A TWW Tutorial: How Carefully Read the Message From the Church Leaders and Robert Morris While Avoiding Cognitive Dissonance

“Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels that he is finding his place in it, while really it is finding its place in him.”
C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters


The discussed communication from Gateway.

My story

Our mission at TWW is to help our fellow churchgoers avoid abuse: sexual, psychological, emotional, and spiritual. I have been writing for fifteen years but didn’t set out to write a blog. I was emotionally distraught after finding out that my SBC church mishandled a terrible sexual abuse situation. Thirteen boys testified, but many more boys were molested by a Southeastern Theological Seminary student, Doug Goodrich. He should have received life but only got 13 years. If it had been tried today,  he would have still been languishing in prison. The mother of one of the boys told us they had reported suspicious behavior to the church, which blew them off. To this day, it is some of the most disgusting abuse of boys I have ever heard. A group of us approached the church. Guess what? We became the problem, and I was startled and hurt. So, I started this to see if anyone else had seen stuff like this. My husband said I kicked over a hornet’s nest. I have grown in ways I never imagined.

My mission

Yes, I expose sexual abuse in the church. As time went on, I became aware of the pain of spiritual abuse. I experienced that at the hands of my Baptist pastors for merely confronting a problem to get it out in the open. So many people experience abuse at the hands of church leaders. From time to time, I write posts that focus on how to avoid such abuse. For example, I wrote one post on how to assess the potential for problems before one even visits a church. Part of that was assessing what was on the church’s website.

Cognitive dissonance and the churchgoer

I always thought I got church. I taught adult Sunday school, often discussing the history of the church. I am a bit of a nerd. I dealt with problems in the church by going to the pastors and elders. They always listened to me and were responsive. I thought all churches were like those we were fortunate enough to attend as we traveled nationwide for my husband’s cardiology training and research. That all changed when I saw the abuse at my church and decided to confront the pastors. I couldn’t believe it. I thought I knew churches and pastors. I love the Bible and have spent years figuring out the difficult passages. Indeed, I knew how to pick a church. After all, look at my involvement in all things “church.”

I had my wake-up call, and I was depressed for quite a while. How could the church act like it did? How could a pastor be so mean and vengeful? This blog started me on a journey to get smart. I have read more church websites, documents, covenants, etc. So, let’s dive into the two texts from Gateway that deal with Cindy Clemishire and the response of Robert Morris and others. I will point out the things that jumped out at me. I bet many of you can add to my thoughts, and I look forward to hearing from you.

The Thomas Miller introduction

  • I assume Robert Morris has a cell phone as he travels across Greece. Why wouldn’t he take the time to answer? It looks like he doesn’t have to respond. Is it Miller’s job to protect Morris from icky things?
  • So, blogs just “popped up” to discuss something  that happened “35 years ago.” Hmmm, Miller knows things happened 35 years ago. Maybe Morris is talking to him on that cell phone. It seems essential to them that it was “so long ago.” Somehow, that seems to make it less critical.
  • He is providing a statement from the elders and Robert Morris. It looks like that cell phone is working. This is a problem for the elders and Morris since including them in the same statement is an attempt to show unity. I wonder if anyone in that group is beginning to question this whole thing.
  • He claims there is “absolute thoroughness and transparency.” We know now that this is not true. The fact that he stresses the word “absolute” implies that there is no other way for anyone to question what is being said. Always, always, always question if they are telling the truth when they overstate their transparency. They want you to believe only their version of events. That is when you must question their version.
  • They want this to “empower you with a response.” It seems to me they are telling you what to say.
  • Do not send this message out. Be quiet unless someone asks. Don’t do anything that would cause people to ask questions. If they don’t want questions, ask why. What are they afraid of?
  • You are too stupid to answer them if they have questions. Send them to a campus pastor. I wonder why they don’t trust the people who receive this message.
  • I called the church (identified myself and my blog) and asked for a statement. I was transferred to the “media department” and got a robo-answer to leave a message. I did and got no response. They were not answering.

