All That Glitters is Not Gold – Revelations about John Ortberg’s Alleged Abuse While at Willow Creek Church

Editorial Update 5-31-2024

I have received the Police Report filed by Sahaab Jauhar-Rizvi in March 2021 and I wanted to include the relevant pages for your review. The redactions were all made by the South Barrington PD with the one exception of my address, which I made. Based on this Police Report, Dee’s talks with the women accused of having taken part in the abuse, and several convincing comments by readers of this article I have changed my opinion. I don’t believe Sahaab Jauhar-Rizvi’s accusations concerning John Ortberg.


In the 1976-77 school year, I attended Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. While there I became good friends with Gregg Martin. He lived in the dorm room right next to me. Gregg was from the Chicago area and he was a cool dude. He had the best stereo system on the 5th floor of Culbertson Hall and had albums of all the Christian Contemporary musicians. Some, like Chuck Girard. I knew, but many of the artists I had never heard of – Mustard Seed Faith, Phil Keaggy, and Paul Clark are just a few I recall Gregg introduced me to. Gregg was a natural leader and would get groups of us to attend concerts, something I had never done in my youth. I can’t recall most concerts, but I remember attending a Mustard Seed Faith concert. I thought all these musicians were awesome and I still will occasionally listen to their music.

Gregg was also up on new churches in the area that were breaking out of the traditional style of doing church and attracting a younger crowd. One such church was Willow Creek. Gregg organized a group of us to go visit their service. The church met in a movie theatre, which seemed radical to me! Here is a note on their humble beginnings, courtesy of Wikipedia:

“Willow Creek Community Church started when Bill Hybels and Dave Holmbo[2] were inspired by the success of the South Park Church’s youth ministry, Son City, of which they were both leaders (Holmbo had invited Hybels to work with him a few years earlier), and aspired to start a church that used relevant biblical teaching, music, and drama. On October 12, 1975, the church met for the first time, renting Willow Creek Theater in Palatine, Illinois.[3] Gilbert Bilezikian was Hybels’ theological mentor.[4] Bilezikian has been “credited with Willow Creek’s inclusion of women in its highest levels of leadership”.[5] In 1977, the church purchased 90 acres (360,000 m2) in South Barrington to build its own building. The first service was held in the new building in February 1981. Since then, the building has been doubled in size and the property expanded to 155 acres (0.63 km2). In 2004, it inaugurated a new 7,200-seat auditorium on the same campus.”

In 2014 I was visiting my daughter and son-in-law in Chicago and I asked if we could visit Willow Creek. I was curious to see what it had become since I last saw the church about 40 years earlier. When we drove into the parking lot I thought we were pulling up to a shopping mall. The campus and church building were enormous. They had a guest speaker the day we were there. His name was John Ortberg. I wasn’t familiar with him, but learned he used to be a pastor at Willow Creek and was now in the San Francisco area. I was favorably impressed with him, he was a talented public speaker. He pitched his latest book, I don’t recall the title. Below is a photo of the auditorium. It was nice, but not my style. I’m just not a fan of the mega-churches.

Again, I quote from Wikipedia:

“Ortberg was born and raised in Rockford, Illinois. He earned his B.A. in psychology from Wheaton College, and his M.Div. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary. Ortberg has also studied at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. From 1985 to 1990, he served as senior pastor at Simi Valley Community Church, and then from 1990 to 1994 at Horizons Community Church (now Baseline Community Church) in Claremont, California. Ortberg then moved from California to Illinois to serve as a teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois until 2003, when he became the senior pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, a multi-campus church in Northern California.[11]

Ortberg’s wife, Nancy, has also served as a pastor. They have three children: Laura, Daniel, and John III. Laura has written for The New York Times, New York Magazine, and BuzzFeed.[12] Daniel M. Lavery is the founder, writer and editor of the now-defunct feminist humor blog The Toast[13] and was the author of the “Dear Prudence” advice column for the Slate online magazine from November 2015 until May 2021.[14][15] Their youngest, John III, was an Ultimate Frisbee coach until late 2019.”


I imagine most of you are familiar with the scandal that enveloped John Ortberg in 2020, but to refresh your memory, here is a summary from the Washington Post: by Bob Smietana

Washington Post July 29, 2020
(RNS) — John Ortberg, popular Christian author and speaker, has resigned as pastor of Menlo Church, a megachurch congregation outside of San Francisco. His resignation is effective Sunday, Aug. 2.
“I have considered my seventeen years as pastor here to be the greatest joy I’ve had in ministry,” Ortberg said in a statement. “But this has been a difficult time for parents, volunteers, staff, and others, and I believe that the unity needed for Menlo to flourish will be best served by my leaving.”
In November, Ortberg was placed on leave after Menlo Church elders learned he had allowed a volunteer who had admitted being attracted to children to work with them at the church and in the community.
Ortberg had first learned of the volunteer’s admission in July 2018. He did not inform other church leaders or the youth sports team that the volunteer coached. Church leaders did not learn of the volunteer until Daniel Lavery, Ortberg’s son, sent an email blowing the whistle.
The pastor returned to the pulpit last spring after the elders hired a lawyer to conduct an inquiry.
But the issue flared up again after Lavery revealed that the volunteer in question was his younger brother, the pastor’s youngest son, a fact that had been withheld from the congregation. Lavery, former friends of the Ortberg family, and other critics of the decision have called in recent weeks for the pastor to step down.


