|The headquarters of the Southern Baptist Convention in|
Nashville (Associated Press photo by Mark Humphrey)
The problem has persisted because the denomination has an informal ordination process, pastors tend to move around frequently, and church leaders have mishandled, hidden or ignored complaints —and because the Southern Baptist Convention has refused to enact substantive reforms.
The Southern Baptist Convention has 47,000 churches, but its oversight of them is almost nonexistent. The churches are particularly vulnerable to predators because of the denomination's practice of local ordination. "It's a perfect profession for a con artist, because all he has to do is talk a good talk and convince people that he's been called by God, and bingo, he gets to be a Southern Baptist minister," said Christa Brown, who wrote a book about being molested as a child by her Southern Baptist pastor. "Then he can infiltrate the entirety of the SBC, move from church to church, from state to state, go to bigger churches and more prominent churches where he has more influence and power, and it all starts in some small church. It's a porous sieve of a denomination."
UPDATE, Feb. 12: How did Baptist media operations handle the story? A senior editor at Baptist Press wrote an 1,170-word story focusing on Greear's reaction; at midday Tuesday, it was the top-trending story on Kentucky Today, an online newspaper of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. It did not have a story on Kentuckians in the database, as the Louisville Courier Journal did.