“My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?”— C. S. Lewis
I wonder if the world is just getting used to churches that sexually abuse members so that it no longer causes a blip on the radar. If I am being honest, sometimes I hear about an abuse situation, and since it was dealt with by law enforcement, I look at it as done. And for the person who was abused, it was life-altering, and they are never the same. I think most of us were shocked to discover how bad the abuse problem is in the evangelical church. Yes, it’s terrible everywhere else, but we evangelicals thought we had a pass. I still remember a woman at my former church telling me that the Catholic priests who abuse kids do so because they are celibate. She claimed that married pastors solve that problem. Yet, as well all know, it doesn’t. The problem is bad, really bad.
The SBC agrees that it is a bad problem. Yet, when they had the SATF report, they decided their first priority was throwing out churches with women pastors since it was also a real problem. I am claiming it is not about problems but about priorities. And now we know that it is the number one priority of the SBC Executive Committee to eliminate churches with female pastors. I wonder how many of them yawn when they read a story like this one. Perhaps they breathe a sigh of relief that Andy isn’t SBC like his father.
Anthem Church, Gainsville, Georgia, and Andy Stanley
This story of molestation involves an employee of Anthem Church.
Anthem Church began in 2008 when a small group of people partnered with North Point Community Church to start a church for people who don’t like church. For way too long churches have been known for what they’re against, Anthem has always been a place known for what we’re FOR. We have always believed that people who were nothing like Jesus, liked Jesus, and he liked them back! So since day one, we have created environments that are helpful and hopeful to people, not just church people.
They claim the following.
TO INSPIRE PEOPLE TO FOLLOW JESUS
TO BE AN IRRESISTIBLE CHURCH FOR OUR NEIGHBORS, THE NEXT GENERATION AND THE WORLD.
Andy Stanley is the Teaching Pastor of this ‘irresistible’ church.
From Anthem’s website:
Whether in person or online, each week we gather for some amazing music and some helpful teaching most often by our Teaching Pastor Andy Stanley.
Jason Lee is the “everything else,” aka the Lead Pastor.
I have some questions for Anthem Church.
- How do you make the church “irresistible” for the world when an employee rapes a vulnerable attendee?
- Has the world “changed” due to your irresistibility?
- Is it you or Jesus that is irresistible?
Daniel Sahmel raped a church member in her home while she was having a seizure.
I find it interesting that very little was written about this situation. I wonder if social media has been so flooded with abuse reports that this doesn’t even register. I was contacted by an alert person on Twitter who pointed me to this arrest. They said that the church, which claims they want to be irresistible to the world, has said very little about this situation. Here is proof of the court case.
STATE OF FLORIDA -VS- SAHMEL, DANIEL PHILIP
Here is the only link I could find to the story at WUTF: Former church official ordered to pay restitution for sexual battery of fellow church member.
The police report says Sahmel sexually assaulted the woman in her home after she texted him she wasn’t feeling well. He then forced himself onto her while she was having a seizure. When questioned about his actions that evening, the police report says Sahmel lied to the officers about his whereabouts and denied entering the woman’s house.
Sahmel got the woman’s cell when he coordinated her baptism.
According to the police report, Sahmel found the woman’s address in the church’s directory, forced her to delete their text exchanges and lied to investigators until confronted with evidence of the attack. According to the victim, Sahmel got her phone number when he coordinated her baptism at the church.
…The victim reported to police that she did not consent or want any physical contact and attempted to escape Sahmel. She could not escape and told Sahmel to stop, but he refused.
The victim allegedly heard reports of other rapes at the church when she went to counseling.
The victim has been attending group counseling since the assault, where she got to know other women who have been raped or assaulted. She said one of the girls in her small group no longer attends the same church because she was raped and didn’t want to report it.
The church said they would pay for counseling, then stopped.
The victim said the church initially paid for her counseling and then stopped.
Sahmel was supposed to pay for counseling according to his plea deal.
