Nations are born in the hearts of poets, they prosper and die in the hands of politicians. Muhammad Iqbal link
I really would prefer if this discussion did not descend into a "Why you should not vote for so and so" sort of post. This story is meant to illustrate why some of the gospel™ dudebros look like DC politicians when it comes to child sex abuse.
I believe that Christians could vote for any of the current candidates for many different reasons. I have my own opinions which I do not discuss here because they are not as important to me as the issues surrounding abuse in the broader evangelical church. Abuse is my hill to die on. Politics is not.
Here are the two points that I wish to emphasize in this post.
1. A number of CJ Mahaney apologists claim that since things happened a couple of decades ago, it is impossible as well as irrelevant to advocate for justice in this situation. It is the contention of TWW that decades matter little as we serve Jesus who said that causing little ones to stumble deserve the equivalent of cement boots and the Hudson River. Jesus did not put a time limit on seeking punishment for those who have mistreated children.
2. A few members of The Gospel™ Coalition insist that, if one is a real™ Christian, one would not vote for Trump. TWW contends that so called Christian™ politicians can be just as perverse as non-Christian politicians.
Who was Denny Hastert prior to the recent revelations?
From Wikipedia we learn:
John Dennis "Denny" Hastert (/ˈhæstərt/; born January 2, 1942) is a former Republican politician from Illinois, the 51st Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, serving from 1999 to 2007, and an admitted serial child molester. He represented Illinois's 14th congressional district in the House for twenty years, 1987 to 2007. He is the longest-serving Republican Speaker of the House in history.
Hastert grew up in rural Illinois. He graduated from Wheaton College with a degree in economics in 1964 and obtained an education degree from Northern Illinois University three years later. From 1965 to 1981, Hastert was a high school teacher and coach. He lost a 1980 bid for the Illinois House of Representatives, but tried again and won a seat in 1981. He was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1987, and re-elected every subsequent election until he retired in 2007. Hastert rose through the Republican ranks in the House, becoming chief deputy whip and eventually Speaker in 1999. As Speaker of the House, Hastert supported the George W. Bush administration's foreign and domestic policies. After Democrats took control of the House in 2007 following the 2006 election, Hastert chose not to seek the position of minority leader, resigned his House seat, and became a lobbyist at the firm of Dickstein Shapiro.
Positions of trust involving minors
Let's hone in on some important information. It is well known that pedophiles attempt to become employed or volunteers in situations that bring them in close contact with children, particularly in positions of trust. Also, such jobs would include having extensive one on one contact with minors as found in churches, schools, coaching and Boy Scouts. Once again, here is some relevant information on Hastert's early years.
Hastert was employed by Yorkville Community Unit School District 115 for sixteen years, from 1965 to 1981. Hastert began working there, at age 23, while still attending NIU.Throughout that time, Hastert worked as a teacher at Yorkville High School (teaching government, history, economics, and sociology), where he also served as a football and wrestling coach. Hastert led the school's wrestling team to the 1976 state title and was later named Illinois Coach of the Year.
Hastert was a Boy Scout volunteer with Explorer Post 540 of Yorkville for 17 years, during his time as a schoolteacher and coach. Hastert reportedly traveled with the Explorers on trips to the Grand Canyon, the Bahamas, Minnesota, and the Green River in Utah.
I have not been able to find any information about his church and whether or not he volunteered with children in that venue. I would be concerned that he had given his history.
Denny Hastert targeted pedophiles, homosexuals, etc. for punishment while he was in Congress.
The Huffington Post reported in How Dennis Hastert Demonized Gays as Predators While He Was the True ‘Super-Predator.’
Meanwhile, the true example of a “super-predator” appears to have been former GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert, a man who prosecutors now say molested at least 4 boys, including a 14-year-old and one who years later took his own life. Since the statute of limitations on those crimes, which took place decades ago, has expired, Hastert will only receive up to six months in jail on charges stemming from bank withdrawals of large sums of cash in violation of federal law, in what prosecutors say was for the purpose of “hush money.”
Worse yet, through the years, as he covered up the sexual assaults he committed as a wrestling coach back in Yorkville, Illinois, Hastert pushed policies and positions as a House member and as the Speaker of a far-right GOP majority from 1999 to 2007 that demonized gays in part by portraying gay men as sexual predators.
“We must continue to be proactive warding off pedophiles and other creeps who want to take advantage of our children,” the Illinois congressman stated in promoting a bill to stop exploitation of children online shortly before he became House Speaker. That was brought to light in a Politico report last year which revealed that Hastert had a file in his office labeled “Homosexuals,” which included the sexual predator smear against gay men
The Chicago Tribune reported that Lawmaker Hastert urged life sentences for repeat child molesters.
In Congress, Hastert supported the Child Abuse Prevention and Enforcement Act of 2000, which among other measures, sought to prevent and punish the sexual abuse of minors.
And in 2003, when Utah teenager Elizabeth Smart was recovered after being kidnapped, sexually assaulted and held captive for nine months, Hastert took a strong stance in a statement.
