Daniel Lavery: Church Volunteer Who Confessed Attraction to Minors is My Brother!

 

Yesterday Daniel Lavery, the estranged son of John Ortberg, revealed what many suspected – the individual who had confessed to Daniel that “for as long as he can remember, he has been sexually obsessed with children – especially boys between the age of 8-13,” is his brother. In November 2019 Lavery wrote to the elders of Menlo Church that John Ortberg, senior pastor of the Menlo church, had “conspired in secret to provide a person experiencing compulsive sexual feelings towards children with unsupervised access to young people through youth groups.”

Apparently, John Ortberg and his wife Nancy Ortberg don’t take sexual abuse seriously. Not only has John attempted to keep his son’s sexual obsession with young boys a secret and advised him to continue working with youth, but both he and his wife, Nancy, have promoted a book by Brian Loritts. You will recall that in 2010 Loritts covered-up felony crimes of his then brother-in-law while Loritts was the senior pastor of Fellowship Memphis Church.

J.D. Greear hired Loritts as a pastor effective June 1, 2020. Not surprisingly, Greear has also endorsed the book below.

 

L to R, Unknown, Daniel Lavery, Grace Lavery

Daniel Lavery made an interesting observation of his father below.

You may have heard that Daniel Lavery is a transgender man. That fact has been brought up by John Ortberg’s defenders, however, it is simply a smokescreen in this case. In all of this Daniel Lavery has had the correct motive at heart. He is attempting to keep children safe. He has undoubtedly suffered greatly as a result of bringing this case to light. I respect him for his determined effort to do the right thing.  What I see is another case of an evangelical pastor failing to do the right thing.  Below are some screenshots taken from Tweets published by Daniel Lavery. If you wish to read the entire thread you can go to this link.


Comments

Daniel Lavery: Church Volunteer Who Confessed Attraction to Minors is My Brother! — 56 Comments

  1. “the sexual instinct is intertwined with the instinct to nurture, and that close personal contact with children is what gives his life meaning.”

    No. This is NOT nurturing. This is grooming with the goal of targeting a child. This instinct is predation.

    An adult nurturing a child NEVER involves sex. That is a sick predatory adult projecting their feelings and needs on a minor.

    Ask anyone professionally licensed and holding to their professional code of conduct in the medical, counseling, education, and coaching industries. Nurturing a child and sex do NOT mix, never cross paths.

    Nurturing is looking out for the welfare of a child and nurturing upholds iron steel boundaries on behalf of the innocence of that child, which NEVER includes sex – feelings or actions or thoughts.

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  2. *Huge* props to Daniel & Grace for speaking truth to power. It had to be tough for him to stand up to a father who’s been an overbearing presence for most of his life. The fact that it was necessary is just utterly bizarre. Like, this became apparent to Ortberg at least a year earlier, and he left his kid in a children’s ministries position? That is pants-on-head crazy.

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  3. It was this incident, and the follow up by a “Christian” “journalist” (who shall remain unnamed) where Daniel Lavery was deadnamed, that convinced me I could no longer be in the church. I don’t want any part of this nonsense. Daniel Lavery did the right thing by trying to get his family and his former church to deal with his brother, and they didn’t. Instead, they tried to say that Daniel couldn’t judge at all, because he’s transgender. And there were SO MANY PEOPLE that didn’t care about the grave potential for child sexual abuse because the person reporting was a horrible, horrible sinner because he’s transgender.

    Daniel Lavery is, and remains, a hero for pursuing this. Of all the people involved, he and his wife Grace are probably the only two that had their heads screwed on right, yet they were vilified because they are transgender.

    Tired, tired, TIRED of this nonsense.

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  4. so difficult.

    i’m in awe of Daniel and Grace’s courage, for the sake of the least of these.

    they put the least of these –vulnerable ones at the lowest end of the power spectrum– before self and convenience. they did this at great cost to themselves.
    ———–

    i’m concerned for the brother, for his safety, for his future.

    so difficult, and complicated.
    ———-

    but i am in awe of Daniel and Grace.

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  5. I hope John Ortberg fans will see the truth: Daniel Lavery had the courage to speak up against his father, a powerful person in the world of “Christian celebrities.” May we all have that kind of courage, for the sake of abuse victims. This is serious business that can’t be swept under the rug.

