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11 February 2019, 11:03 PM GMT
From Corky Siemaszko
For more than a decade, a Baptist preacher in Oklahoma has been "a lone voice in the wilderness"; calls.
Pastor Wade Burleson called the Southern Baptist Convention to protect his flock by creating a database that would follow church workers accused of sexual abuse.
Such a list was published Monday, but not by the Baptists.
The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News in an extensive survey called 220 preachers, ministers, deacons, volunteers, Sunday school teachers and others who were found guilty of sexual abuse of churchgoers in 20 years.
There are more than 250 costs. And about 380 Southern Baptist church leaders and volunteers have accused of sexual misconduct involving more than 700 victims, the report said. This also applies to those who have been convicted, credibly accused and have been charged with success.
Some of the victims were repeatedly harassed and some were only 3 years old, according to the report.
The years of research of the news broadcasts also revealed that three dozen pastors and workers suspected of being predators continue to work for Baptist churches.
"The thing that makes me most sad is that we did not do it ourselves," Burleson told Good King News about the report. "That's why you need a free press in America."
This report calls it a "slap in the stomach", Burleson predicted that it will lead to real changes in the way the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant organization in the country, is struggling with an issue that includes a settlement in the the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Jewish community.
"The analogy I would give is this: I recently removed a cancerous lesion from my skin and it hurt and the gap that was left was deep, was it right? No, it was necessary."
"They can avoid a preacher from Oklahoma who is a lonely voice in the wilderness, they can not avoid this," Burleson said. "This will ensure that action is taken."
Burleson said he intends to renew his call to run an independent non-profit organization and to monitor a database of church predators.
Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear responded to the report in a series of tweets, which states "we should have been fighting for" victims, and have sworn to stop the "predators in our midst".
He also called for "pervasive change & # 39; and said, in a clear reference to the relative independence of individual Baptist churches, that church autonomy should never be a religious cover for passivity to abuse & # 39 ;.
Wade Burelson speaks at Christmas Eve Services on Emmanuel Enid on December 24, 2016. Courtesy Brian Sallee
Burleson, who is 57 and attached to the Emmanuel Enid Church in Enid, Oklahoma, said his first proposal for a register in 2008 was rejected because the convention said it could not tell the 47,000 churches under his umbrella who to hire or organize.
Last year, amidst the # MeToo movement and accusations against several prominent leaders of the Southern Baptist, Burleson called once again for the creation of such a database.
"Southern Baptist pastors must recognize that we have a responsibility to protect women and protect children from men, particularly preachers, who come to them in sexual or physical abuse," he told reporters.
The congress was concluded with a non-binding resolution condemning all forms of abuse and support of victims.
"We appeal to all those who commit crimes and make it possible to repent and confess their sins to Jesus Christ and ecclesiastical authorities and confess their crimes to civil authorities," it said.
Lesley Wexler, a professor at the University of Illinois who investigates how large institutions respond to the change demand of the # MeToo movement, said she does not share the optimism of Burleson that the Southern Baptist Convention will make meaningful changes.
"Sometimes institutions reform when massively bad behavior comes to light and sometimes not," she said. "If you think about the Catholic Church and the aftermath of the Boston Globe report, we do not see them as proactive as they should be today."
Asked about what the Southern Baptist Convention could do even more to protect churchgoers, Wexler said: "They could be more explicit about the conditions under which they would have to sever ties with local churches that employ people with accusations against them."
"Another thing that I have not seen is a lot of discussion about using positive moral beliefs," she said. The convention should come with a list of best practices and rewards from churches that, among other things, "help identify intimidating behaviors," she said.
"There are many things that the SBC can do if it has the political will," she said.