Report: Southern Baptist leadership covered up decades of sexual abuse. TX school shooting: 14 students and 1 teacher dead. Call for international naval convoy to break Russian blockade of Ukrainian grain.
Southern Baptists look to heal after sexual abuse reckoning
Starting in 2019, the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News published allegations of widespread sexual abuse within the constellation of churches belonging to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). The allegations, including even criminal complaints against faith leaders and volunteers, stretched back decades. The abusers numbered in the hundreds and the victims in the thousands, both adults and children.
More damaging still were revelations of the lengths SBC leadership went to in order to shield abusers and discredit victims and witnesses. The nature of the cover-up echoes similar allegations against the Catholic Church leadership.
The extent of this cover-up came to light through an internal investigation, initiated by then-president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission Russell D. Moore after the newspaper reports. Moore left the SBC last year, citing structural and cultural resistance to transparency within its leadership. He now works for the evangelical publication Christianity Today. Given his experiences, Moore hadn’t expected to be shocked when the investigation’s findings came out late last week. But he was.
“A criminal conspiracy”
Among other things, the investigation revealed that SBC leadership had kept a secret list of abusive pastors. This was after claiming for years that assembling such a database was impossible, owing to the autonomy of churches within the SBC. The database contained over 700 different abuse cases. Speaking to NPR, Moore says SBC leadership kept the database “not to protect abuse victims but to protect themselves“.
“The question,” Moore says, “was liability. How do we protect ourselves from these claims? By keeping them quiet. And the language that was used, the amount of motive being revealed there – I honestly don’t know what to call this other than a criminal conspiracy”.
Truth and reconciliation
Talking of abuse survivors he’s spoken to, Moore says the report’s release has brought them both relief and renewed trauma. “They not only have to relive what they went through,” Moore says, “but they’re able to see in black and white the way that leaders they trusted were talking about them behind closed doors, as crazy or as people who just want to burn everything down. I mean, to see that is retraumatizing for many good and faithful people who have been speaking out about this for years and years”.
Asked what the SBC should do moving forward, Moore expressed doubts they could or would implement necessary reforms. “The primary problem is cultural”, Moore says. “There has to be an understanding of the dignity of women, the dignity of the vulnerable”. Moore says meaningful reform would also require SBC leaders to disavow “a mythology of a certain group of leaders within the denomination as having essentially purchased it with their own blood and able to run it- that has to go away. And I’m not sure how to get there”.
The leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention now says it will release its secret list of abusers. Hopefully, this will be a start.
Texas school shooting: 15 killed, gunman dead
An 18-year-old gunman is dead after killing 14 students and a teacher at an elementary school in Uvalde, TX, 85 miles west of San Antonio. Police have not released the identity of the gunman, nor the names and ages of the victims. Two responding officers were also wounded but are expected to survive.
Many details are not yet available. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says the shooter was a local resident and entered the school with a handgun and possibly a rifle. Abbot says it’s likely one of the responding officers shot and killed the shooter.
Lithuania calls for naval convoy to break Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian grain
There’s been ample reporting in recent months of the effects of the Ukraine war on the world’s food supply. Ukraine is a key global “bread basket” and a major source of grain for many Asian and Middle Eastern countries. As Russia tightens its grip on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, the only port still in Ukrainian control is Odessa. However, Russian ships are preventing shipments of millions of tons of grain from leaving port.
Lithuanian foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis has proposed a naval “coalition of the willing” to escort Ukrainian ships safely out of the Black Sea. Landsbergis does not wish to involve NATO. Instead, he wants naval assets from countries like Egypt who will suffer disproportionately from the loss of Ukrainian grain.
Regardless of NATO’s official involvement or non-involvement, most of the countries Landsbergis hopes to enlist are NATO allies. If such a convoy were to form, its mission would be to de-mine key sea passages, and theoretically, to defend Ukrainian merchant ships against Russian ships that may fire upon them. If such a confrontation at sea were to take place, it’s difficult to see how this wouldn’t lead to a wider conflict with greater international military involvement.
Please share any thoughts, comments or questions in the Comments section below!clergy abuse, food shortage, global food, international news, national news, naval blockade, New Albany MS, Northeast Mississippi news, Russia, school shooting, sexual abuse, Southern Baptist Convention, Texas, Ukraine, US news, world news