Prestonwood Baptist: A Heroic Stand Amidst Parental and Church Betrayal

"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And that which I can do, by the grace of God, I will do." ~ Dwight L. Moody

D. Sharon Pruitt from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, USA
D. Sharon Pruitt -Wikicommons

 

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Approximately 1 year ago, TWW post a story on a noteworthy pedophile, John Langworthy called Does the SBC Fear Women Pastors More Than Their Kids Getting Molested? Link

I heartily suggest that you read that post first for some background. In it, you will be introduced to Amy Smith, the heroine of this story. In this post, we congratulated her for her dogged determination to uncover the truth.

John Langworthy, now awaiting trial for pedophilia, was serving on staff at Prestonwood Baptist Church, Dallas,in 1989 when he was abruptly, and quietly dismissed, due to an allegation of impropriety. Langworthy would go on to allegedly molest other children in subsequent ministries in Mississippi.

This is a mammoth church.I used to be able to see it's green roof from miles away. I lived within two blocks of the main campus for many years.  From Wikipedia : 

"Prestonwood Baptist Church, in Plano, Texas, is one of the largest megachurches in North America and one of America's 50 Most Influential Churches.The Plano campus covers an area of 140 acres and includes a 7,000-seat worship center, a school offering Pre- Kindergarten through Grade 12, a fitness center, a sports stadium, sports fields, a large cafe, a library, and two bookstores. In 2006, the church expanded to include a second "North" campus of nearly 128 acres in Prosper, Texas. In 2011 the church again expanding adding a "Dallas" campus near LBJ Freeway and Hillcrest." (ed. note: This one should cut into FBC-Dallas' population base. It is a game, folks!)

Amy Smith, who grew up in the youth ministry at Prestonwood, and whose family are still “overly” devoted members (you will see why), became concerned when she was made aware of the conviction of a pedophile at Camp Kanakuk, the MIssouri summer camp that is favored by the well-heeled Dallas Christian set. (My daughters went there a few times. When you go to pick them up, the conversation centers around who the kids are that have really famous parents. Dee did not fit-especially when she started laughing.)

Amy began to consider that there may have been a cover up of John Langworthy’s alleged offense(s) by the well known lead pastor Jack Graham. If you read the post I wrote at the previous link, you will understand my superficial connection to this story.

But, there was more to this story than I could have imagined. Amy, now the Houston leader for Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (and other clergy-SNAP) paid a terrible price for her determination to seek the truth.

There are two types of Christians in Dallas. One type is the sincere Christian that you find in many churches.  The second, however, is the socialite Christian who goes to the big, very rich and very “in” churches in order to network and be seen. I can speak to this because I spent 10 years in this environment. There is a pecking order to which one must adhere.  If a person is not one of the very, very wealthy, one must be a friend of the very, very wealthy. One attends their Bible studies and country club gatherings. (They can be one and the same). Their pastors live in mansions and kowtow to the rich, knowing that they will give a bunch of money to continue the obviously elite status of the church which involves a continual building frenzy. See the Wikipedia description above. They live by the motto: "My church is bigger than your church and we have more famous people than you do! God must loooooove us."

I have recently finished reading Joel Gregory’s book, Too Great a Temptation- The Seductive Power of America's Super Church in which he mentions that First Baptist Church, Dallas, became concerned  as the young and wealthy headed to Prestonwood Baptist. However, all is well. FBC Dallas, under the able fundraiser (and occasional pastor) Robert Jeffress, just out did Prestonwood with their $120 million addition.(Prophesy: Prestonwood will not be outdone. It's all a game.)

Here is the problem. Being associated with the “Christian rich and powerful” is seductive. Some are even willing to turn their backs on family to keep up the image. There is a book that raised the hackles of the Dallas social Christians called (forgive the term) Rich Christian Bitches. I lived there, I knew them and that book is far closer to the truth than one might imagine.

Deb and I know quite a bit about SNAP. They were of tremendous support and offered us valuable advice when we had our little run in with a church. We highly recommend them to anyone who is dealing with a pedophile incident inside of a church.

To Amy’s parents: 

If Amy were my daughter, I would be bragging about her to everyone I meet. You, and Prestonwood, raised her to know that there is a greater good than rich friends and comfortable social interactions. Jesus said that He is the Truth. Did she learn that from you or in spite of you?

Never forget that, at the end of life, the ones who surround you aren’t your well-dressed friends but your family. Are you really willing to go on with your life without her? I can only hope that one day you will realize what a terrible mistake you have made. I pray it will not be too late to say, “I’m sorry.”

To Amy:

My family is your family. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, whatever, you are welcome. If you are in need, contact us. Our door, and I bet the door of many of our readers, is always open to you. I am so proud of you. Remember, in the Christian body we are all related. We are all your sisters, mothers and fathers, etc. 

One day, you will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant ” from your Father and He will never turn his back on you. I will be in the background, cheering. You are one awesome woman!

So, here is Amy’s Story from her blog called Watchkeep. Link.


This is my story

This is my story of how I came to be an advocate for survivors of child sexual abuse and the personal price I would pay as a result. But I would do it again.

I loved my church, Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas. I spent my years in high school as a dedicated member of the youth ministry, and while attending Baylor University, I spent my summers as an intern on the youth staff at Prestonwood. It was there I met my then youth music minister, John Langworthy. John soon became a close friend of our family, even living in our home for a while in the mid 1980s while on staff at Prestonwood and attending seminary. I was in his wedding in Mississippi. He was a friend and mentor.

The person that I knew though was not reality. The reality was a wolf masquerading in sheep's clothing, albeit a very talented, charming, magnetic, charismatic one. The entire time I knew him, he was sexually molesting boys at Prestonwood, some of them my friends. Some of the abuse took place in the church building, the former Prestonwood location on Hillcrest at Arapaho in Dallas. This came as a shock to all of us when he was suddenly fired in June of 1989 and packed up quickly and moved back to his home state of Mississippi.

I heard the rumors like many in the youth group then. I was 20 and on staff as an intern. I did not know exactly who the victims were at the time. The Prestonwood executive staff, headed by Dr. Jack Graham, heard Langworthy confess to these child sex crimes, along with Neal Jeffrey, then youth pastor, but no one reported these crimes to the police as required by Texas state law. They even had a few of the victims that they knew sit down with church attorneys to give statements, but none of this information was reported to the police.

The church congregation was not informed of the reason for Langworthy's departure. Parents were not notified so that other victims could be found. From my understanding, having talked to victims since then, a call came in to Prestonwood in 1989 warning them of John's past in Mississippi, of alleged child sexual abuse there.

In August of 2010, after hearing about the conviction of Pete Newman, former Kanakuk Christian camp director, I decided speak out and not leave it up to someone else to warn about Langworthy. I was someone else. I had to get someone to listen, anyone who could shine the light of truth on this admitted child molester. I began to search online for Langworthy and found him working at a church and public high school in Clinton, MS. Here is the timeline of my efforts to warn about Langworthy.

After my interview on WFAA in Dallas, the story began airing in Jackson, MS. One brave survivor of abuse as a child by John Langworthy came forward to the police in Clinton, MS, and then several more after that. John was arrested and indicted in September 2011 on 8 counts of felony gratification of lust for 5 victims, boys between the ages of 8-12. This abuse took place between 1980-84 while Langworthy was serving at First Baptist Church of Jackson and Daniel Memorial Baptist Church in Mississippi. He is awaiting a criminal trial on these charges set for Nov. 26, 2012 in Hinds County in Jackson, Mississippi.

When I first began to question and seek out information to warn about Langworthy, I informed my parents about what I was doing, and that I was concerned that more kids were at risk. They expressed disapproval. I knew I was doing the right thing though. I called the Dallas police myself to report what I knew. I was told that the victims I knew, now adults, would have to report the abuse, or the Prestonwood staff who fired Langworthy.

I communicated this information with Dr. Jack Graham, via Mike Buster, executive pastor. To my knowledge, they have yet to report the child sex crimes that took place at Prestonwood by Langworthy from 1984-1989 that constituted the reason for his dismissal. I have also heard from and and about victims of two other former Prestonwood youth ministers and one adult youth ministry volunteer that the staff knew about but have not reported to the police. Looking back, it seems that a culture of abuse reigned there unchecked.

Recently, my parents stated in writing that they are going on with their lives without me and want no more contact with me. In their own words, they insist that I went on a "witch hunt." They still stand by and defend John Langworthy saying "he didn't molest anybody," though he has confessed publicly from the pulpit at Morrison Heights Baptist Church in August 2011. They have also demanded that I apologize to Jack Graham and Neal Jeffrey at Prestonwood.