The elders’ statement

  • They claim that Morris has been open and forthright regarding a “moral failure” he had. I have a question. How do they know he was open and forthright? Did they question him at length? In fact, how does anyone know if a person is being open and forthright? Are we supposed to believe it because he said so and is a pastor? Don’t pastors sin? When they sin, is it merely a cute sin, like overeating at the potluck? I used to believe that until I saw the sin face to face.
  • Moral failure? It was more than that. It was a crime that changed a young girl’s life trajectory, and she has lived with it for most of her life.
  • This one is a favorite of mine. See how much they pack into it. (The moral failure) happened 35 years ago, when he was in his twenties and before Gateway Church. Once again, a crime committed 35 years ago doesn’t seem to mean much to them.
    They claim he was in his 20s. They seem to say, “You know how guys are in their 20s.” I know guys in their twenties. They are firemen, EMTs, nurses, teachers, etc. I don’t hear that many of them have trouble molesting kids. I guess young pastors who are married with a kid are expected to commit sexual crimes.
    They want to save Gateway at all costs. “He didn’t do that here!”
  • They claim he has publicly shared the lengthy restoration process from the pulpit.” I guess I slept through that sermon. When did he say he molested a 12-year-old and got in trouble for it? Two years out for molesting a kid is lengthy? This is not true. Did the elder just fib?
  • They claim he got professional counseling and freedom counseling during that “lengthy” two-year restoration. This one is interesting. As I have said, it seems highly unusual that a married man with a kid would choose to commit a crime and molest a 12-year-old kid. Most men would choose a consenting adult to fulfill their sexual issues. Does this mean he likes pubescent girls? Could this be a paraphilia? If so, he got cured in two years, and some dudes from Shady Grove knew how to deal with this sort of thing. Forgive me. I sincerely doubt this.
  • Since the “resolution of the matter”…hold your horses, rangers, it is obviously not resolved, or this blog wouldn’t have popped up and showed how it isn’t resolved.
  • This is a 35-year-old matter: They are pushing the idea that it was so long ago while pounding the table with fists and screaming, “Why does it matter?” It matters because a kid was hurt terribly by a molester, and it has affected her life for 35 years while Morris was off getting rich and famous. I guess she doesn’t matter, does she?
  • Morris has had no moral failures in 35 years.” Really? How do you know? No one is with him 24/7. His wife, who presumably lived with him, had no idea he was harming Cindy. My Lutheran pastors remind us regularly that they are still sinners like the rest of us. Does Morris remind his people of this?
  • He “walks in purity.” What in the world does this mean? The only One who walked in purity is our Lord. This sort of thing is Christianese and makes absolutely no sense. I would believe it if they said, “He wants to walk in purity,” but not that he does. This stuff is annoying and weird.
  • “He has placed accountability measures and people in his life.” That’s nice. Who are they? How do they keep him accountable? Does anyone remember Josh Duggar and his accountability software?
  • This matter has been properly disclosed to leadership.” So all the significant dudes knew he went after a 12-year-old girl for 4 1/2 years? Many people seem surprised, and this ill-thought-out response indicates that this situation was not suspected by many.

Robert Morris responds (I assume from Greece. Morris should come home and face the music.)

  • “In my twenties, I was involved in  inappropriate sexual behavior.” What does he mean by “inappropriate?” It needs defining. Also, in the video on my blog post about his relationship with Cindy, he claimed he stopped chasing girls when he became a Christian when he was 19. So it appears he lied.
  • “I was staying with a young lady in a home.” This was a 12-year-old kid. Morris is not telling the truth.
  • It was kissing and petting but not intercourse.” Wait, Cindy said his fingers were inserted into her vagina. Wait- the law says that can be defined as intercourse. He may not be telling the truth.
    “Sexual intercourse is defined as “vaginal intercourse or any insertion, however slight, of a hand, finger or object into the vagina, vulva, or labia, excluding such insertion for medical treatment or examination.”
  • This happened on several occasions over five years.” Uh oh. This is an adult man, married with a child, who has the hots for a twelve-year-old girl. Does Robert Morris have a paraphilia?
  • He claimed he repented of this and submitted himself to Shady Grove Church and the “young Lady” ‘s father. He continues to call her a young lady. I think he may be ashamed to tell us her age. She was a minor who could not consent to this behavior.
  • He claims he got counseling and freedom ministry and stepped out of ministry, and has walked in purity and accountability in this area,” Why should I believe him? I know he lied when he said that he didn’t chase females after he became a Christian. If he lied about this, what else did he lie about? How does he define purity? How does he describe accountability in this area?
  • He claims he stepped back into ministry after Cindy’s family had forgiven him. I wonder about this. What does forgiveness look like from the girl he molested? He knows it was a crime. Why didn’t he confess this to the police? He was a pastor and used his pastoral authority. Was this clergy abuse? Why did his wife call Cindy to “forgive her.” Has Debbie asked for forgiveness for this questionable act? Did it happen? Cindy says it did. I believe her.
  • The sin was dealt with correctly in 1987. Really. It appears to be a crime. Did he go to the police and ask for forgiveness?

