The U.S. Department of Justice Investigates the SBC
“The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee has been informed that the United States Department of Justice has initiated an investigation into the SBC that will include “multiple SBC entities,” according to an Aug. 12 statement from all SBC entity leaders and SBC President Bart Barber.”
The Associated Press reports,
“The statement from SBC leaders — including Executive Committee members, seminary presidents and heads of mission organizations — gave few details about the investigation, but indicated it dealt with widespread sexual abuse problems that have rocked the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S.”
As of now, the Department of Justice has declined to comment on the investigation, nor upon which SBC entities it plans to investigate.
This is an interesting move on the part of the DOJ given the transparency and recent proactiveness of the Southern Baptist Convention in dealing with its problems. At its 2022 annual meeting, the SBC voted overwhelmingly in favor of dealing with these issues in a head-on way.
Furthermore, the SBC demonstrated transparency when the Guideposts Investigation Report was publicly released in its full form.
It also speaks very highly of the SBC that each of our entity heads have signed a letter pleading their full support and transparency for the investigation. I am thankful for this display of integrity.
A Concerning Trend…
This investigation comes as the second concerning move on the part of the Department of Justice in a week’s time.
On Monday, the DOJ sent the FBI to raid former President Trump’s Florida home. As to whether the raid was warranted or not, that remains to be seen. But, as Albert Mohler pointed out on the August 9th edition of The Briefing, “...the integrity of the United States government is…at stake here and the credibility of the Department of Justice and the FBI. It is going to take some time for this matter to be clarified, to be sure, but it better not take much time and it better be truly clarified.”
-And now, with this unclear investigation of the Nation’s largest Protestant Denomination, the DOJ is certainly raising some eyebrows.
As far as I am aware, there have been no illegalities on the part of the SBC entities, but that certainly remains to be seen. The autonomy and ecclesiological structure of the SBC will make it difficult for the DOJ to address the issue at the Church level. The formal entities of the SBC could be a different story.
As with the Trump investigation, the DOJ will need to quickly clarify its reasoning, evidence, and intentions surrounding this move to investigate the SBC, and as Mohler stated, they better be clarified quickly.
Some Further Observations…
I cannot help but find this move on the part of the DOJ to be interesting and a bit hypocritical. When the Catholic church was embroiled in its sexual abuse scandal, how did the DOJ handle its investigation of the Catholic Church (which has far more institutional authority and control over its clergy than the SBC does)?
ABC News reports, “The Justice Department had never brought a conspiracy case against the church, despite exhaustive reports that showed its long history of burying abuse complaints in secret archives, transferring problem priests to new parishes, silencing accusers and fighting laws to benefit child sex assault victims.”
And, in a time when so many churches and denominations are bowing and kowtowing to the gender and sexual revolution, it is of note that the United States Government would choose to go after one denomination that is standing firm for Biblical-sexual ethics, and attempting to deal openly and honestly with its faults and sins as best it can.