SNAP renews a call for secular investigations as SBC elects Bart Barber a new President
(For Immediate Release June 15, 2022)
Newly elected Southern Baptist Convention President, Bart Barber said the scathing 288-page investigative report from Guidepost Solutions with disturbing details about how the church mishandled sex abuse claims and mistreated victims is only the beginning of a long and arduous journey. “The work’s not done,” he added. “We’ve gotten the report, but I think everybody in the survivor community that I’ve heard from has said reports are one thing, but we’ll see if this family of churches has the courage and resolve to take action.”
Following his election, the SBC has pushed through two, very minimal reforms, including the implementation of a new reform implementation task force and the formal creation of a database of abusers. Yet if newly-elected President Barber wants congratulations, he will simply have to wait because the SBC has much, much more to do.
The reforms initiated by the SBC are, as they themselves acknowledged, the bare minimum. For years, SBC leadership has dragged its feet on taking any steps to support survivors and protect children. For example, We know that the idea of a database of abusers was suggested to convention leadership as early as 2007 and that this effort to support public safety was refused by church leadership. What other information has been redacted or hidden by these leaders? After many decades of congregations not knowing, and officials not acknowledging, we agree that more must be done.
There is no doubt that these two basic steps have only been taken because of survivors. True accountability will not come from a new SBC President because no institution can police itself. Regardless of what steps are taken internally by the SBC, what must happen for true prevention, healing, and justice is the involvement of outside, secular officials.
We renew our call on every single attorney general in the U.S. to work within the strictures of their state and to launch investigations into SBC abuse within their borders. Whether an AG is empowered to launch an investigation on their own or they need a local case from a District Attorney to proceed, we hope that these elected officials will use their statutory power and some creativity to find out what really happened within the SBC.
New leadership can let fresh air in through a window or it can remain closed to the outside, perpetuating the stagnant air. We hope the SBC cleans up the wreckage of the past with true accountability.
CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager([email protected], 267-261-0578), Dave Brown, SNAP Leader Tennessee (901-569-4500) Melanie Sakoda ([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 more than 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org.)