The Messier 94 Galaxy-NASA
“Regret is not a proactive feeling. It is situated in disappointment, sorrow, even remorse. It merely wishes things were different without an act to cause a difference. However, repentance is different. Repentance is an admission of, hatred of, and turning away from sin before God.” Monica Johnson
FBC Clarksville disbanded pastoral search committee and apologized.
Well, it was quite a weekend on the Wes Feltner front. FBC Clarksville leadership disbanded the pastoral search committee and apparently told all candidates that the process was suspended and no offers would be forthcoming at this time. I don’t know if other candidates were on the short list but that seems to have been implied.
This left me with some questions:
- Why disband the search committee unless there was evidence of serious conflict between them and other leadership?
- Who knew about Feltner’s alleged abuse and why did they continue to stand firm about his candidacy?
- Why not be more specific in their apology? Surely they understand, by now, the problems with Paul Batson’s statement. Why not have him walk it back and apologize?
- Listen to Feltner’s video at Berean Baptist posted in the next section.) It appears that he has many family members in that area. Did those familial ties extend to FBC Clarksville and the leadership?
🙌 Thankful for the #PowerfulMessage in the sermon and #Apology this morning. God is working, seek Him first. Praying with @FBCT_Voice and for them. #ChurchToo @wartwatch @watchkeep @SNAPNetwork @russ_meek @SBCForSuchATime @SusanCodone @ChristaBrown777 @Truthinlight84 pic.twitter.com/PpClfyrnK4
— Meg Frey (@mrsdafrey83) November 10, 2019
Watch Wes Feltner’s video played at Berean Baptist Church
I was sent this video that was filmed during the second service at Berean Baptist on 11/10/19. Feltner did not appear during the service. It is a bit odd since it appears to be accompanied by music but maybe that’s a thing at that church.
I am going to go through his statements from the video and analyze them from the perspective of my decade of work involving sexual abuse in churches. I believe this analysis is important since it appears to me that Feltner and some members at the churches involved do not really understand the dynamics surrounding clergy abuse.
Feltner begins by stating that these allegation involve actions from 17 years ago
I enjoy awatching Grantchester on Masterpiece Theater. It involves a vicar who helps a local detective solve murders. In one of the earlier episodes the vicar made a profound statement. When confronted by some folks who claimed that since the crimes occurred 20 years ago, it wasn’t important, he said “Does the fact that the crime occurred 20 years ago make it any less of a crime?”
Sexual abuse is a crime that has lifelong implications. In my experience, teenagers are often unable to verbalize what happened, often due a sense of shame and confusion. However, they eventually become adults. I find that many individuals who were abused come to a realization in their 30s and 40s that they were not to blame for the actions of their abuser. They are then willing to speak out.
Jules Woodson, whose on story gained international attention, remarked to me that the responses of Wes Feltner, along with the involved churches, reminded her of her own story involving Andy Savage when she was 17.
I have a question for Feltner. Did he ever reach out to these women in the intervening 17 years? Did he ever apologize for his actions? Since he claims he was called to *preach the Gospel,* why didn’t he apply his understanding of sin to his situation? I have to conclude that he really didn’t care or he hoped it would stay hidden which would also mean that he cared more about himself.
He claimed he was working as *youth group leader* as a young man at a church in Indiana and that he has been accused of pastoral abuse.
Apparently he holds a very low view of the youth group leaders since he appears to be implying that he really wasn’t one of those pastor types and besides, he was a *young man.* He was also identified as a youth pastor by these women. There are some things wrong with his statement.
- He implicates every young professional who carries out their duties with dignity and in keeping with the law. EMTs, firefighters, nurses, law enforcement, teachers, etc. can be quite young and they seem to be able to fulfill their duties without having sex with those they are serving. In fact, if they do, they will likely be fired, lose their licenses, and even go to prison. I will close this post with one such example.
- Pastors hold a sacred duty not to abuse their position. People come to them for counsel and support. They are prone, at this point, to being manipulated. There is an unequal power dynamic in the relationship. In many such instances, consent is not possible.
