The Household of Faith Leaders Respond

We always deceive ourselves twice about the people we love – first to their advantage, then to their disadvantage. Albert Camus

Eddie Rojas -Fugitive

A Plea to the World-Wide Church to Change “Business as Usual"

We are desperately trying to start a conversation about pedophilia and the church. We know that most churches have criminal background checks these days but that does not protect us from the undiscovered pedophile. These pedophiles have molested, on average between 80 and 140 times prior to their first arrest. You can read a post we did about pedophilia  here.

Most of you, who are reading this post, have an unknown pedophile (s) in your midst. I don’t care how careful you are. They are there and they are wreaking havoc on today’s churches, leaving broken victims, devastated families and hurt churches.

We must start a conversation. Frankly, it is usually the victims and the victims’ families who talk. Most church leaders clam up. Why? In many instances, they have made profound mistakes in dealing with a pedophile incident in their churches.

Unless church leadership opens up and becomes vulnerable about  their missteps, this cycle will go on and on and on, leaving devastated churches and families. That is why I want to start this post by explaining that I spoke with two church leaders who were intimately involved with the Schneider situation. They could have easily ignored me, like the pedophile, but they chose to speak with me.

In those two conversations I learned a lot about their views on what happened and gained some insight into their theology. One of them spoke openly about his mistakes. This is unusual. Deb and I were involved with this situation in a former church. The leaders clammed up, never copping to any mistakes.

If we are going to get to the bottom of this issue, some people will have to put their pride on the back burner and begin to share openly about why these things occur.

So, I am grateful that these two men threw caution to the wind and spoke with me.  Our readers will find reasons to be irritated at their responses. But, I would ask that we discuss the issues that were raised. On Monday, I plan to use these two posts to outline mistakes churches make when confronted with pedophilia. Although I have some profound theological differences with these two men and I disagree with how they handled the issues, I do believe that they exhibited transparency in our conversations and I have some hope that others will follow in their footsteps as we seek to honestly deal with this blight on the church.

My first conversation was with one of the leaders of the Household of Faith Fellowship of Churches headquarters. He asked that I not reveal his identity. In the interests of keeping the main thing, the main thing, I acquiesced. I am glad that I did. I learned some things.

He made the point that the central leadership has no authority of the member churches.

At first he objected that what I was telling him was hearsay. When I made the point that the act of pedophilia is usually limited to the two individuals involved, it ends up always being hearsay. This is why courts exist, and in this instance, Patrick Rojas did plead guilty and was convicted. He agreed that hearsay, particularly in this instance, was not relevant.

He went on to express concern for the two elders that dealt directly with this situation. He stressed that they are human beings who make mistakes and emphasized that they are not paid workers of the church and were not trained in the ministry. I noted that trained pastors screw up this situation as well.

He told me that both of these men are the “godliest men you have ever met. They are precious.” He stressed that they, along with himself, deeply love the people that they serve.

At this point he expressed how shocking it was that the pastor fled with his family. He had a hard time believing that such a thing could occur.

He objected to the blog written by Danielle Schneider, claiming that the church was being maligned. I asked him to expose anything that he believed was untrue.  He did not answer this question but claimed that the family refused “input.” He would not elaborate on this.

At this point, I tried to emphasize that a blog is a way to deal with unresolved pain and issues  with the church. He didn’t answer so I asked him if he knew that Gregg Harris visited the church in the midst of the crisis. He did, so, I asked him to comment on Danielle’s account that Gregg would not listen to a report of the psychosexual evaluation because “women are easily deceived.” He said there was no way Gregg said such a thing so I pushed the point. I believe that this “doctrine” can contribute to a culture of silence and coverup in the church because women are marginalized and ignored.

I asked if his organization believed that women are easily deceived. He said that it is in the Bible and so it must be true. He emphasized that their churches only teach what is Biblical. I asked him to tell where it is found in the Bible but he said he didn’t have a Bible with him and so could not answer me.

I asked him what he would say if there were conservative theologians who disagreed with this particular designation for women. He said that Christians of good will could disagree with such a belief and still be Christian.

At this point, I noted that he had not mentioned the victim in our conversation. The emphasis had clearly been on defending the elders. So, I asked if his organization would be willing to give money to the family so that the victim could receive counseling. He said they would be willing to do so.

I decided to leave him with some food for thought. I emphasized that a national organziation which deals with abuse says we should always focus on the victims when confronted by this situation. In many instances, it is our kneejerk response to “protect the church” and we forget that God is the one who does that. We must respond like Jesus, always protecting and caring for those hurt.

We ended the conversation and he asked to pray for me, which he did. No matter our differences, I was glad to see that he was willing to pray. He also gave me the telephone number of the elder, Jim Cameron. I decided to concentrate on him since he was involved from the start.

Peninsula HOFCC

Jim was willing to speak with me at length. He started off by saying that never, in over 50 years, had he encountered such a situation. He said he is still trying to sort it out in his head. He admitted to making some mistakes and wished he could have a “do over.”
He emphasized that he is not a righteous man and he hopes that, over time, people could forgive him.

He claimed that he had not read Danielle’s blog but he did not agree with her depiction and he felt it was skewed. When I asked him for specifics, he declined.

