NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – Leaders of the Southern Baptist Conference mentioned Friday that a number of of the denomination’s main entities are beneath investigation by the U.S. Division of Justice within the wake of its a number of issues associated to clergy intercourse abuse.
The SBC’s Govt Committee has acquired a subpoena, however no people have been subpoenaed at this level, in line with the committee’s legal professionals.
“That is an ongoing investigation, and we aren’t commenting on our discussions with DOJ,” they mentioned.
The assertion from SBC leaders – together with Govt Committee members, seminary presidents and heads of mission organizations – gave few particulars in regards to the investigation, however indicated it handled widespread sexual abuse issues which have rocked the biggest Protestant denomination within the U.S.
“Individually and collectively every SBC entity is resolved to completely and fully cooperate with the investigation,” the assertion mentioned. “Whereas we proceed to grieve and lament previous errors associated to sexual abuse, present leaders throughout the SBC have demonstrated a agency conviction to handle these problems with the previous and are implementing measures to make sure they’re by no means repeated sooner or later.”
There was no rapid remark from the Justice Division in regards to the investigation.
Earlier this yr, an SBC intercourse abuse job drive launched a blistering 288-page report from exterior advisor Guidepost Options. The agency’s seven-month unbiased investigation discovered disturbing particulars about how denominational leaders mishandled intercourse abuse claims and mistreated victims.
The report targeted particularly on how the SBC’s Govt Committee responded to abuse circumstances, revealing that it had secretly maintained an inventory of clergy and different church staff accused of abuse. The committee later apologized and launched the checklist, which had tons of of accused staff on it.
A Guidepost spokesperson declined to touch upon information of the DOJ probe.
Following the discharge of the Guidepost report, the SBC voted throughout its annual assembly in June to create a solution to observe pastors and different church staff credibly accused of intercourse abuse and launch a brand new job drive to supervise additional reforms. Earlier this week, SBC President Bart Barber, who additionally signed Friday’s assertion, introduced the names of the Southern Baptist pastors and church members who will serve on the duty drive.
Southern Baptist intercourse abuse survivor Christa Brown, who has lengthy known as for the SBC to do extra to handle intercourse abuse throughout its church buildings, celebrated the information of the DOJ investigation.
“Hallelujah. It is about time,” Brown mentioned in a Friday publish on Twitter. “That is what’s wanted.”
One other survivor, Jules Woodson, went public along with her abuse story in 2018 and has been pushing for reforms within the SBC ever since. On Friday, she reacted to the investigation information by tweeting, “Could justice roll down!!!”
Oklahoma pastor Mike Keahbone, who serves on the Govt Committee and is the vice chair of the brand new abuse job drive, mentioned on Twitter that the investigation “is just not one thing to concern … If there may be extra work to do, we are going to do it.”
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