Eight Alabama Baptist leaders have jointly addressed the concern circulating among Southern Baptists about Guidepost Solutions’ support and advocacy of LGBTQ+ causes. They are asking Southern Baptist Convention leaders to sever ties with the organization (read full statement here) while encouraging continued support for the sexual abuse survivor community.
Guidepost is the firm hired to conduct the recent investigation into the SBC Executive Committee’s handling of sexual abuse cases from Jan. 1, 2000, through June 14, 2021, and has technically completed its work.
A current relationship continues with Guidepost through the hotline established for survivors and the group has worked with other entities within SBC life.
Debate sparked quickly on social media following the June 6 pride month-related tweet from the organization’s Guidepost Global account.
Describing itself as an “ally to our LGBTQ+ community” and noting its commitment “to strengthening diversity, equity and inclusion” the message was accompanied by a photo of a rainbow flag.
Task force response
A variety of viewpoints continue to be shared via Twitter and other platforms about the ethics of allowing Guidepost to conduct the investigation as well as spending Cooperative Program dollars to pay for it.
And while members of the SBC Sexual Abuse Task Force expressed disappointment in the tweet, they stand by the work performed by Guidepost and the people who were assigned to work with them.
South Carolina pastor Marshall Blalock, vice chair of the task force, told The Alabama Baptist, “They are a secular company … but our experience with them has been that they did an incredible job. They did what we asked them to do, and they’ve handed it off to us.
“We believe we’ve got a good report. … (As far as the tweet), it was disappointing to say the least and we knew people would not react well and we understand that,” Blalock said. “We still believe the report they gave us was credible. … We don’t believe that tweet did harm to what they gave us, but at the same time we don’t have confidence to recommend them in the future at this point unless there’s something that changes somehow.”
Blalock confirmed no Christian firms with the capacity to handle the investigation surfaced when the task force was determining who to hire, but Guidepost “had helped multiple Christian organizations, multiple churches, multiple entities. … They actually understood what we were about as Southern Baptists. They assigned to us people on their staff who were … Christian (and some Baptists). … It was obvious these were people who cared about the kingdom, cared about survivors, cared about what we were trying to do.”
State convention responses
While pastors and other leaders are among the voices calling the investigation into question because it was done by Guidepost, state convention leaders expressing concern are separating the two aspects.
Randy Davis, president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, said, “I believe the substance of the Sexual Abuse Task Force report does identify an extremely important issue that needs to be addressed and corrected. We should — and will — do all we can to eradicate sexual abuse from our convention and make our churches as safe as possible for everyone while caring well for sexual abuse survivors.
“However, Guidepost Solutions’ recently tweeted value statement on human sexuality is in sharp contrast to the Bible’s family and marriage values and our confessional statements summarized by the Baptist Faith and Message. … Guidepost Solutions’ statement undermines my confidence in the future relationship between any SBC entity and Guidepost Solutions. Therefore, I respectfully ask all SBC entities receiving Cooperative Program funding to immediately break ties with Guidepost Solutions.”
Alabama’s statement makes a similar request related to Guidepost:
“As State Convention leaders, our usual practice is not to speak to issues related to the Southern Baptist Convention and how business is handled by the leadership. However, the recent tweet from Guidepost affirming the LGBTQ+ movement has caused us much concern. We respectfully request that our SBC leadership sever ties with that organization. This action should not be seen as lacking strong support for the sexual abuse survivor community. We must do better in dealing with the challenges related to sexual abuse.”
It was signed by Buddy Champion, state convention president; Morgan Bailey, state convention first vice president; Jarman Leatherwood, state convention second vice president; Greg Corbin, State Board of Missions chair; Mel Johnson, SBOM vice chair; Craig Carlisle, state Sexual Abuse Task Force chair; Melissa Bowen, state task force vice chair; and Rick Lance, SBOM executive director.
Update to original article with more state convention responses:
According to a June 8 article in Kentucky Today, the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s Sexual Abuse Task Force cut ties with Guidepost on June 7. The KBC had been working with the firm to prepare a resource for Kentucky Baptist churches on sexual abuse prevention, response and care, the article reports. “In light of the recent post revealing the position held by Guidepost regarding LGBTQ+ causes we, as the KBC Sexual Abuse Task Force, unanimously agreed we would need to part ways with the company,” said task force chair Linda Cooper. Read the full article here.
In South Carolina, the state convention executive director Gary Hollingsworth released a statement June 9 that says: “While we are deeply concerned by Guidepost Solutions recent endorsements via social media, we remain equally concerned about the plight of survivors and the issue of sexual abuse in churches. As we move forward together, we must seek to cooperate with organizations that share our biblical worldview and gospel-driven values. We commit to the work of making churches safe places for the vulnerable and caring for those who have been abused. We have full confidence in our state task force to help keep us moving in the right direction.” Read more from South Carolina in this article by The Courier.
Georgia and Florida state conventions both confirmed June 10 they are not using, nor ever have used, Guidepost and noted concerns of stewardship related to CP dollars for others to use Guidepost. Read their full statements here for Georgia and here for Florida.