He said that Patrick Rojas had worked for him for a long time. Jim and Patrick would spend lunch hours praying, discussing and studying the Bible together and both enjoyed listening to Christian music. He said he thought he knew Patrick and now realized that he did not.

He did confirm that he knew of the extent of the abuse early on, just as Danielle reported. He said that a lawyer told the church that they could be in trouble if they breached pastor/penitent privilege. He says he regrets this but believed they were doing the right thing at the time.

He also agreed that he did not tell the church the extent of what had happened in the meeting of the heads of households. He said, at that time, he was trying to protect the child’s identity and there were only two female children of the same age in the church. Once again, he stressed he felt he handled this poorly but not from ill intent. He said that he dearly tries to be a “man of integrity.”

He confirmed the meeting with Gregg Harris. When I asked him if Gregg had said that woman are easily deceived, he became uncomfortable, telling me I should talk with Gregg. He then emphasized that he does not believe that such a statement is true and that he would believe his own wife if she made such a statement. He also made the point that their particular church does not hold to the “women are easily deceived” doctrine.

Once again, he expressed regret that the psychosexual report was not discussed in the meeting. He had not seen it and did not know what was in it. He said, in retrospect, that God had allowed that report into the open and he believes he should have dealt it at that point.

He said that when he finally read it, he could not believe what he was reading. He was in a state of shock over the extent of the confession.  To make matters worse, Eddie Rojas had fled the country with his family and he could not speak with him about the details. He emphasized that he realizes that the flight of the Rojas means that there is much more to the situation but one that will not be resolved until Eddie Rojas is caught, if then.

He made an important observation. He said that he had always put leaders up on a pedestal. He now regrets that and says his view on this is in transition.

I asked him if Eddie Rojas had been disciplined or excommunicated from the church. Apparently, Eddie had resigned by the time that he has fled.They do not discipline people retroactviely.

I then asked him if Patrick Rojas had been “disciplined.” He said that he had not been disciplined because Patrick had repented and was receiving counseling. He said that they asked him to move to another HOFCC and had met with the church to warn them. He emphasized that HOF churches always have the children with their parents during any church gathering. They are never alone with other adults.

I asked him why he believed that Patrick was repentant. He said that Patrick was faithful with his counseling and expressed remorse. I asked what kind of counseling he was receiving and Jim said it was nouthetic counseling. In the past, TWW has expressed grave reservations about the effectiveness of this sort of counseling and wrote a post on the issue here. Our reservations may be validated by this particualr situation.

(These)“counseling techniques (are)called Biblical Counseling or Nouthetic Counseling or NANC (National Association of Nouthetic Counselors.). I need to make a distinction here. There seems to be a difference in Biblical counseling and NANC terminology. From what I can tell, NANC, the most recognized group within conservative churches believes that "Biblical" (read non-NANC) counselors often employ secular psychological techniques and are, therefore, caving to the sinful beliefs of the psychological establishment.”

When I asked him how Patrick was faring, he said that he does let his sons go  bowling with him because he believes that Patrick is doing well. I then asked him why a repentant man would further victimize his victim and her family by suing them. And, I added, that most churches that believe in a strict, literal reading of the text, do not believe in lawsuits. He became quiet when I warned him that Patrick was not acting like a repentant man.

When I mentioned that I had called Patrick, Jim said he was sure Patrick would call me back. As we ended the conversation, he prayed for me. He prayed that I would learn things that would help all churches to better deal with and understand these issues. I am grateful for that. I need all the prayers I can get in this blogging business!

Has Household of Faith lost track of Patrick?

This is serious warning. First, Patrick did not return my telephone call. I then called Danielle to ask her the name of the church that Patrick was currently attending. She said that when she received the documents for the lawsuit last year, Patrick claimed he was attending Mars Hill, not another HOFCC church. I could make a quip about his choice but the subject is too serious to do so. Suffice to say that all roads seem to lead to Mars Hill in one form or another. (6, 5 or 4.74 degrees of separation are in play). We hope that the elders might warn Mars Hill if this is true.

We urge all of those involved with this situation to use extreme caution. Crocodile tears, protestations of repentance and nouthetic counseling do not guarantee the Patrick is on the straight and narrow anymore than a lightly taken sinner’s prayer guarantees that one is saved. Do not be deceived yet again.

Lydia's Corner: Amos 7:1-9:15 Revelation 3:7-22 Psalm 131:1-3 Proverbs 29:23




The Household of Faith Leaders Respond — 46 Comments

  1. I think it's really great that this pastor was willing to speak with you, and it seems like you gave him a lot to think about.  That is one step, at least, in the right direction.  The mishandling of these cases by churches hits especially close to home for me, as I recently saw a picture posted on facebook of a young girl kneeling at on the steps of the church stage, her hands raised in worship, along with the rest of the youth group.  The band was visible in the background, she was facing them.  The picture was taken at a church I used to attend, and left for a wide variety of reasons, all of which boil down to the fact, that although I didn't know the term at the time, it was a church of Calvanistas and my family was trampled by the theology and methods.  The picture was deeply disturbing, and made me sick to my stomach because the worship leader abused the young girl four or five years earlier. The abuse didn't go far, or last long, because the girl promptly told her parents, and the young man was asked to leave the church. It was not reported to the police. Apparently, he's repentant now, and allowed not only back to the church, but into leadership on the worship team too! When I saw the picture, I called my friend, who still attends the church, and expressed my shock and horror.  She told me that the girl has received lots of counselling, and is "fine" now, and is "okay" with her abuser being at the church. The girl that was abused is the pastor's daughter.  Aren't they setting a fabulous example on how to handle sexual abuse in the church?  My friend said that they haven't warned other families, but they don't allow him to be in the Sunday School.  She was seriously perplexed as to why I was so upset and concerned.  The kool-aid is apprently still very strong.  