I will not apologize for the truth. It is the light of truth and knowledge that is our greatest tool to protect kids.

We need more people like Alex Green, a student editor at Bryan College in Tennessee, who defied the school administration to report and publish a story on a professor's alleged child sex crimes:

Had one individual in the Penn State program stepped up and revealed the truth about the actions of Jerry Sandusky, there would have been no fallout 14 years later. Joe Paterno would have died a hero. Instead, he died a goat. Penn State could have been praised. Instead, they are broken.

Bryan College is not Penn State because there are people here that will not attempt to save face by dusting over the arrest of Dr. David Morgan.
Printing this story will not cause a Penn State situation for Bryan. I believe it will prevent one. That’s why I’m dispensing it.
Well done, Alex Green.

Child sexual abuse ravages war on every aspect of the life of a child. Where are the warriors to fight for these children? It's past time to stop protecting and enabling the predators who prey on kids.

If you have been a victim of sexual abuse at Prestonwood Baptist Church by John Langworthy or others, or have information about these crimes, please call and make a report to the Dallas Police Child Exploitation Unit at 214-671-4211. Your call will be answered by a trained counselor with 20 years experience. If you need to leave a message, your call will be returned.

If you have suffered Langworthy's child sex crimes in Mississippi or have information about these crimes, please contact Hinds County Assistant District Attorney Jamie McBride at 601-968-6568.

Silence only benefits the predators. Coming forward shatters the silence of sexual abuse, helps survivors heal and protects others.

"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And that which I can do, by the grace of God, I will do." ~ Dwight L. Moody


Here is a recent news interview with Amy about the John Langworthy case. 

Lydia’s Corner: Leviticus 9:7-10:20 Mark 4:26-5:20 Psalm 37:30-40 Proverbs 10:6-7

 

 

 

Comments

Prestonwood Baptist: A Heroic Stand Amidst Parental and Church Betrayal — 132 Comments

  1. “There are two types of Christians in Dallas. One type is the sincere Christian that you find in many churches. The second, however, is the socialite Christian who goes to the big, very rich and very “in” churches in order to network and be seen. I can speak to this because I spent 10 years in this environment. There is a pecking order to which one must adhere. If a person is not one of the very, very wealthy, one must be a friend of the very, very wealthy. One attends their Bible studies and country club gatherings. (They can be one and the same). Their pastors live in mansions and kowtow to the rich, knowing that they will give a bunch of money to continue the obviously elite status of the church which involves a continual building frenzy.”

    It’s stories like this that make me seriously doubt the oft-repeated truism in the conservative Christian community that Southern culture is more “godly” and there are more Christians down South than up North.

  2. After fifty years of living, thirty years of pastoring, and several decades of studying Christian history I do not believe I have ever been any sadder than when I read this sentence from Amy: My parents stated in writing that they are going on with their lives without me and want no more contact with me.

    That’s sick.

    Amy, I will officially adopt you as my spiritual daughter. Our home, our church, our finances, and our fellowship is your’s at any time, for any reason, and for unending duration. I mean it.

    My wife and I are proud of you.

  3. Southern culture is more “godly”??

    There must be confusion between “religious” and “godly”.

    Actually, I don’t think godliness is quantifiable — true “godliness” (whatever that means, and if it is even a real thing) isn’t all that noticeable or observeable. It’s mostly a matter of inward choices that never meet the public eye. Sure, there will be good fruit — but there is also careful window dressing that masquerades.

  4. Amy, thank you. I know the price.

    This story (even the picture at the beginning) was full of triggers for me. But their effect is lessening. And every time someone stands up for the victims of child sex abuse, every survivor heals a little more. So again, thank you.

  5. Hester, having lived in DFW, you are absolutely correct. I was amazed at the amount of people who went to church in Dallas because it was “Good for business.”

    Bro. Wade, your comment brought a tear to this old jaded eye. Thank you.

  6. Amy, there are so many families in TX who will gladly take you in as a beloved sister, daughter, granddaughter, etc… Your actions are not a source of embarrassment or frustration to us but rather to be praised from the mountaintops. I think you will also find that the community here on TWW is an amazing source of comfort and support, a “virtual” family of sorts.

  7. Amy, I am so grieved over your parents. What courage it takes to go on with protecting the most vulnerable. I pray His Blessings on you.

    I am constantly amazed at what is hidden in the hearts of people who populate our churches. That molesting children/teens is something to be kept hidden. I cannot wrap my head around that folks. Talk about sticking the knife in deeper and twisting it.

  8. Simply put, Amy is a hero. She has shown, and is showing, both compassion and courage, a rare combination. Children are safer because of her bravery. It’s an honor to know her.

    Every single person who saw, suspected or suffered Langworthy’s crimes must call law enforcement immediately, especially past and current members and staff of Prestonwood. Silence protects predators and hurts kids.

    David Clohessy, Executive Director, SNAP, 314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com

  9. How did Amy find out about the abuse in the first place? Did I miss something? Or is the answer to my question in that post you linked to (and which I haven’t had the chance to read yet)?

    I agree: the fact that Amy’s parents want nothing more to do with their daughter is VERY sad. 🙁 I am so sorry that she is paying such an awful price for investigating and finding out the truth.

  10. Never mind. I just read the blog entry you posted to. :: shaking my head :: I do not understand why this same type of story keeps coming up, over and over and over. I don’t understand how people who claim to be godly can unleash this kind of abuse on children and then be defended.

  11. “Amy, The Red Rose Of Texas?”

    hmmm…

    A concerned member tried to prevent a woof dressed in sheep’s clothes from abusing anymore children? The female church member was fired from her own family for her actions? 

    “I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too?”

    Sorry you lost the green, green “grass of home…”

    “Amy”, Therz a hot meal and a warm fire at ourz houze, alwayz!

    Prayerz too!

    juz take out da rocks n’ tap doze heels ta’gether!

    …We’ll sing the songs together, We sang so long ago
    I’ll play my bango gaily, And sing the songs of yore…
    dis lit’l Red Rose of Texas, will be remembered for what she’s done, forevermore…

    hum, hum, hum…

    S“㋡”py

  12. David

    You may not remember me but we spoke several years ago over a problem with a church here in Raleigh. Barbara Dorris, Jeff Anderson, and you were a real support to me. You all told me something back then and that statement is something we hold to on this blog. You said that no matter what happened, to keep the boys (victims) always the main thing.

    We have a prime directive on this blog which means that even if one wants to defend the alleged perp, one must always express concern for the victims. This blog is an advocate for those abused in churches. SNAP is partially “responsible” for our concern for the victims. My best to you and Barbara.Your organization is on the side of the angels. 

    You are correct. Amy is a hero and we, at this blog, are here to support her.

  13. Amy,

    I admire your courage to find and shine light on the truth. I’m sorry you’re paying such a tragic and hefty price to do what’s right. As a survivor of child sexual abuse and an advocate for victims myself, I want to thank you. I’m grateful for all you’ve done and continue to do to defend and protect innocent children.

  14. doubt the oft-repeated truism in the conservative Christian community that Southern culture is more “godly” and there are more Christians down South than up North.

    As someone who has lived most of my life in the south, I’ve never heard that one. Even grew up in an SBC church.

    What I have heard as northerners tend to be blunter and southerners more polite. Especially when stabbing you in the back. 🙂

    I was amazed at the amount of people who went to church in Dallas because it was “Good for business.”

    This is not a southern thing. Tends to be somewhat universal. IMNERHO

  15. Wade,

    What a beautiful comment to Amy.

    I cannot imagine parents being so enamoured with a social life and a church and pastor complicit in sexual crimes against children that they are willing to disown their own daughter. A daughter with incredible strength and resolve to live out the truth and to protect the innocent. I hope and pray my daughters grow up to have that much love and compassion in their hearts.

    I agree with you, Wade – it’s sickening. And utterly disturbing.

  16. Amy, there is a great reward for those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. There is also Jesus’ promise in Matt 19, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.”

    That promise is for you.

    I will never understand these people who believe that they do God’s will by honouring the system and its comforts above the well-being of the little ones God treasures. Do they not know that God is always the Defender of the least of these?

  17. These brave victims and supporters are to be commended for speaking up and exposing the truth about being sexually abused as a child.

