a "ministry check" database to keep track of church leaders accused of sexual abuse.

According to the recommendation, names listed on the website would be people who have been "credibly accused" of sexual abuse. This encompasses a "pastor, denominational worker, or ministry employee or volunteer … who has confessed to sexual abuse in a non-privileged setting, who has been convicted in a court of law, or who has had a civil judgment rendered against them."

"We have failed to educate and thus adequately prepare church leaders to respond to abuse," reads a resolution titled, "On lament and repentance for sexual abuse." 

The historic resolution asked abuse survivors for forgiveness "for our failure to hold perpetrators of sexual abuse adequately accountable in our churches and institutions."

Attorney and sexual abuse survivor Rachael Denhollander said the passing of the recommendations was the result of the "tireless efforts of the survivors" who "didn't give up." 

In August, the SBC announced that the Justice Department is investigating multiple arms of the denomination over the alleged mishandling of sexual abuse allegations.

At the time, SBC leadership noted that "our reform efforts are not finished" and said their "commitment to cooperate with the Department of Justice is born from our demonstrated commitment to transparently address the scourge of sexual abuse."

"While so many things in the world are uncertain, we can be certain that we serve a mighty God. Nothing, including this investigation, takes Him by surprise."

In November, former SBC seminary professor David Sills and his wife filed a defamation lawsuit, claiming SBC leaders and Guidepost Solutions made Sills "a bona fide scapegoat" amid reports of the sexual abuse coverup. 

The SBC's Executive Committee had previously expressed regret for its response to the sexual abuse of Jennifer Lyell, which the SBC's once highest-paid female executive allegedly suffered at the hands of Sills. 

Responding to the lawsuit, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Al Mohler reaffirmed his support for Lyell.

"The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has followed best practices in this matter and has nothing to hide," Mohler said. "We will make this truth clear in any forum necessary and we will do so vigorously."

Leah Klett contributed to this report

Was this article helpful?

Want more articles like this?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone by making a one-time donation today.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Free Religious Freedom Updates

Join thousands of others to get the FREEDOM POST newsletter for free, sent twice a week from The Christian Post.

Most Popular

Free Religious Freedom Updates

A religious liberty newsletter that is a must-read for people of faith.

More In U.S.