A few weeks ago I came across this post by Daniel Lavery on “X.” Note that the post is “pinned” and dated Feb 23, 2021. Pinning a post simply keeps it at the top of your page on “X”.

TRIGGER ALERT – What follows are some graphic details of alleged sexual abuse.

Note from Editor: I found a video from 2021 in which John Ortberg denied the charges of sexual abuse in the blog article by Sabaah Jauhir-Rizvi, saying in part:

“As some of you know, there are allegations that have been talked about over this last week about me. They actually were written in a blog almost about three years ago, charging me and four other colleagues in our old church back in Chicago with serious sexual misconduct. And I want you to know they are not true. They have no basis in reality. I have not and would not ever do any of the actions described there. And I know directly from my colleagues that they would say the same thing. It’s very difficult and painful even to find language to talk about this.
The stories of misconduct and clerical abuse by leaders in the Christian world and the church world are hitting us in extremely fresh ways. And so often they get mismanaged or covered up by organizations or by churches. And that’s the worst thing. That’s the worst response. It’s hard to find a way of talking about it without sounding either defensive on the one hand or demeaning. And I know firsthand how much courage it takes for a woman who has been the victim of abuse or clerical misconduct or violation to step forward. And I would sacrifice a great deal to try to help there to be the courage for such people to come forward. And the last thing in the world I want to do is to make it more difficult for anybody in that situation.”

The following material is from My #MeToo Tale & An Apology by SabaahJauhir-Rizvi. I had not previously read or heard of this alleged abuse by John Ortberg.

Evangelical (adjective): a person who claims to be a Christian but whose actions are the complete opposite of Christ; a hypocrite; a person full of false piety. See also John Ortberg, Franklin Graham, the RNC, Ted Haggerty, Joel Olsteen. Tweeted by @austenlied on 4/19/2018 (I am @austenlied and that is my definition).

Now I come to the part that involves Willow Creek Church. My mother, now divorced, joined Single Parents Ministry. I was about 15-16 at this time and most children of these parents were 8 or younger, so meetings were quite dull for me and I ended up drawing or reading. I was approached by Nancy Beach and after speaking to her, she was able to glean that I had suffered sexual abuse and she really thought some counseling with one of the pastors would be really beneficial for me since I was at that age when most girls were dating, not hanging out with their parents and children. I could see her point-I really could. I had friends who were guys and while friendly with them, I had no feelings other than friendship towards them. While most girls my age talked about boys, makeup, upcoming school dances, etc, I was rereading Lord of the Rings, The Tempest, John Donne, The Odyssey, etc for fun. Nothing screams lonely and pathetic like Nancy Beach walking up to you as you’re reading the Homeric Hymns (English translation in case you are wondering). She then scheduled a one-on-one meeting with John Ortberg that would take place at the same time as the next Single Parent’s meeting so I could come with my mom, but not be stuck in the room with all the children.

That first “Session” started off pretty normal. I told John everything. About Bert and his abusive family. the neighbor, Dan and the pastor who told me I was a whore. About boys who teased me in school by leaving me fake love notes in my locker, which made me uncomfortable. He promised me that he could help me get over my fears of intimacy but I had to trust him. This trust consisted of him sitting behind me and running his hands over my breasts and hips because per John, I needed to get over my “fear” of being touched if I was ever to learn how to please a man. It didn’t feel right. It felt wrong. It felt like my neighbor all over again. I told Nancy right away. She told me that I needed to trust John because he was a “Godly” man. That his methods had worked with other girls just like me and they had gone on to have boyfriends. Some even were dating fellow Creekers. I then asked if I could speak to Bill Hybels. Nancy informed me that Hybels would only direct me back to John because Bill was too busy to do counseling. I did not tell my mother.

The second “session” included similar touching. But now on my actual skin and in my pants (though my underwear was still on). I vividly remember crying and feeling very dirty. John was moaning behind me and I could feel him. He was grinding into my backside. I don’t know how long it lasted because every second feels like an eternity. I didn’t cry out because John told me if I cried out, I was going to Hell.  All I recall is that when he was done, he was still very visibly aroused. John told me that I was “very blessed” by his touches and doing “God’s Will” by participating to these “sessions.” I remember scrambling to get my clothes on and straightened and just rushing as quickly as possible into the hall outside his office before crying. I remember just crumbling, crying as I struggles to put shoes on and tie laces, trying my best to straighten my clothes and wiping the tears away when a woman, heading towards me, going into John’s office, told me to “Shut up.” I later found out, when I saw her again and pointed her out to someone, that the lady in question was Betty Schmidt. Did Betty know what John had just done with me? Did she know there were possibly others as Nancy clearly indicated? I don’t know. But one does question why the longest serving elder, and a woman, seeing a child crying and clearly upset outside of John Ortberg’s office, clothes clearly is disarray, and showing no compassion towards the child. Instead, tells the child to “shut up” and heads into the office when it’s obvious that’s where the child emerged from. Now, I’ve never dealt with Betty Schmidt personally and that was the only time I’ve ever encountered her. I have just always wanted to know if she knew. And if she did, why didn’t she stop it?

