Did the Gateway Pastors/Elders Purposely Mislead Members Who Inquired About Cindy Clemishire? You Decide.


“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses


2005: Gateway Church was allegedly notified that Cindy Clemishire was 12 years old when Robert Morris molested her.

(I use allegedly for the lawyers. However, I believe Cindy Clemishire.)

On 6/18/24, I posted A Statement by Cindy Clemishire in Response to Yesterday’s Elders’ Statement from Gateway. Cindy made the following statement:

The leadership at Gateway received actual notice of this crime in 2005 when I sent an email directly to Robert Morris’ Gateway email address. Former Gateway elder, Tom Lane, received and responded to my email, acknowledging that the sexual abuse began on December 25, 1982, when I was 12 years old. Again in 2007, my then attorney Gentner Drummond (the current Attorney General of Oklahoma) sent a letter to Robert Morris with the hope that he would help reimburse me for the thousands of dollars I had expended in counseling as a result of this abuse. His attorney acknowledged the dates as well and then attempted to blame me for the abuse. At the very least, both the Gateway pastor and at least one elder had specific notice that I was sexually abused beginning when I was 12 years old. Gateway had the information but intentionally decided to embrace the false narrative Robert Morris wanted them to believe.

In this statement, we learn that notice of the crime was allegedly sent to Robert Morris. Tom Lane, an elder, received and responded to this email. I want to know if Tom Lane handled messy or upsetting emails for Robert Morris.

2009: Andrea allegedly attempted to speak with Robert Morris about chat group messages from Cindy about being molested as a child but got Tom Lane and the now missing David Smith instead. Tom Lane to the rescue once again, maybe?

The following is a chronological account provided by a former member of Gateway. Since she wishes to be anonymous in this post, I will call her Andrea. In 2009, Andrea saw the following comment on the Oprah Winfrey message board: “clmccaleb” was Cindy Clemishire, and “lucy77777” was Andrea, a member of Gateway. Andrea quickly understood that Cindy was speaking about a pastor at Gateway.

Andrea claimed she was disturbed by Cindy’s disclosure that she was molested by this pastor and asked her to clarify which pastor abused her. Was it the senior pastor, or was it another pastor on staff?

Cindy quickly clarified that she was speaking about Andrea’s senior pastor at Gateway, Robert Morris.

Andrea attempted to contact Robert Morris but got no response from him. She sent him a screenshot from the above chat.

From:
Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 12:58:40 PM CST
Subject: Private — message for Pastor Morris from Gateway member
Pastor Robert,

My husband and I are Gateway members, and this has been my church home for the past 6 years. I want to first thank you for your Bible-based, practical teaching and for helping to build such a dynamic, Christ-centered church. We absolutely love it here.

Because of my respect for you and Gateway, I was very surprised to read a post on an Internet message board in response to the Ted Haggard appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show yesterday. This person made some off-hand comments involving you that I was very taken aback by. I have no desire to listen to false rumors, so I wanted to ask you directly about this. (See attached PDF document for the correspondence. There are 3 pages — one post/e-mail per page.)

Of course, I don’t want to believe that these comments are true. I remember you mentioning that you had a dark past before getting saved, but these events supposedly happened after that. Usually, when I read something negative about someone I respect, I am able to gloss over it, assuming that it’s false. However, having read these person’s comments and explanation, I’m having a hard time figuring out what to think about this information. It doesn’t seem to be someone who is out to slander Gateway, as they didn’t mention you by name until they sent me a private message in response to my inquiry.

Obviously, the private details of your life are your own business. But this was something that I felt I had to share with you, because — as I’m sure you understand — reading this about your pastor and leader is hard to swallow. And just forgetting about it without coming to some kind of conclusion is impossible. In addition, I think it’s important that you know someone is saying this about you in a forum that is widely read (message boards on Oprah’s Web site).

I look forward to your reply. Again, I’m just trying to make heads or tails of this. That’s why I contacted you directly and privately. Thank you again for your awesome preaching and leadership of Gateway.

Blessings,
(name redacted)

She allegedly heard from Steve Dulin, who is currently an elder, but her husband became sick, and they needed to reschedule. Tom Lane stepped in and said he and David Smith would meet with them instead.

Sent: Sunday, February 8, 2009 at 04:03:05 PM CST
Subject: Re: Time to meet
Hi pastor Tom,

I have us down for 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 14, per our phone conversation. My husband and I will meet you under the overhang/drive-thru entrance that faces 1709.

Thanks for taking the time to meet with us. We really appreciate it. Have a good week, and we’ll see you then.

 

— On Sat, 2/7/09, Tom Lane <tom.lane@gatewaystaff.com> wrote:

From: Tom Lane
Subject: Time to meet
To: gg
Date: Saturday, February 7, 2009, 1:45 PM

(name redacted),

I understand that you had a time set to meet with Steve Dulin last weekend but your husband got sick.  I am sorry that it is Saturday and I now contacting you.  Are you planning on being at services this weekend and if so would you like to set a time to meet while you are in town for the services.  I think Steve mentioned that he would have me contact you to set a time to meet.  Let me know what service you are coming to and I will try and set a time to meet around that so it is convenient for you.

Blessings,
Tom Lane

Executive Senior Pastor
Gateway Church

Andrea, who was in her 20s,  became concerned when the elders claimed that they did not know Cindy’s age at the time of the molestation.

In the statement, the elders claim they did not have all the facts relating to the alleged sexual assault, including Clemishire’s age at the time and the length of the abuse.

“The elders’ prior understanding was that Morris’s extramarital relationship, which he had discussed many times throughout his ministry, was with ‘a young lady’ and not [the] abuse of a 12-year-old child,” the statement reads. “We are heartbroken and appalled by what has come to light over the past few days, and we express our deep sympathy to the victim and her family. For the sake of the victim, we are thankful this situation has been exposed.

She shared her concerns on social media, and I contacted her. She graciously agreed to speak with me.

Andrea’s recollection of this meeting: It was a consensual relationship.

The following are the allegations she made in our discussion. I believe her.

  • They claimed that the church was aware of the claims, which they said “popped up” every few years.
  • They implied that Morris and Cindy were young, but she was slightly younger, but this was a consensual relationship.
  • Pastor Robert reportedly wanted to share about this immoral incident.
  • Lane and Smith felt it was not necessary to share about this situation.
  • She suspected something was up when Tom Lane and David Smith wanted to meet with her since they were very high up in the organization. Along with Steve Dulin, they were among the top 3-4 folks under Morris.
  • She was young and not well known at the church, so she believed they were pretty concerned about her interest in the matter.
  • She and her husband left believing Cindy was old enough to consent to a relationship with Morris.

Who is telling the truth?

Cindy allegedly contacted Robert Morris and the elders of Gateway in 2005, telling them about her molestation and stressing that she was 12 when the molestation began. She claims to have received an email from Tom Lane acknowledging her age. I wouldn’t be surprised that the ever-willing stand-in, Tom Lane, may have known about Cindy’s lawyer’s contact again in 2007, asking Morris for what seems to be a paltry sum of money to pay for her counseling sessions. This was refused by Morris, who, according to the attorney, claimed that Cindy was “flirtatious.”

The elders claim they knew nothing about her age. Why don’t I believe them?

Finally

Cindy was clear that Tom Lane, at the minimum, knew about her age in 2005. Yet, in 2009, he allegedly told Andrea that she was older. I think he appears to be a good company man. I wonder how he feels about that late at night. But maybe he, too, has been walking in “purity.”

Andrea showed genuine love and concern for Cindy’s welfare. She expressed to me that back then, she was “brainwashed” to respect and submit to authority. It did not cross her mind that they might not be telling her the truth.

I think Andrea showed more guts than the elders in this narrative. I believe Andrea, and I believe Cindy. As for Tom Lane and Robert Morris, well, I think you get my drift.


Comments

Did the Gateway Pastors/Elders Purposely Mislead Members Who Inquired About Cindy Clemishire? You Decide. — 170 Comments

  1. One thing to consider is that many (if not all) of the people involved know what questions not to ask and what emails not to read, so they would have plausibility deniability in situations like this.

    Ironically, this implies that they expected this could happen (and didn’t care as long as prestige, power, and money were flowing their way).

    The question becomes, if a person in a leadership position at a church intentionally shirked their moral responsibility, are they any less culpable in a case of sexual abuse of a child than if they actually knew?

    My guess is that Gateway Church and its supporters will use plausible deniability to avoid personal or institutional culpability. However, in the court of public opinion, this tactic, combined with hiring a PR to spin the situation, is likely to backfire.

