Guidepost Investigation of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee confirms abuse, silencing of victims
According to a report released by Guidepost Solutions LLC, an investigations firm hired by the Southern Baptist Convention (“SBC”), the Executive Committee of the SBC has repeatedly refused to report child molesters and other sexual abusers in Southern Baptist churches for almost 20 years.
The investigation focused on actions by the SBC’s Executive Committee. Though Southern Baptist churches operate with significant autonomy, according to the Washington Post, the Executive Committee collects and distributes over $190 million for missions, seminaries, and ministries. These funds come from 47,000 churches, across 41 state or regional conventions.
Despite repeated calls from survivors and concerned church members over decades, the report finds that the Executive Committee has responded with “resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility.” The nearly 300-page report, released on May 22, 2022, notes a pattern of intimidating survivors and their advocates, while protecting a variety of insiders and leaders from credible accusations.
The Guidepost investigation reveals that senior EC leaders, with the assistance of outside counsel, generally controlled the response to reports of abuse. The report suggests that leaders protected the alleged abuser and lied to church members, as they focused on avoiding liability for the SBC, to the exclusion of other considerations. The report names multiple senior leaders, including three past convention presidents, who supported alleged abusers.
According to the New York Times, Guidepost Solutions was hired because delegates to the SBC’s Nashville Convention in the summer of 2021 voted overwhelmingly to create a centralized Task Force, charged with exploring allegations of abuse and expelling churches if they mishandled abuse. On September 9, 2021, the Task Force announced the retention of Guidepost Solutions to conduct the independent assessment and investigation regarding the Executive Committee and its practices.
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