“All sorrows could be born if we tell a story about them or write them down” – Isak Dinesen
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Breaking News: This account was forwarded to TWW last evening. We, along with others, are expressing concern about the way conflict and discipline is handled within Sovereign Grace Ministries. Perhaps this is the straw that will break the camel's back. We will return to our series on Thursday.
The Gospel Coalition is in session and it is business as usual. CJ Mahaney, along with Carolyn, his wife, will be featured speakers. Make no mistake about this. Mahaney is adored by this crowd. However, this gathering, which purports to hold the Gospel in high esteem, seems to be able to ignore the number of concerns that are consistently raised on the Internet regarding Sovereign Grace Ministries and its previous permutation, PDI. Why? Is it because he is saying what they want to hear? Do they really understand how his theology might play out in reality? Or, deep down, do they like the idea of imagining themselves as the top dog of their own "successful" ministry? More importantly, how do they define "success?" Oh, and is it as successful as CJ seems to portray? We will be looking at the final question in the near future.
If they really embrace the Gospel, they will know that Jesus called out the Pharisees for laying heavy burdens on the people. Instead of having CJ autograph their Bibles, maybe they should encourage him to go home and take care of business. Instead of giving CJ one more standing ovation, maybe they should sit and pray for those out there who appear to have been deeply wounded by this ministry. So, to bring a little reality check to this "rah rah" gathering, we offer the following horrendous story. It is time to face the truth because Jesus is the Way, the TRUTH, and the Life. It is time to behave like the men they purport to be and deal with the pain. Real men do the hard thing!
This testimony was given to The Wartburg Watch to post in its entirety. Please join us in prayer for this family.
"To blog critics and all others who assert that bringing these issues to the light somehow undermines or weakens the cause of Christ, we would say the behavior of some in the leadership of Sovereign Grace Ministries does far more damage to victims of abuse and to a watching world.
We share our story with the hope that those with similar experiences will be encouraged to write their own and bring it to the light.
My wife posted numerous times on the Survivor blog under the name “Happymom.”
We left the SGM Fairfax church in May 2007 because of the overbearing emphasis on personal sin and the cross.
During 12 years as members of the Fairfax church, two of our children were sexually molested by two different people who attended the church. The molestations did not occur on church property. We had completely forgiven the perpetrators. However, the subsequent mental and spiritual anguish we endured both times in dealing with members of the Fairfax staff motivate us to write and “tell it to the church.”
Here is a brief description of how Fairfax has in the past typically handled sex abuse issues in their church. This depiction can be affirmed by numerous former members who have had similar experiences. The perpetrator of a sex crime and his family were brought under the care of a pastor. This would involve counseling, accountability sessions and possible minor restrictions regarding movement in the church during services. People “at risk” were not notified. The victim and victim’s family however were usually confronted with opposition from leadership by minimizing and/or invalidating particular aspects of the victim’s story.
In 1998, we discover our child; (child-A) had been molested by a young man attending the Fairfax church. We did not press charges and regretted this later on. The father of the young man was initially uncooperative in dealing with the situation until Steve Shank stepped in to handle it. This took place during the time frame Benny Phillips was stepping down from leadership. Steve Shank addressed our sin and asked the young man to apologize.
We forgave him; however, with minor restrictions imposed by the staff, he continued to intimidate our child during Sunday services to the point where our child was fearful of going to church. The pastors involved had little to say concerning this as it didn’t appear to be a priority for them.
In October 2007, we discover child-B had been molested. The molestation occurred 5 years earlier. Our child revealed to us what had happened only after being hospitalized 7 days for cutting and suicidal thoughts. We eventually found out through our child’s counseling sessions, fear and shame were the two main elements for not telling us about this sooner. Cutting was our child’s way of dealing with misguided guilt and self-loathing.
We then contacted the Police Department and pressed charges. The detective assigned to the case came to the house and listened to our child’s story. The young man confessed the crime to pastor SW (CJ’s son-in-law). We were given the impression that pastor DH had also heard the confession. Two and a half years later in March 2010, we were told he did not hear the confession. Pastor LG (our brother-in-law) was also in the loop as we had asked him to supply information requested by the detective but no information was given. Pastor LG said to me, “Have them send the request to us in writing.” The detective told us later on that Fairfax had been “uncooperative” in the investigation…. a fact they later denied.
During the investigation, pastor DH told us they “had a dilemma” because they were caring for the young man and his family. There was no visible concern shown during this time for our child by the staff including our brother-in-law and his family. No inquiring phone calls or emails. Our child had just been discharged from the hospital. When you leave a SGM church for disagreeing with or challenging leadership in any way, all relationships you once had there are severed.
Sometime during the following months, my wife noticed her sister, (wife of pastor LG) not speaking about anything associated with our child’s legal case. She would consistently change the subject when our child was mentioned. This led to a meeting we initiated with pastor LG in January 2008. As no other logical explanation for the silence could be seen, we asked him 3 times if he had advised his wife not to discuss with her sister our child’s case. 3 times he answered no. We were told in a future meeting by pastor VH that pastor LG was in fact legally instructed to inform his wife not to discuss the case with her sister for 2 days so that the police could complete their investigation. When this was brought up to the leadership, our questions were ignored. Pastor LG lied to us and was not held accountable.
As a result of our own research we became aware of the fact that pastor LG’s wife was not covered under Virginia’s clergy privilege statute. According to the legal process, she could have been liable for any information she had regarding the case, and therefore could have been called to testify in court on our child’s behalf. Pastor LG (our child’s uncle) put great effort into avoiding this possibility. The truth is that this scenario presented a conflict of interest to pastor LG and members of the Fairfax staff as they were caring for the young man and his family as pastor DH had mentioned. Exactly why this presented a conflict is a mystery.
The trial took place in March 2008. Prior to the trial, not knowing how the young man would plead, we asked pastor DH to come with pastor SW ready to give testimony on our child’s behalf if needed. Pastor DH made it known to us they were not coming to the courthouse. I explained to him if the young man pleaded not guilty, our child would then have to get up in front of the court and reveal the entire ordeal along with answering questions from the attorney’s. It didn’t matter, they still weren’t coming. His response to us was “I have my churches reputation to consider.” Not sure what pastor DH meant by this statement. In a future meeting with the Fairfax pastors, he claimed not remembering making the “churches reputation” statement and had no recollection of emphasizing the fact that he wasn’t coming to the courthouse.
I called the detective and asked her to issue a subpoena for both pastors to appear in court. Fairfax would later claim there was no need for us to request a subpoena because one had been issued months before. It wouldn’t have made any difference if we knew this information or not. Pastor DH expressed to us they weren’t coming. They also stated in a future meeting they knew the young man would plead guilty therefore coming to the courthouse wasn’t necessary. In reality, there was no way of knowing how he would plead. Nevertheless, it was put back on us.
Pastor’s DH and SW were at the courthouse for the trial. Pastor LG came a few minutes before the trial and left. His wife did not come. She also didn’t make any attempts to call her sister during the days leading up to the trial. My wife was abandoned by her family. The young man pleaded guilty to a felony.…. Our child did not have to get up and speak to the court.
A short time after the trial, my wife attempted to communicate to her sister the hurt, frustration and lack of care she experienced from her sister and family and it was put back on my wife.
What followed during the next 2 years included a series of meetings, phone calls and emails involving Fairfax and Covenant Life leadership, 2 mediators, and an SGM pastor from South Carolina.
In December 2008, our child; (child-A) now 18 at the time, was greatly affected by Noel’s story after reading it on the blogs. Our adult child contacted CJ Mahaney and asked him what SGM had to say about this. Not sure what the response was however, our adult child also described to CJ what our family had endured from the Fairfax staff and as a result a meeting was arranged. We met with CJ and he listened to our story. He was grieved by our experience and asked permission to contact the Fairfax staff. We asked him if he had any knowledge of our story. He said he did not. Over the next few weeks we received emails from him, thanking us for the opportunity to talk to us. He assured us that the Fairfax staff desired to meet and discuss these important issues with us.
In February 2009, the first meeting was set up at our church with 5 pastors from the Fairfax church, CJ, and a neutral third party attending on our behalf. Two days before the meeting pastor LG appears at our door wanting to apologize to our child. We had not seen nor heard from him or his family for 11 months. We asked him what specifically he wanted to apologize for and couldn’t get a straight answer. He wouldn’t answer our questions. Given the state of emotional torment of our child and to block any further confusion, we decided it would not have been in our child’s best interest and said no.
During the meeting, the pastors apologized for not caring for us and poor leadership but avoided our questions. We left the meeting confused and with a new list of questions. A few days later we discover CJ had given our neutral third party a check for 5,000.00……
A short time after, CJ urged us to begin meeting with pastor MM to iron out our difficulties with pastor LG and his family.
It is important to mention here, although we agreed to meet with pastor MM, we were well aware of Fairfax’s intentions to separate the mishandled sex abuse issue from the personal concerns we had with Pastor LG. The opportunity to minimize the situation to a “family disagreement” had presented itself. They could now step away from the spotlight of “sex abuse issues in the Fairfax church and the way leadership typically responds,” and let the light shine elsewhere.
A number of unresolved issues with pastor LG going back many years still remain. Some of which are extremely painful for my wife and me. However, in March 2009, we began meeting with pastor MM with hopes of seeing some accountability leading to possible reconciliation with pastor LG. We presented pastor MM with a list of questions for pastor LG. After 4 months of meetings and numerous emails, none of our questions were answered. However, one hard question was answered; my wife asked pastor MM why they do not warn people at risk when a known sex felon is in their church. His response was, “that perpetrator could grow up and sue us for defamation of character.” So in pastor MM’s mind, the possibility of being sued sometime in the future takes precedence over protecting children from known sex offenders. At the final meeting pastor MM said to us, “I find pastor LG to be a man of integrity.” And then he dismissed us. (Simple logic would say, if pastor LG is a man of integrity, we must be liars) We were stunned….Fairfax had once again put the issue back on us.
In a future meeting with the pastors, pastor MM apologized for not answering our questions concerning pastor LG ….but still didn’t answer them.
We contacted CJ and expressed our dissatisfaction with the meetings and final conclusion. He suggested Peacemakers. We declined. He then offered to have SGM pastor JB from South Carolina step into the arena. Our options were diminishing but we were not going to walk away from this. For the next 8 months we spoke to pastor JB on the phone at least twice a month. Our conversations focused on the “family disagreement,” and Fairfax’s response to sex abuse. We had many questions regarding both topics. Questions that had already been asked a number of times and not answered. During our many conversations with Pastor JB, he assured us that Fairfax would now be handling sex abuse related issues differently. After 8 months our questions for pastor LG and a few hard questions for Fairfax were still not answered.
In March 2010, a second meeting with Fairfax leadership had taken place. Kenneth Maresco, Pastor JB, and Jim P, moderator for the SGM Refuge blog were also present. We requested that pastor LG attend as well, but he declined. When questioned about this beforehand, pastor LG said, “I do not think my presence in the meeting would be helpful.” And Fairfax backed him up on this. The meeting was arranged in part as a follow-up from our time on the phone with pastor JB. Some of our questions were answered however, a few of pastor JB’s answers had suggested that everything was just a big misunderstanding; that somehow we misinterpreted or perhaps judged motives incorrectly regarding both pastor LG and the Fairfax staff. Also in this meeting pastor DH forgets important information and pastor VH reveals that pastor LG was in fact legally advised by their attorney’s back in October 2007. But in the January 2008 meeting as mentioned above, pastor LG told us 3 times he did not tell his wife not to discuss our child’s case with her sister. And Fairfax was ok with this.