  2. Good for you Dee, for holding their feet to the fire on the theological issues that allow for this type of enabling.  It would show true remorse if they would help search for Eddie Rojas using their church relationships.  Someone, somewhere knows where he is.

    It would have been so refreshing to have the leader at the HOFC Headquarters rush to concern and mercy for Danielle and her daughter rather than defend the elders. 

    I do appreciate the elder's apparent remorse.  I am sure he is reeling somewhat from his conversation with you, assuming what he said is true about trying to do what is right.  I would so much prefer to see him try to heal his relationship with Danielle, rather than keep his relationship with Patrick going.  Although, I highly doubt she wants anything to do with him.  Understandably so.

    I wonder how it felt to have a woman talk to them this way?  🙂

  3. Sorry if I sounded angry there, guys, but Jimmy's comment was, I agree, completely inappropriate.

  4. Aubrietta

    They are fools for allowing him near children. They should have told the bauser to find another church. the girl is not fine but the people around her want her to be som they can ignore the situation and believe that everything is “just fine.”

  5. Kolya

    I have deleted Jimmy’ s comment. if you do not mind, I will delete yours because it is in response to Jimmy’s ridiculous comment. You are not to blame and your comment was fine but i want to delete Jimmy from the rest of this comment stream. 

  6. I honestly believe that "some" of the men in these patriarchal-type churches are totally deceived in their beliefs. I wish they would study their bibles, pray, and apply some logical thought processing (which is God-given) and STOP simply believing what they have heard from other leaders/pastors. They might just end up with different thoughts about certain key scriptures that they have been told can only mean a certain thing.  Of course, there will be some that just plain "like the way things are" and don't want to search for Truth.

  7. “Is SGM, Calling The Kettle Black, Among Other Things With Patterns Of Ignoring Sexual Abuse Of Children?

    “C.J. was the object of an enormous amount of gossip and slander during this past year, and that has damaged his reputation, undermined his ability to lead, and created an atmosphere of suspicion in some quarters of our family of churches.”  -John Loftness, On behalf of the Sovereign Grace Ministries Board.



    “CJ was the object of factual testimony of threatening blackmail to his fellow co-founder, Larry Tomzak—subjecting the family to years of oppression. All the while allowing SGM churches to believe a LIE about a fellow Christian man. Mahaney was content with his congregants throughout SGMland to believe this LIE– until the blogs and investigations exposed the LIES.”

    “The Saints attempted to request of CJ to practice what he has preached for 25 years-  accountability and submission to the local church. CJ refused accountability of his home church pastors and Sr Pastor, Joshua Harris of Covenant Life in Gaithersburg, fled to Capitol Hill Baptist and then re-established himself at Solid Rock Church in Maryland— turning his back on congregants who loyally and financially supported him and SGM endeavors the past 25 years. Mahaneys son-in-laws followed his lead, resigning from their positions at Covenant Life and Fairfax.”

    “The Saints submitted factual testimonies of patterns of spiritual abuse in the SGM ‘family of churches’. Including the patterns of ignoring sexual abuse of children; emotional, spiritual and physical abuse of women; manipulation and control of congregants— all due to the controling polity and culture of SGM. At the helm of the polity and culture– CJ Mahaney”.

    ” (SGM) You have drawn a line in the sand.  You dismiss churches with concerns for CJ when you say gossip and slander “created an atmosphere of suspicion in some quarters of our family of churches.” THAT IS SO BOGUS.  What has been created is an atmosphere of Godly  DISCERNMENT pertaining to CJ’s long-standing PATTERNS of serious sin against many people.  It is just like you as SGM to silence pastors and churches by labeling them “suspicious” when all they are doing is asking hard questions, (which you and CJ won’t answer), requiring GENUINE accountability and calling for personal and corporate reform.  Once again you play the gossip and slander card in order to disparage critics and PREVENT THEM FROM KNOWING THE TRUTH.  You love to censure people and control their lives while you protect the guilty.” – Brent Detwiler

    “None of the above is gossip or slander. Facts are facts. Truth is truth.”  -Waters, SGMSuvivors.


    This is a horrific account of a very tragic betrayal of trust by the very ones who are to represent our Great Shepherd and Savior. My heart goes out to the Schneider family.

    As a wise woman once said, "do not listen to what a man says, listen to what he does."  Patrick Rojas' actions point directly to his lack of repentance. It does not appear from the story that he had any "fruit of repentance" ie., an accurate and complete confession, restitution, acceptance of consequences. I find it incredible that the church members kept thinking that he had "repented."  What in God's name do they think "repentance" means?? Tears…more God-talk? Are we that ignorant of what the Scriptures say about true repentance?

