Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News the two main Texas newspapers , after laborious inquiries that took more than two months, found enough evidence to put together a sad story where at least 380 leaders of the Southern Baptist Church are involved in sexual misconduct cases that targeted the “herd on its charge.”
The journalistic investigation that searched the judicial sources where many of the cases were silenced in the middle of the processes, estimates that “the collective voracity” of the sexual predators left at least 700 victims.
The scandal and the indignation have been of great impact. The results show that among the victims are children as young as 3 years old.
The journalist researchers investigated the judicial sources and systematically collected information from the last 20 years, period in which they found sufficient evidence to consider sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Church in Texas and other American states, are a systematic practice that remained silent, and in which at least 380 leaders of the Southern Baptist Church participated, including pastors, ministers, Sunday teachers, deacons and volunteers, who faced some type of accusation for sexual misconduct in the last two decades.
Again the American press, as in the case of The Boston Glove that uncovered and gave rise to the great judicial investigation that the Prosecutor’s Office called the Pennsylvania Report, found out that about 220 of the accused were convicted by sexual abuse or negotiated agreements to reduce their penalties.
The Southern Baptist Convention (CBS) is a moderately conservative Christian denomination originating in the United States.
The term “southern” refers to the fact that it was founded in the south of the United States. The Southern Baptist Convention became a denomination in 1845 in Augusta, Georgia, following a regional division from the Northern Baptists on the slavery issue.
Some of these Church members confessed their acts or resigned their positions within the congregation which, with 16 million members, is the largest among the protestant churches in the United States.
The vast majority of the accused, according to the journalistic investigation, belonged to Texas churches, and today there are more than 100 that, despite belonging to the central register of sex offenders, are kept in some congregation ministry.
The name “Southern Baptist Convention” (SBC) refers to both the denomination and its annual ‘messengers’ meeting, that is, people who are chosen by the different congregations to attend the annual meeting as representatives of the local churches.
The Southern Baptist Convention is made up of several agencies including six seminars, two mission boards and a variety of other organizations, such as the Executive Committee of Southern Baptists.
The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Baptist entity in the world, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States with more than 16 million members and more than 42,000 churches.
The Southern Baptists emphasize the importance of the experience of individual conversion, including baptism by immersion in the waters and the corresponding rejection of infant baptism.
According to the journalistic investigation, many of the victims faced their churches and parishioners rejection and were left alone, while others were asked to forgive their attackers or to have an abortion, as happened to women who had become pregnant.
In turn, some of the accused remain in custody, waiting for the completion of their sentences in state and federal jails, located from California to Florida.
The research also warns that at least 35 pastors and administrative personnel responsible for inappropriate behavior were later accepted in churches, without their congregation leaders alerting the authorities.
Several SBC former presidents and leaders were criticized by the alleged victims, because they hid or obstructed the accusations.
The current president of SBC, J.D. Greear said the abuses described in the article were “pure evil”.
“I am broken over what was revealed today. The voices in this article should be heard as a warning sent from God, calling the church to repent.”, Greer said in a statement posted on his Twitter account, and vowed to do everything possible to prevent such situations.
The majority of the victims were teenagers who were abused several times, according to the investigation. It also reveals that some victims were three years old and were victimized in the pastors’ offices during Sunday classes.
The research shows that the few men and women adults, who were misused, were looking for religious support.
The journalistic inquiry occurs in the midst of the Catholic Church scandal in the United States for the discovery, last year, of minors sexual abuse cases, which involve some 1,200 priests.
On January 31, fifteen Texas dioceses, including those of Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Houston, revealed the names of 286 priests and other ecclesiastical officials, who allegedly abused minors in the last decades.
Translated by: José Espinoza