In the same meeting the pastor’s would not let us ask any questions related to pastor LG. It appeared they did not want to deal with the fact that he had lied to us. However, they did want to apologize a second time for not caring for us and poor leadership. We accepted their apologies but there were still unanswered questions.
An obvious pattern can be seen throughout the story; the pastors were eager to apologize for not caring for us and poor leadership expecting us to forgive, but they would not answer our hard questions. And for some reason they were protecting pastor LG from having to account for the issues we presented. Our forgiveness was premature.
In May 2010, we accused pastor LG of lying, specifically but not limited to the January 2008 meeting we had with him, and 2 consecutive apology letters he had written that were filled with deceptive statements. This led to an “accusation against an elder.” Fairfax’s solution to this was to hire an outside third party mediator to settle things. A professional conciliatory Christian mediator. He was thoroughly impressed with the fact that CJ Mahaney was involved with this. We reluctantly agreed to do this and had regrets later on. I challenged Fairfax to show us where in the bible do we find that an accusation against an elder is brought to an outside mediator who gets paid for his services? They ignored the question. They were steadfast in maintaining that the struggles we had with the church and pastor LG stay separate and confined to a “family disagreement.” The reality is Fairfax had relinquished their responsibility in dealing with an accusation against an elder so they could walk away from the entire situation. Maybe they were afraid of uncovering pastor LG’s pattern of deception. We had 2 sessions totaling 9 hours in which pastor LG persisted in avoiding our questions and claimed not remembering key facts. The mediator’s summation at the end was that pastor LG had not been deceptive and that we were “sinfully craving answers” according to James chapter 4. We were put in the same category as murderer’s and idolaters!
How did we end up here?
We started out down this road as parents of 2 children who were molested and ended up being thrown into the ring with murderer’s and idolaters!
Only SGM could orchestrate something like this…..
Fairfax was indifferent to the fact that we disagreed with the mediator’s conclusions.
In June 2010, we had our 3rd and final meeting with Fairfax, initiated by Kenneth Maresco and pastor JB as a follow-up to the March 2010 meeting. Kenneth Maresco was not happy with the pastor’s apologies in the March meeting. Apparently they needed to be a little more sincere. They were given the opportunity to apologize once again for the same things they had previously apologized for, not caring for us and poor leadership but this time, the apologies were more detailed.
A short time after the meeting, our final interaction with SGM was at hand. As a last ditch attempt to at least work out our family difficulties, I asked pastor LG if he would agree to meet with us and another SG pastor. He said, “that aint happening.” And Fairfax backed him up on this. We wanted a person he worked with to witness his response to our questions. We asked CJ, Kenneth Maresco, and pastor VH to intervene and be the witness and they all declined.
Pastor LG’s evasive behavior supported by a shield of protection from Fairfax is a symptom of a much deeper problem in their governmental structure…
The Fairfax church has a history of treating victims of sex abuse and their families in similar ways mentioned in our story. We know 2 other cases and have talked with someone who mentioned knowing 5… all involving the Fairfax church. Noel and Grizzly were told by pastor MM their story had inconsistencies… “Inconsistency” is an SGM euphemism for lying. What pastor MM really meant to say was Noel and Grizzly were lying.
In the minds of SGM leadership they hear from God and tell us what God is saying. If what ordinary people discern fails to line up with their program, they are dismissed. This way of thinking allows them to continuously reinforce their spiritual agenda on a congregation conditioned to think they are being truly humble by accepting this. Where in the New Testament do we find this type of church government?
"Who can endure a doctrine which would allow only dentists to say whether our teeth were aching, only cobblers to say whether our shoes hurt us, and only governments to tell us whether we were being well governed?" C.S. Lewis
- The faith and well-being of child-B had been severely affected by the molestation and 3 year ordeal with SGM. Our child’s professional counselors have documented the adverse affects of family abandonment and how this contributes to thoughts of guilt and shame in a young child’s mind. Our child’s perception of a loving God had been distorted.
- My wife feels the pain of family abandonment plus the abandonment of a church she was a part of for 12 years.
- Child-A is grown up and doing very well.
- For some reason Fairfax had chosen not to deal directly and not dig deeper into the claims we made concerning pastor LG. He was not held accountable for lying to us. Fairfax hired a mediator who ultimately made the decision as to who was lying and who was telling the truth.
- A few of the pastors expressed genuine sorrow for the way our child and my wife and I were treated. Their apologies are nullified because in the end we were the one’s “sinfully craving answers” – murderers and idolater’s according to the paid mediator’s assessment. We assumed Fairfax was in agreement with this.
- Fairfax would say our questions for pastor LG were answered. Here’s the problem; we weren’t there to hear his answers…. They were now finally able to close the door and move on to more important things.
- The Fairfax staff told us they have made significant changes in the way they now handle sex abuse issues in their church. Assuming this is true, we applaud their efforts.
- The question is how will Fairfax handle their past failures? Will they publicly confess their past sin before our family and the other families who have been hurt by their failure to lead, care, and protect, or will they remain silent and hope no one else comes forward. Will any restitution be made to the families involved?
- In light of the damage done, has anyone involved disqualified themselves from professional ministry?
- The clergy privilege statute exempts church leadership in Virginia from having to divulge any information to the authorities regarding sex crimes committed by church members. We had contacted a Virginia state senator who had been in the process of pursuing legislation to change this law.
- The actions of Fairfax leadership in handling prior sex abuse issues in their church are good examples why this law needs to be changed. The senator from Virginia heard our story and agreed."
Lydia's Corner: Joshua 9:3-10:43 Luke 16:19-17:10 Psalm 83:1-18 Proverbs 13:4
How can this happen? People who know about these type of things happening earlier bury their heads in the sand or get the “forgive and move on” speech.
I hope this alerts all that it is OK to let it be known!
Shakin my head.
I just… wonder how long these things have been going on at Fairfax. It is a church I avoided during the years I lived in the D.C. area, as it just felt… wrong to me. (Some of the reasons for that have been explained by others – mostly former members – over on the SGM Survivors blog.)
The thing is, I have friends who are longtime members of this church. The last time I spoke with them, I mentioned that I had been reading religion blogs and boy, did the walls go up fast! They wanted to know what blogs, etc. etc. I didn’t tell them, just said, “blogs.”
I so wish my friends would leave SGM and find a more honest church.
And I wish SGM would just STOP the deception and deal with the wrongs they have perpetrated and lied about and … (list is long).
Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. [the Kyrie prayer, for those who aren’t familiar with it.]
Churches that knowingly allow a sex offender to remain in the congregation and do not inform the members and regular attenders are putting the church at great risk of liability for creating an environment conducive to the abuse of innocents. The job of the church is not to protect the guilty, it is to protect the innocent and call the guilty to repentance, generally a public confession.
It is totally misplaced to place the burden on the victim and their family.
Not supporting the victim should be terribly damaging to the reputation of the church and should result in defrocking the pastors and probably the end of the church as a congregation.
Arce – the “pastors” at this church (and other SGM churches) are not ordained; therefore, they cannot be defrocked per se. I wish that was an option, but their system is (imo) designed to protect those in positions of power – and they have a history of closing ranks.
(There are good reasons for most denominations’ systems of appeal in cases of abuse of authority + other kinds of abuses, but SGM doesn’t consider itself a denomination and would likely never adopt such a structure – even though it’s desperately needed.)
The people in the congregation need to demand accountability and demand that these predators be removed.
@ Steve: if only it were that simple… check out the SGM Survivors blog.
I continue to be amazed at how anyone can allow themselves to be so acccepting of another human being and feel afraid to rebel. It is not only pediphilia, which to me is so abhorrent hard to even think about it, but there are other non-scriptural things accepted as truth. i cop out i suppose when i say i wish Soveriegn Grace was the only miscreants in this sort of thing. The Bible reminds us that satan is the “god” of this world and we see his power from wall street to the religious world. I have noticed one of our problems in knowing of a dastardly thing occuring we are fearful of exposing sin. One of our the churches in our area had a terrible things happen. The pastor was accused of molesting sexually one or two of his granddaughters. He was in his late fifties and had pastored the some church for years. My wife’s step-sister was a member of his church and of course denied that anything wrong had occured. Well to make a long story short and sordid details untold the man was convicted and sent to prison. pain on all sides even made worst by how things were hidden too long.
from my pov, Satan has nothing to do with it – it’s humans who are the problem here. (And in all similar situations.)
CJ runs his ministry as a personal favor to his family members whose husbands are “made” pastors, given houses, etc. His books are pushed, his wife’s books are pushed and everything they say is “gospel.” There was a time when his wife taught that counters needed to be kept clear with nothing sitting on them like toasters, etc. This was followed “religiously” by many of the women. Clean counters=godiness. Talk about weird.
PS I purposely keep some items on my counter as my one woman protest .
BTW there is something that needs to be made clean and clear and it ain’t the counters
I agree with you 100%. I know of a church here whose pastor allowed, knowingly, a pedophile to come to his church. This pedophile serve 8 months in jail and had a 30 year history of abuse. I saw him wandering around near the children’s area. I called the pastor who told me, get this, that said pedophile’s parole officer told the pastor that he was no longer a risk. This just after his release from jail. Stupid, stupid, stupid! Said pastor than got a bit out of sorts with me. Needless to say, we didn’t stay at this church but I did tip off one church member.
“PS I purposely keep some items on my counter as my one woman protest”
You are such a rebel! You wouldn’t last a day in SGMville 🙂
What stands out to me in this testimony is that HappyMom is the sister-in-law of one of the pastors of the Fairfax franchise. As she and Wallace point out, this SGM pastor is the uncle of their children. If “family” is treated this badly in this “family of churches” I can only imagine how those who are not related are treated. As Dee would say, “Good night!”
And if I remember correctly, HappyMom and Noel are related, perhaps sisters? I hope someone will verify this.
If you haven’t read Noel’s testimony about how her three year old daughter was raped by a 15 year old boy from an SGM family (who was babysitting while church families got together for a meeting) you definitely need to.
Here’s the link: http://www.sgmsurvivors.com/?p=276
I posted this previously on Survivors:
I don’t know what SGM Inc.’s translation says but the official SGM translation that I have says:
1 Peter 2:13-14
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer
So…. “Be subject…to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors…” Sounds to me like it’s talking about government, and law enforcement in particular.
“…as sent by him (emperor or governors) to punish those who do evil.” Sounds like government is put in place by God (those that exist have been instituted by God) to punish crime (evil).
“For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.” If you do evil, you should be afraid of rulers. Again, government and law enforcement.
“He is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”
Govenmental laws are in place for your good – as a restraint so that, for example, you don’t drive 70 MPH in a School Zone. When a crime is committed, law enforcement should be brought in as they are God’s servants to carry out His wrath (punishment) for crime.
This is pretty straight forward. Crimes are to be immediately reported to law enforcement so that those committing the crime (the evildoers) can be punished.
Apparently SGM, Inc. doesn’t have enough discernment to distinguish between sin and crime. Sin is sin and it should be dealt with as sin. When sin leads to crime, it is to be reported to the governmental authorities so that they can administer the appropriate punishment.
Maybe in some inflated, twisted way, SGM leadership believes they are the “rulers” spoken of here. Or maybe they didn’t cover this topic in the PC.
