Since the SBC’s Sexual Abuse Task Force made public Guidepost Solutions’ findings about the Executive Committee’s (EC) handling of sexual abuse allegations on Sunday, Christian leaders both inside and outside the denomination have been grappling with what the report revealed.
The report, which examined the EC with regard to sexual abuse over a 20-year span and summarized findings and recommendations in a 288-page document, revealed that the SBC has often prioritized legal risk management at the expense of survivor advocacy. This has included ignoring reports of sexual abuse, seeking to silence or minimize the voices of survivors and advocates, and resisting suggested reforms for protection and prevention.
Contained within the report were also shocking allegations against longtime pastor and former SBC president Johnny Hunt, who is believed to have sexually assaulted the wife of a younger pastor and mentee in 2010.
On Tuesday, one of the leading SBC presidential candidates, Tom Ascol, weighed in with his initial reflections.
“I was finally able to finish reading the SATF report & while I am still processing much that it contains—and will be for quite a while—in response to many requests I offer these initial thoughts & encourage other believers to join me in praying for God to be merciful,” Ascol said in a statement posted to Twitter Tuesday morning.
“I was grieved deeply as I read the report of the SBC Sex Abuse Task Force. Sex abuse is horrific and failure both to work for its prevention and to respond Christianly in the wake of it should cause Christians and churches to look to the Lord with godly sorrow and repentance,” Ascol continued. “Southern Baptists must recommit ourselves to uphold God’s standards of holiness and purity in all things, especially in caring for those who are most vulnerable among us.”
With regard to Guidepost Solutions’ recommendations for reform, Ascol said, “I also call on all Southern Baptists to join me in carefully studying the Task Force’s recommendations and their implications. There is much before us to consider, and we will need wisdom from above as we chart new paths of mercy and righteousness.”
“I am confident that our Lord will enable us to do so as we depend on Him for strength and recommit ourselves to seek honor of our crucified and risen Savior,” Ascol concluded.
Prior to the report’s release, Ascol had encouraged Southern Baptists not to fear what it contained, because “we have a Savior who already knows whatever is right and true in that report.”
In that video statement, Ascol also said that “if crimes are reported, then call the police and report those perpetrators of the crimes to the lawful authority that God has established in the state…If sins are reported, then call the churches where the guilty parties are members and call upon those churches to do what Christ has said regarding dealing with sin among the membership.”
The Conservative Baptist Network (CBN), which has expressed support for Ascol’s SBC presidential bid, also published a statement regarding the Guidepost Solutions report to Twitter on Monday evening.