    Something to keep in mind-
    Child predators are very cunning and manipulative. They know every trick on how to groom, threaten, lie, and put the fear of god into their victims and sometimes even their family members.
    They also appear to do a lot of goods things, they can be very charismatic and you may think they would never harm a child. They have to be this way, in order to not get caught and to continue to abuse

    It is extremely rare that a child predator has only one victim. Hopefully anyone who suspects or may have been harmed by John Langworthy, will have the courage to come forward and contact the police.
    Also keep in mind your silence only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others.
    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, 636-433-2511
    snapjudy@gmail.com
    “Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests” including nuns, rabbis, bishops, ministers, coaches, workers at summer camps, athletic programs, and the Boy Scouts.
    http://www.snapnetwork.org/

  18. Amy, you are not alone. My parents could not allow themselves to believe their own son was sexually abused by our long time parish priest in southeastern Ohio.
    That priest abused so many kids, even into a second generation.

    Judy

  19. Amy –

    Thank you for speaking up on behalf of those who were not able to do so on their own. I’m so sorry for the attitude your family and church have taken toward you. It is unbelievable to me. I pray that all of us will do the same as you if we find ourselves in such a position. Bless you.

  20. Amy,

    It is a very good thing that you came forward and reported what you knew. This has resulted in the conviction of a criminal and provided justice to some of the victims.

    I am sorry that your parents have reacted as you posted. I will be praying for them and you. It is not fair to expect you to be the leader in that relationship at this time in your life, but you are. For them not to be able to even acknowledge that the abuse occurred, even in the face of a confession and a firing, seems unreal. There is obviously a lot going on here.

    I wish you the best.

  21. Thank you, Amy, for all you have done. I can only imagine the untold number of children who will not be abused because of your brave actions.

    I truly hope your parents will get slapped upside the head by the Holy Spirit and realize what they have done. To value social prestige and standing above your own flesh and blood is an insult to the name of Christ.

    If anyone hasn’t watched GCB, it will bring this whole story into perspective. Disclaimer: It has much adult content in it.

  22. @ Lynn:

    Reading my comment again, maybe “Southern culture is more godly” was a bit of an overstatement (though I’ve definitely heard this about the antebellum South in patriarchal materials) – but the second part, where they think there are more Christians per square mile down South, I’ve heard a LOT. The usual method is to claim New England is a spiritual desert and then compare it to the South, where everybody goes to church and people are friendly and Jesus isn’t a problem. Ergo there are more Christians there.

    Now granted, I’ll be the first to admit that conservative Christians aren’t nearly as common here in New England as they are down South…but that’s a far cry from actually thinking there are more regenerate folk south of the Mason-Dixon Line. And not everybody who claims this is a Southern transplant, either – though I do distinctly remember one woman who was a transplant being put off by how taciturn her new Yankee neighbors were and somehow connecting this with the fact that there was less “true Christianity” up North. There was even one family that made the decision to move from CT to NC because they wanted a bigger and better pool of godly suitors for their daughters. (Big surprise – the daughters in question are in their 30s now and still not married.)

  23. Also, I think a HUGE part of the problem is people mistaking the Republican Party with Christianity. What they probably really mean, subconsciously, is that there are more conservatives down South than in New England. But, as we can see from this year’s presidential race and the consternation it is causing in certain circles, conservative hardly = Christian.

  24. Amy you are not alone (though at times you have felt alone)after reporting abuse to church leaders. After learning of friends who were suffering from years of abusive behavior at the hands of one of the ministers in a mega-church (4200 members)I attempted to share with the our minister of congregational care for two hours what was happening and he acted like it was all in my head. Next day I brought in a reluctant male victim and he shared for another two hours. The minister’s response. “Look guys, you can’t go around solving all the problems in the world. Its time you just forgive and move on”. This minister later said to the entire church staff that I had been abused as a teen(he made this up)and I was now blaming the leaders of the church for my personal problems. I later lost every friend I had and I eventually left that church. I lost those friends, not because they believed I was making this up, but because they didn’t want to lose their friends by standing with me. Standing with me for justice was standing against the senior pastor who knew of the abuse for years and did nothing to stop it. He was seen and treated as a little god. The majority there was made up of what you described as “socialite christians”.

  25. Something to keep in mind-
    Child predators are very cunning and manipulative. They know every trick on how to groom, threaten, lie, and put the fear of god into their victims and sometimes even their family members.
    They also appear to do a lot of goods things, they can be very charismatic and you may think they would never harm a child. They have to be this way, in order to not get caught and to continue to abuse — Judy Jones

    Remember this:

    A successful pedo will be a master at camouflaging what he is. If he wasn’t, he’d have been caught long ago.

    P.S. How smug was Prestonwood Baptist when the Catholic pedo-priest scandal hit? “I THANK THEE, LORD, THAT I AM NOT LIKE THOSE PAPISTS…”?

  26. Hester – I think it’s more accurate to say that many people in the South are visibly religious, and that religion is a big part of southern culture.

    It is a big part of the culture in my neck of the woods (Mid-Atlantic states), too, but it’s not an “in your face” kind of religion/xtianity, for the most part. People here can be almost as taciturn as Maine residents are reputed to be, too. (Has a great deal to do with the PA Dutch-ness of the region.)

  27. numo said:

    “Hester – I think it’s more accurate to say that many people in the South are visibly religious, and that religion is a big part of southern culture.”

    numo,

    Having spent most of my life in the South, you are right – religion is a BIG part of the culture here.

    Bible Belt anyone? And isn’t Texas often referred to as the buckle of the Bible Belt?

  28. Deb – I live in the Bible Belt of PA. (Not j/k – there are mini-bible Belts in many states outside of the South.)

  29. Nicholas – I don’t necessarily agree. Churches and synagogues used to be community organizations in my area; some still are. they helped create community and were hubs for community service.

    Unfortunately, with high unemployment, relocation of some longstanding local businesses and general economic depression here, the community as a whole (the small towns in the area) is suffering, and there has been a definite drop in church membership across the board. (The local mega is an exception, though it’s tiny by typical megachurch standards, and pretty fundy.)

  30. Incredible! Amy the brave warrior, champion to children. Rescuing them from the darkest of depths, no matter the cost. Such heroism almost leaves me speechless.

  31. Amy – exposing such abuse, so that victims can receive help, and calling to account those who covered up – is more important than the respect of your parents. WAIT….. it may take a long time, but as the court takes the case, as the newspapers cover it…your parents may yet see the truth and apologize to you. If the legal system gets ahold of all of these things, your parents may be forced to face their ignorance. Just keep trusting in the LORD…HE is your family, HE will uphold you, it is possible that HE may restore your family to you again.

  32. Anonymous Re:9:41

    Do not forget that Jack Graham will not talk about this either. Amy grew up in his church. His silence has a profound effect on Amy’s parents who most likely worship the very well to do ground upon which he trods.  Once again, the SBC will hold him in high esteem but will throw out a church that has a woman as pastor. I don’t get it. 

  33. Nicholas

    The hypocrisy regarding pedophilia and protecting the young is epidemic. The SBC will routinely get rid of a church that has a woman as pastor. That, of course, is really, really dangerous. They then claim they cannot do the same regarding pastors who do not cooperate with exposing pedophiles in their churches. If this is not a stronghold of deceit and pain, worthy of the evil one, then very little is.

  34. I’ve had to deal with the same type of thing with my parents. It’s so unnatural. It’s very difficult emotionally. You want your parents to be supportive and believe the best. In turn, you want to be there for them. But, there are times when this kind of thing happens, and the loss is enormous. I’ve thought about putting myself out there for adoption. And I wish my kids had grandparents who were a positive influence in their lives. But I have experienced God’s goodness and His steadfast provision and love, as well as His strength in maintaining my convictions in the face of the awful reality of my parent’s rejection.

    I pray Amy finds peace on a daily basis and that she is comforted by the presence of God who fills all in all. I know she knows she is following God’s will in her life, and its a shame that her parents – who appear to be committed Christians – have forsaken her. It’s a shame, too, that the church they attend appear more interested in protecting their own interests than helping to effectively minister to the relational needs of a fractured family in their midst. Fractured due to problems the church has failed to work out according to the will of God. What blindness and willful deceit! And its the responsibility of the church to expose sin, not cover it up! Pathetic.

    I couldn’t help but think the Mahaney kids would find themselves in the same place as Amy if they had the courage and the wherewithal to live their own lives separate and distinct from that of their parent’s. A huge aspect of the whole Mahaney gospel and their positions as leaders is that the family must personify the “truth” of their belief system. If any member of the family were to depart, it would mean they were utterly lost – cut off from “God” – and their only hope of true salvation would be evidenced by their “return.” But the Mahaneys have done a great job of keeping their adult children, as well as their in-laws, dependent. Although I see their son has been allowed to attend college in Ohio. But I’m sure he’s gone off armed with all his Dads rules about keeping the main thing the main thing. Whatever!

