DALLAS NEWS — Earlier this month, we read with a mix of sadness and anger The Houston Chronicle investigation of hundreds of sexual abusers in Southern Baptist churches. We were somewhat relieved then to hear that church leaders, including president J.D. Greear, intend to take swift action. Greear has now called out churches by name to answer for their actions related to sexual abuse. And he has gone further, demanding all churches within the convention “look deeply at our culture” to understand how sexual abusers have been allowed to continue in leadership positions.
It’s crucial that Greear follow through with tough action against churches that employed and in some cases protected abusers. If theological disagreements about homosexuality are reason to disassociate a church from the convention, then surely child rape is, too. The world is now watching Southern Baptists, and they must meet the moment.
If it’s all just tough words, and ministers of the independent, autonomous Baptist churches end up doing exactly as they please, Southern Baptists and the churches they rely on will falter. But we are hopeful about Greear’s willingness to call out specific churches, including the powerful Second Baptist Church of Houston, as evidence he truly means to keep churches accountable.
Second Baptist made the list because, according to the church, 25 years allegations were made against a contract employee, and the church quickly terminated his employment. A second employee was fired in 2010, and later was accused of sexual abuse that took place after he was fired. The church shared with us a response to the convention that outlines Second Baptist’s policies to prevent sexual abuse, including background checks on employees and volunteers and a multi-step ordination process for clergy, staff training on sexual abuse and video cameras in nurseries.
According to the Baptist Standard, Greear said the following Texas churches must answer for sexual abuse allegations:
- Arapaho Road Baptist in Garland
- Bolivar Baptist in Sanger
- Brentwood Baptist in Houston
- Cathedral of Faith in Houston
- First Baptist in Bedford
- Second Baptist Houston