The Atlantic

The Lessons Southern Baptists Need to Learn

America’s largest Protestant denomination is reeling from a sexual-abuse scandal. Can its leaders push through needed reforms?
Source: Mark Humphrey / AP

America’s largest Protestant denomination has seen better days. Last week, an investigation of the Southern Baptist Convention by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News reported more than 700 cases of sexual abuse perpetrated by nearly 400 church leaders going back to 1998. After being accused, many perpetrators found new congregations where they could repeat their offenses against new victims. For more than a decade, denominational leaders have ignored Southern Baptists’ pleas for an SBC sexual-offender registry.

The news comes 17 years after broke the story on widespread sexual abuse in Roman Catholic churches. The slow, sometimes dismissive response of many Catholic leaders contributed to a slew of high-profile resignations, payments

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