A senior official at a non-denominational Christian church in Gainesville has been sentenced to jail and ordered to pay for counseling for a fellow church member after assaulting her, according to police.
The plea deal was light because the victim wanted to show “mercy.”
Darry Lloyd, the deputy investigator at the state attorney’s office, said the plea agreement was light on Sahmel due to the victim’s wishes.
…I don’t feel like it’s my place to punish him,” the victim said. “It was important for me to tell him that I forgive him and that his life isn’t over just because he did something horrible.”
Sahmel will serve time in jail and not have a felony on his record.
270 days in jail and five years of probation. Sahmel was also required to register as a sex offender.
According to the article, the victim has since left the church, and Sahmel underwent a divorce.
I feel so sorry for the victim, who may not have received the love and support she deserved. This man will probably offend again and should be watched very closely.
The church seems far more concerned about the rapist than the victim.
According to the article, the church is “praying.”
Jason Lee, lead pastor of Anthem church, declined to answer questions about the case, saying it was inappropriate to discuss a former employee or anyone who is receiving mental health counseling.
“Our Church continues to pray for all involved,” Lee wrote.
I attempted to contact the church but have not received any response.
It seems that the church should make a statement that they care about the victim and will continue to offer tangible help to her even if she has left the church. Instead, they mention a “former employee” and vaguely mental health counseling. Is this for the employee of the victim? They claim they are praying for all involved.
The church seems to want to forget about this incident and does not state any concern for a woman’s long-term, life-altering rape during a seizure. Talk about helpless!
Anthem Church: Either do better or show that you did better. Right now, your church is hardly irresistible to the world or, more closely, to abuse victims. But, sometimes, it’s easier to think about that big world than more closely about the people on your doorstep.
As “used to” as mass shootings.
Local morning drive-time radio put it this way:
“By this time next year we’ll e giving weekly summaries: ‘Last week there were eight mass shootings with a total body count of 38. Thoughts and Prayers, Thoughts and Prayers.'”
The IRRESISTIBLE Pastor of this Irresistable Church (at least in his own mind).
Makes a lot of sense from Sahmel’s POV. Predators will go after easy low-risk prey, and what’s easier and lower-risk than prey that’s already been incapacitated? Especially if the seizure was epileptic; those disconnect the memory trace while seizing so the seizee can’t remember anything that happened during the seizure. Better than roofies.
Thou Shalt Forgive(TM). Upon Pain of God’s Wrath for your Sin of Unforgiving.
Where have we seen this one before?
They’re CHRISTIAN(TM), the rapist is male and the victim is female.
Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (in their God-ordained place) right there.
Christianese for Doing Nothing and feeling oh-so-Pious and Righteous for it.
“Be Warm and Well Filled — I’ll PRAY For You(TM)!” while dodging to the other side of the street. “Pious and Righteous are WE, NOT Thee!”
They have Things Far More Important to do — like Praying, and (Irresistibly) Saving Souls. So SPIRITUAL that mere Flesh (like that of a rape victim) has ceased to exist.
I know I’m getting tired of the filthy underbelly of the church that seems to stretch into infinity.
I’m a Christian. But just like I had to start distancing myself from the religious right (started long before Trump) I’m feeling like I need to distance myself from the church.
I can’t blame people for deconstructing and leaving. The church isn’t safe.
“…. they decided their first priority was throwing out churches with women pastors since it was also a real problem. I am claiming it is not about problems but about priorities. And now we know that it is the number one priority of the SBC Executive Committee to eliminate churches with female pastors.”
I agree with most of this. A handful of female pastors is much more offensive to the SBC EC than a few hundred sexual predators. But, I think their #1 priority is to make sure heterosexual males achieve and maintain priority and dominion over women, whatever the cost.
“ I wonder if social media has been so flooded with abuse reports that this doesn’t even register.”
The news media seems only to really take notice when there is a well known entity involved. I wonder if social media could be the same way in some instances???