What are the main messages?

  • It happened 35 years ago in a vain attempt to claim that it doesn’t matter now.
  • His victim is characterized as a “young lady.” They knew she was 12 years old but maybe avoiding it being described as a crime.
  • We are told he is walking in purity, whatever that means, and that he has had no other moral failures. How do we know this is true? He has already lied when he said he stopped chasing girls when he became a Christian. We have no reason to believe he is telling the truth. Frankly, there is no way for us to know what happens in a person’s life. We can only say he hasn’t been caught in moral failures. Also, how does he define a moral failure?
  • He claims this issue is resolved. Maybe it is for him, but it isn’t for Cindy.
  • He never once mentioned how his molestation over 4 1/2 years affected the victim.

Finally

So many sit in a crowd of thousands and admire their pastor from afar. He looks good, and he’s a fine speaker. There’s great music, and everyone is smiling. If you are feeling down, there’s always the Freedom Ministry. Robert Morris tells stories about himself and his family. Do not make the mistake of thinking you know Robert Morris or his family. You know only what he wants you to know. He told you he stepped down because of pride. That wasn’t true. He stepped down because he had the hots for a 12-year-old girl. He claimed he stopped his immoral lifestyle with girls when he became a Christian. You now know that isn’t true.

Morris demonstrated who he was when he lied about his past. Why do you believe he wouldn’t lie about his life now? Because he told you he is walking in purity, whatever that means? Christianese is always difficult to understand, and maybe that’s why it’s so popular.

It was hard to admit that I was wrong about the Baptist church I attended. The “aw shucks” humble pastor on stage was not the same man when a small group of us confronted him about mistakes in handling the horrific sexual abuse of many teen boys. Suddenly, we were the liars trying to harm the church. I had to accept I was wrong about that church and that pastor. I had to admit that I made an error in my assessment of the church.

I have learned an important lesson from my Lutheran pastors. (By the way, I never imagined becoming Lutheran, although my pastors say my choice for the name of this blog proves I was meant to be Lutheran.) Have you heard the saying “Simul justus et peccator?” It means “at once justified and a sinner.” We are all both saints and sinners. Do not be surprised when the pretend veil of purity drops, and you see the real man underneath.

Instead, be like these guys!

Acts 17:11 NIV

Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.


Comments

A TWW Tutorial: How Carefully Read the Message From the Church Leaders and Robert Morris While Avoiding Cognitive Dissonance — 88 Comments

  1. The trustees of COTH (Church of the Highlands) believed Wartburg Watch and Cindy.

    Alabama Media Group:

    “We were unaware of this part of his past,” the statement said.

    “After being made aware of the disturbing media reports, Highlands trustees and overseers immediately initiated a due diligence process that included reaching out to Gateway’s elders. Before the scheduled follow-up meeting to determine changes in our governance structure, Pastor Morris resigned.”

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  2. Excellent work, Dee.

    “You only know what they, your clergymen, want you to know.”

    U betcha by golly. Wow.

    Until a fly in the corner comes forward but NOT a fly. Real humans, flying low visibility under the radar at the time, SEE and KNOW things. Mary saw Jesus in the Garden and NO disciples believed her. Shame on them.

    So who this $117M Hollywood producer clergyman is, is now exposed outside of his cult (who had idolized, believed, and covered for him, while even what they did know was horrendous!).

    And his idolatrous cult pumping $117M into his pockets (public fact) is also exposed as the fools they are, in the global spotlight. There were signs.

    His Freedom Ministry is busted, allegedly, as a promiscuous free-for-all for clergymen counselors.

    And their church association’s Clergymen Restoration Retreat Lodge gentlemen’s club… would that be the Bohemian Grove for predator pastors?

    All paid for in Jesus’ name with tithes.

    We only know what they want us to know … until … the fly on the wall turns out to be a real legitimate person, out for neither gain nor fame but to let the truth be known.

    Real freedom ministry is when the low visibility under the radar completely ignored folks come forth, no fame nor gain, and share the truth to break the façade of evil. Glory be.

