“The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.”
Elie Wiesel quotes
We will go to Memphis on Wednesday. Today we cover a fascinating news story from the Raleigh, NC area. Tomorrow, we return to FBC Jax with a fascinating post from a guest blogger. We promise something you will probably not see elsewhere. We will simultaneously publish with FBC JaxWatchdog.
Warning: Explicit material in the next paragraph only.
Imagine… A little girl, let’s call her Sarah, is held down by a man and forcibly raped. The horrendous scene is recorded on camera. You can hear her little voice sobbing and calling out for her mommy. Yet, there is no mommy, and this heinous act is completed. The repulsive video is available on the Internet. A man in Raleigh, North Carolina gets his kicks out of watching child pornography like that which has just been described. In fact, he has been getting sexually aroused this way just about every night for TWELVE years. He is finally brought to justice and will soon be sentenced for this felony. This crime carries a minimum of FIVE years in a federal prison.
This criminal is upset and does not want to go to jail while he awaits his sentencing because he has important things to do. What is the response of one Southern Baptist pastor? The pastor takes the stand in order to ask a judge to give him extra time to be on the streets reportedly because this man has become a Christian. Huh?
Let’s back up and tell this incredible story.
Imagine opening up your Sunday newspaper and reading this glaring front page headline: "Child pornography consumes a life". That's exactly what happened yesterday to those who subscribe to The News and Observer, a regional newspaper based in Raleigh, North Carolina. Mandy Locke did an excellent job investigating and writing about this story. All of the quotes and the general story-line come from this article, which can be found at the following link:
Here is the story.
– History – David Chatham, a 43 year old public relations executive, began viewing adult pornography at the age of 9 when he found his dad's Penthouse magazine, tucked away in a briefcase in a closet. Approximately 12 years ago Chatham began viewing child pornography. He is married and has no children. In December 2008 he was arrested and was found to have over 3,400 images of naked, molested boys and girls, toddlers and teens on his computer. Chatham was tried in federal court, pled guilty, and will soon be sentenced to serve a prison term of at least five years.
– Knowledge of Wrongdoing – There will be no insanity plea here. Prior to his arrest, Chatham claimed that he knew he would eventually be apprehended. There are investigators who spend their working hours on the web tracking down these perverts. Incredibly, Chatham admitted to the newspaper reporter that he rehearsed what he would say and do when the inevitable arrest occurred.
– Wife and Biological Children – He has no children of his own. His wife claimed she did not want children. She also admitted that she did not know about her husband’s activity in spite of him spending hours in the middle of the night on the computer. I, Dee, have a friend who became suspicious of her husband’s midnight computer viewing after a couple of years, despite his claims of “doing work.” She investigated and immediately sought help. The wife’s claim of “not knowing”, during a relationship that had spanned 9 years until his arrest, seems a bit odd. Perhaps she just didn’t want to know.
– Conversion Experience – Chatham claims he began attending a Bible study immediately after he was arrested and is now a Christian.
– Other Post Arrest Activities – Chatham began attending sex addicts meetings, received intensive psychological intervention, and worked with authorities to give lectures to men who share his pornography addiction. By all accounts, he became a model, contrite individual who was trying to turn his life around.
– Going before a judge , a number of people spoke on Chatham's behalf, asking for leniency, another three months of freedom to get his affairs in order, before he went to prison. The request was flatly denied, and he went straight to jail… Did any of Chatham's supporters testify about the children whose lives had been destroyed?
Conversion after apprehension
There is no question that David Chatham knew his activities were illegal and immoral. What is troublesome is that his “new life” didn’t begin until after his arrest. He claims he rehearsed what he would say when he was arrested. Why did he wait until his arrest? Child molesters are highly manipulative individuals. “Wait”, you might say, “He was not a molester”. We contend that he contributed time, and most likely money, to this illegal business. In effect, his financial support contributed to this heinous industry. By his actions, he was condoning and implicitly agreeing to the rape of toddlers – that’s right – toddlers!!!!
This man was a public relations expert who rubbed elbows with the rich and powerful. He obviously thought out how he would tip the scales in his favor when arrested.
His porn acquisitions went on for 12 years! Such a habitual activity is not cured overnight. We are sure that there are Christians out there who probably claim that a miracle occurred. To that we say, “Can you prove it?” Is it worth the risk to our children? Don’t committed Christians also commit heinous acts?