    I MIGHT begin to believe a criminal if they actually made restitution, accepted their sentence and, if be the case, volunteered additional incriminating information for the sake of wanting to come clean and be truthful. But apparently Patrick withheld copious amounts of information that all had the right to know. It is a classic case of "being caught" and only disclosing information that was forced out of him. 

    Sadly I have witnessed three sexual abuse cases in my 40 years in the church…somehow the victim and their family end up punished worse than the criminal and banished from their community for "rocking the establishment." Why does this always happen? The perpetrator and/or their defenders remain in the church while the victim and their family who are already in a tailspin and hurting have to find a new community(!?) 

    A little caveat to Dee…As much as I'd like to think better I suspect the elder simply said all the right things to you. I would ask the same question of the said Elder Cameron that I would ask Patrick. If he is indeed sorry for the way that he handled the situation has Mr. Cameron made any restitution? …any direct apology to the Schneiders for his failure to correctly handle this situation?? Did he send apology letters to all the church members past and present of his sins of omission and cover-up?  Offer to help them financially? How did he demonstrate that HE was repentant? The Bible is very clear about the failure to defend the innocent. It looks to me from the phone call that he "said" a lot of good things. After all at this point what is he going to say? he knows he can't deny his failure. I hope you have the opportunity to talk with him again. I think this is where we might find out if he really is sorry and if he truly "loves" those he was entrusted to shepherd and "oversee" (as the HHOF spokesman assured you).


  9. Anonymous7 12:51am

    "I MIGHT begin to believe a criminal if they actually made restitution, accepted their sentence and, if be the case, volunteered additional incriminating information for the sake of wanting to come clean and be truthful. But apparently Patrick withheld copious amounts of information that all had the right to know. It is a classic case of "being caught" and only disclosing information that was forced out of him."

    We were told that Patrick only needed to specifically confess to his spiritual leaders, biblically speaking. And he did go in front of the church at a special meeting prior to his sentencing and say he was sorry for he had done (I've been told). Patrick actually was specifically allowed to do some work for individuals in the church with the express understanding that the money earned would go into an account for "The Schneider's", he initially made excuses that there was a "No contact order" in play so he "couldn't" pay restitution…B.S. There are legal ways he could have payed restitution to our family, we filed a counter suit on behalf of our child asking for restitution, instead of trying settle an amount, his lawyer requested to depose our child….(we dropped the case). He told many individuals that he fully intended to pay our family restitution…to this day Patrick has not only cost our family un-imaginable pain, he has cost us greatly, financially speaking, as well. He was initially given an opportunity to name his additional victims (in the eval he only refers to them by their sex and age (per his attorney)) for an additional plea agreement and he refussed. I could go on and on….His actions scream the complete opposite of a repentant criminal. 


    "I would ask the same question of the said Elder Cameron that I would ask Patrick. If he is indeed sorry for the way that he handled the situation has Mr. Cameron made any restitution? …any direct apology to the Schneiders for his failure to correctly handle this situation?? Did he send apology letters to all the church members past and present of his sins of omission and cover-up?  Offer to help them financially? How did he demonstrate that HE was repentant? The Bible is very clear about the failure to defend the innocent."

    Nope, Nope, Nope and Nope!!!

    But when asked Dee mentions he indicates that "the church" would be willing to help with counseling expenses. Really? Our financial expenses accured from Patrick's crimes and the Elders "missteps" expand beyound just counseling. I find it interesting that Jim is still connected to Patrick BUT NOT SURPRISED…I am sure Dave Barrueto (the other elder involved) and family is as well. 

  10. Anonymous 7

    Thank you for the caveat. I plan to wax eloquent on Monday on what a church should do and not do in these situations. The asking for forgivenss from the victim’s family is one of those. Smart insight. 

  11. Danielle, 

    The absolute absence of the fruit of repentance is just astounding. And not just a lack of repentance but what sounds like YEARS of continued sins against you and damage to you all through his sickening self-worship and legal antics. 

    I hope that Dee can help dig down a little deeper to continue to expose the enablers of this crime. THEY are the reason it has lasted …how many years? Four? Just think how much pain could be avoided if the leaders in the Church simply did their job: SHEPHERD! Like, protect us from the wolves.

    Danielle you should still be with your friends in your beloved community and the perpetrator and all his enablers and supporters should have been excommunicated summarily.  It is so clear from Scripture. I grieve this double loss for you–the pain of the abuse and then the loss of your community. And also of course, the tremendous loss of TIME and ENERGY.

    You are in our family's prayers for final closure and for this tragedy to help us all be more aware of how to prevent these crimes in the first place but also to learn how to handle it rightly within the Body of Christ when it does happen. But perhaps the model of traditional "church" is faulty. The present model does seem to propagate controllers and abusers of power.

    Anyway, thanks Dee for covering this story. May many productive things come from this further exposure of it.

  12. Three reasons why a pastor would cover up a peodophile:

    1) Pride. They don't want to admit that they made a poor choice when it came to employing church staff. Or that they didn't 'see' this in a fellow clergyman/churchgoer earlier. In other words, it's too hard to be disassociated with the culprit, so to keep their slates clean they deny that their 'brother in Christ' ever did anything serious. Likewise, pride will make them try to stop word from leaking out. Protect the reputation of the business (oops I meant church) at all costs!

