Below is the vetted version of the resolution on sexual abuse of children I originally proposed. In blue text is an amendment I offered reinserting what I felt was a valid concern toward convention leaders and employees of the Southern Baptist Convention and their relationships with organizations and/or individuals with disturbing policies and practices in protecting our children.
How timely for Southern Baptists to not only endorse a statement strongly encouraging pastors and churches to openly and forthrightly handle abusive situations with children, thus demonstrating that protecting our children is of utmost importance to us, but also sending a strong message to denominational leadership to employ the highest sense of discernment in affiliating with either organizations or individuals that possess morally questionable policies or practices in protecting children from abusive situations.
Consequently, we encourage trustees of all our entities and agencies to pay careful attention to the point of reference the resolution on sexual abuse of children constitutes and to monitor closely the individuals and/or organizations affiliated with us via our denominational leadership. We are convinced that there presently exists unhealthy liaisons which need to be addressed (see also here and here).
Finally, I possess no intentions of leaving this issue behind. While the resolution on the sexual abuse of children is a good start, it remains a poor ending. Given our Baptist polity, we fully understand no resolution may usurp the local church autonomy we hold dear. However, I personally plan to explore ways we may be able to adequately and legitimately address the issue with strong policies and procedures which protect children while retaining our rightful Baptist heritage of local church autonomy. May we pray to that end. Our children are worth it!
ON SEXUAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN
WHEREAS, The Bible is clear in its affirmation that children are a gift from the Lord (Psalm 127:3–5); and
WHEREAS, The Lord Jesus demonstrated His love for children by encouraging them to follow Him, correcting those who hindered them, and condemning those who harmed them (Matthew 18:3–6; Mark 10:13–14); and
WHEREAS, The sexual abuse of children remains an ever increasing criminal offense with more than 1.8 million reported victims of sexual abuse by more than 750,000 child abuse perpetrators identified in the United States alone; and
WHEREAS, Tragically, instances of sexual abuse have been perpetrated within Southern Baptist congregations, churches of other denominations, and other Christian ministries; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Houston, Texas, June 11–12, 2013, call upon Southern Baptists to stand with our Lord Jesus in loving and protecting children as He does; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we remind all Southern Baptists of their legal and moral responsibility to report any child abuse to authorities in addition to implementing any appropriate church discipline or internal restoration processes; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we likewise call upon all Southern Baptists to cooperate fully with law enforcement officials in exposing and bringing to justice all perpetrators, sexual or otherwise, who criminally harm children placed in our trust; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we strongly urge Southern Baptist churches to utilize background checks like those provided through LifeWay Christian Resources (www.lifeway.com/backgroundchecks), databases of sexual predators such as the US Department of Justice sex offender database linked at SBC.net (www.SBC.net/localchurches/ministryhelp.asp), or other relevant resources in screening all potential staff and volunteer workers, particularly those who minister to children and youth; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we encourage pastors and church leaders to develop and implement sound policies and procedures to protect our children; and be it further
"RESOLVED: that we encourage all denominational leaders and employees of the Southern Baptist Convention to utilize the highest sense of discernment in affiliating with groups and/or individuals that possess questionable policies and practices in protecting our children from criminal abuse; and be it finally"
RESOLVED, That we urge all Southern Baptists to pray for children who are victims of abuse, to stand for their protection from abuse, and to support safe and healthy children’s ministries in our churches and communities.
As I indicated, the amendment overwhelmingly passed. Here is a video Joe Donahue captured of my speaking to the motion to amend. Included also is North Carolina pastor, Tim Rogers defending the motion to amend. Thanks Joe for the video!