Reps. Gregory, Rozzi call on AG to investigate Southern Baptist sex abuse | Five for the Weekend

‘We cannot delude ourselves into thinking this type of despicable, criminal behavior has not occurred within our Commonwealth,’ the lawmakers wrote

By: - May 28, 2022 6:48 am

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Happy weekend, all. 

Two state lawmakers are calling on state Attorney General Josh Shapiro to open an investigation into reports of abuse within the Southern Baptist Convention of churches.

State Reps. Jim Gregory, R-Blair, and Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, sent a joint letter to Attorney General Josh Shapiro on Tuesday, asking the state’s top prosecutor, and his office, to investigate reports of abuse within Southern Baptist Convention of churches in Pennsylvania.

The letter to Shapiro comes days after the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee issued a report that found that church leaders attempted to silence survivors of clergy sex abuse. 

“The news reported just this week is of such a disturbing nature and reminiscent of the Grand Jury reports ordered by your office in 2016 and 2018 on the Catholic Dioceses. … This report helped victims move forward by exposing their predators and shedding light on those who committed the heinous crimes against them as children,” the representatives wrote in their letter.

The Southern Baptist Convention of churches serves more than 300 Pennsylvania churches, according to the letter.

“We cannot delude ourselves into thinking this type of despicable, criminal behavior has not occurred within our Commonwealth,” they wrote.

“As a survivor myself, I was saddened to again hear of an institution looking out for its own interests instead of the people it harmed,” Gregory said in a statement. “I urge the attorney general to expediently seat a grand jury to shine light on these heinous acts.”

As always, the top five stories from this week are below. 

The legacy of the Sandy Hook shootings in 2012 continues to reverberate nine years later, including in how conspiracy theories have changed since the tragedy (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/AFP via Getty Images/The Conversation).

1. Sandy Hook Anniversary: Conspiracy theories are worse and more mainstream than ever | Opinion

Conspiracy theories are powerful forces in the U.S. They have damaged public health amid a global pandemic, shaken faith in the democratic process and helped spark a violent assault on the U.S. Capitol in January 2021.

These conspiracy theories are part of a dangerous misinformation crisis that has been building for years in the U.S.

American politics has long had a paranoid streak, and belief in conspiracy theories is nothing new. But as the news cycle reminds us daily, outlandish conspiracy theories born on social media now regularly achieve mainstream acceptance and are echoed by people in power.

Out candidates Deja Alvarez, Brian Sims, Malcolm Kenyatta, and Jonathan Lovitz lost their primary election bids (Philadelphia Gay News photo collage).

2. Pa. Primary 2022: LGBTQ candidates ran across Pa., to mixed results | Analysis

The results of the 2022 Democratic primary election were mixed for Pennsylvania’s LGBTQ candidates, with several high profile Philadelphia-area candidates losing their races to straight allies.

In the race for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor, openly gay state Rep. Brian Sims, D-Philadelphia, lost to fellow state Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny; as of May 18, Davis had received 63 percent of the vote to Sims’ 24 percent. A third candidate, Ray Sosa, received 12 percent of the vote.

“Congratulations to Rep. Austin Davis on his win tonight!” Sims posted on Twitter on Tuesday. “Austin ran a great race and he’ll be a great Lt. Governor. With the primary over, we all must work to elect Josh Shapiro and Austin Davis as our next Governor and Lt. Governor — the stakes are too high for anything else.”

(Photo via Getty Images/Colorado Newsline.)

3. Did the Clinton-era assault weapons ban work? Here’s what the numbers say | Opinion

In the wake of two mass shootings in the past two weeks (one in Atlanta at massage parlors, and one in Boulder Colorado at a supermarket), President Joe Biden called for the assault weapons ban, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994, to be reinstated.

U.S. Sen Ted Cruz, R-Texas, objected, calling gun control legislation “ridiculous theater.”

We tested whether the ban worked or not.

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman [Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller]

4. Fetterman’s lesson for Dems: A clear brand and coherent message wins every time | Friday Coffee

You’d be hard-pressed to find a Pennsylvania Democrat who didn’t think that Lt. Gov. John Fetterman wasn’t going to come out at the right end of Tuesday’s nationally watched primary for U.S. Senate.

And even if he did lead in the polls heading into election night, the comprehensiveness of Fetterman’s win — he carried all 67 counties, and beat second-place U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb by a little more than 32 percentage points — was no less eyebrow-raising.

There’s been no shortage of speculation in the days since Fetterman’s win on whether the Allegheny pol represents the future of the Democratic Party.

COVID-19 vaccine is stored at -80 degrees celsius in the pharmacy at Roseland Community Hospital on December 18, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. The hospital began distributing the COVID-19 vaccine to its workers yesterday. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

5. CDC updates COVID-19 vaccine booster guidance as case counts rise

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its COVID-19 vaccine guidance to include expanded eligibility for booster doses.

In a statement issued last week, the CDC expanded guidance for children, authorizing those ages 5 through 11 years old to receive a booster shot 5 months after their initial Pfizer vaccination series. Individuals 12 or older who are immunocompromised and those ages 50 and older are currently eligible for second booster doses. The agency cited a nationwide increase in COVID-19 cases as the reason for the update to the eligibility guidelines.

As of May 23, the CDC reported a daily average of 102,940 new cases of COVID-19 in the United States.

And that’s the week. We’ll see you back here next week.

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.