As a friend of mine once said, “Jesus came to forgive you of your sin, not your crime.”
P.S. We were members of the Fairfax franchise with our small children during these events.
More to come, but two things struck me right off the bat… why did the “neutral” party accept the $5000 check in the first place? Who selected the “neutral” party to participate?
Secondly, I can see the churches reluctance to identify a sexual abuser in their midst to other parishioners, but ONLY until they have been convicted in a court of law. Once they have been tried and convicted, I see no reason to hide their identity.
more to come…
The fact that this person would go through years of trying to find answers and reconciliation tell us just how seriously cultic SGM really is.
This is my cry to folks in these cults: You do not have to reconcile with those who are silent yet KNOW your child was molested. You do not reconcile with evil. You FLEE from it.
Forgiveness is NOT reconciliation. Please understand this. This is a CRIME and folks sought to cover it up or play it down….their part in the CRIME.
The fact that reconcilation iis sought with “leaders” only makes this worse. People need to realize that the rules do not apply to the cults. That is what makes them cultic. THEY make the rules. It is about the organization at all costs. Not the individuals.
CHILDREN were molested. Which part of this do they not get? It only serves to show how hard hearted they are. And they are evil. I am serious folks….EVIL masquerading as Christ centered. How much worse can it get? We expect this from the heathen. But the heathen in general care about laws and crime.
RUN folks. Get out. I bet there are a ton more stories out there. There is always a pattern in these cults.
Roadwork, you are right. They have a domionist streak in them that makes them interpret that the civil authorities are pagan and therefore do not deal in “Christian Justice”. It is all in the way they interpret what elders are. Or in the case of Mahaney: Apostles. they see themselves as the authority over the pew sitters lives.
It is just more of the authoritarian heresy of evangelicalism. SGM is totally into this with CJ being the big cheese. It is a cult.
Thanks for your extremely important questions which are:
“why did the “neutral” party accept the $5000 check in the first place? Who selected the “neutral” party to participate?”
Once the so-called neutral party accepted the $5000 check, neutrality ceased to exist. Acceptance of the moolah demonstrated loyalty toward the SGM franchise. This was a business transaction PERIOD!
Gotta keep the Mahaney Money Machine rolling along at all costs…
Noel and I are not sisters. We attended Fairfax at the same time and have since met with them a few times to confirm our stories.
I understand your thoughts. We were no longer attending Fairfax when we discovered what happened to child B (we were attending during child A’s ordeal) but we felt very strongly knowing Fairfax’s history with child abuse that we needed to do all we could to make sure that another family would not endure the horrific treatment we did. Also, we felt that a genuine apology would be helpful to our child and help alleviate some of her misplaced guilt and shame. We had hoped things could be resolved with our family.
Observing how much this affected our child we could not walk away from this knowing how they dealt with this issue.
When I was twelve years old I had to go tell my aunt who watched me after school that I couldn’t go home with her that day. The police were taking me in to give a statement about how my father had abused me. Her response was, “Oh sh–! You told on him!?!” I still find that painful when it comes to mind, but I can at least look at it and say, well golly gee, she wasn’t a Christian and she didn’t exactly have a normal upbringing, so whatever.
Christian leaders covering up the sexual abuse of children, and potentially allowing more children to be victimized? And, treating the victims and their families this way? It makes me so very sad, yet so very angry.
I’ve read several of these stories now and it’s so painful to read how the victim’s families have tried so hard to do things “right” (as determined by their leaders), but just keep getting beat down. I continue to pray for these families and for these churches.
Lydia: agreed completely on “cult” and “dominionist.”
I’m very grateful to God that I didn’t get sucked into SGM, although I know the mentality of defending “leaders” and horrifically bad decisions all too well.
@ happymom: I can’t help wondering if you might know my friends… I wish there was something I could do or say to make them think twice about their involvement in SGM, but… it seems like prayer is probably the best solution.
The more I read, the less I understand as to why people stay.
Has anyone given any thought to contacting the press about this? Similar to the Washington Post investigation into the Vienna Presbyterian church that was posted earlier on this blog? Brings to mind John 3:19-21.
The whole shifting focus to the victims’ sins thing and a culture of zero accountability for leadership with something this serious just tarnishes the image of Christ’s church and is a hinderance to the gospel being proclaimed. This is really really angering. Sheep are being hurt!!!
“Also, we felt that a genuine apology would be helpful to our child and help alleviate some of her misplaced guilt and shame. We had hoped things could be resolved with our family.
Observing how much this affected our child we could not walk away from this knowing how they dealt with this issue.”
Hindsight is always clearer, huh? See, I know how the game works because I was on the other side of the fence and one of the bad gals when it came to protecting the organization’s image.
The whole thing was set up to be an exercise in futility for the victims family BUT because of the way it was handled, there was no way for the victim’s family to know this. Yet, the leaders can say with plausibility that “we have talked with them over and over”. Even CJ talked with them~! (Translated: Even Jesus Himself talked with them and they are not happy)
The process was a way to make you all look like the problem if that became necessary. In effect, chasing righteousness with those who are really practicing evil (and silence over such matters when one KNOWS is evil) only makes it worse for the victims.
Believe me I know about family but I will say that we can all make an idol of family. That is why Jesus said:
34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’[c]
37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
I must add,
I knew C.J. for several years at Gathering of Believer’s in Maryland. While he was pretty charismatic, and sometimes came across as authoritarian (not unlike some folks here…chuckle), I always sensed that he had the best interest of others at heart.
Now, that said, I am not invulnerable to deception, and I’ve been known on more than one occasion to see the good in people while sidestepping some of their flaws, and certainly people can change over time, sometimes for the better, sometimes in the other direction.
I also do not doubt the story of abuse, but keep in mind, like listening to two friends who are getting divorced, there are always two sides, two versions of the truth, usually a great many misunderstandings and the occasional exaggeration.
Don’t be too quick to throw all of those involved into the same bucket.
BTW: The evil is in protecting the organization’s reputation and leaders reputation instead of concern for the victim. Been watching Phillip Zimbardo’s talk at MIT about the Lucifer Effect. We tend to think that it is about a few “bad apples” when it is really more about a “bad barrell”. SGM is a bad barrell that produces “bad apples” who will go along with evil.
Cindy Kunsman has this video on her blog at Undermuchgrace and it is worth the 2 hours to watch. The premise is how do seemingly decent people who mean well get sucked into doing evil? Just hearing the details about the Mingall experiment will make your skin crawl.
You betcha contacting the press is being discussed. There are plans for full exposure and it is being handled by the right people. No more silence! BTW, your fearless bloggers have had their own fair share of dealing with a recalcitrant church involved with a COUPLE (hope they are reading) of pedophile incidents. And we refuse to be silent as well.
I still say that attending that stuff is the reason you are an atheist. 🙂
This has been thoroughly vetted by multiple parties. That is why we posted this story verbatim.
“I knew C.J. for several years at Gathering of Believer’s in Maryland. While he was pretty charismatic, and sometimes came across as authoritarian (not unlike some folks here…chuckle), I always sensed that he had the best interest of others at heart. ”
Karlton, I know a ton of CJ types (celebrity Christians) who started out great, humble, decent, loving, kind, etc. I was in that marketing world for 20 years.
AFter years of great growth, moving in certain circles, being hailed, followed, listened to and not questioned…… has an effect on the most humble of people. It is a huge trap. One must keep up the humble label that made others like them so much in the first place but this is very hard to do and be transparent as celebrity grows. It is hard to expalin but it is not unilke any star managing their brand in their market niche.
Which means one has to become a “brand” and the “brand” has to be promoted and managed.
This is one reason I admire Francis Chan. He said he was concerned for his own soul in that environment. He said he heard his name uttered more than the Name of Christ. He left it all. He was right to be concerned with his soul. The Holy Spirit showed Chan much Grace.
You are the hero in this story. Thank you for breaking the silence and allowing this story to be told. Although you and Noel are not biological sisters, you are sisters in an even deeper way. I only wish you didn’t have to have gone through so much pain.
This blog had its roots in a pedophile situation at a former church and we have a passion for those who have been abused and let down, not only by the pedophile, but by a wussie church run by men who have no backbone.That goes for CJ, DH and all their downline sycophants. I am so glad that some women are standing up to these sorry excuses for pastors and even sorrier excuses for men.
Silent no longer. Time to let a little fresh air into a dark basement. May God have mercy on them.
“(not unlike some folks here…chuckle), ”
You don’t have to be vague but vague gives plausible deniability.
If you are referring to me being “authoritarian”, keep this in mind:
I have no followers and I make no income off my assertions. In fact, my biggest concern is that folks be Bereans instead of believing what they are taught by a human.
I have a unique perspective because I used to be on the other side protecting the organization at all costs. I know the secret play book. In fact, I can tell you the play book is almost exactly the same in most of these organizations.
I am so, so sorry for the pain you endured at the hands of your father as a child. The fact that you are able to write about it is a testimony to your strength and the grace of God. You are a hero now and when you were a child and needed to make a report. I only hope that I would have half of your strength in such a situation.
TWW is committed to exposing the sin of sexual abuse in the church and we hope to be a particularly painful thorn in the side of those who would cover up such pain. Shame on all of them.
I am always telling Karl what I think. He may be referring to the whole lot os us. But, I am sure he means it in the very nicest of ways.
Did you know that, until this winter, CJ called himself the head apostle. (snort-picking myself up off the kitchen floor from hysterical laughing). CJ fashioned himself after the great Paul of the NT. And HE wrote a book on humility???? Great Scott!
He really liked to pretend there was oversight of his churches. Of course, that was just “dust in the wind.”
That was a great anecdotal example. How stupid can we be. Christians should be the first to understand that Christians are capable of great sin. That is why we need Jesus. Also, becoming a Christians does not mean there is no more sin. In fact, for committed Christians, we become aware just how deep our sin problem is. That is why we lean on the solid Rock.
There is good reason for Christians to consider having women as pastors. Most women pastors have more spine than their male counterparts, because they have had to stand up against prejudice based on misinterpretation and misapplication of the biblical principles. BTW, my view of the church is that the congregation has authority over the pastor, not the other way around. Priesthood of all believers and each and every believer. Yes the pastor is more than hired help, but the laity are the people of God (literal meaning) and should be the authority in the church. Very few women abuse their spouses and very few abuse their children, almost none sexually. Makes women inherently better people to hire as your next pastors.
I liked you from the first moment you commented on this blog!
Arce are a guy.
Are you referring to Arce and me?
“I am always telling Karl what I think.”
Hey, Telling people what you think is authoritarian?
All the more remarkable! Sometimes there is a light in this dark world.
Some claim that I can be less than subtle. 🙂
I think you mean more that subtle. Subtle is not saying everything. More than subtle means you say more!!!!
Subtlety is to be valued, until something that needs said doesn’t get said or heard.
I like to listen. then I try to mediate. But I always advocate for an agreement and for justice and honesty. When there is abuse, being subtle is no virtue.
