|The document also discloses for the first time that the executive committee maintained a list of its ministers who were facing abuse allegations but - in spite of calls for a public database - kept its findings secret. (Photo by= Getty Images)|
[Asia News = Reporter Reakkana] Leaders of the world's largest Baptist denomination covered up sex abuse by clergy for years and vilified survivors, an internal report says. The seven-month investigation found that survivors had come forward over two decades about abusers within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
But their pleas for intervention were met with "resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility" by officials. With 13 million members, SBC is the largest Protestant body in the US. The investigation - carried out for the SBC by an outside firm - was launched in the wake of a 2019 report by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News that exposed hundreds of alleged cases of sex abuse within the church.
Amid internal divisions over how to handle the scandal, thousands of delegates at the SBC's annual gathering last year voted in favor of a third-party review of the church's actions. The 288-page report issued on Sunday names a few senior leaders on the church's executive committee as having control over its response to the reports of abuse and of being "singularly focused on avoiding liability for the SBC". In a statement on Sunday, SBC President Ed Litton called on Southern Baptists to lament in prayer and prepare to implement reforms, adding he was "grieved to my core" for victims.