Survivor Praises SBC Decision to Release Secret List of Abusers

The Executive Committee also voted to rebuke a former member
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2022 5:35 PM CDT
Survivor Praises SBC Decision to Release Secret List of Abusers
In this Tuesday, June 11, 2019 file photo, Christa Brown, of Denver, Colo., speaks during a rally in Birmingham, Ala., outside the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting. Brown, an author and retired attorney, says she was abused by a Southern Baptist minister as a child.   (AP Photo/Julie Bennett)

The depth of the problem surprised almost everyone, but the themes revealed in Sunday’s bombshell report on sexual abuse and coverups within the Southern Baptist Convention are not new to Christa Brown. She says she was sexually abused as a child by a minister, and she has been fighting for decades to bring light to the issue. Prompted by a motion Brown posted on Monday, the SBC’s Executive Committee voted Tuesday to publish a previously secret database of people accused of committing abuse. Per the Washington Post, the committee also voted to issue a public apology and direct rebuke of former General Counsel August Boto.

"I'm grateful for what we saw today, truly. I am also waiting and hoping for real action and not just words," Brown said, according to the Post. "Not words, not lament, not thoughts and prayers, real meaningful action that will help survivors." The decision to release the list was made during a Zoom meeting of the 68-member board that serves as the administrative arm of the SBC. During the meeting, interim committee President Willie McLaurin said: "Now is the time to change the culture. We need to be proactive in our openness, in our transparency from this moment forward."

The committee's statement of apology focused on a 2006 letter in which Boto decried Brown's use of "hyperbole, argumentative language, strident tones, [and] pejorative adjectives" and said "continued discourse between us will not be positive or fruitful." That letter is seen as emblematic of a systemic, longstanding dismissiveness and hostility toward abuse survivors by SBC leaders. Per the Tennessean, the committee said in its apology that it "rejects this sentiment in its entirety and seeks to publicly repent for its failure to rectify this position." According to Kentucky Today, SBC counsel says the list will be reviewed prior to release, "with names of abuse survivors, names of potential confidential witnesses, and uncorroborated allegations of abuse redacted." (More Southern Baptist Convention stories.)

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