Two Texas newspapers are out with an investigation into the Southern Baptist church that reveals a long pattern of sexual abuse by church leaders, workers, and volunteers. The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News found that 380 people—everyone from ministers to youth pastors to Sunday school teachers to church volunteers—have been accused of sexual misconduct since 1998. About 200 were convicted or accepted plea deals, with many cases still pending. Almost 100 are in prison and a larger number are now registered sex offenders. The most jarring paragraph:
- "They left behind more than 700 victims, many of them shunned by their churches, left to themselves to rebuild their lives. Some were urged to forgive their abusers or to get abortions."
Top church leaders are promising reform. "This is nothing short of a scandal and a crisis," tweeted Southern Baptist Convention leader Russell Moore. "There should be no tolerance for, or covering up of, sexual abuse of the vulnerable ever, especially within the church of Jesus Christ." The first part of the three-part investigation includes interviews with victims, including a woman who says she was sexually abused by her pastor near Dallas for years, beginning at age 14. Years later, as an adult, Debbie Vasquez traveled to the church's annual convention to make a formal plea for reforms. That was in 2008, and nearly all of the proposed reforms were rejected. Click to read the first part. (Read more Southern Baptist stories.)