Southern Baptists Want to Expel Churches Over Abuse

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President J. D. Greear announces a batch of new proposals, reiterating that congregations that cover up incidents have “no place” in the SBC.

After a Houston Chronicle investigation uncovered hundreds of instances of criminal sexual abuse within its churches, Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) president J. D. Greear said the denomination needs to “repent of a culture that has made abuse, cover-ups, and evading accountability far too easy.”

Already, Southern Baptists are taking action to change their church culture, debuting this week new policies and plans to improve organizational awareness of abuse cases and train leaders to address them.

The news report drew particular attention to at least 35 pastors and volunteers who continued to work in Southern Baptist churches after being convicted or credibly accused of sexual misconduct.

At a meeting of the SBC executive committee on Monday, Greear called on the denomination to examine 10 churches who were “alleged to have displayed a wanton disregard for the seriousness of abuse” to see if they indeed meet the standards for SBC churches set forth in the Baptist Faith and Message.

Notably, the list includes Houston’s Second Baptist Church (in recent years, the third-biggest church in the SBC) and Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville, where C. J. Mahaney is senior pastor.

While the SBC can remove churches that harbor predators under its existing policy, the committee wants to now explicitly name mishandling of abuse as grounds for expulsion. If approved by the delegation at the SBC Annual Meeting this year and next year (amendments require two consecutive votes), this requirement will be added to the SBC Constitution as one of the qualifications for churches:

Has not been determined by the Executive Committee to have evidenced indifference in addressing sexual abuse that targets minors and other …

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