Pedophilia and Spiritual Abuse in a Church: Fact or Fiction-You Decide

"They (reporters) expected bishops… to do their job (at Dallas), to respond as bishops. Instead…there is the perception that they behaved more like Senators or CEOs engaged in damage control more than as moral teachers engaged in the gospel." Scandal Time III,  Richard John Neuhaus, First Things, August 2002

Teens harmed by pedophiles have a higher rate of suicide, drug addiction, and some may even become the next generation of pedophiles.




There once was church. . .  It wasn't too big and it wasn’t too small.  Some would say it was just right!  Others would say it was dead wrong in one particular circumstance.


Some time ago a pedophile entered a church and began working with teenage boys.  He was a monster.  By utilizing his well-developed skills of manipulation, he began to build trust among these innocent boys.  For a while, he flew under the radar, convincing them that certain kinds of behavior were both acceptable and novel.


WARNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Explicit material, which is necessary to demonstrate the extent to which this pedophile victimized young boys, will be included in the next paragraph only.  We do apologize for the graphic nature of what follows; however, since so many pastors seem to LOVE Mark Driscoll (see our series), this shouldn’t be of great concern.


The criminal behaviors encouraged by the pedophile might have included the following:  exposing their private parts within a group, group masturbation sessions which involved using donuts and eating said donuts after masturbation, having children strip naked and jump into tubs filled with ice and water, and frequent sleepovers at the pedophile's apartment.  Incredibly, he had some of the victims share his bed.


One boy, whom I shall call Adam, came forward and reported one of the activities.  This report was chalked up to “boys will be boys.”  Another parent came forward and mentioned that the boys were being taken to see “R” rated movies by this leader.  Some time later the pedophile was arrested when police found him harming a young boy in a non-church venue.  During the long period between Adam’s initial report and the rapist’s arrest, the pedophile persecuted Adam on many occasions at church.  He pushed him in the hallways and encouraged the other boys to ostracize him.  It was a sad, lonely year for Adam.  He bore this pain like a man even though he was a young teen.  He is the hero in this story.


Today, we will examine a few events that may have occurred after the pedophile's arrest.  Each day we will look at some of the different people who may have been involved.  Immediately after the arrest, the church held a meeting for families with youth.  The leaders who organized the meeting said they never had any reason to mistrust this man.  Never!  They told the congregation that the boys were being helped and that no one should gossip about the incident in order to “protect“ the victims.  Sounds good.  However, unbeknownst to the congregation, there was no intensive counseling given during this time.  Furthermore, no apology was offered to Adam by those who ignored his initial report of inappropriate behavior by the pedophile.  In fact, his parents were told that one pastor did not feel it necessary to apologize because said pastor couldn’t find anything for which to apologize!


In the book, The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, there are some categories that seem to relate to these actions.  The first is “Keeping People Wounded.”  Here is a sentence from that section.  “How sad when we hear that a pastor has covered up child abuse in one of his church families because of distrusting the ‘evil, secular social services system.’ “(p.74)  It continues, “Let’s never forget that one of our main functions in guiding God’s flock is to find spiritual help for hurting people — even if it means submitting to someone who has expertise in an area where we have little or no wisdom.” (p.75)


Subsequently, a small group of people presented their concerns to those in leadership.  Immediately, the attacks began.  These altruistic folks were labeled as:  bitter, vitriolic, hostile, distrustful, troublemakers, and much worse.  One church leader even confessed to spreading a rumor that “their marriages are in trouble.”  Sadly, the malicious gossip targeted several couples, including the parents of one of the victimized boys.   Once again, these parents were victimized, or, re-victimized as professional counselors would say. 


The above scenario seems to fall under another category known as “The Can’t Talk Rule", which is explained in The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse.  The Can't Talk Rule has this thinking behind it — the real problem cannot be exposed because then it would have to be dealt with and things would have to change so it must be protected behind walls of silence (neglect) or by legalistic attacks.  If you speak about the problem out loud, you are the problem.   In some way you must be silenced or eliminated.”  The authors go on to say, “The truth is, when people talk about problems out loud they don’t cause the problems, they simply expose them.  “The can’t talk rule, however, blames the person who talks, and the ensuing punishments pressure questioners into silence.” (p.68)


One of the more concerning elements in this tragic tale was the seeming distance of those who led the church.  Harry Truman had a sign on his desk saying, “The buck stops here.”  So, at whose feet does the buck stop in this or any other church?  Well, according to one of the pastors, he is in charge of the direction of the church.  He claimed that the elders were present to support his vision and had only disagreed with him twice in over a decade.


 So, what was the response of this self-admitted leader after the arrest of the pedophile?  Well, he was out of town and stayed out of town for weeks.  When questioned as to why he didn’t return during the initial crisis he said, “When I am on a paid leave I have an agreement with the church.  I don’t return even if the building is burning down!”  It might appear to those present for this statement that terribly hurt boys are about as valuable as a building.  When pressed as to whether or not the pedophile incident was one of the worst things that could happen to the church, he claimed he had dealt with far worse things!  However, he did not elaborate. I can’t imagine what could be "far worse" except murder.


The book also includes the following:  “Is it possible for one person, or one group of leaders, to comprehend all that’s in God’s Word?  Not likely.  God’s living Word is demonstrated through all who are seeking Him, regardless of “rank.”  In some areas of life, many areas perhaps, those in the pews will have more real authority from having tested and lived out God’s Word in situations God will never choose to lead a pastor through.  If He is the Shepherd of the flock, then I as a pastor must listen to what He is saying through the flock, remembering that I, too, am a follower of Him.” (p.115) 

To be continued. . .  

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