Seven survivors of sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) have issued a joint statement calling for four reforms to be implemented immediately. Among the actions the sexual abuse survivors urge are the creation of a restoration fund for survivors and the funding of a memorial devoted to all survivors and named in honor of Christa Brown.
“We come now collectively, as SBC sexual abuse survivors, urging transformative action to addressing sexual abuse and cover-ups within the Southern Baptist Convention,” the statement begins. “While we respect the necessity of extensive recommendations as brought forth in the Guidepost Report and by the Sexual Abuse Task Force, together we urge that the following actions be taken immediately.”
SBC Sexual Abuse Survivors Urge Action
The survivors’ statement comes in the wake of a devastating report released May 22 by Guidepost Solutions that found that for two decades, SBC leaders hid allegations of sexual abuse, protected predators, and suppressed the voices of survivors.
Those who signed the statement are Jules Woodson, Christa Brown, Dave Pittman, Tiffany Thigpen, Anne Marie Miller, Jennifer Lyell and Megan Lively. Their statement echoes some of the reforms recommended by the SBC’s Sexual Abuse Task Force (SATF), which oversaw the Guidepost investigation.
The first action the survivors list is to “create an Independent Commission, authorized to operate in perpetuity, with initial members appointed by the SBC president elected at the 2022 Convention.” The commission will consist of people who are licensed, trained professionals who will receive and investigate reports about clergy sex abuse.
Second, the SBC sexual abuse survivors urge the creation of “an independently administered and publicly accessible ‘Ministry Check’ database of clergy.” The database will include ministry leaders whom independent investigations have found to be “credibly accused, or to have substantial allegations, or who are criminally convicted of sexual abuse.”
Third, the survivors ask for “a survivor restoration fund.” This fund will be for anyone who has experienced clergy sex abuse within the SBC, even if they no longer have any connection with the denomination. An independent master will oversee the fund, and “no one within the SBC shall have any control over how the survivor chooses to use the money or over what therapist a survivor chooses.”
The fourth action the survivors list is to “establish outside SBC headquarters in Nashville a permanent memorial, dedicated to all survivors of SBC clergy sex abuse and named in honor of Christa Brown.” This step stipulates that Brown shall have full control over the development of this memorial, and “she shall have even the right to demolish it in subsequent years for whatever reason she chooses, including if the SBC uses her name as a PR prop.”