- He claims he *dated* this women with the permission of their parents. Did those parents know they were giving him permission to have sex with their daughters? Somehow, I bet they thought that he was a nice young pastor who didn’t do things like that. Also, read my closing example at the end of the post. It really doesn’t matter if they gave him permission to have sex with their daughters. Such behavior, in some states, is considered a crime even with parental permission.
Amy Smith was quoted in HuffPost regarding this matter:
Smith pointed out that in 13 U.S. states, it is a crime for clergy to have sexual contact with people they are counseling. One of those states is Minnesota, where Feltner’s current church is located. (Indiana and Nevada don’t appear to have such a law on the books.)
Smith said that Feltner violated his position of trust as a youth pastor when he “preyed” upon teens in his care. She believes he “disqualified himself” from ministry back then and should have been banned from the pulpit ever since.
“A sexual relationship between a pastor and congregant, even adults, is never consensual given the imbalance of power,” Smith told HuffPost. “It is a violation of authority, trust and power, preying upon vulnerable people.”
He claimed that a small group of individuals attempted to stop him from being hired at FBC Clarksville and widely circulated the story with the permission of the alleged victims.
Did Feltner ever contact these women in 17 years? Did he ever consider that one day his actions could be uncovered? Did he stop and think that lots of people might find his reported actions deplorable? Feltner made a profound error in his actions in those intervening years. He did nothing, as far as has been reported, to address the situation. It appears he never considered that society would begin to question long held assumptions that some sexual activity should be considered abuse. See #metoo. That was bad timing for Feltner.
In the end, no small group of people can prevent a church from hiring Feltner or anybody else. It is up to the church to make that decision. If he’s mad about it, then fuss at the leaders at FBC Clarksville. Or is that a bit too threatening?
He claimed the women were 18 years old, apparently implying that having sex with them was OK because they were of consenting age.
So, if a doctor has sex with a patient in the exam room and she said it was OK, everything is fine, right? Wrong! Such activity can be considered coercive. Said doctor would most likely lose his license and could even be arrested, even if it is reported years later. Why does secular society have higher standards than some churches?
Within the evangelical church, sexual activity outside of marriage is considered a sin. Add to that, it appears that Feltner and the women weren’t *deeply in love* so both could claim an oopsy.* He had two simultaneous relationships.
To make matters worse, it appears the women were told to keep quiet about it when it was reported to First Southern Baptist Church in Evansville, Indiana. Jules Woodson was also told to keep quiet about her experience. Is this part of an old playbook by churches in the SBC?
Feltner claims the women had the responsibility to bring their grievances to him, ala Matthew 18.
Since, as far as we know, Feltner never contacted the women in 17 years, it’s obvious that he had little to no interest in their well being. I believe that the women were involved in a coercive relationship with their youth pastor. There was an unequal power dynamic which Feltner appears to have exploited to have sex with the women. This relationship had little to do with sex and everything to do with power.
The women did report this to their original church when it happened and claimed they were told to keep silent. They already did the hard work and got nowhere. It appears that Feltner and the church had no intention of dealing with the situation. if I had been asked, I would have advised the women not to meet with Feltner at this time and I really like Matthew 18 when it properly applied (which in many cases, it’s not.)
He claims he reached out to the *group* to meet along with an independent mediator. What a pile of baloney. These women were told to keep quiet by both Feltner and their Indiana church years ago. Feltner knew what had happened and he didn’t do a dad-blasted thing for 17 years until they started talking. It gives the impression that he suddenly realized that he was in trouble and needed to kick into high gear to protect himself.
In my opinion, these are not the actions of a sincerely repentant man. He appears to be only interested in damage control. He said he is willing to apologize. Really? Why didn’t he do it years ago?
Feltner claims that people are conspiring to destroy his reputation and his career.
