OWENSBORO, KY. (WFIE) - Thousands of Southern Baptists from around the country are in Alabama this week.
They have already tackled the tough issue of sex abuse in the country’s largest protestant denomination. Delegates overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment, making it easier to expel churches for mishandling sexual abuse cases.
One Tri-State pastor sees this as an opportunity to protect children.
“This is a human issue, this isn’t just a church issue. the fact is, is that people are fallen and they make dumb decisions and sinful decisions about their sexuality,” said Greg Faulls, Senior Pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church.
An investigation by two Texas newspapers earlier this year reported nearly 400 Southern Baptist church leaders and volunteers were credibly accused of abuse since 1998. More than 200 of them have been convicted or made plea deals
Since that report, the Associated Press says the church leadership has been pressured to make changes. With critics claiming more than 700 victims have been left with little or no justice or support.
“The safest requirement that you can create in a church or in any organization is to have a transparent organization," said Faulls. "Say this is what our policies are this is how we handle this.”
Delegates at to the annual meeting in Birmingham agree.
Voting to go as far as expelling churches that hide or mishandle abuse cases.
“We’re going to be very clear that if you harbor abuse and you don’t deal with it properly then we are going to distance ourselves from you” said Faulls.
Pastor Faulls says this is only the beginning to fixing this issue.
“How do you prevent things from happening? Once something happens things become very serious and painful after that,” Faulls said.
Because the vote would change the constitution of the southern baptist convention, it still has to go through a ratification process. The new rules won’t be official until next year.
The convention has already appointed a team to develop training for churches, and is looking into creating a database of credibly accused abusers.