Southern Baptist Head Ronnie Floyd Has Resigned Amid Controversy Over Sex Abuse Investigation

Ronnie Floyd, the acting CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention’s business wing, has resigned. As head of the SBC Executive Committee, Floyd  has overseen a weeks-long internal debate over the handling of an investigation into the denomination’s handling of sexual abuse.

The SBC has a unique structure, allowing individual churches to operate independently while still maintaining the Executive Committee to navigate business decisions like financial and legal matters. Traditionally, the SBC has elected congregational delegates — known as messengers — to vote on SBC policy at annual meetings and then trusted the Executive Committee to manage the details.

But that system has been contentious in recent weeks, after the messengers voted for a fully transparent investigation into the SBC’s handling of sexual abuse within its ranks. The messengers voted for an investigation that would include a waiver of attorney-client privilege, to allow the third party investigators full access to all communications. Many members of the Executive Committee balked at this provision, arguing that it would leave the SBC vulnerable to expensive lawsuits. Floyd was among those who resisted the waiver of attorney-client privilege.

A 2019 Houston Chronicle report uncovered a culture of sexual abuse cover-up within the SBC, detailing hundreds of cases and giving a platform to survivors and advocates who say the denominational leadership has dragged its heels on addressing their concerns. A third-party investigation with attorney-client privilege waived had been approved nearly unanimously by the messengers, but the Executive Committee voted against the attorney-client privilege waiver several times before a new vote affirmed the will of the messengers.

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Following that vote, the SBC’s longtime legal counsel severed ties with the denomination, along with several members of the Executive Committee who resigned in protest. Now, Floyd has joined that number.

“I will not and cannot any longer fulfill the duties placed on me,” Floyd wrote in a letter, saying the Executive Committee’s vote placed the denomination in “uncertain, unknown, unprecedented and unchartered waters” that he did not wish to lead them through. “Due to my personal integrity and the leadership responsibility entrusted to me, I will not and cannot any longer fulfill the duties placed upon me as the leader of the executive, fiscal, and fiduciary entity of the SBC.”

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