Dee: Sorry….I know this isn’t germane to this post, but…James Emery White just dropped a podcast on Calvinism and the entire “culture” that goes with it, including toxic leadership and membership and church discipline. https://www.churchandculture.org/church-culture-podcast
I’ve been reading/commenting on TWW for several years now. I have to say this is the saddest, sickest, most sadistic post of my tenure here. I found it very troubling.
The American church simply isn’t scaring Satan much. Christians not only need to resist the devil, they need to resist Anthem Church. The level of discernment needed to navigate safely through 21st century church just isn’t in the average Christian’s toolkit.
Thank you for letting me know. I always tell folks to comment on the new post if they need to tell me something.
Orgy? No, that would be consensual.
The toxic element of male superiority changes the dynamic:
Rape den. Church.
Max, sadly, I agree with you. “I’ve been reading/commenting on TWW for several years now. I have to say this is the saddest, sickest, most sadistic post of my tenure here. I found it very troubling.”
My parents were the “salt of the earth,” although not churchgoers. Looking back now, they raised me to have a huge dollop of skepticism towards people. And, as my dad used to say, “Just because they go to church doesn’t mean you can trust them.” His comment used to horrify me. Now I see him as prescient.
“Be ye irresistible even as your Dictator in heaven is irresistible”. That’s what the latest upload / download says!
Irresistible indicates that you just can’t say no and don’t have a choice. That’s the connection with rape.
Irresistible, by defn, usually means something so tempting you don’t have the willpower to resist. Sahmel found forcing himself on and abusing a defenseless women irresistible. That has become commonplace in our churches. And, the churches usually find protecting the offenders irresistible.
This church is the wrong kind of “irresistible” …….. as are so many more.
Anthem Church’s Facebook page latest post says, “Join us Sunday as we conclude Intimate Encounters!”
Only difference is they call their “well known entities” Influencers instead of Celebrities.
“I WAS HORNY SO SHE WAS WILLING” — Internet meme illustrating the rapist mentality (“Because I Wanna!”)
“The only goal of Power is POWER. And POWER consists of inflicting maximum suffering upon the powerless.”
— Comrade O’Brian, Inner Party, Airstrip One, Oceania, Nineteen Eighty-Four
Sadly your assessment is true. just returned to the US from overseas where I normally work. Although I regularly read TWW it is a shock all over again to observe prayer partners hiding their feelings, stuffing their struggles and covering for bad behavior in their churches by using platitudes or sin leveling. My evangelical friends have certainly been trained well to “be nice” and keep the peace.
I on the other hand am not so “well behaved”. Will no longer be complicit in helping bad actors cover their tracks. Am choosing to speak honestly and openly and I’m so doing to fellowship with Jesus – who drove money changers from the temple with a whip and called Pharisees white washed tombs. For which they turned him over to the Romans for crucifixion. I’m only losing friends and financial support.
Rock on Dee (daughter of Stan) and Todd. Keep telling these stories. You embolden me to do right.
No one has said anything about Andy Stanley’s background on this entry. I think most people who comment on TWW already know, but I’ll say this anyway………
Andy Stanley’s father was the very recently diseased Charles Stanley. Very conservative Charles Stanley served 2 terms as president of the SBC: 1984-1985, crucial years for the conservative takeover.
Charles intended for Andy to be his successor in SB ministry, but the two parted ways when Charles and his wife divorced. Charles maintained his position as pastor even after the divorce, in spite of his own conservative teachings.
After Andy parted ways with his father, Bill Hybels (Willow Creek) became one of Andy’s mentors.
Given what has been exposed about the SBC and Willow Creek over the past few years, an indifferent attitude from Andy and his church towards sexual abuse victims does not surprise me.
I am glad that Charles Stanley did not live to see his son shame Christ in this manner.
“I was horny so she didn’t matter, she wasn’t, she WAS NOT, except to serve my wants.”
