The Southern Baptist Convention, which is the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S., announced that it will be releasing a list of ministers and church workers who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse.
The SBC issued a statement on Tuesday confirming the list would be made public after necessary redactions to protect victims were made.
Willie McLaurin, interim president of the SBC Executive Committee, said “I want to say to us, now is the time to change the culture. We need to be proactive in our openness, in our transparency, from this moment forward. That’s the absolute bare minimum we must do.”
The publicizing of this information is a crucial step for the SBC as it attempts to both fix a toxic culture and ensure churches nationwide can protect their members as well as the general public.
The list of those individuals who have been accused of sexual assault has been built over the course of a decade and, until now, has been kept under wraps by the SBC.
The SBC has been accused of having a culture that is openly hostile to victims of sexual assault while stonewalling and protecting the perpetrators.
The SBC’s answer to combatting that culture begins with this list and no doubt there will be other measures taken to rectify this problem that has affected the church for decades.
Gene Besen, the interim counsel of the Executive Committee, said “Promptly releasing that list is in our best interest, it’s important, it is of immediate concern to the public and to the survivor community, and we need to do it right away. It is our commitment and intent to review the unsubstantiated allegations, and if more can be substantiated, we will release those as well.”
This move is just the beginning but will no doubt have a long-lasting impact. The SBC’s commitment to combatting sexual assault will no doubt send a message to other large religious organizations grappling with similar issues.