She said she cried tears of joy when the trustees of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the SBC’s public policy arm, recently indicated the ERLC is willing to lead an assessment of sexual abuse within the denomination, and set a plan in motion to figure out how to do it.
“The evil of abuse must continue to be confronted,” Brent Leatherwood, the commission’s acting president, said in a statement. “As we’ve stated before, our churches must be safe for survivors and safe from abuse.”
The motion approved by delegates at the June gathering directed the task force to agree to the standards and best practices recommended by the third-party investigator, “including but not limited to the Executive Committee staff and members waiving attorney client privilege in order to ensure full access to information and accuracy in the review.”
Frank, the task force chair, sent a formal request Aug. 2 for privilege to be waived, calling it “critical to ensure full access to relevant information, complete accountability and transparency, and properly assess steps for reform.”
The Executive Committee did not make a commitment in its statement, but says it is not opposed in principle to such a request and “speculation to the contrary is internet rumor and untrue.” The committee meets Monday and Tuesday and is expected to take up the waiver issue.
Executive Committee Chair Rolland Slade said he supports the request because it is the will of the members at the June conference: “We have the duty to execute and to observe the wishes of the messengers.”
Attorney and advocate Rachael Denhollander, who is one of two advisers to the task force, said identifying, recognizing and acknowledging truth is crucial to making meaningful and effective change.
“If the executive committee decides not to waive privilege, then they are sending a clear message that they’re rejecting accountability and transparency,” Denhollander said.
Woodson said all would not be lost in such a scenario, but the onus would once again be placed on survivors.
“How many times,” she said, “do we have to come forward and tell our stories over and over and over again?”
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This article originally appeared at the Associated Press.