Status: 05/24/2022 04:24 AM
A report of abuse has sparked serious allegations against the largest Protestant church in the United States. Accordingly, the level of management is said to have covered up abuses for decades.
For years, leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in America, suppressed complaints of sexual abuse by priests and church workers. An investigation published earlier this week found that survivors and advocates who sounded the alarm about sexual misconduct faced “resistance, subterfuge and even outright hostility” at the highest levels of church leadership.
The church commissioned an independent investigation after it was rocked by an abuse scandal in 2019. Newspapers have uncovered hundreds of cover-ups since the late 1990s. The report, released on Sunday, notes that some church leaders are not interested in investigating or publicizing the cases.
More than 15 million members
Several senior executives “have information about allegations of abuse and court proceedings” that they have not shared with other members of the Executive Committee. Instead, they “focused only on avoiding responsibility” before the church “without regard to other considerations.”
Victims were ignored, vilified and told that no action would be taken as it would infringe on the autonomy of individual churches – “even if it means that convicted abusers continue their service without notification or warning to their current church or community”.
The report recommended a “sincere apology” to those affected and an overhaul of the church’s policy on sexual misconduct. The Southern Baptist Convention has thousands of members and 15 million members, most of them in the southern United States.