“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
This is a hard post for me to write. It causes me to question the sincerity of both the Calvinists and the Billy Graham wing of the Southern Baptist Convention. TWW has been irritated at the SBC’s outright refusal to maintain a database of abusive SBC pastors. For a while, we even considered the argument that having such a database puts the SBC at risk if somehow they overlook a predator who then slips through and the victim sues the entire SBC. I had been told that the SBC might even cooperate with an independent database from which the SBC could contract for such services.
However, what if this was all a ruse? What if the SBC doesn’t want a database because they never intended on reporting some sexual abuse cases to the authorities? What if they really believe sex abuse should be investigated and handled internally despite what they say? What if we have all been had? Although I have left the SBC and have found refuge in a conservative Lutheran church because I tired of their eternal theological battles, Deb is still a member of an SBC church to which she contributes.
TWW, along with Amy Smith of WatchKeep, present the story of Anne Marie Miller. Anne is a well known author who has discussed her abuse on her blog and now on Go Fund Me. Anne has asked us not say the name of the SBC entity but we cannot prevent people from figuring it out. A detective involved in the investigation has asked Anne not to use the name of her abuser at this time. However, we happen to know the cat is out of the bag and many people know who he is. TWW cannot, and will not, attempt to prevent others from guessing his name.
Who is Anne Marie Miller?
Anne Marie Miller is the author of several books on the topics of sexuality, health, addiction, grace and ministry leadership. She lives with her husband, Tim, and daughter in the Dallas/Fort-Worth metroplex.
Anne is a popular keynote speaker at colleges, conventions and churches on topics of social justice, sexuality, mental health, and addiction. She has traveled around the United States and to over 20 countries telling the stories of hope found in the least likely places. She is a graduate with a diploma from the exclusive SCORRE Conference for professional public speakers.
After her book 5 Things published, Anne left the Christian publishing industry and is currently finishing her degree in Health Sciences and Diabetes Education.
She is known for her books, especially Mad Church Disease: Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic. She stopped blogging in May 2017 with this final post. (Have tissues own hand.) However, in May of this year she added two posts. One addressed to her daughter and one which we will discuss below.
I have heard from a number of people who have followed Anne for years and have greatly benefitted by her writing. She has written and spoken about her own experience of sexual abuse .
Thanks to the ministry of Jules Woodson, Dee and Amy Smith became involved in Anne’s story.
Anne reached out to Jules to discuss their common story. Anne had been sexually molested by a youth pastor when she was 16 years old. It is an event that has had a profound, negative impact on her life. Jules then reached out to us. As Anne told us all her story of going to the SBC and reporting her abuse, along with the SBC’s refusal to call the authorities, she began to experience serious psychiatric repercussions (totally understandable) and wisely decided to be admitted to an inpatient facility for help in coping with her decades long pain.
Amy and I commend Jules for her unconditional love and firm support of Anne during this difficult time. It is amazing, considering Jules’ own recent trauma and vindication.
Why did Anne Miller suddenly post her statement on abuse on May 10, 2018, one year after having stopped blogging?
The answer is really quite simple. Anne has decided to go public with her story. She was sexually abused by a youth pastor and then re-abused by the leaders in the SBC who decided to NOT report this incident to the police.
I only break my social media silence for very important things. With the spotlight on the SBC and abuses of all kinds, I can’t stay silent. People within the church and within the SBC have sexually and emotionally abused me and many I love. The cover-ups by the church and the SBC specifically further perpetuate this abuse.
If you have been abused by anyone, report it to authorities in law enforcement. Do NOT go to your church to report abuse in an effort to “keep the peace.” Go to the authorities. It is not the church’s job to investigate and penalize criminals. It is not man’s duty to protect the church. God can do that just fine on his own. He has his work cut out for him and it could only take God to bring good out of the egocentric tarnishing that continues to happen as people use his name for their own advances and to cover up their fears of being found out for what we all are—human—and for what some are—criminal. Being human is not a mistake.
Being a criminal is and criminals need to be held accountable for their crimes.
The police are now involved and the SBC entity has been made aware of this.
