On Tuesday (Jan. 17), Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) president Bart Barber tweeted a video addressing the cost of the SBC sexual abuse hotline hosted and answered by Guidepost Solutions.
Questions surrounding the hotline arose shortly after the Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force (ARITF) released an update regarding the role and function of the hotline on January 9.
The update was given after the hotline’s processes were brought into question by SBC abuse survivor and advocate Christa Brown. Specifically, Brown questioned whether the role that Rachel Denhollendar, a prominent advocate, lawyer, and abuse survivor herself, is playing in the SBC constitutes a conflict of interest.
Last year, Tom Buck, SBC pastor of First Baptist Church in Lindale, TX, voiced concern about whether the sexual abuse hotline was functioning in a way that would produce the desired results. Buck’s concerns were raised after his wife, Jennifer, was told to call the hotline and report that people affiliated with SBC entities leaked an unreleased draft of a personal article, which she authored and included details of her sexual abuse.
Jennifer Buck’s Sexual Abuse Hotline Experience
Jennifer’s leaked draft was used to threaten her husband after he confronted another SBC pastor who had a person serving as a deacon in his church who had previously committed sexual abuse, which is a violation of a resolution passed by the SBC in 2021 titled “On Abuse And Pastoral Qualifications.” The resolution states that “any person who has committed sexual abuse is permanently disqualified from holding the office of pastor,” including “all positions of church leadership.”
RELATED: Abuse Survivor Jennifer Buck Asks SBC President for Meeting; Barber Says Not His ‘Priority’
Jennifer reached out to SBC president Bart Barber when she didn’t receive any follow-up from the sexual abuse hotline. In a letter to Barber, Jennifer shared that she had reached out to the SBC Executive Committee, and they informed her that “they had not received any information from the hotline and that there was no investigation.”
The Executive Committee reportedly told Jennifer that Guidepost Solutions passes sexual abuse hotline calls on to the Credentials Committee. Jennifer told Barber she contacted them, and “they too said they had received no information and there was no investigation.” Due to the lack of response, Jennifer asked Barber to meet with her so he could hear her story in person.
In a reply to Jennifer, Barber apologized for what she has endured, telling her, “I believe that any survivor of abuse has the right to determine whether their story remains private or is shared.”
However, although Barber stated that she is “important,” he was “not presently able to schedule a meeting” with her because he was focusing on “any instances of criminal activity, particularly as perpetrated against minors or the disabled by Southern Baptist churches or church leaders.”
Barber explained, “It seems to me that this set of priorities delivers the help most needed to the people least able to help themselves.”
Tom Buck Asks How Much Sexual Abuse Hotline Costs
After Brown voiced concern about the sexual abuse hotline and after Jennifer experienced inadequate results, Buck asked Barber and ARITF member Mike Keahbone how much the “SBC is paying monthly for Guidepost” to operate the hotline.