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Texas Baptist Convention Executive Board Approves Policy Banning Registered Sex Offenders from Church Leadership

The Executive Board of the Baptist General Convention of Texas has approved a policy permanently disqualifying registered sex offenders from church leadership, saying that any congregation that violates that standard “may be” considered “outside of harmonious cooperation” with the convention.

Board members at the meeting held Sept. 27 and 28 in Dallas said they wanted to send a strong statement about sexual abuse but also wanted churches to have the flexibility to consider infractions on a case-by-case basis, adopting “may be” as policy language rather than “will be,” the Baptist Standard reported.

Also at the convention, the board approved a statement of faith that affirms “the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death,” defines marriage in terms of one man and one woman, and identifies gender exclusively as male and female.

Director David Hardage said the statement of faith gives Texas Baptists “a succinct explanation of their theological identity” to share with other groups. 

The Convention in 2016 defined four criteria to determine whether churches are in harmonious cooperation, including praying for the work of the convention; contributing to the convention’s  financial support; engaging in convention ministries; and affirming Biblical marriage as between one man and one woman “in covenant relationship with the Lord and each other.”

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The exclusion of sex offenders from leadership positions adds a fifth requirement.

The amended policy statement approved by the executive board reads:

“The Executive Board of the Baptist General Convention of Texas maintains that any registered sex offender, having sexually abused and/or exploited others, should be permanently disqualified from serving in leadership positions in the church. Churches which violate this standard may be considered out of harmonious cooperation with the churches of the BGCT.”

Anne Stych

Anne Stych is a writer in Charlotte, North Carolina.