SBC Rolls Out “New” Prevention Campaign, SNAP Responds
Six months after a massive exposé into cases of sexual violence and cover-up within the Southern Baptist Convention was published, church leaders have finally responded. Unfortunately, we feel that this response amounts to little more than a public relations effort.
SBC leaders unveiled their new “Caring Well” campaign today, a prevention effort focused on creating new teams and processes for churches in order to create safer environments within SBC churches. According to the Caring Well website, this campaign involves educating pastors about the importance of using secular law enforcement professionals to investigate crimes and how to respond “ethically, legally, and with good shepherding” when abuse is discovered.
But while the campaign seems good on its face, there is no apparent mechanism to require churches to participate in or otherwise follow the guidelines that have been rolled out today. Similarly, this campaign does not include many of the asks that survivors had made of the SBC at this year’s For Such a Time as This Rally, including the creation of a national database of offenders or a requirement for SBC leadership to immediately remove churches that cover-up abuse from the convention.
Based on the information that has been shared today, the announcement of this campaign hearkens back to the 2007-2008 SBC annual meetings where abuse was loudly and publicly decried, but privately and institutionally ignored.
Any effort that aims at institutional change should also mandate participation and have mechanisms in place to force participation. Instead, this campaign is a volunteer call to action, backed up only by a simple ask to SBC churches for participation. We can only assume that the churches in which this campaign is most needed will also be the places least likely to get involved.
If the SBC truly wants to change the culture that allows abuse to thrive, they would listen to the asks of survivors and center their voices in prevention conversations. Instead, the SBC is doing again what they have done before: speak loudly, and forget the stick the entirely.
CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director (firstname.lastname@example.org, 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)