The third “session” was the worst and the last one I attended. I don’t know if one would consider it rape, but it felt like it to me. He had me remove all clothing. And I didn’t want to. He called Nancy in and she forcibly removed the clothes from me before leaving. My socks she allowed to stay on as a kindness. That’s when I knew she was fully aware of what John was doing to me and didn’t care. John was again behind me. Again, I could feel him. He used his fingers on me. It was painful and it hurt. I cried a lot and he covered me mouth with his other hand. He rubbed himself against me. He kept going until he was done. At one point he had bitten down on my shoulder, but there is no bite mark now and I never took a picture. I was bruised, sore and I felt like I was a fault because the pastor at the community church had instilled in me the belief that I was a temptress and  my lot in life was to be a whore. I remember not even fully getting dressed before running into the nearest bathroom and vomiting. Nancy Beach came in because it was obvious John had called her as I had not grabbed all my clothes when I fled. She then proceeded to slap me and yell at me as I continued to dress. She told me I was an ungrateful colored whore. that I should be thankful that a man as holy and as pure as John Ortberg was willing to sully himself, was willing to demean himself to try to cleanse me of my sins for tempting good Christian men with my body. She then forced my face in a sink basin she filled with cold water because my eyes were red from crying and red from her slapping me. Nancy then made me eat a brownie. Which I guess she thought since I was young, I needed to be bribed. I also think she thought by giving me a sweet, she could then bribe me into attending another “session” with John. I let her set it up. I just stayed home whenever my mom went to a single parent’s meeting. If a meeting was held at someone’s house, I went because I didn’t mind watching the kids. But if it was at Church, I never left the house. I fully believed the next “session” would have involved physical sex. Because Nancy had known what was going on and I think Betty Schmidt did too, I never told my mother. And why would I? My only experience in telling the authorities ended up with a man who got off on probation. There was no justice for me with what happened.

Also, telling people in charge, people in positions of power, up to that point hadn’t helped either. Dan’s parents thought he was just “playing” with me even though he was still pinching my breasts in High School, cornered me a few times and then forcibly dry humped me in High School while he was dating my best friend at the time. The pastor of the small church knew and told me it was my fault. Nancy Beach not only knew, she procured me for John Ortberg. I wonder how many others she procured for him during his tenure at Willow Creek and who does his procuring now at Menlo Church?”


You may be wondering what John Ortberg has been up to since he was forced to resign from Menlo Church in 2020. Well, things have seemed to turn up roses for him. He started a “ministry” called “The Center For Becoming.”

As you can see, John is doing quite well with his new ministry. No more sermons, meetings, shaking hands, baptizing babies, conducting funerals, or investigations! Just put out a few teachings and watch the money roll in! Check out the salary he pays himself, according to his 990 tax forms.

In 2021 Ortberg worked 20 hours per week and paid himself a salary of $220,000. In 2022 Ortberg worked 40 hours per week and gave himself a 20K pay raise, for a salary of $240,000. What a racket!

Comments

All That Glitters is Not Gold – Revelations about John Ortberg’s Alleged Abuse While at Willow Creek Church — 74 Comments

  1. I checked the rest of the 2021 990 form. He is paying himself $220,000 out of total contributions of $689,672. The organization has no other notable expenses.

    The form also has the following statement: “The CEO compensation is determined by disinterested members of the board after reviewing compensation from independent sources giving weight to his experience and reputation.”

    I believe the 990 is suppose to list the board if the org has one. I couldn’t find it (unless the other three people on the list are the board). BTW if the other three people on the list are who I think they are, we are talking some serious money (and in one case, the one I’m least sure about who he is, a different scandal).

  2. Of all the terrible details in Ms. Jauhir-Rizvi’s story, the one that stood out for me was that she was vulnerable, among other reasons, because as a girl of 15-16 she was interested in literature instead of participating in the sexual marketplace. She was friendly with boys but not open to mating. And she felt … *knew* … that, culturally, this is *wrong*. It makes you an outsider.

    It was like this in the early 80s when I was in high school, and it’s like this now, when many of the girls in my youngest daughter’s Scouts BSA troop identify as LGBTQIA+ – without any detail – because it’s like wearing armor: a way to be safer growing up as an average girl and not some kind of child concubine.

    As Frances observed in the comment above, there are similarities to Ghislaine Maxwell’s procuring for Jeffrey Epstein. The religious milieu is a particularly gross element, especially for a religious readership, but the “man uses young girls” story is found everywhere. (Also the “man uses young boys” story and the “woman uses young girls/boys” story, although that one is less common.)

  3. I wonder if the William Voge listed as Treasurer on Mr. Ortberg’s Form 990 is Bill Voge, late of the Latham & Watkins BigLaw Firm following a “Christian sexting” scandal.

    https://www.christianpost.com/news/bill-voge-christian-head-of-major-law-firm-resigns-over-sinful-texts-with-married-woman.html

    **The Law360 report said Voge reached out to the unidentified woman on behalf of the New Canaan Society last September with an offer to help her with “Christian reconciliation” with a member of the group.**

    I’m sure I’m not the only TWW reader who sees “Christian reconciliation” and cringes.

