Here is Jeremy Gray at Alabama.Com:
The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Kentucky State Supreme Court arguing an expanded child abuse law should not allow claims to be brought against “non-perpetrators” such as religious organizations, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported Tuesday.
The filing comes in the case of a woman adopted at age 2 by a Louisville police officer — now serving a 15-year prison sentence for sexually abusing her throughout her childhood, the report states.
The woman is suing police officers she says knew of the abuse and failed to report it as required by law and the department that employed them, the report continues.
The suit was dismissed but later brought back after Kentucky lawmakers expanded the law and its statute of limitations.
The report continued:
“The Southern Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary … in their brief they say they ‘of course do not dispute the laudable policy reasons for providing relief for victims of childhood sexual abuse.’
“But ‘not even the most sacrosanct policy can trump the due process concerns presented in this and similar cases involving the attempted retroactive application of expired claims,’ they say.”
The report was the first time several women who are survivors of sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Church, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, were aware of the filing, which was made in April, according to posts they made on social media.
Abuse survivors Megan Lively, Tiffany Thigpen, and Jules Woodson issued a statement in response to the filing, saying they “sickened and saddened to be burned yet again by the actions of the SBC against survivors.”
“The SBC proactively chose to side against a survivor and with an abuser and the institution that enabled his abuse,” their statement read. “If denying survivors mere access to the justice system is still the heart and tenor of certain leadership, what does that indicate regarding reform?”
Read the rest here.
And a follow-up piece by Gray:
Several members of Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee say they were unaware of a friend-of-the-court brief the organization filed in a Kentucky sex abuse case.
A “culture where leadership can make a unilateral legal decision of this magnitude without the approval or discussion of the trustees is in an unhealthy spot. This amicus brief was a foolish strategy and I would have stated so if someone had told me,” Pastor Adam Wyatt of Bethel Baptist in Monticello, Miss., posted on X (formerly known as Twitter).
Read the rest here.
Here is Bob Smietana at Religion News Service:
Abuse survivors, along with some members of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee and the SBC’s abuse reform task force, have denounced a Kentucky court filing by Southern Baptist entities aimed at limiting their liability for sexual abuse claims.
A brief filed earlier this year by lawyers for the Executive Committee, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Lifeway, an SBC publisher, argues that a Kentucky law that changed the statute of limitations for making civil claims over abuse — and allowing survivors to sue third parties such as churches or police — should not be applied retroactively.
“There are no mincing of words here. No holding back. This is disgusting,” abuse survivors Megan Lively, Jules Woodson and Tiffany Thigpen said in a statement released Wednesday (Oct. 25).
A group of Southern Baptist leaders working on abuse reforms also criticized the brief, saying the filing was “a choice to stand against every survivor in Kentucky.”
“This brief, and the policy arguments made in it, were made without our knowledge and without our approval,” the statement read. “Moreover, they do not represent our values and positions.”
Members of the Executive Committee, including Oklahoma pastor Mike Keahbone, expressed dismay at the brief, saying he and other members of the committee were blindsided by it. Keahbone, a member of a task force implementing abuse reforms in the SBC, said the brief undermined survivors such as Thigpen, Woodson and Lively, who have supported the reforms.
“We’ve had survivors that have been faithful to give us a chance,” he told Religion News Service in a phone interview. “And we hurt them badly.”
The controversy over the amicus brief is the latest crisis for leaders of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, which has dealt with a revolving door of leaders and rising legal costs in the aftermath of a sexual abuse crisis in recent years.
Read the rest here.
Here is Liam Adams, religion reporter at The Tennessean:
Here is the entire tweet:
The recent legal maneuver by the SBC Exec Committee & Mohler’s school proves they have no intention of helping victims of the sexual abuse they covered up. They’re far more concerned about what it might cost them. Below are 10 Scriptures they need to fear more than bankruptcy:
Isaiah 10:1 (NIV), “Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression.”
Ezekiel 22:27 (NLT) “Your leaders are like wolves, who tear apart their victims. They actually destroy people’s lives for profit!”
Lamentation 5:11 (ESV) “Women are raped in Zion, young women in the towns of Judah.”
Eccles. 4:1 (ESV) “I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. I beheld the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors, there was power, so there was no one to comfort them.”
Zeph. 3:4 (ESV) “Her prophets are fickle, treacherous men; her priests profane what is holy. They do violence to the law.”
Psalm 10:17-18 (CEV) “Oh Lord, you listen to the longings of those who suffer. You offer them hope, and you pay attention to their cries for help. You do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed so that no man on earth can terrify them again!”
Zech. 10:2b (NCV) “The people are like lost sheep. They are abused, because there is no shepherd.”
Proverbs 21:13 (ESV) “Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.” Galatians 6:7 (NIV) “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”
Ezekiel 34:22 (ESV) “ I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey.”