List of Alleged Abusers
The recently released Guidepost report revealed a list of alleged abusers compiled by a former employee of the SBC Executive Committee. This list is being made public for the first time as an initial, but important, step towards addressing the scourge of sexual abuse and implementing reform in the Convention. Each entry in this list reminds us of the devastation and destruction brought about by sexual abuse. Our prayer is that the survivors of these heinous acts find hope and healing, and that churches will utilize this list proactively to protect and care for the most vulnerable among us.
The SBC Executive Committee is grateful for the efforts of the Sexual Abuse Task Force and Guidepost Solutions for their diligent efforts to assemble this report. While the time for the investigation may be over, this is now a time to humble ourselves, to receive the findings of the report, to listen, to work cooperatively and to find new ways to engage the hearts of the wounded among us so that they may feel heard and protected.
We intend to thoughtfully and prayerfully consider the recommendations of the Sexual Abuse Task Force. While we await the direction of the messengers and gather the strength of our convictions to implement the will of the messengers in the wake of this report, we want to provide some basic responses to the most frequent questions that may arise in connection with the report.
1. What process did Guidepost use to make its determinations?
Guidepost reviewed hundreds of thousands of emails, documents, videos, court filings, and other materials from Executive Committee leadership, legal counsel, committee members, survivors, advocates, and churches. In addition, Guidepost conducted interviews of survivors, current and former Executive Committee members, current and former Credentials Committee members, current and former Task Force members, and pertinent individuals within the seminaries, state conventions and associations, churches, and other interested parties.
2. Was the Executive Committee cooperative?
Yes. The Executive Committee provided Guidepost with all emails, text messages, and documents related to the scope of its investigation. Throughout the investigation, the Executive Committee consistently communicated with Guidepost and supplied Guidepost with the requested resources. Guidepost individually interviewed Executive Committee staff, past and present, as well as Executive and Credentials Committee members. In addition, the Executive Committee waived the attorney client privilege and produced thousands of communications with its outside and inside counsel, as well as permitted its former counsel to be interviewed by Guidepost.
3. Is the report reliable?
Guidepost is a reputable investigations and compliance firm specializing in investigating sexual abuse. Although the Executive Committee cannot guarantee the reliability of Guidepost’s analysis because the Executive Committee did not perform the investigation, the Executive Committee does not have any reason to believe the report is unreliable.
4. What authority does the Executive Committee have over local churches?
The Executive Committee has no authority over member churches. Every member church is autonomous, meaning the Southern Baptist Convention does not have power, control, or ownership over a member church. Church autonomy is biblical (Matthew 18:18– 20; 1 Peter 3:21) and a custom. Member churches whose faith and practices align with the Baptist Faith and Message and who donate to the Cooperative Program are welcome members within the Southern Baptist Convention. Still, the Southern Baptist Convention (nor the Executive Committee) cannot tell member churches what to do and never has.
Article IV of the SBC Constitution makes clear, “the Convention does not claim and will never attempt to exercise any authority over any other Baptist body, whether church, auxiliary organizations, associations, or convention.” Similarly, Article VI of the Baptist Faith and Message states that “[a] New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the Gospel.”
These principles of local church autonomy are bedrock principles underlying the Southern Baptist Convention. It is not a new theory, but rather a fundamental tenet of our Constitution and how we cooperate to spread the gospel all over the world.
5. Did Guidepost ask the Executive Committee for any information that was not provided?
No. The Executive Committee provided Guidepost with all the information it requested within the Executive Committee’s custody and control. Moreover, the Executive Committee diligently assisted Guidepost in obtaining certain information and speaking with some individuals outside of its control.
6. Did Guidepost ask for information from any other individuals or entities that was not provided?
Yes. Guidepost was unable to interview some requested individuals and entities for various reasons. While the Executive Committee will not name those individuals here, the report may mention whether someone was unwilling to engage with Guidepost or whether they were unavailable for other reasons.
7. What is the Executive Committee’s response to the report?
The Executive Committee received the report simultaneously with the public. It is thorough and lengthy. Given the grievous nature of the report and the volumes of data it synthesizes, we are carefully and prayerfully reviewing the report and its recommendations. This process will take some time. Once we have had an opportunity to review the entire report and reflect on the findings, we will provide our feedback at the appropriate time.
8. What happens next?
The Executive Committee views the Report as a launching point for further dialogue, engagement with survivors, prayer, and a way forward to combat sexual misconduct in all of its forms. The Executive Committee will review the report, consider the recommendations, and develop concrete steps to enact changes. The Executive Committee will continue cooperating with SATF as we prepare for the SBC Annual meeting in Anaheim.