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story.lead_photo.caption Steve Gaines, the outgoing president of the Southern Baptist Convention, presides over the group’s annual meeting Tuesday in Dallas. J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church of Raleigh and Durham, N.C., was elected to succeed Gaines. - Photo by AP/Star-Telegram / RODGER MALLISON

DALLAS -- Southern Baptist Convention delegates adopted resolutions Tuesday that included condemning sexual abuse and misbehavior by members of the denomination.

The resolutions came on the opening day of the Southern Baptists' annual meeting, and at a time when the group is dealing with fallout from reports of sexual misconduct by some of its high-ranking leaders.

The annual meeting of the nation's largest Protestant denomination is being held less than a week after Paige Patterson, a longtime leader in the group, recused from giving the keynote sermon today at the request of other convention leaders.

Patterson was fired May 30 from his role as president emeritus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth for mishandling a 2003 rape allegation. A leader of the convention's conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, he is one of several Southern Baptist leaders this year to be removed from or resign from high-profile positions within the denomination after being named in allegations of sexual abuse, assault and harassment.

His departure has been linked to the #MeToo movement, which encourages victims of sexual abuse, sexual assault or sexual harassment to come forward and talk publicly about their experiences.

"This is a wake-up call for pastors in our convention," said James Merritt, pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Ga., and a past president of the Southern Baptist Convention. "The safest place an abused woman should feel is her church. And the safest person she should feel she should be able to go to is her pastor."

About two dozen protesters gathered Tuesday across the street from the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, calling for the creation of a database that would identify pastors accused of sexual abuse and misconduct.

Photo by AP file photo/Star-Telegram
Paige Patterson

"We are not against the Southern Baptist Convention, but we believe it can be better," said Ashley Easter of Raleigh, N.C., an advocate for victims of abuse and an organizer of the protest.

The "On Abuse" resolution adopted Tuesday by delegates defines abuse as "any act or conscious failure to act resulting in imminent risk, serious injury, death, physical or emotional or sexual harm, or exploitation of another person."

An amended version of another resolution, "On Affirming the Dignity of Women and the Holiness of Ministers," acknowledged sexual misconduct such as abuse and infidelity and said such acts were "antithetical and disobedient to the corporate call to holiness among the people of God."

Female leaders within the denomination also have begun to acknowledge the mistreatment they've experienced.

Beth Moore, an evangelical leader within the denomination, recounted last month in a blog post incidents of harassment and objectification she has experienced while serving alongside men.

Moore described learning of the need to show "constant pronounced deference" to Southern Baptist men who either ignored or made fun of her. It wasn't until recently, Moore said, that she came to a "demoralizing" realization.

"Scripture was not the reason for the colossal disregard and disrespect of women among many of these men," she wrote. "It was only the excuse. Sin was the reason. Ungodliness."

Trilla Newbell, director of community outreach for the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, also shared her story of being molested by an older man when she was a college freshman.

"I went to court and [the man's] wife took the stand ... and I will never forget about her talking about how she had been praying for him to recover," Newbell said Monday night during the panel discussion Gospel Sexuality in a #MeToo Culture. "He had been molesting his kids."

The man was convicted and went to jail, but Newbell said she had issues with trust for years afterward.

Merritt said men should set an example through their treatment of others inside and outside the church.

"The way you interact with women in your congregation, and the way you brag on your wife, the way you treat your wife ... [show] that this is how women are to be treated," he said. "This is how women are to be respected."

Information for this article was contributed by staff members of The Associated Press.

Metro on 06/13/2018

Print Headline: Baptist group denounces sex abuse, misconduct

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  • RobertBolt
    June 13, 2018 at 9:28 a.m.

    How visionary for these Christians finally to proclaim that evil is bad after Jesus has been dead only a couple of millennia. True progressives indeed.

  • mrcharles
    June 13, 2018 at 10:09 a.m.

    boltar, this most righteous group of civil mammals [ see the calls to compassion by the rev Floyd out of springdale on creations of the creator] may be in trouble about taking a stand on sexual abuse , misconduct , as you know their ancient book allows a lot of seed to be spread by the righteous men back then. All in a days work for doing the work of the lord.

    Makes you wonder that created by obeying the ancient book on the joys of slavery and then after many actions of sexual misconduct [ having sex with slaves was considered ok as they were just animals basically, but they forgot having sex with animal both were to be killed] and mistreatment of slaves, this most holy body of biblical ILKS said, Whoops , we were wrong and so sorry . Now they take biblical stands, so the question becomes an organization created such as they were , with the basis of their reason for organizing and their continued celestial know it all for conduct of talking primates, why would lucid talking primates believe a hoover dammm what they say?

    As to jesus being dead, at least the catholics withdrew their charge against the jews of killing god- note it was last century. So as to israel, if jews can kill gods why do they worry about Iran?

    as to the statement of "the people of god". that sounds like trump saying that dear leader the 3rd member of the N. KOREAN TRINITY loves his people. And we all know how the baptist deity loved his people from time to time, Remember what Hitches said, you can at least frigginn die in N. Korea but the baptist dear leader will torment you forever for just hurting its feelings.

  • carpenterretired
    June 13, 2018 at 3:55 p.m.

    But Trump is now their moral gold standard .