    Thanks and God bless: Cindy and her husband, Wade and Rachel, Dee and your cardio-dude. Real freedom ministry. Name it after those guys while doing what they never do: tell the truth.

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  3. Meanwhile, at Gateway, so far as I could tell, it was business as usual. I watched all the pertinent parts of their online service to see what they’d announce. They had a big professional quality concert, a few prayers, and a Father’s Day message by a fill-in preacher.
    If there was anything said about any gossip from some pesky blogger, it was either snuck in somewhere or scrubbed. Some Israelite named Isaiah may have gotten it right when he said:
    ‘On that day the Lord GOD of Hosts
    called for weeping and wailing,
    for shaven heads
    and the wearing of sackcloth.
    But look, there is joy and gladness,
    butchering of cattle and slaughtering of sheep,
    eating of meat and drinking of wine:
    “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”‘

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  4. In my state what he did is considered aggravated sexual battery and carries mandatory 25 years to life in prison. The fact that it was for 4 1/2 years would have meant multiple counts of multiple offenses. He’d have gotten lucky if they offered him a plea deal for 20 years. I know—my daughter was abused in this way by her maternal grandfather and he’s currently serving that sentence for ONE INCIDENT in our state (though he’s facing charges in another state as well). Morris should be in prison period.

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  5. The Catholic Church should have reported all abuse to the police! SBC said they would report it, have any churches been held accountable? Reporting Abuse to authorities (not the church authorities) is our first response, not implementing a cover-up! Father God instituted government authorities to punish criminals! We never cover up sin or qualify it! Abortion is murder, child molestation is a crime, taking truth and twisting it to fit your narrative is a lie! This pastor needs a trial and a judge here on earth before he can even say he repents! He’d better confess and turn himself in! Jesus knows, and He will say I never knew you! You who lie to The Holy Spirit will answer to Father God!

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  6. In my non-church life, in my “day job” so to speak, I am an accountant. I work with numbers. Two times in this cover up they use the term “over 35 years.” Then in the final summary, they actually say that they resolved the “35 year old matter.”

    Wait, what? Christmas Day 1982 to June 14, 2014 appears to be 41 years 172 days. Is this some sort of “collective amnesia?” What happened to this earlier period?

    I will tell you what happened to those 6 years and 172 days. They were and are being covered up. There is no other explanation.

    I grew up Catholic. Two priests in the Catholic church I attended from age 10 to age 21 were pedophiles whose heinous sins were covered up by the bishop. Then in college, my campus pastor (who officiated at my marriage) was abusing 16 to 20 year olds. He apparently was “restored” by his bishop and moved on.

    The outrage of the pew sitting Roman Catholic was multiplied by a hundred BECAUSE OF THE COVER UP. Those bishop, archbishops, cardinals and popes who knew the truth, who thought they could “heal” these parish priests through therapy and spiritual guidance, were and are roundly denounced.

    I am writing a term paper on 2 John 11: “whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.” Congratulations to the “Shady” elders and to all who are responsible for giving Robert Morris his standing in the church. His sins are your sins. You are accomplices to the rape of 12 year old Cindy and anyone else abused by Morris.

    God will not be mocked. Judgment starts in the household of God.

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  7. Dale Rudiger: You are accomplices to the rape of 12 year old Cindy and anyone else abused by Morris.

    You are also accomplices to the rape of TRUTH. The TRUTH was John’s concern in his letter to the church. The blatant attempt to cover up the truth in this matter strikes at the very heart of Christianity, to the very heart of the God-man who is the embodiment of truth.

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  8. The comments from churchgoers on his Facebook page have me shook. People are OUTRAGED that this now-grown woman is speaking out about something that happened “and was dealt with” 35 years ago. There are comments that cast suspicion and blame on her, while still revering him.

    Hate to burst a bubble, but she is allowed to speak. She can speak the truth as loud and as long as she wants. She is a victim. She was silenced – but she’s brave enough now to speak. Let her speak. Her journey is hers to dictate – not up to the church or her parents (that whole part of the story is just deeply weird…the parents got to forgive him and that made it right?).

