When we put this together with similar problems in the Catholic Church, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Mormon Church, it's quite apparent that US Christianity has a widespread and long-running problem with sexual abuse and covering it up.1. Top leaders repeatedly tried to bury sex abuse claims and lied about what they could do
The report describes how key Southern Baptist leaders engaged in a pattern of ignoring, stonewalling and even “vilifying” sex abuse survivors. The report details multiple instances when Southern Baptist leaders shot down requests by survivors and other concerned members to maintain a database of abusers. Publicly, the leaders said they couldn’t because of “church polity,” or the denomination’s decentralized structure. But the report found that their attorneys had advised them that they could keep such a list and that the leaders did so in secret.
2. A former SBC president was considered “credibly accused” of sexual assault
3. Unheeded warnings went on for decades
The report also described a series of instances when leaders ignored warnings by sex abuse survivors and advocates. In 2016, a person called to report a pastor’s involvement in abuse of her mother. According to the report, a staff member for the Executive Committee asked Boto, “Do I call this lady back? I suspect no.” No documents indicate a follow-up response, the report said.
4. Leaders seemed to put concern over potential litigation over people’s safety
Southern Baptist leaders appeared to value avoiding lawsuits over preventing sexual abuse, according to the report, which stated, “it is striking that many reform efforts were met with resistance, typically due to concerns over incurring legal liability.” For example, based on outside counsel, leaders recommended removing the word “crisis” when referring to sex abuse.
As horrific as all that is, it's particularly galling given recent efforts by Christians across the US to paint LGBTQs as either abusers themselves or "groomers" (people who manipulate and prepare victims for abuse). From they way they tell it, transgender people are constantly lurking in bathrooms, ready to assault unsuspecting children and women, and LGBTQ teachers and school officials are "grooming" students to become future victims. From that hateful and bigoted position they seek to use the force of government to relegate LGBTQs to second-class status.
Yet in reality, children are at far greater risk from being abused in Christian settings! And when that becomes apparent, Christians take deliberate steps to not only cover it up, but demonize the victims and protect the abusers!
So what's going on here? Is this sick and hateful people projecting their own faults onto others? Is it a case of "every accusation is really a confession"? Something else? All of the above?