“Never annoy an inspirational author or you will become the poison in her pen and the villian in every one of her books.” ― Shannon L. Alder link
On Monday, January 15, 2O18, Andy Savage appeared on the Ben Ferguson Show. I was grateful that Ferguson admitted, up front, that he had attended Highpoint Church and knew Andy Savage on a friendly basis. That made it much easier for me to listen to the original broadcast. There were moments that, had I been an interviewer, I would have asked for more in-depth explanations. However, I blew it off because Ferguson was an admirer of Savage. These cream puff, kissy face interviews are given all the time on talk shows.
However, when the interview got posted, there were several minutes of the show that were deleted. In fact, I thought I has remembered Savage’s admission that he did not inform Germantown Baptist Church, the next church that hired him, of his organic experience with Jules. I was startled that the admission seemed to be missing.
Amy Smith and her source worked diligently to prove that minutes from the interview were missing.
Amy Smith and her anonymous source did a word by word analysis of Andy Savage’s original transcript/audio on the Ben Ferguson Show with the one later released by the show. They found that, indeed, there were deleted portions of the show. She then went public with her transcript.
Here are the parts of that show which were deleted and my assessment as to why they were important.
The *young girl* faux pas.
This omitted statement is important because, throughout the interview, Savage appeared to be saying that Jules was an adult, who at the age of 17, consented to this organic escapade. However, at the beginning of the show, Ferguson claimed she was a young girl which seemed a bit awkward given Savage’s narrative. I tweeted this concern to Ferguson in light of his *apology* and did not see a response.
BF: “All right, welcome back, it is the Ben Ferguson Show, um, Andy Savage, Highpoint Church, who is on with me today, um, and we are talking about, um, this issue, where a young girl in Texas, 17 at the time, um, has come out and said that 1) the church didn’t handle this correctly… ”
The “I’ve been redeemed, um, uh”
Savage did not tell us what he meant by openness and transparency. We had reason to suspect that, in fact, he had not fully briefed some key people like his next employer, Germantown Baptist Church. In fact, he appeared to say that he had been *very willing* to share, a statement that I found suspect.
AS: “Um, uh, Ben, I did resign, um, when this happened. Twenty years ago, I resigned my position, I stepped away from ministry completely, for a season, um, and I engaged a redemptive process in my life. Uh, I maintained relationships, uh, with key pastors and counselors in my life, I maintained relationships with, uh, transparency, and uh, openness with people, uh, that uh, were trustworthy leaders in my life, uh, and I have rebuilt a life where I have changed, um, to the degree that the lessons I learned through this experience, um, allow me to help people in a way, um, that I-I never would have any other-other way.”
BF: “A lot of people are saying the only reason why you’ve been able to help people, and again, I say this bluntly, because I think it’s important, because you didn’t fully disclose this to the membership at Germantown [Baptist Church] when you were there, the membership at Highpoint [Church] when you were there. That this has been somewhat omitted from your ministry. Is that, is that a fair, way to put it, because a lot of people found out about this, that there was even an incident in Texas, because of a newspaper article, or they came to church on Sunday morning.”
AS: “I have, uh, over the years, been very willing to share, um …”
He admitted that, in fact, he did not tell the *entire congregation* and that he offered to resign from Highpoint.
In this segment he repeated this stupid Highpoint meme “The perfect place for imperfect people.” Yes, we all sin but we do not all molest students in our ministries. There are some sins that should be disqualifiers for ministry. There are also some sins that need to be reported to the police.
This is NOT a case of Susie gossiping with Betty Lou. This is far more serious. Sexual abuse can have life long consequences for the victim. However, Savage is living proof that some men can do these things and get on with their lives, never going back to their past to attempt to mitigate the damage done by their choice to take advantage of their position as a Youth Pastor.
Had this been reported to the police when it happened, I am willing to wager that Savage would not be a pastor today.
AS: “As opportunity would, uh, would deem helpful. Um, uh, but, but no, I did not, uh, broadcast this information to the entire congregation.”
BF: “Are you sorry for that, to, to the, to – and I say this, forget everybody else, I’m talking about the people at the church, are you sorry that you didn’t be more transparent? Do you feel like you misled them by, by not broadcasting this, as part of your story?”
AS: “No, I believe I was honest and transparent with the leadership at Highpoint, um, and I think that was, uh, the right place for that information to exist.”
BF: “Let’s talk about the-the real issue, and that is, there are um, people that have started petitions to get you to force you out, to resign. Um, there are people that think that honestly you should be dead, uh, milder than that, there are people think you should be in jail. Um, if I was sitting in, y’know, in the chair you’re in right now, I think there’s a large part of me that would think, ‘Why don’t I just resign, and just go away?’ Um have you thought about resigning in the last week since all this became so public, where it’s on the front pages of literally every newspaper in the country?”
AS: “Yes. On several occasions in the last few days, I have wanted to quit.”
BF: ‘Have you offered your resignation?”
AS: “I did.”
AS: “On, uh, Sunday [January 7, 2018], I offered to Chris [Conlee] that I would resign, if that was in the best interest of our church”
BF: “What did he say to you then? I mean, because most people would think that it was a ‘no brainer’ um, you have all this turmoil, and you’re resigning. Yes, I’ll take that resignation and run with it.”