  35. Thank you Amy for what you have done. The church culture of Dallas was legendary when I was a teenager in Houston (the only thing we had coming anywhere close to it was Second Baptist) and going against it takes lots of guts. I am sorry your parents have favored their church over you. To me, that’s simply incomprehensible. You’d think they would have been proud of you for speaking up. I guess I REALLY don’t understand the church culture of Dallas.

  36. One of my space-alien cult fighting friends (who is also a lawyer) noted that Amy Smith’s parents are treating her exactly like Scientology tells its members to treat so-called “Suppressive Persons.” Yeah, you’re LOSING when you act like Scientology!

    He also noted that the churches in question (Prestonwood and the Mississippi church) may be protecting Langworthy not so much because they believe he’s innocent, but because they’re worried about civil liability if Langworthy is criminally convicted. To which I say, “follow the money.” Who is paying for Langworthy’s attorney(s)? It would be interesting to find out.

  37. I find it absolutely appalling the way church leadership, the SBC in particular, completely ignores child abuse. As long as someone advocates the ‘correct’ doctrines, they deserve to be lauded – the fact that they covered up the sexual molesting of children in their church is irrelevant – Al Mohler being the poster boy. These people are completely amoral sociopaths and as far from ‘Christian’ as you can get. Thank God for TWW and all the other sites that shine a light into the dark corners of Christianity to expose the rats.

  38. Pingback: ‘Family values’ in action | Civil Commotion

  39. Eagle:

    1) All I’m familiar with is California Fundyland, and we DO get some weird ones (i.e. Calvary Chapel & TBN, both HQed within ten miles of me). If we’re “the healthiest”, I don’t think I want to know about the others.

    2) Living in fear of LUTHERANS? Usually it’s Catholics who get cast as the Big Bad Apostates/Persecutors in the Christianese Conspiracy Theories.

    3) Also, DC is the Capital. The seat of POWER. Panem without the Hunger Games. Everyone lusting for POWER is going to flock there, to try to ride the Power Struggle to the top. THAT’s also going to influence the church culture; expect LOTS of Dominionists, Reconstructionists, and Glenn Beck fanboys.

  40. I find it absolutely appalling the way church leadership, the SBC in particular, completely ignores child abuse. As long as someone advocates the ‘correct’ doctrines, they deserve to be lauded – the fact that they covered up the sexual molesting of children in their church is irrelevant… — JeffT

    PURITY OF IDEOLOGY.

    Comrade Pol Pot and Chairman Mao’s Red Guard would understand.

  41. Dee:

    I have not forgotten Jack Graham’s response (or lack of same) to this matter. Back when this occurred, it was wrong for anyone in the church who knew about it, including the parents of the victims, not to have reported it. I don’t understand that mentality. I truly don’t. No pastor is a God. Any person, deacon, elder, staff member, parent, who knew about this should have reported it (I am assuming the Texas law requiring that was in place at the time, even if it was not, they should have reported it.)

    I understand why there would be a “no comment” policy from the church at this time as far as the public is concerned.

    But I do not understand why Graham, or others, would allow the breakdown of a relationship like this. Maybe Graham doesn’t know, but I assume he does. If I were Graham, I would beat a path to the door of this woman’s parents and tell them that while the church is not making any public statements at this time, I need to tell you that this abuse was reported to us, and that is why we fired Langworthy – or something to that effect. The parents might still be upset at their daughter for being in the public spotlight so much (still don’t understand that), but at least they would not be laboring under the believe that she is spreading lies etc.

    As to the SBC, I do understand that distinction. I deplore Prestonwood’s handling of that situation based on what I know. But the SBC doesn’t discipline churches.

    The confessional statement of the SBC, the Baptist Faith and Message, is the document that has been agreed upon by the denomination and provides a general statement of what the churches in the SBC believe, and more importantly, a general guide for the agencies of the SBC. When churches give to the SBC, they should have a reasonably good idea of what types of doctrines and activities the SBC agencies will teach and promote.

    The SBC’s churches have decided that they believe the NT teaches and the NT churches had male leadership. I don’t want to discuss whether that is correct or not, but simply to say that is the opinion to which the SBC has come.

    It does makes sense to me that the SBC wants to maintain that doctrinal distinction, and other doctrinal distinction, and that it might take actions to accomplish that (though I am not certain that the SBC has kicked out churches with female pastors. I understand that the State of Georgia convention has refused to accept contribuitions or seat messengers from such churches.)

    Discipling a church because the church that believes the correct things, but does not act wisely or consistently is simply beyond convention authority.

    Now, if Prestonwood came out and said, “We think that sexual relations between adult staff at our church and minors is o.k.”, then I am sure there would be some action taken, as that is in direction contradiction of the Baptist Faith and Message.

    You may disagree with the philosophy that I have outlined above. I have tried to set out why there is a distinction. I suspect you would acknowledge that I am correct, but that you would want things to be different than that. And that’s fine. But I at least wanted to take a stab at my understanding, even if it is one that you would reject.

    Thanks.

  42. One of my space-alien cult fighting friends (who is also a lawyer) noted that Amy Smith’s parents are treating her exactly like Scientology tells its members to treat so-called “Suppressive Persons.” — SW Discomfort

    So she’s SP and Squirrel.

    Have they invoked Fair Game Law and/or Directive R2-45 LRH?

  43. First of all, let me say a deeply heartfelt thank you to Dee for sharing my story. I am so humbled. I hope others suffering in silence will know they are worthy of speaking up and shattering that silence. I am overwhelmed by all of your kind and encouraging comments of support. I hope these comments also embolden others to be a voice for those who don’t have one…yet.

    The cold, brazen, disregard at the highest levels for the victims of abuse by multiple perpetrators at Prestonwood, as well as other churches I’ve been made aware of, is sickening. Here we are decades later, a criminal trial in MS pending, and still silence from Jack Graham and failure to report the known child sex crimes to the Dallas police by Langworthy and others.

    My parents actually don’t even live in Dallas anymore and it’s been years since they’ve attended Prestonwood. Their defense of Langworthy’s crimes has been very disturbing. At one point in a phone call with my husband, my dad criticized my work with SNAP as useless, saying that as many adults that are working with kids in schools, churches, etc., we are never going to be able to stop it. He’s referring to adults having sex with kids. He blames the victims. It’s grotesque.

    I’ve also been trying to warn about another megachurch, former Second Baptist Church of Houston music minister, Eddie Struble, who has been reported to the police for criminal solicitation of a minor. I embedded the police reports on my blog here http://watchkeep.blogspot.com/2011/10/whats-at-stake-protecting-and.html

    Thank you again. The light of truth and knowledge is our greatest tool to protect kids.

    Amy Smith
    spacecitysnap@gmail.com

  44. Eagle,

    Your comments and those of others here are endearing and encouraging. It is through people like Dee and Deb and a host of others, like you and Amy, that Christianity is being seen in the light of Christ’s love for the broken and wounded. I agree with your sentiments regarding Richard Dawkins’ impotency were Christians to express the love shown by Christ. He said, “All shall know you are my disciples by your love.”

  45. On the topic of grooming, it’s crucial to understand how a child sexual predator operates. Child predators spend more time grooming their social environments than they do their victims. They groom and seduce their child victims, typically in steps and stages. Some victims are groomed for months or years before they’re touched. But most child predators work harder and spend more time grooming their environments so they’re perceived as the LAST person you’d think of when you hear the word child predator.

    Child sexual predators are kind, generous, thoughtful, helpful, friendly, outgoing, and gregarious. They’re often talented, intelligent, and successful in their careers. People like and respect them.

    When a victim comes forward, there is often backlash from friends, family, and associates of the predator. The predator and his supporters will often launch a retaliation campaign to discredit, blame, and intimidate the victim. All the while church leaders, such as those at Prestonwood, stay silent and carefully begin a cover-up campaign to ensure their reputation and the reputation of the church isn’t harmed or held accountable in any way.

  46. Amy – Thank you for fighting the good fight! You are a woman of valor and I commend all of the work you are doing! While it is incredibly sad and heart-breaking that your parents won’t have anything to do with you, by the comments here it sounds as if you could live almost anywhere in the U.S. and find some loving support! If you’re ever in the Portland, OR area, our home is open to you as well.

