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Southern Baptists agree to maintain a list of accused sex abusers


ANAHEIM, California (AP) — The Southern Baptist Convention has voted overwhelmingly to create a way to track pastors and other church workers credibly accused of sex abuse.

Delegates also agreed to launch a new task force to oversee further reforms in the nation's largest Protestant denomination.

The vote came three weeks after the release of a blockbuster report by an outside consultant on the long-simmering scandal. The report revealed that Southern Baptist leaders mishandled abuse cases and stonewalled victims for years.

The vote fell short of what some survivors of abuse in Southern Baptist churches sought. It also met opposition from some who contended the crisis was overhyped and interfered with churches’ independence.

In other convention news, Texas pastor Bart Barber was elected yesterday as the new Southern Baptist president.

The Associated Press notes Barber is a staunch conservative who would welcome bans on abortion, opposes critical race theory and supports only men as pastors.

However, Barber says he has a track record of dialogue with those who disagree on those and other issues. He has called for an “army of peacemakers” amid bitter political battles in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

Barber defeated three other candidates in voting at the SBC’s national meeting in California. His closest rival, Tom Ascol, had complained of too much “wokeness” in the denomination and sought to move it further to the right.