Southern Baptists to Debate Oversight of Abuse Investigation

Pastors speaking on behalf of victims push for task force to direct inquiry into the Executive Committee.

Some Southern Baptists are calling on their denomination to appoint a task force to oversee what would be its largest investigation into sexual abuse responses and coverup.

While the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) recently commissioned its own independent inquiry, a motion being debated at the denomination’s annual meeting would transfer oversight of that investigation or launch an additional one.

“It is the least we can do for abuse survivors. It is worth the extra effort. It is worth the money. It is worth the time and attention,” said Grant Gaines, a Tennessee pastor who made the request for an outside task force with an SBC abuse victim at his side. “If this investigation is worth doing, then it’s worth doing right.”

Scrutiny of the Southern Baptist Convention’s response to abuse has recently focused on the Executive Committee, a decision-making body within the denomination. Letters leaked in the weeks leading up to the annual meeting described leaders dismissing victims, quickly clearing churches of accusation, and resisting broader efforts to address abuse.

The investigation proposed by Gaines—and backed by a group of survivors and advocates—would cover 20 years of allegations of abuse claims mishandled by the Executive Committee. It would also examine the two-year-old committee tasked with reviewing abuse and coverup as grounds for dismissal from the convention.

“I can’t even begin to fathom going through an investigation short of what Gaines proposed,” tweeted Jen Lyell, an SBC abuse survivor whose story of being maligned was referenced in …

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