    This story stirs up for me my experience in a young church where the 24 year old music minister began sleeping with a 14 year old girl from the youth group. When it came to light, the pastor sent him on his way…where he went to another church…and another…and another. Those of us (teens ourselves!) who knew what happened were made out to be the bad guys of the story. I still remember being 17 and called into the Senior Pastor’s office–alone–and made to feel ashamed. I was told not to speak of it again. I was shunned at the church I thought was my home. So were the other girls who knew. And…I never saw the girl who was raped again. She just disappeared. I left the church myself within a couple of years.

    That church went on to grow into one of the largest megachurches in the United States, with a giant campus and several satellite churches. So, did the coverup by the senior pastor (who was someone well-respected in the “who’s who” of Christian circles) justify the cost of the young girl’s well-being? Did it justify shaming me and the other young girls who knew what really happened? We kept the secret, but when I look at anything that ministry produces, I know what the real cost was.

    All that to say…these two events happened more than 35 years ago and those who were wounded carry around the shame, and the belief that our silence is necessary for the church to survive. What a small, small vision of God is presented when we pretend it’s our job to protect him.

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  9. Dee, you always do such a great job exposing horrific behavior in the church. I have followed you since your early years. I live in the DFW area and was a victim of your ex neighbors church. This is so awful and we haven’t even touched on the financial abuse. Begging for money and telling the congregation they will be blessed if they give and will be cursed if they don’t. All while owning multiple properties. I wonder how many people in his congregation know that he lives in a multi million dollar home in the most exclusive neighborhood (Vaquero) in Westlake. And do you want to guess who one of his neighbors is? Besides many professional athletes, your ex neighbor also just moved there last year. I wonder how many pastors in the area live in Vaquero? And if you want the facts like you always present, I will give your their addresses if you message me in private. Keep up the good necessary work.

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  10. I guess Gateway elders feel they can have a more “empowered” damage control if they can get all 100,000 members on board with a common response. Perhaps they know that this one is so big, it’s going to take an army with groupthink and group-attack to confront the enemy coming against them. Morris is on “Satan’s Hit List” (remember that one?), so every able-bodied man, woman, and “child” must be on board to protect him. Hopefully, Gateway members are collectively smart enough to see through this.

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  11. “Since the resolution of this 35 year old matter …”

    Has anyone at Gateway paused to ask “Should this really have been ‘resolved’ by the elders at Shady Grove? After all, the ‘matter’ involved alleged child abuse! Should such things be under the jurisdiction of a church?!”

    “I was involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with a young lady …”

    Has anyone at Gateway paused to ask “What about this ‘young lady’ thing? Wasn’t the alleged victim in middle school?!” … as they look around them in the pews at what a 12-year old girl looks like.

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  12. “So many sit in a crowd of thousands and admire their pastor from afar. He looks good, and he’s a fine speaker.”

    … as they shout back at the blogosphere “So what, if Pastor had some hanky panky in his past. He sure can preach!”

    I repeat … with a touch of charisma, a gift of gab, and a bag of gimmicks, anyone (anyone!) can have a successful ministry in America. The land is full of folks longing for reality in Christ, but they look too often in the wrong places … church leaders abound who will take advantage of blind trust.

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  13. Dale Rudiger: I am writing a term paper on 2 John 11: “whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.” Congratulations to the “Shady” elders and to all who are responsible for giving Robert Morris his standing in the church. His sins are your sins. You are accomplices

    Here’s another passage for your term paper:

    “Do not hurry to lay hands on anyone ordaining and approving someone for ministry or an office in the church, or in REINSTATING EXPELLED OFFENDERS, and thereby share in the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.” (1 Timothy 5:22 AMP)

    You will find no examples in the New Testament of a church “restoring” a child abuser to ministry. They remembered Jesus’ millstone warning.

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  14. As the parent of a child abused 51 years ago, there should never be raised the idea that since it was so long ago, let’s not punish the perp.

    At this point RM should be given a cell next door to Josh Duggar. Maybe he is travelling to avoid prosecution?

    This whole shebang is so wrong, and my heart goes out to the victim.

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  15. Lynn Murray,

    I am sorry you and your teenage friends experienced this…. That church, and “clown” for a senior preacher should be exposed also….. I am so sick of seeing “little people” thrown under the bus for the “shake of the ministry”…. What a bunch of BS….
    Christ specifically state how we treat “the least” is how we treat him….. This clown preacher sure showed what he really believes..

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  16. AF: Another lie: He said he had 2 years of the restoration process with counseling and freedom ministry, but his book said it was 1 month.

