At the end of each message sent from my personal email account is a quote from South African liberation theologian Allan Boesak that I have appropriated for the title of this column.
Boesak’s statement, “The Time for Pious Words is Over,” is part of the title of Chapter 3 of his book, Kairos, Crisis, and Global Apartheid: The Challenge to Prophetic Resistance (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).
Anyone who has read the May 15, 2022, report by Guidepost Solutions, LLC titled, “The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee’s Response to Sexual Abuse Allegations and an Audit of the Procedures and Actions of the Credentials Committee,” should agree with Boesak that “the time for pious words is over.”
The Guidepost Solutions report confirmed what SBC sexual abuse victims, their families and their supporters have said for decades.
- Women and children were molested, raped and subjected to other sexual assaults by SBC pastors and other personnel.
- The SBC Executive Committee and its lawyers knew about the allegations of sexual assault and molestation.
- The SBC Executive Committee and its lawyers investigated and knew that the victims were truthful about the atrocities they reported.
- The Executive Committee, with the knowledge of its lawyers, concealed the truth from SBC Trustees.
- The Executive Committee and its lawyers did nothing to prevent or correct Baptist Press (the information organ for the SBC) from publishing reports that mischaracterized criminal conduct by the perpetrators and created the false impression that the victims consented to what were rapes and other sexual assaults.
- The Executive Committee and its lawyers did nothing to prevent or correct defamatory statements and writings concerning victims of rapes, other sexual assault and related malicious conduct by SBC pastors, officials and other personnel concerning the atrocities.
- The Executive Committee, with the knowledge of its lawyers, maintained a list of the perpetrators, yet did nothing to warn people – including SBC congregations – about the perpetrators.
- The Executive Committee and its lawyers knew that some of the perpetrators moved to other areas of ministry where they were in position to continue their predatory behavior.
Last year, Baptist News Global published an article I wrote after the SBC Executive Committee and its lawyers tried to disregard the will of SBC messengers by insisting that the Guidepost Solutions investigation report be restricted to the Executive Committee.
I wrote: “This controversy will not end well for the SBC, its senior officials, and its constituent entities. Meanwhile, victims of sexual abuse will go without remedies for the harms they suffered.
“It is morally unjust to protect an entity that tries to conceal the truth surrounding sexual abuse allegations rather than learn and tell that truth. But the SBC Executive Committee is more interested in protecting the solvency and image of its Cooperative Program than in doing justice.
“Empires exist to preserve and continue themselves, not to do justice. The ongoing debate about attorney-client privilege is about protecting the SBC Cooperative Program empire, not about doing justice to victims.”
Now that the Guidepost Solutions report has been published, watch the SBC Trustees.
Will they establish a reparations process that will fund and underwrite the cost of healing and recovery for victims?
Will the trustees establish a truth-telling forum where victims will be heard, their truth affirmed as part of SBC history, and where the perpetrators who harmed them will be exposed?
Will SBC Trustees dismiss the Executive Committee members who were complicit in covering up rapes, other sexual assaults and lies about the women and child victims of that conduct for decades?
Will the SBC cooperate with efforts to bring criminal charges and civil lawsuits against the perpetrators?
Or will the SBC do a version of the ceremonial apology it purported to make in 1995 during its 150th anniversary meeting in Atlanta for supporting enslavement, discrimination and bigotry against Black people, and pretend that it owes victimized women nothing more?
Let’s be clear. The treatment suffered by white women at the hands of SBC preachers, officials and other personnel is a fraction of the despicable way white men and women in this society have treated Black women for centuries.
The SBC has done nothing – ever – to acknowledge, let alone repair, the atrocities that were suffered by Black women. Now the world has fresh proof of something Black people have known since the SBC began in 1845.
The Southern (aka “Slaveholder”) Baptist Convention does not love God.
The Southern (aka “Slaveholder”) Baptist Convention does not love Black people.
The Southern (aka “Slaveholder”) Baptist Convention does not love women and children.
The Southern (aka “Slaveholder”) Baptist Convention does not love justice and truth.
The SBC loves empire. It pimps the name of Jesus and uses it as a disguise for white supremacy, patriarchy, racism, sexism, bigotry, white nationalism, materialism and imperialism.
The SBC has long used Jesus as a cover for generations of atrocities, indignities and other wrongs against Black persons, women, children, LGBTQI and other queer persons, immigrants, and people who hold other religious beliefs.
Nothing about that is holy. It is not righteous. It is not Christ-like.
That conduct was, and is, blasphemy. It was, and is, heresy. It was, and is, idolatry. It was, and is, hellish.
The Guidepost Solutions’ findings about the actions of the SBC Executive Committee and its lawyers are damning for a clear reason.
The behavior is damnable.
The time for pious words is over.
Pastor at New Millennium Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, a state court trial judge, a trustee of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, author of one book and three blogs, and a consultant on cultural competency and inclusion.