Southern Baptist Convention presidential candidate calls sex abuse lawsuits a ‘distraction’ in Alabama sermon

By Greg Garrison

Southern Baptist Convention presidential candidate David L. Allen spoke Sunday, May 5, 2024, at Valleydale Church in Pelham.

Speaking at Valleydale Church in Pelham on Sunday, Southern Baptist Convention presidential candidate David L. Allen called the 42 sex abuse lawsuits against Southern Baptist entities a distraction from the gospel.

“We have gotten involved in trying to figure out how to negotiate problems with sexual abuse, how to address that, how to address that in a financially responsible way,” Allen said.

“Many people are unaware of this – the Southern Baptist Convention, either individual leaders or agencies or state conventions, right now are involved in 42 lawsuits.”

Allen called it a financial drain.

“It is unbelievable, and that is heavily draining financially our Executive Committee,” said Allen, who was a guest speaker at Valledale Church.

“We’ve got to figure out how to get back on track and address this,” he said. “There are other issues as well that are distracting us from the main thing. The main thing is missions, evangelism and preaching the gospel and church planting. That’s the main thing. All these other things are distractions. They have to be addressed. But we cannot allow our focus to get off on all of these other things and not focus on the main thing.”

After Allen’s comments were criticized on social media, Valleydale Pastor Mac Brunson, whom Allen described as one of his five closest friends, defended him.

“Thank you for exposing your heart by referring to us as distractions,” said Dave Pittman in a social media post on X.

“That is disingenuous at best and a distortion of what he said,” Brunson replied. “He stated very clearly that it was an issue that had to be dealt with. Many, many are fed up with this kind of character assassination.”

Answering another social media critic, Brunson added: “Yes he used the word distractions but not of sex abuse victims. He listed a number of things. Honestly for 5 years going on 6 how to deal with this has been distracting. No sex abuse victim is satisfied – not many others with how it has been handled.”

The 2024 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention is scheduled for June 9-12 in Indianapolis.

Allen was dean of theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary from 2004 to 2016, and founding dean of the School of Preaching. He is dean of the Adrian Rogers Center for Biblical Preaching at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, and is founder of PreachingCoach, according to his website.