    Regarding CHRISTIAN counseling and ministry, didn’t a young Josh Duggar go through this when he got caught banging his sisters?

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  17. I wonder if Morris ever mentioned Matt. 18:8 in any of his sermons…..
    “it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea than to cause one of these little ones to stumble”

    (I suspect – if he ever even read that verse- that he just marked it out with a red Sharpie.)

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  18. “In my twenties, I was involved in inappropriate sexual behavior.” This is absolutely reprehensible on so many levels. Anyone who describes a sexual assault they committed in this way, is not being honest about what it was. They are trying to whitewash it, they are giving it “spin”. This is careful messaging designed to minimize the event, and make it look like “boys will be boys” and “boys make mistakes”.

    “I was involved” is passive voice. All by itself, those three words imply that he was not the perpetrator, he was just a participant. The honest description, the one that acknowledges full responsibility, is “I sexually assaulted”.

    Then we move on to “35 years ago” which multiple people are saying. How long ago it happened, does not change the severity of it.

    And finally using “a young lady” as a way to disguise her age. She was a **twelve-year old girl**. “I was involved with a young lady” is light-years away from “I, as a 20-year-old, assaulted a 12-year-old girl multiple times”.

    This man is disqualified from his **current** ministry on lack of integrity based on this statement **alone**. Someone who truly did repent would not talk about what they did this way. They would confess it again with no attempts to soften it or excuse it. They would say again how sorry they are for what they did to this girl.

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  19. Lynn Murray,

    This sounds like Church of the Highlands. I was there almost 20 years.
    So many stories – clergy sex abuse, spiritual abuse… Many of them recognized publicly.
    Hundreds have left.
    Sunday pastor delivered message – did not address Robert Morris but warned members not to allow any unwholesome words to come from their mouths. (He didn’t read that Scripture in context.)
    As Gateway has done, Highlands has relentlessly scrubbed our voices from the Internet.
    This is too big. Their magic eraser cannot handle this one.

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  20. Thank you Dee for your work. I wish people would stop talking about the time that has passed. For the perpetrator, it was history and so long ago…for the victim, it was yesterday. It takes a long time for victims to process what has been done to them. The perp goes on and lives a good life, but it stays with the victim every day. The higher they go, the harder the fall.

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  21. Mr. Morris may have to try this again to keep Gateway members out of the blogosphere:

    “I have to say this, um, I’m really concerned about how much time people spend on the Internet. I’m extremely concerned about it. Extremely concerned about it; here’s one thing, just even the blogs that mention Christian leaders, and I’m one of ‘em. Praise the Lord, I’ve made the Satan, Satan’s hit list now you know …”

    https://wthrockmorton.com/2015/09/27/gateway-pastor-robert-morris-calls-blogs-satans-hit-list/

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  22. Tamara: Church of the Highlands … Sunday pastor delivered message – did not address Robert Morris but warned members not to allow any unwholesome words to come from their mouths … As Gateway has done, Highlands has relentlessly scrubbed our voices from the Internet.

    The dudebros get together to cover and protect … to silence any who express concerns when these things come up … such a sad state of affairs in some corners of the American church, where they think more about themselves than those who have been abused.

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  23. I guess a statement as follows will never be said by a Christian leader who committed crimes.

    “I am extremely sorry for the pain and heartache I have caused you, (person), and those who love and care for you. I committed sins and crimes against you. I will turn myself in to the appropriate authorities for the crimes I have committed against you. I ask God’s forgiveness for me. I ask God’s help, comfort, and healing to you for my reprehensible crimes. I will pay for anything necessary for your care and healing.”

    Signed

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  24. Important to point out: Morris attempted to “resolve” this matter with Cindy with $25,000 and an NDA (nondisclosure agreement).

    The proposal to exchange money (pocket change for him) for her perpetual silence is not the action of a repentant individual.

    I would be shocked if there are no other NDAs in force. But even the fact he offered one means that no one can say with any certainty that he has “walked in moral purity” since sexually molesting a girl while she was age 12-16 and he was in his twenties. All he would have had to do was hire his own attorney to set up the contract and the church would never know.

    NDA= No D**ned Accountability

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  25. Max,

    “For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? And also, “If the righteous are barely saved, what will happen to godless sinners?” So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.”
    ‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4:17-19‬ ‭NLT‬‬

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  26. Eyewitness: no one can say with any certainty that he has “walked in moral purity” since sexually molesting a girl while she was age 12-16 and he was in his twenties.

