"Some still complain that the entire crisis…was manufactured by the media and motivated by anti-Catholicism…but without the deeper crisis of the infidelity and negligence of bishops, the media could not have produced the public and, consequently, episcopal sense of crisis. The scandal was in the chanceries, parishes, and seminaries before it was on the front page or television news. Whatever their motivations…editors and reporters served a higher purpose."
Scandal Time III, Richard John Neuhaus, First Things, August 2002
More than 1/2 of all convicted sex offenders are sent back to prison within a year. Within 2 years, 77.9% are back.
California Department of Corrections.
We return to a small group of concerned church folk who, for the sake of the story, shall be called the "Fellowship of the Wounded". They just wanted to help some molested teens in their congregation. Although one member of the fellowship had some experience in treating victims of child sexual abuse, all agreed that they needed more information.
However, such knowledge had to be obtained from outside the church because the pastors were tight-lipped. Fortunately, there is an internationally known group called SNAP (Survivor’s Network for Those Abused by Priests) that has much experience in the area of sexual abuse. This group has been and continues to be instrumental in dealing with the tragedies of pedophilia at the hands of primarily Roman Catholic priests.
In recent years, sexual abusers have been uncovered in other faiths, including the Southern Baptist Convention. The number of reports of sexual abuse and subsequent cover-ups in the SBC has skyrocketed! For more information on these trends, you may find it helpful to visit the following web sites:
stopbaptistpredators.org and snapnetwork.org
Just last week Darrell Gilyard, a Baptist pastor whom some SBC leaders heralded as "the next Billy Graham", pleaded guilty to molesting two teenage girls; however, there were many more victims left in his wake. Here's a link to the news story:
As the Fellowship of the Wounded sought information about pedophilia, they spoke with one of the national leaders of SNAP who was appalled at the lack of care the victimized boys had received from their church. She expressed her deep regret that professional counseling had not been provided in a timely manner and gave a dire warning that these boys were at risk for suicide, drug and alcohol addiction, confused sexual identities and, worst of all, could become the next generation of child molesters.
This expert explained that since the church leaders had done virtually nothing to help these young victims for several years other than providing minimal pastoral counseling to a few of the victims, she theorized that the pastors would not be amenable to doing much of anything without extreme pressure. She said the Matthew 18 "thing" would be a waste of time because in all of her years of working with victims of sexual abuse she had never seen it work in this sort of a situation. She went on to elaborate that compassionate pastors take immediate action, and confrontation is not necessary. She said the only things that seem to work with recalcitrant churches are legal actions and media inquiries.
The Fellowship was horrified and argued that their pastors were deeply committed to their flock. They were certain they would prove the expert wrong. The SNAP representative then said that if the group was insistent on following this path, they would need to be aware of the following:
The church will try to slip an attorney into the mix. The Catholic Church had done so on their hotlines. So when unsuspecting victims called for help, they were talking to attorneys!!!!! (No way their wonderful church would do such a thing, they thought…)
The church would claim to be “investigating” the incidents. Then, the results of the investigation would be postponed over a long period of time and if completed would NOT be made easily available to the congregation. (“Not our church”, they argued.)
Always, always keep your eyes on the issue — the pain and suffering of the boys. This would help when the Fellowship of the Wounded came under attack from the church. (“Our church would never, ever engage in such activity,” they cried.)
SNAP provided the services of the internationally recognized attorney who led the legal charge against the Catholic church (resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements for the victims). His own family member had been molested in a church. He gave this group his personal cell phone number and told them he would help in any way possible. One touching comment he made was this: “You are the only group of people I have ever heard of who are willing to put themselves on the line for kids that weren’t family.” He implied that if more folks stood up for the victims of sexual abuse, the incidents would lessen. (“We couldn’t be the only ones who would do this”, they puzzled.)
Armed with the Scriptures and background knowledge, they approached the church leaders. Surely, this wonderful church would prove SNAP wrong. Sadly, like Alice, they dropped into a hole and landed in Wonderland where the world behaved in a very unexpected fashion.
There was the case of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum who loved teaching the young folks. So, Tweedle Dee called Adam’s family and told them that they had never met with them about the pedophile until after the arrest. He told the dad that Tweedle Dum totally agreed with him. Interestingly, this pair was known to corroborate each other's accounts. Members of the congregation claimed that these two Tweedles would always “stand on the truth.” Others said that both sides could be right. Hmmm…the meeting happened; the meeting didn't happen. Can both be right? But, this was Wonderland, and logic can be overridden.