Him: I want, therefore I take.
Her? She has no wants, needs, thoughts, voice.
She is. No said. He has all the say.
What about the voices of women and girls in the Dear Leader’s church & ministries?
Not just his church and ministries……. the entire SBC, and probably beyond.
‘ She said she had experienced “many years of discouraging disappointments and marital conflict. … Charles, in effect, abandoned our marriage. He chose his priorities, and I have not been one of them.” ‘
~ Anna Stanley
‘ “I couldn’t be happier,” he says. “I don’t really need a wife. God has just filled my life with good things.” ‘
~ Charles Stanley
Leaders complicit. On their watch. Power and platform used for what? Power and platform responding to church atrocities did what?
They don’t count.
They’re good for one thing and one thing only.
(And I can’t use the pithiest expression of that (from Andrew Tate) and get this through.
There are times I wonder if there really can be a good God who made the universe. This is one of them.
I know from an extremely reliable source that Stanley’s wife was gaslighted by him. She was not “crazy” as he suggested.
A stern warning that every child should hear. Sad, but that’s the way it is. We teach them not to talk to strangers, but there are strangers to the Kingdom of God on church membership rolls. Just as deceptive and dangerous as anyone on the streets of America. Countless TWW posts are evidence of that.
I believe it. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an NDA in the divorce. Stanley’s rise to the position of pastor at First Baptist Atlanta was certainly not Christ-like.
I’m not saying that the home and church atmosphere Andy grew up in justifies the harmful and neglectful way abuse is being handled at Anthem. I think he knows better. I think the church leadership, as a whole, knows better. It looks to me like they are perfectly willing to sacrifice the sheep for the advancement of the “shepherds”……. business as usual?
Yeah, there really is a good God who created all.
But I also believe that he has ceded large tracts of power over to us, the power to stop these kinds of things from happening.
I hope Sahmel is in jail, and if not, maybe they’re too squeamish about whose son he is?
Yeah, there really is a good God who created all.
But I also believe that he has ceded large tracts of power over to us, the power to stop these kinds of things from happening.
I hope Sahmel is in jail, and if not, maybe they’re too squeamish about his connections?
I’m still not sleeping Muff, which means I always struggle with stuff like this. Some things just land badly.
God gave us all free will…….. the ability to make decisions, choices.
Adam and Eve chose to eat the fruit ~ bad decision. We all make bad decisions, bad choices, from time to time.
But, some people intentionally choose to do evil…… some people choose to protect those who do evil. Dee, Todd, GBTC, and several more people out there are doing a wonderful service by exposing those people.
Relationships encompass the entire Law, according to Jesus.
Love God, love your neighbor as yourself.
No neighbor is closer than the one next to you in bed.
When a person cannot love their mate as themselves, their Christian testimony, teaching, preaching, and ministry are null and void. They have nothing to say, nothing to preach or teach, they are no role model, and are on a platform in front of an audience under false pretenses.
We need to do our part.
It’s heroic how we can help a fellow traveler and demonic how we can cause harm to a fellow traveler.
Choose ye this day, whom you shall serve.
The 18 gifts given to the Church from the Holy Spirit via each church member are never meant to be a rise to power.
No NT disciple rose to power.
A powerful sermon that should be lived in every pulpit and preached to every pew across America.
Well, he can say whatever he wants and it’s the word of God, right?
People are fools who believe this crap . . .
Ain’t it amazing how these guys will pitch a hissy-fit over a woman in the pulpit, and yet barely register over the miscreants in their midst.
And who are the unregistered miscreants targeting? Women and children. This is all the same thing – pulpits and pews and miscreants (both pulpit and pew) hatred of women as equal thinking adults who require respect and would collaborate with and challenge them as equal adults. The pulpit (with their miscreants in pulpit & pew) is an entitled and empowered demographic armed with their own theology. Follow or engage them at one’s own demise.
