Tulsa pastors respond to proposal of sexual predator database within Baptist churches

TULSA, Okla. -- Thousands are gathering in Dallas for the Southern Baptist Convention.

One Oklahoma pastor is there fighting for a predator database to track sexual predators as they come through the door.

After 11 years, Enid Reverend Wade Burleson is proposing this amidst the #MeToo movement, and challenges within the Baptist faith.

"Our denomination has had a few black eyes the last couple of months regarding allegations of not protecting victims of abuse. So I was very pleased to hear that we're not only making statements but taking action, steps, to protect the vulnerable," South Tulsa Baptist Pastor Eric Costanzo said.

Costanzo said what is supposed to be a safe place can sometimes be difficult to protect.

"Unfortunately I think churches are places that predators often can prey upon because of the welcoming atmosphere and maybe just a little bit easier entry," he said.

Burleson's proposal was rejected in 2007 when convention leaders said autonomous churches did not have the ability to track parishioners. Pastors understand these challenges, but this year Costanzo feels optimistic.

"With the technology that we have available today and the ability for churches and organizations to communicate well, we should be able to put something together to at least get this process started, and then maybe work out the bugs as it goes," Costanzo said.

Ultimately it would be up to those at the convention to create the guidelines for this plan.

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