    **While the two did not meet in person, it is alleged that their relationship soon evolved to the point where they were exchanging sexually explicit text messages. The woman told Law360 that Voge later tried to get her to visit him at his hotel room. **

  4. https://www.abajournal.com/news/article/how_two_nights_of_sexting_and_anger_over_the_repercussions_led_to_the_ouste

    ** Voge sent a text apology and spoke with [Andrea] Vassell. She rejected the apology. “You are insane if you think I am not coming after you with everything I have,” she wrote. “Men abuse and exploit women and then the church that is dominated by male elders steps forward and tells the women to forgive. That stupid sh— stops with me!” **

  5. Sabbah Jauhir-Rizvi posted these accusations on April 30, 2018, over six years ago. These are serious and damning allegations made about John Ortberg and Nancy Beach (and others) that if true would put them behind bars. What’s true and what isn’t? One thing is certain and that is that decades old charges like this are reputation destroying whether true or not. It troubles me that Todd Wilhelm even posted this. This is a lynching. Don’t mistake it for due process which mandates a fundamentally fair, orderly, and just judicial proceeding.

  6. This is a terrible story.

    I am curious-this post calls the allegations against Ortberg “Revelations,” but Ms Jauhir-Rizvi posted her story on her blog in 2018. Ortberg’s son Daniel Lavery publicized her story on his Twitter in 2021. These are not fresh revelations. I read the linked blog post. In replies to some comments, the writer implies the police were involved. What has happened with this story since then?

  7. Todd, I’ve been googling a bit, and it looks like these allegations are at least three years old, revolving around John Ortberg’s son Daniel and Sabaah Jauhar-Rizvi.

    All I found definitive was Ortberg’s failure to disclose a children’s volunteer’s attraction to children, or to remove that volunteer, in 2020. Making matters worse, the volunteer turned out to be Ortberg’s son John III, info that he had also failed to disclose. This led to Ortberg’s leave of absence and later resignation from Menlo Church. Although his lack of action was in really bad judgment, he has not otherwise been “officially” disgraced from ministry.

    Not saying that he shouldn’t be outed and disgraced (and prosecuted), assuming the allegations are true, but this is serious stuff. Do you have any more to go on than Daniel and Sabaah?

  8. The Center For Becoming – Ortberg’s 501c3 ministry lists its address as 533 Pacific Av, Solana Beach, CA 92075. That address is ocean front property – on a cliff overlooking the Pacific. Redfin values the home $9,368,311. The home owner is “Voge Revocable 2012 Trust.” Prior owner was William and Jami Voge.

    William Voge is listed as the Sec/Treas of Ortberg’s “The Center For Becoming” ministry.

  9. Cynthia W.: That’s Bill Voge, then. Articles about his … er, incident … mentioned his wife Jami.

    Yep. It’s hard to figure why Ortberg has 3 very wealthy members on his board. Why would they even want to be listed in connection with Ortberg?

    Thanks for your research and links, Cynthia.

  10. Ted: Do you have any more to go on than Daniel and Sabaah?

    No, I don’t Ted. But that said, I have found Daniel Lavery to be an honest and reliable source of information. Soon after I published this story and linked it on “X” Daniel responded publicly, saying this:

    “Thanks for this, Todd — it’s heartening to know that someone is still paying attention. No one has ever investigated these allegations, which is kind of hard to believe.

    It’s on my mind every day. Sabaah filed a police report and I made a report to the Willow Creek church elders once I learned about it — but absolutely nothing has happened. No investigation of any kind, ever.

    It’s moving to see someone, anyone cover the allegations against my father — which have still never been investigated, despite multiple reports being filed years ago.”

  11. Todd Wilhelm,

    You’re welcome. I just became curious when I saw the 990. It explains where the money comes from for Mr. Ortberg’s salary: under his board members’ sofa cushions.

    Maybe for them, it’s like endowing a fellowship at a think tank: a way of turning money into entree into a desirable milieu where they feel meaningful.

  12. Gus,

    Agree. We read so many stories where, “The victim has to forgive,” is not just the first but the only expectation of the church or ministry leadership.

  13. Wade: Sabbah Jauhir-Rizvi posted these accusations on April 30, 2018, over six years ago.

    Yours is a typical response in defense of scoundrels, Wade. You attempt to use the time factor, as if that excuses the crime. Do you recall the Mike Bickly “apology?”

    “Some may wonder why I am just now making a public statement 20+ years later? It is because I was recently confronted about things that I said or did 20+ years ago—things I believed were dealt with and under the blood of Jesus,” he wrote. “Since this has now become public, I want to repent publicly.”

    Or how about John Lowe?

    “In the viral video, taken at New Life Christian Church & World Outreach, a nondenominational church in Warsaw, Indiana, pastor John B. Lowe led the congregation in an altar call on Sunday (May 22), followed by what’s known as the “sinner’s prayer.”
    Then he began to confess to adultery, which he said occurred 20 years ago.
    “I will not use the Bible to defend, protect, deflect my past sin. I have no defense,” he said. “I committed adultery. To say it plainly, I didn’t make a mistake. I did not have an affair. I didn’t make a misjudgment. I sinned.”
    Lowe admitted in the video that he had overseen church discipline for church members who were guilty of “sexual failure” but failed to confess his own misconduct. He then said the church was involved in a “biblical process” to restore trust.
    After his confession, church members began to applaud.
    Then a woman rose to the stage and rebuked the pastor and congregation, saying that what he was describing as adultery began 27 years ago, not 20, and that she was 16 years old when the pastor abused her.