We have know about this story for many weeks. During that period of time, Anne decided to report this matter to the relevant authorities. The police have taken this matter very seriously and a detective has been working closely with Anne. It is our understanding that the relevant SBC agency has been notified that this matter is under investigation. We know more about this matter and hope to write another post in the near future.
We know the name of Anne’s molester but are attempting to be cooperative with the detective who has asked us not to name him publicly for a bit it longer. However, we have no ability to stop others from speculating as to his identity which we know is inevitable in this situation.
The basic story as told by Anne with a few added details to help the reader.
Anne started a Go Fund Me page to help pay for her time in rehab. Maybe the SBC should step and and pay for her desperately needed care. All of the quotes are from her story on Go Fund Me.
Anne was molested when she was 16 by a 25 year old youth pastor.
This molestation happened over the course of 6 months.
If you read any of my books or my blog, you know that I was sexually abused in 1996, when I was just 16 years old. The man who did this was a 25-year-old seminary student and youth pastor in the Southern Baptist Convention. You also did know I did not recognize it as abuse until I was his age in 2005.
…the criminal who molested me for six months
Her SBC church counselor told her to forgive him and do nothing more.
The day after I recognized it as abuse, I went to a church counselor within my SBC church where I worked who told me to work on my forgiveness and that to do anything about it would do more harm than good to the body of Christ, the church. I followed that counsel and that is what I did.
A year later, in 2006, at the suggestion of my counselor, I wrote my abuser a letter saying I forgave him for what happened. He never responded.
An internal investigation declared him responsible for Anne’s molestation but did not stop his career in the SBC.
What we know: Anne’s abuser was recalled by the entity and was found guilty of abusing her. He was not allowed to return to that position. However, he was allowed to take another pastoral position in a large, well known church and eventually he moved into a position of leadership in a regional SBC entity. We believe that he is allowed to work with children. It is my understanding that none of these subsequent groups/churches were told of his abuse of Anne.
I learned on March 20, 2018, that this man was not appropriately reported to law enforcement by the organization who investigated him internally (in 2007) and found him to have abused me. This man was also given a chance to resign instead of being terminated.
An official criminal investigation is underway.
Anne is cooperating with law enforcement. The relevant, very large SBC entity has been notified. We also believe that a number of well known SBC leaders have become aware of this situation. I wonder how the SBC will explain the internal investigation and not reporting this to the police?
Within days of me learning he was not reported, I reported him to both CPS and law enforcement. I have been working with them over the last six weeks as they conduct this man’s criminal investigation. I have been asked by law enforcement to not publicly reveal this person’s name to protect the integrity of this investigation.
When I learned this crime was not reported, I reported it. I reported what happened to CPS on March 23, 2018 and made a police report on April 4, 2018. On both occasions, within 24 hours, the authorities followed up with me and are pursuing this man for a criminal investigation. They said they don’t care if it happened 22 seconds, 22 months, or 22 years ago. It’s a felony and justice needs to be served. I have been working diligently with the crimes against children (CAC) unit task force of this police department over the last six weeks.
Anne met with the legal counsel of this SBC entity.
It is important to understand that this pastor was allowed to *resign* from his overseas assignment. He was then allowed to continue to serve in at least one church in the midwest and one SBC regional entity in the southeast. We also believe he is attending another church where he volunteers with children
On March 20, 2018, when I asked this organization directly, I learned he was not terminated and was given a chance to resign. I then asked the legal counsel for this investigation if they reported it to law enforcement, as is mandatory in Texas. They did not because they did not believe that is what I wanted. What I wanted doesn’t matter.
It is and was required by law for them to report it. The law says this is a felony: indecency with a child of at least five counts. I remember five times specifically, but I am sure there are more. Yet they did not report it.
…This man presently serves in a position of leadership with more stature and responsibility than before.
She has been told, by the well known SBC entity with a well known leader, to *let it go* and to desire *reconciliation* for her own *well being!*
This man presently serves in a position of leadership with more stature and responsibility than before. When, over the course of the last decade since the internal investigation, I asked how it was possible, I was told to “let it go” because to dwell on it or to desire what the SBC termed “reconciliation” (what the law and what I consider is justice) would cause me more harm than good.
