Spotlight: Systemic Abuse Is Now Being Exposed in Evangelical Cliques and Denominations

“Evil cannot and will not be vanquished by evil. Dark will only swallow dark and deepen. The good and the light are the keenest weapons.” ― Nora Roberts, Heaven and Earth link

http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=11174&picture=snowy-sova-oci
Snowy Owl

The Gospel Coalition and Spotlight

We cannot see ourselves, especially when it comes to admitting to the darkness of sin not only in ourselves but in our religious institutions and our leaders. Take, for example, this recent Facebook posting of The Gospel™ Coalition. The moment I saw it, I thought "Hoo boy, are they ever going to get slapped upside the head." 

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TGC deleted comments like the RCC ignored complaints of child sex abuse.

TGC apparently thinks it is worthwhile to see this movie. However, I am absolutely shocked that TGC's Facebook rulers did not anticipate the comments that ensued. I bet a number of our readers could well imagine what subject those comments addressed. Almost all of them were deleted by the official gospel™ sanitizer. (Is gospelizer a word?) They're all gone except for one which happens to be from a reader of TWW.

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A few other astute, yet quickly deleted, commenters called out TGC on their support of Sovereign Grace Ministries (Churches) and its leaders, especially CJ Mahaney. Those comments were removed within 30 minutes of posting. Those comments specifically called out TGC for their unwavering support of Mahaney and the SGM leaders in the cover up of numerous allegations of child sex abuse.  

As I observed people tweeting about how their comments were being deleted, I was bewildered by the nearsightedness of TGC. They endorsed the movie which appeared to me a way for them point their fingers outwards to the Catholic church, not seeing their own involvement in protecting a system of their own making.

Systemic abuse in the Catholic church exposed by media

At first, the Spotlight team was focused on proving that the Archdiocese of Boston was protecting a few specific pedophiles, one of whom was Father Birmingham, the priest I knew well during my childhood. However, the new editor of the Boston Globe told them he wanted more. It was not enough to to nab a couple of priests since the system would still continue to protect others. He wanted the protective system to be unmasked.

This was a bold move on the editor's part. The Boston Globe was known for its close, collegial partnership with the Archdiocese of Boston. The Globe had exposed a couple of priest pedophiles but had done so discretely, burying the stories within the metropolitan section of the paper. The paper had apparently been given documentation by a few local individuals who had been molested, one of whom was the local SNAP representative. (Yay SNAP!!) However, the documented abuse was studiously ignored, even by the Spotlight team. (I plan to write about that on Wednesday.)

Some of the incidents were reported to the Archdiocese by victims and even some priests. These were apparently handled out of court, involving monetary payoffs to the victims and their families. Those victims had to sign a confidentiality agreement. According to the movie, these acts alone involved @20 priests!

So, the reporters began to dig and they found over 100 priests that had been involved in molestations in the Boston area alone!  These priests were moved from parish to parish. Some were sent away for some form of counseling, reportedly ineffective, but were then allowed back into the system. Most of this was overseen by Cardinal Law. Read what happened to him as the scandal continued to grow.

Law resigned as Archbishop of Boston on December 13, 2002, allegedly in response to the Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal after church documents were revealed which suggested he had covered up sexual abuse committed by some Catholic priests within his archdiocese.

Pope John Paul II appointed Law as Archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome in 2004; he resigned from this position upon reaching the age of 80 in November 2011.

Law was accused of protecting the pedophile priests.Then it appears that Law was protected by none other than the Pope himself, who granted Law a position (and some might say asylum) within the Vatican. As you may know, the Vatican is its own independent state and can refuse to extradite priests for trial.

Finally, the Globe broke its longstanding ties to the Archdiocese and published its reports. This encouraged victims who had been silent to speak out, eventually exposing over 200 priest.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley on Thursday released a long-awaited list of priests accused of child sex abuse in Boston in the last 60 years, but he opted not to include certain priests, including ones who died without being publicly charged.

In a letter, O’Malley said 248 of Boston’s priests and two deacons have been accused of child sex abuse since 1950. But he said he decided against releasing 91 of the names, including the deceased priests who weren’t publicly accused; those working in Boston under religious orders or other dioceses; and priests named in unsubstantiated accusations that never went public.

Systemic abuse in the Catholic church exposed by litigation

I want to thank SNAP for putting me in touch with Jeff Anderson when we started this blog. I spoke with him on the phone, and he gave me all sorts of advice that the Deebs have applied on this blog. He told me that if we ever had any legal issues, to give him a call. You can be sure I keep his cell phone number right next to my computer. Thank you Jeff Anderson!!

So, who is Jeff Anderson and why is he important? Here is an excellent summary by Wikipedia. Anderson is probably the most famous attorney when it comes to the lawsuits regarding the abuse of pedophile priests.

Jeff Anderson is widely recognized as a pioneer in sexual abuse litigation and a champion of survivors of childhood sexual abuse.[1] In nearly four decades as a litigator he has represented thousands of clients[2], has tried over two hundred and fifty jury trials to verdict and is credited with being instrumental in exposing the large scale cover-up of pedophile priests in the early 1980’s.[3]

As one of the first trial lawyers in America to publicly and aggressively initiate lawsuits against sexual predators—and the institutions that conceal and protect them—his efforts have obtained justice for thousands of survivors of childhood sexual abuse.[4]

In an effort to expose Catholic bishops, and the Pope himself, in what Anderson says is a global conspiracy to cover up the sexual abuse of children by clergy,[5] he has obtained and released thousands of church documents pointing to church officials moving priests from parish to parish while knowing of their history of sexually abusing children.

An indicator of the impact Anderson’s work has had in the effort to seek justice for children who have been sexually abused is the number of national and international media outlets that have featured his work. Anderson’s work has resulted in major stories on CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, BBC, and Italian Public Television. In addition, he has been featured in articles and profiles in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Minneapolis Star Tribune, People Magazine, the ABA Journal and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Anderson's efforts extend beyond the courtroom where he is a frequent lecturer, survivor advocate and author who argues for legislative and judicial protection of children and the prevention of childhood sexual abuse.

In 2009, Anderson received the National Crime Victim Bar Association’s Frank Carrington Champion of Civil Justice Award for his efforts to pursue justice for victims of crime through civil litigation.[6]

In 2011, Anderson’s firm joined with London-based Solicitor Ann Olivarius to create an office in the United Kingdom.[7]

Pay attention to what Anderson claims. He claims there is a global conspiracy to cover up child sex abuse within the RCC. He has now opened an office in the UK. There will be more to come.

Systemic abuse in the Catholic church exposed by SNAP

Finally, exposure of this cover up came from an incredibly effective victims advocacy group known as Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests. It was to this group that I turned when I encountered a poorly handled pedophile situation in a former church. SNAP has put victims in touch with attorneys, provided supportive networks, and has area directors throughout the US. Our good friend, Amy Smith of Watchkeep, is the Texas representative.

Here is SNAP's mission statement from their website.

Our most powerful tool is the light of truth.
Through our actions, we bring healing, prevention and justice.

SNAP is an independent, confidential network of survivors of institutional sexual abuse and their supporters who work to:

Protect the vulnerable:
We expose predators and those who shield them. 

Heal the wounded:
We share our stories and empower others to confront the truth. Together, we find healthy ways to recover.

Expose the truth:
We educate ourselves and our communities about the effects of abuse. We speak in a unified voice to bring about change by exposing the malignant actions of abusive religious ministers, suspected abusers, priests we suspect of being suspected abusers, and the church officials who shield them or are tangentially related to them in any way.