Unbeknownst to the leaders, this was the defining moment for the family of Adam. They knew the truth, and they finally realized that truth was being terribly distorted. Once again, the church in Wonderland was not the church the Fellowship thought it was. Armed with this sadly gained knowledge, the Fellowship of the Wounded decided that such statements would not go unchallenged.
During a "special" meeting, Tweedle Dum admitted that the meeting did in fact take place prior to the pedophile's arrest. He agreed that the Tweedles were told by Adam that the pervert was encouraging the boys to flash. After the "special" meeting, one church leader who was present said that he didn’t remember that statement being made by Tweedle Dum. However, the meeting was secretly recorded, and the proof does indeed exist.
This meant that the Tweedles knew of unusual behavior by the rapist a long, long time before he was arrested. Imagine what might have changed had the Tweedles acted upon that knowledge. Many boys may have been spared the agony of rape. However, as Aslan said, “You never know what might have been.” (Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis).
Another family has since recorded a different meeting with the Tweedles and is now able to dispute their “memory” of that meeting. Perhaps Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum will tootle off to a conference to learn how to better remember things that they say in Wonderland.
Leaving Wonderland, we return to the book, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse. When addressing a lack of integrity, they refer to “double-talk.” David Johnson and Jeff Van Vonderen write, “A mark of false spiritual leadership is people who, in their effort to look good, lie. They don’t talk straight." (p.126) “Far more serious than the frustration of this kind of warped communication is the fact that this kind of lying destroys people. The reason why a person who is caught in abuse will lie and make bold promises is to gain your trust." (p.128) Then, they abuse that trust. The authors explain, “False spiritual leaders slowly stick in the spiritual knife and drain the life blood from you. This is why victims of abuse have a terrible time trusting people. They have tried that already.” (p.128)
Johnson and Van Vonderen provide the rationale for a pastor's lying by giving the reader a glimpse into the mind of such a spiritual leader. “Part of the reason (we did not tell the truth) is we needed to look good or be seen as right. We did not want to lie; lying is wrong. But the need to look good or be right overcame the desire to speak truth. When this happens, the so-called right answer is not the real answer. We tell others what we think they want to hear, not what we really think.” Finally, speaking as a pastor, one of the author says, “Most pastors receive messages from their congregation that signal: 'Because you’re the pastor, you need to look good, never struggle, always know the answer and never be wrong'. To succumb to those false needs is to let yourself become trapped in double-talk.” (p.128)
We return to the Fellowship of the Wounded. Things in Wonderland got a bit confusing with all sorts of folks saying all sorts of things. So, the King said, “Enough is enough! (He used to say, “off with their heads” but times have changed and lawyers frown on such things). A commission will be formed to investigate all of the allegations. This group will be independent from the king’s staff and will be overseen by trusted allies who will move expeditiously.” So began an investigation that took many, many months, but "expeditiously" means something different in Wonderland…
We shall tell the tale of this group in another chapter. However, the committee believes it has finished the report. In true Wonderland fashion, it will be released to all members of the fellowship in an open and transparent fashion. What might this mean? Well, it could mean putting the report in a room in the inner sanctum of the castle. Then, all “interested” parties can sign in and review the document. They will not be allowed to make copies, they cannot use “electronic devices”, and they WILL NOT be allowed to post it on the evil “Internet.” Then, they must sign out of the room once the reading has taken place. Will there be a page counter (perhaps the Cheshire Cat, himself) stationed outside the special room to verify that no pages of the report are missing when it is returned? No mention was made as to whether chains will be fastened to the readers’ ankles while sitting in the special reading room. This is a description of "honesty" and "transparency" in Wonderland. Lights do not shine brightly on hills in this kingdom.
Please refer to our post on C J Mahaney. He is the self-appointed “head Apostle” (Egads!) of Sovereign Grace Ministries. This group of churches seems to have a penchant for spinning off a bunch of “survivor groups” due to their alleged abusive church polity. In one Sovereign Grace church, a member dared to ask the forbidden question — where are all the contributions going? So, the pastors decided to make the church's financial statements available for the members to see. However, according to one of the survivor sites, they placed the report in a "special" room in the church. The members had to request permission to see the financial documents.
Once a member arrived to review the church's finances, a leader would miraculously materialize and interrogate the member regarding why he/she needed to review the report. The leader would then theorize about the member’s "motives". Questions would be raised about their loyalty, negativity, and commitment to the church. Obviously, this intimidation tactic limited the number of people willing to review these financial reports. This is a technique called “demotivational management". As one can imagine, it is quite effective! Once again, the “Can’t Talk” rule is in effect.
Is this what is happening in Wonderland? Tune in tomorrow ……….