Southern Baptists Condemn Abuse and Stand in Support of Victims
By Holly Meyer
June 12, 2018
|Chase Crawford, a Southern Baptist Convention messenger from Arkansas, and his 2-year-old daughter Chloe Jean Crawford listen to speakers during a rally protesting the Southern Baptist Convention's treatment of women on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 outside the convention's annual meeting at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas.|
The Southern Baptist Convention condemned all forms of abuse and stood in support of victims on Tuesday evening.
The voting representatives from Southern Baptist churches across the nation passed a resolution addressing abusive behavior and how church leaders should respond to allegations. They are in Dallas this week for their annual denominational meeting.
"We call on all persons perpetrating and enabling abuse to repent and to confess their sin to Jesus Christ and to church authorities and to confess their crimes to civil authorities," the resolution reads.
While the resolution is a nonbinding statement, it comes as Southern Baptists are grappling with their own #MeToo moment.
Paige Patterson, a longtime Southern Baptist leader revered for his role in the denomination's conservative shift, recently was ousted from his top post at a Texas seminary over his treatment of women.
|Cindy Boto (bottom left), Peggy Hott, slightly hidden, Pat King-Boto, center facing camera, and August Boto, far right, pray as a group amongst others during a time of prayer at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Dallas Convention Center in Dallas on Tuesday, June 12, 2018. (Photo: Vernon Bryant, AP)|
Pushback started mounting this spring against Patterson when recordings of his past remarks surfaced online.
In one, he shared a sermon story that involved his crude remarks about a teenage girl's appearance. In the other, Patterson was speaking against divorce when he shared his past counsel to a woman seeking his advice about her abusive husband. He told her to pray.
The resolution did not mention Patterson nor divorce, but it did address abuse in marriage.
"We acknowledge that spousal abuse dishonors the marriage covenant and fundamentally blasphemes the relationship between Christ and the church," the resolution reads.
Thousands of Southern Baptist women and their supporters spoke out against his controversial remarks. But the mishandling of allegations from students who told Patterson they were raped ultimately led to his undoing at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.
Patterson apologized for the harm his past remarks caused, but disputes accusations that he mishandled reports of abuse from women and students.
In response, a grassroots group organized a rally outside the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center here where the Southern Baptists are meeting.
About 40 people, including former and current Southern Baptists and other Christians, gathered midday Tuesday, holding signs declaring statements like "Jesus never shamed women #ChurchToo" and "Misogyny is bad theology. Bullying is bad theology."
Organizers, who say they are not protesting the Southern Baptist Convention, are calling for women to be respected and honored within nation's largest Protestant denomination. They also want a clergy sex offender registry created and mandatory training for pastors and seminaries on domestic abuse and sexual assault.
Before the rally, Oklahoma Pastor Wade Burleson, for the second time in about a decade, made a motion from the floor of the annual meeting calling for the creation of a sexual predator registry and training for pastors and churches on how to report abuse.
He later addressed the rallygoers and the media standing outside.
"Southern Baptist pastors need to recognize that we have a responsibility to protect women and and to protect children from men, particularly ministers, who move toward them in sexual or physical abuse," Burleson said.
Several hours later, many seats were empty in the convention hall by the time the resolutions were addressed. The resolution on abuse passed with only minor discussion and slight tweak of the language.
It was one of 16 approved Tuesday. The voting body passed the majority of them en masse including the following:
They approved a resolution renouncing "curse of Ham" doctrine as justification for racism. The religious theory, which many churches in the convention once openly endorsed, has been used as a basis for slavery and segregation. The resolution also renewed their commitment to preach and teach the full equality of all people.
Southern Baptists passed a resolution decrying the epidemic of gun violence resulting in mass shootings in the U.S. While not mentioned in the resolution, a mass shooting last year at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs in Texas killed 25 people and an unborn child.
They also affirmed the value and dignity of immigrants. The resolution encouraged elected officials to create a just and equitable immigration system and it urged pastors to address immigration issues with their churches.
Reach Holly Meyer at email@example.com or 615-259-8241 and on Twitter @HollyAMeyer.