    Some good case studies will be how the Catholic Church and Boys Scouts of America handled their abuse situations and how their defenses were accepted by the general population.

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  2. A second and equally important question to the question of whether elders and church leaders knew what was happening and the correlating issue of whether elders knew and chose not to communicate that information to others is what Debbie Morris, Robert Morris’s wife, knew and chose not to communicate.

    It is clear that Robert lied frequently and consistently over the past 40 years about his history of child sexual abuse. Every single time he lied, Debbie would have knowingly and intentionally lied by omission, by not correcting the story.

    She knew and chose not to correct his origin story of marital infidelity, which made him so relatable to others. Is she legally liable? I don’t know. Is she liable within church rules and guidelines? I don’t know. But she is morally liable for choosing her and her husband’s success over the victim of her husband’s Sexual Assault.

    It will be interesting to see if Gateway or the Morris family bring her out for a tearful act of, “I forgive my husband so you should too.”

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  3. Yea the elders clearly knew and brushed it under the wrong. If a Gateway member reads this and doesn’t see that, they are brainwashed and blinded by their love for celebrity pastors and their church.
    However, sometimes you have to stand up and say this isn’t right. This may mean leaving Gateway if you work there or finding a different church if you attend there.
    We will all stand before Jesus one day and give an account.

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  4. I believe the elders knew the details, just like I believe the leaders at RZIM knew what was going on. I believe both groups protected their meal ticket in the name of preserving the “ministry for the kingdom”.

    What I want to know is, why was Morris allowed to be a minister at all after he admitted to a “consensual” sexual relationship (especially when married)? He should have been disqualified right then and there. The fact that child abuse allegedly took place makes this whole thing triply more heinous.

    Is it any wonder that people are deconstructing and leaving the institutional church??
    I mean, good grief! How long, O Lord, will you tolerate the evil being done by “pastors” in the “church” claiming to be ministering in your name??

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  5. Thoughts:

    Debbie Morris seems like an enabler. I guess having the status of a megachurch pastor’s wife is more important to her than doing what is morally right. I did a google search for her name just now, and the first result is her Instagram page, with the tagline “As a mom, I never want my kids to experience pain.” What a hypocrite.

    Also, how much did Morris Junior (James Morris) know about these allegations? It seems that Gateway is planning to appoint him to replace Morris Senior. But if he knew about the allegations and did nothing, he is totally unfit to be leading a church.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if all of the Gateway leadership knew about the allegations for a long time, but covered it up because they wanted to keep the gravy train rolling.

    How many other megachurches have these sorts of skeletons in the closet?

    This is what happens when the pastor and church leadership become the object of worship.

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  6. Tom Rubino: What I want to know is, why was Morris allowed to be a minister at all after he admitted to a “consensual” sexual relationship (especially when married)?

    While I don’t know the thinking of the parties involved, I think that people who want to find justification for the elevation/restoration of grievous transgressors into important places of ministry can, with selective reading, find that in both OT and NT. The NT example, of course, is Paul, who was involved in the persecution of the Jerusalem church (IIRC, he even participated in judicial proceedings that led to sentences of death).

    This isn’t to defend those uses of the text, merely to note that the stories are there and sometimes are pointed to as precedents. I personally don’t think that it’s an accurate use of Paul’s precedent — the path to which he was appointed as a servant of the Gospel was from the outset a path of deep suffering (“I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s safe”). There’s a sense in which post-conversion Paul for the rest of his life “reaped the harvest” of the sins the pre-conversion Paul had committed. Conversion to Christ and repentance were not “get out of jail free” cards for Paul. It certainly wasn’t a ticket to fame, power and wealth.

    Paul really did “make God famous” among the Gentiles. It is not hard to imagine that RM’s ministry may have a different long-term outcome.

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  7. More thoughts:

    In my view, Evangelical Christianity (at least in the USA) needs to be completely revamped.

    In a recent comment on a different thread, I expressed my view that Evangelical Christianity has severely corrupted and debased itself by idolatrously pledging allegiance to the antichrist ideologies of zionism, remnant theology, and dispensationalism. It reminds me of the prostitute in Revelation 17.

    Another huge problem is the phenomenon of grifting, self-promoting, attention-seeking celebrity pastors/evangelists. Instead of humbly preaching the Gospel and emulating Jesus Christ and trying to follow the example that Jesus set, modern American-style evangelical Christianity has become obsessed with earthly fame, status, wealth, and prestige.

    Take, for example, the now-disgraced Ravi Zacharias and his ministry. It was called “Ravi Zacharias International Ministries”. Um, wait a second. Shouldn’t it be called Jesus Christ International Ministries? The fact that he named the ministry after himself rather than Jesus is an example of the showmanship and self-promotion endemic in modern evangelical Christianity.

    Another example is the attention-seeking dudebro celebrity pastors who preach on Sunday mornings wearing sneakers and T-shirts to show off how “hip” and “cool” they are. The celebrity pastors strut around on the altar preening and sanctimoniously grandstanding. It reeks of arrogance and narcissism.

    The celebrity pastors, in their insatiable lust for publicity, write “best-selling” books, which frequently contain harmful advice that has a destructive influence on real people’s lives. Josh Harris and his ridiculous book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” comes to mind. He posed as a wise “Christian” leader who people could trust for life advice, and then he basically said “oops!” and flounced off, and now he isn’t even a Christian anymore. Don’t the celebrity pastors writing these “best-selling” books realize that real people are being hurt by their bad advice? How many people’s lives have been negatively impacted by this sort of nonsense? Will the celebrity pastors take responsibility and acknowledge the harm that their bad advice and false teachings have caused to countless people?

    At many megachurches, Sunday services seem to be mainly focused on glorifying the celebrity pastor and showing off how rich the church is and how impressive their building/facilities are.

    Sunday church services used to be humble, solemn and reverential. These days, the opposite is true. In the megachurches, Sunday services have become flamboyant, ostentatious, exhibitionist circuses that resemble celebrity rock concerts rather than Christian worship.

    In many ways, American evangelical Christianity has become more like a business, and less about following Jesus Christ.

    It is very disturbing.

    In my view, the modern phenomena of megachurches and celebrity pastors is to be deplored.

    Only Jesus Christ is indispensable to Christianity.

    No pastor or church or ministry is indispensable or irreplaceable.

    Instead of focusing on becoming famous and attracting as many people (and tithes) as possible to their church, pastors should focus on humbly preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and emulating Jesus.

    The entire concept of megachurches is dubious, in my view. No pastor is so awesome and amazing that they need 10,000 people attending their church every week.

    The focus of a Sunday church service should be on Jesus Christ, not on a celebrity pastor.

    Evangelical Christianity should return to the Christian model that existed prior to the corrupt and decadent celebrity pastor megachurch era.

    In my view, we as Christians should strive to have smaller churches where everyone is known and loved and cared for, rather than immense megachurches that feel more like a city than a Christian community.

    Sunday services should return to being humble and reverential, as they were in the past.

    What American Evangelical Christianity needs is humility.

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  8. I am 100% upset about the SA of a minor! However, even that could have been repented from, counseling and help given to the victim, transparency and honesty from RMorris. I believe God can forgive if someone is truly repentent. But RM tried to cover it up and was not honest. I think had he been repentent and HONEST from the beginning, maybe he could have still eventually gone on in ministry, on a smaller scale, with elders keeping him accountable and putting safeguards in place. God can and does use people who have done terrible things. But those people have been repentant, sought to make the wrong right, and been honest and open about it all.

    As a SA survivor, I am a tiny bit more angry at RM for years of covering it up and bring dishonest about it, than I am about the incident by itself. I hope that makes sense. I am in NO WAY lessening the abhorrent abuse that happened, just that the cover up compounds it 100%.

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  9. Statement from Gateway Elders to Members:

    “We know God is on His throne — even when it seems all around us is shaking.”

    https://www.facebook.com/gatewaypeople/

    “Now this expression, Yet once more, indicates the removal of all that can be shaken — in order that what cannot be shaken may remain and continue. Let us therefore, receiving a Kingdom that is firm and stable and cannot be shaken, offer to God pleasing service and acceptable worship, with modesty and pious care and godly fear and awe” (Hebrews 12:27-28 AMPC)

    The kingdoms of men and their ministries will be shaken and crumble. The Kingdom of God “is firm and stable and cannot be shaken.” May the good people at Gateway realize the difference and move forward … trust in Jesus, not mere men.