The answer? Read the Bible and listen to the Holy Spirit for oneself, then find fellowship with fellow humble and holy for-oneselfers. IMHO, the entire New Testament supports this; this is why Jesus died and rose, to create a Body of Disciples that study His Word and Follow His Holy Spirit, responsibly for themselves. Anything less is simply not following Jesus. No middleman.
Every time we figure that someone like Charles Stanley or Andy Stanley are the real deal and we follow them, we fall flat in disappointment. No middleman and no one on platforms above the rest of us is the healthy sane way to go in our Christian walk. The press can make a big deal out of these guys, like right now with the passing of Charles Stanley. But we should know better, as followers of Jesus. Eventually, even Charles Stanley’s wife Anna had had enough of the guy on the platform that she knew in the privacy of their home life.
A man on a platform above the rest of us is in no way looking out for the rest of us in dealing with the miscreants in our communities. The platform guy with the mic whose voice dominates the room is dismissive about what is going on in the room. He has already placed himself above everyone else, entitled supposedly by God Himself.
God sent Jesus to be among us in the most humble of circumstances. The only time Jesus rose above us on Earth was on the cross. But being God, He rose from the cross in glory from death to life to be at the right hand of God, truly God above us. No man has done nor will ever do that. In His humble circumstances Jesus lived a holy life. As followers of Jesus we are called to do the same: live humble, no platform, live holy (no miscreants) lives.
The prowler predator among the pews and the pulpit guy with the booming mic on the platform are BOTH neither humble, nor holy, nor safe.
We are called to be a separate humble and holy people in direct fellowship with God Himself. Our fellowship is built on those pillars, according to 1 John: humble, holy, directly fellowshipping with God, individually responsibly following Jesus.
Let me see here: the God of the universe forbade us from having any spiritual leader over us except for Himself, Jesus. But we decided we needed “kings.” Yeah, didn’t work in the OT and doesn’t work now.
When we refuse to choose kings over us, the problem of predator kings disappears as quickly as our Ozark morning mists disappear as morning progresses.
These guys won’t share the pulpit with a woman. They demand women in the pew, with no voice and no agency, support them in their pulpits.
These same guys are dismissive regarding the miscreants who prowl as predators among women and children (with no voice and no agency) in the pew.
These guys have one focus, one priority: themselves on their platform with their voices, only, booming from the mic throughout the room.
Thanks for your encouragement and your fellowship, FreshGrace.
Following Jesus only in humility and holiness, we find each other. There is a “we” to taking responsibility and being set apart for Jesus.
Comment of the day … perhaps the week … perhaps the year!
Or do whatever he wants to because he can sure preach/teach, right?!
There’s always been two standards, one for little people, and one for their overlords.
Jesus died and rose, to create a Body of Disciples that study His Word and Follow His Holy Spirit, responsibly for themselves. Anything less is simply not following Jesus. No middleman.
When this world is done, and I stand before the Bema seat of judgement, no man…… no famous preacher, no local pastor…….no husband ……. will stand for me as a middle man between me and God.
(That is both terrifying and comforting, at the same time.)
esp. when I read about Ananias and Sapphire story in Acts or son of Achan. They received their punishment directly and immediately from God. Yet, Patterson is still out preaching and Hybel is enjoying his retirement, …..(insert long list of people here)
“How long, O Lord…” – Hab 1:2
Thx for your encouragement, Max. It’s a collaborative comment. We’re all finding things out together.
We don’t know. But it would seem the cheap mistress yacht flings would pale compared to decades of honest intimate marriage commitment.
We do know teachers will be judged severely, rich men will beg for relief, and the goats and sheep will be separated. Nothing to envy.
Holy, humble, loving God passionately, loving our neighbor as self (level ground), is our Happy Place, here and now, IMHO. Jesus died, rose, and sent us His indwelling Spirit to provide for each of us our Happy Place.
