The SBC’s Abuse Prevention Work Is Not Done
The SBC’s Abuse Prevention Work Is Not Done

Five years ago, our messengers pledged to take substantive action to end sexual abuse in our churches. We cannot let another year pass with that promise unfulfilled.

Just over five years ago, a fire broke out in one of the world’s most famous houses of worship, the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris. In the days following, officials confirmed that one reason the fire grew out of control was that the security team, after hearing the alarm, miscommunicated and responded at the wrong location. The fire was in an attic, but the team went to the sacristy, located in an entirely different building. Portions of the cathedral soon burned to the ground.

It was also just over five years ago that alarms sounded in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) when reports emerged detailing hundreds of cases of sexual abuse in our churches and organizations over a span of decades. Since then, the eyes of the nation have been on America’s largest Protestant denomination as we’ve grappled with how to respond to these revelations and prevent future sexual abuse. This includes an ongoing investigation by the US Department of Justice, which recently filed its first indictment.

As an SBC pastor for more than 20 years, it saddens me to report that, rather than fighting our fire with every available resource, efforts to extinguish sexual abuse in the SBC have been hindered by distractions and delays. As messengers gather in Indianapolis for the SBC annual meeting this week, it remains unclear whether addressing our abuse crisis is still a priority for the SBC. This concern is magnified by the latest update from our abuse implementation task force: After two years of painstaking work by faithful volunteers, their tasks were not completed due to several “obstacles and challenges.”

Five years ago, recall, our initial reaction to the abuse revelations was a unified …

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