 In order to achieve this mission, SNAP will:

  • Build a continually expanding world-wide network of chapters united under the SNAP banner and website.
  • Recruit and train a flourishing team of staff, volunteers, leaders and activists who will form an insurmountable force for recovery and change
  • Expose predators across the globe and ensure that they are never placed in positions where they can abuse again
  • Work for justice, both criminal and civil, in the cases of abuse and cover-up
  • Reform archaic, predator-friendly laws that endanger children
  • Hold church institutions answerable for enabling abuse and shielding predators

Summary: How did the pedophile priest scandal become exposed?

Sadly, I wish I could say that it was the leaders of the RCC that reacted to this problem. But, it wasn't. The exposure came because of:

  • Media that was freed from its previous ties to the RCC.
  • Attorneys that litigated on behalf of the victims which allowed priests to be deposed under oath.
  • SNAP and other victims' advocacy groups who supported victims by believing them and getting them the help they needed.

How The Gospel Coalition and assorted friends along with other denominations mimic the hierarchy of the RCC when it comes to abuse.

Let me be clear about pedophiles and the church. Pedophiles target the church because they can hide out and safely conduct their nefarious activities in the shadows, which are created by those who trust their leaders implicitly. A few of the victims in the movie said that the priest was almost like speaking to God Himself.

In many evangelical churches, pastors surround themselves with yes men who are sometimes disguised as a *plurality of elders*. In many of these churches, the authority of the pastor and other leaders is sacrosanct. There is an underlying meme that these men are speaking for God and are to be held in the highest of honor by submissive, tithing and adoring church members. 

The problem with such submission is that Christian pastors and leaders are as susceptible to sin as the average church member/attendee. There is also the real probability that pedophiles are masquerading as pastors and lay leaders in a number of churches. Discovering a pedophile in the church does not mean the church is at fault for him being there. But, once the discovery is made, the church and its leadership are now responsible for acting swiftly and decisively to protect others from being harmed while at the same time openly helping and believing the victims of such a tragedy.

Unfortunately, TGC, evangelical churches and related friends have functioned in the same manner as the RCC when first confronted by such a despicable sin. 

  • If the church/pastor is in their tribe, they hold their friends up at all costs.
  • The victims are often accused of lying.
  • Treatises are written about how wonderful their BFF church is.
  • Church members are told to stay away from any independent media such as blogs in spite of blogs being a key resource in helping the abused.
  • Church members are told that it is always wrong to sue a church.
  • The hierarchy does its best to hype its guy by having him speak at all of the "it" conventions.

What, pray tell, is the difference between the response of the RCC and the response of the evangelical world? Nothing, from what I can see. In fact, Boz Tchividjian claims that the abuse in the evangelical world is even worse, read that again, even worse than in the RCC.

Important elements in exposing the truth in the evangelical arena

1. Blogs have been instrumental in bringing the reality of sex abuse in the church to the attention of the public. As the public applies pressure, churches are forced to deal with the truth. 

2. Litigation is essential in bringing to light the facts of abuse. Even pastors are concerned about lying after laying their hands on the Bible and swearing to tell the whole truth. Grant Layman's admission of not reporting abuse to the police was instrumental in helping many folks to accept, albeit reluctantly, that SGM did not handle child sex abuse in an appropriate manner.

3. Survivors groups are essential in getting out the truth and giving courage and strength to those who have been abused. 

4. A church-wide/denominational apology goes a long way in validating survivors of abuse. TWW wrote a story about abuse in the Mennonite community: John Howard Yoder: Using Theology to Defend Pacifism and the Sexual Abuse of Women. Yoder was considered one of this past century's greatest theologians on the subject of pacifism. Yet this pacifist used his fame in the peace movement to molest women.

After years of denial and cover up, the Mennonite Church apologized. RNS reported about it in Mennonites apologize for history of sex abuse following theologian John Howard Yoder scandal:

From seminars to a service of lament to a statement confessing its failure to offer healing for survivors, sexual abuse was a prominent topic at the Mennonite Church USA’s biennial convention, which concluded Sunday (July 5).

In that same article was a message that I believe that TGC, T4G, SBC and others need to heed 

Earlier this year in England, a recent book generated a backlash because it favorably cited Yoder without mentioning his misconduct.

Krish Kandiah, president of the London School of Theology, told the British website Christian Today: “You at least have to engage with it, you can’t just ignore that part of his life. Imagine how it feels if you’re a victim of sexual abuse and your abuser is still being used as a source of Christian ethics.”

Karen V. Guth, a theologian at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minn., agrees that scholars need to be transparent about Yoder’s abuse, emphasizing “healing for the women he violated and the problem of sexual violence” rather than “salvaging Yoder’s theological legacy,” she said.

“Anyone who wants to move forward should incorporate feminist insights about sexism and abuses of power into their work,” added Guth. “We all need to be concerned about how to combat sexual violence.”

Airing our dirty laundry in public is a gospel response.

I tire of Christians saying that we shouldn't air our dirty laundry in public. Yet, those of us who know grace know that while we were yet sinners God still loved us and gave Himself for us. The mere fact that we hang a cross in our churches means we publicly accept our dirty laundry and that it is forgiven.

The public is well aware of our foibles. What they do not hear often enough is: "We screwed up badly. We repent before God and ask you all to forgive us." Instead, they hear "You are all just a bunch of screw-ups, and God is really ticked off at you all; but He really likes us because we are good."

The light shining on the hill is our ability to admit to our sins and confess our failures to a watching world. Yet we are forgiven, and we need to offer all of that to a watching world. We need to confess the full breadth of the grace of Jesus Christ who was crucified, resurrected, ascended and is coming again!

Our Lullaby to the Child who will one day carry us!

Comments

Spotlight: Systemic Abuse Is Now Being Exposed in Evangelical Cliques and Denominations — 104 Comments

  1. People who want to hide the abuse from the public because they think it makes Christians look bad are so shortsighted! If the RCC had ruthlessly fired abusive priests and paid for the victims’ lawyers, they’d be seen as heroes. Instead, the RCC is the laughingstock of agnostics and atheists everywhere, who see them as corrupt.

  2. As I observed people tweeting about how their comments were being deleted, I was bewildered by the nearsightedness of TGC. They endorsed the movie which appeared to me a way for them point their fingers outwards to the Catholic church, not seeing their own involvement in protecting a system of their own making.

    As I commented at least twice in that thread:

    “I THANK THEE, LOOOOOOORD, THAT *I* AM NOTHING LIKE THOSE FILTHY ROMANIST PAPISTS OVER THERE…”
    (HUMBLY, of course…chuckle chuckle)

    In many evangelical churches, pastors surround themselves with yes men who are sometimes disguised as a *plurality of elders.* In many of these churches, the authority of the pastor and other leaders is sacrosanct. There is an underlying meme that these men are speaking for God and are to be held in the highest of honor by submissive, tithing and adoring church members.

    Doesn’t “Ayatollah” (as in the Clerical Dictators of Iran) mean “God’s Shadow Upon the Earth”?

  3. HoppyTheToad wrote:

    If the RCC had ruthlessly fired abusive priests and paid for the victims’ lawyers, they’d be seen as heroes. Instead, the RCC is the laughingstock of agnostics and atheists everywhere, who see them as corrupt.

    In SF litfandom and the Old School SF authors’ community, even flat-out atheists used to have some respect for the RCC — as an institution important to history, if nothing else.

    Note “used to”.

