Southern Baptists meeting in San Antonio, Texas, recently for their annual convention approved a motion made by an Enid pastor that is the first step in creating a database of ministers who are child predators. The June 12 vote in favor was nearly unanimous among the 8,600 messengers present.
Burleson's motion calls on the SBC's executive committee to begin a feasibility study "concerning the development of a database of Southern Baptist ministers who have been credibly accused of, personally confessed to, or legally been convicted of sexual harassment or abuse," and that such a database be used by Southern Baptist churches "to assist in preventing any future sexual abuse or harassment."
Burleson revised his motion after conversations with several pastors, ministry leaders and abuse victims, including Christa Brown, an Austin, Texas, attorney who was a victim of sexual abuse as a child in a Southern Baptist church.
Brown works with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, the organization created in response to Catholic pedophilia concerns. She said when she came forward about her abuse, she found little support.
"I contacted 18 leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention," she said. "I was literally slammed. At one point, I received a letter from headquarters saying that my abuser was no longer in the ministry. I tracked him down myself and found that he was still serving as a children's minister in a very prominent Southern Baptist church."
Burleson said he had heard from several victims of sexual abuse who encouraged him to do something more than just pass a resolution. He said that without the centralized database, churches likely would do what they have always done: "Pass on suspected predators from church to church." "Greg Horton