AS: “That would certainly be the easy thing to do. I cannot speak for him. I can speak about him. Uh, Chris [Conlee] and the leadership at our church, uh, believe, uh, what we have said, since we started the church, we believe in a perfect place for imperfect people. Um, we believe, that, um…”
Amy Smith at Watchkeep, along with the rest of us who are victims’ advocates, work hard to tell the truth.
Many people do not understand how hard we have to work on these stories. There are hundreds of people who would like to prove that we are all a *pack of liars.” Ferguson must have been unable to believe that anyone would actually spend the time to check his interview. Amy did the grunt, tedious work to make sure she didn’t post something that was wrong.
I admire Amy. She is a woman of truth who deeply cares about victims. She would never jeopardize her good name by deliberately posting a lie. Neither would we. The keepers of the status quo have tried for years to get her, and the rest of us, shut down. But, as our friend, Jeff Anderson, the famous attorney who has successfully sued the Roman Catholic Church for almost a billion dollars, says. “Always tell the truth as you understand it.” We do and so does Amy. Standing ovation for her hard work.
Ferguson’s response was unbecoming as a gentleman, a commentator for CNN, and proves he has a serious anger management problem.
Frankly, I was startled by the following tweets. Yes, I know this was a kissy face interview by an admiring Ben Ferguson but I never thought he would do the following.
The first lie told by Ferguson. In fact, he does allow editing as you will hear.
Ferguson threatened Amy, stating that she is spreading a *deviant lie.*
Ferguson stated again that Amy made a false claim.
He accused Amy of slander, the last bastion of the disingenuous.
Ferguson called her a liar and pulled the Christian card while he was demonstrating how not to respond as a Christian.
And., once again, Ferguson employed the favorite words of Christian leaders who hide information: slander and defamation of character. He didn’t understand that Amy DID her research and that he is the one who didn’t exert himself to figure it out.
Being the real man that he is, Ferguson had to blame this all on his producer when he was proven wrong by a patient Amy Smith.
Ferguson discovered that Amy had done the hard work to prove her allegations. On his next broadcast, he threw his producer under the bus and then posted the real interview. Here is his apology.
Amy Smith explained why these deleted portions were vitally important to the narrative.
The deletion of the comments discussing Andy’s restoration process is significant.
Many readers may not be aware of the process, since it is generally not made public. It may help church members to understand and ask how has Andy Savage legitimately been restored to ministry?
After a major fall involving sexual misconduct with a flock member some churches will choose to pursue restoration. Biblically, they should not, because the Pastor can never again be above reproach, but many still do. But there are high standards before a restoration can take place.
1) After such a major violation of trust, the restoration process would be both lengthy and rigorous. Andy could not have gone through it at Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church, because he left the Woodlands and returned to Memphis at the conclusion of the investigation. WPBC had no further spiritual authority over Andy. They are also 570 miles away from Germantown. It would be up to Andy’s home church of Germantown Baptist (GBC) to oversee his restoration and future conduct.
2) Andy states that he did not tell anyone at GBC about the “incident”. His excuse was “they never asked”. Regardless of the excuse, Andy’s claim is that no one at GBC leadership knew of his sin/crimes.
3) Even if someone at WPBC had offered oversight for restoration, this process could not be completed without them speaking to Andy’s then current home church, GBC. It is imperative to the restoration process that the church with the spiritual authority over Andy be in charge of the oversight process. Having some “mysterious” unnamed wise men speaking into his life is not a restoration process.
4) Andy could not have completed his restoration process and have continued to conceal his sin/crimes to GBC while simultaneously becoming a pastor at GBC. This is an extremely egregious concealment as it gravely endangered the young members of the flock there. No true wise counselor or godly pastor overseeing Andy’s restoration would have ever gone along with this concealment as part of the restoration. They would have demanded to speak with GBC leadership before Andy returned to ministry, to ensure that safeguards would be in place for the good of all involved.
5) How could Andy have received spiritual restoration from Chris Conlee, the one man in Memphis who claims he knew about Andy’s sin/crimes upon is return to the city. Chris didn’t become a pastor until he planted Highpoint in 2002. Up until then, Chris was pursuing a career in golf. http://www.highpointmemphis.com/chris-conlee
I have asked Ben Ferguson to apologize via twitter, the medium in which he chose to *defame* Amy Smith in a particularly foul manner. His loathsome Tweets remain on his feed as of the writing of this sentence. (I have screen shots….. Can you believe that I have to take screen shots for proof in case someone goes off on a temper tantrum?)
My thoughts on the matter
I now know that, at the minimum, I cannot trust anything I hear Ben Ferguson say since it is possible his producer is running around deleting things and Ferguson is too busy to check but not too busy to attempt to go on a diatribe against an innocent woman.
At the minimum, Ferguson needs a lesson on what the Bible has to say about slander. I wrote a post called Slander or an Inconvenient Truth? It could be helpful.
Update one a rumor
A rumor is flying around that Andy Savage was not a Youth Pastor in any official way that would be recognized by the state of Texas. Seriously? You mean this Andy Savage who brags about being a young Youth Pastor on his website?
Everybody at the church called him a Youth Pastor, and he was presented as such. Now, they are going to say “Fooled you, didn’t we?” That will be received as well as the standing ovation, he was only 22, and she wanted it. Don’t be stupid.