    2) Deception. They actually factually believe that their special manly buddy-bud is right and that the victim is probably lying (but they should make some sort of acknowledgement/apology in case the family takes the slanderous story to the press. Damage control ftw).

    3) Selfishness. They don't want their special manly buddy-bud to go to jail or leave the church. Or the reputation of themselves and the church. Better to just drive away the victims than lose a business partner (oops I said that word again).

  13. I have been following this blog almost since its beginning but now feel compelled to jump into the discussion.  I am a psychiatric nurse practitioner and one of my hot buttons is the ignorance of the church in dealing with abuse of any kind.  Sexual abuse of children is especially horrendous.  The treatment for abusers is group therapy, not individual therapy, Nothetic or otherwise.  I refer you to Lundy Bandcroft's excellent book, "Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men," which was referred to in a previous post.  Bancroft is a highly regarded expert on working with domestic violence abusers but the dynamics regarding DV abusers apply to all abusers.  He says, "The more psychotherapy a client of mine has participated in, the more impossible I usually find it is to work with him" (p. 354).  Individual therapy is geared towards validating and empathizing with the client but what an abuser needs is to be held accountable.  Therapy usually does not address the fundamental issues: his entitlement, disrespect, selfishness, victim blaming, etc.  An abuser is very condesending and manipulative and uses the information he gains in therapy to justify his behavior.  "An abuser program is expected to provide the man with education about abuse, to counsel him on how to apply thoses concepts to his own life, and to confront his abusive attitudes and excuses.  It is rare for therapy to do any of these things" (p. 356).  The process of other men in a group calling a man out for his attitude or excuses can be much more powerful than any professional confronting the person. 

    The statistics regarding abusers changing are dishearteningly low. I have seen God do miracles but this is not the norm.  Given that Patrick has been coddled instead of being held accountable for his behavior and that he shows no evidence of repentance (change of direction) in his behavior, I would put no trust in his words or the words of anyone vouching for him.  Trust involves consistency over time (a LOT of time in this case) and the only consistency I see makes him dangerous.  I pray he somehow gets proper help because it is only a matter of time before he violates another innocent victim. 

  14. Liz, I wholeheartedly agree with your post and the necessity of the group therapy as opposed to individual counseling.  I was a victim advocate for both dv and sexual assault for 10 yrs. and had the privilege of observing court-mandated abuser groups for men.  One statement I've never forgotten was one man, explaining why he felt he could abuse, said, "No one ever told me I couldn't."  He went on to say that no one, including his father, peers, or pastor ever confronted him about his abusive behavior or held him accountable.  They had always accepted his excuses and blaming the other party.

    Thanks again for your post!



  15. Forgot to add that in the group setting mentioned above, the other men did not let him get away with any of his excuses!  They held his feet to the fire!


  16. I asked him if he knew that Gregg Harris visited the church in the midst of the crisis. He did, so, I asked him to comment on Danielle’s account that Gregg would not listen to a report of the psychosexual evaluation because “women are easily deceived.” He said there was no way Gregg said such a thing  (HOF Leader)

    "He (Elder Jim Cameron) confirmed the meeting with Gregg Harris. When I asked him if Gregg had said that woman are easily deceived, he became uncomfortable, telling me I should talk with Gregg. He then emphasized that he does not believe that such a statement is true and that he would believe his own wife if she made such a statement. He also made the point that their particular church does not hold to the “women are easily deceived” doctrine."

    This meeting DID occur and Gregg Harris DID indeed say such a thing. My husband was the recioient of his admonition. At the meeting, which my husband attended with my oldest teenage son, it became apparent that Gregg had been brought in to squash any rebellious, devisive behavior, not seek the truth. (At this point, most of the church erroneously believed the elder perpetrated deception that it was "just a kiss" and couldn't understand all the fuss. We also DID NOT KNOW that the elders knew the full extent of the abuse case- if they did they wouldnt be defending Eddie and Patrick RIGHT?! ) My husband spoke up and said that it was important that the contents of the psycho-sexual evaluation be read by the Elders, that there were much bigger issues to consider. Gregg Harris asked if he had read it, to which my husband replied, "No but my wife has and we are very concerned about the contents." GH responded that I was gossiping and he shouldnt trust my account because women are easily deceived- "look what Eve did to Adam."  CRICKETS….. and then ONE YOUNG MAN stood and faced GH and said that he believed that I had been created to be my husbands help-meet and that I was trustworthy.  CRICKETS….

    In a room full of HEADS of HOUSEHOLDS, many who had known me as a sister in Christ for YEARS, only one young man (in addition to my husband and son) dared to defend my integrity and speak against GH. If indeed  our church didnt hold to the 'women easily deceived doctrine' then why were our elders silent?  Why did all of those men sit there quietly maligning the integrity of their own wives by proxy? WHY were Gregg and our elders so set on ignoring and covering up the the truth?  Why was it so important to protect the perpetrator and villianize the victim and anyone who defended her? 

    Five years later the questions remain. But that was the last straw for my husband. He LITERALLY took off his shoes and banged them together (Matt 10:14) and we never returned. In 22 years of marriage I have not heared my husband swear before or since that day- but he did. We had tried tirelessly to speak truth into that situation for months to no avail. We still live in the midst of the small community and the cover-up continues.