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  10. https://www.facebook.com/share/p/XQGA9D4odqoRz72W/?mibextid=WC7FNe

    This is Tom Lane‘s response on his Facebook page. As a former member of Gateway Church I thought Tom Lane was one of the good guys. I met him in 2006 shortly after I met my husband. We were married a year later by a Gateway pastor. I say this to show that I was all in for this wonderful church and all it had to offer until my husband and I started having financial issues. Prior to the financial issues we would entertain Gateway pastors at our home and once the financial issues became public knowledge The Gateway pastors were no longer interested in socializing with us. Needless to say I recognized really quickly that it was all about the money.
    As a survivor of sexual assault, my heart goes out to you Cindy. I am sick over the fact that Pastor Robert hid it and so did the elders. He always preached from the pulpit that he had an inappropriate relationship with a young lady and Debbie had forgiven him. There’s a huge huge huge difference between being an adulterer And being a pedophile!!! The fact that Debbie Morris would call you and say she forgives you is absolutely horrible!!! It is really affected me and caused me to do further research and I now realize how rampant sexual abuse is across all religions and congregations it is absolutely disgusting!! You can say that these men are under attack because of the good deeds that they’re doing and trying to lead the church But I’m not buying it!! They use their position of power to manipulate women and it has to stop!!!!!
    Signed very disgusted saddened former member of Gateway.

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  11. Tom Lane‘s response is on his Facebook page. He alleges he was not aware of her age. I tried to post the picture of the letter he wrote but it did not work.
    As a former member of Gateway Church, I thought Tom Lane was one of the good guys. I met him in 2006 shortly after I met my husband. We were married a year later by a Gateway pastor. I say this to show that I was all in for this wonderful church and all it had to offer – until my husband and I started having financial issues. Prior to the financial issues we would entertain Gateway pastors at our home and once the financial issues became public knowledge The Gateway pastors were no longer interested in socializing with us. Needless to say I recognized really quickly that it was all about the money.
    As a survivor of sexual assault, my heart goes out to you Cindy. I am sick over the fact that Pastor Robert hid it and so did the elders. He always preached from the pulpit that he had an inappropriate relationship with a young lady and Debbie had forgiven him. There’s a HUGE HUGE HUGE difference between being an adulterer And being a pedophile!!! The fact that Debbie Morris would call you and say she forgives you is absolutely horrible!!! It is really affected me and caused me to do further research and I now realize how rampant sexual abuse is across all religions and congregations it is absolutely disgusting!! You can say that these men are under attack because of the good deeds that they’re doing and trying to lead the church But I’m not buying it!! They use their position of power to manipulate women and it has to stop!!!!!
    Signed very disgusted saddened former member of Gateway.

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  12. Even if originally Tom Lane didn’t know all the details in the beginning, he knew enough that he should have asked more questions. Ok, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and maybe Morris convincingly lied to him back then. Very likely.

    But then in 2005 and in 2009 when it was brought up again, he 100% had the responsibility to more fully investigate, whether that be by contacting Shady Grove personnel, people who knew Morris back then, or even Cindy herself!! To me, the issue isn’t whether Tom knew or not, but that when it was brought up again in the 2000’s, he CHOSE to not find out more about what the ‘incident’ was about, he CHOSE not to investigate, he CHOSE to accept the word of Morris.

    I think there is something to be said about people from that generation though. In talking to likewise-aged people within my own circle, I have heard comments like “but look how much good Morris has done, we wouldn’t have that had he gone to prison back then”, or “you have to weigh the bad against the good and he has done far more good”, “the news shouldn’t be sensationalizing this now”, etc. Yes, actual comments!!!! And worse! I think the mindset of that generation was that SA shouldn’t be mentioned publicly, but quietly dealt with.

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  13. Ydoesthiskeephappening:
    As a SA survivor, I am a tiny bit more angry at RM for years of covering it up and bring dishonest about it, than I am about the incident by itself.I hope that makes sense.

    That makes complete sense. The violations were not just from the abuser. They reoccur every time a trusted family member, church leader, church member, law enforcement, and community leader stands up to defend the abuser, either through action or inaction.

    I have never been back to my hometown because of the way abuse by the clergy was handled. In my case, a friend was abused. The local church and community leadership proudly stood up and defended the abuser, claiming there was no way this could happen in our church or our community.

    The victim reported to a trusted teacher. My father, as a school administrator, saw to it that the teacher was fired for insubordination when the teacher refused to back down when Dad and others wanted the situation to just go away. This was a small midwestern town in the 1980.

    The irony of the situation is that a large percentage of people advocating that Morris is without sin are the same people that would advocate for the public lynching of a Child Sexual Abuser who they did not know.

    Within all groups and especially churches there is a very strong desire that God should show mercy to us (the in-group) while he should dole out justice to them (the out-group).

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  14. dave: But she is morally liable for choosing her and her husband’s success over the victim of her husband’s Sexual Assault.

    Remember, she told young Cindy that she ‘forgave her, ‘ implying Cindy’s culpability. I wonder what goes on in the Morris household. Has she been abused? Has she been threatened? Does she willingly serve as his cover and have a problem of her own? Or is she in it for the money? She is morally culpable unless something is going on that we don’t see.

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  15. Christie Christian:
    There’s a HUGE HUGE HUGE difference between being an adulterer And being a pedophile!!! The fact that Debbie Morris would call you and say she forgives you is absolutely horrible!!! …..They use their position of power to manipulate women and it has to stop!!!!!

    Years ago when an incident happened to me (at a church) and it was finally found out I was asked by one of the church-adults if I wanted them to file a report. Before I could answer, they went on to explain that if the man went to jail or if he had to pay a large fine, then his family would probably never come back to church again. And how would I feel knowing his young children (who I’d babysat) might not be saved because they no longer came to church? So duh – I did what any very young teen would do under pressure – and said, “no, that’s ok don’t file the report.” Because he was asked to step away from his church duties (not the level of pastor or elder), it did cause a bit of a ruckus among those who found out why. So at some further point, I was asked to write a letter of apology to his wife including how I hoped they’d to continue to come to church, etc. [Honestly, I’ve mostly forgotten what I wrote, but I can remember the color of paper I wrote my letter on and I can remember being taken to their house to drop it off.]

    My guilt, decades later, is that because he wasn’t held accountable back then, he may have (likely) gone on to do the same to others. My inaction and my silence may have contributed to someone else’s pain.

    I simply cannot believe that this was Robert Morris’s only incident. Hopefully he wised up and never did this again to a child!!! However, I’d be willing to bet money that he has used his position of power and influence to have inappropriate relationships with other ladies.

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  16. Christie Christian,

    I liked your comment. I believe that becoming a pastor is a good cover for a sexual predator. They get absolute respect, as seen in the comments this past week. Most predators are excellent in obtaining their victims and in manipulating those around them to see them as “God’s good guys.” Even their teaching in the church revolves around simplistic forgiveness and restoration as they prepare their members for the day they are discovered. As Christians, we are naive. We think we know “our guy.” When he says he’s been “walking in purity, “a statement that is loaded with BS, his church members believe him. They do not know him. They only see the performance and books.
    When the inevitable day of discovery arrives, the members are filled with cognitive dissonance. “I’m a smart person. I would never pick a bad guy, so he must be good. How does that work? Oh yeah, forgiveness and never judging.”
    In the meantime, the predator is smiling. He has groomed his people well.

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  17. Wow. Just wow. The brazenness of the denial in this and other “christian” abuse cases just continues to floor me.

    All I can say is they are lucky this didn’t happen in California. Here the state recently rescinded the statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse cases, and there have been civil verdicts in the many tens of millions of dollars as a result, as well as criminal convictions I believe. The rescinding of the limitations will only last a few years, but it is a good opportunity for victims to at least get some measure of delayed justice.

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  18. If only all the men/woman involved in the coverup would have put their own daughters in Cindy’s position from the beginning, this may have been handled properly from the beginning. I am pretty sure they ALL have daughters. The coverup is almost as bad as the crime itself. Who is paying the attorney fees? Think about that……..

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  19. Ydoesthiskeephappening: Before I could answer, they went on to explain that if the man went to jail or if he had to pay a large fine, then his family would probably never come back to church again. And how would I feel knowing his young children (who I’d babysat) might not be saved because they no longer came to church?

    i.e. “…and GOD! WILL! HOLD! YOU! ACCOUNTABLE!”
    God’s warning to Ezekiel at the beginning of Ezekiel 33, weaponized at full strength and used as such, unbalanced and untempered.

    When applied to Self, fuels the obsessive-compulsive disorders of Wretched Urgency (Save Souls 24/7/365 or Else) and Excessive Scrupulosity (self-focused Sin-Sniffing).

    When applied to someone else, a Nuclear-strength weapon to force the user’s will upon the other.

    Do you think God likes being used as a weapon?
    Like some Sorcerer’s familiar/bound spirit?
    I sure wouldn’t.

