The U.S. Department of Justice has launched an investigation into the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) following its multiple problems related to clergy sex abuse.
The Baptist News reports the scope and focus of the investigation were not made public, although the SBC Executive Committee said it had been served with a subpoena and that the DOJ investigation will include multiple SBC agencies.
"This is an ongoing investigation and we are not commenting on our discussions with DOJ," the committee said.
"Individually and collectively each SBC entity is resolved to fully and completely cooperate with the investigation," a statement from the committee said. "While we continue to grieve and lament past mistakes related to sexual abuse, current leaders across the SBC have demonstrated a firm conviction to address those issues of the past and are implementing measures to ensure they are never repeated in the future. The fact that the SBC Executive Committee recently completed a fully transparent investigation is evidence of this commitment."
"We recognize our reform efforts are not finished. In fact, those efforts are continuing this very moment as the recently announced Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force begins its work and as each entity has strengthened its efforts to protect against abuse. Our commitment to cooperate with the Department of Justice is born from our demonstrated commitment to transparently address the scourge of sexual abuse," the statement said.
"While so many things in the world are uncertain, we can be certain that we serve a mighty God. Nothing, including this investigation, takes him by surprise. We take comfort in that and humbly ask you be in prayer in the days and weeks ahead," the statement continued.
"Specifically, we ask God to grant wisdom and discernment to each person dealing with the investigation," the statement concluded.
The investigation comes after an independent report commissioned by the SBC found leaders failed to properly address allegations of sexual abuse over a 20-year period.
The 288-page report by Guidepost Solutions, an independent firm contracted by the SBC Executive Committee was authorized at the denomination's annual meeting last year.
The denomination took action to correct the failures, including approving a website to maintain a list of pastors, staff, and volunteers who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse.
SBC leaders pledged to cooperate with the federal investigation.
CBN News reached out to the Justice Department for comment. In an emailed response, Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the department, declined to comment on the investigation.