Since you brought up your former church, you might be interested in knowing that quite a few resources from Sovereign Grace Ministries are recommended on the church website. They are:
Humility – C.J. Mahaney
Living the Cross Centered Life – C.J. Mahaney
Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World – C.J. Mahaney
Sex, Romance & The Glory of God – C.J. Mahaney
Feminine Appeal – Carolyn Mahaney
Stop Dating the Church – Joshua Harris
Sex is Not the Problem (Lust is) – Joshua Harris
Love That Lasts – Gary and Betsy Ricucci
My mother was sexually abused by an elder in the care of then Pastor CJ. We were instructed to live with this family since she was a single mom, and obviously a “sinner”. The elders and CJ told her that she was to learn humility. They told her that she would surely go to Hell if she did not listen to them. She did (listen to them). This elder of the church (then called The Gathering) spanked my mother and me in front of the elder’s wife and children in the living room. My mother and l escaped that house (and church) after she was brutally molested by this elder and “man of the house”. I saw the bruises on her body…they were not just from the spankings. CJ and the elders told men that they were to be the master of the house and encouraged this phrase…”God the rod and your child’s bod”. How can I ever forget that horrible phrase, the numerous whippings? In this little school connected with The Gathering, I was spanked for just about everything from fibbing about how many sit ups I did in PE to talking during quiet time. One boy had his arm broken during a “spanking” in the spanking room/principal’s office. I heard his screams…we all did.
Thanks for the abuse and spankings! You ruined my life.
Would you be willing to write your story for us to post? I am so sorry for this terrible pain you have endured. You are doing the right thing by speaking out. Silence only protects the abuser.
Please, is there anything we can do for you? You are in our prayers.
I am so grieved for you. What a horrifying testimony! Please consider putting into writing what you experienced at the “hands” of so-called godly men. NOT!!!
Hopefully, just adding your comment here has been therapeutic to you. Please consider Dee’s request.
Dee is most sincere in stating that we will be praying for you. I am so sorry for what you went through as a child.
Same books, same modus operandi. Perhaps SGM has a secret book they share only with those “in authority.” How to blame the victim and get the pastor off the hook! And there are more than a few of those types.
Keep reading this blog. Subtlety is replaced with straightforward indignation.
Actually I wasn’t referring to you at all in that comment I made, but I do find it fascinating that you THINK I was referring to you….. 🙂
Just a question…For the record I think that entire situation should have been handled out in the open and above board…BUT
Isn’t it even remotely possible that the decision to keep things “under wraps”, private if you will. Is more than a self-centered ploy to keep prestige, power and money coming in?
Couldn’t they have honestly believed that God has them in their position to minister to a great number of families and individuals and that this incident, becoming public, was merely a tool of Satan to discredit God’s work and drive a wedge between people and the leadership and ministry that God had brought them to.
In other words, isn’t it at all possible that, as repugnant as the idea is of keeping something like this silent, that they thought their actions were, in the end, the greatest good for the greatest number, that they sacrificed one with the hope of saving many others?
Are they not deserving of being given the benefit of the doubt, if not in terms of their actions, at least in terms of their motivations?
Just a question from your local friendly atheist.
I make it a point to not judge motives. Only God knows what is in a person’s heart. We can only judge actions. Truth trumps the ministry. If they believe in God, they should believe He will take care of things. They are outright wrong in what they did, no matter their motivations. Frankly, Karl, many of us don’t understand our own motivations . One of my pastors often says that even on his best days, his motives are mixed.
Didn’t you tell me a while back that all the pastors at your former church received a copy of Mahaney’s book Humility and that they were all supposed to read it?
Well, I decided to look up the word “humility”, and this is what I found:
hu·mil·i·ty – the quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc.
Synonyms: lowliness, meekness, submissiveness
I think maybe they have received an inadvertent lesson. They can compare notes at the GC meeting with their humble SGM friends.
Silence is complicity. It makes them vulnerable to a lawsuit if it were to happen again involving that person or someone who knew of the incident and that nothing really came of it. Some states even require reporting, and the failure to report can be either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the certainty of the knowledge and whether there was subsequent harm.
CJ inflicted humiliation…he never taught humility. God should be the only one to teach humility! I watched him humiliate my mother while she scrubbed his tile floor and he walked all over it with muddy shoes. He didn’t even to look down while she scrubbed on her hands and knees. She didn’t get paid for this work, his wife babysat me (along with her 3 children) while mother learned her lesson and tried so very hard NOT to go to hell.
I cannot believe that he is still a pastor and there is actually a book about God the Rod and Your Child’s Bod! Is this world blind? Its obvious why The Gathering church changed its name so many times…they were covering their trail of abuse and Cult activities. Shame on all of them.
Deb, I once challenged a pastor (no wait Director of High School Ministries) from said old church through an online message as too why they were posting reference from SGM when I found so many links to sites with horror stories (ex. “Survivors”). I was given a pat on the head and a promise to sit down and talk “in person” when I returned from Germany. Pardon my French, but I’m calling BS considering that I’ve gotten no contact in the 10 months I’ve been back.
They don’t seem too concerned… surprise surprise.
Oh and here’s a 20/20 show on Fundamental Baptists and sexual abuse… now they could give SGM a run for their money:
Here was the original message:
“I noticed in the group you posted the Modesty Heart Check pamphlet, I read through it, and while I don’t agree with everything on it, the overall premise is good.
However I also noticed that it is a product of Sovereign Grace Ministries so I am interested in your view on SGM and C.J. Mahoney. I have been to the SGM website and several others doing research.
I found sites such as this:
These websites cause me to be wary and skeptical of SGM and it’s products. Not only that but I visited the Apex SGM church the Sunday that C.J. Mahoney preached the sermon. While it was very sound teaching I was disturbed at how high a pedestal he seemed to be placed on, almost as if he could do no wrong. From what I saw of him and what I observed it was not a “servant’s heart” and I just got an overall bad vibe from him. But as I am not God, and I have no right to judge, we’ll just leave that at a first impression-not worth much.
The reason I am writing this is because I have become aware of SGM quite a while ago and am honestly quite disturbed by it. To see PBC actively post propaganda from them causes me to wonder. Please do not take this the wrong way and I hope you take the above websites into consideration. I am very interested in hearing your point of view if you have the time.
I hope that this new year of Refinery goes well for you and the students and I’ll be praying from afar. :)”
“Thanks for your message. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me. I will certainly take them into consideration as I share resources in our ministry. God bless you in Germany!”
I also have more messages on that subject but for the sake of space I’ll leave them be… let’s just say after a month or two of no reply I got a bit… uhm… snarky. But for good reason! I’ll be happy to share if anyone is interested. 🙂
“I watched him humiliate my mother while she scrubbed his tile floor and he walked all over it with muddy shoes. He didn’t even to look down while she scrubbed on her hands and knees. She didn’t get paid for this work, his wife babysat me (along with her 3 children) while mother learned her lesson and tried so very hard NOT to go to hell.”
How horrible! Was this a common practice in SGM? I have read testimonies where teens in SGM were expected to babysit for their pastors’ children AT NO CHARGE! Also, Pastors’ College students are given the royal treatment by SGMers when they arrive — detailing their cars, etc.
SGM sounds like a chaste system to me. After all, the leaders are “standing in the very stead of God” and obviously believe they deserve such royal treatment. Such humility!!!
It is not CHASTE, but it is a CASTE system. Your auto-correction or pre-post check either made a change or did not catch your typo.
Jenn and Sue,
I am so sorry for what you endured. I pray that you have loving people to talk to about your experience.
You are in my prayers.
Thank you for your encouragement. Noel is a precious sister in the Lord.
I would agree…I once heard a great lecture by a retired professor of psychology who said..”there are only two things that you can know about a person, what they say and what they do”
I am not overly convinced that “humility” is necessarily a virtue. I think it is used for more often as a means for making people submissive or lowering their self-esteem, it is a means of control over a group of people. Humility is not required to acknowledge that someone else may know something that we don’t, but we all think that the things we believe are correct, or we wouldn’t believe them in the first place. So when someone tells me I an wrong, that’s all well and good, but until they provide some type of convincing evidence, I see no reason to tuck my head between my legs and surrender.
Your former “leaders” are just following the un-biblical playbook of the theologically challenged SGM. They espouse doctrine and abuse anyone who cares enough to actually ask questions. This is evident in the abuse in this case in which the family was told that they were”sinfully craving answers.”. This is a lie straight from the pit of hell. And your former church is friends with this crowd?
To those abused….
I was also sexually abused as a child on several unrelated occasions when I was 10 and again when I was 14 and 15. They were single incidents each and while they left a permanent memory of the event, I wanted to write this to you, especially those who have children.
I turned out fine…while it is a terrible thing to have happen, you and your children can learn to accept that it happened, deal with its influence and still grow up to be happy and healthy individuals. The one thing that is needed is acceptance and compassion from family and friends, and for us, the one thing that we need to do, is to move on and not let those incidents define who we are or what we become.
It is one thing to take time to accept what happened to us and rely on the love and compassion of our friends in order to heal, and quite another to become obsessed with our own misfortune and allow it to dictate who we are. I have found that for many, acknowledging what happened brings us compassion from our friends, but that compassion and attention can become addictive as well, we need to learn how to be more than the sum of our misfortunes. Regardless of what happened to you, rest assured that you are a valuable human being, capable of contributing to society and of being a source of strength and support to others who have experienced similar abuse.
I hope sharing this part of my life, will help those who are struggling. You are not alone, and whether you are religious or not, there is light and hope at the end of the tunnel.
Dee has my home email address, if anyone cares to chat more, please ask her for my email address. I’d be glad to be a friend and help out if I can.
Yes, I did mean “caste system”. Thanks!
Here is my corrected statement:
SGM sounds like a CASTE SYSTEM to me. After all, the leaders are “standing in the very stead of God” and obviously believe they deserve such royal treatment. Such humility!!!
katlton, seriously, no offense…but to some of us, ending ones life as an athiest is not ‘turning out fine’.
I am so sorry. Thank you for telling us and offering to help others.
Did I see the word “subtle” mentioned in one of the posts? Well ,Lydia is not into that she justs writes the way she really feels. Good for her. I didn’t know Karlton was an athiest. Has he made that known for sure? I don’t think this blog was intended to be just for a certain segment of people to respond. To me it is healthy to honestly give one’s views. A venomous attitde helps no one but an open debate without rancor is good. I like most admit to being opionated about certain things. Because my main studies have been in theology I expect to hear different ideas.
No offense taken. If being intellectually honest with oneself and following both your heart and mind in pursuit of what is for me, the only reasonable response to questions of the supernatural means turning out “something less than fine”, as you put it….then so be it.
I am quite content with who I am, my beliefs and my reasons for those beliefs. I am quite satisfied that I have been both honest and thorough in my evaluation of the supernatural, and I am quite happy with the result.
No need for apologies or sorrow. It was more years ago than I can remember (one of the benefits to growing old!), and in any case..I shared it here for two reasons, one is that I wanted others to know that you can survive abuse and be ok, secondly, I consider you my friend and I have developed a certain level of trust here regarding the people, and so I shared in an attempt to deepen those bonds.
I appreciate what you shared and have said some of those same things to my child. (child B) That this will not define her and that she will recover and hopefully help others some day with the help she has received.
I, too, am sorry that you experienced abuse at a tender young age and appreciate how you are reaching out to others in this forum.
Yes, as most know I am an atheist for the most recent 20 years or so, prior I was a born-again Christian focused in the area of apologetics for 25 years. I was raised Lutheran, but after my conversion was, except for a short stint with a Southern Baptist church, involved mostly as an evangelical Christian with ministries such as Campus Crusade, Gathering of Believers, Christian Radio in NY., and Christian Research Institute (a.k.a. Walter Martin).
