The Real Groomers: 400-Page Report Details Massive Southern Baptist Sex Abuse Cover-Up

Religion
The Real Groomers: 400-Page Report Details Massive Southern Baptist Sex Abuse Cover-Up
File:First Baptist Church, Augusta GA 20160703 1.jpg - Wikimedia ...

For the last several months, homophobic and transphobic jackasses have just been screaming their heads off about how they believe teachers are teaching kids about the existence of LGBTQ people as a ruse to molest them. Not only do they have no proof of this, but they have yet to even find one example of this happening. Clearly they just can't fathom a situation in which anyone would suggest that all people are worthy of respect and kindness without it being a nefarious plot of some kind.

But as usual, the "groomers" — and literal sexual abusers — were calling from inside the house. Or in this case, the churches. Following a damning investigation of sexual abuse claims within the church by the Houston Chronicle and pressure from sexual abuse survivors and their supporters, the deeply conservative Southern Baptist Convention voted last year to allow an independent investigation into the the abuse going on in the church and the way reports of the abuse have been mishandled by church leaders and the SBC's Executive Committee (EC). This is hardly surprising given that one of those being accused of sexual abuse is former SBC President Johnny Hunt.


Now, that report has been published by Guidepost Solutions, and it details a harrowing 20 years of survivors being ignored and intimidated by senior EC leaders, and being told the SBC couldn't do anything because their churches are autonomous. Abusers — including convicted child molesters — were able to continue in ministry and go from church to church without anyone being made aware of their history, all to prevent the SBC from liability and bad press.

In one internal email from Executive Committee member August Boto, survivors and their advocates were described as being part of Satan's evil scheme to keep them from doing evangelism.

"This whole thing should be seen for what it is. It is a satanic scheme to completely distract us from evangelism," he wrote. "It is not the gospel. It is not even a part of the gospel. It is a misdirection play. Yes, Christa Brown [a survivor] and Rachael Denhollander [a survivor advocate] have succumbed to an availability heuristic because of their victimizations. They have gone to the SBC looking for sexual abuse, and of course, they found it. Their outcries have certainly caused an availability cascade (just like Lois Gibbs did in the Love Canal example). But they are not to blame. This is the devil being temporarily successful."

Ah yes, Satan. Always trying to out sex predators and stop people from getting sick from toxic waste.

Complainants were also told the SBC couldn't possibly maintain a list of all of the people who had been reported to them as abusers, because it wasn't their job to control who churches hire as ministers, because each SBC church is independent and autonomous. However, they seem to have had no problem cracking down whenever a church ordained a female minister or "endorsed homosexuality."

They also had no problem actually maintaining such a list. A staffer working for Mr. Boto maintained a detailed list of hundreds of accusations, "including the minister’s name, year reported, relevant news articles, state, and denomination." The most recent list included "703 abusers, with 409 believed to be SBC-affiliated at some point in time." They just did not share that information with churches who might hire said ministers.

They might have, if they had taken sexual abuse and child molestation half as seriously as they pretend to take it when using it as a cudgel to attack LGBTQ people. And they might have prevented some people from being abused in the process. That sure would have been nice.

Hopefully, for the sake of those within the church, this will lead to significant changes with regard to the way sexual assault allegations are handled within churches in the Southern Baptist Convention.

[Christianity Today]

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse

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