SBC Apologizes to Survivors of Sexual Abuse, Reaffirms Pro-Life Beliefs in Resolutions Passed at Annual Meeting

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Pictured: Dana McCain, Vice Chair of the Resolutions Committee, and Bart Barber, Chair of the Resolutions Committee, at a press conference after the resolutions were passed (photo by Dale Chamberlain)

Messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting in Anaheim, Calif., voted to pass nine resolutions, including an apology to survivors of sexual abuse within the denomination that specifically addressed survivors named in the Sexual Abuse Task Force (SATF) report on the Executive Committee’s handling of sexual abuse allegations from 2000 to 2021.

Other resolutions passed included a reaffirmation of the SBC’s pro-life stance in anticipation of a possible overthrow of deera public condemnation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, a statement against the prosperity gospel, a denunciation of gun violence, and a call to advance the gospel in rural America .

Twenty-nine resolutions were submitted for consideration to the Resolutions Committee by SBC churches that were eligible to send messengers to the annual meeting. The nine resolutions that the committee eventually presented were adopted by the messengers by loud vote.

SBC apologizes to survivors of abuse

In a resolution titled “On Lamentations and Repentance for Sexual Abuse,” the SBC said, “Sexual abuse is an abomination before God and an affront to the teachings of Scripture,” which “grieve Christ” and “in violation of the Imago Dei, dishonoring and degrading human dignity”. Further, when this abuse is perpetrated by a pastor or church leader, sexual abuse “is a violation of the sacred responsibility of pastoral leaders and all believers to care for and serve people.”

RELATED: Hiding Behind Political Issues, SBC Executives Ignored, Silenced, and Ostracized Victims of Sexual Abuse for Years, Report Says

In light of these realities, the SBC has decided to “denounce in the strongest possible terms all cases of sexual abuse, those who commit abuse and those who seek to defend or protect these perpetrators”, further resolving to “publicly lament the harm that our actions and inactions have caused survivors of sexual abuse” and “to publicly apologize and seek forgiveness to survivors of sexual abuse for our failure to properly care for survivors, for our inability to hold perpetrators of sexual abuse accountable enough in our churches and institutions, for our institutional responses that have prioritized the reputation of our institutions over protections and justice for survivors, and for the untold harm this failure has caused to survivors by both our action and our inaction.

The resolution further recognized the need for systemic change in naming with regards to addressing sexual abuse, a process that began last year with the formation of the Sexual Abuse Task Force and the launch investigation by a third party, and continued at the 2022 Annual Meeting when the Messengers voted overwhelmingly to pass the reforms recommended by the SATF.

The resolution also apologized, by name, to survivors of abuse who were named in the Guidepost Solutions report, whether they were called by name in the report or mentioned anonymously. The resolutions committee obtained permission from each survivor before their names were entered into the resolution.

These names included: Christa Brown, Susan Codone, Megan Lively, Jennifer Lyell, Anne Marie Mille, David Pittman, Tiffany Thigpen, Debbie Vasquez, Hannah-Kate Williams and Jules Woodson.

The Resolutions Committee paid special attention to this resolution as they presented it to the messengers, with each member of the Resolutions Committee and the Sexual Abuse Task Force standing on stage during its presentation in solidarity and collective repentance.

The SBC also passed a resolution titled “On Supporting Consistent Laws Regarding Pastoral Sexual Abuse,” arguing for laws that would “empower churches by protecting them from civil liability when sharing information about alleged abuse with other organizations or institutions”.

RELATED: ‘Every Way I’ve Served Southern Baptists Has Left Scars’: Bart Barber Elected SBC President, Accepts Challenges Ahead

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