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Report outlines alleged abuse cases linked to Baptist churches, including in Georgia

The 40 in Georgia from are 1998 - 2017.

ATLANTA — The Southern Baptist Convention has released a list of alleged abuse cases linked to Baptist churches across America. Forty are Georgia cases.   

The report said that the executive council of the Southern Baptist Convention resisted and even reacted with hostility to reports of child molestation and sexual abuse within the church.

Years ago, a youth instructor named Gunther Fiek preyed on children preyed on children at a Baptist church in Cobb County.  Fiek got caught, and is now serving 90 years in prison.    

The report released by the Southern Baptist convention outlines hundreds of such cases in churches across north America – including 40 of them in Georgia. An independent investigative report said the Southern Baptist Convention stonewalled, with some describing the allegations as “a satanic scheme to completely distract us from evangelism.” 

"I see that in the report and I can just tell you categorically it’s very disturbing," said Mike Griffin, who leads the Georgia Baptist Mission Board's child protection program. He said the church has changed its tune.

"Georgia Baptists want people to understand we want to put the victim first. Now are there problems? Yes. There are problems in the SBC," Griffin said.

Griffin said Georgia Baptists have trained more than 7,000 church volunteers in recent years to recognize abuse, and to report it effectively.  

Unlike Catholic churches, Baptist churches operate as independent entities – hiring their own pastors and staff, without any central authority. Griffin said church staff can get training – but that each church is ultimately responsible for what happens within.

"We feel like education is central. Being victim centric is central," Griffin said. "The best thing we can do for victims is to make sure we don’t have any."

Griffin said the Georgia Baptist Mission Board formed a sexual abuse committee months ago – and said it will be a priority at upcoming state and national meetings later this year.

 

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