SBC Delays Vote on Clergy Abuse Reforms and Ignores Suggestions from Baptist Advocates, SNAP Responds
A critical vote to advance reforms aimed at curbing cases of clergy sexual abuse was delayed when the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention was canceled. While we recognize that the spread of COVID-19 has caused plans nationwide to change, we also recognize that “where there’s a will, there’s a way,” and believe that the SBC should use alternative means in order to have this needed vote and continue the work of preventing cases of sexual violence within the SBC.
As Ashley Easter said during this year’s virtual “For Such a Time as This” rally, no substantive change has occurred in the SBC since a massive exposé into cases of sexual violence and cover-up within the church was published. This scheduled vote would not have brought the needed change that survivors and advocates have been asking for, but it at least would have been a step in the right direction. By abandoning the vote without a plan to move forward, it seems that the SBC is content to just ignore the issue, as they ignored the problem of racism for so many years.
If church officials in the SBC truly cared about curbing instances of clergy abuse and making their places of worship safer for children and the vulnerable, they would listen to advocates like Easter and implement their ideas immediately. We believe that the creation of a church-funded database to track abusers and the call for mandatory abuse prevention and response training are both no-brainers that should be adopted immediately.
There are many ways to use technology to facilitate meetings and gather leaders together for conversation and action. The fact that the SBC is not exploring any of these options is disappointing and disturbing, and we call on church officials to reconvene virtually as soon as possible in order to implement the reforms suggested by advocates like Easter. Inaction is inexcusable.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)