Photo Credit: Static
About two dozen demonstrators outside the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting handed out flyers to Southern Baptists and held up signs with messages calling for the church to do something against sex abuse. According to Commercial appeal, rally organizers had three demands of the Southern Baptist Convention: Have an independently-maintained database be established to track Southern Baptist clergy who are “credibly accused,” have admitted abuse, have pleaded guilty or were convicted;
those women be respected; and that mandatory training be offered to all Southern Baptist pastors, seminary students, ministry leaders and volunteers on sexual abuse, domestic abuse and sexual assault.
Some participants of the rally were abuse survivors who spoke about their cases asking the Southern Baptist Convention to protect victims and hold abusers accountable for their deeds. Christa Brown, who was abused by a Southern Baptist pastor, said her abuse was “only the beginning of the nightmare.” “Almost every Southern Baptist survivor I have ever spoken with has said the trauma from the institutional betrayal far exceeded the trauma from the abuse itself," she said, according to Commercial appeal. "Imagine: As horrific as child sex abuse is, even greater harm is being done by the complicity of so many others in this denomination that turns its back.”
First-time attendee Jules Woodson spoke through tears as she described being abused sexually by a Southern Baptist minister. "He remains in the pulpit. I've reached out to him personally and he refuses to respond. And so I'm asking the SBC to hold him accountable," said Woodson, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, as Fox News reports. Woodson was sexually assaulted by her youth pastor as a teenager. She said after she came forward with her story, a Memphis church gave Andy Savage, the man who assaulted her, a standing ovation when he admitted to a "sexual incident."
As a result, delegates at this SBC meeting voted to make it easier to expel churches that mishandle abuse crisis in order to confront sex-abuse crisis more firmly. They also voted to assign the SBC's credentials committee to review claims against churches with regard to sexual abuse and racial discrimination. Some moves were made but for now they are just words and as soon as possible actions should be taken in order to prevent sex abuse, help victims and prosecute abusers. It seems that some Southern Baptist have recognized the importance of the situation and that the rally, which took part during their convention, helped them realize that it is the final moment to act.