Feltner appears to think he’s a hot commodity since there is a conspiracy to destroy his reputation and career. Did he ever consider the possibility that God is calling him to account for his damaging actions 17 years ago?Did he ever consider that he had 17 years to fix this situation and he didn’t care enough to do it? It sure sounds that way to me.
There are many people;e who truly believe that Feltner gave up his pastor card when he chose to have sex with these women who were under his ministry years ago. They believe that he is guilty of clergy abuse. If he had been a school teacher and done this with two students, he could have been arrested.
You see, Feltner can be forgiven for what he did if he is truly repentant. I’ve yet to sense this in his statements. However, even if he truly repents, that does not mean he should be a pastor. If he is forgiven by grace, he can return to church…as a member, not as the pastor! I cannot understand why church members and leaders appear to forget what is meant by forgiveness. It does not mean to go directly back to what he was doing.
There are consequences to our actions. The Scripture is quite clear that pastors must be above reproach. Feltner, for the rest of his life, will not be above reproach. He harmed some women and I’ve yet to see him discussing this aspect of his behavior.
Warning: If anyone tried to bring up the old *David was forgiven,* you will be roundly excoriated for not understanding the difference between David’s occupation and the occupation of pastors and priests…think long and hard about it.
Feltner claims he is being threatened and that this is unhealthy for his family, so he is taking a leave of absence.
If he is being threatened, then that is really, really bad. However, it seems to me that he is blaming this on those who have exposed his actions as opposed to a few sickos out there. He, and he alone, is to blame for what is happening now. He must not try to lay this one on those who are exposing his exploits.
Shout out to Al Mohler for his historic statement:
Gotta give him his due.
In 2007, the SBC began to debate a clergy abuse database (which never got off the ground.) During the debate, the idea of using *credible accusations of abuse* was roundly derided. The only thing that mattered was an actual conviction in a court of law.
Mohler fired Feltner from his adjunct position at SBTS. Please reread his statement, concentrating on the words in the 1st paragraph, 4th line. Will this become the new standard in the SBC? I sure hope so.
I listened to Feltner’s video a couple of times. I didn’t get the sense that he is deeply sorry for what he did 17 years ago. Maybe he doesn’t know how to say he’s sorry? He said nothing about how sorry he is that his actions have put his family through this. He merely seems a bit angry that he got caught. That worries me. Is there something more going on here?
Jesus called the church to be the light on the hill. That means, folks, that there is a huge spotlight that will attract the attention of the community. Be warned: the church does not get to dictate what the people see. Sometimes they will see some wonderful thing but they will also see some bad things.
If we understand the Gospel, as Feltner discussed in his statement, then we should understand that we are sinners. That means we can’t fake it to a watching world. Churches must confess when they screw up and ask for forgiveness from those they have harmed and from those who are watching. Teaching the Gospel involves painful humility at times. Feltner has a long way to go.
An important, real life example for churches of how asexual abuse is handled in the teaching profession.
In 2018, the Daily Wire posted 22-Year-Old Teacher Charged With Sexual Assault For Sex With 18-Year-Old Student.
A female, 22 year old track and field coach in Connecticut continued to have sex with an 18 year old student after having started the relationship when she was a student teacher. A parent of another student reported this to the School Superintendent who immediately called the police.
According to police, the sexual encounters took place at the young woman’s home in New Britain from December 25 to January 11.
Both the 18-year-old and the former teacher told police that it was the student who initiated the relationship
However, she was arrested. The Daily Mail reported a statement from the superintendent:
Superintendent Moore added, “Whether someone is 21, 41, or 61, the moment they are a part of a school as a student teacher, mentor, or coach, they enter into a sacred trust with our students and community.”
It’s time for the church to stop blowing off sexual abuse. Feltner should leave the pastorate and use his *Gospel calling* to serve in other capacities. I don’t get why these fallen pastors insist that the only way for them to serve God is in the pulpit. Is it the money and the celebrity? There is much pain and suffering in the world. Feltner should get going and make himself useful. Maybe he should start by cleaning the floors at the local rescue mission…
PS: I believe the victims, by the way, but I bet you knew that.