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  6. It’s mind boggling that John and Nancy Ortberg did not, at very minimum, endure their son would no longer have any physical access at all to children at their church. Really to not get him help and protect all children from him is just beyond belief. I’m thankful for Daniel’s courage and am sorry for the pain that must accompany all that’s happened.

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  7. I remember when this story first came out, Daniel reported his father John Ortburg as saying that what was disclosed about this “volunteer” having attractions to young children was the same as being homosexual. Can you even imagine??? And, after all the Ortburgs’ outrage about Bill Hybel’s abuses, and their strong moral stance, to find this out about them really did shock me to my core. I know it shouldn’t have after Doug Phillips (that one rocked my world, sent me here and opened my eyes) and so many others but I believed they were one of the good guys, fighting for the vulnerable and abused. I really don’t trust anyone in church leadership any more 🙁

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  8. Leah Jacobs,

    “I really don’t trust anyone in church leadership any more”
    ++++++++++++++++

    as i see it, too many church leaders have too much to lose.

    too much to risk losing by doing the right thing when it costs to do the right thing.

    it’s the way the church system is set up.

    i don’t think this is ever how it was supposed to be.

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  9. There’s so much there, as there was before, like that item per the post with Ortberg saying the son evades therapy because a “weird one” might “decide to report anyways”. Given that his website still has nary a word evident in the about page about his leave taking etc., seems that there may be a lot that doesn’t get reported…

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  10. I still can’t believe this happened – it’s like John Ortberg lives in an alternative reality. Do you know what would happen to you if you did this in a secular organisation? It would be over: your project, your job, your reputation, your employability, you would be shunned by disgusted colleagues & you’d hopefully be facing some criminal charges.

    I feel sorry for John Ortberg III, in terms of finding himself with abhorrent & perverse thoughts & feelings towards children, & apparently so strong he’d rather commit suicide than be kept away from them for their own protection. But that is where it starts & ends. I have HUGE concerns for the children who’ve been in his care or company both here & abroad, & given his fears over things on his computer being discovered I’m going to be honest & say that I feel it is extremely unlikely that he has not acted on his overwhelming urges in some way & offended against children. I hope I’m wrong, but given everything else about this disturbingly awful situation I just don’t see any plausible factors preventing this, especially as he is now 30 years old.

    If this doesn’t end the Ortberg’s ministry then there really is no justice in this world.

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  11. For what it’s worth, I know a martied couple who live around the Mountain View location of Menlo Church. They were aware of this situation during the earlier iteration and let their neighborhood “loop” (a bulletin board?) know about it. They are most definitely aware of the current iteration. I don’t know if they’ve let the neighborhood “loop” know about it yet, but I would not be surprised.

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  12. Also, can I just point out the heavy irony of this whole situation only coming to light and moving forward because the despised transgender son pushed it? Had it been up to the very righteous Ortberg family and leadership of Menlo Church, people would still not know that John Ortberg put children at risk because he had some warped idea of therapy???

    There is something exceedingly warped about an organization that trumpets its own righteousness (despite the sloganeering on the church website), yet despises in more than one way the person who put kids first before his own reputation throughout all of this.

    When this first came out at the beginning of February and I saw the way Daniel Lavery was being treated, I was done, absolutely done. If anything I’m still more than done today.

    The ortberg family anf Menlo Church owe Daniel Lavery an apology.

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  13. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes:
    For what it’s worth, I know a martied couple who live around the Mountain View location of Menlo Church. They were aware of this situation during the earlier iteration and let their neighborhood “loop” (a bulletin board?) know about it. They are most definitely aware of the current iteration. I don’t know if they’ve let the neighborhood “loop” know about it yet, but I would not be surprised.

    Oh that’s interesting, I wonder if we know each other. But most of my connections are not following this story afaik

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  14. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes,

    it’s amazing what you find out sometimes that people “know” in churches. I left as a missionary from a church in the mid-80s, and came back to a church a decade later that was a shell of its former self because of an adulterous pastor and a layman in leadership who turned out to be a child-molester. I didn’t know any of this stuff, but most of the leadership board and many of the members were aware before it all blew up and the church split in many different directions.

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  15. Muslin, fka Dee Holmes,

    Many fundamentalist AND evangelicals have use the “straw man” approach to discredit any person questioning what the “dear leaders says/do” for decades. In fact, I was “trained” in that mode of “defending the faith” over 40 years ago! Those pagan/secular humanist do not know what true rightousness is and we only obey “secular authorities” because the NT says we should. (implicit is that “we” only know what true righteousness is).

