'It's a shame': NC Baptists take action in response to sexual abuse report

24 May 2022

— North Carolina Baptists are taking action in response to a new report that reveals national church leaders ignored and even intimidated survivors of sexual abuse. The independent investigation uncovered a secret list of more than 700 alleged abusers.

Currently, Guidepost Solutions is reviewing the policies regarding sexual abuse at the Cary-based Baptist Convention of North Carolina. They’re the same independent investigators who found top leaders at the national level mishandled sexual abuse cases for decades.

“So much could have been done differently,” said Waypoint Church Pastor Lawrence Yoo. “I absolutely weep over the devastation that was allowed to exist for way, way too long.”

Yoo joined the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention last year as the organization itself launched an independent investigation into the church’s response to sexual abuse allegations.

“I spoke with a lot of executive committee members who have been a part of the committee way longer than I have, and they just didn’t know,” Yoo said. “They didn’t know any of this.”

Staff members and attorneys for the executive committee are a focus of fault in the 288-page report issued on Sunday.

It reveals leaders kept a secret list of abusers and stonewalled survivors. It describes survivors coming forward “only to be met, time and time again, with resistance, stonewalling, and even outright hostility from some within the EC.”

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In an internal email, one leader described survivors and advocates as part of “a satanic scheme.”

“A church that represents Jesus Christ, the one that I know should represent his heart for the vulnerable, is desire to protect and it didn’t,” Yoo said. “It’s a shame. It’s sad, and I feel so bad.

“We want to root this out. We want this evil rooted out. We want to reform. We want to change so we can be a place that represents Jesus well.”

The report recommends the church form an independent commission, create an offender information system to track abusers and set standards for handling allegations.

“We need to create more accountability, more transparency,” Yoo said. “We need to make sure the people we protect the most are not the people in power but the people who are vulnerable.”

It also urges the convention to restrict the use of nondisclosure agreements in settlements with survivors and provide them with more support.

“I truly believe we’ll see a lot of those things happening, and I believe change will happen,” said Yoo.

The Southern Baptist Convention’s executive committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday to review the report.

North Carolina Baptist leaders told WRAL News they approved some new recommendations on Monday, including working to change state laws to provide more protections for victims of abuse.

“We want to see reform happen,” Yoo said. “We want to see change happen. We want to see institutions and people who live and act a different way.”

This post was originally published on this site

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