Harder to track abuse in Protestant denominations

February 23, 2007, WHNT News 19, Huntsville, AL

From AP Reports:

NASHVILLE (AP) - The head of the Southern Baptist Convention says the denomination plans to teach churches how to conduct background checks.  President Frank Page says the denomination will also educate churches on requiring letters of recommendation for job candidates.

Earlier this week, a victims' advocate group that has spoken out against sexual abuse allegations in the Catholic Church turned its attention to the nation's largest Protestant denomination. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) says Southern Baptists have failed to root out molesters.

Page says the Southern Baptist Convention doesn't have the legal authority to create an independent board to investigate complaints. However, he says they'll assist churches as much as possible.  Page says, "We believe children are the most precious gifts from God."

Meanwhile, a religious studies and history professor at Pennsylvania State University says it's harder to track down sexual abuse allegations involving children in Protestant denominations. Philip Jenkins says "Southern Baptists are massively decentralized compared to the Catholic Church."