    Nowadays the attitude is more like local afternoon drive-time talk-radio, which calls John Paul II “Patron Saint of Child Molesters”, appends “-Pedophile” to every church title they say on the air (“Father-Pedophile”, “Bishop-Pedophile”, “Cardinal-Pedophile”, etc), and snarks that the Church is against birth control “so the priests have more altarboys to molest”.

  4. If you want to find corruption, look for those who say there is none in their organization. Why? Because, as the Bible says, “All have sinned.” And in an organization of any size, you will find corruption, in at least one of three forms: sexual shenanigans, financial manipulation, and abuse of authority (taking more power than originally allotted and making changes to the structure to justify that and even more power). An example of two of these is the pastor who employs family members in the church, paying them salaries they could not earn outside of the church; it is a financial abuse and an abuse of authority.

    The more concentrated the power in the church, the more susceptible it is to abuses of the other varieties.

    Image management is another sign of undercover evil. That is why these people are conference speakers and build each other up. If you pastor needs the acclamation of colleagues, be suspicious!

  5. An Attorney wrote:

    The more concentrated the power in the church, the more susceptible it is to abuses of the other varieties.

    And when the church becomes the personal property of a Royal Family in all but name…

  6. I was a 19 year old college student when this scandal broke. Had just started going to Church again, right after 9/11 and was discovering the priesthood to be a very important and very attractive way of life. Then all this news broke. The thought that people would use a position I respected and associated with service to be used for selfishness was bad enough, but the type of abuse was all the worse. It was a confusing time to say the least. I like being a priest, but I do live with an awful stigma. I do believe things are much better now, and I’m quite proud of the efforts we go to to protect children in the Church today, however it is embarrassing how we got here.

    (I’m gonna try to see Spotlight tonight. I’m not looking forward to it. It's gonna be real tough, but I think it's an important reminder of my responsibility to make sure it doesn’t happen again.)

    Something I’ve been thinking about as this pertains to evangelical ecclesial structures: Oftentimes, the Catholic bishops are attacked based on their obvious failures, but without bishops I doubt we’d have the policies we have now that protect vulnerable people. At my parish, I rely on an awful lot of support from the Archdiocese to maintain our safe environment program. If my parish was independent, there is absolutely no way I could have these policies and programs in place. So… are bishops (and a diocesan structure) needed to protect children? In other words, will the absence of bishops in evangelical Churches (that is a person who oversees and has real authority over all Churches within a given territory) actually wind up preventing widespread reform within evangelical Churches? Or will you literally be blogging about this forever?

  7. “Even pastors are concerned about lying after laying their hands on the Bible and swearing to tell the whole truth.”

    I love this comment

  8. @ dee:

    That is good to hear. The real, regular me manages to jog about five times a week, but I’ve not gotten up to 70 mph. 🙂

  9. Really appreciate your site. Found this article. Very well written.

    http://www.ourstoriesuntold.com/john-howard-yoder-my-untold-story-after-36-years-of-silence-2/

    Sadly, I have been in the GARBC and its churches, know ABWE people, have friends and family in the SBC, SGM, IBC, GARBC, BBF. It sickens me to see what has, and is going on in these “religious” organizations.

    My wife and I have church at home now. WE cannot support any longer the wickedness that is today’s institutional church.

    Thank you for your ministry and insight. You have our support and prayers.

  10. Daniel Orr wrote:

    My wife and I have church at home now. WE cannot support any longer the wickedness that is today’s institutional church.

    Daniel, you and your wife might want to check out the EChurch that’s posted weekly on the Wartburg Watch site. That’s where I attend church. 🙂

  11. This is why I have turned my back on the religious system masquerading as the Church. Good riddance!

  12. @ Fr. Bryan:
    I think the kinds of structures you’re talking about, where one can appeal for help to someone up the lind, are only effective if/when those up the line aren’t closing Good Old Boy ranks snd/or are themselves corrupt. This is true of sny organizationsl structure, not just churches, certainly.

    I’m very glad to hear that your diocese is actively working to make things safe. But i sorry that this is not the case everywhere. (In the US, but in all other countties in which the RCC has a presence…i know bad abuse pattetns and abusive people have been endrmic in Mexico, for example.)

    I think your point about independent churvhes is good, but am sure you aldo are aware that many Protestant denominations have similar organizational structures, even people known as bishops. In my denomination, i think this has bern a good thing for the most part – but bad apples are bad apples, and thst can happen anywhere, at any level.

  13. @ Fr. Bryan:
    Btw, i csn only speak about mainline Protestant churvhes in regard to structure; I know little or nothing about the systems other denominations use, if they have any framework in place for dealing with sbuses (sexual and otherwise).

    But i totally agree that some kind of structure is necessary.

  14. What has always troubled me is the GC and other folks used the abuse in the Catholic Church as an apologetic hammer about celibacy and other RCC doctrines, not about kids being abused by the truckload. That was not really an issue with them it seemed like. Of course it is happening in the true believer clans to because they have the same problem, their heads are collectively wrapped up in protecting the institution / doctrine / leader like a good little brown shirt and not the kids. Thanks Dee and Deb and JA for your ministry, Give em heaven. 🙂

  15. This one was hard to reflect on…this is about Joey Martin Feek and her looming death to cancer. I wrote about that and reflected on evangelicals and death and dying.

    https://wonderingeagle.wordpress.com/2015/11/28/joey-martin-feek-faces-her-death-that-was-foreshadowed-in-her-single-when-im-gone-exploring-the-issue-of-death-and-dying-in-evangelical-christianity/

    Wednesday if all goes well will be about atheists and Christmas holidays and Friday is about what the evangelical church can learn from Watergate and Deep Throat. Hint…”Follow the money!” 😉

  16. @ Daniel Orr:
    I would mostly agree with this sentiment. I was seriously considering going back to church and attempting to re-ignite my Christian beliefs. As of right now, that plan has been put on hold. Even my wife, who actually is religious, has kind of backed off from the church lately.
    The kicker is, most of the rank and file members of many churches are genuinely nice people.
    In both RC and many evangelical churches, the patriarchal (or in some cases hyper-patriarchal) systems have created an atmosphere where the worth of women and children is not as much as the worth of the man since the man is the top of creation made in God’s image.
    Faith becomes an instrument of subjugation.
    These religious organizations become a shadow government of sorts, a monarchy or even dictatorship, that usurps the secular rights of the churchgoer, couching itself in the language of submission – particularly the submission of women (and by extension children). To go against the church and it’s agents is go against God.
    In the secular society, we don’t understand it, but in the cultic world of “true-believer” religion, where God is not an abstraction, where the faithful believe their eternal salvation is at risk – that is where the most damage is done.

  17. Dee, thanks for posting the MercyMe song at the end of your post. It stirred a precious memory in my soul. 30+ years ago, my family attended a home Bible study with Christians I worked with. During a fellowship break, one of the young boys, Robby, approached the living room where the men were gathered. He proclaimed “I want to play drums for Jesus!” He had such a serious tone, that we were impressed to lay hands on him and pray that he would one day play drums for Jesus. Robby Shaffer is now the drummer for MercyMe.

    As Christian men, we are to encourage the youth of our churches to pursue their dreams in Christ. We are to love and nurture them in the ways of the Lord. Those who choose to abuse our children will inherit millstones and hell fire.

  18. Fr. Bryan wrote:

    Oftentimes, the Catholic bishops are attacked based on their obvious failures, but without bishops I doubt we’d have the policies we have now that protect vulnerable people.

    Your comment stimulated several questions.
    Would there be no policies without a hierarchical structure?
    Could this systematic abuse of children occur only with the support of the hierarchical structure?