    “You did things to my teenage body that had never and should have never been done,” she said, standing at the church’s pulpit. “If you can’t admit the truth, you have to answer to God. You are not the victim here.””

    Or how about Andy Savage?

    “Andy Savage — co-founder of a Tennessee megachurch who resigned last year as teaching pastor after admitting to sexually abusing a 17-year-old girl two decades earlier — is starting a new church for others who, in his words, “got our hands on the wrong thing.”

    Savage received a standing ovation at the Highpoint Church in Memphis in January 2018 after confessing to a “sexual incident” decades earlier while he was serving as youth minister at a Baptist church in Texas. Worshippers apparently viewed it as an illustration of redeeming grace.”

    I happen to believe Sabbah Jauhir-Rizvi. I also believe and trust the word of Daniel Lavery. He spoke honestly about John Ortberg. I would welcome a response from Ortberg. I would also welcome a criminal trial, though I doubt one will ever take place.

  14. The sexual allegations seem odd and not very convincing to me without some sort of corroborating details from others at the time, etc. And are we to take seriously accusations against Nancy Beach of being some sort of accomplice or procuress and facilitating the abuse of a minor? If so, I think there needs to be more convincing detail than this.

    I’m a feminist and concerned about sexual abuse in the church but I certainly am not inclined to believe anything any woman alleges, just as I wouldn’t automatically believe all allegations a man might make. Unfortunately, there are people out there who falsely accuse others for a variety of reasons.

  15. The events alleged must have take place between 1994 and 2003 when Ortberg was at Willow Creek in Illinois. Jauhir-Rizvi also said she was 15 or 16 at the time.

    Illinois has a statute of limitations for child sexual abuse of 10 years after the person becomes 18 or 5 years after the discover that it occurred and became aware they were injured by it (instituted in 2003). Assuming the events took place in 2003 (and other information on her blog seems to indicate 1996/97) and she was 15 then, the clock started ticking in 2006 so by 2016 at the latest would have run out. Note she had already had gone through the justice system as a child with an earlier incident of abuse and seen almost nothing good from the justice system as a result. Proving abuse at this late date would be difficult.

    What Willow Creek could do is a different matter; they apparently called Jauhir-Rizvi after she put up the post and to quote: “When I posted this in May, I did receive a call from Willow Creek. The woman did not give her name. She, instead, informed me that I needed to keep this abuse private and she highly recommend that I take this post down. Basically, delete it. She said I had to do it for the good of the Church.”

  16. Todd Wilhelm: No one has ever investigated these allegations, which is kind of hard to believe.

    Rank Hath Its Privileges/Money Talks?

    Todd Wilhelm: Yep. It’s hard to figure why Ortberg has 3 very wealthy members on his board.

    Again, Money Talks?
    And that kind of Money talking on his board can make Ortberg is Invulnerable?
    Or Ortberg just likes having the aroma of REAL money around him?

  17. Cynthia W.: Of all the terrible details in Ms. Jauhir-Rizvi’s story, the one that stood out for me was that she was vulnerable, among other reasons, because as a girl of 15-16 she was interested in literature instead of participating in the sexual marketplace.

    Do you have any idea how much I would have given at that age (and through college age) to have had a girlfriend like that?

  18. Ted:

    All I found definitive was Ortberg’s failure to disclose a children’s volunteer’s attraction to children, or to remove that volunteer, in 2020.Making matters worse, the volunteer turned out to be Ortberg’s son John III, info that he had also failed to disclose.This led to Ortberg’s leave of absence and later resignation from Menlo Church. Although his lack of action was in really bad judgment, he has not otherwise been “officially” disgraced from ministry.

    I totally disagree with the notion that the scandal involving his son Johnny amounts to merely “bad judgment.” It has long bothered me that Ortberg the father has multiple degrees in psychology (including a PhD in clinical psychology) and took no action. Having a volunteer who professes attraction to children is a major red flag. Even worse, there were reports that the son made some comments relating to suicide if not allowed to work with children.

    I totally get that it would be very difficult as a father to deal with this situation. I can understand that he might need some time to process what he was learning about his son. But I think it’s quite reasonable to expect that within a week he would be in touch with the church’s board or his personal accountability team or a clarity committee to discuss the issue to decide on the next steps. IOW, he should have taken the same advice he wrote about in his books on spiritual formation.

    In my mind there is no way to minimize that he placed the welfare of his adult son over and above the welfare of the many children at Menlo Church. If you want to make the argument that the adult son presented no risk, then get some objective, impartial experts in to make that assessment instead of dad.

  19. Susan: I totally disagree with the notion that the scandal involving his son Johnny amounts to merely “bad judgment.” It has long bothered me that Ortberg the father has multiple degrees in psychology (including a PhD in clinical psychology) and took no action.