  47. Anonymous –

    I am responding to your comment to Dee. I hope you don’t mind.

    I understand what you are saying about the SBC and their positions (not that I agree with them). But, why don’t they have a policy about churches that don’t report sexual predators and allow those predators to go off to other churches and schools? It makes no sense to me, as in CRAZY. There shouldn’t need to be a separate reporting system within the SBC. All churches in the SBC should report any instances of “suspected” abuse to the local government agencies and all employees or volunteers who work at a church building or with children should have background checks (.) If a church has not followed these procedures and refuses to — then what?

  48. Amy,

    I have been so touched and encouraged by your courageous stand against pedophilia, especially in churches.  I attend a Southern Baptist church, and I have been tremendously disappointed by the behavior of SBC leaders with regard to this scourge.  Shame on these Baptist leaders (in particular) for circling the wagons and engaging in a cover-up. 

    I have been most disappointed by your parents’ behavior.  Please know that I will be keeping you in my prayers. 

    May God bless the work you are doing with SNAP.

  49. Wendy –

    Isn’t what you outlined above the reason WHY any suspected abuse of children should be reported to the authorities? It is very hard for the people closest to the situation to believe what is going on. They are emotionally connected to the perpetrator, which is WHY they need to report to local authorities who can view the allegations objectively and not emotionally.

  50. Anonymous
    They kicked out such a church in Mt Airy (after which the town of Mayberry was modeled).

    Your argument on the matter is confusing to me. So long as the church says they are against pedophilia and it must be reported, it doesn’t matter to the SBC what they actually do?

    I have an idea. Tell all the churches who wish to call a woman pastor to put something on the books that says they do not believe in women pastors, then call one. Problem solved….

  51. HUG I forgot about Calvary Chapel and TBN. I was thinking of within the Cental Valley which is where I’m from. — Eagle

    1) Crystal Cathedral (the original megachurch) is within five miles of me. At least it was until it circled the drain. Now it’s on the fast track to becoming a REAL cathedral. (And fundies are wailing and gnashing their teeth about “How the Gospel will never be preached there again.”)

    2) As for the Central Valley (from the Grapevine and Selenium Flats to the Delta to Mount Shasta), all I can say is there’s always been a wedge between urban and rural areas.

  52. Amy- I have nothing but the highest praise for you! Anyone & everyone should be standing up for the victims of child abuse, & no hidey holes made for the perpetrators.
    Your Dad is dead wrong that there’s so much abuse we just shouldn’t bother…we should redouble our efforts, especially when those involved claim to be christians.
    What I just don’t get, in those churches in which these cover-ups happen is how the abusers don’t even seem to be called out for fornication or adultery, let alone the rest of it…if relationships & the family are so important how come sexual sin us overlooked here? So blind.
    And it’s some serious mind control that lets that happen…if I found out a child in my family has been abused, especially by clergy, it would take a direct act of God to stop my response…especially as I know abused children whose families could have stopped the abuse & didn’t.
    More power to you Amy.

  53. Isn’t what you outlined above the reason WHY any suspected abuse of children should be reported to the authorities? It is very hard for the people closest to the situation to believe what is going on. They are emotionally connected to the perpetrator… — Bridget

    Which is why successful pedos don’t just groom their targets. They groom all the adult third parties they can, to build that “emotional connection to the perp”.

    And regarding the SBC, there might also be a factor of “It Can’t Happen Here”, pedo-clergy being viewed as “ROMISH”.

    And whether the victimized kids are male or female. If female, then The Gay never comes into play, so that makes it OK. Yet I’ve heard of same-sex pedo scandals also being covered up — maybe if they haven’t hit puberty it isn’t really homosexuality? (There’s a couple splinter sects of Islam that hold to that.)

  54. Amy: You are my hero!!! This is true love that you lay down your life for your friends….and for little children, that you may never meet in this lifetime. Thank you for doing the work you are doing.

  55. Amy,

    Thanks for the update on your parents. I am sorry for the lack of harmony in that relationship. I am hoping and praying that they will come around.

  56. Everyone who reads this…an excellent resource website is called Darkness to Light. The (secular) world is better at this than the church!

  57. @Eagle wrote:

    It really seems that many fundagelicals have sex so backward. I asked my SGM friend why are evangelicals on the front lines of opposing gay marriage, while simultaneously creating churches, ministries and cultures that allow pedophilia to flurish and be practiced. I asked him if pedophilia a family value?

    I wonder if the general disregard for pedophilia can be traced to two things:

    1) children are generally seen as “property” for parents to do what they will with (up until the beginning of the 20th century, children WERE considered the legal property of the father).

    2) adult males, particularly those who are ministers (the vast, vast majority of pedophiles) are considered to be the spiritual elite as compared to women and children.

    You might think I’ve gone absolutely overboard on this, but hear me out.

    Conservative Protestants of all stripes (whether fundamentalist, evangelical or charismatic) really do see their kids as their property, to do with as they will. They fear the intervention of the state into their family lives for things they personally believe are correct (e.g., home schooling and corporal punishment). They don’t want to raise their kids like “the world,” which at bottom devolves into this business with “stay at home daughters” and no higher education for either sons or daughters to keep them pure and “unspotted from the world.”

    Add to that the whole notion of how men are the ones who are supposed to be leaders, pastors and ministers, and women, well, women are supposed to be wives, homemakers, mothers and supporters, you can see how you’d get an entire culture built around supporting the men of the church against the world (such as the criminal justice system). And it’s how abominations like child sexual abuse and rape can be justified within the system and the real victims turned into perpetrators.

    I see a whole lot of this wrongness springing out of the perpetuation of the Old Boys’ Club, along with the simultaneous denigration of women and children. Maybe it would help if we called sexism and pedophilia SINS very loudly, over and over again. Maybe. I don’t know.

    Of course, since I’m an never-married woman with no kids who works a full-time professional job, I’m obviously biased in these matters and you can take what I say with a shaker full of salt.

  58. Correction to the above: adult males are the vast majority of pedophiles.

    Some of those adult males can be ministers.

    I did not mean to insinuate that ministers were more likely than not to be pedophiles!!!!

  59. Bridget,

    I don’t mind at all your responding to me, especially when you do so with such courtesy.

    It’s really hard for people to grasp what the SBC is. Even people in churches that contribute to the SBC often don’t grasp what it is.

    There were Baptists in the U.S. long before there any denominations. There are all type of Baptist churches that don’t contribute to the SBC.

    The SBC is really just a big pot of money contributed by churches so that missions and education (literature and seminaries) can be run cooperatively.

    A church really doesn’t “join” the SBC. It simply contributes money. And if it contributes money, the church can send messengers to the annual meeting where it is decided how to divide up and use the money for missions and education.

    If the church did not give any money one year, it would not lose a membership (because there is no such thing). It just could not send messengers to the meeting that year.

    That’s really it. There is no “membership.” There are no governing policies directed toward churches. The SBC doesn’t govern churches or tell churches what they must do. The SBC doesn’t qualify or maintain lists of people who can serve as pastors.

    The SBC has no ecclesiastical courts to decide issues. The SBC doesn’t review church performance etc.

    The SBC is really just a big pot of money contributed by churches who have a similar doctrinal commitment and want to pool their money for missions and education.

    The only standard that is used is the doctrinal commitment of churches to the SBC’s confessional document.

    Think of it this way. If your church gave $1,000 annually to a fund, and 10 other churches in your same community gave $1,000 to a fund, and then representatives from each church all met each year to decide how to use the $10,000. That would be analgous to the SBC.

    Then, let’s add the idea that all of the churches agreed to contribute had similar beliefs – let’s say, the Nicene Creed.

    That would be analgous to the SBC.

    The only time that the group might become concenred about a church is if the church said, “We no longer believe in the Nicene Creed, for we want to take some of the $10,000 and give it to promote other religions, also, not just Christianity.”

    Unless there was that kind of disagreement, the group would not have the power to take action toward a church. And the only action it could take would be to send back the $1,000 and tell that church they could not come to the meeting if they want to promote religions other than Christianity.

    That 10 member group would not meet to discuss who would be qualified to be the pastor of the 10 churches. It would not make policies that would affect the operations of the churches. It would not mandate that the churches report any goings on to the group.

    It would just divide up and steward the $10,000.

    What you have suggested, using our analogy, is to give the 10 church group additional powers and authority. Not just to decide how to divide up the money or to make sure the contributing churches believe in the Nicene Creed together.