    Am I glad that Jim spoke with you- yes. I guess it speaks to some sort of introspection.  But his wish to have a "do-over" was granted almost daily in the midst of the situation. I could quote meetings and phone calls galore. He and Dave were given NUMEROUS opportunities to listen to and reveal the truth and CHOSE not to-with the police or the congregation- until AFTER Patrick's sentencing months later. Hmmm. I have no sympathy for his "shock" when he finally read the PSE…. he was begged to read it!

    Am I surprised that Patrick didnt call you- no. At the risk of cementing my "unforgiving, bitter, judgemental, persecuting, gossiping woman" label…. it seems to fit his narcissistic, unrepentant personality perfectly.  I will let others read about his actions and let them speak louder than his words.

    As for our elders being the "godliest men you have ever met" and that they "deeply love the people they serve": I didnt see Godly behavior in them or feel loved. I felt judged by them for doing what I KNEW GOD WAS TELLING ME TO DO in speaking out.  Churches are made of flawed people- that's why we need a Savior…. and the Body of Christ for accountability. Hypocrisy is the #1 reason people reject their Christian faith, and that is a BIG millstone for those in authority at PHF. 

  17. A sad part of this situation is not only the sexual abuse and apparent cover-up, but what is often missed is the lasting effects of Spiritual Abuse.

    Where were the shepherds tending this precoius family?  What is their spiritual condition now?  Often times these issues leave families abandoned spiritually.  It's apparent that there were mistakes made by the leadership.  It's normal to ask "where was God in all of this mess"?  But I am curious to know if there were elders who helped this family walk through the spiritual battlefield?

    Danielle – my heart aches for you and your family.  You are in my prayers.

    Erin – thank you for sharing.  That must be very challenging to live in the same community and run into people.  Do people from the church talk to you when they run into you?  Or are you ignored? 


  18. Yes, Erin, Gregg Harris is one way in the pulpit and on stage as a celebrity in a conference, and he is another way in person, and you find what he really thinks of people and what he thinks the Bible teaches. We found that out when he was our "teacher elder" for several years at Gresham. I ended up going to the emergency room sick with a horrible anxiety attack involving 3 fainting spells one right after the other.

    The spiritual and emotional toll it took on me in that church finally had caught up with me. I left that church, and my family followed ME soon after, because I could not take that man's twisted scripture teachings and deceptive words and manipulative practices and control of people anymore. Heck, he even came in and he and his younger son took over a journalism club, claiming his son started it and took it over, because, well, he is a Harris son. People are mesmerized by this man's teaching and it has spread into all these other sister churches.

  19. Julie Anne –

    One of the long term effects of Spiritual Abuse – at least for me – has been a seriously skewed picture of how God views me. It is still a struggle. For many, especially children, the pastors/church leaders in these churches are the voice of God in that child's life. Whatever they teach about how God views things is internalized by the child. In the case of sexual abuse, especially when it is kept a secret and never dealt with – and the child is made to feel at fault – the church teachings on sexual sin and the emphasis on it being the 'worst sin' a Christian can commit – or that if you are really a Christian you would 'never' do that…..

    Well, it is one heck of a double bind to deal with, especially for someone whose age has not yet reached double digits. I spent a long portion of my life believing that at best, God merely tolerated me becausse he had to, somehow.

    The affects of Spiritual Abuse on adults is bad enough, but on children, it can so warp their perception of God and themselves that they run from God in fear before he has a chance to 'smite' them. And the emotional pain that builds over time. I know many make light of 'emotional pain'. Hmmm….how to paint this picture. For those of you that have had a close friend or relative die. That pain and loss that you feel…imagine it never going away, never being allowed to be acknowledged and dealt with honestly . ….for years – decades. It is not a light matter.

    I have heard it said that children are resilient and don't really remember anyway. They'll forget and move on. Just let it go….. I can vouch that that is total bs. One of the things that a child who is molested loses – irrevocably – is their innocence, their childhood. I will never know what it feels like to trust – really trust the people around me, even those whom I have allowed to get close. I will never know what it feels like to just be a kid with no knowledge of evil. I knew evil before I knew its name or definition. I look at small children and my heart breaks – I wonder if they are safe, I remember what it was like when I was 2 or 5 or 8 or…. and I cry. I am nearly 50 and have never married, never dated, never had children….because I was too afraid – afraid of men, afraid that I would be a horrible parent….

    Why is it important to shine the spotlight on these so called 'men of God'? Because they are destroying lives. My childhood, my innocence were stolen and my soul was damaged…sometimes, it feels like it is beyond repair. Is any institution's reputation or any man's position more important than the soul, the spirit, the life of a child?

  20. Jeannette,

    Words cannot express the sorrow and outrage I feel at what you (and Danielle and her family and others) have suffered.

    May the Lord bless you, comfort you and continue to heal you – you are infinitely precious to Him.

    I am also enraged and sickened at the further violation by church leaders trying to protect themselves and their sick institution. Why should these self-serving responses of leaders be called “mistakes”? How foundational must the evil in these institutions be for these “mistakes” to be made? Yes I understand that we are all sinners, but that doesn’t make us incapable of doing what is right. When we build our lives on Christ, we CAN go against our sinful instincts of self-preservation to do what is right in the sight of God – no matter the cost. When leaders don’t do this, it isn’t a “mistake” – it is a deliberate choice to protect the institution or the leadership BY harming others.

