The Southern Baptist Convention in June 2019 passed a resolution condemning sexual abuse, and voted to amend the denomination’s constitution to remove churches that mishandle sexual abuse.
But as the Washington Post reports, the denomination has yet to finalize the amendment. And the SBC is already stalling efforts at enforcement. One well-regarded abuse survivor was denied admission to the committee that reviews church misconduct, and another abuse survivor said that church leaders ignored her requests to disfellowship a Texas church that she says mishandled her abuse.
While the SBC moves sluggishly to address sexual abuse, it remains aggressive in mischaracterizing and ostracizing LGBT Christians.
Two Southern Baptist officials — ethicist Andrew Walker and longtime gender-issues specialist Bob Stith — declared the SBC’s support in 2017 for President Donald Trump’s efforts to remove transgender servicemembers from the U.S. armed services. Walker and Stith provided false and unsubstantiated assertions:
- that gender identity is determined solely by DNA,
- that all transgender people have standard XX or XY chromosomes and standard genitalia
Walker accused transgender persons of rejecting a “truthful expression of one’s identity.” Stith, meanwhile, denied the existence of Biblical passages that recognize gender variance and, without explanation, insinuates that transgender people are unfit for military service. Both men reiterated the denomination’s 2014 statement that “[W]e continue to oppose steadfastly all efforts by any governing official or body to validate transgender identity as morally praiseworthy.”
More recently, in October 2018, Southern Baptist officials again mischaracterized transgender advocates as defining sex solely on the basis of self-perception. R. Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary said that honesty about one’s genital and brain variance from genetic gender is “unworkable” for society. Mohler further ridiculed those who choose honesty about one’s body as “moral and sexual revolutionaries.” Meanwhile, Stith claimed to support an undefined “compassion” for transgender people — but he still supported false characterizations and discrimination.
Over the past year, the SBC has also withheld from its membership and its public communications the news that transgender people possess the brain activity and structure of their gender identity, not their genetic gender.
So long as the Southern Baptist leadership embraces erroneous and abusive notions about gender identity, it seems unlikely that the denomination will cope successfully with sexual abuse that is driven by the same misogyny that guides the denomination’s policies toward transgender people.