A wave of announcements is expected from the Southern Baptist Convention on the heels of a devastating third party report that exposed a two decade-history of dismissing, ignoring and disparaging sexual abuse victims in their midst. Among the coming reforms will be a new hotline for victims who want to report their abuse run by the firm that handled the investigation. You can reach it at 202-864-5578 or [email protected].
The SBC is also expected to release the so-called “Boto List,” a secret database kept by former SBC Executive Committee vice president August “Augie” Boto that allegedly details every sexual abuse claim received by SBC leadership. While survivors and advocates had long been asking for such a list, they had been told that it was a legal and procedural impossibility. The revelation that such a list already existed and was, in fact, being used to shield leadership from accountability instead of bring abusers to justice was among the investigation’s most shocking findings.
The Guidepost report is the hard fought result of years of efforts by sexual abuse victims and their advocates, begging SBC leadership to examine its own culture of abuse cover up. In 2018, former SBC president and convention giant Paige Patterson was fired from his seminary position over a revelation of his own handling of sexual abuse cases. The next year, the Houston Chronicle released its landmark report, which found over 700 cases of abuse, many of which had been carefully shuffled away from the press while the victims were dismissed. Then came a leaked letter in which Dr. Russell Moore, the former head of the SBC’s public policy wing, made serious allegations about a mob-like mentality among the Executive Committee.
The SBC then began a fierce debate over the appropriate response and the extent of the investigation necessary. The Convention voted for a fully transparent investigation that would waive attorney-client privilege — a move that led to the resignation of over a dozen board members.
But now that the investigation has confirmed the prior reports about the extent of its tragic problem, and it will be on the SBC to mount a reform. Time will tell if the effort to change will meet the enormity of the crisis.