Rumors, first circulated by The Baptist Blogger on Twitter, that federal investigators have requested unredacted copies of the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Sexual Abuse Task Force (SATF) report on Friday afternoon turned out to be true.
In a statement issued mere hours after The Baptist Blogger broke the news, the SBC Executive Committee said that it “recently became aware that the Department of Justice has initiated an investigation into the Southern Baptist Convention, and that the investigation will include multiple SBC entities.”
“Individually and collectively each SBC entity is resolved to fully and completely cooperate with the investigation,” the statement said. “While we continue to grieve and lament past mistakes related to sexual abuse, current leaders across the SBC have demonstrated a firm conviction to address those issues of the past and are implementing measures to ensure they are never repeated in the future. The fact that the SBC Executive Committee recently completed a fully transparent investigation is evidence of this commitment.”
The SBC recognized that their reform efforts aren’t finished but mentioned that the newly announced Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force has already started working. Additionally, “each entity has strengthened its efforts to protect against abuse.” The SBC reiterated that their “commitment to cooperate with the Department of Justice is born from our demonstrated commitment to transparently address the scourge of sexual abuse.”
The statement, which was signed by every SBC entity head, concluded, “While so many things in the world are uncertain, we can be certain that we serve a mighty God. Nothing, including this investigation, takes Him by surprise. We take comfort in that and humbly ask you be in prayer in the days and weeks ahead. Specifically, we ask God to grant wisdom and discernment to each person dealing with the investigation.”
Guidepost Solutions was selected by the SATF last year to conduct an investigation into the SBC Executive Committee’s handling of sexual abuse allegations over the course of two decades.
The 288-page Guidepost Solutions report was released in May and confirmed that SBC leadership had ignored, silenced, and ostracized victims of sexual abuse, as far back as the year 2000.
The SBC has apologized to abuse survivors and passed a resolution titled, “On Lament and Repentance for Sexual Abuse,” wherein it specifically named Christa Brown, Susan Codone, Megan Lively, Jennifer Lyell, Anne Marie Mille, David Pittman, Tiffany Thigpen, Debbie Vasquez, Hannah-Kate Williams, and Jules Woodson.
In response to the news of the investigation, abuse survivor and advocate Hannah-Kate Williams posted, “I am 100% crying tears of thankfulness that the FBI is FINALLY investigating the SBC and it’s agents. That it would happen 3 years to the week that I first escaped the abuse and filed is everything. May justice roll down like a river 😭.”