    You would want the 10 church group to review whether the 10 churches are behaving correctly, or to keep records of the behavior of the 10 churches or the people that work in the churches, or to mandate that the churches report what is happenig at the church to the other 9 churches so they can evaluate the church.

    People may take issue with this arrangement. There are lots of other denominational arrangements that exist – all they way from the most controlling to something less.

    The SBC churches have decided long ago that all they want to do is contribute money to a large fund for ministry and then steward those resources.

    The SBC, from its founding, has not gotten involved in the operations of churches or the persons who may minister there.

    Even if it tried, the SBC would not succeed.

    In the case of Prestonwood, they (and the victims’ parents) would not even report the crimes to the police. So there is no way they would report them to denominational people in another city that had no jurisdiction over them.

  60. I do know that some victims that told Prestonwood staff, specifically Neal Jeffrey who was the then-youth pastor and still on staff, had not told their parents. Not only did Neal not call the police, as required by law dating back to 1971, he did not inform the parents. Counseling was arranged by Prestonwood for a minor without parental consent. I do also know that some parents received calls from deacons, my dad being one of them, and Prestonwood attorneys, who discouraged/intimidated them from calling the police. These parents were trying to warn the people in MS about Langworthy. The school system in MS in 1989 at the highest levels were warned about him yet did nothing.

    There are some victims that have never told anyone. So some parents still do not know.

    I have heard from other victims at Prestonwood who also told Neal Jeffrey. He blamed the victims and sent them to counseling, never calling the police or encouraging the victim or parents to do so.

  61. Anonymous –

    “The SBC’s churches have decided that they believe the NT teaches and the NT churches had male leadership. I don’t want to discuss whether that is correct or not, but simply to say that is the opinion to which the SBC has come.”

    If the SBC believes what the NT teaches, I assume they also believe what Jesus teaches about children and “the least of these.” It “seems” that the NT is getting diced and sliced by many churches to accommodate their preferences, but they are not taking into account the full teachings and warnings that are found in it.

  62. Southwestern Discomfort: “You might think I’ve gone absolutely overboard on this, but hear me out.”

    I don’t think you’ve gone overboard, in fact I was going to suggest the same thing.

    In the circles I grew up in, children WERE and ARE seen as property, toys, or accessories. Much is made of parent’s rights, little to nothing is mentioned of the rights of children. I remember the horror being expressed by the adults when the U.N. wrote their treaty for the rights of children. The exclamations included “But what if they take away our rights to spank?” The treaty was written to protect children from sex trafficking and ritual abuse, and they were worried about whether it would still be legal for them to hit their children or not? As a child myself at the time, it bothered me greatly. As an adult, it still bothers me.

    This worldview can (and does) contribute to the sexual, physical, mental and emotional abuse of children. “You are mine to do what I want, with. Sucks to be you!”

  63. Southwestern Disc., I think you sound all too sane and realistic. (i.e., I wish these things weren’t so.)

    As for abuse in other religious contexts – like the Roman Catholic church, and recent allegations of big-time child abuse in some Orthodox Jewish communities in NYC and the surrounding area – I think a lot of the same things apply.

  64. Christa Brown at stopbaptist predators was called an “opportunist” by big wig exec Frank Page of the SBC. That is how bad it is. Page is now facilitating a “unity” committee for the SBC between Calvinists and non CAlvinists. He allowed Mohler to be on the committee after he declared that people would be “marginalized”.

    Wolves and hirlings are in power, folks.

    http://www.ethicsdaily.com/news.php?viewStory=8817

  65. Frank Page doesn’t like Christa Brown because she has consistently held the SBC’s feet to the fire on the matter of tracking Baptist predators. The SBC refuses to do so in any way, shape or form, and holds that since it’s “just a money-distributing institution,” it shouldn’t have to. But it sure as **** keeps track of Baptist churches that call women to the ministry!

    If it’s so important to ensure to keep a list of Baptist churches with women pastors (so they can be excluded from the Old Boys’ Club), then, by God, it should be EVEN MORE IMPORTANT to keep a list of Baptist predators. At least one woman (Kari Baker) might still be alive if her husband had been given the left foot of fellowship by the Baptist General Convention of Texas after the first time he sexually assaulted a woman. Might.

  66. Bridget, Let me tell you the “rest of the story” about the SBC that anonymous is leaving out. Technically what he is saying is true. Positionally, it is not.

    If the SBC is just a big pot of money then how come the most of the leadership that is PAID by the pot of money comes from mega churches that give the lowest percentage to the pot of money? How did that happen?

    And the SBC is also made up of local associations that are part of the money trail. They have “disfellowshipped” churches for having women ministers. Of course the SBC leadership looks the other way and says, keep sending the money. But they also look the other way when preachers protect pedophiles. When Steve Gaines protected Paul Williams when Williams own son, who was molested by his own dad, came to ask why he was still working as a minister of prayer at Bellevue, Gaines did not fire him and kept it secret from the church until a blog made it public.

    What happened to Gaines? He was given more SBC wide speaking engagements! The message was sent to everyone…we support Steve Gaines.

    And Mohler with his relationship with Mahaney? his promotion of him, defending him? Or Akin with his man crush on Driscoll and promoting him? Nothing. These men are EMPLOYEES of the SBC and nothing….not one word about their associations. Just keep sending them oney and if you don’t then you are sinning by not tithing. EVen though no one says much about the mega churcb leadership giving very little. In fact, MOhler’s own former mega church pastor, Kevin Ezell, is president of NAMB now. His church, Highview, was one of the lowest in percentage giving in his state. I can remember reading about very small churches in same state of about 100 members giving 30,000 grand a year for missions when Highview of over 1000 members gave about 10,000.

    That is how it works. I think the BFM should be rewritten (it includes no women pastors) to include no pastors who protect molesters and pedophiles. Of course, they would have to disfellowship some big time churches and their celebrity pastors if they did that.

    The truth is the SBC is adopting a top down structure of control using the entities and putting yes men in them as leaders and trustees. Mohler owns it.

  67. “In the case of Prestonwood, they (and the victims’ parents) would not even report the crimes to the police. So there is no way they would report them to denominational people in another city that had no jurisdiction over them.”

    And that makes it ok to promote Jack Graham and pretend like he is a great man of God and your kids are safe there. We get it. Who listens to victims? They are not tithers.

  68. Bridget:

    I understand that you think that the SBC should take certain actions relative to this issue.

    I am not trying to argue the point, but was just trying to answer your questions about the ecclesiology/polity issues.

    I hope that provided some information that well help you understand, even if you vehemently disagree with the position the SBC churches have decided to follow.

  69. SW Disc,
    During this heartwrenching discussion, you brought a smile to my face by accident with, “those who are ministers (the vast, vast majority of pedophiles)”. Ministers themselves sometimes say things just as outrageous, except they do it on purpose! 🙂

  70. Dee and Deb, I hope that if you do another post about Al Mohler you can mention the Mohler-Philip Gunn-John Langworthy connection. The media hasn’t taken notice.

  71. Amy – thank you for sticking your neck out and standing up against this. I’m sorry that there has been a price to pay and a family split. But I was really touched by Wade’s standing up for you immediately, and how their family has ‘got your back’ (and here at TWW also of course). That’s a precious thing. That’s the type of people you want standing by you, and oftentimes when the worst of people is exposed, you get to see the best in others also.

  72. Mohler’s praising and promoting of Philip Gunn makes him even more of a Paterno than his vehement defense of CJ Mahaney. Mohler was too cowardly to respond to or even acknowledge Christa Brown’s open letter to him, and he wouldn’t answer my emails either.

  73. Anonymous

    Re: the SBC being just a ‘big pot of money’, it is something more than that. It runs a number of denominational organizations, claims to represent the churches when it speaks, and provides educational and other resources to the churches, as etc. If they can ‘disassociate’ churches for having a woman minister, and they can certainly do so if a church failed to agree to report abuse to the proper authorities if they added such a requirement for ‘membership’ or whatever you want to call it. Instead, Mohler & crew play Pontius Pilate and wash their hands of it claiming they can’t ‘do’ anything when there are things they could do if they cared at all.

  74. Nicholas

    Al Mohler is a close friend of CJ Mahaney who is the head of Sovereign Grace ministires which has just been slapped with a class action lawsuit for years of alleged misconduct regarding the covering up of child sex abuse. SNAP should watch that one. He has not commented on that one as well.

  75. Nicholas

    Could you please direct me to any documentation of this relationship? I would be happy to write a post on it.

