Southern Baptist leader resigns over abuse investigation division

NASHville, Tenn. — A senior executive of the Southern Baptist Convention resigns after weeks of internal division over how best to conduct an investigation into the sect’s response to reports of sexual abuse.

Ronnie Floyd, chairman and CEO of SBC’s Executive Committee, announced his departure on Thursday in a statement criticizing recent decisions regarding the ongoing third-party review. He said he would resign at the end of the month.

“Due to my personal integrity and the leadership responsibility entrusted to me, I will no longer be and will no longer be able to perform the duties entrusted to me as leader of SBC’s executive, finance and trustee unit,” Floyd said.

A research firm funded by the Steering Committee is investigating allegations that the committee mishandled abuse reports and mistreated survivors. After numerous meetings and mounting pressure across the convention, a divided Executive Committee voted on October 5 to waive attorney-client privilege for investigation and agreed to turn over the legally protected records to investigators.

Supporters of the waiver said it fulfilled an important request by thousands of Southern Baptist delegates, which prompted third-party scrutiny. Opponents said the contract could jeopardize insurance policies and was financially risky.

Floyd said in a statement that the Steering Committee is up to the review, but that this can be done “without creating these potential risks to the liability of the Convention.”

The largest Protestant denomination in the US has been grappling with a sexual abuse scandal for years. It was subject to further scrutiny following a 2019 report by the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News, which documented hundreds of cases of abuse in Southern Baptist churches, including those with several alleged perpetrators remaining in the ministry.

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