    I agree with you, Susan. This is wonderful comment. I believe Menlo Church leadership also agreed with you! Thus Ortberg’s resignation.

  20. Todd Wilhelm,

    I was not using the time-factor as an excuse for an “alleged” crime. I was pointing out that this story is not some “new revelation” about John Ortberg.

    Since you label Ortberg and Beach as “scoundrels” it’s apparent you are their judge and jury and have found them guilty. You risk being a slanderer if you’ve reached this conclusion based on the accusations alone. The time factor never excuses a crime, but it’s equally true that being accused of a long-ago crime doesn’t prove guilt. You make a lot of assumptions including that my intention is to excuse scoundrels. You are totally wrong on at least that count and probably more.

  21. Cynthia W.: Maybe for them, it’s like endowing a fellowship at a think tank: a way of turning money into entree into a desirable milieu where they feel meaningful.

    It’s a 501(c) paying Ortberg which means donations to it are tax deductible. Ortberg has to pay tax on it as income but the donors giving the money to it in order to give to their good friend Ortberg don’t. Since they are donating more than they are paying out, I wonder whether they in the long run intend this to effectively be a trust fund for him.

  22. Susan: I totally disagree with the notion that the scandal involving his son Johnny amounts to merely “bad judgment.” It has long bothered me that Ortberg the father has multiple degrees in psychology (including a PhD in clinical psychology) and took no action. Having a volunteer who professes attraction to children is a major red flag.

    Susan, I’d be glad to upgrade “bad judgment” to a serious breach in professional ethics, as well as hypocrisy. I also agree with Todd’s comment to your quote above.

  23. All this was going on while Ortberg’s bud Bill Hybels was having his own problems with inappropriate behavior over at Willow Creek. And we wonder why the world looks at the church and says “See, there’s nothing to it!”

  24. Something just seems “off” to me about this situation. Nancy Beach is one of the women who brought down/called out Hybels. Confused.

  25. Ted: Susan, I’d be glad to upgrade “bad judgment” to a serious breach in professional ethics, as well as hypocrisy. I also agree with Todd’s comment to your quote above.

    ‘Bad judgement’?, ‘professional ethics’?
    Child sex abuse is a FELONY in all 50 states.
    And those who know about it and do nothing, are complicit in the eyes of the law.
    Sooner or later (hopefully sooner) one of those high mucky-mucks is gonna’ go to the hoosegow too.

  26. Erp: I wonder whether they in the long run intend this to effectively be a trust fund for him.

    Good suggestion.

  27. All that glitters may not be gold, but dee knows that even if the stores are all closed, she can still get what she came for.

  28. Cynthia W.: but the “man uses young girls” story is found everywhere

    And in our churches, pastoring has privileges. Apparently.

    When church folks get over this and stop privileging “pastors”, it will be a new day for churches.

    18 gifts from God to churches are listed: Rom 12, 1 Cor 12, James 4.
    Each faithful person is endowed with at least one gift.
    In one list, James 4, the pastoring GIFT is listed ONCE.
    Gifts are free – GIFTS.
    Never pay a human for a gift from God.
    All of the gifted faithful stand/kneel on level ground at the foot of Jesus.

    So, church folk can each share their gift without reservation, pay, or ego. And church folk can enjoy and benefit from others’ gifts, without paying, kneeling, or reservation.

  29. Susan: Having a volunteer who professes attraction to children is a major red flag.

    But not a major red flag for the pedophile pastor or even the adulterer pastor.

    These guys, and some ladies, all fly under the same flag.

    Their flag or banner says, “We all get want we want,” at all costs to others. What’s theirs is theirs and what’s ours is theirs. To secure their taking from others, tney must have a higher purpose, which is their claim to their pastoral role.

  30. I’ve attended a couple of churches in my 50 years as a Christina where the pastor seemed “off,” and what came out later was a bit sickening. The church I grew up in was gay and the pastor kept having teen boys on a friend’s boat for field trips. Apparently, the field trips were a lot more than that and kids began leaving the youth group. Then, there was the church where the pastor turned out to be a serial adulterer. We were his third church in ten years, and people kept passing him along with a hearty recommendation to get rid of him. So, yes, I can believe this story is true, especially given the way Ortberg reacted initially to the rumors regarding his son.

    My own church just adopted a strong child abuse reporting policy, with background checks and fingerprinting. Plus you have to be a member of the church with a six-month waiting period before you can join the children’s ministry. I know that nothing is full-proof, but we have a policy, and so far it is being enforced (former sex-offenders/porn users are not allowed in the children’s area at all; all children’s ministry workers have bright lanyards that we must wear while serving, or we could be escorted out.) I hope that Ms. Jauhir-Rizbi will find both justice and healing.

  31. Ava Aaronson: When church folks get over this and stop privileging “pastors”, it will be a new day for churches.

    I agree. It would be very different.

  32. Muff Potter: ‘Bad judgement’?, ‘professional ethics’?
    Child sex abuse is a FELONY in all 50 states.
    And those who know about it and do nothing, are complicit in the eyes of the law.

    Yeah, OK, Muff, lighten up a bit. The story reads that Ortberg’s son admitted an attraction to children, not a sex crime against them. And without a crime committed, there is no cause to call 911, only to take action within the church and family.

