Sex scandal: the main American Protestant Church in hot water
The US Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the Southern Baptist Convention, the country's main Protestant church, the religious organization announced on Friday, accusing in a recent independent report of having practiced the obstruction and cover-up from sexual assault victims
“The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Board of Directors has learned that the Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the SBC and that this investigation will cover several entities” of the organization, said the latter in a press release, specifying that it intended to “cooperate fully and completely” with the authorities.
“The leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention have shown an unwavering determination to address the mistakes of the past and to put in place measures to ensure they are never repeated in the future,” continued the Church.
An independent investigative report, commissioned by the Southern Baptist Convention, concluded in May that alleged victims of sexual assaults and those who sought to speak out within the Church had clashed for almost two decades to “resistance, obstruction and even frank hostility” from members of the executive committee.
This sex scandal, involving nearly 400 pastors, volunteers and educators who committed assaults on more than 700 victims, was brought to light in 2019 thanks to the investigations of two Texan daily newspapers, the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News.
In June, the religious institution announced the establishment of tools to combat sexual assault, in particular the publication of a database listing publicly the members of the SBC accused of sexual abuse as well as the creation of a crisis unit in charge of putting in place reforms to fight against e these assaults.
The Church had also released a 205-page document listing its members since 2007 who had been accused of sexual violence.
The Southern Baptist Convention, with a network of thousands of churches, has more than fifteen million members, especially in the southern United States.