  19. @ Fr. Bryan:

    Sadly I think the abuse will happen regardless. In the RC church the system protected and enabled the cover up. The powers that be used their power inappropriately. On the evangelical side there is no authority like the RC church does. Many places lack accountability in the end, thus its a sexual abusers dream. No vetting, no checks and balances, and testimonies at times where you can boast of your transformation, knowing that people will buy it hook, line and sinker.

  20. There are a lot of people with whom I disagree theologically, and yet whom I love and support. This happens because they are good people with the heart of Christ doing the work of the kingdom. And then there are narcissistic ass-hats for whom I have nothing but contempt because they are whitewashed sepulchers. Guess which category TGC falls into?

  21. Fr. Bryan wrote:

    will the absence of bishops in evangelical Churches (that is a person who oversees and has real authority over all Churches within a given territory) actually wind up preventing widespread reform within evangelical Churches? Or will you literally be blogging about this forever?

    Interesting question. It does appear that it is helpful to have some sort of a sting associated with coddling a pedophile. In medical circles, not reporting an incident can cause the loss of one’s license. The same goes for teachers.I

    I think the best way to attack this problem is to call in the authorities since pedophilia is a crime. The pedophile at my former church got 13 years and will need to be under some sort of supervisory probation for another 7 or so years. I also believe that sex offender registries are helpful for the community in general.

    However, is there not the possibility of a bishop attempting to prevent knowledge of a pedophile priest from coming out in his district? Even within the denominational structures of the Protestant tradition, there have been systemic coverups.

    By the way, I no more suspect priests of pedophilia than I do of any evangelical pastor. My son was a Boy Scout and they are reeling from the revelations of sex abuse in the leadership.And look at the Sandusky ordeal. Pedophiles go where they can engage in their heinous activities and where people are overly trusting.

  22. @ Max:
    Wow- what a story! And boy does he play the drums. I saw him on a news show last week as the group performed this new song.

  23. brian wrote:

    What has always troubled me is the GC and other folks used the abuse in the Catholic Church as an apologetic hammer about celibacy and other RCC doctrines, not about kids being abused by the truckload.

    Just an opportunity to Count Coup against those Romanists.

    “What an Opportunity to Advance MY Agenda!”, nothing more.

  24. Jack wrote:

    To go against the church and it’s agents is go against God.
    In the secular society, we don’t understand it, but in the cultic world of “true-believer” religion, where God is not an abstraction, where the faithful believe their eternal salvation is at risk – that is where the most damage is done.

    Because in that situation, EVERYTHING is elevated to (literally) Cosmic Importance.

  25. This post hits the nail on the head w/r to the problems with church today…..especially the TGC…. They are doing the very same thing they are putting down the RCC…

  26. Jesus the Christ taught that his disciples should not rule over other believers. The only organizational structure that prevents that is a true democracy at the local level, where every member has an equal voice. The structural positions of pastor, bishop, etc., are referenced in the Bible only in the epistles, typically attributed to Paul, the former Pharisee. The Pharisees had a hierarchical structure. So we must choose one of three things: Practice what Jesus taught, reinterpret what Paul said in light of what Jesus taught so we can practice what Jesus taught, or ignore the teaching of Jesus and continue to submit to hierarchy as we have interpreted Paul. Concentration of power leads to abuse, whether organizational, financial or interpersonal (including sexual abuse).

  27. Arce wrote:

    Jesus the Christ taught that his disciples should not rule over other believers

    You’d hard-pressed to find this practiced in the church today. Consider the networks, coalitions, councils, governing bodies, tribes, elders, deacons, disciplines, “senior” pastors, contracts, membership covenants, etc. to be obvious power-grab systems.

  28. Amazing that TGC has the balls to post that on social media. SGM, Doug Wilson and TVC all helped pedophiles. Not only that, but all of them are spiritually abusive. So the TGC message here is “Spotlight leaves you feeling hopeless, but God”. Give me a break. They can kiss my ***. I am so over hearing about these baboons. They wouldn’t last two seconds in a real job outside their Christian bubble.

  29. What data does BozT have to support his assertion that evangelicals are worse than the RCC when it comes to child sexual abuse? In Boston alone, there were 249 priests charged with child sexual abuse and of course many of them were multiple offenders and many others who were guilty were likely never reported. Many of these offenders were systematically shipped off to other places where they could continue their abuse. At the end of the movie there is a listing of hundreds of other cities where abuse took place. So far, in all the years TWW has been active, how many child sexual abuse cases have you covered from the evangelical world? The existence of survivor blogs in the evangelical world is not exclusively about child sexual abuse, so even there how much child sexual abuse has been exposed? Is it anything comparable even to what we have just in Boston among the RCC?

    Abuse is horrific wherever it occurs. And we should be vigilant as churches and as individuals. And we should care for victims. But I can’t see how BozT’s claim can be true absent any data. Does BozT have any real evidence that in a more evangelical city, like Nashville, for example, that in a comparable period 249 evangelical pastors were pedophiles whose abuses were systematically covered up? Is there evidence that many of them went to other places to continue their activities? I’m not saying no abuse happened in evangelical churches or that no one moved on elsewhere to continue abusing, but I would be surprised if the scope of the problem is similar to what the RCC faced in Boston and around the world. I do think the systemic dynamics are different between evangelicalism and RCC and I do think that systemic difference impacted this case. The RCC especially in the latter half of the 20th century was a unique perfect storm for child sexual abuse.

    It seems that with TGC, SGM, etc., you are quick to point to the systemic dynamics which you believe foster sinful behaviors and situations but you seem to be minimizing the systemic dynamics which drove the sexual abuse in the RCC, or at least engaging in a false equivalency between the RCC and the TGC crowd. A little hero worship from the TGC crowd is a lot different than the dynamics that existed in the RCC in recent years.

    On another note, I do think TGC is unwise to delete comments and I wish they would change this way of operating.

  30. Saw Spotlight over the weekend. Powerful movie.

    Saving my comment here for when it gets deleted from TGC’s Facebook thread.

    “How many comments by survivor advocates have been deleted on this thread? God watches as you delete, block and discard those He loves.”

  31. @ js:

    The mainstream media has all but ignored the recent Associated Press report that the three major insurance companies for Protestant Churches in America say they typically receive 260 reports each year of minors being sexually abused by Protestant clergy, staff, or other church-related relationships. . .

    Responding to heavy media scrutiny, the Catholic Church has reported that since 1950, 13,000 “credible accusations” have been brought against Catholic clerics (about 228 per year.) The fact that this number includes all credible accusations, not just those that have involved insurance companies, and still is less than the number of cases in Protestant churches reported by just three insurance companies, should be making front page of The New York Times and the network evening news. It’s not.

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/2007/06/24/sexual-abuse-minors-in-protestant-churches.html

  32. The more I read, the more I am now a ” Done”….

    The problem is, this time of year I miss going to church. Something psychological draws me in during Advent.

  33. js,

    *spoiler alert*
    In the movie SPOTLIGHT, we learn that the Cardinal overseeing Boston during that time was given a promotion to Rome.
    TGC is giving SGM a break-out session at their upcoming conference to promote SGM. That’s pretty serious hero worship while it also communicates quite a message to victims of abuse everywhere.

  34. @ js:

    When Boz said evangelicals are just as bad / worse than the RCC concerning abuse, I don’t know if he meant stat wise (does it happen more often) –

    Or perhaps he meant that evangelicals are just as bad about dealing with abuse. They are just as bad at making excuses, siding with the abusers, and covering it up as the RCC was.