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  16. The ‘preacher’ forced the issue and got his son exposed… Daniel had no other choice. Again the ‘preacher’ was intoxicated by his power. His bogus biblical god given powers of which he and many others are addicted to are creating life long grief for thousands of children!! His ‘power’ is actually an immoral evil stench flowing out of churches across the world… A force that has to be dealt with… God help him and his inflicted son… Thank you Daniel for your brave courage.

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  17. I agree that the son of Rev. Ortberg should have been reported, expelled from the church, and the authorities notified and his computer confiscated. The Rev. Ortberg and his wife, Nancy must be removed from their posts at Menlo Presbyterian Church. No discussion!! Hands down….the son should have been referred for therapy as soon as the family found out about Jr’s sexual struggles with children and adolescents!!!
    As for Mr. and Mrs. Lavery, they did the right thing, obviously, but they can’t take the moral high ground here!! Their Social media posts are vile and vulgar. Children and adolescents have access to their filthy talk which is in its own right a form of child abuse!! And this has nothing to do with them being transgender….there are many decent people who are transgender and do not exhibit such vulgar and obscene verbage, etc. Mrs. Lavery in particular talks about sex parties, etc. Teenagers see this and many children have their own phones and can see this garbage! Mr. Daniel Lavery seems to be a decent person who has been lead astray by Mrs. Grace Lavery’s shannanigans!! Please take a look at Jazz Jennings and Caitlin Jenner who are positive role models for our young people, especially those who struggle with Gender Dysphoria which is a real medical condition!!

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  18. Linn: an adulterous pastor and a layman in leadership who turned out to be a child-molester

    … who most likely knew each other’s sin and covered for each other … happens all the time in the Christian Industrial Complex.

    Linn: most of the leadership board and many of the members were aware before it all blew up and the church split

    … to which God will hold them accountable.

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  19. For what it’s worth, Ortberg’s daughter Laura disputed the validity of Daniel Lavery’s recent statements on her twitter feed yesterday. No details, just general claims that things were not exactly as presented. I went to go look that up again, but I see she’s deleted her account.

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  20. If Johnny has had these types of feelings since he was five years old, I think it’s very likely that he himself was abused. That may be part of what drives John II to keep it all a secret. I’m not implying that he was/is an abuser, but such a thing is a matter of deep shame, especially for a high-profile minister and his family, when all kinds of assumptions are made regarding such a situation. Hope they all can find healing.

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  21. Alucius:
    For what it’s worth, Ortberg’s daughter Laura disputed the validity of Daniel Lavery’s recent statements on her twitter feed yesterday. No details, just general claims that things were not exactly as presented. I went to go look that up again, but I see she’s deleted her account.

    I think Laura’s comments should be looked at with significant skepticism. She was utterly vague in her claims – if you’re going to say that someone else is using mistruths or whatever, then you need to be specific. And there’s a response by Alexis Coe (apparently someone who was in a group with both Laura and Danny), saying:

    “Last year, Danny called to tell me this. We’re a part of a group that included his sister, Laura, who called & asked me to let her get through the entire story before I responded. She proceeded to tell me the *exact same story.*

    Today, she vaguely called DL a liar. He is not.”

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  22. Leah Jacobs: I remember when this story first came out, Daniel reported his father John Ortburg as saying that what was disclosed about this “volunteer” having attractions to young children was the same as being homosexual. Can you even imagine???

    I can.
    Easily.
    Because in Christianese there is NO Sin worse than HOMOSEXUALITY, the Unpardonable Super-Super-Sin.

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  23. Beakerj: I still can’t believe this happened – it’s like John Ortberg lives in an alternative reality.

    The same alternative reality as Caligula, Nero, Domitian, Commodua, Kimg Jong-Il, Kim Jong-Un, Yertle the Turtle, the kid in that classic Twilight Zone
    The Alternative Reality where I Get To Dominate All.
    The Alternative Reality where I Always Get My Own Way — ALWAYS!

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  24. Rich: “Last year, Danny called to tell me this. We’re a part of a group that included his sister, Laura, who called & asked me to let her get through the entire story before I responded. She proceeded to tell me the *exact same story.*

    Today, she vaguely called DL a liar. He is not.”

