Think about this quote. “Malevolence takes a bite out off your spirit. Just sitting with it, just talking with people who consciously and deliberately exploit others, feels like being beaten. Over the years, l have seen many therapists burn out and leave the field entirely. [Refers to treating sex offenders, p6]” ― Anna Salter, Predators: Pedophiles, Rapists, and Other Sex Offenders
Let me start off this post by making a few comments.
- Some pedophiles come to churches because they believe that they will be trusted and will have access to the children and teens.
- It is not the fault of a church when a pedophile shows up. It is the fault of the church if they cover up that a pedophile is present. If you are in a church, it is highly likely that a pedophile or two will be present. If you are in a mega church, there are probably more.
- Pedophilia is not just a simple sin. It is a complex, psychiatric condition. In the best of circumstances, the pedophile can learn to control his impulses. However they will likely struggle with this disorder for rest of their lives. Do not make the mistake that, if they come to church and *come to Jesus,* they will be healed. Any student of the Bible knows that not everyone who has a profound, lifelong psychiatric compulsion gets healed.They can, with painful and hard work, learn to control their impulses but it is terribly difficult.
- Pedophiles are charismatic individuals and know how to gain the trust of the church members and the church leaders. Yep, that’s right. They are good at fooling people. I have been writing about this for years and I am smart enough to know that I, too, can be fooled by a wily pedophile.
I wrote a post about a problem that I saw in the Caring Well curriculum in Another TWW Tutorial: What’s Missing? Caring Well/Summit Church Curriculum Appears to Want Registered Sex Offenders to Feel No Shame in Church:
- RSO=registered sex offender
- This lesson on bringing offenders into a church is found in Lesson 10 in the Caring Well curriculum.
The policy appears to assume that the RSO is experiencing emotional difficulty with the consequences of *past* actions.
Of course coming to grips with past predatory behavior is difficult and it darn well should be. The RSO has harmed another person who has had to live with the longterm consequences of being abused. The long term emotional consequences for the VICTIM are downright devastating. Somehow, this is glossed over in favor of the delicate sensibilities of your everyday church predator.
The church leaders want you, lowly member, to believe that the RSO is actually experiencing emotional pain due to their heartsick realization that their past actions have ruined another person’s life. But, what if the RSO is doing what predators do best-playing games in order to manipulate church leaders and gain access to the children? The recidivism rate is something that must be considered. It is not inconsequential.
We recognize that wrestling with the consequences of past actions can be emotionally difficult. We want to reiterate throughout this process that you are offered full forgiveness because of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.
Dear RSO, don’t live with a sense of shame. What?
I think it is emotionally and spiritually valid to live with a sense of shame over heinous actions. Shouldn’t a man who has molested all of his foster children, as well neighborhood kids, be ashamed and even wrestle with it for the rest of his life? Good night! One might think they are discussing how not to feel shame for exceeding the speed limit.
There is also an assumption that the RSO’s expression of shame is real as opposed to a game they play in order to manipulate adults in order to gain access to the children. (Another hint.)
We recognize that wrestling with the consequences of past actions can be emotionally difficult. We want to reiterate throughout this process that you are offered full forgiveness because of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. We do not want you to live with a sense of shame.
Most of the members of the church will not be told about the presence of an RSO and that is dangerous.
The lowly members of The Summit will not be told about the RSO who is attending church. This is a dangerous plan.The Summit is a huge church with tons of kids in their youth programs. It’s really nice that the high up leaders are aware of the presence of a predator but they are NOT the ones who care the most about the well being of the children. Parents are the ones who care and love their children and are naturally protective. They should be told of the presence of an RSO.
Who would know about this arrangement and agreement? Those who would know about this arrangement are: the pastors of the Summit Church, the lay elders at your campus, campus security teams, and the point person(s) over children and student ministries at your campus.
Are they afraid to hurt the feelings of the predator by *outing* them?