  76. Southwestern Discomfort – I think you are absolutely spot on with your two propositions. And I would add a third – being taught and operating under the belief that the church comes first, ahead of family (as evidenced by the number of church activities that take you away from your own family activities and man-made teachings that don’t encourage you to think for yourself).

    All three teach you to subjugate your natural desire to protect your family. It is a rare person who swims upstream, against this.

    Reading the fanda eagles website and seeing the film ‘All God’s Children’ demonstrated to me how these three mindsets allowed the abuse to occur in a supposed “Christian setting” (hurl hurl). I suggest that the parents suppressed the natural questioning part of the brain, that strong radar part that niggles and says, ‘my child is not happy, something is wrong’.

  77. The BPNews story shows both Mohler and Russel Moore praising the vile Philip Gunn, who covered for the pedophile John Langworthy.

  78. Anonymous –

    I am not trying to be ugly in any way. I just don’t see how “having male leaders” should be of such importance that it is in the by-laws (if that is what they are called) but protecting children and women from abuse is not in the by-laws. I also have a problem with this concept that “ministers of the Gospel” should believe that something has to be written in by-laws before they can act justly in these situations. To me, anyway, that is the same as saying that the by-laws of Christian organizations trump Scripture and how we know Jesus would want us to respond in such a situation.

    Maybe this happens because men become more concerned for the organization/their incomes/their prestige than for the ones they should be protecting. I just don’t know any more about the organized churches I see. I see it in SGM, in Baptist churches, in Calvary Chapel, in Catholic churces. It’s no surprise that people are fleeing organized church and denominations.

  79. Bridget:

    I don’t hear you as being ugly in any way, and appreciate your emphasizing that.

    I agree wholeheartedly with what you say about how Jesus would have us respond.

    I belong to a church that I helped start 20 years ago. We are affiliated with the SBC because we want to participate in missions and other things that we could not do on our own.

    But I and our church sees eye to eye with Amy and you when it comes to protecting children and have not and would not do many of the things that other churches, of all stripes, have apparently done.

    I, too, understand how having a bad experience in a church, at the hands of people who are supposed to be godly, would profoundly affect someone and their attitude toward church. I, too, had some experience with this when I was a teenager, as I watched an adult male who assisted in the youth group acted inappropriately (never knew all of the details) toward some of the teenage girls. I saw the church initially act in some very unwise ways that almost allowed this guy to skate by. I and some others acted with resolve such that this person left the church.

    I appreciate you, Dee, and Deb and the others on this blog who have a heart for this matter.

  80. Jeff:

    The SBC certainly does steward the money that it is given when it operates the seminaries, LifeWay etc. The SBC, and then entities (which are separate legally from the SBC) certainly are in a position to discipline people in these situations. To my knowledge, they do. I know, for example, that the IMB has to deal with this.

    The only churches that I am aware of that the SBC has refused to seat messengers from were churches that were either blessing homosexual unions or ordaining practcing homosexuals to ministry (or something along that line.)

    To my knowledge, the SBC has not disassociated any church for having a female pastor.

    Some local associations of Baptist Churches may have done that. The Baptists in Georgia may have done that. But I can’t recall that ever being an agenda item at an SBC meeting. If you could send me some information on that, I would be glad to look at it.

    One issue that might be confusing to you, and it is to many, are the number of Baptist organizations. There are many different Baptist denominations. And there are state organizations. And there are associations. All of these groups are separate. Different Baptist churches may participate in them. So, an association in North Carolina may be comprised of 10 churches. Some or all of those may also send money to the SBC, but there is no requirement that they do so. Some of those may also send money to the state organization where they live, but there is no requirement that they do so.

    Various individuals, Mohler or whomever, can certainly speak to the things that they wish to speak to.

  81. Anonymous

    I appreciate your comments and information regarding SBC polity. While the SBC may not have authority over what goes on in its member churches, it does have a great deal of influence. I also take your point on the SBC itself not formally taking action against churches with female ministers.

    But the following are true:

    1- If the SBC refuses to seat messengers over homosexuality, they should certainly do so over failing to report or covering up child abuse.

    2- The leadership of the SBC needs to take this issue seriously – adopt a position statement on the issue along with reporting and covering up, speak out in favor of reporting and against those who cover it up, and quit praising those who have been involved in not reporting abuse and covering it up and call them out instead.

    My question to the SBC leadership is, why is it willing to attack homosexuality yet be silent about child molesters in their churches?

  82. Jeff T:

    You said:”I also take your point on the SBC itself not formally taking action against churches with female ministers.”

    The SBC will not take formal action but the State Convention or the local associations will take action against any Southern Baptist church having a woman pastor or calling a woman as a pastor.

    The SBC is quite serious about the 2000 BF&M Creed.

  83. JeffT

    I have nothing to gain. We do not take ads. We spend time getting people really miffed off at us. I could be sitting around taking my pugs for walks all day and cooking great meals. So, what  is my personal gain? 

  84. I have a question for anyone who might know or have some thoughts/insight:

    In the Sandusky scandal Paterno, Curley, and Schultz were ousted and held accountable for their complicity in Sandusky’s crimes. Curley and Schultz, of course, are awaiting trial. Paterno would likely have been charged.

    In this SGM scandal, Mahaney and other church pastors/leaders are included in the lawsuit alledging their knowledge of the sexual abuse, failure to report to law enforcement, and subsequent cover-up.

    My question is this: Why isn’t Jack Graham and other leaders at Prestonwood being charged for failure to report suspected child sexual abuse and for the cover-up which ultimately resulted in more children being abused?

  85. Wendy –

    Victims would probably need to bring a lawsuit as is happening in SGM. I don’t know if the Sandusky case is criminal or civil. Victims in the Prestonwood case could contact Susan Burke and see if they have a case.

  86. Jerry Sandusky said the same thing after his conviction. — JeffT

    Ever since last summer, local morning drive-time radio has been using the same piece of “bumper music” to preface any Penn State news. I might as well inflict it on you all, I’ve been hearing it off-and-on for five months now. Imagine this sung to a peppy honky-tonk piano tune:

    “Jerry Sandusky is a-goin’ to prison
    Where he’ll prob’ly get beaten to death with a lunch tray
    Then he’ll go straight to Hell
    And suffer unspeakable agony
    FOR ETERNITY!!!!!!”

  87. Re: the SBC being just a ‘big pot of money’, — JeffT

    Even if that were all it is, remember:
    MONEY TALKS.

  88. “My question is this: Why isn’t Jack Graham and other leaders at Prestonwood being charged for failure to report suspected child sexual abuse and for the cover-up which ultimately resulted in more children being abused?”

    From what I saw on the video, a criminal charge statute of limitations is the problem. Not sure about a civil class action suit, though.

  89. “Southern Baptist Convention President Frank Page said critics of the convention’s policy on sexual abuse by clergy are not really advocating on behalf of children but rather are opportunists motivated by personal gain.

    Jerry Sandusky said the same thing after his conviction.”

    WOW. Like minds…..

  90. “- If the SBC refuses to seat messengers over homosexuality, they should certainly do so over failing to report or covering up child abuse.

    So, perhaps if we couched it as same sex pedophilia they would stop promoting pastors who protected that sort of molestation?

  91. Dee @ 6:37

    Was that directed @ me? I don’t recall saying anything about personal gain. I’m a huge admirer of the selfless way you and Deb stand up for the oppressed.

  92. Word on the street is that Russ Moore is being tapped to replace Richard Land as bossman of the ELRC in DC. Mohler is making sure Calvinistas head up most of the SBC entities.

    Woody from Toy Story is going to DC!!!

  93. “I am not trying to argue the point, but was just trying to answer your questions about the ecclesiology/polity issues.

    I hope that provided some information that well help you understand, even if you vehemently disagree with the position the SBC churches have decided to follow.”

    Let me translate for you, Bridget. The celebs can hide behind the polity structure and be promoted and even asked to speak AFTER it is known they protected or helped to protecgt molesters/pedophiles. And the pragmatists say, “well the pervert said sorry and that is our polity. If his local church did not deal with him, then why should we mind pedophiles were protected”?

    See how that works? And they think this is spiritual maturity. They really think the polity protects them from God, I guess.

  94. “They kicked out such a church in Mt Airy (after which the town of Mayberry was modeled).

    Your argument on the matter is confusing to me. So long as the church says they are against pedophilia and it must be reported, it doesn’t matter to the SBC what they actually do?

    I have an idea. Tell all the churches who wish to call a woman pastor to put something on the books that says they do not believe in women pastors, then call one. Problem solved….”