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  20. Donna: If only all the men/woman involved in the coverup would have put their own daughters in Cindy’s position from the beginning, this may have been handled properly from the beginning.

    Not necessarily.

    Christian Monist has recounted that in his childhood Baptist church in rural Tennessee, it was an open secret that one of the elders (or assistant pastor, or choir director/worship leader, I don’t remember which) was a closet Predatory Pedophile. (But boy could he Preach and/or sing hymns like an Angel!)

    When a new family with children joined the church, the established families would Piously steer the noobs to Pastor Pedo so Pastor Pedo would slake hie Appetites on THEIR kids, not OURS. They obviously had no problem as long as it wasn’t THEIR sons or daughters.

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  21. dee: In the meantime, the predator is smiling. He has groomed his people well.

    Not so much smiling as “Duping Delight”, the involuntary smirk of Triumph that all the Suckers Fell For It.
    “I. WIN.”

    Duping Delight is one of the things experienced police interrogators look for.

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  22. Sandy:
    Gus,

    See Me
    Feel Me
    Touch Me
    Heal Me
    Listening to you, I get the music
    Gazing at you, I get the heat
    Following you, I climb the mountain
    I get excitement at your feet
    Right behind you, I see the millions
    On you, I see the glory
    From you, I get opinion
    From you, I get the story

    That’s from “Tommy” by The Who, isn’t it?

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  23. Going through GW sermon notes reading them before I throw them away. I ran across one from May 31-June 1, 2008, titled The Rules of Refuge. With Adam and Eve, if they had just admitted their sin, God would have had grace on them. A Saint is one who turns to God when they sin. Admit your sin and quit it. Then God is your refuge, otherwise there is no protection. This is from my personal notes, so it may not be verbatim.

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  24. dee: Remember, she told young Cindy that she ‘forgave her, ‘ implying Cindy’s culpability. I wonder what goes on in the Morris household. Has she been abused? Has she been threatened? Does she willingly serve as his cover and have a problem of her own? Or is she in it for the money?She is morally culpable unless something is going on that we don’t see.

    Yes, the fact that Debbie reached out and told Cindy (the abuser’s wife to the victim of his abuse) she forgave her is so incredulous as to be unbelievable.

    The psychological term is gaslighting which is a type of manipulation or abuse that causes a victim to question their own reality, memories, or perceptions. From the little that has been made public, it appears that Debbie was actively involved from the beginning in the process of making Cindy doubt her self-worth and sanity. The goal was to cast 12-year-old Cindy as the powerful agent of seduction and Robert as the young and hapless victim.

    Not only that, but every time Robert told his origin story of a ‘harmless indiscretion’, it was a sign from he and Cindy to any other potential victims: “Don’t come after us, because look what we can get away with. There is no way your tiny and inconsequential voice can penetrate through Roberst’s ability to tell a story.”

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  25. The letter which Andrea wrote to Morris is an excellent example of how a concerned member should address things whenever dealing with a matter that could affect a church’s very future. There was no immediate accusation, but a showing of genuine concern. It also mentioned that the story was not on some little-known tabloid rag message board, but one operated by an internationally known figure which has wide dissemination (a story from some questionable source should be treated as such – questionable, until a more reputable one does real research).

    Sadly, Andrea was lied to by Gateway leadership, led to believe that it was simply part of Morris’ “dark past” about which he has spoken repeatedly.

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  26. I’m disgusted by the elder boards of then Shady Grove and Gateway. The actions of Debbie Morris are unspeakably distasteful. What if Elaine had been molested at 12, Debbie? How would you have reacted?

    I think the current Elder Board are in full blown PR damage control, distancing themselves as much as they can possibly from being assuming any percentage of responsibility. I just watched the farce of a message to the congregation that begin at 4:00pm today (6/22). All focusing on Jesus and his healing and restoration and how they are praying for the church and no mention or willingness to consider how they contributed to this horrible outcome, maybe even complicit in it.

    It may have been mentioned in this thread, but was anyone aware that Albert Tate, a pastor who was asked to step down from his position at a church in Monrovia, California, was supposed to be the main speaker last Saturday evening for the weekend services? Kemtal Glasgow spoke instead and gave this elaborate story about how he was asked at the last minute to speak. I happen to know it was planned at least on Tuesday or Wednesday before, but he decided telling a fabricated story would somehow, I don’t know…excuse his mediocre message? (You have to watch the full service on YouTube and start when he comes up, they cut it out of the sole message video) I don’t think the issue was directly related to Robert Morris, but is more of a signal of the growing lack of integrity at Gateway, which has possibly seduced by its apparent success and financial balance sheet. (I’m all for tithing and it is up to God how it is handled, but Gateway…..) Anyway, curious why they told a “little white lie” about Kemtal speaking?

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  27. Ydoesthiskeephappening,

    Very good words.

    Especially since this would have been the THIRD time (at least) that this issue would have arisen to Lane’s knowledge. And now that Cindy was going outside of Gateway channels and telling her story (albeit a bit anonymously) on a public forum – and one which has a large following and is considered credible in the public’s eyes – Lane should have confronted Morris then and there and forced him to come clean about EVERYTHING.

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  28. dee: I believe that becoming a pastor is a good cover for a sexual predator.

    Evidently, a lot of men have been going into the ministry for that reason given the steady stream of pastors behaving badly. Pewsitters are trusting souls, easy targets … wolves in shepherd’s clothing are having a heyday in the American church.

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  29. Max: Evidently, a lot of men have been going into the ministry for that reason given the steady stream of pastors behaving badly.

    I disagree with that statement a bit. I believe that many, but not all, clergy start off with good intentions.

    Somewhere along the way, they get caught up in their own hubris and righteousness. They realize that they can move a room to tears or adulation with their words. Ironically, many of the same skills that make them dynamic and exciting preachers also enable them to manipulate the people around them.

    They are able to wrap themselves in the blanket that, “I am a good God-fearing person; therefore, what I do is good.” It is really easy to label anyone who challenges their behavior as doing the work of the devil.

    And, as you say, parishioners have spent their entire lives learning that it is their role to listen, learn, and tithe while it is the leaders’ job to talk and teach.

    Combine hubris and a lack of accountability with well-understood and enforced roles, and you have a recipe for disaster.

    I don’t disagree with you; I’m just trying to understand why this keeps happening without painting all clergy and churches with too broad a brush.

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  30. dave: I’m just trying to understand why this keeps happening without painting all clergy and churches with too broad a brush.

    I truly believe that the vast majority of pastors are good and faithful servants of God. But since we can’t be sure until we know that we know them, folks in the pew need to have their guard up to protect themselves and their families from those who are not.

    To understand “why” this is happening, perhaps we need to focus on “where” this is happening. Mega-mania appears to have more than their share of bad actors. The limelight and applause has distracted some from staying true to Christ and His call on their lives. When they become celebrity personalities, some will forget the person of Christ. But, of course, this problem is not limited to large churches, you can find unfaithfulness in small churches as well.

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  31. dave: And, as you say, parishioners have spent their entire lives learning that it is their role to listen, learn, and tithe while it is the leaders’ job to talk and teach.

    The church tradition Im familiar with turns this sideways. “Clergy” are expected to set the example by giving over & above. “Parishioners” are empowered by clergy to be leaders themselves, to study the bible independently and be teachers, ministers evangelists, … aka “The Priesthood of the Believer”. Church is not supposed to be a top down “i talk. you listen you obey” org.

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  32. Correct me if Im wrong, but it appears that the three screenshots above from Cindy’s January 2009 anonymous chat spell out the dates 1982-87 of ‘sexual molestation’ but not her age specifically.

    Obviously RM knew. Apparently there’s a “he said she said” point of contention between Cleminshire and Tom Lane. A big one.

    Has the email chain between Tom Lane and Cindy been made available?

    This sentence seems to say that TL acknowledged the dates and her age but it’s written with unintentional ambiguity.

    “former Gateway elder, TL, received & responded to my email, acknowledging that the sexual abuse began 12/25/82 when I was 12 years old.”

    He received it. check
    We assume he read it.
    Is this saying he acknowledged the facts in his response?
    Or that she acknowledged it in her email and he simply got it & responded?

    A lot is riding on the answer to this question.

    Tom Lane has published a statement claiming he did not know her age.

    This sounds picky. But it is a serious allegation. If she sent a big long email in one paragraph with the incriminating facts buried, and he responded ‘got it’. then his claim of ignorance could be true.

    Or is it possible that she sent it to RM, RM took out the “I was 12” part before forwarding it to Tom?

    What am I missing? Have I misread something? Not rhetorical questions.

