Southern Baptists, faced in recent months with hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse in its ranks, have overwhelmingly adopted changes to governing documents that will bring greater visibility to their desire to disaffiliate with churches that do not handle instances of abuse properly.
Finally, 17 years to the month after a major clergy sex scandal forced them to crack down on priests who abuse children, the Catholic bishops of the United States have set up a system designed — at least in theory — to hold their own feet to the fire if they cover up abuse.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed a bill into law this week that would require some sex offenders to undergo chemical castration as a condition of their parole. If a sex offenders victim was under the age of 13, he would have to begin treatments designed to block or suppress testosterone production at his own expense for as long as the state deems necessary, though allowance is made for those who are not able to afford the treatments, which can cost $1,000 a month.
The Southern Baptist Convention began its annual meeting yesterday in Birmingham, Alabama. According to its president, the denomination faces “a defining moment” that will shape the church for generations to come. In focusing on the crisis of sexual abuse, Dr. J. D. Greear stated, “This is not a distraction from the mission. Protecting God’s children is the mission of the church.”
Carrying the responsibility for a denomination that is dealing with the 12th consecutive year of decline would exhaust many leaders, but Greear believes that putting the gospel above anything else is what the convention needs to do.