Pastor Blake Gideon responds to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Report that was released on May 21, 2022.
What are to make of the recent investigative report by Guidepost Solutions (GS) exposing the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) of Sexual abuse cover up? Guidepost is an organization that specializes in domestic and international investigations. The Executive Committee of the SBC hired GS in 2022 at the request of SBC messengers. The purpose was to get to the bottom of the rumors and accusations of sex abuse cover up in the SBC, primarily by the Executive Committee.
The report was released Sunday, May 21st, and the results were devastating. GS reported significant evidence to support the claims of mishandling abuse and mistreatment of victims. Yet, there was no evidence that anyone ever took action on behalf of the survivors. Therefore, it is apparent there are survivors, and their claims were dismissed and mishandled. Activities such as these are tragic and heartbreaking. We should pray for the healing and recovery of every survivor. We ought to hold those accountable who truly abused their authority to manipulate, groom, and assault their victims. SBC churches need to establish clear guidelines on protecting the innocent, discovering the predatory, and reporting the abuse.
Notice my last sentence in the above paragraph. It is the responsibility of SBC churches to protect and report such horrible acts of sin against another person. The SBC is a bottom-up organization, not a top-down organization. The local autonomous church is the governing authority in the Convention, not the Executive Committee. Therefore, it is not the responsibility of the Executive Committee to police the local church. Could they have done a better job? Yes! But they are in a position of service, not authority. A local church can call whomever they want to be their pastor, and the Executive Committee has no say. Why? Because the authority belongs to the church.
Therefore, the weight of the responsibility belongs to every local church. We must do better. In all honesty, local churches failed to handle the abuse properly. However, it is helpful to have the current Executive Committee's help as we navigate through these tragic times.
We must keep all this in perspective. There are over 47,000Southern Baptist churches in the Convention. I believe the Guidepost report listed 400 churches that failed to report sex abuse, handle sex abuse properly, and minister to survivors. As a result, many survivors were ignored, disbelieved, threatened, and forgotten; this is unacceptable and tragic.
At this point, we are not talking about a sexual abuse pandemic like the Catholic Church. We are talking about 400 churches out of47,000. Yes, one is too many, but most SBC pastors and churches are seeking to be faithful. Please do not take this as making light of the situation, one is too many. I believe predators ought to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I also believe, we must be balanced in our approach to correct the wrongs.
I anticipate that when the messengers meet at the National Convention in Anaheim this June, the messengers will take steps to protect the innocent and ensure that something like this never happens again. I, as your pastor, will be present at that meeting representing EFBC. Please be in prayer for the survivors of sexual abuse. Remember, the truth always wins and people are innocent until proven guilty.
- Pastor Blake Gideon