In 2007, I proposed a motion to the annual Southern Baptist Convention to establish a sexual predator database – and make it public –  to track “SBC pastors and staff members who have been credibly accused of, confessed to, or convicted of sexually predatory behavior.” My goal was to prevent guilty SBC ministers from transferring to another church or denomination to only re-offend.

My motion failed. TIME magazine listed the SBC Executive Committee’s denial of my motion as “one of the top 10 most underreported stories.” 

I agree.

However, 15 years later, there is a great deal of reporting nationwide about the million-dollar investigative report from Guidestone Solutions regarding the predatory abuse of SBC pastors and staff members from 2000 to 2021. The 400-page report was released yesterday, and several media outlets (AP, CBS, New York Times, Washington Post, etc.) have reached out for my reaction.

The best and most balanced reporting of the release of the SBC investigative report is from Carla Hinton. She is the Religion Editor for The Oklahoman and USA Today. Carla was the only reporter at the Southern Baptist Convention when I made the motion to establish a database to track sexual predators. After making it, I turned around and saw Carla Hinton standing behind me. She said, “Wow. Your motion sounds like a huge deal.” 

Carla was correct in 2007. It WAS a huge deal. The worst tyranny is the encroachment of the powerful on the powerless. Sexual predatory behavior is criminal, and Christians should seek to stop it.

Now that the report has come out, I’ll give you my five reflections on it:

  1. The SBC has made progress on this issue. Progress is sometimes painful, but the SBC is a better Convention than 15 years ago.
  2. New leadership runs the SBC. The leaders who opposed my motion in 2007 are all gone. A new administration is in place.
  3. Don’t throw out the entire barrel of good apples  (the SBC) over a few bad apples (predatory pastors). The SBC accomplishes many great things (missions, Disaster Relief, evangelism, etc.) worldwide. Don’t turn your back on the SBC because of poor leadership in the past.
  4. Christianity is never about power. A faithful follower of Jesus revolts at taking advantage of another human being.
  5. There’s a difference between correcting problems within and destroying a Convention from without. I am longer an SBC pastor. I receive no salary from the SBC. What I say next has no personal bearing on me. For fifteen years, I sought to reform the SBC from the inside. That reform has now come. I will not align with those who seek to destroy the SBC from the outside.

May God bring mercy and healing to the victims of predatory sexual behavior.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson