Home Christian News SBC Sexual Abuse Reform Task Force To Further Consider Definition of ‘Credibly...

SBC Sexual Abuse Reform Task Force To Further Consider Definition of ‘Credibly Accused’

In May, David Sills, a former Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor who was also named in the report, likewise filed a lawsuit against a group of Southern Baptist Convention leaders and entities, claiming they conspired to defame him. 

Reassessing ‘Credibly Accused’

In light of the concerns raised about the inclusion of third-party investigations as sufficient evidence for someone to be deemed “credibly accused,” the ARITF has now announced that they will launch the ministry check website without including individuals who fall within that category.

“Taking this step honors the will of the messengers to the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting, furthers our commitment to prevent sexual abuse, and provides Southern Baptists with a vital tool to help make churches and entities safer,” the task force’s update reads. 

Nevertheless, the ARITF indicated its resolve to move toward establishing a more expansive database, which would include those who had no legal conviction or ruling against them. 

Explaining the reasoning behind that vision, the ARITF pointed out that two out of three sexual assaults go unreported, only 16% of child victims ever speak of their abuse, and out of every 1,000 sexual assaults, only 25 offenders will ever be convicted.

Thus, while the ARITF is “not abandoning” a more expansive definition of “credibly accused,” it is “committed to implementing each category” of the definition only after “it is fully developed.”

“Our goal has always been to establish a reliable and trustworthy website so that local churches can help each other to identify predators and avoid bringing them into positions (volunteer or paid) where children and vulnerable adults are at risk of abuse,” the update reads.

ARITF Warns of ‘False Narratives’

To conclude its update, the ARITF clarified that its move to table independent investigations as credible evidence of sexual abuse is not the result of external pressure, which has included “threats about churches or conventions withholding Cooperative Program funds.”

“The ARITF agreed to pursue these changes for one reason: to have the widest possible participation by our churches to stop sexual abuse,” the update reads. “We believe the overwhelming majority of Southern Baptists share our desire to stop sexual abuse, therefore we sought to remove any stumbling block that would threaten or hinder our partnership in this cause.”

RELATED: SBC Presidential Nominee Mike Stone Says the SBC Needs a ‘More Biblical’ Sex Abuse Reform Task Force

“We are of one mind to serve Christ, and in the work of this Task Force, we aim to help every single church become the safest place possible for every person to come to know our great Savior,” the statement concludes.

The annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana, on June 11-14.