I am now a weak (or implicit) atheist, who enjoys engaging believers in debate and challenging them to look at “why” they believe what they do. I also enjoy observing the internecine warfare of the Church. All that said, I still enjoy many things that religion has brought into this world, and by no means would advocate their elimination.
Maybe I need a little side bar with my bio .. you can label it “All Welcome to this blog…even him—>”
Karlton joined our conversation here at TWW back in the fall, and he has clearly indicated in many of his comments that he does not believe in God, although he considered himself to be a Christian earlier in his life. In fact, he was involved in the Gathering of Believers (now SGM) and remembers C.J. Mahaney from those days.
To our TWW “family”
Thought you might like to know that Wallace’s testimony has been featured on other blogs such as SGM Survivors, SGM Refuge, Phoenix Preacher, and possibly a couple more. I have been reading some of the comments at the other websites, and I especially enjoyed reading this one by Brian D. So glad he gets it! Maybe his rant will help others discern the truth.
April 12, 2011 at 6:38 PM
“It’s stories like these that lead me to avoid SGM books, teaching, authors, pastors, and the like (I do follow a few SGM bloggers).
I once accepted Mahaney and Harris at face value, on the second-hand recommendation of pastors and bloggers on the Reformed scene. Then I saw the SGM Refuge and SGM Survivors blogs, and read the stories, and gradually I cut the SGM guys off from my influences.
Disturbing to me is the influence SGM has across the Reformed church – from Acts29 to IX Marks, from the Reformed ‘big guys’ to church planters struggling to get their ministries going. SGM’s influence extends into my own church, I think the same way it extends into other non-SGM Reformed churches.
In my more paranoid moments, I have thoughts about the Mars Hill guys getting together with the SGM guys to figure out how they’re going to use the sheep and, if they get out of line, how to deal with them.
Church should be family, a place to come broken, to grow, to heal, to get to the place where one learns how to live for Jesus and serve him and others. Not some corporate mentality where you are judged by how much $$$ you give and how much you serve and how much quality work you can do without charge. Not a place where people feel uncomfortable because the leaders won’t do something about that certain person stalking you, and where you or your loved ones are abused and you know no one will do anything because you’re not one of the influencers, or big givers, or it would harm someone the leadership loves.
Karlton thx for the clarifacation. I AM familar with the groups you used to be associated with. As i haVE stated before I have been a pastor for over 30 yrs. I have had many disappointments originating with many who declared themselves to be true believers and i am sure i have disappointed many myself. I have learned not to judge by what we hear but to observe the fruits and even then we have to be careful because as it has been said many times we don’t have ALL the facts of a person’s life. As I advanced academically there were times I had to decide could I really believe what some so ardently declare as ” The bible says it so I believe it” What i see most often is so many have not done what Paul told us to do. Study but rightly divide God’s word. People will go to the Dr. or lawyer and seek advice. Most of the time they seem to think they know as much or more than the pastor. But because of what some have experienced from a dictotorial pastor I can’e say i blame them. Bottom line for me is I truly believe in the Trinty. Faith means we are walking without full knowledge of everything. But I am still walking.
CJ Mahaney is one of Driscoll’s “mentors”.
In addition to a professing atheist (Karlton), TWW even allows the ravings of a Jeffersonian heretic like Muff. And yes, Muff has been declared heretic and anathema in some circles even though he still holds to the tenets of the Nicene Creed, and still believes in the supernatural as an effecting agency of the Almighty.
When we originally wrote about Driscoll, we mentioned that CJ was supposed to be his mentor. We then said, ” We are soooooo relieved. This has to be one of the most bizarre coalition of people in the more recent history of the faith. How they can associate together without asking serious questions shows me that, for some, this is not about the Gospel but about more important things like writing books and making bank. If it wasn’t, there would be some serious confronting going on. And they claim to be men. They act more like paparazzi, a male version of Lady Gaga.
You, along with Karl, add some spice to the discussion. We evangelicals can get rather boring and self congratulating at times. And the Calvinistas have caused me to be even more interested in getting other opinions. I would far rather spend an evening with you and Karl than with a fair number of the simpering crowds that follow some of these “leaders”. They have no sense of humor.
has any one sent these to the police, i feel like sending this to them..it is sad and most unfortunate that this is happening all over in other churches too…it is not just one church.
They should be prosecuted to the fullest…
Tell me, does anyone think that there’s any hope for SGM (other than through divine intervention)? CJ is strongly deluded (at best) and I can’t see anything happening through TGC which is little more than an old-boys network. We should let the horror stories from here and the other two blogs prompt us into praying for a miracle.
I am very sad that a man, who has had to morph his ministries in order to run from the negative press is embraced by the Calvinistas. They claim they understand history but they consistently ignore it in this instance.
Millstones around the neck, that verse keeps coming up in my mind.
From where I sit that took a good deal of courage to say what you have said, to reveal that part of yourself. I applaud you for it. I also agree wholeheartedly with your message: these kinds of events do not have to define one’s life, a person can move on and live a good and full life in spite of what has happened.
One thing it did bring into clarity is something about the nature of forgiveness and restitution I had not quite grappled with before. Sometimes when we wrong another person, what we do is annoying or has temporary effect. Sometimes when we wrong someone, what we have done can be compensated for. But other times, there is nothing we can do to fix it. And if we are the party that was wronged, there is something we have to live with for as long as we breathe.
If we have been the perpetrator, how much hubris there is to expect forgiveness in such a case.
If we are the wronged, how difficult it is to truly forgive when every day we see and must live with what was done.
It points to me how utterly arrogant these SGM leaders are, how utterly uncompassionate, how utterly self absorbed they are, that they so glibly pronounce and demand those that have suffered these wrongs forgive without and ounce of restoration being offered. How they will pine away for the perpetrator, hoping they’ll find forgiveness, and flat whip the victim because they struggle to forgive.
And it points to me how utterly inverted their priorities are, that they can ask no penance, no restoration, no great sorrow, no willingness to serve those wronged of the perpretrators. Going back to the situation at the Church Dee and I are from – no apologies from the offending pastors for YEARS, and when they did come they were not with a full heart. No pastor ever got down on their knees weeping over what had happened, no pastor ever sought the good of the young ones forever seeing images in the dark of what took place. Only the well being of their church (==them).
Over and over churches see members abuse members, and over and over they side with the member who abused and demand without compassion the abused forgive.
For you pastors reading this – get your act together. You will not stand guiltless before God on the final day unless you face what you have done and truly with all remorse make restitution for your deeds. No repentance counting on cheap grace is sufficient to find true Grace. The Grace of Christ is free to those that truly repent, but no truly repentant one will ever count on Christ’s free grace as proper restitution to those they have wronged!
Very kind of you, I truly hope it helps someone.
Knowing my deterministic philosophy as you do, you realize that I cannot lay any type of “blame” on those who did what they did. They had no more choice in doing it, than I had in sneezing when I got too close to the pepper shaker.
I certainly wish it hadn’t happened, and I’m pretty certain that my life took a slightly different path than it would have otherwise, but in the end, for my part, there is nothing to forgive and there is no reason to ask forgiveness. It just happened, like an infinite number of other things that happen in each of our lives. (Note: it’s much easier to wax philosophic well after the initial shock and anger have subsided) 🙂
A Calvinistic Atheist. Hmm, that is a new one! 😉
But I am not one who thinks they had no choice but to do what they did. There is an interface in the brain that allows us to conceive a deed without actually doing it. Between the thinking and the doing there is in all but the very rare few the ability to turn the connection off so the thought does not become the deed.
I made a lengthy post over on survivors shortly after this letter was posted there, so I won’t repeat myself here now. (April 9 2011, 5:00 AM, #18)
But hey, I just wanna know where I can sign up to be a neutral 3rd party?
Here is the link to Nickname’s comment over at SGM Survivors for anyone who would like yo read it.
You’re too surface… dig deeper my friend.
“But hey, I just wanna know where I can sign up to be a neutral 3rd party?”
Nick, this is priceless!
BTW: I have just been hiding my “neutrality” under a bushel…..
“Actually I wasn’t referring to you at all in that comment I made, but I do find it fascinating that you THINK I was referring to you…..”
I did start out the comment with this:
“You don’t have to be vague but vague gives plausible deniability.”
So, who knew who you were referring to? Wasn’t that the point?
“Couldn’t they have honestly believed that God has them in their position to minister to a great number of families and individuals and that this incident, becoming public, was merely a tool of Satan to discredit God’s work and drive a wedge between people and the leadership and ministry that God had brought them to.”
YES! You have nailed it! This is exactly how they think. And it comes from their very wrong doctrine on authoritarianism. That is the ROOT of all of this.
“In other words, isn’t it at all possible that, as repugnant as the idea is of keeping something like this silent, that they thought their actions were, in the end, the greatest good for the greatest number, that they sacrificed one with the hope of saving many others?”
YES! Again you have nailed it precisely. I have had several mega church pastors say exactly what you have said here when they excuse away some nefarious situation and want to keep it silent. It is exactly how Stalin saw his quest for the “greater good”. You must break a few eggs to make an omelette. In this case, it is “we must sacrifice a few victims in order to build this great organization with us as the great leaders whom God appointed.
They forget that Jesus left the 99 to save the one. The ONE is important in God’s economy. Truth and Justice are important in God’s economy. True repentence is important in God’s economy. In fact, cheap Grace means there was no sacrifice. (See Hebrews 10 or Read Bonhoeffer who explains it well)
We do not have to ignore evil in the Body to protect the Gospel truth. If people believe that then what exactly are they being saved to or from?
“Are they not deserving of being given the benefit of the doubt, if not in terms of their actions, at least in terms of their motivations?”
No benefit of the doubt at all. We must warn of the wolves. We are talking about children in many cases! Are you really suggesting we shoudl give the benefit of the doubt when it comes to ignoring or trying to hide child molestation in the Body? Why would their REASONS for doing something so heinous matter at all?
Motives have nothing to do with it. Truth and actions are enough!
“t points to me how utterly arrogant these SGM leaders are, how utterly uncompassionate, how utterly self absorbed they are, that they so glibly pronounce and demand those that have suffered these wrongs forgive without and ounce of restoration being offered. How they will pine away for the perpetrator, hoping they’ll find forgiveness, and flat whip the victim because they struggle to forgive.
And it points to me how utterly inverted their priorities are, that they can ask no penance, no restoration, no great sorrow, no willingness to serve those wronged of the perpretrators. Going back to the situation at the Church Dee and I are from – no apologies from the offending pastors for YEARS, and when they did come they were not with a full heart. No pastor ever got down on their knees weeping over what had happened, no pastor ever sought the good of the young ones forever seeing images in the dark of what took place. Only the well being of their church (==them).
Over and over churches see members abuse members, and over and over they side with the member who abused and demand without compassion the abused forgive.”
Zeta, You have nailed it, too. I have seen first hand the cold hearted callousness toward all sorts of victims in their organizations we call the Body.
Whatever makes us think that this is “of Christ”? I think what amazed me the most is how many decent people on staff or consultants (including myself) could go along because we were thinking of the “greater good” the organization was doing. But was it?
I know now I was not really saved. I had little godly sorrow or brokeness for the hurting people because I was too busy trusting the leaders. I did not know them personally, they were numbers or problems to deal with. We were busy and had “important” things to accomplish.
