Southern Baptist Convention Expels Midland Church for Hiring Sex Offender as Pastor
MIDLAND, TX – In its first significant action to improve the handling of sexual abuse allegations in its churches in the last year, the Southern Baptist Convention has expelled one of its Texas congregations for employing a registered sex offender.
According to mrt.com , Ranchland Heights Baptist Church in Midland was voted out from the denomination “because of its employment of a lifetime registered sex offender as a pastor,” said Jon Wilke, a spokesman for Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee.
Last year an investigation by The Houston Chronicle and The San Antonio Express-News found that since 1998 about 400 Southern Baptist leaders had been accused of sexual misconduct or crimes against more than 700 victims. Offenders included pastors, youth pastors, and volunteers.
The pastor at Ranchland Heights Baptist Church, Phillip Rutledge, was convicted in 2003 of sexually assaulting two girls, ages 11 and 12. He is required to register for life as a sex offender according to the DPS website.
Back in 2016, Ranchland church officials told local media they knew Rutledge was a sex offender before they hired him, but they believed God had forgiven him.
The convention’s decision to remove a single church from the denomination came months after leaders vowed to take action and install new protocols to protect its parishioners.
“We have spoken against matters of sexual abuse, and we have taken some major, demonstrative steps as a convention of churches,” said Ronnie Floyd, President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s executive leadership committee.
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