Southern Baptists get look at website that eventually will include registry of sex offenders


NEW OREANS — Southern Baptist messengers got their first look Wednesday at a website that provides resources to help churches prevent sexual abuse and that will eventually include an online sexual abuse registry of abusers.

The registry currently has no names because its creators still are vetting people for potential inclusion.

The Southern Baptist Convention’s Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force unveiled the website at an annual meeting held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in downtown New Orleans.

After hearing about work done thus far, messengers voted overwhelming to grant the task force another year to complete its work.

South Carolina pastor Marshall Blalock who chairs the task force said the website includes a toolbox of resources for churches.

“The only way we can help make our churches the safest place on earth is to help each other in that endeavor,” he said. “We’re committed to carrying out your mandate to assist in implementing reforms so that churches will be more equipped to prevent sexual abuse and to care for survivors.”

Blalock also assured messengers that precautions are being taken to ensure no one ends up on the database unless they actually belong on it.

“A mere allegation absolutely will not put someone’s name on the list,” he said.

The database will be limited to people who have confessed to sexual abuse, been convicted of sexual abuse in a court of law, had a civil judgement rendered against them for sexual abuse, or have been credibly accused of sexual abuse based on a preponderance of evidence as determined by a third party.

Blalock said a legal review is underway to determine whose names, city of residence and photos will be added to the list.

“We cannot get this wrong,” said Missouri pastor Jon Nelson who serves on the task force. “We will not get this wrong. We will take our time and make sure it’s absolutely correct before those names go on the website. The thing that will tear this whole thing down is if we put someone up there who is merely accused and there is no evidence behind it.”

Blalock said resources available on the website include educational materials for church leaders to understand methods and protocols for preventing sexual abuse and responding to allegations of sexual abuse.

“We want to see our churches faithful to Christ, fulfilling the Great Commission, sending to the nations with the good news,” he said. “But if we are not protecting our people from abuse, we are compromising our mission.”