AFter all, God must have been on our side to build up such great organizations. I had it all backwards. God most often uses the foolish (from the world’s perspective) , the poor, and downtrodden for His Purposes. He not only tells us that in the NT but models it throughout with who He uses. The “rabinically educated Jew” is sent to the Gentiles!
The bottom rung…basically those who did not make the second cut of rabbincical studies are chosen to be Apostles to the Jews! How could they have credibility with Pharisees, etc?
God’s economy is often the opposite of what we think. It was a huge lesson for me to learn. Many still need to understand this so they will quit following man and instead follow Christ. Guys like CJ want people to believe they are the same thing.
when you say
“No benefit of the doubt at all. We must warn of the wolves. We are talking about children in many cases”
So we should not minister to, or have compassion for the leaders, but rather sacrifice them for the good of the many who are at risk?
It’s not hard to understand why so many can’t stand Christianity after this kind of story. Many in ‘authority’ are delusional regarding all forms of abuse. My advice folks is to get out of organized religion as quick as you can.
Jesus put the entire culture on notice that children are the essence of the kingdom == unless we become like them, we cannot enter. So, when one is abused, harmed, hungry, needy, not being loved — then the church needs to move into forceful action to remedy that situation. Those responsible for abuse and neglect need to be told that they have failed to carry out Jesus’ mandate, and are not welcome in the body until they publicly confess and repent, comply with the civil authorities (best by turning themselves in and confessing there as well), and forever avoid situations where they are at risk of either repeating or being thought to have repeated the offense.
Fascinating statement. In fact, Jesus condemned the leaders of the faith of his day calling them snakes and dogs. Shouldn’t He have been nicer to them? His Sermon on the Mount emphasized the weak, the poor in spirit, etc. He also said that it is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. He heaped scorn on those leaders who put their heavy burdens on the faithful. He also said it would be better to have a cement block put around one’s neck and be thrown into the abyss than to hurt a little one.
Yep. the Almighty seems biased to me.
I think I may quote your comment in today’s post.
Wow! I find it interesting that you think you may not have been saved because you did not have godly sorrow when you were in the mega business. That is powerful. I may also quote that today as well.
Karl, Dee, Deb, et al:
Recently there was a non-sequitur cartoon in the paper. It showed a wealthy man at the gate of heaven, with some camels standing by. A sign made some reference to picking a camel and . . . The man is quoted as saying he had not really believed the statement in the Bible. http://www.gocomics.com/nonsequitur/2011/04/05/ Dee/Deb perhaps you can imbed it! BTW, I believe the same idea applies to those who abuse children or youth. It is not that they are irredeemable, it is just that it is nearly impossible.
@ Arce: thanks for the cartoon (as well as your comments). I like the “corporate” bit in the cartoon a lot.
@ Karlton: thanks so much for your post on what you have experienced… I agree with you on being able to recover (from many things, not just sexual or other abuse) and living a good, happy, productive life. (I should say that “productive” – for me – means something other than work or earning a living; it’s more about the kind of life one lives and giving of oneself – knowledge, time, talents, love, etc. – to others.)
I agree He is biased.. I just can’t figure out in which direction given the OT orders for the Israelites to slaughter children and infants, and the commands of God to take as spoils of war all the virgin young woman. It’s just sooo confusing 🙁
“So we should not minister to, or have compassion for the leaders, but rather sacrifice them for the good of the many who are at risk?”
Oh no, we can minister to them and have compassion for them in prison. I will be the first one there with food and encouragement. :o)
“I agree He is biased.. I just can’t figure out in which direction given the OT orders for the Israelites to slaughter children and infants, and the commands of God to take as spoils of war all the virgin young woman. ”
When people say this sprt of thing, I usually think of Rahab.
Karlton, You will never find me saying that God is ONLY a God of love and compassion. He is Holy and Just. And Wrathful. I have quoted Hebrews 10 here many times. It is fearful to fall into the hands of a vengeful God. The problem is in the false belief taught so many places today that God’s only attributes are LOVE and MERCY.
Rahab had heard about this Holy Jehovah and threw her lot in with His people at the risk of her own life.
Here is a radical potential solution to the “bad barrel/bad apple” problem that Lydia mentioned. Can we do away with paid pastors entirely? Could we just start meeting in small neighborhood groups and let the lay people take turns preaching/sharing or just discuss Bible passages as a group? Surely we have enough resources now (Christian books, commentaries, sermons on line) that if we want to know what the theologians say we can find out without having to sit under paid “specialists” on Sunday who are put into a position where they can abuse the church goers.
Here’s the deal. I like to cook. I will bake brownies and you can bring it to the jailbirds.
You may be a prophet. Current trends suggest that smaller house churches will be the next “big” thing. People will tire of the mega church pastors and will want to be in a church. “where everybody knows your name.”. Listen, I like the people I am meeting thru this blog so much, I am wondering if anyone has eve tried a blog church before?
problem is many of these mega-pastors got their start in house churches.. CJ being one of them…so it doesn’t seem like it’s going to help much….as your blog said a few post’s ago…as long as their are sheep, there will be wolves.
Balance Folks, Balance.
We need large groups, we need people who have spent their entire lives reading and studying scripture.
We also need small groups, and we need personal accountability.
I have no more love for the wild and woolly independent house churches that despise anything formal or authoritative than I do the massive mega churches with the pastor is a demigod and ‘plastic’ defines their personalities and smiles.
Might we try something in the middle?
I haven’t been here in a good while because I think there is too much guilt by association and uncharitable parsing of people’s words. Assumptions are made about people from the outside that I don’t think stand scrutiny from the inside.
That being said, I think Karlton is on to something. There are at least three reasons why churches cover stuff up:
1. A belief it is better to sacrifice one victim than see the entire ministry go down. It’s prideful to think that our personal ministry is so important to God that we have the right to sacrifice a single person to it. God works in his own way– Jesus’ example is to leave the 99 sheep and go after the one.
2. A lack of resources to deal with abuse cases. Abuse victims are very hard to deal with. They may be avoidant. They may lie to protect their abuser. They often make false accusations. It can be hard to sort out the truth, and if the victim isn’t ready to come forward, there is not much you can do. A pastor may very well end up looking stupid when the victim denies. Pastor’s aren’t generaly equipped with a good understanding of abnormal pscyhology and have too many other demands on their time, so they let people fall through the cracks.
3. The fear of losing one’s job. If you’re an associate pastor at a larger ministry, there’s a decent chance your boss will fire you if you rock the boat. If you’re the only pastor, your church could lose members and have to cut your salary. Or you could be voted out. The “typical” pastor has four or more children, but doesn’t have a lot of money saved up and doesn’t have a lot of job prospects outside the ministry.
Reasons #2 and #3 would be easier to take if these weren’t the same men who were constantly asking people to make sacrifices for God. When it’s their turn to make a stand on principle, too many pastors will choose to backstab the abuse victim.
There is a fourth reason, and that is basic human denial. When faced with something horrific, a natural response is to deny it. All human beings are susceptible to this.
I’m sure you were addressing these concerns in a more general sense. In our situation, this is not an isolated issue at Fairfax, a look at the archives on http://www.sgmsurvivors.com will show you that. (Noel’s story).
They had plenty of time to correct the horrific way they respond to sex abuse. There was a 10 year span in between Noel’s story, our first issue with child A and then the abuse with child B. One of their first acts was to call their attorney after they discovered what happened with child B.
Also, our perp confessed immediately so there was no question about this being a valid charge.
Fairfax’s history is enough to show how secure these pastors are in their job regardless of how they blunder this area. These cases all happened under the same Sr. Pastor MM.
I wish you could give me examples of your starting words. Since, with blogging, one cannot see another’s face, the written word becomes important and so, parsing is one way for attempting to understand.
Here are some thoughts on the reasons that some pastors may give to poorly deal with abuse victims.Much of it is based on self protection, ignorance and demonstrates the outward reality that they do not trust God to take care of them.
– Abused people “often make false accusations.”
What do you mean? Are you saying that some pastors believe that, once a person is abused, they go on to make false accusations? I have read a great deal on this subject and statistics seem to indicate that, in the vast majority of circumstances, the victims are telling the truth.It is very difficult for kids to admit to this stuff so, when they do, it needs to be listened to and investigated. Less than 10% of claims are found to be false which means that 90% are true and one must act on that information.
-A pastor may very well end up looking stupid when the victim denies.
This does not compute. Child Protective Services investigates any accusation of abuse. The pastor should do what is right and report what he sees and knows. The police and others then do the investigation and make a decision based on their information. In my years of dealing with this, I have never heard anyone say “gee, that pastor looked stupid.” In fact, it is usually the other way around. The pastor ignores the warnings and gets into a heap of trouble when it is found that there is a pedophile present.
Also, since when is looking stupid a deciding factor in doing the right thing?
-So, abuse victims are very hard to deal with? Gee, that is such a bummer for the pastor and the church. It is much nicer dealing with people who pretend they have it all together. You know, Jesus dealt with the profoundly hurting people in this world-prostitutes, demon possessed folks (I wonder if that was very hard to deal with), lepers (you know, they could cause an infection and that is very hard). Pain and sin are hard to deal with but that is what pastors are called to do.
-Doing the right thing can be hard.It may mean a pastor loses his job. I know pastors who have gone to work for UPS and Home Depot rather than stay in a pretend everything is OK situation. Does such a pastor trust God or is trusting God a factor when all is going well? Pastors claim they are a role model. That means they must role model the hard stuff as well as the easy stuff.
I respect pastors who do the hard thing not the everyday, tedious, ho-hum, worldly response.
” have no more love for the wild and woolly independent house churches that despise anything formal or authoritative than I do the massive mega churches with the pastor is a demigod and ‘plastic’ defines their personalities and smiles. ”
I agree totally. I know of several house churches that are “patriarchy on steriods”. One is Doug Phillips of Vision Forum.
It is NOT the structure that is important. It is spiritual unity. I keep going back to 1 Corin 14 where Paul advises that 2-3 speak and the others judge what they say. Can you imagine that happening? Can’t have authoritarian ego in that scenerio. It is about Truth as the Person of Jesus Christ. He is the authority over believers when they meet. Everything He said in scripture such as put others before yourself, all the one anothers, not lording it over, etc., etc, applies to everyone in the Body. Those with man conferred titles are not exempt.
It is so hard to get away from the ‘someone has to be in charge” mentality. I know it is for me. We are taught to think that way. But as a Body when we meet, we can only think that way in terms of Christ. Not humans.
I am NOT saying it is easy. Frank Viola writes about this in some of his articles and speaks of it in his podcasts. I think, in this matter, he has some very good insights from the NT. Pagan Christianity is also a great resource.
R, It is not that hard for pastors. They call CPS. They should NOT be investigating anything like this at all. It could be a potential crime.
I do wonder….and maybe ARCE can tell us….in other areas outside the ministry, isn’t withholding potential evidence a crime? How about witholding information about a crime that has been committed? How about refusing to cooperate in an investigation?
Withholding evidence, failing to report, etc., CAN be a crime. A lot depends on the state law and how much can be proved. If there is contact between the perpertrator and the pastor, other than in a confessional situation, and the pastor subsequently assists in covering up the event, then the pastor is abetting the crime. If the pastor talks to the victim or another witness and discourages reporting, that could be interference with a witness, also a crime. Further, in some states there are limitations of the pastor-penitent privilege, including mandatory reporting in cases including child abuse.
