While visiting the site of this year’s Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Bart Barber addressed via Twitter recent questions related to the financial costs that come with helping sexual abuse survivors and preventing future cases of abuse.
The SBC president specifically discussed on Tuesday (Jan. 17) questions he’d received on social media about the expenses related to the SBC sexual abuse hotline. In recent weeks, the SBC’s Sexual Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force addressed other questions related to protocol and accountability involving the hotline.
“The last two years we have met, messengers like you and me have overwhelmingly lifted our ballots in support of reforms regarding sexual abuse, to find ways for our convention to assist local churches, to prevent abuse and to care for those who have been abused,” said Barber, with the convention center in the background of his video. ” … the messengers have known when we’ve done that, there would be costs associated with our response to sexual abuse.”
‘Responding to sexual abuse is expensive’
Some have asked Barber on Twitter if there is a monthly charge for hotline expenses.
“It actually doesn’t work that way,” he noted. “There’s not a flat monthly charge for the hotline. Instead, a month where one person calls in is less expensive than a month where 10 people call in.
“So, I can’t give an answer that says, ‘Every month it costs this amount,’” he said, noting the legal fees and other related expenses that come with responding to sexual abuse.
“But I will tell you this. It’s expensive,” he said. “Responding to sexual abuse is expensive, and Southern Baptists deserve to know that.”
It is important, Barber added, for Southern Baptists to “examine the cost of doing something about sexual abuse” and “the cost of doing nothing.”
By taking action now, Barber said the SBC can work to help avoid more abuse, more legal fees and related expenses in the days ahead.
“[Southern Baptists] have been paying those costs … for a long time,” he said. “For all of my adult lifetime, there have been occasions where sexual abuse took place and the convention was sued and we’ve been paying that expense. The only way to make the expense go away, is to make the abuse go away.”
Reducing costs in the long run
“And I firmly believe that anything we can do to prevent sexual abuse in our churches, anything we can do to aid survivors and help them, is money well spent and reduces our expenses in the long run,” Barber said.
Barber noted that addressing “the human cost” of abuse is worth the financial cost.
“If we don’t care about the human cost of abuse, then we’re in the wrong business,” he said.
“But I think according to God’s economy, and according to the way accountants look at the economy,” he noted, “it’s a good investment for Southern Baptists to do everything that we can even if it costs some money to do it.”