A Glass of Coke Zero

The stupid neither forgive nor forget;
the naive forgive and forget;
the wise forgive but do not forget.
Thomas S. Szasz quotes


Breaking News: North Carolina – “A North Carolina judge has ruled that laws limiting a sex offender's ability to attend church are unconstitutional."
According to this article from the Winston-Salem Journal a judge said the statutes infringe on the offender's right to worship. The judge suggested less drastic measures to protect children, including an exception already in the statute that allows offenders to be on school property for a specific purpose.”
Get ready North Carolina!  Pedophiles will be coming to Jesus in droves…

We believe that there are far too many stories of how churches and pastors rally around the sex offenders and virtually ignore the victims.  Had we not seen it for ourselves in one particular instance, we would have had a hard time buying this statement.  Of course the stories abound in  the Roman Catholic Church of protectionism for the priests and lack of concern for the victims. Oftentimes, the evangelical set pats itself on the back and claims that they are far superior to the RCC in doctrines, etc.  Unfortunately, in terms of behavior, some evangelical pastors show the same unmitigated narcissism that the RCC showed in its response to “preistgate.”
One only has to consult such sites as stopbaptistpredators.org to see the increasing numbers of “pastors gone wild” in the SBC.  Then, there are a number of stories that the victims and their families are often ignored, called troublemakers, blamed for making the “pedophile” do it, blamed for not telling people right away, etc., etc.   In fact, it is the lack of care for the victims which is a tragedy given that Christianity is supposed to be known for its love and care of one another.

The following story is a sad example of this phenomenom.
Ministers rally in court to support pedophile

“A North Carolina church "youth leader" Leonard Smith was sentenced yesterday to over 14 years in prison for sexually abusing a boy in his care, but not before a parade of clergymen showed up to seek lenient treatment for him.  "He is still needed in the church, Rev. Charles Mosely told the court.  "He is still needed with the young people." (IS THIS GUY NUTS OR WHAT)!

Smith's case sparked open public protest in recent days, when prosecutors indicated they had made a plea bargain to give him just 16 months on minor charges, a very typical outcome for child sexual assault in North Carolina.  Members of the victim's family said they were being denied justice for the sake of an expedient deal and were joined by protestors outside the courthouse, causing sentencing to be delayed.  "We've got 30 years that we know of, of victims willing to testify," said one family member.  Then on Wednesday, the State's plan changed.  Judge James Downs gave Smith consecutive sentences on multiple counts.
The Reverend Mosely was not the only community leader to side with the predator. "About 50 people turned out in support of Smith," reports the Asheville Citizen-Times, including six ministers who testified in court.  Rev. L.C. Ray, pastor of Greater Mount Zion Baptist Church and the founder of a "youth mentoring agency" said, "I can't get around the fact that God calls on me to fall on the side of mercy."  Rev. Louis Grant called for counseling.
Amidst his friends and supporters, Smith rose to speak for himself.  "The care and concern went a little too far," he said.  "I shouldn't have overstepped my bounds."  Then Smith added that he never "manipulated" his victims.
Any regular reader of the Newswire knows how this familiar story ends.  The flood of love and understanding engulfing Leonard Smith didn't quite extend to the victims, says the family.  "We have been ostracized," David Clement says.  "Not one church leader has reached out to us."
Recently, a woman contacted Dee and relayed the following story.  Her daughter, while in a Christian school, had been targeted by a pedophile.  He would send the little girl notes, give her candy and even touch her inappropriately.  She complained to the school and was told that he was just a nice old man.  So, she decided to protect her daughter and withdrew her from the school.  Less than a year later, this man was arrested and would subsequently serve jail time.  She called the former school and asked what they thought of the arrest.  In reality, she was asking for acknowledgement of the legitimacy of her former complaint.  Was there an apology?  No.  She was told that the school was praying for the molester and his family!  Not the victims, not the parents…the molester!  What was even stranger was this school offered a character endorsement of the molester that was read at his sentencing!  Many facts of this story could be corroborated independently.
The following is a list of thoughts born, unfortunately, from personal involvement with a victim and his family.

-Remember who the victims are and support them first.

In the two stories above, the emphasis was on the pedophile.  One pastor even wanted the pervert back with the youth!  The victims have had their lives ruined.  Many will subsequently struggle with drug addiction, suicide, anger and hostility, and a strange view of sexuality.  If resources are limited, first care for the victims.  Get them counseling and help.  Support them, believe their story and for the love of Pete, don’t talk about how wonderful the pedophile has become!   It is nonsense and is not corroborated over a reasonable amount of time.  Can you imagine how this emphasis makes the families feel?

 -Under no circumstances tell the victims to forgive quickly and love their abuser.

There is legitimate anger and pain in these circumstances.  The victims and their families need to have their feelings of pain and betrayal corroborated.  The ability to let go and forgive is a process that will take years.  They do not deserve to be made to feel guilty about this process.  In fact, it is curious to us the lack of rage the pastors exhibit to these depraved individuals.  Wasn’t it Jesus who said that it would be better tie a millstone around one’s neck and be thrown into the abyss than harms little ones.
A pedophile of teens was discovered at a local church.  One mother led the charge to get this guy put away.  One woman at the church who was “counseling” this pervert one-on-one roundly criticized her.  This mother was told to forgive him and let it go!

The pervert has a disease like cancer.