What I would do? “Son, you need to confess this, and report it to the authorities. Can I go with you to see the police officers who hand this kind of case? Turning yourself in can help reduce the penalties. Come on, let’s go.”
And if he refuses, go anyway and make the report.
Lydia @ Thu, Apr 14 2011 at 08:22 pm
Scholars are divided on the issue, but if it is indeed true that Rahab ran a cathouse in old Jericho, I probably would have been one of her best customers had I lived there as a contemporary.
On to the genocide allegedly mandated by the Almighty in Numbers chap. 31:
Theodicy (making excuses for God) has always been a rhetorical art in evangelicalism. I have read many of the pieces proffering various explanations for the slaughter of the Midianites by the children of Israel. Each one seems to be even more convoluted than its predecessor. I see a simpler solution. At no point in the narrative does the Almighty give detailed instructions for genocide, only that they go to war against Midian.
Verse 14 says that Moses was very pissed-off (wroth) with his military commanders because they saved all the women & children alive. From then on, it’s Moses’ orders that kill the boy babies and non-virgin females. The detailed instructions from the Almighty to Moses (other than ritual purification) that we usually see in Torah are curiously absent from the narrative. From my vantage point, (no theodicy here) I don’t believe that God breathed genocide into Moses’ ear in the first place; but rather, Moses did what he thought best at the time.
One must keep in mind that the books of the Bible from Genesis through at least Judges were handed down by oral tradition for 20 or more generations, then put into writing in Babylon during the exile. Even the inerrantists say that the inerrancy was in the original (in this case the first oral telling). Since each oral telling is subject to some modification (every play “telephone”) and the writing is as well, the adverse statements attributed to God could have come into the story at any of a number of points.
Victims often lie. They lie to cover for their abusers. They develop paranoia that makes them make false accusations against others. If their abuser is someone close, they often displace their anger onto a safer target, who may be innocent. They can be very hard people to deal with.
Pastors too often don’t have the training to deal with them. They don’t have the time. They make a conscious or subconscious decision to let them slip through the cracks.
I never said it was right.
Yes, I am speaking generally. If everything went down the way you said it did (and I have no reason to doubt you) then the behavior of those men and women is inexcusable.
Agreed. Pastors need to know when to call for outside help. Sex abuse, domestic violence, etc., are very complex issues. Trained counselors with years of experience can be fooled by a good liar.
And it’s not up to pastors to play police, judge, and jury. That’s what the government is for.
Too often they don’t know or observe their limits, for whatever reason.
Stats show that less than 10% of victims lie in such circumstances. That means that 90% do not.
Pastors do not have the training and should call for help- busy or not.
Yes, but there are also people who are not victims that make up stuff out of the blue (for example, the Duke lacross case). It can be very hard to know who is telling the truth and who isn’t, so pastors just avoid dealing with abuse cases.
I believe every accusation should be taken seriously and investigated. If the accuser is found to have lied, that should be addressed. If it’s a sex abuse case, the pastor should immediately call for professional help.
I’m not excusing the pastors, just responding to Karlton’s question.
In the case of the Duke accuser, that is seriously messed up woman who has since stabbed two boyfriends, killing one. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if she weren’t a victim of abuse herself at some point. In fact I’d be surprised if she wasn’t. BUT… her abuser is not the three Duke athletes.
That’s what I’m getting at. Any accusation should be taken seriously. It may turn out the person has falsely accused someone, but a little counseling will reveal the real abuser. I’m not trying to say all victims lie. I’m just saying it’s beyond the ability of pastors to handle, and instead of refering they chose to deny or ignore.
I also have in mind her domestic violence, where someone will call the cops, and when the cops arrive, refuse to make a statement or press charges. That happens a great deal. Policemen who respond to such calls often end up getting attacked by the victim.
It’s understandable that pastors are reluctant to get involved if they’re not sure the victim will stand by their story.
Again, it’s not right. But it’s not always a clear cut case of a pastor approving of the abuse.
Muff, I suppose that whole flood thing tha wiped out most people is a myth, too.
“One must keep in mind that the books of the Bible from Genesis through at least Judges were handed down by oral tradition for 20 or more generations, then put into writing in Babylon during the exile. Even the inerrantists say that the inerrancy was in the original (in this case the first oral telling). Since each oral telling is subject to some modification (every play “telephone”) and the writing is as well, the adverse statements attributed to God could have come into the story at any of a number of points.”
Why not go all the way and just say the whole thing is a fraud and that God is not Sovereign enough to control any part of the process. You think when they finally wrote it down they would have left out all that repeating that was done in the oral telling.
R, I do not understand your constant point about victims lying. As you admit, it should be investigated no matter what. That means you think the victim must be given the benefit of the doubt. But I am even more confused as to how this gets pastors off the hook?
So what if they think the victim is lying? Most pastors believe that right away because it benefits them to believe it. They are the worst people to make that judgement because it means division in the church. And “church” is how they make their living. The entire point was that pastors should report any accusation to the pro’s.
I have read stats on false accusations being even lower. More like 4%. But we need not worry because most victims never say a word. Especially children. And some do not say anything for years and years.
See, this is why I don’t like discussing anything here. I never said it got pastors off the hook. I never said the only reasons victims lie is to make false accusations. I said they often lie to protect their abuser. You have looked past what I actually said and gone a direction with it that I never intended. The only reason I have “constantly” emphasized it is because I am constantly questioned on it.
I *have* said that I was responding to Karlton’s statement that pastors may decide to sacrifice a victim to save a bigger ministry. I said that was wrongheaded and self-important. I think an equally big reason why pastors avoid these matters is because they’re complex and time consuming. Each time I’ve said that, I’ve disavowed any notion that it excuses them, yet you keep insinuating that’s what I’m after.
It shouldn’t really be that hard to understand. Anyone who has done significant work with abused people knows how hard it can be to get to the truth. There are all these layers of self-deception involved, and it is usually not malicious.
With that I’m done here.
I haven’t had a chance to address your initial comment (4/15, 1:16 am) in this thread until now, but your most recent remark “With that I’m done here” tells me an awful lot about your character, or lack thereof.
Nevertheless, I would like to address some of your “observations” of us (to use SGM lingo).
First of all, I noticed your use of the word “uncharitable” in the phrase: “uncharitable parsing of people’s words. Assumptions are made about people from the outside that I don’t think stand scrutiny from the inside.”
Is characterizing legitimate criticism as “uncharitable” the latest scare tactic being implemented by the New Reformed crowd? Sorry, it isn’t working…
In case you weren’t perceptive enough to notice, the testimony featured in this post was written by someone who spent twelve years at SGM Fairfax and whose wife is the sister-in-law of a pastor who serves in that church. Despite your criticism, Wallace and his wife were very much on the INSIDE.
I do agree with your first point about why churches cover things up, which was: “A belief it is better to sacrifice one victim than see the entire ministry go down.” What a great way to describe SGM’s tactics! BRAVO! Sadly, there have been MANY victims in this “family of churches”. And yes it is “prideful” (as you stated) for a ministry to do this. Don’t you find it ironic that Mr. Humility (CJ) appears to have mastered the art of throwing victims under the bus to preserve HIS ministry?
Now I want to take a look at your second point, which was:
“A lack of resources to deal with abuse cases. Abuse victims are very hard to deal with. They may be avoidant. They may lie to protect their abuser. They often make false accusations. It can be hard to sort out the truth, and if the victim isn’t ready to come forward, there is not much you can do. A pastor may very well end up looking stupid when the victim denies. Pastor’s aren’t generally equipped with a good understanding of abnormal psychology and have too many other demands on their time, so they let people fall through the cracks.”
I agree with some of your points here, but your claim that “They (victims) often make false accusations” is absolutely FALSE! Experts state otherwise. Please do your research before making such a sweeping statement about victims of sexual abuse.
Incredibly, your third point actually reveals why SGM pastors cover-up problems in their churches. Here’s what you said:
“The fear of losing one’s job. If you’re an associate pastor at a larger ministry, there’s a decent chance your boss will fire you if you rock the boat. If you’re the only pastor, your church could lose members and have to cut your salary. Or you could be voted out. The “typical” pastor has four or more children, but doesn’t have a lot of money saved up and doesn’t have a lot of job prospects outside the ministry.”
Yes, SGM pastors are extremely fearful of being de-gifted, so this explanation of why they cover-up matters like sexual abuse certainly rings true. However, the only “voting” that takes place in SGM is done by the leadership, not the congregation. BTW, I didn’t realize the “typical” pastor has four or more children. Based on my observation of pastors I know, your statistic is too high. I would say an “average” of 2 to 3 is more realistic. Perhaps SGM pastors are leading by example when it comes to being fruitful.
Then you remarked:
“Reasons #2 and #3 would be easier to take if these weren’t the same men who were constantly asking people to make sacrifices for God. When it’s their turn to make a stand on principle, too many pastors will choose to backstab the abuse victim.”
Now I’m confused… You claim victims often make false accusations but that pastors backstab the abused victim. Which is it?
And finally you give a plausible fourth reason for cover-up, which is:
“There is a fourth reason, and that is basic human denial. When faced with something horrific, a natural response is to deny it. All human beings are susceptible to this.”
Agreed! Shame on all of us for denying that sexual abuse occurs.
Then you responded to Dee as follows (4/15, 9:50 pm):
“Victims often lie. They lie to cover for their abusers. They develop paranoia that makes them make false accusations against others. If their abuser is someone close, they often displace their anger onto a safer target, who may be innocent. They can be very hard people to deal with.
Pastors too often don’t have the training to deal with them. They don’t have the time. They make a conscious or subconscious decision to let them slip through the cracks. I never said it was right.”
How do you know that victims often lie? Do you have expertise when it comes to sexual abuse? The experts say otherwise. Making such sweeping generalizations ruins your credibility.
And finally, bringing up the Duke lacrosse fiasco has absolutely nothing to do with this discussion. The accuser of the Duke lacrosse players is an adult with serious character flaws. Perhaps she was abused as a child and no one bothered to help her. Here at TWW, we are primarily focused on children and teenagers (those underage) who have been victimized. We want them to get the professional help they need so they will not be scarred for life.
Sorry you have chosen to withdraw from the discussion. I guess we are just too “uncharitable”…
Finally, we’ve called the Calvinistas on the carpet before about their repetitious language. Please expand your vocabulary by consulting a thesaurus. We’re really getting tired of hearing words and expressions like “trajectory”, “winsome”, “unpack” (as in explaining a Bible passage), “Biblical” (as in manhood and womanhood), and yes, even “uncharitable”. Why don’t you stop congregating among yourselves and interact with the rest of us out here. It’s truly incredible how those who label themselves as New Calvinists have such a closed system.
wow r, slow down and think it through for a while. go back and read your original comment through the eyes of a victim. if anything your subsequent comments have clarified your original point beyond tecognition after being challenged.
God did in deed command murder, many times, a prime example being I Samuel 15:2-3 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, bhow he claid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. 3 Now go and smite Amalek, and dutterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.
Verbal plenary inspiration refers to the original writings, not the oral tradition.
