New claims have been leveled against the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention in a letter addressed by Russell Moore to the SBC's current president, J.D. Greear, on May 31.
According to Christian Post (CP), Russell Moore, the former head of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, claims that officials of the Southern Baptist Convention mismanaged a "crisis of sexual abuse" using methods such as silencing whistleblowers and absolving churches that have seriously neglected victims of sexual abuse.
This second leaked letter follows an earlier letter in which Russell Moore disclosed his psychological battle as well as the covert assaults made against him in order to silence his opposition to the SBC's severe concerns.
"You know well the obstacles that both you and I faced from figures within the Executive Committee in merely raising questions about sexual abuse, questions compellingly raised by the Houston Chronicle, among others," Moore's letter reads.
"You and I both heard, in closed door meetings, sexual abuse survivors spoken of in terms of 'Potiphar's wife' and other spurious biblical analogies. The conversations in these closed door meetings were far worse than anything Southern Baptists knew - or the outside world could report," he wrote.
CP noted that the Houston Chronicle released a three-part article in 2019 in which it discovered more than 700 victims of alleged sexual abuse by 380 Southern Baptist officials and volunteers since 1998. A total of 220 people were found guilty, with 100 of them still serving time behind bars.
The great majority of the victims were minors at the time of the abuse. They accused Southern Baptist officials of covering up the abuse, including previous presidents. After leaving their congregations, several of those accused of sexual assault were apparently able to find jobs in other Southern Baptist churches.
This spurred Greear to propose and execute a number of changes aimed at making churches safer, although Moore noted that some of the measures were problematic with SBC Executive Committee officials.
"Behind all of this was the undiluted rage that you and I faced from Executive Committee officers-including the then-chairman," Moore went on. "This included but was hardly limited to the tense meeting that you, Todd Unzicker, and Phillip Bethancourt from my team had with Mike Stone and Ronnie Floyd in Atlanta in May of 2019. There Stone vigorously insisted on delaying the formation of a credentials committee to assess churches reported to be mishandling sexual abuse."
According to the Washington Post, Moore, who has served as one of the highest-profile leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention, chose to divulge the identities of important individual leaders participating in what he characterized as "intimidation tactics" on his final day as a Southern Baptist official.
Moore's letter was directed to several members of the SBC's Executive Committee, which is situated in Nashville and manages the convention's operations and finances. He spoke of the Executive Committee's "spiritual and psychological abuse of sexual abuse survivors" as well as "a pattern of attempted intimidation of those who speak on such matters."
"You and I were critical of such moves, believing that they jeopardized not only the gospel witness of the SBC, but also the lives of vulnerable children and others in Southern Baptist churches," Moore went on.
According to Baptist News, Greear admitted receiving Moore's letter but classified it as a "private correspondence."
"I was aware of some things contained in the letter, but not everything," he said. "Although my own struggles with the Executive Committee related to some of these initiatives are well documented, I know churches in our convention both want and deserve the truth on these matters, and I expect these things to come up at our annual meeting next week."