Let’s take a look at another well-known case, which is currently ongoing. Most everyone has heard of the remarkable story of Jaycee Dugggard who was abducted by Phillip Garrido when she was 11 years old. She was held in captivity for close to two decades during which time she was forcibly raped by this monster and bore two children.
Prior to Jaycee’s abduction, Garrido had been a convicted sex offender. He was sentenced in 1976 to 50 years in jail after kidnapping and raping a woman. However, 10 years into his sentence Garrido claimed to have “found God” and was released on parole. Four years later, he kidnapped Jaycee and her life became a horror movie. (In Touch magazine, September 14, 2009) Perhaps Garrido lost God when God became inconvenient.
Even Ted Bundy, who admitted to the murder of perhaps hundreds of girls, realized that “jailhouse” conversions are perceived as suspect. Ted Bundy became a Christian while on death row. However, he refused to be interviewed about his faith until he knew that his sentence had no hope of being commuted. Approximately two days prior to his execution, he allowed James Dobson to interview him. This remarkable interview was used by Bundy to talk about the dangers of pornography when viewed by boys entering adolescence. He stated that the reason he refused to be interviewed earlier was that he didn’t want anyone to think this was a ruse for a “get out of jail free “ card. He was sincere in wanting to warn people of the dangers of pornography and children.
We believe that “conversion” is sometimes used as an excuse and DO NOT believe that 9 months is sufficient time to make a judgment about this man’s sincerity.
Conversion implies a fully changed life
We do not wish to judge whether or not Chatham is a Christian. That's between him and God. In fact, let’s assume that he is. Why does a newly found faith (9 months) imply that he is not a danger to his community? There are countless examples of Christians who fall prey to sexual sins. Darrell Gilyard, a convicted rapist pastor who was vigorously promoted by Paige Patterson, lived a secret life of rape and is now in prison. (See our previosu blog post "The next Billy Graham goes to prison?") How many Christians who are alcoholics or drug addicts “fall off the wagon?” Since when does a “dedication to Christ” mean that someone won’t sin?
Dedication to Christ “cures” sexual deviance
Dr. Jon made an interesting point. If all it takes is dedication to Jesus to “cure” deviance, why not have the courts turn over all of the prisoners who are Christian converts to churches and save the government a whole lot of money by closing a bunch of jails? Even Pastor Mills would admit that Christianity does not have a 100% cure rate in this area. Heck, they can’t even reduce the 50% divorce rate within the Southern Baptist faith!
Dedication to expressed faith in Christ trumps concern for the safety of children.
Chatham has spent 12 years viewing hard-core child pornography. Anyone who would view something so awful day in and day out for 12 years (sometimes for 14 hours a day!) has a darkness in his soul that is not easy to penetrate. In fact, there is a side bar article entitled “Internet enables a dark crime” by Mandy Locke, that reviews a study done at a federal prison in Butner, North Carolina. That study found that roughly 85% of men imprisoned for receiving or distributing child pornography and did not have a known history of committing sexual abuse when arrested, actually had committed a hands on offense. Note: the figure is 85%! Please check out the article with this startling statistic at the following link:
Chatham himself stated: “Though he never had a desire to touch a child sexually, he worried that, over time, that inhibition would slip, too.” This man may be crying out for help. He claims he never had this desire, but his assertion is a bit suspect given the nature of his perversion. Although he passed a lie detector test, these tests can be inaccurate.
Thank heaven his wife never wanted children! Even that wish raises a red flag. Although she claims she didn’t know about this problem, there is sufficient reason to be circumspect about her assertion.
Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh had a pedophile serve as a volunteer for several years. The pastors claim they had no evidence that this seminarian was a molester. It took an outside police encounter to blow the lid on this man. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison based on the testimony of a number of teenage boys from the church.
Churches appear to be naïve, or worse, lax, in providing for the safety of the children entrusted to their care. The blinders must come off! Many of these same churches claim that all men are depraved, but they don’t appear to practice safety measures that coincide with their theology.