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  33. BZ:
    Correct me if Im wrong, but it appears that the three screenshots above from Cindy’s January 2009 anonymous chat spell out the dates 1982-87 of ‘sexual molestation’ but not her age specifically.

    Obviously RM knew. Apparently there’s a “he said she said” point of contention between Cleminshire and Tom Lane. A big one.

    Has the email chain between Tom Lane and Cindy been made available?

    This sentence seems to say that TL acknowledged the dates and her age but it’s written with unintentional ambiguity.

    “former Gateway elder, TL, received & responded to my email, acknowledging that the sexual abuse began 12/25/82 when I was 12 years old.”

    He received it. check
    We assume he read it.
    Is this saying he acknowledged the facts in his response?
    Or that she acknowledged it in her email and he simply got it & responded?

    A lot is riding on the answer to this question.

    Tom Lane has published a statement claiming he did not know her age.

    This sounds picky. But it is a serious allegation.If she senta big long email in one paragraph with the incriminating facts buried, and he responded ‘got it’.then his claim of ignorance could be true.

    Or is it possible that she sent it to RM, RM took out the “I was 12” part before forwarding it to Tom?

    What am I missing? Have I misread something? Not rhetorical questions.

    The emails between Cindy and Tom Lane are at The Roys Report. These have been released by Boz Tchividjian, who represents Cindy, remains to be seen if Gateway releases any.

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  34. BZ: What am I missing? Have I misread something? Not rhetorical questions.

    I would be hesitant to read too much into this documentation release. If I understand the situation correctly, Cindy has hired Boz Tchividjian as her legal counsel.

    As such, this cache of documents is (probably) not meant to prove the case of abuse; rather, it is meant as a shot across the bow, letting Morris and Gateway know that this is a well-prepared accusation that has the potential to pull in many people, both current and past.

    If everything was released up front, they could deal with it and move on. Now, everyone involved is scrambling to figure out their potential exposure and if Morris and/or Gateway are going to throw them under the bus, so to speak.

    In these sorts of cases, the coverup tends to be worse than the crime… if it is possible to say that about child sexual assault.

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  35. dave: It is clear that Robert lied frequently and consistently over the past 40 years about his history of child sexual abuse. Every single time he lied, Debbie would have knowingly and intentionally lied by omission, by not correcting the story.

    Lot of this going on in the predator’s world. He had his circle in his pocket, … (and still does? The question).

    Who are not in the predator’s pocket? The Burlesons, Wade and Rachelle, and Dee, as well as CBS, ABC, NBC, NPR, the Houston Chronicle, to name a few.

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  36. Max: I truly believe that the vast majority of pastors are good and faithful servants of God.

    dave: I believe that many, but not all, clergy start off with good intentions.

    Really?

    1. Is this projecting, by a couple of well intentioned, would never ever do this myself … guys? (Maybe you don’t think like a predator, eh?) Data says predators think differently, says Roy Hazelwood’s research. Have you bothered to read his work before making these statements? Folksy to make statements without facts, and create folklore.

    2. What do you know, really, about what goes on when you’re not around? What really happens to women and girls, unfortunately, in high numbers, in hidden opportunities? There’s data.

    3. Finally, Andrew S. Denney, now at UTC, has published research on clergy predators, and specifically clergy predator pedophiles. Did you bother to follow the link Dee posted and read his work before sharing ignorance of, “I believe…” yada yada?

    Do guys with a mic rule the room with, “I believe…” and their wishful thinking about their fellow GUYS who are clergy, instead of facts? That’s what gets us to these types of horrible situations. Folklore about clergy. Not facts.

    “I believe … ” spoken by men about what women and girls experience, NOT based on facts, is hubris. As godly church people, we can do better.

    Listen. Read the research. Learn the facts that surpass church folklore. Then share the facts, with thoughts about FACTS.

    Thanks, in advance. Much appreciated.

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  37. Bene D: The emails between Cindy and Tom Lane are at The Roys Report. These have been released by Boz Tchividjian, who represents Cindy, remains to be seen if Gateway releases any.

    Thanks very much for this.

    Here’s that link.
    https://julieroys.com/emails-challenge-elders-claim-100-counts-molestation/

    Unless the redacted sections.

    QUITE enlightening. 🙁

    Although it could be in the redacted sections, the specifics of her age at the time are not visible. The phrase “100 counts of child molestation” is not informative.

    Although we know Cindy was twelve in 1982, Tom Lane could have been under the impression that she was sixteen.

    Adultery is immoral, but Romeo and Juliet laws prevent men from being prosecuted if the couple is close enough in age and the relationship is consensual.

    Therefore If that is what indeed what Tom Lane thought, then accusations that he was complicit in covering up child molestation would be …..

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  38. Commenter23: Debbie Morris seems like an enabler. I guess having the status of a megachurch pastor’s wife is more important to her than doing what is morally right. I did a google search for her name just now, and the first result is her Instagram page, with the tagline “As a mom, I never want my kids to experience pain.” What a hypocrite.

    … with a cold as a boulder hardened stone heart inflicting mega pain on someone else’s 12 year old child. Cold. Just cold. Doesn’t get any colder. And evil.

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  39. dave: It seems others have a much better understanding of the situation than I do.

    As data, facts, and bonafide experiences unfold on TWW (thank God for Dee and the other watch bloggers “Daughters & Sons of Stan”), we all are growing and better informed about what really goes on in our churches, and among our clergy. We don’t just believe, we know, God help us.

    This latest research by Andrew Denney at UTC is mind blowing and belief shattering, really. Thank God for Denney’s work and for Dee who published the link.

    Thank God we have the facts about a $117M preacher, who is also a pedophile predator. That, too, is mindblowing and so earth shattering, many don’t want to believe it.

    Obviously, the clergy don’t read the research, nor listen to bonafide experiences that bust the myths about clergy, nor study the data. And it’s all about them, so there’s no self awareness at all. Well, Wade Burleson does; we need more like him.

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  40. What is disturbing is seeing all the members of Gateway on Facebook gush over the weekend service like everything is OK. They are moving forward with their feel good, entertainment services that end after exactly 65 minutes.
    Do they not care that the elders and staff covered up child sex abuse?
    Of you stay working or attending Gateway you are saying this is OK.
    The American church needs to repent and perpetrators of a crime need to be expelled and held accountable.

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  41. Ava Aaronson,

    Ava Aaronson:
    Really?

    1. Is this projecting, by a couple of well intentioned, would never ever do this myself … guys? (Maybe you don’t think like a predator, eh?) Data says predators think differently, says Roy Hazelwood’s research. Have you bothered to read his work before making these statements? Folksy to make statements without facts, and create folklore.

    2. What do you know, really, about what goes on when you’re not around? What really happens to women and girls, unfortunately, in high numbers, in hidden opportunities? There’s data.

    3. Finally, Andrew S. Denney, now at UTC, has published research on clergy predators, and specifically clergy predator pedophiles. Did you bother to follow the link Dee posted and read his work before sharing ignorance of, “I believe…” yada yada?

    Do guys with a mic rule the room with, “I believe…” and their wishful thinking about their fellow GUYS who are clergy, instead of facts? That’s what gets us to these types of horrible situations. Folklore about clergy. Not facts.

    “I believe … ” spoken by men about what women and girls experience, NOT based on facts, is hubris. As godly church people, we can do better.

    Listen. Read the research. Learn the facts that surpass church folklore. Then share the facts, with thoughts about FACTS.

    Thanks, in advance. Much appreciated.

    Very well said, Ava.

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  42. Church girl:
    What is disturbing is seeing all the members of Gateway on Facebook gush over the weekend service like everything is OK.They are moving forward with their feel good, entertainment services that end after exactly 65 minutes.
    Do they not care that the elders and staff covered up child sex abuse?

    Evidently many of them don’t care.

    It seems that being part of a rich megachurch and enjoying lavish facilities and Sunday rock concerts is more important to them.

    Still, I am sure that there are a substantial number of members who do care, and are quietly looking for a new church.

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  43. Church girl:
    What is disturbing is seeing all the members of Gateway on Facebook gush over the weekend service like everything is OK. They are moving forward with their feel-good, entertainment services…

    Rachelle and I asked Cindy at dinner last night about the line, “Men that have over 100 counts of child molestation go to prison.” After Cindy’s response, we were in no mood for dessert.

    Gateway members will soon be in no mood for entertainment.

