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Southern Baptist Scandals:
Pastor allowed to move from state to state despite clouds of suspicion


Members of his Florida congregation viewed him as a trusted pastor, but Doug Myers' arrest came as no surprise to some who had crossed his path during his 30 years of ministry in Baptist churches.

He moved under a cloud of suspicion from churches in Maryland, to Alabama, to Florida. But no one stopped him.

As pastor of Bayside Baptist Church in Chesapeake Beach, Maryland, Doug Myers achieved national prominence when he spontaneously recited the Lord’s Prayer during a high school graduation ceremony.

But while the Baptist Press was reporting on Myers’ “right-to-pray” coalition, others at his Maryland church had suspicions of child sex abuse. Myers eventually left Maryland “amid issues with three teenage boys.”

He moved on to Concord Baptist Church in Russellville, Alabama. But when a deacon there tried to raise his concerns about Myers, it split the church.

Myers moved on again, this time to Harbor Baptist Church in Eustis, Florida.

Finally, he was caught up with in Tavares, Florida, where he was founding pastor of Triangle Community Church. There, he was sentenced to 7 years in prison for repeatedly molesting a church kid.

Prosecutors say, “There may be more victims.” Congregants at his earlier churches are not surprised.

Why was there no system within the Southern Baptist denomination for stopping this man?

The mom of one abused boy has sued the Florida Baptist Convention, the Lake County Baptist Association, and the Florida churches, claiming they all "should have known" that Myers was unsuitable to be a pastor and that "they should have protected her son." As reported by the Orlando Sentinel, the statewide Florida Baptist Convention was accused of negligence. One expert testified that "the statewide group should have done more .... had they not in fact approved of him, he would not be in Florida doing that work. The reality was they were the party that could have said no.")

"As a church planter, the suit says, Myers acted as an agent of the convention...receiving organizational support including health insurance, retirement services and support through the state convention's Cooperative Program budget."

On May 17, 2012, the Orlando Sentinel reported that a Florida jury had found the Florida Baptist Convention liable for the sexual abuse inflicted by former Southern Baptist pastor Doug Myers.