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Southern Baptist leader resigns amid internal divide over sexual abuse review: NPR

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In this file photo from June 16, 2021, people attend the morning session of the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

Mark Humphrey / AP


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Mark Humphrey / AP

Southern Baptist leader resigns amid internal divide over sexual abuse review: NPR

In this file photo from June 16, 2021, people attend the morning session of the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

Mark Humphrey / AP

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A senior Southern Baptist Convention administrator resigns after weeks of internal division over how best to handle an investigation into the denomination’s response to sexual abuse reports.

Ronnie Floyd, chairman and chief executive officer of the SBC executive committee, announced his departure Thursday in a statement criticizing recent decisions related to the ongoing third-party review. He said he would leave the post at the end of the month.

“Due to my personal integrity and the leadership responsibility that has been entrusted to me, I will no longer and will not be able to fulfill my functions as head of the executive, fiscal and fiduciary entity of the SBC, ”Floyd said.

An executive committee-funded investigative company is investigating allegations the committee mismanaged reports of abuse and mistreated survivors. Following several meetings and growing pressure from the entire convention, a divided executive committee voted on Oct. 5 to waive its attorney-client privilege for the investigation, agreeing to hand over the files protected by the law to investigators.

Supporters of the waiver said it responds to a key request from thousands of Southern Baptist delegates who triggered the third-party review. Opponents said it could jeopardize the convention’s insurance policies and was financially risky.

In his statement, Floyd said the Executive Committee had engaged in the review, but it could have been done “without creating these potential risks of Convention liability.”

For years, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States has grappled with a sexual abuse scandal. It has come under scrutiny following a 2019 report by the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News, documenting hundreds of cases of abuse in Southern Baptist churches, including several in which the alleged perpetrators remained in the ministry.

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