Southern Baptists Approve Major Investigation Into Abuse Response

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Pastors speaking on behalf of victims pushed for a task force to direct inquiry into the Executive Committee.

Southern Baptists called on their denomination to launch what would be its biggest investigation into sexual abuse responses and coverup.

While the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) recently commissioned its own independent inquiry through Guideposts, messengers voted at its annual meeting to transfer oversight of that investigation or launch an additional one.

Thousands of messengers in the convention hall, voting with a wave of yellow cards in the air, supported the move as an additional level of accountability, while few opposed.

“It is the least we can do for abuse survivors. It is worth the extra effort. It is worth the money. It is worth the time and attention,” said Grant Gaines, a Tennessee pastor who made the request for an outside task force with an SBC abuse victim at his side. “If this investigation is worth doing, then it’s worth doing right.”

The newly elected SBC president Ed Litton will appoint the task force to serve as a middle man between third-party investigators and the Executive Committee, a decision-making body within the denomination.

The Executive Committee, though it declined to consider a similar proposal to amend its own investigation just two days before, has agreed and said it will “work expeditiously to apply today’s motion.”

Scrutiny of the SBC’s response to abuse has recently focused on the Executive Committee after letters leaked in the weeks leading up to the annual meeting described leaders dismissing victims, quickly clearing churches of accusation, and resisting broader efforts to address abuse.

According to the motion, the investigation, backed by a group of survivors and advocates, will cover 20 years of allegations …

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