On Friday, I will post an article that will affect a well-known church in a large metropolitan area. Once again, it is a church that I attended and love. The issues involve a church takeover, spiritual abuse, emotional trauma, and power held in the hands of a select few rather than the entire church. It is essential to write this post promptly, and I will spend a considerable amount of time “getting it right.”
I look forward to your input in the comment section. I have a feeling your comments will be read.
As everyone knows, I have long supported SBC’s Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force (ARITF) (and its evolving names.) So many stories of sexual abuse found on this site involve the SBC. My initiation into the widespread sexual abuse problem was in a local SBC church in which an SBC seminary student abused a large number of young teen boys.
Given that the SBC messengers overwhelmingly supported this initiative, many hoped to see a database and a hotline established in short order. Alas, it was not to be. This week, BNG posted Every member of the SBC’s abuse reform task force should resign in protest by Christa Brown.
The following problems inherent in the SBC demonstrate that there will be little effort on the part of the entrenched church leaders to implement difficult change.
The infamous amicus brief
Thanks to journalists, we now know that even while SBC officials were putting on a show at the June 2023 annual meeting, touting the launch of an empty shell of a database as “historic,” and even while they were promoting their uncaring “Caring Well Sunday” in September, behind the scenes, they already had filed an amicus brief in a Kentucky case — a case in which the SBC isn’t even a party — to actively argue against even the possibility of justice for child sex abuse survivors.
The infamous Paul Pressler with alleged stonewalling of prosecution
And consider what we’ve learned from the sexual abuse lawsuit involving Paul Pressler. Documents produced by the SBC Executive Committee “spelled out the SBC defense philosophy of delay, filing a multitude of motions, and blaming the victim.”
Although this wasn’t surprising — SBC officials have long worked to crush SBC clergy abuse survivors — having this tactic spelled out in the SBC Executive Committee’s own documents should give pause to any doubters. And again, this kind of behind-the-scenes “stonewalling” was going on at the same time as SBC officials’ performative displays of caring about abuse.
Allegations against Greg Wills, who is still a member of the ARITF.
In October 2022 and December 2023, former BNG Clemons Fellow David Bumgardner wrote to Bart Barber and the task force, detailing serious corroborated concerns about task force member Greg Wills. Bumgardner alleged that, while at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wills had sought to obtain confidential information about an SBC sexual abuse survivor and threatened retribution against those who sought to assist the survivor.
…Wills has a prior relationship with an accused abuser who is a co-defendant in litigation against the SBC.
A promised database has not been presented that includes the names of convicted and imprisoned SBC pastors while credibly accused pastors will likely NEVER be included.
It hasn’t even named those criminally convicted. Nor has it bothered to transfer to the new database the hundreds of names that were on the Executive Committee’s long-secret list. Furthermore, by its own admission, the task force has completely stalled out on including the most needed category of names — pastors determined to be “credibly accused” by independent investigation.
On 9/13/23, the website said it was committed to facilitating access to those credibly accused. However, they would start with those convicted or found liable for sexual abuse.
An Overview of Ministry Check
A significant development in our ongoing efforts is the creation of Ministry Check. This initiative, which we introduced several weeks ago, is not merely a tool or a website but a comprehensive platform designed to enable Southern Baptist Churches to prevent abuse by sharing crucial information.
Our intention is to assist churches in helping one another prevent abuse, acknowledging that they often rely on reference checks when hiring candidates for ministry positions.
However, this process is limited by the information available.
Ministry Check will address this limitation by facilitating access to information about individuals who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse, beginning with those who have been criminally convicted or found liable in civil court for sexual abuse.
We are well underway in the process of launching Ministry Check, and we anticipate announcing the official launch date soon.
Here is proof from the ARITF’s website, and be sure to keep checking…
Coming soon, Ministry Check will provide leaders with the ability to search for information about individuals who have been convicted, found liable, or confessed to abuse.
Visit again for updates on the launch of Ministry Check.
The sexual abuse hotline has received hundreds of calls but not a peep if anything was done with the info.
despite hundreds of reports made to it, the SBC has released no information about who those reported pastors are, or whether congregants in their churches have been informed. The hotline appears as little more than a theater piece; it presents an illusion of accountability but without the reality.
Given the information from Christa’s excellent article, here are my concerns.
- Given the SBC’s penchant for keeping secret lists, is the SBC keeping a secret list from the hotline? Is it happening all over again?
- Who is answering the hotline, what advice is being given, and is there a report presented to anyone as a means of accountability?
- The SBC will never allow “credibly accused” pastors to be placed on the list. That is one way to protect their friends. Why should we believe they wouldn’t do this again?
- How much has the ARITF/hotline cost the faithful so far?
- We are now on day 121 since the October report. I’m keeping track and will post an update.
- The ARITF website appears to give confusing information, such as whether credibly accused pastors will be listed. Dee has a prophecy for all of our readers. The SBC will NEVER allow the list to post credibly accused pastors, which is why the ARITF has stalled.
Given the information available, it appears that the ARITF is hampered. There needs to be accountability regarding timetables, hotline calls, etc. I believe the hotline workers have been given a template outlining what they can say or not say during these calls. They probably have a template for recording and reporting or not reporting info. I believe those templates should be released to the faithful. Unless they are, I worry that nothing is being done and accountability is lacking. I pray I’m wrong.
It’s time. This has gone on for too long.
Special thanks to Christa Bronw, who is a retired appellate attorney.