    That does seem to be the case. There is a lady who used to run a blog about abuse in Baptist churches. This lady had many examples of abusive guys who get outed at one Baptist church, and just pick up and move to another one.

  35. @ dee:
    I truly believe that the young man was anointed by the Lord to offer worship with this gift (playing drums). Now, this is coming from an old guy who was raised to believe that drums were from the devil and should be prohibited from church services! But, sometimes you just have to yield to what the Lord is saying to the church, rather than follow teachings and traditions of men. Most of religion follows the latter rather than the former … and the disciples produced by each are vastly different. Over the past 2,000 years, relationship with Jesus has been superseded by “religion” in far too many places. TWW reports on the consequences of religious abuse, not the fruit of a relationship with the living Christ. Personally, I hope to live long enough to see religion’s funeral preached … it has proved to be too cantankerous, rebellious, and divisive. Just give me Jesus!

  36. @ js:

    Here is a link to the quote from Boz Tchividjian of G.R.A.C.E under discussion, so people can see the context. I got this from the blog post of Julie Anne Smith on The Gospel Coalition et al and the *Spotlight* movie. It’s in a September 2013 interview article by Sarah Pulliam Bailey.

    https://web.archive.org/web/20131012010300/http://www.religionnews.com/2013/09/26/billy-grahams-grandson-evangelicals-worse-catholic-church-sex-abuse/

    The first three paragraphs of that article:

    The Christian mission field is a “magnet” for sexual abusers, Boz Tchividjian, a Liberty University law professor who investigates abuse said Thursday (Sept. 26) to a room of journalists.

    While comparing evangelicals to Catholics on abuse response, ”I think we are worse,” he said at the Religion Newswriters Association conference, saying too many evangelicals had “sacrificed the souls” of young victims.

    “Protestants can be very arrogant when pointing to Catholics,” said Tchividjian, a grandson of evangelist Billy Graham and executive director of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE), which has investigated sex abuse allegations.

  37. I think it’s hilarious they decided to leave that one comment up (it’s still there, last I checked). Do they think their readers are too stupid to Google the reference to SGM? Maybe they are?

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  39. @ Max:

    Max, I long for more encouragement like that with our youth instead of convincing them they are worms and perpetually broken.

  40. Jack wrote:

    I was seriously considering going back to church and attempting to re-ignite my Christian beliefs. As of right now, that plan has been put on hold.

    A very difficult question for me to answer honestly would be ‘if all you knew of Christianity was what you experienced in church, would you say it is true or fake’?

    There is no doubt many Christians or people calling themselves Christians seriously fail to live out what they claim to believe. However, problems of this nature litter the NT, there is nothing covered up there, and we can have false expectations.

    This isn’t the whole story though. Despite their many imperfections, many Christians do make a good faith attempt at living it out, and on balance I think this outweights the negative side. But it has sometimes been a bit of a close call.

    Nevertheless, neither of these statements confirms whether the faith is based on truth; it either is or it isn’t.

    Just as a suggestion, I think you need to look away from the church when it comes to considering the truthfulness of the faith. Look at its foundational documents, the NT, and consider what Jesus actually said and did. To perfectly reflect the standard of behaviour set out in the NT is expecting a great deal, and Christian people are almost bound to get it wrong, sometimes seriously, at times. That’s not including phoneys with a counterfeit faith.

    It is actually supposed to be good news, and it would be a pity to miss this because of the appalling behaviour of some religious people.

  41. numo wrote:

    @ Fr. Bryan:
    I think the kinds of structures you’re talking about, where one can appeal for help to someone up the lind, are only effective if/when those up the line aren’t closing Good Old Boy ranks snd/or are themselves corrupt. This is true of sny organizationsl structure, not just churches, certainly.

    I’m very glad to hear that your diocese is actively working to make things safe. But i sorry that this is not the case everywhere. (In the US, but in all other countties in which the RCC has a presence…i know bad abuse pattetns and abusive people have been endrmic in Mexico, for example.)

    I think your point about independent churvhes is good, but am sure you aldo are aware that many Protestant denominations have similar organizational structures, even people known as bishops. In my denomination, i think this has bern a good thing for the most part – but bad apples are bad apples, and thst can happen anywhere, at any level.

    The discussion here that links religious organization systems and structures to prevention of child sexual abuse strikes me as having important parallels to prevention of spiritual abuse. Both deal with opportunists who ingratiate themselves into a situation and system, and exert power over others to satisfy their own purposes.

    I don’t think the overall solution to security against exploitation of those who are vulnerable will be found just in the type of organizational system. One key lesson I’ve learned the past few years from studying spiritual abuse is that opportunists can craft themselves an authoritarian empire, regardless of whether they use a hierarchical / pyramid / CEO-dictator system (like Mars Hill) or a non-hierarchical / flat-structure / celebrity system (like the Emergent/Progressive movement).

    That said, I am all for setting up processes and procedures that help us with due diligence and discernment to weed out and keep out such “bad apples” from positions where they can hijack the system and its people for their own personal benefit. But that can only work where organization members embrace and embody a paradigm that values protecting its people from harm and not protecting its own public image. To tie in a quote that I’ve noted before, but those new to TWW may not have seen before:

    “The organization can never be something the people are not.” ~ Price Pritchett in The Ethics of Excellence

    To which I add my corollary: “The organization will eventually become whatever its leaders are.” Which brings it right back to one of the key questions at hand: What genuine commitment and activism do the leaders who are intimately involved with The Gospel Coalition demonstrate, when it comes to protecting children from sexual abuse? Their corporate record on SGM, Christ Church, and other situations where known/suspected pedophiles seem to have been protected (and the victims not) would speak “No!” far louder than Alex Duke’s recommendation of *Spotlight* squeaks “Yes” on their behalf.

    Such questionable commitment to the most vulnerable in our midst doesn’t exactly lend itself to trusting such leaders or The Gospel Coalition association they represent. This is a severely serious matter. There seems to be such a close connection between child sexual abuse and authoritarian spiritual abuse that where one of those is detected, its twin likely lurks behind the curtain. What does it mean for trustworthiness of an organization when its leaders appear to fail repeatedly when it comes to holding its own members accountable on these abuse issues?

  42. @ js:

    How would we have ever known about the pervert missionary at The Village Church if his former wife had not gone public OUTSIDE the church? This is how it typically plays in evangelical circles. If the victim (or their family) does not speak up OUTSIDE the church, who would know?

    At SGM the three year old was put in the room with their teen pervert molester and told they were both sinners and to forgive. That any parent would go along with that just shows how cultic that place really was. And where are those cult leaders today? The SBC. Welcomed with open arms by Mohler and Dever.

    For me, I think church in general is structured to be corrupt these days. The pew sitters in most evangelical churches have handed over power to a few titles and are content with that.

    I don’t think adding more layers of titles will fix anything. What is wrong is much deeper than that. Why are such types attracted to church settings? Power? Easily earned trust? Opportunity?

    The SOP we have seen in most evangelical churches for years now is that such types can easily plead repentance. Or, they simply leave for other churches. The focus, sadly, is on saving the image of the church/pastor.

    The other problem is worm theology of “sinners sin” so what else do we expect? It has become somewhat normal, sadly. So the folks who would rather slash their wrists than harm a child are lumped in with such types because people are convinced ALL sin is sin and we are simply nothing but walking sin machines and cannot help it. (I believe the flesh is weak but we CAN choose not to harm others)

    Church should the LAST place a pervert feels comfortable to operate.