    PRICELESS! This is exactly how it works!

  95. JeffT

    Oh no, nothing with you. It was in response to what Frank Page said about those who are concerned with this issue. Sorry for the confusion.

  96. JeffT

    You should see me-between comments and emails I am not sure what I am doing half the time.

  97. JeffT:

    The churches attending the convention voted to amend the SBC constitution on the issue of seating messengers from churches that ordain practicing homosexuals or perform homosexual weddings.

    The churches of the SBC have not moved to amend the SBC documents to add a requirement that a church must respond to allegations of sexual misconduct in a certain way or they will be kicked out of the convention.

    I could be wrong about this, but I am not aware of a major denomination that has that as a doctrinal requirement.

    If any of our commenters know about that, please post it.

  98. I know that there once was some effort to get the SBC to start maintaining a sexual predator database.

    The churches of the SBC did not want that, but opted for more of an awareness campaign (see the SBC website on that regard.)

    I think that the lawsuit filed against SGM this week will probably be used as exhibit A to keep the SBC from starting a database.

    There is a great concern by good churches who have done nothing wrong that the missions contributions they give to the SBC for distribution would be confiscated by enterprising trial lawyers – should the SBC start a database and make a mistake (i.e. leave someone off, or mistakenly put someone on.) I believe that is a valid concern.

    I do believe that the best place to stop sexual predators in the churches is at the church level. We need to give people as many tools as possible, and help educate them.

    I actually think that this website is very helpful in that regard.

  99. “I do believe that the best place to stop sexual predators in the churches is at the church level. We need to give people as many tools as possible, and help educate them.”

    I also think it would be very helpful if the SBC leadership would stop promoting and defending pastors who do protect pedophiles/molesters as if that is no big deal. It does not help when the then president of the SBC calls people like Christa Brown an “opportunist”.

    The real problem is too many people follow men instead of Christ. All the pragmatics in the world from polity to local church autonomy will not excuse protecting molesters instead of children. Does not matter who far removed it is. It just becomes groupthink of leadership about protecting image instead of children.

    I agree with you the database would not work. It is obvious celeb pastors like Jack Graham and Steve Gaines would not report anyway.

  100. Anon1:

    And I agree with you that leaders need to speak clearly on this. There are some cases where it would be unwise for someone outside the situation to comment, especially if the facts are murky. But where they are not, such as the Prestonwood/Langworthy matter, that should be an easy one – a lay up, if you will.

  101. “And I agree with you that leaders need to speak clearly on this. There are some cases where it would be unwise for someone outside the situation to comment, especially if the facts are murky. But where they are not, such as the Prestonwood/Langworthy matter, that should be an easy one – a lay up, if you will.”

    To be honest with you, Anon, I have no idea what you are really trying to say. Not everyone defines “murkey” the same way so not sure how that would compute. ANY accusation should be referred to authorities. That is key. As for someone “outside” the situation, that is pretty much changing the facts we have been discussing. We are not talking about just “someone” but celebrity Christians and in several cases, SBC leadership which has promoted and defended pastors they KNOW for a fact protected molesters and pedophiles. I get this feeling you want people to think you agree but keep putting vague red herrings into the mix to cast doubt. I am NOT a pragmatic Christian when it comes to children being molested.

    One reason I am being hard on you is because I think you are the same commenter on other blogs who just happens to be on the SBTS Foundation board, a strong supporter of Mohler, Reformed, an elder, who is also a runner and a lawyer. I have seen your similar comments on other blogs trying to look like you agree while at the same time inserting vague and sometimes almost insulting pragmatism when it comes to this issue and the polity of the SBC.

    The bottomline is that no one in leadership had a problem with Page saying Christa Brown was an “opportunist”. Where is the leadership with Mohler’s defense and protection of Mahaney? Where was the leadership over our funding Acts 29 church plants with Driscoll DNA all over them? Why was Gaines given special speaking gigs after it became public he protected a child rapist on staff? I could go on and on. Which one is “murkey” to you?

  102. Wade–

    You are a wonderful person. Your love towards Amy brought me to tears as I read your message to her. I am moved.

    -trina

  103. Mot,

    I don’t think that his “first” name begins with a L. But yeah, I think we are thinking along the same lines.

  104. As a missionary in Japan for 25+ years there have been child molesters in the SBC/IMB. In years past there was not the prompt attention when a child was molested as there seems to be now. We are no longer with the IMB for many reasons, but the main reason is the drastic changes in the SBC, including the spiritual and sexual abuse we read about every week.

    While on one of our furlough assignments in the states while with the IMB, my wife and I thought of maybe starting a house church like we had going in Japan. We saw so many Christians in our area that had been hurt in their church by some kind of abuse and were not attending church anywhere. We shared this with friends who asked what we would call the church. We joking said we would call it First Church of Hurt and only people who had been hurt in a church could come. Our friends response was we would have a mega church within a few weeks. We laughed, but as I read the comments on this blog and others about people people who have been spiritually or sexually abused, I was wrong to laugh. There are so many Christians who have been hurt by the church who have no desire to be involved with a church again. I know Jesus is weeping in heaven just as he stood a wept over Jerusalem.

    We will be retiring in a year or so and returning to the states. I know that wherever we end up in retirement we could start a church to minister to those hurt by some kind of abuse and have a “mega church”, and this time I would not laugh. We would be crying and hurting with the abused. May God have mercy on the church until he comes again. Even so Lord come quickly.

  105. Are you thinking anonymous first name begins with an L? — Mot

    Let me guess… The Man-o-Gawd who runs Prestonwood Baptist or one of his yes-men for Plausible Deniability?

  106. Eagle, as someone who was born and raised in California, I must say your assessment made me chuckle. If we’re the healthiest, no wonder Christian churches are such a circus.

  107. @Tent Maker – I love where your heart sits. Yes, unfortunately you will have a full-time ministry ministering to those hurt by the church. But it sounds like something you are called to and are equipped for.

  108. Tentmaker, this blog is part of that dream, I think. One of the worst aspects of spiritual abuse is speaking out and what has been done even if you are not a victim. if you recognize the behavior and call it out, they go after you big time. Some folks are not ready to be known. They need time to heal before they are known. Some folks who have spoken out have been so marginalized even to the point of financial ruin, they tend to drop out of site.

    I am saying this to say it might need to be an underground church. I am serious. the celebs and their wannabes have a lot to lose. They do not play games with their reputations/brand name. They are no obvious about going after people, either. It is all done deceptively over time.

    God bless you for caring. I also have family that left the IMB/SBC mission field after 20 years. They could not sign certain creeds. For one thing, the husband was in the field planting churches and the wife was pretty much conducting church in their village church…so was she a woman pastor? She did not think so but it was such a point of contention they were not willing to take the chance of signing something like that. (Of course, throughout history most American church patriarchs did not think of native illiterate men the same as teaching Western educated men such as Eliz Elliot/Lottie Moon…that seemed to be ok)

    We need more believers like you.

  109. Hug, No. Nashville. A lawyer, REformed church elder, on the SBTS Foundation Board. Once said over at FBCJaxwatchdog he had never worked with or for an SBC entity. And then someones outed him to the blog owner. He had in the past been on the SBTS Foundation board and had again been appointed to another term recently when he made the declarative statement on FBCJaxwatchdog. In other words, pure deception.

  110. Anon 1–I know exactly who you are talking about. The deceptiveness of folks like him is unbelievable and scary that they practice this in “church” work.

  111. @Tent Maker: Tried three times to be a missionary in Japan, after a short mission in Tokyo, back in ’06, but it was not meant to be. I just want to thank you and your wife for your work there, for the people of Japan, who stole my heart (have you seen it anywhere?!).

  112. Anyone that values outward etiquette and protect the reputation of the guilty more than they protect the selves of children are of the millstones into the sea tribe and as far as I see things, deserve a painful and inauspicious death. I vote for Elvis-style (found on the toilet.)

  113. This is a comment from Bryan Butler, a Canadian. I posted about this article on a Facebook site and this was his question/comment. I suggested that it get posted in the comments here and he gave me the go ahead to post it re this discussion.

    “Thank you [re posting the link to this article at TWW]. Had an idea the other night. Could the government pass a law that automatically removes charitable status from any organization for which there is evidence that they have hidden/ignored a sexual predator?

    Imagine what that would do to all these organizations that refuse to acknowledge such predators on their payroll? Such an institution would be in the position of proving their innocence rather than the victims having to prove their culpability.”