Ever grateful and working to keep the middlemen out, so nothing gets in the way of God. No Bait and Switch tricks … no seeking God, but then some platformed microphoned entitled book published guy gets in the way where they have no business.
Direct like a nonstop flight, or direct shipping. Nothing is more direct than God’s indwelling Holy Spirit. From God to each one of us. Fruit. Gifts. Body of Christ community. Free. Safe. Honest.
The story of Ananias and Sapphira has always disturbed me, especially as it is often abused to frighten church members into giving more money. Right now I am wishing they died over something other than money. Maybe they could have been threatened with a millstone instead.
Fables are full of young people who noticed things and are of uncertain fate after that.
This is exactly what only a true Sovereign God can do. The opposite of lording it.
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7 AMPC)
Believers have power – we need to use it! If we are going pull the American church out of the mess it is in and put it back in the Kingdom of God, it will take folks in the pew (not a wimpy pulpit) who operate in power, love and a sound mind. It could begin with the masses shouting “Hell no! Not on our watch!!” But, of course, it appears that the masses love the mess we are in or they would be praying and acting as they ought.
We sure do.
Yes we do.
When kids and teens are molested, the first stop should be Law Enforcement.
Not the Elders, not the Pastor, and not uncle Bill.
What’s it gonna’ take for those idiots to realize that they’re protecting their brand, and their income by ridding themselves of a pedo-perp from the get-go, rather than being charged with complicity by trying to cover it up?
Indeed! Don’t call Pastor … Call 911!
Church leaders who don’t act quickly are most likely wannabe-pedo-perps themselves.
“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you … Are you still proud of your church? Shouldn’t you be overwhelmed with sorrow and shame? The man who has done such a thing should certainly be expelled from your fellowship! … Your pride in your church is lamentably out of place. Don’t you know how a little yeast can permeate the whole lump?” (1 Corinthians 5)
iron sharpens iron
Insightful. Wannabe or up-and-coming. Policeman-around-the-corner syndrome. Do what one can get away with. Perhaps porn habits not yet actualized. Empathy for the perp NEVER for the victim.
But never when there’s only one voice booming from the mic on the podium up front dominating the room and controlling all communication. In which case, no iron and no sharpening. Just a dull booming monologue.
Church was intended to be participatory, not a one-man show.
“… whenever you meet let everyone be ready to contribute a psalm, a piece of teaching, a spiritual truth … Everything should be done to make your church strong in the faith” (1 Corinthians 14:26)
Finding a “church strong in the faith” is like looking for a needle in a haystack, a rare & endangered species, a treasure buried in a field. Pastors are supposed to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry … very little of that is being done.
“A Barna research study found most pastors (57%) and youth pastors (64%) admit they have struggled with porn …”
I’d rather hear a songbird who sings in a tree by the brook…
Or (like the therapist in that South Park episode) they’re closet pedos, too chicken to Do the Deed themselves, but getting off on “counseling” the non-pastor pedo on staff beneath them with the JUICY confession/testimony.
I’ve long suspected this dynamic – a CP variant of “Porn for the Pious” – is in play.
How else can they get their JUICY porn fix and stay RESPECTABLE?
You bleeped out my favorite part of that quote:
“It is actually reported there is sexual immorality among you, OF A KIND WITHOUT A NAME EVEN AMONG THE GOYIM…”
(Remember that Rabbi from Tarsus was still a Jew, something that’s been forgotten by more than the YRR types. I always read “heathen” or “Gentiles” as “Goyim”; seems closet to the original.)
I was the victim in this case and want to thank whoever published this. I feel like it speaks truth to my perspective..I definitely felt like the church cared way more about him and abandoned me. I don’t like to speak badly of anyone but this isn’t what Christians are supposed to do. This is the first time I have felt advocated for and my pain be acknowledged.. and I hate what this church is representing because it’s not the God I serve.
I am so, so sorry. I was sickened by your abuse. If you would ever like to tell your story, please email me with complete confidentiality at firstname.lastname@example.org