    It is not about whether there is autonomy or several layers of hierarchy in a denomination style structure. It is not about whether the RCC is worse than the Evangelicals. That is a deflection argument. In the case of harming children for life, ONE instance is too many.

    There is a Barbarian aspect to this that is chilling. If there is anything that should stop us cold it is harm done to innocents who cannot defend themselves. If we cannot respond to that with zero tolerance then we are no better than animals.

    Therefore anyone who has defended/promoted SGM and those responsible for trying to bury the evils done there over the years to children are nothing but Barbarians. And that includes a lot of “Christian” celebrities from Mohler to Piper.

  43. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    The discussion here that links religious organization systems and structures to prevention of child sexual abuse strikes me as having important parallels to prevention of spiritual abuse.

    I find it interesting to discuss religious systems to prevent abuse when the case in point could only have occurred with the support of the religious system. The title to this post is “Systematic Abuse…”, it takes a system to get systematic abuse.

    To clarify, would there still be incidences of abuse without a system, yes of course. Would the abuse have been as pervasive, I would say no. So before I put my faith in a system to prevent abuse I will first consider if it isn’t laying the groundwork for the next systematic wickedness.

  44. FWIW, the more I think about it, the less Alex Duke’s TGC post recommending *Spotlight* seems to have to do with churches putting in place practical ways to protect children from sexual abuse. It’s actually recommending the film as a means to drive viewers to hopelessness, so they are ready for the gospel, in a classic law/gospel process as in CFW Walther’s book, *Law and Gospel: How to Read and Apply the Bible.* While it is understandable to deal with conceptual spin-offs of the film, too bad he doesn’t seem to develop anything concrete about guarding the children in our midst. But then, I guess the standard TGC response on this issue is doctrinal more than practical, which I find neither hopeful or helpful.

  45. From the church website:

    http://www.fellowshipnashville.org/about/

    “The church is to be governed by a plurality of biblically qualified elders who provide spiritual oversight and guard the mission and values of the body. In prayerful dependence and diligent commitment to the authority of God’s Word, the elders’ role is to determine how the Lord, who is the Head of the body, wishes to direct His church.”

    Wonder what “values” they are “guarding” now? And what is really sad is that we should all be involved in the “what and how the Lord wishes to direct His Body”. Not just a few who decide for everyone else.

    This platitudinal thinking and assertion that there are a “specially anointed” few that receive more “Holy Spirit” than others is another thing that must be challenged. For the life of me, I cannot figure out how in this day and time people fall for this so quickly.

    Evidently, the “elders” are proving right now that they don’t know the difference between basic right and wrong. Makes you wonder about their qualification process.

  46. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    The organization can never be something the people are not.” ~ Price Pritchett in The Ethics of Excellence
    To which I add my corollary: “The organization will eventually become whatever its leaders are.”

    And there are no leaders without followers. You know, I can understand the mapping here to organizational settings where one is contracturally paid to participate and follow the leadership. We have a system in place that tries to protect both parties in the event of big problem.

    What I cannot accept is the mapping to voluntary organizations like churches with the leader/follower structure where there is no system of protection. It is interesting to look deeply at what the followers gain in such structures. What is the motivation to compartmentalize and hand over your brain to a few and put them in charge of your spiritual morals/ethics? Which are adopted by the “group.

  47. Bill M wrote:

    I find it interesting to discuss religious systems to prevent abuse when the case in point could only have occurred with the support of the religious system. The title to this post is “Systematic Abuse…”, it takes a system to get systematic abuse.

    To clarify, would there still be incidences of abuse without a system, yes of course. Would the abuse have been as pervasive, I would say no. So before I put my faith in a system to prevent abuse I will first consider if it isn’t laying the groundwork for the next systematic wickedness.

    This makes sense to me.

    Systemic problems need systemic solutions. And the way I understand that is a whole paradigm that integrates beliefs, values, organizational systems, processes and procedures, cultures, and collaborations. If we don’t work on all those elements and layers as a set, I think it’s extremely likely we’re leaving hidden connections in place that will eventually emerge as the next manifestation of systemic problems.

    In one situation I observed (where the systems problem was chaos in administrative and leadership elements), there was a hangover of disorganization even after the lead pastor left. No set of notes or records of church council meetings, decisions, changes, etc. No coherent, up-to-date mission or purpose statements (they’d changed periodically, to the point where multiple ones from different years were getting all mixed together, and even a staff member couldn’t accurately quote the most current one-sentence mission statement). Those were just some of the indicators. It seems like it took a full few years for the follow-up leader just to get the administrative systems to a point of coherence and more transparency. But some of the other aspects of a culture of chaos still remained. It takes time for systems solutions …

  48. Lydia wrote:

    And there are no leaders without followers. You know, I can understand the mapping here to organizational settings where one is contracturally paid to participate and follow the leadership. We have a system in place that tries to protect both parties in the event of big problem.

    What I cannot accept is the mapping to voluntary organizations like churches with the leader/follower structure where there is no system of protection. It is interesting to look deeply at what the followers gain in such structures. What is the motivation to compartmentalize and hand over your brain to a few and put them in charge of your spiritual morals/ethics? Which are adopted by the “group.

    Over the past few years, I’ve wondered a lot about related questions. What factors could make me/us more susceptible to getting involved in that kind of high-demand/high-control type system? What do followers get from participating in a system like this? And is it really “participating,” or actually something else?

    A couple thoughts.

    People who sincerely want to please God can get sucked in by language that sounds like it will help them do that through biblical teaching, accountability groups, discipline, etc. Sometimes it takes us years to sift through the rhetoric to see where the practices don’t match up to that promise, and in fact are harmful.

    I also think there’s an appeal for some in a culture of consumption and mere presence – where there’s the expectation or entitlement to be served, but this is disconnected from any passion or responsibility to serve others. That’s in contrast to a culture of production and true participation, where we can develop and use our gifts to the benefit of the Body of Christ and in our community as a missional way of connecting with people long-term as we embody what the Kingdom looks like.

  49. @ brad/futuristguy:

    Julie Anne recently did a blog post about something John Piper (I think it was) did. After the attacks in Paris, Piper used that as a jumping off point to go on about how everyone needs the Gospel, or how we’re all sinners or what not.

    I personally find it tacky and insensitive most of them time when Christians use some tragedy to market Jesus. Doing so hurts the people who were hurt by whatever tragedy, and it makes Jesus look like any other product you might see on TV.

  50. Daisy wrote:

    @ brad/futuristguy:
    Julie Anne recently did a blog post about something John Piper (I think it was) did. After the attacks in Paris, Piper used that as a jumping off point to go on about how everyone needs the Gospel, or how we’re all sinners or what not.

    Daisy, this is Flutterhands Piper.

    Heir to Pat Robertson in the “Shoot off my mouth to show you all how Spiritual *I* Am after any disaster in the news” department.

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  52. Daisy wrote:

    I personally find it tacky and insensitive most of them time when Christians use some tragedy to market Jesus. Doing so hurts the people who were hurt by whatever tragedy, and it makes Jesus look like any other product you might see on TV.

    “Never let an opportunity [to Advance your Agenda] go to waste.”
    — Rahm Emmanuel, Mayor of Chicago and Daley Machine hatchetman

  53. I left a comment on the FB post on Nov. 28th and am surprised to still see it there today. I left the same comment on the website post and it never got approved.

    Sorry to repeat this for folks who read over at SSB – The author of the article works for 9Marks. If he thinks that it is important for institutionalized child sexual abuse to be exposed then he should be having a conversation with Mark Dever, one of the strongest supporters of CJ.