    – MM (not M who also comments)


  21. Jeannette – You know me through my blog and we've shared personal e-mails, too, so I know you grasp the full picture of sexual and spiritual abuse because you've walked it.  I just want to say that I always appreciate reading your words.  You express yourself beautifully and so clearly articulate the destruction that goes on inside.  As painful and difficult as it is for you to read these kinds of stories, you are a strong voice for others who cannot speak.  I see God using you powerfully through your words, not only in identifying with the abuse which helps victims to not feel alone in this struggle, but in helping others who have not walked in your shoes to have greater understanding.   Please keep talking!   🙂

  22. @ MM

    "When leaders don’t do this, it isn’t a “mistake” – it is a deliberate choice to protect the institution or the leadership BY harming others."

    I wholeheartedly agree with this statement and although in Our Story, the elders, would disagree. The simple fact that they called an attorney straight away to "protect" their church instead of sharing the horrific information they had just learned about my child, a member of their flock proves my obsevation and the "feelings' that I had at the time. There are other examples as well. 

    I really appreciate how Dee states it's Gods' responsible to worry about the "church" and the leaders obligation to tend to the flock. (paraphrased)

    @ Erin, 

    "As for our elders being the "godliest men you have ever met" and that they "deeply love the people they serve": I didnt see Godly behavior in them or feel loved. I felt judged by them for doing what I KNEW GOD WAS TELLING ME TO DO in speaking out. " 

    YOU ARE A WOMEN! That is why they didn't listen to you or take your warnings and concerns seriously, they were MEN, they knew what they were doing! AND I do believe they knew what they were doing and did it anyway!!! 

    @ Dee

    Although, you are pleased that these men spoke with you and feel as if there is a difference in them compared to your own experience. I still would say LISTEN TO THEIR ACTIONS, not their words. They may just be cunning and more manipulative??? None of the leaders in Our Storys situations appeared, on the surface, to be arrogant and I believe this is one of the reasons others followed them so long and still do. But again, I plead to the readers, to their current congregation, LISTEN TO THEIR ACTIONS OR NON ACTION in Our Story…currently applied! and then ask yourself, what is their fruit?

  23. I want to keep emphasizing "listen to their actions" before trusting their words. As an example we were in a church situation not too long ago where the elders got up in front of the whole church and confessed, cried and "repented" of their arrogance, control and insensitivity to others. I had never seen anything like it before. It was very powerful. The church body, the "audience," was just in awe of these guys and stood up and said how much they now "respected them EVEN MORE" for how they displayed such humility etc.,  

    Well it turned out it was not true repentance. How do I know it was not real? Because they fell in exactly the same way just a year later leaving many, many wounded souls in their wake of harsh control having used people to advance their "ministry" in order to make a name for themselves. One of the pastors even told us how he was glad that process was behind him and we thought, "wait a second, it's now IN FRONT OF YOU and calling you to change."

    So I say beware of spiritual God-talk especially from those that have an agenda or an "empire" ( big or even very small) to protect.

  24. Erin

    Your comment so affected me that i want to do a post dedicated to your experience and the the despicable theology of “Women are easily deceived. ” i have been thinking about this for the last two hours. I may try to do it next week and figruing out where to put it in the lineup. I cannot believe such foolishness. They have proven, once and for all, that MEN are easily deceived as well.

  25. Erin/Kathleen

    This  blog is available to you both if you wish to tell you story. You will find much support from our readers. Do not forget, such men are admirals in rowboats and think they are far more improtant than they are. 

  26. Anonymous7

    Ify ou have read this blog for any length of time, you will find that we are not taken in by “godtalk.” we have exposed far too many things in our 3 years. In this instance, i was interested in how they perceived themselves. I had hoped to have Patrick call me back because I wanted to hear how he has dealt with “living with himself.”  I am desperately trying to find a convicted pedophile to talk with me. Eventually, one will turn up.

    Will I believe him? I doubt it by it would be fascinating to see how they self-deceive. One only has to llok at Jerry Sandusky who continues to deny eerything. if you watch him, he seems eerily calm albeit upset he is going to jail. Pedophiles must self deceive in order to continue their nefariou deeds. Wait until you see the story I shall do next week about a doctor who molested a number of kids on the mission field in Bangladesh. 

  27. Julie Anne –

    Thank you for the encouraging words. So often, I am told – by words or actions – to shut up because I'm making people uncomfortable. Thank you. Hmm….I guess my purpose, sometimes, IS to make people uncomfortable. We shouldn't be comfortable with these things. The more voices that are heard, the more of a conscious choice it becomes for people to fight to maintain the status quo….separates the real from the fake and shows where people are operating from love or fear.

  28. This was a good follow up post.  I am glad that both of these men spoke to you.

    I am laughing so hard at GH's comment that women are easily deceived.  What's so funny to me is that neither GH nor apparently anyone else in that meeting had read the report, and yet, here they were discussing the situation.

    Seems to me that if you were going to hold a meeting to discuss the situation, that you would read the report in order to have a truly informed discussion.

