Southern Baptist Religious Leaders Release List of Pastors Accused of Sexual Abuse After A Multi-Million Dollar Investigation

On Thursday, the Southern Baptist Convention released a list of ministers who have been protected for more than a decade after committing sexual abuse against congregants. 

The list, released by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), followed a report that contained more than 700 names, with more than 400 included via direct affiliation with the religious denomination. 

On the list are four individuals who remain in leadership positions within the denomination’s churches. The list was primarily a secret until Guidepost’s report was made public on Sunday. 

“Releasing this list is a symbolic gesture. ‘This is the bare minimum thing we can do,'” said Todd Benkert, an Indiana pastor in the SBC.

Much of the information in the release is redacted at present; the redacted information is expected to be released at a future date. 

More than a decade ago, in 2007, SBC Executive Committee staff began logging news articles and other public reports of ministers accused of sexual misconduct. 

However, one year later, officials led the committee to reject a proposal for a clergy abuser database. The move was met with direct criticism and resulted in a decision to invest more than $2 million into an extensive investigation of sexual misconduct by the denomination’s leadership. The decision was made at the 2021 annual convention of the SBC. 

Guidepost Solutions conducted the seven-month investigation; an independent firm contracted by the Executive Committee after delegates to last year’s national meeting pressed for a probe by outsiders.

This week, the report was released amid much controversy from the SBC’s leadership. 

“Our investigation revealed that, for many years, a few senior EC leaders, along with outside counsel, largely controlled the EC’s response to these reports of abuse … and were singularly focused on avoiding liability for the SBC,” the report said.

The nearly 300-page report contains extreme details about how the country’s most prominent Protestant denomination reacted to a growing sexual abuse crisis within its organization. 

For the first time, the report details credible allegations of sexual assault against former SBC President Johnny Hunt and how high-ranking staff maintained a list with hundreds of names of ministers accused of sexual misconduct but did nothing with it.

“Almost always, the internal focus was on protecting the SBC from legal liability and not on caring for survivors or creating any plan to prevent sexual abuse within SBC churches,” the report said.

This latest revelation reveals the all-too-common abuse perpetrated by religious leaders, regardless of denomination or faith affiliation. 

The SBC has now formed an agreement with Guidepost to maintain a hotline for survivors and others to submit abuse allegations. Guidepost agreed not to inquire about the claims but will hold the information confidentially while the SBC’s Sexual Abuse Task Force establishes processes.

For victims of sexual abuse or those who suspect sexual abuse by an SBC pastor, staff member, or member of an affiliated church, you can call 202-864-5578 or send an email to [email protected].


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