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  44. Church girl: What is disturbing is seeing all the members of Gateway on Facebook gush over the weekend service

    I watched yesterday’s service, though I skimmed through the sermon a bit. I know I’m hyper-critical and nitpicked just about everything. Maybe someone more impartial will see some hopeful signs. Unlike last weekend, they didn’t just start right in with a big celebration, but had an elder make the somber announcement. He did also spend quite a bit of effort encouraging the pewsitters about all the great programs Gateway has and good things they’ve done. Then when he prayed he remembered to pray against any unforgiveness, doubt, or bitterness. The pewsitters gave him a standing ovation. A pastor next compared the situation to when Peter was “in trouble” and the church was praying for him. Of course, Peter was in trouble for preaching the gospel, not for being a predator. The guest preacher next compared the unthinkable situation to when he took over from his mentor (who converted to Catholicism).
    He encouraged the flock to be like Mary and Martha when Lazarus died, and keep the faith that Jesus would raise them up from this sad season. Another standing ovation.
    Then the band performed 3 worship songs, professionally done to send everyone out on a hopeful note.

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  45. Wade Burleson: Rachelle and I asked Cindy at dinner last night about the line, “Men that have over 100 counts
    of child molestation go to prison.” After Cindy’s response, we were in no mood for dessert.

    Gateway members will soon be in no mood for entertainment.

    Dear Sir:

    Victims of statutory abuse/ sexual assault have a justified need to talk about it. They need to be heard from, darkness exposed by the light, for their own healing, and to help stop the cycle of victimization in our world.

    IMO, Cindy is a gracious woman of deep faith and maturity, who has become brave, and taken the right action. Thank you too for your own bravery in assisting.

    We know the secular press will be eager to hear, and broadcast every salacious detail offered. In interviews they will dig for more detail–the nastier the better.

    I pray the Holy Spirit reveals to Cindy and her confidants the ethical, moral approach, considering Ephesians 5, as she decides how to
    “expose deeds of darkness” without
    “Shamefully mentioning” them:

    ———–
    “and find out what pleases the Lord.

    Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

    It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.”

    ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5‬:‭10‬-‭12‬ ‭NIV‬‬
    https://bible.com/bible/111/eph.5.11-12.NIV

    I believe with the right vocabulary, she can say what needs to be said without, creating mental imagery in the minds of men, or, worse, inflaming the imaginations of future perpetrators.

    God bless you, and take care

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  46. Church girl: What is disturbing is seeing all the members of Gateway on Facebook gush over the weekend service like everything is OK. They are moving forward with their feel good, entertainment services … Do they not care that the elders and staff covered up child sex abuse?

    Folks who are attracted to church as entertainment care only about themselves. They will “gush over the weekend service” so you won’t take their church fix away from them. The Great God Entertainment has numbed their minds with the beat of drums, whining guitars, great singers, laser lights, fog machines, and shallow sermons. In the whirling emotions of the moment they are unable to be empathetic to the pain of others. It’s a tremendous show they hope will not be lost just because “pastor” has had a bad past just like some of them. They have showed up in force to stick out their tongues at those who thought it was all over. Such is church as entertainment … it serves up another gospel which is not the Gospel at all. Jesus weeps.

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  47. BZ: Church is not supposed to be a top down “i talk. you listen you obey” org.

    But that’s exactly what it is. There’s not even a Q and A session at the end. Pastors used to hang out in the aisles or foyer afterwards, greeting people, to where you have a chance to ask a question. Nowadays, they run off the stage and disappear like Michael Jackson jumps in his limo to make his escape from the fans after a concert. The older I get, the more time I’ve wasted, and the more selective I am as to who gets my ear for 30-40 minutes. With the Internet and archived sermons of preachers from everywhere, going back decades, you can pick and choose who to listen to at your convenience. There’s more competition for listeners. Problem is, that’s not in-person fellowship, so we have these things called ‘community groups,’ ‘homegroups,’ ‘neighborhood groups’ etc, if you can even find one anywhere near your neighborhood, at a day/time you can meet, that’s accepting your gender, marital status, age range, parental status, etc. It’s to try and make up for lack of Sunday School in many cases. And if there IS a small group meeting at church on Sunday morning, it’s turned into just another 30 minute sermon where a church authorized speaker gets to lecture the room, with no time for class discussion about anything. You sit, you listen, you leave. You may or may not get to ask for prayer.

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  48. Church girl: The American church needs to repent and perpetrators of a crime need to be expelled and held accountable.

    Makes too much sense doesn’t it? The Apostle Paul had a lot to say about that in his letters to the church at Corinth. I passed a church the other day that was named “Corinth Baptist Church” … I wondered what the founding fathers were thinking when they decided to call it that?

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  49. Wade Burleson: “Men that have over 100 counts of child molestation go to prison.”

    Feature, not a bug.

    It’s a lifestyle, a mindset, a heart and soul commitment.

    The fact that after 35 years what he says about what he did is still:
    – she was a young lady (she was a preteen child of 12)
    – she was a Jezebel (she was completely innocent and trusting)
    – she was flirtatious (she was in little girl jammies, robe, and undergarments)
    – she demanded the relationship go on and not end (she was scared and terrified; moreover, it was rape by a leader in authority over a child-then-a-teen by a grown married-with-his-own-children man, NOT a relationship. Rape is not relationship.).
    – his wife says she forgave the 12-year-old girl (for being digitally raped over 5 years by her husband, the predator pastor pedophile? How does one confess to Jesus having been digitally raped for 5 years by a predatory pedophile pastor? Where is that in the Bible?)

    The above 5 facts don’t come from a repentant restored offender and his supporting wife, but from an all-in pedophile predator with his all-in partner.

    The fact that churchfolk won’t face facts about their predator pedophile leader and his wife, says a great deal about these all-in “churchfolk”, and what they are really into.

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  50. Ava Aaronson: share the facts

    Ava, the facts I share are based on personal experience of doing church in America for the better part of a century. I have known many pastors who have been faithful … I have served alongside them, prayed with them, wept with them … they have lived lives worthy of their calling as evidenced by the fruit of their ministries. I have used them as a plumbline of the genuine when I comment about the counterfeit we are seeing exposed in the church. My personal experience is not open to the arguments of others. I’m sorry that you haven’t experienced this in church and are seeing only the underbelly of church in your search for facts.

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  51. Max: I have known many pastors who have been faithful … I have served alongside them, prayed with them, wept with them … they have lived lives worthy of their calling as evidenced by the fruit of their ministries.

    Ava Aaronson, your comment is much needed. Thank you. I look forward to meeting you one day. Any Kingdom person who defends the King and His faithful servants is my friend.

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  52. BZ,

    Really?

    Then you definitely don’t want to read, “Legal Grounds” by yours truly, Ava Aaronson.

    It definitely is a take-your-head-out-of-the-sand and face facts exposé about what really goes on with authoritarian men in their façade of fake Christendom. Fake Jesus destroys lives; the full picture of that is not only deadly but blood curdling, creepy, and cringeworthy to see. Fact.

    Should we go there? How did Jesus describe the fake predatory authoritarian leaders of his day? Snakes, and prettily decorated eye pleasing tombs of corpses with dead men’s old bones (and stench).

    These fakes also turned out to be murderers, executing the Son of God. That evil deed, as described in the Gospels, has been dramatized in gory detail by Hollywood. You probably don’t want to see these films, either. These films are more take-your-head-out-of-the-sand, so maybe not for you.

    Definitely don’t read the story of what Ehud did in Judges, chapter 3.

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  53. I look forward after this life to once again shaking the hand of a preacher we had around 50 or so years ago. Tiny sandhills eastern NM church. On a good Sunday maybe 20 in attendance. He sought us because he could not not preach. He was probably the best preacher, Bible teacher, and look after his people man I ever had the privilege to meet. We paid him a whopping $25 a week for gas money, as he lived 36 miles away. He was to supply the pulpit on Sunday mornings. He asked if he could join our church and we said yes. Welp, as a member he tithed off his real job, and his love offering every week was $25. As a member he volunteered to do Sunday night and Wednesday night services. As a member he visited everyone in our far flung ranch community as often as he could, and brought folks to Christ that had been violently opposed to Jesus and the church for many decades. He would fearlessly confront sin and then wrap his arms around and weep with the repentant sinner. He and his wife raised a family, then raised many foster kids. Years later his foster kids would seek them out when they had a married, or had a child, or had other significant life moments. Never a whiff of scandal. I think he died the most loved man I ever knew.

    The real deal is never about the Benjamins, baby, nor is it about fame. But when you meet the real deal that is all about Jesus, nothing less will ever do.

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  54. Ava Aaronson,

    Debbie Morris is living high on the hog off lots of other people’s money, too. And, I’m sure that being the wife of a “rock star” makes her quite popular among the star worshipers.
    If Morris had admitted the truth years ago, Debbie might have had to lower herself to working a 40 hour week at some job she feels is beneath her (and tithing her own hard-earned money at some small, unknown church.
    A girl has to prioritize, ya know.