  54. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    In one situation I observed (where the systems problem was chaos in administrative and leadership elements), there was a hangover of disorganization even after the lead pastor left. No set of notes or records of church council meetings, decisions, changes, etc. No coherent, up-to-date mission or purpose statements (they’d changed periodically, to the point where multiple ones from different years were getting all mixed together, and even a staff member couldn’t accurately quote the most current one-sentence mission statement).

    I’ve seen this over and over in my line of work.

    The Hotshot leaves (or dies) with Everything in His Head. EVERYTHING.

  55. Lydia wrote:

    What is the motivation to compartmentalize and hand over your brain to a few and put them in charge of your spiritual morals/ethics? Which are adopted by the “group.

    There do seem to be some who do that as you all have described in various situations. It would be a mistake, however, to think that all ‘systems’ have anything to do with handing over the brain to anybody. I have personally seen evangelical autonomous structure as in the SBC and episcopal structure as in the UMC and now have had explained to me more or less how TEC structure works, and I do not see systems as either a magic answer or an impending menace any more than the autonomous church might be, which sometimes becomes renegade and goes off on a tangent.

    I agree with whoever it was that said that this particular issue of solving abuse is not about systems. IMO it has to be about how an entire nation thinks about its children. When we have a nation in which a fetus is fortunate to be carried to term, the job of stay home mom is ridiculed, stacks of children are removed from abusive and neglectful situations by SS, divorce and its subsequent negative impact on innocent children is totally accepted, the public educational system is a shambles and churches are turning a blind eye to child sexual abuse does it take Einstein to compute for us how much this nation cares about its children?

  56. Has anyone been screencapping deleted comments? Deleting non-trollish comments is powerful evidence of spin. TGC doesn’t trust its readership with any information that strays from the party line. WAKE UP TGC READERS. You are being manipulated into sycophantry (not a real word but i’m still using it)

    Dee and Deb — thank you for providing a much-needed counter-balance to the insular world of TGC.

  57. @ brad/futuristguy:

    Something I am paying more attention to is the compartmentalized thinking of church goers in general. Something they might find unethical or questionable at work is often something they readily accept at church. It seems to fall into the “Believe the best” or “Trust positive intentions” mentality. This falls into the getting sucked in aspect of the language and groupthink.

    Whether it is secrecy of leadership, lack of accountability, or vast disparity of wages, the church setting seems to get a pass. As if they believe the church leadership has “good intentions” so they get a pass.

    It is uncanny.

  58. sigh wrote:

    You are being manipulated into sycophantry (not a real word but i’m still using it)

    I make up words like that all the time.
    Personally, I think the world is ready for such internet streamlining.

  59. @ Lydia:
    Indeed Lydia! We need Barnabas to take Mark aside and equip him to do the work of the ministry, rather than writing him off in his youth! My observations of Southern Baptist youth ministry over the years is that we put youth in charge of youth who feed them pizza and videos, rather than effective discipling. We need godly men over our youth, rather than preacher boys.

  60. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    “Never let an opportunity [to Advance your Agenda] go to waste.”
    — Rahm Emmanuel, Mayor of Chicago and Daley Machine hatchetman

    Not to go too far off the rails here, but something similar has been going on in the case of the preacher (Blackburn) who worked at New Spring church at one time (or still does)?

    He and his friends are all over social media the last week or two using a hash tag of something like “#NothingIsWasted” to sell t-shirts and promote his speaking engagements, etc, after his wife was found deceased in their home.
    Someone in one post said the profits from the shirts are going to him, not to a charity. I hope the funds are being used to pay for funeral expenses, at the very least.

    Anyway, some people will use anything to promote themselves or a brand. It just looks… very bad, IMO.

  61. @ js:

    It seems that with TGC, SGM, etc., you are quick to point to the systemic dynamics which you believe foster sinful behaviors and situations but you seem to be minimizing the systemic dynamics which drove the sexual abuse in the RCC

    This could also result from the Deebs being Protestant and having more familiarity with the structure of TGC, SGM, etc. I know as a Protestant I don’t fully understand the details of how the RCC structure works, and thus wouldn’t necessarily be able to explain the internal dynamics beyond “people in power sheltered pedophiles.”

  62. @ BeenThereDoneThat:

    he mainstream media has all but ignored the recent Associated Press report that the three major insurance companies for Protestant Churches in America say they typically receive 260 reports each year of minors being sexually abused by Protestant clergy, staff, or other church-related relationships.

    Is that 260 from each insurance company, or is that the combined number?

  63. @ Daisy:

    There is a lady who used to run a blog about abuse in Baptist churches. This lady had many examples of abusive guys who get outed at one Baptist church, and just pick up and move to another one.

    Well, my local Episcopal diocese has shuffled a controlling almost-certainly-NPD priest through several parishes in the state and still hasn’t defrocked her. I know this because I’m loosely associated with the last parish she wreaked havoc on. Thankfully this is not a sexual abuse case too.

  64. okrapod wrote:

    IMO it has to be about how an entire nation thinks about its children.

    Yes. And when that is a problem at “church” and from celebrity guru Christians, then why would we expect the nation to be different?

    When the least of these are treated as inconvenient problems in the church when they are abused or molested then we are dealing with Barbarians as I noted before. I don’t have anything nicer to say than that concerning what has taken place in what is termed the church in this aspect.

    My position has always been that checking our brains at the door of a voluntary organization called church and looking to a guru for “leadership” truth is a huge problem. When we do that, we are to blame, too.

    Without people there are no systems. The systems are not the solution, the people within them are. And I speak as one whose career included designing effective organizational systems!

  65. Hester wrote:

    Is that 260 from each insurance company, or is that the combined number?

    It seems it’s the combined number.

  66. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    But that can only work where organization members embrace and embody a paradigm that values protecting its people from harm and not protecting its own public image.

    Yes. In addition, there needs to be constant dialogue between the laypeople and those in any ecclesiastical structure. And the people who are “higher up” in that structure must be willing to listen, and not brush people aside.

  67. dee wrote:

    Fr. Bryan wrote:
    will the absence of bishops in evangelical Churches (that is a person who oversees and has real authority over all Churches within a given territory) actually wind up preventing widespread reform within evangelical Churches? Or will you literally be blogging about this forever?
    Interesting question. It does appear that it is helpful to have some sort of a sting associated with coddling a pedophile. In medical circles, not reporting an incident can cause the loss of one’s license. The same goes for teachers.I
    I think the best way to attack this problem is to call in the authorities since pedophilia is a crime. The pedophile at my former church got 13 years and will need to be under some sort of supervisory probation for another 7 or so years. I also believe that sex offender registries are helpful for the community in general.
    However, is there not the possibility of a bishop attempting to prevent knowledge of a pedophile priest from coming out in his district? Even within the denominational structures of the Protestant tradition, there have been systemic coverups.
    By the way, I no more suspect priests of pedophilia than I do of any evangelical pastor. My son was a Boy Scout and they are reeling from the revelations of sex abuse in the leadership.And look at the Sandusky ordeal. Pedophiles go where they can engage in their heinous activities and where people are overly trusting.

    Beyond Bishops….recent revelations about the sex abuse in the Catholic church also told of the young men going into the seminaries where they were seduce into the teaching and advocating of open acting out of homosexual encounters including those in leadership and Bishops.

    Also some of the leaks and books coming out now seem to reveal that the Vatican is a cesspool of homosexuals and pedophiles. I feel so sorry for the Catholic people and families who have been so devote and unknowingly supporting such a corrupt, abusive institution.