"It is important to have a national notification system to help safely recover children kidnapped by child predators," he said. "But it is equally important to stop those predators before they strike, to put repeat child molesters into jail for the rest of their lives and to help law enforcement with the tools they need to get the job done."
However, there seems to be some evidence that Hastert was a conflicted man while in Congress. For example. U.S. Rep. Mark Foley was forced to resigned in September 2006 after allegations surfaced that he had written sexually explicit emails to a former teen page. Hastert did not appear to be overly concerned about Foley's indiscretions. According to the Chicago Tribune article linked above:
By the end of 2006, a House Ethics Committee investigating the Republican leadership's response to Foley's misconduct concluded that Hastert — then U.S. House speaker — failed to act on earlier warnings and was among many individuals who remained "willfully ignorant" of Foley's misbehavior.
Then-U.S. Rep. John Boehner, of Ohio, was one of those who spoke earlier to Hastert about Foley's misconduct. Boehner told the committee that Hastert had told him the matter "has been taken care of." No one was sanctioned for violating House rules in the case.
Hastert's files on homosexuality/pedophilia may point to his inner struggles.
The Daily Kos posted Dennis Hastert's files show an ongoing interest in pedophilia and homosexuality. It appears that he linked pedophilia to homosexuality. I would be interested in hearing from social workers and psychologists about his fascination with, and seeming loathing of, these subjects.
Just before his election as House speaker in 1999, Dennis Hastert spearheaded legislation to prevent use of the Internet to encourage sexual acts with children. As he often did, Hastert invoked his personal history “as a father and a person who has dealt with public schools for a long time” to urge passage.
…The records show that Hastert’s office kept a legislative file titled “Homosexuals,” filled with policy statements from social conservative groups like the Traditional Values Coalition and the Family Research Council that criticized same-sex marriage and Clinton administration efforts to prevent discrimination against gays and lesbians. The file also includes a 1996 Weekly Standard article, “Pedophilia Chic” that warned that “revisionist suggestions about pedophilia” were being embraced by the left.
Denny Hastert and the statute of limitations,
Unfortunately, the statute of limitations ran out on Hastert's actions. So, prosecutors got him on the only things they could-structuring bank withdrawals and lying to federal investigators. However, the judge did not mince words, calling Hastert a serial child molester after getting Hastert to admit he had molested some teens years ago. The judge gave Hastert a long sentence for the lesser crimes on which he was convicted. He could not sentence Hastert on his crimes against the teens.
Again from Wikipedia:
In May 2015, Hastert was indicted on federal charges of structuring bank withdrawals to evade bank reporting requirements and making false statements to federal investigators. Federal prosecutors said that the money was to compensate for and conceal deliberately unspecified misconduct by Hastert against an unnamed individual years earlier. Soon afterward, public accusations emerged that Hastert had sexually abused three male students (including the aforementioned unnamed individual) when he was a teacher more than three decades earlier.
In October 2015, Hastert entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors. Under the agreement, Hastert pleaded guilty to the "structuring" charge (a felony), and the making false statements charge was dropped. In court submissions on sentencing considerations filed in April 2016, federal prosecutors made allegations of sexual misconduct against Hastert, saying that he had molested at least four boys as young as 14 while he worked as a high school wrestling coach decades earlier. At the sentencing hearing later that month, Hastert admitted under pressure from the judge that he had sexually abused boys. The judge in the case referred to Hastert as a "serial child molester" and imposed a sentence of fifteen months in prison, two years' supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. Hastert is "one of the highest-ranking politicians in American history to be sentenced to prison."
Did Hastert really repent? It does not seem so at this time.
Hastert's defense team used the old "It was just a groin rub" defense prior to sentencing. It seems he was downplaying his abuse.
Individual A told investigators with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office that he “was not sure if” Hastert touched or rubbed his genitals some 42 years ago. What he did remember is this: He had a groin pull, almost surely as a result of competition, and Hastert, as coach and trainer, was there to help. In a motel room on a wrestling trip, Hastert had Individual A remove his underwear, the Chicago Tribune reported, and massaged him.
“We are not so sure the episode qualifies as misconduct, especially for a coach and trainer forty-two years ago,” Hastert’s attorneys wrote. “Regardless of the characterization, Dennis deeply regrets that the episode occurred.”
Following “the episode,” Hastert massaged the young man’s back and “slept in the same bed,” according to the Tribune.
Friends and politicians sent 60 letter asking for leniency for Hastert because he was Bible study leader and all around nice guy.
From the NY Times article we learn about one such letter from Tom DeLay.
Tom DeLay, who served as the House majority whip and then the House majority leader under Hastert, was one of those writers. He told the judge that he, Hastert and a pastor would routinely read and discuss the Bible together in lunchtime sessions on Capitol Hill.
“We held each other accountable and we studied God’s word,” wrote DeLay, later adding: “He is a good man that loves the Lord. He gets his integrity and values from Him. He doesn’t deserve what he is going through.”
