by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – Following the release of a catastrophic report on the systemic cover-up of sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), seven survivors of such abuse in the denomination have published a statement calling for reform and the immediate implementation of specific measures, including the establishment of a restoration fund for victims, Church Leaders reports.
The joint statement was made in the wake of the May 22 report by Guidepost Solutions which found that SBC leaders covered up allegations of sexual abuse, protected predators, and suppressed the voices of survivors, for 20 years.
In its introduction, the survivors’ joint statement explains: “We come now collectively, as SBC sexual abuse survivors, urging transformative action to addressing sexual abuse and cover-ups within the Southern Baptist Convention. While we respect the necessity of extensive recommendations as brought forth in the Guidepost Report and by the Sexual Abuse Task Force (SATF), together we urge that the following actions be taken immediately.”
The statement goes on to list a number of steps the SBC should take forthwith: First, “create an Independent Commission, authorized to operate in perpetuity, with initial members appointed by the SBC president elected at the 2022 Convention.” Second, create “an independently administered and publicly accessible ‘Ministry Check’ database of clergy,” including ministry leaders who have been “credibly accused, or to have substantial allegations, or who are criminally convicted of sexual abuse.”
Third, set up a “survivor restoration fund” for anyone who was subject to clerical sexual abuse within the SBC, even if they have now left the denomination. In particular, the fund should be managed by an independent overseer – and “no one within the SBC shall have any control over how the survivor chooses to use the money or over what therapist a survivor chooses.”
Fourth, “establish outside SBC headquarters in Nashville a permanent memorial, dedicated to all survivors of SBC clergy sex abuse and named in honor of Christa Brown,” an SBC survivor and long-term advocate.
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