The Star-Telegram discovered at least 412 allegations of sexual misconduct in 187 independent fundamental Baptist churches and their affiliated institutions, spanning 40 states and Canada.
Twenty-one abuse allegations were uncovered exclusively by the Star-Telegram, and others were documented in criminal cases, lawsuits and news reports. But victims said the number of abused is far greater because few victims ever come forward.
One hundred and sixty-eight church leaders were accused or convicted of committing sexual crimes against children, the investigation found. At least 45 of the alleged abusers continued in ministry after accusations came to the attention of church authorities or law enforcement.
An eight-month investigation by the Star-Telegram shows that what happened at Faith Baptist is just one example in a nationwide pattern of cover-ups and shuffling of suspected abusers among churches and universities that, like Faith Baptist, are part of the independent fundamental Baptist movement.
The cover-ups are reminiscent of the scandals of the Roman Catholic Church, but distinctly different.
Decisions in the Catholic Church are made within a hierarchical structure that governs all churches. Independent fundamental Baptist churches operate with no oversight or structure outside their own walls.
One thing does bind the churches that face abuse accusations: a culture that uses fear to control and gives men in power the role of unquestioned and ultimate authority. In that environment, abuse has visited scores of fundamental Baptist churches.
And many abusers have escaped consequence-free, often with the help of the pastor in charge.
http://archive.is/YZGLh, http://archive.is/NOgvn, http://archive.is/ZSZLI, http://archive.is/Ort7b