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Southern Baptists Discuss Sex Abuse at Annual Assembly

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) voted on June 15 to issue a formal apology to survivors of sexual abuse following a revealing report that the church botched abuse claims and mistreated victims.

During the annual assembly in Anaheim, CA, majority of the 8,500 delegates agreed to create a database of SBC clergy and church workers accused of sexual abuse as part of the SBC’s effort on transparency and accountability. The Convention has released a list of alleged sexual abuse offenders among the clergy and other church leaders.

“The time for action has come,” said North Carolina pastor Bruce Frank, chair of the abuse task force. While he welcomed the group’s resolution, he admitted that it was just “the bare minimum of what can be called reform,” reports Reuters.

Christa Brown, a retired appellate attorney who is a sexual abuse survivor, wasn’t satisfied with the SBC’s vote. She wrote in Twitter: “I know people like happy endings, but I’m not feeling it. I feel grief. It’s better than nothing but that’s such a low bar.”

Brown reported to the SBC Executive Committee in 2006 the sexual abuse she endured when she was a teen. She claimed that at 16, she was raped more than 30 times by her Southern Baptist youth minister. Her complaints went to deaf ears and it wasn’t until 15 years later would the Convention listen to her, among other survivors, according to Kentucky Today.

In May, an independent report revealed how abuse complaints implicating pastors and staff were kept as “closely guarded information” with the SBC to avoid liability, “to exclusion of all other considerations.” The nearly-300-page report of the Abuse Task Force claimed the complaints were either ignored or covered up by top leaders within the Convention.

The delegates of the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. also voted a resolution to call on lawmakers to pass laws that will define and classify sexual abuse by pastors and at the same time, protect the church from civil liability when they share information about alleged abuse with other institutions.

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