Home Christian News 40 Years in the Making: A Timeline of the Southern Baptists’ Sexual...

40 Years in the Making: A Timeline of the Southern Baptists’ Sexual Abuse Crisis


In February, the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News publish “Abuse of Faith,” an investigative series reporting that 220 Southern Baptist church leaders and volunteers have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct in the past two decades. Overall, they find about 380 Southern Baptists who faced allegations from more than 700 victims. Southern Baptist leaders vow to improve how churches address such behavior.

In June, during the SBC annual meeting, Southern Baptist President J.D. Greear leads a litany of lament during a 45-minute period of prayer and planning at the annual meeting over what he called a crisis of sexual abuse.

In October, the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission hosts the “Caring Well” conference in Nashville, featuring stories of abuse survivors and comments from critics of the denomination’s response to abuse.


In February, Russell Moore, then president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission defends himself in a letter to ERLC trustees after a task force is mounted to investigate complaints against him. “The presenting issue here is that, first and foremost, of sexual abuse,” he writes.


In May, Brown, now a former SNAP board member, calls for an investigatory “Truth and Justice Commission” for survivors of abuse by SBC clergy.

At the annual meeting in Nashville in June, messengers overwhelmingly approve a motion to create a task force to direct a third-party investigation of the Executive Committee’s handling of sexual abuse allegations. The denomination’s constitution was also amended to say that only churches that do “not act in a manner inconsistent with the Convention’s beliefs regarding sexual abuse” will be considered in good standing.

In October, the Executive Committee votes in favor of waiving privilege, allowing for a more comprehensive investigation by Guidepost Solutions.


In February, Southern Baptist leaders announce reaching a settlement with Jennifer Lyell, a sexual abuse survivor, whose story was mishandled when she came forward in 2019. After telling Baptist Press of her abuse she experienced for years by a former Southern Baptist seminary professor, it was characterized as a “morally inappropriate relationship.”

On May 22, the Executive Committee releases the Guidepost Solutions report.

This article originally appeared on ReligionNews.com.