That is ridiculous. These predators are designated Registered Sex Offenders because they are publicly registered due to their crimes. The cat is already out of the bag. If this RSO wants to come to church, he should be willing to allow his picture to be posted around the public areas. Why wouldn’t he unless he has some ulterior plans? Do you want to know how serious this person is about needing help to overcome his problem? Ask to post his picture around the church and see if he becomes angry.
Here is the story of Newspring Church which appeared to do it all right and it wasn’t enough.
NewSpring Church is a huge church in South Carolina.
From the TWW post:
A volunteer was accused of molesting 14 kids! And guess what? They should have known. They had cameras all over the place but no one reviewed the footage. Maybe the fog machines were blurring their vision??
The Post and Courier reported in Volunteer accused of assaulting 14 kids is 4th alleged predator in SC megachurch.
On Nov. 25, Hazlett was watching over a group of children — none older than 5 — in a portion of NewSpring’s KidSpring ministry called the Tree House. During the session, Hazlett escorted a 3-year-old boy to the restroom. During that visit, he sexually assaulted the boy, affidavits show.
The following day, the boy’s parents complained to NewSpring that Hazlett had an “inappropriate interaction” with their son, the church would later tell worshipers. Church officials decided to check their video surveillance system to see what had happened.
More than three dozen security cameras are situated in the rooms that comprise the children’s ministry, according to court filings, including at least one camera that is trained on panel doors that open to the restroom where Hazlett took the boy. Footage from that camera showed Hazlett looking around to make sure no one was watching before he sexually assaulted the boy, according to an arrest affidavit.
Church leaders reviewed footage from the cameras dating back three months — as far back as their surveillance system has storage. After observing what NewSpring staff described as “inappropriate conduct by Hazlett,” the church reported their findings to law enforcement, according to a letter the church sent to worshipers.
The leaders produced crocodile tears and claimed they did their best.
In a prepared statement, NewSpring officials said the incident occurred despite their best efforts to protect children.
The church also said it has plans to create a fund that will be made available to families who have accused Hazlett.
“We know this happened on our watch, and though we have taken great measures over the years to protect our children, evil found a way to breach our best efforts,” the statement read. “This devastates us to the core.”’
Let’s review what NewSpring did right.
I recently had someone say to me that the kids were safe at his megachurch because they did background checks. Background checks are only effective for catching those who had been arrested and convicted. That means the vast majority of sex offenders have never been caught.
Two volunteers are in a room with the kids at all times and they even have extra float helpers to take kids to the bathroom.
The bathroom doors even had a split opening so people could see in at all times. Great idea .
They even had cameras placed in every room, even focused at the door to the bathroom.
Pretty darn awesome.
What did they do wrong?
So what happened? Why did all the kids allegedly get molested? Parents, mega churches are so busy running their programs that it is quite easy for someone to molest children. In this situation (allegedly) it got so busy that the male volunteer took the kids into the bathroom because they really had to go. There appeared to be little chance that these kids could be molested because they were easily seen from the waist up and there were cameras pointed at the bathrooms. The volunteers thought it was logical to let the male teacher take the kids in because they could see him. He was far smarter than they were.
One little boy told his mom. She marched into the church and said something happened. Did they see anything on the videos? Well, no. They didn’t bother to regularly review all of the video feeds because they were so gosh darn busy and frazzled.
When they reviewed the videos, they saw the evidence of the volunteer allegedly molesting the kids.
What did other churches do wrong?
There allegedly had been reports of this guy elsewhere but those churches didn’t report it to the next church. Amy Smith calls it “Passing the trash.” They appear to have just gotten rid of him and didn’t give a hoot for the children in the next church.
What is the lesson for parents? Parents MUST be informed if a registered sex offender is allowed in the church building when kids are there.
Once again, peodphiles and molesters will come to the church. These are the ones that you don’t know about. The Caring Well curriculum is flawed in that it assumes that the sex offender is there because he/she is repentant. This assumption has two problems.
- The offender might be lying.
- The offender isn’t lying but is still dealing with a profound, likely lifelong compulsion. That means he/she could slip and do so with your child.
