Baptist Churches Tracking Ministers Convicted of Sex Crimes

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The Baptist General Convention of Texas has launched a website that could help keep all of their 5,600 affiliated churches from bringing predators into the pulpit.

The website contains the names of convicted sex offenders that may have served as ministers in some Texas Baptist congregations.

Emmanuel Baptist Church Associate Pastor Thomas Baber said the BGCT is sending churches and sex predators a strong message.

"The church is taking this matter serious and we don't want this in our church," Baber said. "We don't want these crimes."

Currently, the website only has nine names posted, but the goal of the BGCT is to make available as many names as possible of convicted sex offenders as the information becomes available through public records. Since many Baptist churches hire their own pastors, the website could be used as a resource for affiliated churches, conducting background checks on new clergy members who will hold leadership roles in the church.

Fellow Associate Pastor John Ely said the website is a viable tool that could help churches regain the trust of worshipers.

"It shows people we can be trusted and when they come around that we don't have people around that would in any way danger their kids." Ely said. "I mean, the safest place should be a church."

Baber said church leaders have to realize the sanctity of the church is not immune to sexual evil and perversion.

"Quite frankly, the church right now is populated with people who have committed sexual crimes," Baber said.

Baber does not believe the website's aim is to alienate convicted sex offenders from coming to or being a part of a church, but said sex offenders' crimes hinder their ability to be trusted by congregants.

"This person has violated a trust in the past," Baber said. "And not just a trust but a biblical mandate. And to have broken that trust is to disqualify himself from the ministry," Baber said.