The refusal of this SBC entity and its well known leadership to do the *right thing* caused Anne to develop PTSD.
In 2010, I was diagnosed with PTSD because of this abuse and was hospitalized at a trauma-specific psychiatric hospital for a month to work on healing from this and other issues that stemmed from it. This treatment was incredibly effective and allowed me to write and speak and engage as you know me. It allowed me to find healing and to find me again. It allowed me to share that hope and healing with others during my tenure as a religious writer and speaker.
Working with the police has caused her trauma to resurface and she now requires hospitalization but has financial problems.
This experience has shaken me to my core. I am eternally grateful for my the CAC unit, the DA, and others involved and am grateful for all they have done and continue to do. However, in working with them, I have had to re-live many moments of my abuse. I knew this was a risk but one that I am willing to take. I’ve also suffered from the shame and guilt for NOT reporting this sooner because I realize there are likely other victims that I could have saved if I would have gone to the authorities first and not the church.
The courage it took to come forward to law enforcement may be admirable, but I now understand why more victims do not come forward. My anxiety has rendered me a shell of who I was. There have been many days in the last month where I cannot leave my bed, where I am medicated to the max just so I don’t return to the level of shock and dissociation I have previously experienced. I went to a short-term psychiatric hospital. I explored a partial hospitalization program locally. I have been faithfully seeing a psychiatrist since even before I went to the police. I thought I was prepared to handle this, but my level of re-experience trauma is beyond stable.
After talking at length with counselors, my family, my spiritual family and law enforcement, we have concluded that I need to be stabilized in an inpatient trauma facility. Instead of going to the hospital I went to in 2010, we have decided that Onsite’s Residential 30-day Trauma Program in Tennessee is the right place for me to find this healing my heart and mind so desperately need. I will start treatment on Tuesday, May 15, 2018.
Before this all happened, Tim and I were saving to buy a house so that we can give our daughter a safe neighborhood to live and learn and love in. We had just paid our down payment on our house which now only leaves us with a little bit of savings when all of this happened. We will be using what money we have to help pay for treatment, but the total cost for the 30 days is $28,000. They are willing to work with me on this cost, and I want to let them know I am fully invested in my treatment and they deserve to be paid for the necessary and exceptional work they do.
- It appears that the SBC, Calvinist and non-Calvinist alike, has no intention of reporting inconvenient sex abuse allegations, no matter what they claim.
- I believe the SBC opened up the probability for this man to interact with children in at least two other churches. Due to some information we have received, we believe that one church has not been informed.
- The SBC appears to have allowed him to gain a position of influence within the SBC while covering up his history.
- We are writing this so that Anne will get justice, not SBC platitudes of “be more forgiving and reconcile.*
- Are SBC church counselors being taught to tell members to forgive and reconcile with their abuser?
- Why was the youth pastor/molester of a 16 year old teen allowed to continue as an SBC pastor and denomination leader?
- We are deeply concerned about the welfare of the children in churches where this man attends. He appears to be currently working with children. It is concerning that the SBC hierarchy has not reached out to this church to warn them. We believe that everyone who is aware of this situation has a moral obligation to keep children safe by reporting this man’s actions to current and previous churches and entities as well as to the police.
- We believe the SBC should pay for the inpatient care for Anne and that they should not require a nondisclosure agreement if they do so.
- The large Baptist entity with a celebrity leader should go to the police and report this now, even if they know they are under investigation. Do right, SBC!
- We will announce the perp’s name in the future.
- Is there anyone left in the SBC leadership who can be trusted to do right when it comes to sex abuse? We don’t mean words; we mean actions. We are sick of words.
- What is with the *let it go* advice?
- Be sure to read Amy Smith’s post “Let it go” Southern Baptist Convention organization tells child sexual abuse victim after internal investigation and failure to report pastor to law enforcement
- #sbctoo #calvinistbaptiststoo #noncalvinistbaptisttoo
Please join us in praying for Anne’s peace and recovery. Pray also for justice.