    Thanks for this, I hadn’t seen it.

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  25. This is a situation that causes deep grief in my heart.

    I don’t want to speculate what I do not know. But beyond the “ministry” side of things, the brokenness of adult children in this family makes me wonder where the spiritual picture went so wrong. May of the churches (as discussed on this blog site) with those who try to serve Christ in this culture might have really been lacking in the Holy Spirit. It seems that the negative side of culture is affecting the church/the believers in serious ways. Without a genuine and enduring revival we already find it hard to keep our church family healthy, how can we bring real light, hope and joy to the world around us? The time is certainly urgent.

    How shall we pray?

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  26. birdoftheair,

    “May of the churches (as discussed on this blog site) with those who try to serve Christ in this culture might have really been lacking in the Holy Spirit.”
    +++++++++++++++

    I know how the Holy Spirit helps me personally, not sure how HS helps a corporate institution.

    I know with myself, HS doesn’t prevent me from disregarding common sense, & doesn’t prevent me from doing selfish, stupid, & careless things.

    The Holy Spirit is not insurance against one’s own stupidity.

    i sort of think they are all separate things.

    -Interact with Holy Spirit (as one way to say it).

    -Listen to your own voice of common sense.

    -Get informed on best practices, consulting best sources (which will be secular

    -Make a good plan

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  27. birdoftheair: How shall we pray?

    Praying is fine if one cannot take other actions, but we need to do more. We all need to make noise in our own churches if we attend them. My church is still closed because of the pandemic, but my habit there is to ask critical questions early and often. The people who lead the church need to respond to members, at the very least.

    Whether or not you belong to a church, you can think critically and ask questions. If your neighbor tries to sell you a wooden spoon with a Bible verse on it, designed for striking children, take issue with that. Even saying in a polite voice, “I’m not interested,” and immediately walking away, will send a message.

    Our society has far too much cruelty in the name of God. When we do nothing, we perpetuate the suffering of others.

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  28. birdoftheair,

    Well, as a survivor for 50yrs and a advocate for 20yrs, I most say that your acknowledgment of the truth was nice. But what followed about sin and society negated your positive comments. The issue here is a potentially dangerous person was identified with no action. Period. Your opinions about morality has not a damn thing to do with this specific issue. Sexual assault of a child should be dealt with as a CRIME…Sin is something to discuss along with morals and society at a later date. Oh yes you do have a ‘straw man’ to attack… I am a Catholic apostate!

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  29. birdoftheair:
    How shall we pray?

    You’ve made a *massive* assumption that the problem with Ortberg was that he wasn’t praying, or that he wasn’t praying properly. I don’t think the problem was prayer – the problem was the absolute lack of critical thinking. The problem, IMHO, starts with the notion that if you just pray about stuff and “listen to God” or whatever, then you’ll come up with good solutions. The truth is that you’ve got to use reason and evidence, get input from actual subject-matter experts, etc.

    Feelings/promptings/prayer are *not* reliable pathways to truth (where we define truth as “that with is congruent with physical reality”, rather than some wishy-washy notion of truth).

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  30. dainca:
    If Johnny has had these types of feelings since he was five years old, I think it’s very likely that he himself was abused.That may be part of what drives John II to keep it all a secret.I’m not implying that he was/is an abuser, but such a thing is a matter of deep shame, especially for a high-profile minister and his family, when all kinds of assumptions are made regarding such a situation.Hope they all can find healing.

    Anecdotally, it’s apparently a common experience among pedophiles to have early childhood sexualization (not necessarily molestation)

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  31. Rich: She was utterly vague in her claims – if you’re going to say that someone else is using mistruths or whatever, then you need to be specific.

    Hard agree. Vague claims of lies are usually, themselves, lies imo. If someone said something you dispute, dispute it clearly. Otherwise it’s all ‘i interpret this tiny portion of the story in a different way so they are ‘lying’.

    Vagueness is a tell.

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  32. birdoftheair: the negative side of culture is affecting the church/the believers in serious ways. Without a genuine and enduring revival …

    … we will end up where we are headed!

    Currently, there is not enough spiritual power in the organized church to blow the dust off a peanut. Church folks (both pulpit and pew) have been in the world and of the world for way too long. The average church member doesn’t scare the devil much when they get up in the morning. Jesus still shouts from Heaven “Repent or else!”

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