  68. Other than SGM, TGC also have Doug Wilson and TVC on their roster of pedophile cover ups. And that’s just what has been reported. They also have a slew of spiritual abuse cases, and instances where they tell wives to go back to their abusive husbands. The whole time I watched this movie I thought about TGC and the reformed crowd and how I would love an investigative piece to be done on them.

  69. BC wrote:

    Also some of the leaks and books coming out now seem to reveal that the Vatican is a cesspool of homosexuals and pedophiles.

    Do you really think that Protestantism would be any different if it had its own equivalent of the Vatican and its own complex hierarchy?

  70. Muff Potter wrote:

    BC wrote:
    Also some of the leaks and books coming out now seem to reveal that the Vatican is a cesspool of homosexuals and pedophiles.
    Do you really think that Protestantism would be any different if it had its own equivalent of the Vatican and its own complex hierarchy?

    e.g. The World Council of Churches

  71. @ Max:
    One of the biggest blessings of church before it was taken over by the YRR were the relationships my kids had with seniors. I cannot tell you how valuable that was for them and they continue to this day even though we are out. (Many of them are, too, as the places where they served have been taken over or discarded)

    They listened to their silly ramblings and could make wise observations that the kids often took to heart. There was real “relationship”. The wise with the foolish.

  72. @ Fr. Bryan:
    I know of few such scandals in the Episcopal Church. I’m sureally there are some but I also suspect proportionality few. I wonder if it’s because women have gained equal power with men at every level,including parish vestry, deacons, priesthood and bishops.

  73. Muff Potter wrote:

    Do you really think that Protestantism would be any different if it had its own equivalent of the Vatican and its own complex hierarchy?

    The Presbyterian Church here in Australia has an extremely complex hierarchy. It has a full-on court system that mirrors the civil courts. You are brought to the Bar to make a complaint, that is if you can get past the Clerk of the Court. Appeals come up from the lower courts to the General Assembly of Australia which is the Supreme Court of the Presbyterian Church of Australia. – ‘So not of God but of man’.

  74. rhondajeannie wrote:

    The Presbyterian Church here in Australia has an extremely complex hierarchy. It has a full-on court system that mirrors the civil courts.

    The powdered wigs are making my nose itch!

  75. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    In one situation I observed (where the systems problem was chaos in administrative and leadership elements), there was a hangover of disorganization even after the lead pastor left. No set of notes or records of church council meetings, decisions, changes, etc.

    I have a similar experience. An old adage warns not to attribute evil motives when simple incompetence will suffice. Yet I found it very convenient for the “pastor”, the inability to consult minutes of prior meetings allowed him great freedom from the encumbrance of prior decisions.

  76. BC wrote:

    cesspool of homosexuals and pedophiles

    In context, you are writing about sexual abuse of adults and children, which is both sinful and illegal. Sexual orientation is different from behavior, though. Presumably many Roman Catholic priests, including homosexuals, have kept their vows.

  77. @ Ken:
    I would prefer to call my self a follower or disciple of Jesus the Christ, rather than a Christian. I am reminded of the comment by Gandhi.

  78. @ Arce:
    I take your point. In the UK the term ‘Christian’ includes a cultural element with next to no actual Christian content at all, little more than you should overall try to do a bit of good to other people. Done as a baby giving you nominal membership of the Church of England, but whatever you do, don’t take any of it seriously!

    I’m aware of Ghandi’s famous criticism of Christianity, but he had some pretty strange religious views himself.

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  80. Daisy wrote:

    Julie Anne recently did a blog post about something John Piper (I think it was) did. After the attacks in Paris, Piper used that as a jumping off point to go on about how everyone needs the Gospel, or how we’re all sinners or what not.

    I personally find it tacky and insensitive most of them time when Christians use some tragedy to market Jesus. Doing so hurts the people who were hurt by whatever tragedy, and it makes Jesus look like any other product you might see on TV.

    If supposed authority figures are more committed to doctrinal discourse about problems than helping the victims who deal with those problems, however gospel-oriented is that, really?

  81. Lydia wrote:

    Something I am paying more attention to is the compartmentalized thinking of church goers in general. Something they might find unethical or questionable at work is often something they readily accept at church. It seems to fall into the “Believe the best” or “Trust positive intentions” mentality. This falls into the getting sucked in aspect of the language and groupthink.

    Whether it is secrecy of leadership, lack of accountability, or vast disparity of wages, the church setting seems to get a pass. As if they believe the church leadership has “good intentions” so they get a pass.

    It is uncanny.

    Isn’t it ironic … so many of the situations that come up in posts and comments here at TWW involve churches/leaders with theologies that emphasize sin sin sin — but still want people to “believe the best,” especially about their leaders? Perhaps ordination or official position equates with immunity from sinning and its consequences?

  82. dee wrote:

    Interesting question. It does appear that it is helpful to have some sort of a sting associated with coddling a pedophile. In medical circles, not reporting an incident can cause the loss of one’s license. The same goes for teachers.

    Perhaps the lack of professional accreditation for clergy helps contribute to the problem. Texas is one of the few states where if a member of the clergy has sex with a congregant that they counsel or provide ministry to, even if the sex is fully consensual, the cleric can be charged with full sexual assault which is a second degree felony on par with second degree murder. This makes TX clergy think twice about manipulating a woman they are counseling at the most vulnerable point in their lives. For years unscrupulous pastors have zeroed in on women going through divorces or dealing with abusive or cheating husbands.

    Texas also makes it illegal for a school teacher to have sex with their high school students even after they turn 18. I would like to see that extended to youth leaders and youth pastors as I have seen these grown men grooming young teen girls just waiting for them to turn 18. A high school kid is still a kid even at 18. And with all the Texas red shirting for sports purposes many kids turn 18 their junior year. These leaders know all the buttons to push and know all their secrets and issues from years of lending that sympathetic ear and “praying” with the underage girls.

    Implementing laws does help. I would like to see clergy certified or licensed in a meaningful way where they would risk losing their ability to preach/pastor if they engaged in illicit sex with flock members and/or covered up known sexual abuse. I think laws like the above do act as general and specific deterrents. Unfortunately, it will take victims to come forward before progress can be made in this area.

  83. Daisy wrote:

    …and it makes Jesus look like any other product you might see on TV.

    One of the biggest differences is that most corporate marketing types, and even most executives, genuinely seem focused on promoting the product itself, not so much themselves.

  84. Muff Potter wrote:

    Do you really think that Protestantism would be any different if it had its own equivalent of the Vatican and its own complex hierarchy?

    So far, it’s doing a good enough job of being “a cesspool of homosexuals and pedophiles” without a single Pope or Vatican or any hierarchy other than Lead Pastor Ex Cathedra and Plurality of Elders(TM).

  85. Pingback: Spotlight Movie Thoughts | Divorce Minister

  86. brad/futuristguy wrote:

    theologies that emphasize sin sin sin — but still want people to “believe the best,”

    2-pronged or forked-tongue message to perpetuate a system?

    1. “sin, sin, sin” as a shame message to manipulate congregants into action – to give time and money

    2. however, “believe the best” to keep, again by manipulation, everyone on board as members no matter the track record of behavior

  87. So, I just returned home from seeing “Spotlight.” Hubby and the kids watched “Mockingjay — Part 2” while I was in the other movie. I was crying as I walked out of the theater, and saw my family waiting for me in the corridor. My six-year-old asked me if it was a sad movie. I told her it was disturbing.

    When the screenshots of all the cities with scandals came up at the end of the film there was an audible gasp in the theater, and there were only about 15 people there.

    If people could only realize the lengths a church will go to protect its reputation.