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  55. Wade Burleson: I also think you and Ava have the same mind and heart but come at it from different perspectives.

    Agreed. I have been thinking about that since posting my response to Ava. Perhaps the absolute truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth lies between our two views about the condition of the church in America.

    Thank you, Wade, for your time to comment and your intervention in this heartbreaking story. I know Mrs. Clemishire deeply appreciates you being there for her and her family. Her experience has touched a nerve in the church at large.

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  56. I just listened online to today’s sermon by our daughter’s pastor. While not specifically addressing Gateway, he made three points relevant to the situation:

    (1) Love demands us to be sensitive to the needs of others

    (2) We cannot compromise the Truth

    (3) God will not tolerate your sin under His tent

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  57. Max: personal experience of doing church

    If the issue is predatory pastors, the targets with experience are by and large female. Sorry, but your male experience is irrelevant because you’re not a target. It’s impossible for you to have any personal experience relevant to this issue of the hidden life of predatory pastors targeting female victims. Even Cindy’s parents didn’t know what was happening. Only the targets know what goes on with predators. So, targets, please come forward.

    Making that comment about being sorry about my experiences – that’s unbased. Hubris again, making assumptions about another person’s experiences. My own comments regard data and research.

    On these posts, we are honoring one child’s experiences, however, with one predatory pastor. The scale of this case involves the fact that this predator now still pastors 100,000+ people to the tune of $117M. And the fact that we as parishioners may not know the pastors we support in our own churches, in our own experiences.

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  58. dave: And, as you say, parishioners have spent their entire lives learning that it is their role to listen, learn, and tithe while it is the leaders’ job to talk and teach.

    Isn’t that the Heresy of Clericalism?

    Where only Priests, Monks, and Nuns matter in the eyes of God and those filthy Lowborn commoners on the other side of the altar rail just Pay, Pray, and (most important) OBEY?

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  59. dave:
    A second and equally important question to the question of whether elders and church leaders knew what was happening and the correlating issue of whether elders knew and chose not to communicate that information to others is what Debbie Morris, Robert Morris’s wife, knew and chose not to communicate.

    It is clear that Robert lied frequently and consistently over the past 40 years about his history of child sexual abuse. Every single time he lied, Debbie would have knowingly and intentionally lied by omission, by not correcting the story.

    She knew and chose not to correct his origin story of marital infidelity, which made him so relatable to others. Is she legally liable? I don’t know. Is she liable within church rules and guidelines? I don’t know. But she is morally liable for choosing her and her husband’s success over the victim of her husband’s Sexual Assault.

    It will be interesting to see if Gateway or the Morris family bring her out for a tearful act of, “I forgive my husband so you should too.”

    Debbie gave her tacit approval from day one.

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  60. Mari Cantos:
    They’re not under attack because of the good things they’ve done: they’re under attack because of their sin and lying about it.

    But that goes against the Official “PERSECUTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS’ SAKE!” Story.
    (Which itself is PROOF of Godliness. Like Bob Larson, I Am So Godly that SATAN Himself gives ME special attention!)

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  61. Max: the facts I share are based on personal experience of doing church in America for the better part of a century.

    Exactly.

    The paradigm, historically, is the men’s pocketbooks keep the pastors solvent while the women and girls satisfy the predatory pastors’ vices.

    How many pastors are predators? And who are they? Only the targets (females, generally) know.

    In this case, even the father of the victim, WHO THOUGHT HE KNEW THE PREDATORY PASTOR WELL, had no idea what was happening to his own daughter in his own home. She was the target. Only she knew.

    Who are the predatory pastors? The question.

    Assumptions are ignorance.

    We know from the Gospels and the rest of the NT, God never protects orgs. The org executed God’s Son.

    If you are going on and on about your experiences with wonderful pastors to do a dust up and clean up full of assumptions to make church look appealing again, good luck with that.

    This case with RM proves that most of church experience with pastors is superficial at best – even her own dad couldn’t see the reality.

    Best case scenario is look to Jesus with eyes wide open in churches, and LISTEN to targets wisely, even when they contradict what we see ourselves. (Wisely. There are false accusers, too.)

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  62. Max: God will not tolerate your sin under His tent

    Is the pastor preaching only to the pew, “your sin”, or are clergy standing above included, too, as in “our sin”?

    Maybe seems rhetorical but for some leaders, they are great at whipping everyone else into shape to clean house in critical times, when their own backyard may actually need work.

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  63. Louisiana’s guv Jeff Landry signed into law that DOJ Judges may order surgical castration for some pedophile offenders of children. Goes into effect in August.

    Would this mean a certain predatory pedophile pastor offender would have his offending fingers removed?

    It sounds gory but no more than what the pastor offender did to an innocent 12 year old girl in her own home. Less gory than that.

    Any guys that want to comment on this, please keep in mind that you don’t own the anatomy that would ever experience this. Just keep that in mind.

    We all need each other’s advocacy; we all cannot possibly share the same experiences. So, listening. And guessing that 90% of the talking in churches is done by men. So, balance. Everyone at the table. Jesus shared communion at a table. No altar. No pulpit. A table. There were only men present. Guessing Jesus would extend the invite to women. Around, not under, the table.

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  64. The fact that GW was in “normal” attendance this weekend is a good barometer of the state of the corporate church of today. This is the result of having a “great deceiver” at the helm. If only people would just meditate on the Word, they would see through the deceiver themselves. The housecleaning started at the toilet.

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  65. Ava Aaronson: The paradigm, historically, is the men’s pocketbooks keep the pastors solvent while the women and girls satisfy the predatory pastors’ vices.

    Not “vices”, Ava.
    APPETITE or APPETITES.
    I came across that terminology in a reprint of 1925-1945 pulp stories from the pages of Weird Tales (Seabury Quinn’s “occult detective” Jules De Grandin) and think it a much better description.

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  66. https://youtu.be/HPkxaC59_hM

    Perhaps others have seen this video of the elder from Gateway – it was posted on the Roys Report.

    While much of what he said was good, I really really wish he had not gotten applause from the congregation at any point and especially a standing ovation at the end. I wish every single elder from the church had been up there on the stage with him rather than him saying he spoke ‘for the elders’. I wish we could see or sense a feeling of lamentation from the congregation over the depth of suffering that has been caused and covered up.

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  67. Ydoesthiskeephappening,

    I wonder if there are other victims and did they sign NDAs. I wonder if someone could check the church files for all those NDAs. I also wonder what ministries are benefiting financially from Gateway Church and if those benefits have caused leaders not to speak out. There have been a lot of speakers at Gateway over the years. I haven’t heard many of them commenting on this. Where is the outrage in the leadership of ministries?

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  68. Archie Grey: but I think the parents (and others that knew) didn’t do right by this young girl also. They are not blameless either.

    “but I think … ”

    Perhaps it would be helpful to read the full narrative about how this came down over decades before declaring blame and passing judgment. It’s in writing.

    Acute listening and reading before opinionating are incredible, perhaps rare, skill.

    Regarding reading what’s already been put in writing, the obligation of the girl and her family to have to singularly retell and explain over and over and over again, endlessly reliving the terror and trauma just so the rest of us rubes can stop putting judgment where it doesn’t belong, so the victims can come out from under the cloud of the uninformed public’s “I think” and “my experience” about themselves, with speculations and such … it’s just more suffering for victims.

    This is about neither you nor me. It’s not about us except to support victims and to not support predators.

    A girl and her family were violently violated and torn apart by their pastor friend. Decades ago and thereafter they are falsely accused and threatened by the very same predator. It seems they, the victims, have also been judged by others who knew.

    The predator threatened there would be lawsuits and criminal charges if the girl told the predator’s secret crimes, which is extreme DARVO, Deny Accuse Reverse Victim & Offender.

    Like Dee wrote in a tweet, until the predator admits the girl’s age, he has never admitted anything nor been “restored”. Lying about what one did is never confession. It’s adding lies to the original pedophile rape offenses.

    Why won’t the predator say her age? Because then he would have to admit that he is a violent pedophile pastor criminal rapist. He has never done that.

    Will he ever admit what he has done? Only he knows.

    How much silencing does $117M buy?

    Has his church put out the call for other victims to come forward?

    Who is right now clutching $$$ or demanding more money while they bite their tongue?

    Does church get any worse than this?

    Can’t make this stuff up.

