Resolution Condemns Abuse by Clergy

Messengers to the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis called for churches and civil authorities to hold accountable clergy members guilty of sexual abuse. The resolution on sexual integrity in the clergy was presented in the context of the unfolding sexual abuse scandal among Roman Catholics, but it primarily called for actions by Southern Baptists and their leaders.

The messengers called for SBC churches to discipline those guilty of sexual abuse according to the pattern provided by Jesus in Matthew 18 and to work with government officials in prosecuting offenders. The resolution encouraged lives of "integrity and fidelity" among Southern Baptists, and urged accountability by spiritual leaders to the "highest standards of Christian moral practice." Messengers called on the SBC's seminaries to focus on ministerial integrity in their training process. The measure also urged religious organizations to "rid their ranks of predatory ministers." It called on civil authorities to punish guilty clergy and counselors "to the fullest extent of the law."