by Justin Deschamps, June 1, 2022
ATLANTA, GEORGA – The Southern Baptist Convention, released a list with over 200 entries, some of which detail alleged abusers who admitted to the abuse and were subsequently allows to continue working close to children.
The Southern Baptist Church committee members announced in a meeting last Thursday, the 26th of May, that the list would be released to the public, which had been kept secret until now.
This is just the latest development in an ongoing scandal regarding the Southern Baptist Convention.
In 2019, a joint investigation of two news organizations, the San Antonio Express-News and the Houston Chronicle, revealed that most of the victims were shunned by their churches after complaints were filed. Furthermore, in what might be criminal activity, at least 35 of the alleged abusers were never charged and continued to work in positions close to potential victims, despite exhibiting predatory behavior. And some of the registered sex offenders continued preaching despite their criminal activity. In one case, a pastor abused dozens of girls and boys, settled with victims in a court case, and went on to a prestigious position in the Catholic Church close to the Pope, according to one confidential source.
In 2018, Mark Aderholt was arrested in South Carolina on charges of sexual assault which occurred in 1996-97 when he was 25 as a Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) student. In 2019, Aderholt pled guilty and as part of the plea deal, his sentence was wiped clean and he will not be on the Sex Offender Registry.
In 2007, International Mission Board (IMB), where Aderholt was employed, was informed of the abuse and an internal investigation led to Aderholt’s resignation. IMB did not report it to the police. Aderholt went on to work for three more religious organizations, the Immanuel Baptist Church, Little Rock, Arkansas, Central Baptist Church, North Little Rock, Arkansas, and the South Carolina Baptist Convention.
The Southern Baptist Convention is a Christian denomination based in the US and is the world’s largest Baptist denomination, and supports some 47,000 congregations with over 14 million members. The organization has come under fire over the years for its policies of essentially covering up abuse crimes of those accused of wrongdoing, in some cases, moving them to other positions where they went on to abuse other victims.
The scandal is reminiscent of the Catholic Church abuse cases that emerged in the 1990s. In the latest development of that scandal, some 216,000 children in France alone had been sexually abused by members of the clergy since 1950.
The numbers are so staggering that several documentaries have emerged suggesting that church authorities know predatory behavior is not just an isolated case, but it’s endemic. And that church officials are effectively in the business of covering up widespread abuse as a matter of policy.
A Blind Eye, at present, is a three-part series on the independent film service Dauntless Dialogue, home to dozens of high production value short films exposing corruption, details the harrowing examples of covered up abuse, some of which include horrific stories.
Jules Woodson, was a victim of abuse at the hands of her youth pastor, Andy Savage, when she was in high school in 1998. “I felt acknowledged that they knew,” Woodson said. “But at the same time heartbreaking to see how many people they knew about and didn’t warn others.”
The report is just the “tip of the iceberg,” Woodson said.
Child Protect, a children’s advocacy center, reports that “For every incident of child abuse or neglect that’s reported, an estimated two incidents go unreported.” This statistic confirms the findings of therapists that work with victims of familial and institutional abuse.
According to the late Dr. Charles L. Whitfield, some victims in families and institutions are sometimes convinced their memories of abuse are false. Abusers and co-abusers—usually spouses or parents who can’t accept the possibility abuse happened at the hands of people they know and love—look to dismiss allegations of abuse, claiming they’re false memories. The invalidation of victim experiences often causes lifelong mental illness and hardship.
The now-defunct False Memory Syndrome Foundation provided the justification these abusers seek to dismiss the claims of victims. The organization, previously promoted by Elizabeth Loftus, who she claims, is herself a victim of alleged false memories of abuse, states that there’s an epidemic of false memories. However, Loftus and other proponents of false memory syndrome advocates have never scientifically proven the existence of false memories of the severity experienced by abuse victims and have lost serval lawsuits over the years.
Justin Deschamps is a writer, epistemologist, researcher and omniologist discussing a wide range of topics for the betterment of well-being in and through the enhanced capacity to think critically, discern wisely, and bravely expose corruption. He also writes for several influential online series and writes, produces, and hosts the show Into The Storm on Rise.tv.