A megachurch pastor from Texas urged all churches to implement a "zero-tolerance policy" when it comes to abuse and harassment.
Robert Jeffress, a pastor, author, radio host, and televangelist, has spoken out against churches' lack of policies that would allow the proper handling of sex abuse allegations. The Texas megachurch pastor who leads First Baptist Dallas argued that there must be a "zero-tolerance policy" in churches, especially following the explosive report on how Southern Baptist Convention leadership covered up sex abuse allegations.
On Monday, Jeffress spoke to Shannon Bream of Fox News, discussing the findings of a shocking report from Guidepost Solutions that was a result of a year-long investigation into the convention's mishandling of sex abuse allegations within its member churches from way back 20 years ago. The 288-page report revealed that SBC leaders had a pattern of not just intimidating abuse victims but also refusing to set in place measures to ensure churches are safe, as they wished to avoid liability.
Pastor Calls the SBC Report a 'Wake Up Call' for Churches
Jeffress called the shocking revelations of the report on SBC's failures to maintain a zero-tolerance policy for abuse and harassment "absolutely horrific" and hopes it would serve as a "wake up call for churches," the Christian Post reported. The Texas megachurch pastor also encouraged other churches to "adopt the kind of policy that we have at First Baptist Dallas."
The 66 year old pastor and evangelist explained that his congregation has a "zero-tolerance policy for abuse and harassment," which also involves "mandatory background checks for everybody working with children, both volunteers and staff members." Jefress added that they have "mandatory reporting to law enforcement officers if there is any sign of abuse whatsoever."
While Jeffress recognized that a "zero-tolerance policy" like theirs would not "guarantee an elimination of problems," it would however "sharply diminish" it. The Texas megachurch pastor also addressed some of the concerns of a handful of SBC leaders who were worried about adopting similar policies and making the convention more centralized.
Jeffress explained that their concern was that they cannot "have a denomination telling local churches what to do" but he believed that it is the churchgoers who can "demand" their church to have "safeguards in place" to protect women and children in the church. He remarked, "The church ought to be the safest place in the world for women and children."
Southern Baptist Church Leaders Found to Have Mistreated Abuse Survivors for Decades
In the wake of a third-party investigation by Guidepost Solutions that resulted in a report that was released on Sunday, Southern Baptists were shocked to find out how abuse survivors and advocates were repeatedly met with "resistance, stonewalling and even outright hostility from some within the [Executive Committee]," CBN News reported.
The investigation also showed that senior EC leaders "largely controlled" the group's response to the reports of abuse. SBC president Ed Litton, who has announced that he will no longer run for president, admitted, "It's a culture of protecting power, position. It's not a culture that Jesus would model for us of caring for the least of these."