    Even an easily deceived woman who HAS read a report has a better shot at getting the truth than a smart man who HAS NOT read the report.

    Maybe churches need courses in simple logic.

  29. Dee and Deb:

    This is another situation that, to me, shows the need for truly informed and independent elders.

    If an elder has the same role as the pastor, and is seen by the congregation as having that, he has an opportunity and obligation to know and assess the pastor, and dismiss or discipline him, if necessary.

    Men with big personalities in congregational churches don't mind letting the congregation decide things because they structure the meetings and hold such sway over the congregation.

    Also, when the elder system becomes the "pastor buddy system" that is even worse.

    No system is perfect.

    But these elders clearly failed to do their duty.  They let this pastor and GH, who was not from their congregation, come in and tell them what to do.

    I believe that even though the pastor has fled that the elders should officially censor him and remove him from the church as a member, elder and pastor.  They should do this even though the pastor is in abstentia!


  30. Hey Eagle:

    When you get to that part in Dawkins' writings where he explains the creation of the original matter, the jump from non-life to life and the existence of transcendent moral truth and its source, let me know.  I will then start reading him Dawkins (btw, I know he is serious person, and the Selfish Gene is a great concept).

    Of course, if Dawkins does not believe in transcendent moral truth and has no clue to its source, then he would have to say that while the pedophile and this pastor in this account did something that he and many other people personally oppose, other pedophiles and their protectors may not object and may actually applaud it.  Without transcendent moral truth and a judgment for a violation of same, I guess all we have is politics.

  31. anonymous 4:18PM

     I have a doozy of a post coming up next week (Wed or Thurs). This has to do with some Baptists who did not report a missionary pedophile. When I first heard of it, I thought immediately of you. I really, really want your input on this one. Tell me how a church denomination could have handled this without having some sort of database and response linked to the database.

  32. There is a name for those who defend the guilty, other than an attorney, whose job is to make sure that the evidence really does prove that a crime was committed and that this particular person actually did it — there have been too many exonerations and too many false accusations and even false confessions for society not to insist on a qualified and committed attorney representing the accused.

    But other than that, those who defend the guilty, attack or discount the victims, and attach or discount those who report the truth, those are EXCUSERS.  And by excusing the guilty, they conspire to further abuse the victim and damage the cause of justice.  If they claim to be Christians, they damage the cause of Christ.

    If you are ever in a situation where a leader is acting as an excuser, you must confront that leader and tell them that they are not acting in the cause of Christ, who acted and taught us to act to help those who are victims.

    Confession, remorse, repentance, penance, restitution, and making provision for the needs of the victim are all necessary before and forgiveness can occur.  And that applies to excusers and well as to perpetrators, because their actions are just as damaging.  An excuser does not belong in the pulpit or any other leaderhsip position in the church.

  33. An Attorney

    I am doing a story midweek on a mission organization and a pedophile story. I would be interested in your take on it.

  34.  Jeanette Altest said:  "So often, I am told – by words or actions – to shut up because I'm making people uncomfortable. Thank you. Hmm….I guess my purpose, sometimes, IS to make people uncomfortable. We shouldn't be comfortable with these things."


    My view is that so much of this stems from verses in the bible that talk about or imply peace, harmony, love, keeping no record of wrongs, being of one mind, "you shall be perfect, even as…", and the hyper nervous fright of "warring factions". 

    It's like these bits of information are read and embraced so literally (as fully-formed moral truisms that stand on their own) — as if these statements are the sum total of what God wanted to communicate on the subject and very little reasoning of any kind is needed.

    Yes, in christian church culture as long as everyone is smiling all is well.  Unity, harmony, and AGAPE have been accomplished.  Amen and Amen! 

    More saccharine and pretense than I can possibly stomache.  Or should any reasonably healthy individual, for that matter. 

    I am just amazed at how thick (& mesmerizing) is christian church culture.  It supercedes intelligence, intuition, and plain common sense.  Indeed, it seems to spiritualize such things in a negative light & make people distrustful of them.


  35. @elastigirl

    "I am just amazed at how thick (& mesmerizing) is christian church culture.  It supercedes intelligence, intuition, and plain common sense.  Indeed, it seems to spiritualize such things in a negative light & make people distrustful of them."

    Such a true statement…in so many ways. We are mere men (women), we are sinners, selfish, and let's not forget eaily decieved> spoken with much sarcasm! And then you add in, "you will know by their fruit."  In retro-spec I see sick fruit in my story but in it, I saw good fruit, happy families, selflessness, the gospel as center….Not sure I will be able to trust myself again, after being so deceived!

  36. Thanks for the feedback eornyvee. Wow, lots of responses. I’ll process through the comments.Our plan is to bring one of the people you’ve suggested via an internet stream to interact with the group over a topic. Once I get this particular speaker enlisted, I’ll get with you about a topic you would like to have Q A about with him.Just to let eornyvee know, we have JD Greear and Alvin Reid as our keynote speakers at the Missional Ministry Conference. In addition we have:Daryl Eldridge, president of Rockbridge SeminaryRichard Ross, student ministry professor at Southwestern SeminaryTommy Sanders, childhood professor at Dallas BaptistCaleb Crider, The Upstream Collectiveand the Ryan Smith Band is coming back for an encore.