The advocates of the child pornography viewer of yesterday’s post claimed that this man had a disease just like cancer.  The Christianity Today article posted yesterday called pedophiles “modern day lepers.  Dee is the mother of a daughter who has struggled with a malignant brain tumor.  She has one thing to say.  NO WAY is this the same thing.  Those of us who have children with cancer would give anything for a guaranteed cure that would involve never visiting certain websites or viewing certain movies.  Leprosy was disease of the innocent.  It could not be cured by staying away from little boys as in the case of a pedophile.  Yes, these “addictions” are hard to overcome.  But to put them in the same category as cancer shows a misunderstanding.

Believe the victim

In most instances, reports of pedophilia are true.  In fact, it is the wisdom of the experienced social workers and experts in the field of childhood sexual abuse that any report, however bizarre, should be carefully investigated. The investigation should not be done internally because, unfortunately, pastors tend to protect other pastors.  Reports of potential abuse must be reported immediately to outside authorities who have the expertise to investigate.

Most experts say that it is very difficult for a victim to come forward to report their abuse.  Can you imagine how it would feel for the victim to be not believed?  This disbelief in some instances, is worse than the actual abuse.  There are a number of pastors who will believe another pastor or member of their staff because the person is “one of his boys.”  This attitude is unbiblical because it shows favoritism and a lack of understanding of the working of the Holy Spirit in the priesthood of the believers.  The report of a member of the congregation should be held in as high a regard as the report of another staff member.

Stop revictimizing the victim and family

Years after a boy was abused by a pedophile, the pedophile sent to jail and the extent of the heinous activities of the pedophile clarified a boy, his family was told by church leaders that their story kept changing.  These same stonehearted individuals kept questioning the boy, over and over, for details.  They pointed fingers at him and could not understand why he didn’t report these things sooner.  They were surprised he would do such a thing because he must have known they were wrong.

Do they know that they are now accessories after the fact and have done a jim dandy job in revictimizing this young man.  How dare these coldhearted individuals so such things!   We know this family and their story didn’t change one jot from the beginning.  However, those who did not care enough to help these children had a slew of evolving stories to cover their sorry backsides.  It is interesting to note that many victims feel more anger toward the institution such as churches that cover up the problem than they do toward the actual pervert.

Cut out the sanctimonious palaver on “Loving the Pervert.”

It sure is easy for these pastors to “love” this man.  They were not subjected to horrors in back rooms.  They were not the ones who were embarrassed.  It’s real easy for them to “show just how loving they are.  These same men will get their anger on when a church member dares to question their actions.  As long as it doesn’t affect them, they are just fine in forgiving the abuser.
Every Christian knows we are supposed to love our enemy. T here is a time and place for everything.  For example, would anyone say to a mother whose child had just died, “Isn’t that wonderful.  She’s gone home to be with Jesus.  We should all be joyful and celebrate?”

Quit giving pedophiles “Character References”

Can you imagine how the victim and his family feel when they see a local pastor talking about what a great guy said pervert is and how sad it is to send him to jail?  Not only is it misguided, but it shows a lack of understanding of the depths of pain the abuser has caused.  In fact, we would suggest one be very careful in claiming the abuser’s new commitment to his faith.  This should be watched and evaluated over a prolonged period of time.  Never, ever forget that these individuals are at high risk for reoffense.

Instead, start speaking about the victims

There should be a concerted effort to reach out to the victims.  When statements are sought on behalf of the media, pastors should stress the love and support for the victims.  There will be plenty of time to offer said support to the child rapist during his stint in jail.
There should be real counseling on the part of real counselors given to these victims.  There are few pastors adequately trained to deal with victims of such abuse.  Any pastor who does not insist on professional intervention early on is either egotistical or stupid.
In the case of an abuser of child pornography, it can be difficult to reach out to these often anonymous children.  Instead they could become involved in a ministry in memory of those tortured on child pornography sites.  There are some churches that are getting involved in ministries that reach out to children sold into sexual slavery in the world.  For example,

“Operation Rescue works with Thai girls under the age of 15 who are brought out of lives of forced prostitution into a life of hope, dignity, and respect. But more importantly, their lives are being transformed through new life in Jesus Christ.
World Missions Far Corners, Inc., with cooperation from the Voice of Peace radio programming, and a concerned women's group, have established a foundation for the purpose of placing rescued girls into a home with other girls, where a Christian couple serves as foster parents. There they are loved and mentored as they are taught a trade. An added praise: Within that concerned women's group are 20 retired school teachers who are very familiar with the educational system, especially in the area of need in giving help to these rescued girls. When the girls are rehabilitated and are old enough to make their own way, they are supplied with the necessary tools to get them started and give them an opportunity to support themselves”.
So what does Coke Zero have to do with this story?  Dee and Deb, along with some other people believed, fully, the story of a young man who was affected by a pedophile.  He and his family were deeply wounded by their church’s response.  They were accused of not telling the truth, changing their stories, and on and on.  It is interesting to note that those who have nothing to lose believe this young man’s story.  However, those who have much to lose view his story with suspicion and outright anger.
Dee attended a dinner at the young man's home.  She mentioned quietly to a friend that she liked Coke Zero.  A few minutes later, this young man brought a cold glass of Coke Zero to her.  He had overheard her conversation and blessed her with her favorite drink. There was something profoundly moving in this simple gesture.  Few young men pay much attention to uninteresting old ladies. Dee wants him to know that she, along with many others, were honored to support such a brave and honest young man.  He along with us are all followers of the One Who Is Truth.  In the end, that is what life is all about!

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