Bart Barber, the newly elected president of the beleaguered Southern Baptist Convention, gave a wide-ranging interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes, parts of which raised eyebrows with rape survivors
During the interview, Anderson Cooper asked about the case of a 10-year-old Ohio girl who was raped and traveled to Indiana, where abortion remains legal; Ohio banned abortions. Barber, who has taken the reins of the SBC amid controversy over the church’s handling of sexual assault, told Cooper that the child should have been forced to give birth.
“Even in that case, you think she should have the child?” Cooper asked.
Barber responded: “I do.... I don’t want that to sound like I don’t have tremendous compassion for her and her circumstance. I wish we could put an end to 10-year-olds being raped. I’m-- I’m trying to work against child sexual abuse because I think that’s atrocious.”
Cooper asked Barber whether “forcing a ten-year-old child to go to term with a baby from rape” was tantamount to “abuse of a child.”
“I see it as horrible. I see it as preferable to killing someone else,” Barber said.
Kaiser Permanente posted an article this weekend outlining the risks of teen births in response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade and continued battles in lower courts over the legality of abortion in states across America.
States with the highest rates of teen births (many of these states are also overwhelmingly conservative) also have the highest rates of maternal mortality related to birth and infant mortality. Arkansas women have the highest rate of pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S., according to CDC data, about double the national average.
Each of the nine states that have a teen-birth rate above 22 per 1,000 females aged 15 to 19 had so-called trigger laws that banned abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. Those states are: Mississippi; Arkansas; Louisiana; Oklahoma; Alabama; Kentucky; Tennessee; West Virginia; and Texas.
Some girls’ advocates fear maternal mortality rates and infant mortality rates will increase due to abortion bans in these conservative states.
Regarding the SBC’s gross mishandling of cases of credible sex abuse cases, Barber said the SBC Executive Committee did more than “ignore” victims.
“That’s not a strong enough word. We didn’t just ignore them. Sometimes we impugned their motives. Sometimes we attacked them. The reason why I’m president of the Southern Baptist Convention is because our churches do not agree with that and have taken action to correct those things,” Barber said.
Cooper also asked Barber about his beliefs on gay marriage. He asked Barber if a person could be a Christian, a member of a Baptist church, and be married to a person of the same gender. His answer was one word: “No.”
While Barber held true to many Southern Baptists’ opinions on abortion and gay marriage, he also weighed in other controversial topics, telling Cooper he believed Joe Biden was rightfully elected president and that he supports legal immigration.
The SBC is under investigation by the US Department of Justice. Barber did not comment on the investigation during the interview, and Cooper did not ask him questions about the DOJ investigation. However, the investigation was mentioned during the segment. You can watch the full segment here.