    Ortberg should have relieved his son of the teaching position, prevented him from being around children, at least wthin the church, got counseling for him; yet he didn’t. Breach, not crime. If a crime had been committed, only then can one call the police. And dammit, put Matthew 18 on the shelf.

    I know too much about sex crimes against children. I have an old friend toward the end of a 15-year federal sentence for production of child porn. That has done a number on my family, my school and church communities, and caused me to study up quite a bit on that.

  33. Cynthia W.: I agree. It would be very different.

    “Silver and gold have I none. But such as I have, I give thee: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk,” said Peter in Acts 3.6.

    Later…

    “When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, ‘Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’

    “Peter answered: ‘May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.’

    “Then Simon answered, ‘Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.'”

    From Acts 8.

  34. Françoise Dolto child psychiatrist said in her book “The Gospel at the risk of psychology”
    Jesus took 3 men with him in Jairus story, because in the look of chaste men, the little girl will blossom (will see herself growing) into a young lady. This is the idea. Do not have the book anymore due to moving oversee.
    Chaste men and women ! something to think about today.

  35. Muff Potter:
    … if the stores are all closed, she can still get what she came for.

    Your head is humming, and it won’t go, in case you don’t know
    The piper’s calling you to join him

    Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow? And did you know
    Your stairway lies on the whispering wind?

  36. Making the late, and honest, Dallas Willard look like a John Ortberg associate: sickening.

    This Heideggerish tripe about “becoming” what you were not – or not becoming what you were – or becoming not what you were . . .

  37. Ava Aaronson,

    Ava, I agree wholeheartedly with your comment. What you describe is the true Biblical model for doing church. Unfortunately, the churchgoing masses don’t get it and don’t want to. So, the beat goes on.

  38. Sandy: Your head is humming, and it won’t go, in case you don’t know
    The piper’s calling you to join him

    Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow? And did you know
    Your stairway lies on the whispering wind?

    “And when played… BACKWARDS…”

  39. Linn: The church I grew up in was gay and the pastor kept having teen boys on a friend’s boat for field trips. Apparently, the field trips were a lot more than that…

    Like he couldn’t have been more obvious?
    So obvious, only Christians could believe the cover story.

  40. Ava Aaronson: Their flag or banner says, “We all get want we want,” at all costs to others. What’s theirs is theirs and what’s ours is theirs. To secure their taking from others, tney must have a higher purpose, which is their claim to their pastoral role.

    “BECAUSE I WANNA!”
    Roping in GOD as their Accessory and Cosmic-level Justification.

  41. Should the fact that Daniel Lavery is transgender and married another transgender have any bearing on the story?

  42. Headless Unicorn Guy: “BECAUSE I WANNA!”
    Roping in GOD as their Accessory and Cosmic-level Justification.

    “It’s good to be the king” – song by Mel Brooks.

    Of course, the manogawd goes full Jim Jones or Joseph Smith, he can institute jus primae noctis (aka prima nocta, aka Droit du seigneur).

  43. Headless Unicorn Guy: “And when played… BACKWARDS…”

    Played backwards?
    I dunno, I tried it, this is all I get.
    Maybe someone can decipher this.

    Psycho Killer
    Qu’est-ce que c’est?
    Fa-fa-fa-fa, fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa, better
    Run, run, run, run, run, run, run away, oh, oh, oh, oh
    Ay-ya-ya-ya-ya-ya, ooh

  44. I’ve not yet finished reading the comments….

    Thank you, Todd Wilhelm, for including the link to the post My #MeToo Tale & An Apology, by Sabaah Jauhir-Rizv….her name on her blog post is JANELIED.

    If you haven’t already, please take the time to read Sabaah Jauhir-Rizv’s entire post….I only scanned the comments on her post, but it appears the number of expletive-deleted nasty commenters far outweighed her supporters….

    I CANNOT believe all the expletive-deleted people that abused Sabaah Jauhir-Rizv got away with their abuse of her. (Intentionally omitting a LOT of expletive-deleted words.)….and just because she’s a person of colour. And although she’s not black, she was treated the way many white people treated their black slaves. (Intentionally omitting a LOT MORE expletive-deleted words.)

    Although Sabaah Jauhir-Rizv may never see this comment of mine, I believe her….and to ensure her entire post is never lost, I’ve made an Internet Archive copy of it and am including it below.

    https://web.archive.org/web/20240518155448/https://janelied.wordpress.com/2018/04/30/my-metoo-tale-an-apology/

  45. Denny,

    no more than deciding that someone who thinks God ordains subjugation of women is automatically incorrect about everything else, too.

  46. Denny: Should the fact that Daniel Lavery is transgender and married another transgender have any bearing on the story?

    No. Why should it?

  47. “One thing please remember just before you pay your dues, When the dollar rules the pulpit, then the devil rules the pews” Ira Tucker, Dixie Hummingbirds

  48. Denny:
    Should the fact that Daniel Lavery is transgender and married another transgender have any bearing on the story?

    Only if you want to disconnect every Christian neuron above the Christian brainstem and wave the bright red Righteous murder flag in front of what’s left.

