SBC establishes hotline for survivors of sexual abuse; SNAP responds
(For Immediate Release May 26, 2022)
The Southern Baptist Convention has established a confidential hotline for survivors of sexual abuse in churches to make reports, an unprecedented step for the nation’s largest non-Catholic denomination.
While this may appear to be a step forward, we remain highly skeptical. It has the feel of a hastily devised public relations move designed to control the aftermath of the scathing report. We cannot stress enough the importance to survivors of having a place to share their information where they know that they will be not only be listened to but more importantly, where they will also be believed.
Many victims, witnesses, and whistleblowers fear coming forward with information about cases of abuse by clergy. There are many reasons for this fear, whether it is due to feelings of shame, or to worries of being blamed or of being singled out as a troublemaker.
It is crucial that abuse victims report the crimes, and we believe that should be to law enforcement first. The SBC has more control and influence on its own officials than it does over tens of thousands of suffering survivors, many of whom feel forced out of the church. We urge the SBC to harshly and immediately denounce and discipline every staffer who ignored or hid abuse. That will deter future cover-ups and will show victims that perhaps calling a church hotline won't just subject them to more harm.
The stories and tips are clearly out there, it just takes someone being present to listen to the survivors for changes to be made.
CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager([email protected], 267-261-0578), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator ([email protected], 925-708-6175) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)
(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)