Doesn’t deserve it because he prays in what DeLay, also a born-again Christian, considers the right way, to the right divinity? Perhaps that will earn Hastert the most important forgiveness of all. But it’s no free pass for bringing pain into the lives of children he was paid to instruct and inspire.
The testimonials that Hastert rounded up from prominent Republicans demonstrate more than mercy and pity. They affirm the degree to which pacts rather than principle govern partisan politics today. His past is precisely the kind that Republicans in particular express such unyielding horror toward. But in rallying to his aid, they dismissed it as a blip in a life of selfless “public service,” to cite a phrase that his lawyer leaned on.
After Hastert's conviction, calls are coming from all sectors to change the statute of limitations on child sex abuse.
Leaders in T4G and The Gospel Coalition showed their profound ignorance when they said that the SGM lawsuit was thrown out due to a lack of evidence. Like Hastert's case, the SGM case was thrown out due to the statute of limitations. However, the lawsuit is still in play and look for more to come in the near future.
Needless to say, TWW, along with other groups such as SNAP, calls for the removal of the statutes of limitation for child sex abuse. I wonder if T4G and The Gospel Coalition would also agree to this…..
The Chicago Tribune reports the Illinois Attorney General is advocating for a eliminating the statute of limitation in child sex abuse cases.
Yet in a way, the judge pointed out, Hastert got off easy.
"Because the statute of limitations for your child molestation ran out many years ago, you can't be charged for that," Durkin said during sentencing. "And I can't sentence you as a child molester. It's not what you were charged with, it's not what you've pled guilty to, and any sentence I give you today will pale in comparison to what you would have faced in state court."
…Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan wants the General Assembly to remove the statute of limitations for sex crimes against a child. That limit is already much longer than for other crimes, but Madigan said the unique circumstances of child sex abuse justifies the change.
"To say to someone we aren't even going to look at this because it happened long ago, all that does is potentially allow the perpetrator to remain in our society," she said. "We know that people who do this are recidivists. Failing to identify these (abusers) only increases the number of people whose lives are disrupted or destroyed."
Wheaton College, in the typical "We Are Praying" statements, appears to put the victim second after their former benefactor and famed alumnus.
In 2015 Wheaton College issued a statement acknowledging Hastert's Indictment. Hastert graduated from Wheaton and had a building named after him. Why do these types of statements always mention praying for the perp first and the victims second? Fame matters…
It is with sadness and shock that the Wheaton College community learned of the indictment by the U.S. Department of Justice of alumnus and former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives J. Dennis Hastert, and of his resignation from the Board of Advisors of the J. Dennis Hastert Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy at Wheaton College.
In light of the charges and allegations that have emerged, the College has re-designated the Center as the Wheaton College Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy at this time.
…We commit ourselves to pray for all involved, including Speaker Hastert, his family, and those who may have been harmed by any inappropriate behavior,
1. Christian politicians are no more the answer to America's problems than non-Christian politicians There is no reason to expect that Christians will act any different than a nonChristians. The same goes for pastors. There is no reason to expect that they will not commit crimes or abuse people.
2. Child sex abuse is rampant in our culture, government and in today's self described evangelical, Reformed, and mainline churches.
3. Any leader, Christian or otherwise, who write letters to plead for leniency for child molesters are a big part of the problem. They are guilty of allowing this heinous crime to be downgraded to a simple *mistake.* Jesus spoke out harshly about those who harm children. This applies to those who support the perps as well.
4. Hastert's defense team "argued that he should be sentenced to just probation as the humiliation over the sexual misconduct allegations is punishment enough. " Humiliation at the end of life does not match up to the pain and suffering of the victims who were molested and raped by this pervert. Hastert is a pedophile who used his position of trust to molest children. He is NOT a great man who made a simple mistake. Read the story of one victim as retold by his sister here. Hastert lived a life of power, prestige and wealth. His victims, on the other hand, have lived a life colored by the pain of betrayal.
5. Why does this story remind me of Al Mohler, Kevin De Young, and all of the gospel boys who have defended the ministry of CJ Mahaney in spite of story after story involving child sex abuse coverup. These men are no different than the politicians of DC.
Of course, Al Mohler chose to pontificate about Denny Hastert. Why Hastert and not SGM? Perhaps Hastert should have given $200,000 to SBTS?
“Even as the Scripture reminds us that we must be certain our sin will find us out, Dennis Hastert, the former Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, faced a judge yesterday to be sentenced to 15 months in prison for what was a conviction based in a cover-up financially of sexual misdeeds and misconduct that had taken place when he was a high school wrestling coach back during the 1970s,” Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said in a podcast news briefing April 28.
This is what he says about those who give money and call him the smartest man on the planet.
“It would be very easy to get up here and just say C.J. Mahaney is going to speak for us, but I think faithfulness in my responsibility this afternoon in introducing him is to say we know he has demonstrated endurance in the face of an incredible trial, and he has been a model of endurance for us,” Mohler said in his introduction to Mahaney’s message on suffering taken form the Book of Job.
Please join TWW in praying for the victims of the Dennis Hastert as well as the victims of Sovereign Grace Ministries.