    I don’t see how anyone could say with real confidence that any other person has “walked in moral purity” for whatever length of time. Maybe they have, and maybe they haven’t, but you, third party, don’t know anything other than what someone tells you, and you can’t assume he or she is telling you the truth.

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  27. Gus:
    If RM really was “open and forthright” when he started the church with them, why did the elders at the time hire him instead of reporting him?

    Because he started the church and hired the first elders. And under their structure – about which he writes in The Blessed Church – they hire their own successors.

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  28. I condensed the RM story:

    Morris was born in 1961. He got married in 1980. He claims to have accepted Jesus as his savior in early 1981.

    Then he abused Cindy for 4 1/2 years after he accepted Jesus, all under the nose of his wife and child and all while making money by “sharing the gospel’ to congregations. Years later, he and his church leaders try to bully Cindy into signing an NDA .

    Sickening.

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  29. Cynthia W.: I don’t see how anyone could say with real confidence that any other person has “walked in moral purity” for whatever length of time. Maybe they have, and maybe they haven’t, but you, third party, don’t know anything other than what someone tells you, and you can’t assume he or she is telling you the truth.

    You put it better than I did. I was trying to make the point that the offer of an NDA makes it even less likely. An NDA is an instrument of cover-up.

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  30. I am surprised they were so surprised because I personally read quite a few suspicious things about Robert Morris and Gateway several years ago, probably on this very website. I remember something about how he admitted that in early years of preaching he was guilty of feeling lustful toward young girls in revealing clothes sitting in the front rows, but now he’d been freed from that or something. If I’m recalling that right, maybe it was to cover himself from any accusations that might come out, but I couldn’t believe he thought it was okay to say something like that and no one seemed bothered by it! I only looked up Gateway back then because I knew people who went there who told me things that raised red flags for me, and what I found made it sound even more problematic.

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  31. From the OP:

    “Do not make the mistake of thinking you know Robert Morris or his family. You know only what he wants you to know.”

    Now replace RM with the name of your pastor:

    “Do not make the mistake of thinking you know __________ or his family. You know only what he wants you to know.”

    You might be thinking, “But his wife seems so nice, and the kids are so well-behaved.” It might be because they’ve been threatened with (“Godly authority”) violence 5 minutes beforehand in the parking lot plus the eternal damnation of their souls. Your professional motivational speaker (aka pastor) is using his wife and kids as props in his performance, while propositioning other women in the church in the media booth.

    Then after church, he shakes your hand and greets you by name, and it makes you feel special.

    So true, Dee, we only know what they want us to know.

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  32. Tamara:
    Lynn Murray,

    This sounds like Church of the Highlands. I was there almost 20 years.
    So many stories – clergy sex abuse, spiritual abuse… Many of them recognized publicly.
    Hundreds have left.
    Sunday pastor delivered message – did not address Robert Morris but warned members not to allow any unwholesome words to come from their mouths. (He didn’t read that Scripture in context.)
    As Gateway has done, Highlands has relentlessly scrubbed our voices from the Internet.
    This is too big. Their magic eraser cannot handle this one.

    Morris was one of the “overseers” of Church of the Highlands. Until today when he resigned from that position too.

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  33. Chuck:
    In my state what he did is considered aggravated sexual battery and carries mandatory 25 years to life in prison. The fact that it was for 4 1/2 years would have meant multiple counts of multiple offenses. He’d have gotten lucky if they offered him a plea deal for 20 years. I know—my daughter was abused in this way by her maternal grandfather and he’s currently serving that sentence for ONE INCIDENT in our state (though he’s facing charges in another state as well). Morris should be in prison period.

    I am so very sorry that this happened to your daughter. As an abuse survivor myself, I know that this kind of thing will change and distort your whole life. I wish I could find the words to express my heartache for your daughter and your family. ‘I am so sorry” is just not enough words to say what I feel.

    May you feel God walking with you.

    Chuck:
    In my state what he did is considered aggravated sexual battery and carries mandatory 25 years to life in prison. The fact that it was for 4 1/2 years would have meant multiple counts of multiple offenses. He’d have gotten lucky if they offered him a plea deal for 20 years. I know—my daughter was abused in this way by her maternal grandfather and he’s currently serving that sentence for ONE INCIDENT in our state (though he’s facing charges in another state as well). Morris should be in prison period.