  49. Sandy: Headless Unicorn Guy: “And when played… BACKWARDS…”

    Played backwards?
    I dunno, I tried it, this is all I get.

    Remember, this is Led Zep’s “Stairway to Heaven”.

    During the Backwards Masking Scare of the Eighties, “Stairway to Heaven” was THE Poster Child for SATANIC Backwards Masking, played backwards by all those preacher-men/Mighty Spiritual Warriors/DEMON Fighters. Played backwards AFTER grooming their Churchy audiences by telling them exactly what they were going to hear.

  50. I find these allegations extremely suspect. I took a look through the rest of Ms. Jauhir-Rizvi’s blog, and it’s littered with other allegations of abuse by seemingly everyone she’s encountered. The odds of all these allegations being true are extremely slim. I googled her to find more information and came across her Twitter and Bluesky accounts, where she details her supposed engagement to a man who died of cancer last year. His family members (including his actual wife) have posted about dealing with a stalker who fabricated a relationship with him, apparently referencing Ms. Jauhir-Rizvi. There are some other odd claims on those accounts, such as the assertion that Ms. Jauhir-Rizvi was recruited to be a contestant on America’s Next Top Model.

    I also don’t find Daniel to be a particularly credible conduit for these allegations. He was right to report his father’s actions in regard to his brother, but since then he has made it no secret that he hates his family and actively wishes them ill. I follow him on Twitter and recall him tweeting openly that he fantasizes about killing his family. This is not someone who examined Ms. Jauhir-Rizvi‘s allegations with clear eyes and an open mind; of course he was willing to overlook her glaring credibility issues. Also, I have to question why Daniel, someone with many, many media connections, has been unable until now to find a journalist willing to take on this story. My guess is that the allegations are so incredible that even journalists familiar with and friendly towards Daniel are unwilling to hang their reputation on the story’s truth.

  51. Headless Unicorn Guy: Remember, this is Led Zep’s “Stairway to Heaven”.

    During the Backwards Masking Scare of the Eighties, “Stairway to Heaven” was THE Poster Child for SATANIC Backwards Masking, played backwards by all those preacher-men/Mighty Spiritual Warriors/DEMON Fighters. Played backwards AFTER grooming their Churchy audiences by telling them exactly what they were going to hear.

    Which reminds of this one from Bloom County:

    https://www.pinterest.com/pin/hahahahaha–146859637819669246/

  52. What’s not mentioned in the article is that John Ortbergs son “Daniel” was born a female who was named Mallory. I also was a Willow attender for many years and know Nancy Beach and Betty Schmidt, they would not be assisting in the destruction of a child. Not to mention the time frame of this whole story does not add up.

  53. L. greene: What’s not mentioned in the article is that John Ortbergs son “Daniel” was born a female who was named Mallory.

    Teh Tranny Card is now in play?

  54. R’as al Ghul: Which reminds of this one from Bloom County:

    https://www.pinterest.com/pin/hahahahaha–146859637819669246/

    DEATHTONGUE!
    WITH IT’S LEAD VOCAL, BILL THE CAT!
    “OOP!!! ACKKKKKKK!!! PHHHHHHHT!!!”

    Though the plot of that four-panel not only parallels but matches something that happened during the second or third incarnation of Satanic Backwards Masking, the one that denounced the theme from Mister Ed (early Sixties B&W TV sitcom about a talking horse) as Satanic. Said Mighty Spiritual Warrior with Private Revelation also claimed that every CHRISTIAN pop song — EVERY SINGLE ONE — said “PRAISE THE LOOOOOOORD!” when played backwards.

    The following Sunday, Dr Demento opened his show with Theme from Mister Ed played backwards and announced the Satanic Message was in the reversed whinny.

  55. I do not believe that the woman accused of abuse abused or hurt this woman. I spoke with many of them during the time of the Willow Creek scandal and had respect for them. They were under tremendous strain and handled the situation admirably.

    I do not see any problem with Daniel Lavery. He spoke the truth about his brother’s situation. However, I do not believe this woman’s story. I pray she is getting the help that she deserves.

    Once again, I support the women accused.

  56. Muff Potter: Ted: Yeah, OK, Muff, lighten up a bit.

    Sorry to have offended you.

    Thank you, Muff. I’m just getting back to TWW, having taken a week off. I thought my comment had been deleted, but I see it here again, and happy to see yours too.

  57. L. greene: What’s not mentioned in the article is that John Ortbergs son “Daniel” was born a female who was named Mallory.

    But your playing the Tranny Card damages your credibility in what follows.

    Also, I don’t remember seeing your handle before. On this and other church corruption whistleblower blogs, we have a pattern of Drive-By commenters denouncing/blasting us defending the ManaGAWD or Church that comes under scrutiny. Usually with generic or Christianese handles we’ve never seen before. All we know is you popped out of the woodwork with a single comment; how do we know you’re not some sock puppet or a yelping junkyard dog who got hit?

  58. Anonymous Please,

    John III had qualms and his dad “told him to” carry on volunteering (like Long senior told Long junior).

    Miscellaneous inconsistencies (if they are that) are like ripples: but watch where the boulder got thrown in.

    It’s superstitious to regard church ministry / eldership / volunteering (on the corporate model) as other than temporary or to run in families.