Newly appointed Southern Baptist president Edd Litton has appointed a seven-member task force to examine whether the denomination's executive committee mishandled various abuse allegations.
In June, recordings were leaked of Executive Committee president Ronnie Floyd speaking about the SBC's handling of sexual abuse cases in a dismissive manner. The audio supported claims that EC leadership had previously intervened to block policies created in response to ministerial abuse. The EC had just announced plans to hire Guidepost Solutions to review the claims made. However, some have expressed concerns about Guidepost's ability to handle these claims due to the firm's tendency to emphasize protecting the more influential organizations over the abuse victims.
These clips inspired several attendees of the annual SBC Convention, better known as 'Messengers,' to propose resolutions to the Convention requesting a more in-depth investigation into the claims made on these audio clips. The Convention approved the investigation with majority votes.
Litton has released a list of his appointees for the task force. It currently includes four Southern Baptist pastors, a lawyer, a social worker, and the head of a child services agency. The task force will also be advised by abuse advocate Rachael Denhollander and abuse prevention counselor Chris Moles.
This task force is considered by many to be a significant step toward accountability for the SBC. In the last few years, several substantial accusations of abuse have arisen from within the SBC, with leaders failing to step up and protect victims. A 2019 report in the Houston Chronicle revealed that they had found hundreds of cases of abuse among the SBC's member churches. These claims originally inspired the SBC leadership to enact bylaws to protect victims, including resolutions that allow the denomination to kick churches that hire known abusers.
In a statement released by the SBC, Litton requested that "Southern Baptists, I urgently call you to pray for this process and to bear the burden alongside this task force as they pursue truth, identify issues, and move forward toward greater health in our response to abuse,"