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‘Some Crimes Are Not Sins; Some Sins Are Not Crimes’: Tom Ascol on Forthcoming SBC Sex Abuse Report

Tom Ascol
Screengrab from YouTube.

Florida pastor, Founders Ministries president, and SBC presidential hopeful Tom Ascol released a video statement on Wednesday sharing his thoughts on what should be done in response to the forthcoming Guidepost Solutions report about whether the SBC Executive Committee has mishandled allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse.

“A couple of weeks ago, it was announced that I will be nominated as a candidate for the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention,” Ascol, who has been campaigning for Southern Baptists to “change the direction” of the denomination, said in the video statement. “Since that time, I’ve had several people reach out to me and asked me what my attitude was toward the sex abuse task force report that is forthcoming.”

At the 2021 meeting of the SBC, messengers approved a motion for a task force to be formed to oversee the execution of a third party investigation into the Executive Committee’s handling of sexual abuse allegations. The results of that investigation will be reported, along with Guideposts recommendations for next steps, at the 2022 meeting of the SBC in Anaheim, CA.

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“Of course, nobody knows what’s in that report yet,” Ascol said. “But I do believe also that we ought to be praying for those who will release it and those who will have to respond to it. And all of us will in some degree or another, and we should all be prepared to respond to it.”

Ascol went on to express that Southern Baptists need not fear whatever the report contains, because “we have a Savior who already knows whatever is right and true in that report.” Ascol also emphasized the importance of both hope and humility in the process, and said that the denomination should follow the word of God “wherever it leads us, regardless of costs, or consequences.”

Ascol then turned his attention to defining terms, outlining the difference between a sin and a crime.

“In order to think more rightly about this thing, I believe it would be helpful for us to distinguish between sins and crimes, as the Bible does,” Ascol said. “Sin is any transgression of the law of God. A crime is in violation of the state that is ruling over a particular area.”

“Some crimes are not sins; some sins are not crimes. We all know about sins that are not crimes, like the sin of covetousness. We don’t want the state to legislate about that,” Ascol went on to say. “These realities highlight the importance of church membership for Christians and healthy churches so that they can deal appropriately with sin among their members.”

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Ascol went on to stress the importance of “a righteous state with honest magistrates, who will enact just laws and enforce those laws,” saying that Christians must report crimes to the state but reiterating that the state does not handle sin. This is the role of the Church.