The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant church in the United States, has covered up sexual abuse by pastors and volunteers for decades. This is stated in a research report commissioned by the church community.
The investigation was announced in June last year after a large number of complaints were received at the annual meeting about sexual abuse and the failure of church leaders to act against it. Before that, in 2019, the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News had reported on hundreds of cases.
The report states that the church did everything in its power to keep the complaints private, to prevent any liability from ensuing. The interests of the victims were not considered. They were portrayed as opportunists, ignored and sometimes pressured to drop charges.
A list would have been drawn up of church leaders who were mentioned as perpetrators of sexual abuse, but nothing further was said to have been done about it.
Millions of members
“We are deeply moved by the results of the investigation,” said Church Board chairman Rolland Slade. He announced that the Church is doing everything it can to prevent new cases of abuse and will act if new abuses arise.
The Southern Baptist Church Convention claims to have 40 million followers worldwide, 13 million of whom are in the US.