On Sunday (October 9), SBC president Bart Barber appeared on a segment of CBS’s 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper in a wide ranging interview that delved into the sexual abuse scandal in the SBC, former president Donald Trump and political division, abortion, and Christian nationalism.
Following the airing of the segment, a number of Christian leaders both inside and outside the SBC offered their reactions, with some praising the SBC president and others offering critique.
On Sexual Abuse
From the beginning of his term as SBC president, Barber has focused much of his effort on addressing the sexual abuse scandal in the denomination. In the wake of the Guidepost Solutions report, Barber, at the behest of SBC messengers, has appointed an Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force.
Regarding the actions of the SBC Executive Committee to protect itself over and against sexual abuse survivors for a period of at least two decades, Barber said, “That’s the mindset that we’re repudiating and moving against.”
“When you read that report and to read accounts of people who were brave enough to call in to the Executive Committee, to report abuse, for them to be ignored,” Cooper started before Barber interjected, “That’s not a strong enough word. We didn’t just ignore them. Sometimes we impugned their motives. Sometimes we attacked them.”
“The reason why I’m president of the Southern Baptist Convention is because our churches do not agree with that and have taken action to correct those things,” Barber said.
“I have strong feelings about this,” Barber went on to say. “It’s not just anger. Although I’m angry about it. God called me to be a pastor when I was 11. I believe in this. For people to sully this hurts me.”
“I’m not doing this to try to accomplish some PR objective for us,” Barber continued. “I’m doing this because I want to serve God well.”
On Donald Trump and Political Division
When it comes to politics, Barber told Cooper, “Blind partisanship destroys everything—except baseball.” Barber went on to express that he is a St. Louis Cardinals fan, joking that he is “sticking with that, no matter what.”
Kidding aside, Barber said of political division, “It’s absolutely coming into the way that people in churches, who oughta know better, are speaking to one another about the issues that are outside the church that aren’t really theological. The best characterization is they’re not listening.”
When Cooper asked Barber if he thought the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump, Barber answered emphatically that he did not.
“I pray for [President Biden] consistently as the president of the United States. I believe he was legitimately elected,” Barber said.