    Chuck,

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  34. AF:
    Another lie:He said he had 2 years of the restoration process with counseling and freedom ministry, but his book said it was 1 month.He went to work for James Robison after 1 month.And why would James Robison hire a child molester?That’s an interesting question.

    AF; I don’t know the details but Robison was having an affair when Morris was working for him.You should be able to google info.

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  35. nmgirl:
    If Morris was married and had a child in 1987 how old were both of them at the time of marriage? It seems he might already had a problem with very young females.

    Morris was born in 1961, his wife Debbie is a year older, they have been married 44 years, so they were married 1980. He would have been 19, his wife 20.

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  36. I’ve been a member of Gateway since 2003. I can’t even express what I’m feeling. Cindy, thank you for coming forward. I can only imagine how hard it was. I’m so sorry this happened to you.
    I’m wondering about the day of the meeting when Cindy finally told her father and they met with Robert. Was Debbie there? Did Cindy’s father know she was 12 when it started? I just don’t understand when Debbie called Cindy and said she forgave her makes me believe Debbie wasn’t there at that meeting and Robert told her a lie.

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  37. Chris Webster: What he really was and has been for 40+ years is the gravy train for everyone who has covered up his crimes. I am sure they recognized his charisma and speaking ability early on and saw only $$$$$$$$.

    Too big to fail?

    “If this doctrine or purpose or undertaking or movement is merely human in origin, it will fail, be overthrown and come to nothing” (Acts 5:38 AMP)

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  38. Elaine:
    For someone who regularly attends and tithes at Gateway, I can’t believe there has been no public outreach to members regarding these events. No email of concern for members. They have abandoned the flock. Truly heartbreaking.

    That is because the elders and leadership teams are a) Doing damage control to try and save their rear ends and b) Making sure they have a spot on a lifeboat on the sinking Titanic that is Gateway Church for when a) fails.

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  39. ed. note. We pile on pastors because sex abuse with a pastor is particularly harmful. If Morris had been a schoolteacher and had done that, he would never teach again and would go to jail. If a doctor did that, he would lose his license, never practice again and go to jail. The same goes for licensed counselors. It isa truly sad witness to the world when we advocate for pastors who do this, wanting them back in the pulpit. And many people in your situation would say that they should be restored. It is sad when a secular culture has more values that pastors and their church members.However, I understand that you have been groomed to think that way and for that I am sorry.<

    Ariel,

    How is this different than what happens in life with everyone? Who is 100% transparent with everyone? And let’s stop piling on pastors, assuming that all of them are deceiving their flocks.

    Indeed there are bad and evil pastors, just as there are bad and evil cops, teachers, business men, contractors, software engineers, government officials and workers, etc…. There are people in ALL walks of life who TAKE ADVANTAGE of others and have little to no moral compass.

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  40. Ed. note. He did not admit to the crime of sex with a 12 year old girl. If he should decide to do so, he should grab his lawyer and go to the police and confess it.He didn’t and he won’t.What worries me is that you are saying that you could commit crime that deserves prison. Do you think you could molest a child? If so, you need help, ASAP

    At what point do we accept that God can and does forgive even a sin like what Robert admitted to? And in theory, could be restored to ministry as he claimed.

    Yes, consequences can still follow, but consequences like criminal protection IS NOT required for forgiveness, but is simply punishment and to deter people from doing that crime.

    How many have done something in their life which could’ve earned them jail time but were. ever caught. I’d say many of us if we were really truthful.

    My point being, maybe he’s lying, and maybe not. But these comments are basically self reinforcing.

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  41. Coolviper777: Indeed there are bad and evil pastors, just as there are bad and evil cops, teachers, business men, contractors, software engineers, government officials and workers, etc…. There are people in ALL walks of life who TAKE ADVANTAGE of others and have little to no moral compass.

    So… “BUT EVERYBODY’S DOING IT!”?
    Really?

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  42. Coolviper777: At what point do we accept that God can and does forgive even a sin like what Robert admitted to? And in theory, could be restored to ministry

    I don’t know where you are getting your “theory”, but you will find no examples in the New Testament of a pastor abusing a child being restored to the ministry. You will find Jesus issuing harsh warnings to those found guilty of harming little ones. Forgive them if they genuinely repent? Certainly. Restore them to ministry? Absolutely not!

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