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Southern Baptists accused of ignoring the sex predator pastor problem in its ranks

Benedict’s predatory underlings in the Catholic Church have been in the spotlight for some time, but now victim’s advocates are admonishing the Southern Baptists for failing to protect parishioners from ministers accused of sexual abuse. (Charlotte Observer):

The Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests presented a letter Monday to Southern Baptist Convention executive committee members in Nashville, asking the group to adopt a zero-tolerance policy on sex abuse and to create an independent review board to investigate molestation reports.

Church leaders acknowledge there have been incidents of abuse in Southern Baptist congregations but say their hands are tied when it comes to investigating complaints across the denomination, which has 16.3 million members — about 1.2 million in North Carolina and close to 710,000 in South Carolina.

The Southern Baptist churches are independent, and thus each has to decide how it handles abuse claims, so the Convention has no legal standing to create an independent body that can investigate all churches. That doesn’t sit well with SNAP, which has received reports of at least 40 cases of abuse going back many years.

Christa Brown, a SNAP member from Austin, Texas, who says she was sexually abused as a child by a Southern Baptist minister, said that’s not enough. She says the Southern Baptists need an independent review board precisely because there’s no chain of command.

“They don’t want to see this problem,” Brown said. “That’s tragic because they’re imitating the same mistakes made by Catholic bishops.”

“I believe kids are not safe in Southern Baptist churches,” said Brown, who runs a Web site called the Voice to Stop Baptist Predators.

Hat tip, Wes.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding