A number of pastors have recently warned the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee (EC) that they will withdraw funding to the Committee if they do not decide to waive attorney-client privilege amid an investigation of alleged sexual abuse in the SBC.
During the SBC’s annual meeting in June, 15,000 convention messengers overwhelmingly approved a motion to launch the investigation which would be conducted by a third-party and overseen by a task force appointed by new SBC president, Ed Litton.
The EC, however, has refused to comply with the motion’s instructions to abide by the investigator’s best practices, such as waiving attorney-client privilege, due to fears of legal liability and fiduciary commitments.
On Tuesday, the EC is scheduled to meet for the third time in many weeks as pressure builds for them to waive the attorney-client privilege.
“Should the Executive Committee fail to comply, we will lead our churches to consider how to reallocate funds away from the Executive Committee while continuing to fund the cooperative mission and education endeavors that have always made Southern Baptists great”, pastors from the South Carolina Baptist Convention said in a signed statement late last month.
According to Christianity Today, two Executive Committee trustees and a member of the task force overseeing the investigation were among the signatories of the letter.
David Sons, one of the trustees who signed the statement, told Christianity Today that it was created out of concern for the “egregious nature of the accusations” and fears that Southern Baptist polity is being violated.
“The EC has a responsibility to carry out, to the best of our ability, the will of the messengers,” Sons said. “Not to tell the messengers why we can’t, or won’t, comply.”
He added that withdrawing or allocating funds “shouldn’t be used as a threat,” but rather it should be used as “a last resort to express to an entity that they have violated the trust of the messengers.”
As of Sunday night, more than 25 statements have been published on behalf of state conventions, local associations, or groups of concerned pastors, concerning the EC’s mishandling of sexual abuse. But not all of that warned of withdrawing or allocating funds.
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.