Home Christian News Southern Baptist Abuse Task Force Requests $3 Million for Reforms, ‘Ministry Check’...

Southern Baptist Abuse Task Force Requests $3 Million for Reforms, ‘Ministry Check’ Website

Indiana pastor Todd Benkert, who played a key role in getting the abuse investigation approved during the 2021 SBC annual meeting, supports the recommendations, calling them a good first step toward addressing abuse.

He said it was important for messengers to approve the recommendations at this year’s meeting. Benkert said the success of those recommendations may be determined by the outcome of the SBC presidential race. Implementing any reform will take time and intentionality, he said.

“It won’t make any difference to vote for a new task force if we don’t also vote for a president that is willing to appoint people that support reform,” he said.

The current task force will report to the SBC annual meeting and then its mandate will expire. A new task force, if approved, would be appointed by whoever wins the 2022 presidential race.

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“Over the course of the EC investigation, it has become clear to the Sexual Abuse Task Force that the process of implementing meaningful change in the Southern Baptist Convention in the area of sex abuse is beyond the scope of this current Task Force,” the report said.

The task force will also ask messengers to approve the “Ministry Check website” and a $3 million change to the SBC budget to pay for reforms.

Churches and other SBC ministries would report names of those who have been “convicted or had a civil judgment against them for sexual abuse” for inclusion on the website. Those ministries and churches could also submit names of those who have been “credibly accused” after an independent investigation.

If those Baptist groups are unwilling or unable to hire an independent investigator — and if state conventions or local associations cannot help — then abuse allegations could be forwarded to the staff coordinator for the website and an investigation could be paid for out of national SBC funds.

“The website will be established and maintained through an independent firm, selected by the Credentials Committee in consultation with the ARITF, and funded by the sexual abuse allocation request,” according to the recommendations.

The recommendations cite a 2004 study that found a high rate of recidivism among sex offenders.

“One of the problems in our churches is the ability of abusers to move from one church to another to perpetuate their abuse,” the task force said in its recommendations. “This often happens because churches don’t have the means to communicate with one another.”