The SBC and Profiles of Human Trafficking
As reports regarding sexual abuse began surfacing from within the Southern Baptist Convention and several Christian ministry outlets starting covering the subject, the news still remains hard to hear and even harder to process. There are several questions that remain in light of this information such as are the perpetrators truly Christians, can someone who conducted a crime of this measure be restored to ministry after counseling, how were victims rehabilitated if they even had help offered, etc. We'll analyze these responses, Church discipline, and profiles of human trafficking in this article.
Southern Baptist Convention Sexual Abuse Cases
On May 31, sexual abuse reports began surfacing from within the Southern Baptist Convention after 55 years in secrecy thanks to the SBC committee. The report consists of a 205-page list detailing close to 700 counts of sexual abuse by pastors, Sunday school teachers, camp counselors, missionaries, bus drivers, and music ministers. 400 of these cases are tied to SBC churches from Alaska to Alabama.
This uncovering was part of a multi-million dollar investigation on how SBC leaders dealt with abuse launched by Guidepost Solutions in 2007. SBC Executive Committee staff worked at determining whether a victim's church was apart of the SBC and began tracking convictions. These names were then given to a staff lawyer, August "Augie" Boto, who spent years trying to hide the identities of the perpetrators. An executive committee boardmember who remains nameless began an initial search for Baptists who had been accused of sexual abuse. Their search resulted in 66 names of deacons, youth ministers, and pastors of Baptist churches who were either arrested or were the subject of a civil suit regarding sex crimes with minors.
An Oklahoma Pastor, Wade Burleson, proposed an idea of an offender database to the SBC committee at its annual meeting in 2007. However, this idea was later rejected by the SBC executive committee. One can be led to believe the committee wanted to erase all existence of the abuse.
"My goal was to prevent guilty SBC ministers from transferring to another church or denomination to only re-offend," Burleson admitted in a blog post (Ministry Watch, 2022).
For years, victims remained silent out of fear of retribution and retaliation as pastors and other board members were not appropriately dealt with and were simply moved churches, allowing corruption, unaccountability, and victimization to spread like cancer while victim numbers grew steadily. One pastor in Indiana recounted his treachery over 20 years ago as he committed adultery with a 16-year-old girl in his office. The victim's brother came forward many years later testifying that the girl was found in bed with the pastor, led to believe this account was not statutory rape and could have been forced or coerced.
More information detailing the abuse, including churches involved in the sexual abuse, can be found on Ministry Watch at their recent article "Southern Baptist List Includes Hundreds of Cases of Abuse, Beginning in the 1960's" at https://ministrywatch.com/southern-baptist-list-includes-hundreds-of-cases-of-abuse-beginning-in-the-1960s/
The pastor's confession of adultery with the 16-year-old girl can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIHssLH4DLs where it has been covered by Wretched Radio, hosted by Todd Friel.
Statue of Limitations
The previously mentioned account above is covered in some states, like Indiana where it occurred, under the Statute of Limitations law. However, if the pastor was to move states where no statue of limitations exist for rape or murder (i.e., Alaska) or the statue of limitations is less than 20 years, he could be arrested, prosecuted, and tried for statutory rape, child sex abuse, endangerment of a minor, sex trafficking (since all staff are paid) among other crimes.
As for the SBC committee, their silence and inability to effectively manage this crisis cost them more than their dignity and positions as several hundred victims now have to live with sin inflicted upon them at the hands of people they were meant to trust, within church walls that were meant to be places of healing and restoration. Instead, it became their agonizing prison for several long and exhaustive years.
Statue of Limitations for rape or murder, in any degree, in any state, allow offenders to escape without accountability to past actions by the law and should be eradicated. Their existence has cemented the trauma for all victims involved with churches that exist within states who still hold Statue of Limitations laws for rape or murder.
Sheep and Wolves: Separating God's People from Satan's Wolves
Trying to make sense of this report and its aftermath leaves several questions that need answered, including whether the perpetrators were truly Christians. Trying to differentiate where salvation begins and false conversion begins or vice versa remains difficult and tricky for us since we are all fallen humans who abide in a sin nature although Christ defe