Home Christian News Survivor Advocates Have Words of Warning About SBC’s Investigative Firm–‘Take Great Care’

Survivor Advocates Have Words of Warning About SBC’s Investigative Firm–‘Take Great Care’

Ed Litton, the Alabama pastor who was elected SBC president last week, supports an independent investigation into the handling of abuse allegations. The SBC, he says, must “expose…to the light” all wrongdoing, listen to and empathize with victims, and make churches “safe places.”

Rachael Denhollander, an abuse advocate and lawyer, tweeted on June 11: “Guidepost is a highly skilled and qualified firm and I have confidence in their ability to do what the SBC needs. HOWEVER, the ability to do what they are capable of will depend on the [Executive Committee] letting them do their job. Here’s what you should ask for that isn’t commissioned yet.” She then lists several steps she deems necessary in order for the investigation to have an adequate “scope.”

Denhollander also is standing up for Hannah-Kate Williams, who had a disputed interaction with SBC presidential candidate Mike Stone last week. Denhollander tweets that she personally accompanied Williams to report abuse and that it “is not in question” that Hannah-Kate and her siblings are abuse survivors.

On Twitter yesterday, Williams writes that after “an incredibly hard week” at the annual meeting, she returned home to discover that pastors and SBC Executive Committee members are disparaging her on social media. Her phone number was posted online, and some people say she deserves death by stoning. Williams, who posted screen shots of the comments, writes, “If you threaten/intimidate/slander those walking in righteousness, God will win. His people won this week. And you can’t steal that.”

In a tweet yesterday Todd Benkert called for an end to such online harassment, writing: “Hey #SBC Twitterverse, social media is not the place to make judgments about abuse survivors and their cases. Let law enforcement and the investigators do their jobs and stop using survivors as pawns to further your political agenda.”

Today Williams tweeted thanks to Mississippi Pastor M. Eric Sherwood, writing: “The whole time I was in the actual [SBC] meetings @PastorLibrarian sat or stood behind me and made sure I was safe and supported. That’s how you pastor- Hell, that’s how you love your fellow human.”

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Stephanie Martin, a freelance journalist, has worked in Christian publishing for 28 years. She’s active at her church in Lakewood, Colorado, where she lives with her family.