WHAT IS THIS ABOUT?
1. Women should be respected and honored within the churches of the SBC.
2. A clergy abuse offender database must be established for the SBC. This database should include those who plead guilty or were convicted of abuse, as well as those who were credibly accused.
3. Mandatory training for all pastors, seminary students, and ministry leaders on abuse. This training should include best practices regarding addressing abuse, sexual assault, and domestic abuse; ensuring ministry leaders recognize and respond properly to incidents or disclosures.
For far too long, women have suffered silently and ashamed in many church environments. The low view of women has contributed to a culture that is friendly to abusers.
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has a poor track record in its treatment of women.
Women have been fired from SBC seminaries simply because they are women.
Women have been told to stay in marriages in which they are being abused.
Women have been told that they must suffer rather than divorce.
Women have been told that they are at fault for being raped.
Women have been disciplined in Southern Baptist seminaries as a result of being raped.
Men who have spoken out against this treatment of women have been castigated.
Leadership has persistently failed to follow the example of Christ in the respectful treatment of women.
Brothers and Sisters, this should not be so. At the For Such A Time As This Rally, women and men will be raising their voice to say, "NO MORE." We must follow the example of Christ who valued and respected women in a way that was uncommon in His time.
We were in Dallas for the SBC Annual Meeting in 2018.
JOIN US in Birmingham, Alabama on June 11–12th at the 2019 SBC Annual Meeting at the For Such A Time As This Rally.
"For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance... will arise from another place,
but who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?"
—Esther 4:14 (NIV)
LIST OF CONCERNS
Christian women often go to their pastors for help when experiencing domestic abuse. Churches are often uninformed and unable to adequately guide the victim to help or they are so concerned about avoiding divorce that dangerous advice is given. Paige Patterson reportedly said he would never counsel a woman to get a divorce and is recorded saying that he was happy a woman received two black eyes at the hands of her husband because the husband came to church for the first time in the aftermath.
Patterson's views are not abnormal within the SBC. This must change.
When a woman is raped—only to be brought before an all-male tribunal and told not to contact police—is shamed and ultimately put on probation by an SBC seminary, we have a big problem. This is wrong.
Training Pastors and Ministry Leaders
Pastors attending SBC seminaries should be among the best trained as it relates to sexual and domestic abuse. Sadly, most SBC clergy have almost no training, and the ideas they have about domestic abuse and divorce are misguided. This inevitably results in a failure to recognize or report sexual abuse when disclosed.
SBC seminarians and pastors should know when to refer a woman to a domestic violence specialist. SBC pastors must stop believing that divorce is the unpardonable sin. SBC pastors must stop covering up sexual abuse. SBC pastors must report abuse to the proper authorities and treat it as the crime it is. The safety of women and children must be paramount. SBC churches need ongoing training and support from the convention on these important and pervasive topics.
Addressing the Sexual Abuse Epidemic
Southern Baptist Churches have used church autonomy as a reason that it cannot address its churches who refuse to report sexual abuse, employ those accused or even convicted of sexual abuse and track abusive clergy or ministry leaders. As a result, this epidemic of abuse has continued unchecked. Churches have covered up known abuse. Churches have called abuse something else—a sexual indiscretion, consensual, a mistake, a misunderstanding—anything except ABUSE. Training has been inadequate.
There has been no mechanism for any SBC church to warn other SBC churches about an abuser.