Responding to Sexual Abuse: A Study of Southern Baptist Churches

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Murphy, Ashlin
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University Honors College Middle Tennessee State University
In 2019, the Houston Chronicle found that in the past twenty years, 700 people have reported being sexually abused by a member or leader of a Southern Baptist Church. This prompted leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention to urge its churches to create policies on reporting sexual abuse. Yet, due to its autonomous structure, the Convention cannot force its churches to adopt certain policies. This study examines if certain factors determine whether a Southern Baptist Church possesses a policy on responding to sexual abuse. Results demonstrate that larger churches are more likely to possess a response policy, because they have more resources, and their vulnerability to abuse is more obvious than that of smaller churches due to the higher number of attendees and volunteers. Additionally, the results found that churches are more likely to possess preventative policies rather than response policies, that the response policies churches do have usually only apply to minors, and that many local Southern Baptist Churches are not influenced by the convention in any tangible way.
College of Liberal Arts, Southern Baptist Church, Southern Baptist Denomination, Southern Baptist, Sexual abuse, religion, church, abuse