Southern Baptists Big-Time Abusers

The Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News collected data on Southern Baptist church leaders who have been arrested for abuse in the past two decades. As far as clerical sex abuse is concerned, this is the very recent past. Relatively few Catholic priests in the U.S. were arrested in this period. But over 220 leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) were arrested, including ministers, pastors and Sunday school teachers. From Newsweek: “Southern Baptist Church Sexual Abuse Database Reveals Hundreds of Convicted Predators Among Leaders.”

While the charges include raping children, the article does not discuss the distribution of offenses. I suspect the percentage of victims that were adult females is far higher than in the Catholic Church. But one thing the SBC has in common with the Catholic Church is their predilection for suppressing these ugly facts. All the time they were pounding the table about family values, they were sexually abusing victims and systematically concealing the evidence.

Note that during this period the SBC was the second largest church denomination in the U.S., somewhat smaller than the Catholic Church. It will probably be a while before anyone makes the relevant comparisons. Power corrupts, and ecclesiastical power seems to have a pronounced tendency toward sex abuse- hardly consistent with pastoral responsibilities and claims. Protestants have simpler and more natural criminal tendencies than the Catholic Church. In any case, religious leaders seem to have greater tendencies towards sex crimes than secular leaders such as politicians or business executives, though this remains to be proven.


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