Southern Baptists say denomination is dealing with DOJ investigation

Leaders of the Southern Baptist Conference mentioned Friday that a number of of the denomination’s main entities are beneath investigation by the U.S. Division of Justice within the wake of its a number of issues associated to clergy intercourse abuse.

The SBC’s Government Committee has acquired a subpoena, however no people have been subpoenaed at this level, in accordance with the committee’s attorneys.

“That is an ongoing investigation and we’re not commenting on our discussions with DOJ,” they mentioned.

The assertion from SBC leaders — together with Government Committee members, seminary presidents and heads of mission organizations — gave few particulars concerning the investigation, however indicated it handled widespread sexual abuse issues which have rocked the biggest Protestant denomination within the U.S.

“Individually and collectively every SBC entity is resolved to completely and utterly cooperate with the investigation,” the assertion mentioned. “Whereas we proceed to grieve and lament previous errors associated to sexual abuse, present leaders throughout the SBC have demonstrated a agency conviction to deal with these problems with the previous and are implementing measures to make sure they’re by no means repeated sooner or later.”

There was no fast remark from the Justice Division concerning the investigation.

Earlier this 12 months, an SBC intercourse abuse job power launched a blistering 288-page report from exterior marketing consultant, Guidepost Options. The agency’s seven-month impartial investigation discovered disturbing particulars about how denominational leaders mishandled intercourse abuse claims and mistreated victims.

The report centered particularly on how the SBC’s Government Committee responded to abuse circumstances, revealing that it had secretly maintained an inventory of clergy and different church employees accused of abuse. The committee later apologized and launched the checklist, which had lots of of accused employees on it.

A Guidepost spokesperson declined to touch upon information of the DOJ probe.

Following the discharge of the Guidepost report, the SBC voted throughout its annual assembly in June to created a method to monitor pastors and different church employees credibly accused of intercourse abuse and launch a brand new job power to supervise additional reforms. Earlier this week, SBC President Bart Barber, who additionally signed Friday’s assertion, introduced the names of the Southern Baptist pastors and church members who will serve on the duty power.

Southern Baptist intercourse abuse survivor Christa Brown, who has lengthy referred to as for the SBC to do extra to deal with intercourse abuse throughout its church buildings, celebrated the information of the DOJ investigation.

“Hallelujah. It is about time,” Brown mentioned in a Friday publish on Twitter. “That is what’s wanted.”

One other survivor, Jules Woodson, went public together with her abuse story in 2018 and has been pushing for reforms within the SBC ever since. On Friday, she reacted to the investigation information by tweeting, “Might justice roll down!!!”

Oklahoma pastor Mike Keahbone, who serves on the Government Committee and is the vice chair of the brand new abuse job power, mentioned on Twitter that the investigation “shouldn’t be one thing to worry … If there may be extra work to do, we are going to do it.”

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