According to the article, Pastor Ricky Mill from Providence Baptist Church (PBC) took the stand on Chatham's behalf, along with a number of other supporters, to ask the magistrate for leniency prior to his sentencing. Chatham wanted three more months of freedom before going to prison. Pastor Mill talked of Chatham’s dedication to Christ (9 months). His therapist claimed she didn’t “think” that Chatham would abuse any kids. (That's quite reassuring!) Chatham's attorney, Joe Cheshire, argued that Chatham could change lives and should be allowed to keep doing that! Incredibly, this same attorney defended the pedophile seminarian that had been found at Providence Baptist Church. Yes, truth can sometimes be stranger than fiction!
Didn’t the pastors at PBC learn a lesson from their last debacle? There is no way that this sexual pervert should be allowed one more minute of freedom on the streets with children. There's no question that therapists have screwed up in “pervert” assessment as demonstrated by the previously mentioned Garrido case. As for Cheshire’s statement that Chatham is doing a lot of good, why not let him do the good in jail where there will be a “captive” audience for Chatham’s message. Ted Bundy did more to expose the evils of pornography from death row that many could in freedom.
We implore all pastors not to be naïve when it comes to sexual offenders. They are manipulators who have a strong compulsion to get their “fix” of choice. Please, please report these abusers immediately, get them jailed, and then spend time rehabilitating them. For years, my pastor has hosted a man who was convicted for first-degree murder. That sort of quiet compassion, with a commitment that extends over years, is commendable and probably provides for insight into a man’s character far better than 9 months. Sincerity is better measured in years, especially for this sort of crime.
Perhaps the greatest irony is that it appears some pastors seem far more concerned about the abuser than those who have been abused. How many of the “supporters” of these criminals are as concerned about the victims? Do these supporters ever imagine how many children have been tortured for this man’s perversion? In one church, abused teens did not receive offers of intensive counseling for three years. There were even church members who did not think that one rapist should go to jail because he could be helped by “well meaning yet pathologically naïve” churchgoers.
Poor theology and psychology
Chatham’s wife was quoted as saying: “I see now that he’s sick. It’s like him having cancer. I couldn’t leave him in that state, and I can’t leave him like this.“ I am the mother of a child who suffered with a malignant brain tumor. I'll bet I speak for many others out there. I wish that simply turning off the computer could have cured my child’s tumor. Gee, flick a switch and the cancer goes away. No, ma’am, this is not like cancer. Yes it is a compulsion, but do not put it in the same category as cancer! That's terribly unfair to those afflicted with this dreadful disease.
“She holds him tight and tells him that he is a good person, worthy of her love.” No, he is not a good person. He watched images night in and out, of toddlers, children and teens being tortured (yes, rape is a form of torture). This went on for 12 years!!!! He was not helpless. He admitted that he knew what he was doing was wrong. He could have sought help but chose to wait until he was arrested.
The Bible tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. However, some sins have a greater effect on society than others. Children’s lives have been destroyed due to the activities of this man and others like him. Some of those children will go on to be the next generation of offenders (see our series on pedophilia). Good is not a word that should be used in this situation. Do you think the raped children would call Chatham, “a good man?”
US Attorney Jay Exum and Federal Magistrate David Daniel appear to understand sin better that the preacher.
Attorney Exum sad that all of the above testimony “wasn’t enough to make him different from the droves of men he sends to prison each year for defiling children by watching them be abused.” APPLAUSE!!!!!!!!!!!
These legal professionals seem to understand the effects and consequences of sexual sin that hurts children so much better than do many pastors and churches. They have seen it all, including false conversions, irreparably harmed children, and men who cannot overcome their sin.
So many pastors have underestimated the horrendous effects of sexual abuse in their churches. Incredibly, some pastors in North Carolina DO NOT even think they are mandated reporters. Some even condemn sexually abused children for “not telling mommy and daddy.” Pastors, please take this problem seriously. It will not be solved by a couple of Bible studies and some nice speeches. Anyone who believes it can needs to get out of the counseling business or better yet, spend some time with children who have been tortured and abused.
We are grateful that these lawmakers put this man in jail and got him off the street. Chatham's supporters can visit him in jail and watch his ministry develop. However, do not be deceived. He will need intensive counseling, and even then, may never have normal feelings. After all, Chatham has spent most of his life fueling his pornography habit since he was first exposed as a nine year old! He will need to be watched around children and computers for the rest of his life. One day, he will be set free when he meets his Savior. Until then, he is just another sinner that is capable of deeply harmful behavior. May God be with the little children that have been irrevocably harmed by this man’s deviant behavior..