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Regardless of sex-abuse reforms, some key Southern Baptist leaders stay oblivious — GetReligion

The story of the Southern Baptist Convention’s sex abuse crisis will not be going away.

Not less than not anytime quickly.

Southern Baptists delegates overwhelmingly adopted abuse reforms this previous summer season, however some inside the nation’s largest evangelical denomination stay oblivious.

Living proof: Faith Information Service’s Bob Smietana broke this news:

Disgraced former Southern Baptist Conference President Johnny Hunt plans a return to ministry after finishing a restoration course of overseen by 4 pastors, in accordance with a video released final week.

That information, simply seven months after the allegations in opposition to Hunt had been made public, prompted Bart Barber, the present SBC president, to release a lengthy statement via Twitter. Barber declared:

I might completely “defrock” Johnny Hunt if I had the authority to take action. In a fellowship of autonomous church buildings, I would not have the authority to take action. But it have to be mentioned that neither do these 4 pastors have the authority to declare Johnny Hunt to be “restored.”

At The Tennessean, Liam Adams reports:

The information of Hunt’s return to ministry is the newest high-profile instance of a problem the Nashville-based SBC is wrestling with: if and the way pastors accused of abuse can return to the pulpit.

In his personal follow-up report, Smietana delves into the outcry over the Hunt news:

Tiffany Thigpen, an abuse survivor and longtime advocate of abuse victims, mentioned Hunt’s return to ministry is an indication that the legislated reforms have but to vary Southern Baptist tradition.

“We’re at all times going to have this community of highly effective males who can do no matter they need and suppose they will get away with it,” she mentioned. “And they’re proper.”

Thigpen mentioned Hunt, like anybody, might be forgiven by God. However that doesn’t imply he must be given energy and a platform within the church. She mentioned pastors like those who endorsed Hunt dole out low-cost grace with the intention to defend their buddies.

“They don’t care,” she mentioned.

As famous by the Washington Occasions’ Mark A. Kellner, two of the 4 pastors concerned in Hunt’s “restoration” serve churches affiliated with the SBC.

Most pastors consider clergy concerned in sexual misconduct ought to withdraw from public ministry completely, according to a 2021 Lifeway Research study.

In reviewing protection of the newest SBC information, I found that Robert Downen — the lead reporter on the 2019 “Abuse of Faith” series that detailed tons of of instances of sexual abuse inside the denomination — has left the Houston Chronicle. Someway I missed this earlier.

Downen moved to the Texas Tribune this fall to deal with the democracy beat, however that doesn’t imply he’s left faith tales behind solely. The headline on his newest story, printed this week: Jewish Texans see surge in antisemitism as a precursor to fascism. Congrats to Robert on his new gig, which he describes as a dream job!

Again to the SBC: The Hunt information isn’t the one latest improvement within the abuse disaster.

Regardless of admitting sexual misconduct, a former seminary professor has sued SBC leaders and entities, claiming they conspired with an abuse survivor to destroy his repute, as reported this week by each Adams and Smietana.

In the meantime, Adams details 21 SBC state conventions addressing abuse at their latest conferences. For extra on these actions, see protection by The Oklahoman’s Carla Hinton and the Birmingham News’ Greg Garrison.

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