Large churches are super busy and, despite good intentions, can easily make mistakes, no matter how noble their intentions.
This sort of thing goes on at many churches. However, recently JD Greear, SBC President and pastor of The Summit Church has come under fire for his church’s child care policies in Southern Baptist president’s church abuse policies under fire.
Not only has The Summit hired Bryan Loritts, who has a history of allegedly mishandling the abuse perpetrated by his voyeur brother in law but, they allow sex offenders own the church without notifying the members.
Parents read what is said here very. very carefully.
(Cheryl) Summers and the Rev. Ashley Easter, a spokeswoman for the group of abuse survivor advocates, also criticized a policy within the SBC’s Caring Well resources. That document, they say, is based on a document from Greear’s church.
The document outlines how registered sex offenders can be incorporated into worship services if they are monitored by “shepherding individuals” and kept away from children and any person or family member of a person they have harmed.
“Abusers should NOT be allowed on church property during services and certainly not in serving/leadership positions,” Easter said.
Brad Hambrick, Summit Church’s pastor of counseling, confirmed that Summit has a policy for registered sex offenders.
“Yes, our policy is still to require perpetual supervision and full awareness by the campus security team, elders, and children/student ministry leaders for an individual under RSO status to attend a weekend service,” he said. “All involvement or attendance in children or student ministry is prohibited, even if the RSO’s children are involved. Any involvement in an adult discipleship setting (i.e., a small group) requires the full awareness of their offense and consent of the adults in that setting.”
Parents, they don’t want you to know because they don’t want to *shame* the sex offender. This is downright wrong.
Remember, pedophiles will deal with their psychiatric compulsion for the rest of their lives. This is NOT just a sin. It is a crime as well as a compulsive psychiatric disorder. A church service and a frazzled volunteer looking over their shoulder to make sure the offender isn’t doing something bad is NOT going to prevent the possibility that this offender might go after you child.
This policy is downright foolhardy and appears to ignore the profound nature of this problem. In fact, to me it seems like *cheap grace* exemplified by, as one person claimed to me, ” My God saves the pedophiles.* Yes, but it demands much of the pedophile and even much, much more of us. But it doesn’t demand we sacrifice our children.
Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap?...
So what should be done instead…
- The sex offender should continue to deal with his shame. He/she doesn’t get a pass because *Jesus paid it all.* yes, the offender can be saved if he is truly repentant. But he must never be allowed to forget how his actions can profoundly affect the lives of those he molested, is molesting or might molest in the future.
- Do you want to know how serious the repentance of a sex offender might be? Tell him/her that the church members need to be alerted to his present in the church. If he truly understands his psychiatric disorder, he should agree. Doesn’t he want to prevent more kids from being hurt? In fact, perhaps his picture should be hung up in the church outside of the children’s center and the pastors’ offices to remind everyone what COULD happen.
Parents: you are the ones who truly care for your children.
Church leaders are naive to assume they KNOW what’s best for your children. They are naive if they believe that their staff are fully capable of having eyes on the back of their heads. At this very moment, there are sex offenders who are considering the kind offer of *to feel no shame *and to have a bunch of terribly busy leaders on Saturdays and Sundays, keeping their *eye on things.* They can’t. The church draws all sorts of people from the community and it is open to all. Don’t be fooled into thinking that everyone leading the church loves your children and wants the very best for them like you do.
Only you love your children far more than anyone else and you are protective of them far more than your pastors and your leaders.
I suggest that you do not leave your children in child care programs until your church trusts you enough to tell you who the sex offenders are. You give your church your time and your money. You deserve their respect as the ones who love your children the most.
Bring your kids to the church service. If they start acting up and being loud, funny, or whiney, as all kids get, maybe the busy, annoyed, preaching pastor will get the hint.
And ask yourself a question. Are the church leaders more interested n protecting the *feelings* of a molester who, after claiming he is repentant, is still struggling with his/her disorder?…or…Are they more interested in the safety of your children?