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United States: Protestant Church forced to confront victims of sexual abuse

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For more than 20 years, leaders of the Southern Baptist Conference have hidden sexual violence in its midst. The scandal was exposed by two Texas newspapers.

'Truth', 'Justice', 'Change': Protesters prepare to march on the South Baptist Convention Building in Nashville, Tennessee.

‘Truth’, ‘Justice’, ‘Change’: Protesters prepare to march on the South Baptist Convention Building in Nashville, Tennessee.

REUTERS

Officials at the Southern Baptist Conference, a major American Protestant church, have long maintained a ban and cover-up on the faces of victims of sexual violence, and hundreds of people, many of whom have completed a lengthy investigation to confirm serious facts about minors.

The 288-page investigation report, released Sunday, was prepared by an independent organization, GuidePost Solutions, appointed by the administration of the Southern Baptist Conference, which has been embroiled in a major sexual scandal. The scandal, which has involved nearly 400 pastors, volunteers and educators for two decades, came to light in 2019, thanks to an investigation by two Texas daily newspapers, the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News.

The report notes that for nearly two decades now, victims of sexual violence and those concerned about these facts in the Church have been in contact with the governing body of the Southern Baptist Conference. “They have repeatedly opposed the protests, the bans and the apparent hostility of some executive committee members,” he continues.

Information “Protected”

“Over the years, our investigation reveals that a number of executive board officials, with outside legal assistance, have largely restrained the response to this abusive information,” the authors of the report wrote. “They have closely guarded information on abuse allegations and cases, have not shared it with board members, and have focused their efforts on avoiding accountability for the Southern Baptist Conference, among other considerations.

The Southern Baptist Convention, with a network of thousands of churches, has more than 15 million members, mostly in South America.

(AFP)

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