Here is the problem with CPS or the police investigating a report of abuse…regardless of the outcome of the investigation, even if found innocent, we have so stigmatized even the possibility of child abuse, that simply being investigated for it is enough to ruin one’s career, friends and life, even if one is totally innocent…as an example someone a few days ago posted rules for how they interview potential Sunday school teachers, youth pastors, etc…and in that list of requirements was the question “have you ever been investigated or suspected of child abuse, regardless of outcome”
RE: Lydia @ Fri, Apr 15 2011 at 11:26 pm & Fri, Apr 15 2011 at 11:23 pm:
It just so happens that I do believe a global flood happened, along with the virgin birth and the miracles of Yeshua (I prefer his Hebrew name over the Greek one). For me, the Bible does not have to be an all or nothing proposition. I pick and choose what I want to believe based on the spark of divine the Almighty placed in me at birth.
Karlton @ Sat, Apr 16 2011 at 01:51 pm:
The question is one of whether or not God really did command genocide in the Old Testament. Conservative evangelicals are forced into the theodicy mode in order to try and rationalize something that goes against the very grain of human compassion and mercy; but because the text says it, they have to find some kind of work around for it. Whether or not the genocide commands are God breathed or not, they have no impact on my belief that the seed of the woman will someday right what went awry at the fall.
Thank you all for your encouragement and prayers. My wife and I are greatly affected by all the support shown here.
Thank you Deb and Dee for posting our story.
Here is a response to some questions and statements:
Please be encouraged to direct your friends in the Fairfax church to read the blog stories regarding way’s the church has handled sex abuse in the past. If your friends have children, they need to know the truth. Fairfax leadership endeavors to keep the issue silent. People “at risk” are not told when there is a known sex offender in their midst.
In child B’s case, the young man was convicted of a felony.
There came a point in time when CJ backed away from any involvment with our issue with Fairfax. Perhaps he was legally advised to do so. He told me that SGM churches now function autonomously, and from this we assumed he could not be held responsible anymore for what occurs in the individual SGM churches. Very convenient. However, CJ had chosen to bury his head in the sand and I communicated this to him. We never heard from him again. The “2 versions of the truth” you mentioned is exactly the conlusion Fairfax determined in the end regarding our case. They claimed there was “a difference in interpretation” of the facts. We claimed that one of their pastors had lied to us multiple times. They pursued keeping things quiet regarding the sex abuse issue and sought to discredit our testimony by invalidating key points and not answering hard questions. They claimed all our questions were answered. In the end, we became the liars… as our story illustrates.
Truth is not arbitrary – it’s either A or B.
In reponse to your question to Dee;
Jesus Christ died for the person who might be judged by church leadership to be a sacrifice for the sake of “saving many others.” Church should not be a place where one should have to worry about being sacrificed at the alter of reputation. In a ground war, a single sacrifice for the sake of saving others occurs all the time and is usually voluntary but, there is no god-given directive for any man to decide who should be “sacrificed” for the sake of a church’s reputation.
Our hearts and prayers go out to you and your family.
Please consider posting your story. It’s time that these horrific events be exposed to the church.
To add to Wallace’s comments.
How can CJ play the each church is autonomous and I can’t be held responsible card and also enjoy all the perks and privileges of being the poster child for all things SGM?
Wallace and happymom,
Thanks for sharing your heartbreaking story with all of us. I am certain that you have ministered to many who are hurting and feeling all alone in their pain.
Both of you are often in my thoughts and prayers, and please tell your children that Dee and I are praying for them. We are strong believers in the power of prayer!
Thank you Deb
“It just so happens that I do believe a global flood happened, along with the virgin birth and the miracles of Yeshua (I prefer his Hebrew name over the Greek one).”
I don’t get it. You don’t consider wiping people off the earth with a flood kind of mean and going against mercy and compassion?
“He told me that SGM churches now function autonomously, and from this we assumed he could not be held responsible anymore for what occurs in the individual SGM churches.”
He must have gotten this from the SBC. They say the same exact thing when it comes to sexual perversion in ministers but at the same time disfellowship an SBC church with a woman pastor. Seems they have power when it comes to the women in ministry question but NO power when it comes to perverted pastors. Go figure.
Excellent point .. not to mention that if God really DID want to kill off the entire population, there are obviously far more “peaceful and painless” ways to go about it….drowning is a terrible way to go .. hence the effectiveness of techniques like water boarding.
“Here is the problem with CPS or the police investigating a report of abuse…regardless of the outcome of the investigation, even if found innocent, we have so stigmatized even the possibility of child abuse, that simply being investigated for it is enough to ruin one’s career, friends and life, even if one is totally innocent…as an example someone a few days ago posted rules for how they interview potential Sunday school teachers, youth pastors, etc…and in that list of requirements was the question “have you ever been investigated or suspected of child abuse, regardless of outcome”
To be honest, I think what you have hit on here has a lot to do with why so many pastors are ‘soft’ on other ministers accused of molestation. And it is in reality a horrible dilemma. What does a person do that is innocent that for whatever reason the finger of ‘abuse’ is pointed at them? It’s almost like those accused of witchcraft in Salem. I mean, I’m as much for stringing up an abuser as anyone, but how does one protect oneself from the accusation if one is innocent?
My guess is that many pastors fear greatly doing something that is seen as abuse when it is not, and getting reported for it. And that fear causes them to empathize with the accused. Not because they tacitly approve of what is said to have occurred, and perhaps not even because they believe the accused over the accuser, but more because there is often is this little bit of doubt, and they see themselves in the shoes of the accused falsely accused and know that without a witness, without some physical proof they are innocent, no-one would believe them over the accuser.
I really don’t know the answer. We have a policy in the US of innocent till proven guillty … but proof here means in a court of law. In many possible situations, there is not really proof, only the preponderance of the evidence. And when it’s just one kid accusing one adult, the accused really has no recourse as things stand now. No way to prove what he’s accused of did not really happen.
And add in what you’ve just mentioned. I mean, just being investigated, not matter what the outcome, is enough to kill someones career? That’s guilty till proven innocent. Actually, that’s guilty if ever accused. Is that the right way to deal with this?
Clearly in many of the cases we’ve seen on this blog, there are multiple witnesses and all sorts of incriminating evidence, not just a single he said/she said. But I still think that it’s that possibility of doubt, and the power of the stain of even ever having been the focus of an investigation, no matter what the outcome, that is helping to perpetuate this trend we see of pastors giving offenders more leeway than the accused, more leeway than often makes sense given the evidence at hand.
Well said, the only solution that I can come up with is that investigations of this nature need to be conducted by the organization (police or CPS) in a completely private manner,no press, no news releases and stiff penalties for anyone who leaks news of the investigation to anyone not directly involved in it.
Of course, all of that does nothing to protect those who might be potential victims of this person (if in fact he/she is guilty). I don’t have a good answer, but unfortunately I do not think it is even a question that’s being looked into.
Zeta, The problem is worse. Most kids never say a word for many reasons until they are older. That is a big reason why kids are targeted. As my police detective friend said to me: Churches are the safest places for pedophiles for many reasons. If you read Christa Brown’s blog, she follows all these accusations and charges and we know a big problem is church staffers from the minister on down are predators.
In fact, Christa was raped by her youth minister…told the music director and what came of it was that she was made to apologize to the youth minister’s wife for seducing him! The rapist had a long ministry career after that eventually ending up at Charles STanely’s church. Charles STanely was told and refused to tell his congregation what had taken place with the guy.
Another friend had her 6 year old fondled in the restroom during choir practice. It was done in such a way he did not tell his mom. But he told his 10 year old brother. They confronted the man with the pastor and the result was the entire family was asked to leave the church for being divisive and unforgiving. They did report it to the authorities and were considered mean and vengeful by the church.
If I am going to err, I hope it is on the side of the victim. Adults should know how to protect themselves from accusations….it is not that hard to do. There has to be opportunity and if one is not alone with kids there is no opportunity.
“Excellent point .. not to mention that if God really DID want to kill off the entire population, there are obviously far more “peaceful and painless” ways to go about it….drowning is a terrible way to go .. hence the effectiveness of techniques like water boarding.”
People die of water boarding? Better than being beheaded for being raped, I suppose. :o(
It might be an excellent point but not for the same reason as you. I think God is a God of Justice, Mercy, Wrath, Love, Compassion and more Mercy.
Zeta, Here is how it is usually handled. I link to this one because I am quite familiar with the particulars in this case:
” if one is not alone with kids there is no opportunity.”, yes, and this is also part of the problem, we deny kids the basic milk of human kindness, for fear of a lawsuit or accusation. Teachers can no long give a sad, lonely or frustrated child a hug, adults fear for their reputations just because they might wish to sit and have a conversation in private with a child who has a problem. Seeing a child in school crying, for whatever reason, the teachers and administration can no longer put their arms around the child and hold them, letting them cry and giving them much needed support and comfort.
We are becoming sterile in our relationship towards each other, especially children, thinking that we are providing protection, not unlike the freedoms that we have given up under the guise of being safe from terrorists, I sometimes wonder if the cure isn’t worse than the disease.
RE: @ Lydia says: Sat, Apr 16 2011 at 07:51 pm
“…I don’t get it. You don’t consider wiping people off the earth with a flood kind of mean and going against mercy and compassion?”
There’s really nothing to get. For me anyway, the Bible and the theology derived from it over the centuries no longer has to be an either/or proposition.
“We are becoming sterile in our relationship towards each other, especially children, thinking that we are providing protection, not unlike the freedoms that we have given up under the guise of being safe from terrorists, I sometimes wonder if the cure isn’t worse than the disease.”
I certainly do not want women to be subjected to parts of Sharia law in the USA.
Air conditioning contributed to sterility in relationships as we rarely sit on porches and know our neighbors. The rise of frivolous lawsuits has contributed as has technology and suburbs. I won’t even go into entitlements and the havoc that has brought on thinking in relationships.
Which ones are we willing to give up?
I want to apologize to you for my Apr 16,6:41pm response to your question to Dee on Apr 12,10:15pm. I’m sorry for the tone and content of my reponse to you. Sometimes I am plauged with frustration when I hear someone giving SGM the “benefit of the doubt.” I am angry for what my family and I have been put through these last 3 years by Sovereign Grace Ministries. Didn’t mean to take it out on you. Please forgive me.
That was kind of you to say that to Karlton. This site is dedicated to being there for everyone who has gone through pain in their churches. And pain and frustration is part of the deal. This is one place you do not need to worry about that. Karl is an atheist and his arguments are often based on pointing out inconsistencies in Christian theology. I can assure you that he did not mean to cause you pain by his statement as well. I think we may be one of the only evangelical blogs with a resident atheist!
Thank you for your comment. During this time I find myself sometimes reacting before thinking it through.
It seems your questions indicate an underlying search for truth. Jesus was the only person in history to ever say, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” I don’t mean to preach at you as I’m sure you’ve heard this before. But there is one point I’d like to make; If you read the gospels, particularly the words Christ had spoken, what we are left with is a decision. Either Jesus is who he says he is or he is a lunatic and Christianity is doomed.
Logic would say it’s either A or B. If you continue on the path of truth seeker, you will ultimately end up at the foot of the cross.
The alternative to this is; life has no meaning, the universe created itself, and it was only by chance that we evolved into conscious beings with the ability to discern good from evil on our own. Not likely regardless of what the scientists may say.
Albert Einstein was an atheist as a young man, but later on in his life stated there was no question in his mind that the universe had been “created by an infinite Being.”
Don’t let hypocracy and evil deeds of men sidetrack your search for truth. But rather focus on this; Jesus came as a man, died and rose again so our sins would be forgiven.
Go and ask God to reveal Himself to you. If you ask in doubt, tell Him about it, He knows…If you keep asking, He will answer you.