Southern Baptist Convention could release secret list of ministers accused of sexual abuse

A starting report dropped Sunday revealing the Southern Baptists Convention failed to address years of sexual assault claims against clergy members.

Now, the church said they plan to release hundreds of names of accused clergy and staff that were previously kept secret.

Rev. Wade Burleson, a retired pastor at Emmanuel Enid Church, said it was during his time in leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention that he became aware of numerous claims of sexual abuse.

“People would write to me and express some of their frustration over the fact they’d been abused by SB pastors or staff members or people in positions of leadership,” Burleson said.

Burleson, who said he’s no longer employed by the Convention, was the president of Oklahoma’s Southern Baptist Convention in the early 2000s. Burleson said that in 2007, he tried to hold the accused accountable.

“I made a motion at the Southern Baptist Convention to track sexual predators who were ordained pastors or ministers in the SBC,” Burleson said.

The motion was rejected.

More than a decade later, Southern Baptist leaders requested a report looking into how sexual abuse claims were handled by the church. It turns out, a private list of hundreds of names had been kept secret for years.

“It should have happened fifteen years ago but at least it’s happened now and because it’s happened now, and what I would say is old leadership is gone, it’s new leadership, let’s be positive,” Burleson said.

Current national leadership now says they plan to make that secret list of abusers public. The list will apparently go public once leadership ensures victims won’t be identified.

“I want you to know that as we go through this process of lamenting, that is not a time of inaction,” said Rolland Slade, chairman SBC executive committee.