, 21 tweets, 10 min read Read on Twitter
1. Alright, let’s unpack in some more detail what’s wrong with the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee’s recommendations in response to the concerns @jdgreear raised about sexual abuse in particular churches.

#Exvangelical #ChurchToo #EmptyThePews #SundayMorning
2. The SBC’s Executive Committee recommends making clear that “the Convention does not, and will not, cooperate with a church that clearly evidences indifference to addressing the crime of sexual abuse.”

This *sounds* good, but much hinges on what’s meant by “clearly evidences.”
3. Things quickly get iffy, defensive, and then downright dubious with respect to the meaning of “clearly evidences.” Note how quickly the Executive Committee’s moves to emphasize not presuming guilt, as opposed to framing things in terms of taking accusations seriously.
4. Brief aside because I’m petty and pedantic enough to find this funny. Perhaps my favorite part of this report is the accidental assertion here that some Southern Baptists are not Christians. 😂😈
5. Anyway. The report devotes some space to decrying the heinous nature of child sexual abuse, but it does not inspire confidence that the SBC will change, as I predicted it will not. And I’m petty enough to point this out. Now let’s get further inti why.

6. The SBC Executive Committee’s statement moves deftly from noting in passing that most abuse cases go unreported to asserting that in the cases of abuse in churches highlighted by @jdgreear, the churches “didn’t know” and so can’t be held responsible. I have so many questions.
7. The Executive Committee then mays out four criteria that could warrant intervention from the SBC, placing most emphasis on conviction through the courts and a little mandatory reporting requirements. The former makes no sense in light of failure to report and coverups.
8. The emphasis on taking action only where already legally convicted sex offenders and a church’s relationship to them are concerned makes no sense, that is, *if* the SBC’s goal is truly the protection of children and not the status quo of its patriarchal structures and theology
9. None of which is to say that the first three criteria shouldn’t be criteria. Of course they should be. It’s just that this is an incredibly low bar, and absolutely insufficient. The emphasis on mandatory reporting is more promising, but will the SBC follow through? 🤔
10. Recall that the SBC Executive Committee’s statement has already gone out of its way to note that people in churches often “don’t know” abuse is happening. Do they want to know? Because resources on recognizing signs of abuse are widely available.

11. If the SBC Executive Committee now wants to inspire confidence in the public that it will implement best practices relative to reporting suspected abuse to the proper authorities, it would go into detail about who should be ready to report what. But that’s not what we get.
12. Instead, the SBC’s Executive Committee oh-so-helpfully reminds us that it is “has neither the authority nor ability to conduct a criminal investigation,” and then quotes Matthew 18:15-20 and Proverbs 18:17 at us. If you don’t see a huge red flag here, #YouDontKnowEvangelicals
13. Let’s look at these verses. Combined with preaching against “gossip,” Matthew 18:15-20—often along with I Corinthians 6:1-8, in which Paul enjoins believers to settle their problems themselves, outside secular courts—is invoked by evangelicals to keep scandals in-house.
14. The gist of the Matthew passage relative to issues among believers is that first you go to someone who has sinned against you privately, then with one or two others, then to church leadership—leadership that in evangelicalism/fundamentalism people are groomed to trust.
15. Sometimes evangelical/fundamentalist materials, like those produced by the Institute for Basic Life Principles, explicitly describe a “chain of command” that Christians should not go around:

#ExposeChristianHomeschooling #ExposeChristianSchools
16. What happens too often in practice? White male church leaders protect the others in their boys’ club. Youth pastor committed statutory rape? That 13-year-old girl must have dressed provocatively and led him on. She should forgive him. Also she should apologize for her role.
17. That is the sick pattern. Minimize, gaslight, weaponize teachings about forgiveness and “gossip.” So forgive me if I don’t believe people when they say “Oh make sure to report incidents to the proper authorities” while also invoking Matthew 18. The latter gives the game away.
18. As for Proverbs 18:17, which reads, “In a lawsuit, the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines,” in context this is a clear demand to treat church leadership with more deference than those speaking out with claims of abuse.
19. Put all that together with the Executive Committee’s assertion that churches should address abuse at the local level and only if necessary should anything be brought up at the convention level, and you can see how dismissive this statement is, how protective of the status quo
20. For all the rhetoric harshly condemning abuse, then, I don’t see the explicitly patriarchal Southern Baptist Convention making substantive change toward protecting children from abuse and women from sexual assault and domestic violence. #Exvangelical #EmptyThePews
21. End thread. If you benefit from my content and can afford to throw a few dollars a month my way to help keep my freelancing, advocacy, and activist work sustainable, I’d greatly appreciate you pledging support via @Patreon. Thanks!


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