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  69. Leanna Ellis: I wonder if there are other victims and did they sign NDAs. I wonder if someone could check the church files for all those NDAs. I also wonder what ministries are benefiting financially from Gateway Church and if those benefits have caused leaders not to speak out. There have been a lot of speakers at Gateway over the years. I haven’t heard many of them commenting on this. Where is the outrage in the leadership of ministries?

    4 highly important questions everyone should be asking.

    Those who don’t ask these questions, why? That by itself is telling.

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  70. FreshGrace,

    FreshGrace:
    https://youtu.be/HPkxaC59_hM

    Perhaps others have seen this video of the elder from Gateway – it was posted on the Roys Report.

    While much of what he said was good, I really really wish he had not gotten applause from the congregation at any point and especially a standing ovation at the end. I wish every single elder from the church had been up there on the stage with him rather than him saying he spoke ‘for the elders’.I wish we could see or sense a feeling of lamentation from the congregation over the depth of suffering that has been caused and covered up.

    Was that all about preventing a mass exodus? I agree a lot of what he said was good, but the fact that Robert was allowed to resign instead of being fired immediately was, in my opinion, poor judgement on the elders part. If they had fired him, it would have indicated how serious they were taking the issue. Standing ovations need to come to an end. Let’s save them for Jesus! The true test will be whether they let RM’s offspring back in the pulpit.

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  71. FreshGrace,

    My thought exactly. I think that elder was hand-selected to deliver the message so he could speak to the fact that he has six daughters. While he may have had some part in composing the message, I think most of it was prepared by the PR team, which is why he had to read it. I don’t know this as fact, but it is my inclination.

    I also did not appreciate the applause – that was also disturbing. The service was out of order with the majority of worship being done at the end, after people were reminded of previous positive experiences at Gateway and while attempting to hold on to that which they had grown accustomed to and felt might be threatened and taken from them. Joakim Lundqvist’s message was appropriate given the circumstances, but most of it after the elder spoke, was more of a cheer session. And I got the impression that the message was to the congregation that they are responsible for supporting and participating at Gateway as they have always done, with the church not recognizing what it needs to do to heal the church. I don’t think it will be allowed to continue in its current structure and form. Dismantle the campuses, each to its own with their own boards who can more closely monitor the business of the church.

    Has James Morris or Debbie Morris made a statement?

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  72. FreshGrace:
    https://youtu.be/HPkxaC59_hM

    Perhaps others have seen this video of the elder from Gateway – it was posted on the Roys Report.

    While much of what he said was good, I really really wish he had not gotten applause from the congregation at any point and especially a standing ovation at the end. I wish every single elder from the church had been up there on the stage with him rather than him saying he spoke ‘for the elders’.I wish we could see or sense a feeling of lamentation from the congregation over the depth of suffering that has been caused and covered up.

    He may have been picked for the following reasons (not all inclusive):
    1. Gateway’s Elder Board is a mix of staff and non-staff members. If staff are on stage, it comes across as classic CYA.
    2. Tra Willbanks (the elder who spoke) didn’t come on board until 2014 and is a non-staff elder. As such, he lends an air of credibility that “I wasn’t aware of what happened” (from all which has been reported on TWW and The Roys Report, the last “communication” with the elders about Cindy was the 2009 letter from “Andrea”, five years before he joins the board).
    (On this point, having known someone who was the secretary for ExxonMobil’s Board of Directors, I know how this stuff works. What happened was that someone in Gateway’s administration screened all communications to the Elder Board, and they had a protocol that any communication accusing Morris of wrongdoing – such as Andrea’s 2009 letter – to Tom Lane. Lane would then “run interference” for Morris, thus keeping the other elders out of the loop and giving them plausible deniability.)
    3. Being the father of seven children – six of whom are daughters – Willbanks can come across as a genuinely concerned parent (and he probably is).

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  73. S Johnson,

    Here are my predictions (no betting, please):
    Jackson Hole, Wyoming – goes back to independent church status (easier to let them go and concentrate on the DFW area)
    North Richland Hills – building sold, it is less than nine miles from Southlake and those who are loyal will simply drive there
    North Fort Worth – same as NRH, around 15 miles away
    North Dallas – probably spun off as independent church
    Plano – same as North Dallas
    Justin – this is a brand-new facility but close to Southlake, maybe goes like NRH or North FW
    Grand Prairie – same as Plano and North Dallas
    Frisco and Prosper – due to growth (and income) in those areas (plus Gateway just spent a bunch of $ on Frisco’s expansion) they probably remain in the fold

    The two similarly named churches (Gateway Phoenix run by former associate Preston Morrison, and Gateway Houston run by Ethan and Elaine Fisher – Elaine is Robert’s daughter) probably change their names and disassociate themselves from Gateway oversight. Same with Table Church (Josh Morris).

    One thing to consider is the long-standing relationship between Gateway and Amarillo-based Trinity Fellowship. TF has one DFW campus in Decatur, could they decide to take over the spin-offs as a means of moving into the area?

    Another is that Jimmy Evans now works for Fellowship Church. Ed Young is notorious for running what amounts to a church REIT (real estate investment trust); he’s taken over at least three churches (Miami, North Port FL, Norman OK), then closing the campuses and selling off the properties. Could Evans give him hints on which properties would be valuable for this?

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  74. Archie Grey: Why didn’t her parents report Robert to the police way back when they found out this had happened to their daughter? It’s Roberts fault but I think the parents (and others that knew) didn’t do right by this young girl also. They are not blameless either.

    I think you either are not aware of what reporting to the police entails for a victim or haven’t thought it through past a reflex reaction.

    I’m going to copy what I wrote in response to a similar question on a previous thread:

    “I think the situation is complicated for parents of a minor. They have to decide what is best for her, and it appears from everything she’s said that she believes they acted to protect her. Think about it this way: many adult women who are raped never report to authorities. Why not? Because the cost of reporting is so high. You will be interviewed by multiple employees of the justice system, repeatedly describing a traumatic, highly personal event (or series of events in Cindy’s case.)” [Adding: remember, the damage began when she was 12 and continued. She reports she was told, “Never tell anyone or it will ruin everything.” This would have weighed on the child, assigning her guilt for any consequences of his sin and crimes. That makes it harder to tell. Thank God she did. Her parents had to then decide how much more their daughter could handle.]

    So you’ve read Cindy’s story. Imagine her telling person after person in detail what she endured. If you tell your story in therapy, the therapist allows you to tell it in pieces, to go at your own pace, and her goal is your healing. The goal of LEO listening is to see if there is evidence to build a case that is “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

    Cindy’s dad did defend her. He believed her (the most important thing) and as soon as she told him, he went to church authorities to make sure Morris had to step down. (He took steps to prevent others.) I think it is understandable for parents to not report a case to police unless their daughter is in a place where she’s willing and able to testify. (Otherwise, there is no case.) You do what you think is best for your daughter.”

    “The elders, on the other hand, share guilt in not permanently removing him from leadership.

    Statistically, it’s very likely that there have been other victims. Some may not have come forward. Others may have signed NDAs.”

    Adding: You can look up statistics about what percentage of sexual assaults are reported (only a minority) and of those, a minority are prosecuted, and of those prosecuted, a small percentage result in a conviction.

    Cindy’s dad believed his daughter, stood up for her, and confronted her abuser, seeking to have him removed from ministry, which would have protected others.

    Robert Morris is the person who bears the blame. Church leaders who knew and covered for him are accessories to the crimes. Plural. He assaulted her multiple times.

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  75. Dave A A: I watched yesterday’s service, though I skimmed through the sermon a bit. I know I’m hyper-critical and nitpicked just about everything. Maybe someone more impartial will see some hopeful signs. Unlike last weekend, they didn’t just start right in with a big celebration, but had an elder make the somber announcement. He did also spend quite a bit of effort encouraging the pewsitters about all the great programs Gateway has and good things they’ve done. Then when he prayed he remembered to pray against any unforgiveness, doubt, or bitterness. The pewsitters gave him a standing ovation. A pastor next compared the situation to when Peter was “in trouble” and the church was praying for him. Of course, Peter was in trouble for preaching the gospel, not for being a predator. The guest preacher next compared the unthinkable situation to when he took over from his mentor (who converted to Catholicism).
    He encouraged the flock to be like Mary and Martha when Lazarus died, and keep the faith that Jesus would raise them up from this sad season. Another standing ovation.
    Then the band performed 3 worship songs, professionally done to send everyone out on a hopeful note.

    The church has largely forgotten the biblical practice of lament. Nearly all “worship” songs are happy, happy songs. For Gateway Church, this should be a season of weeping, lament, self-examination, asking God to search the heart, to continue to reveal truth. This is not the time to skip that part and fast-forward to Jesus will make this all better. Lament is a necessary part of the healing process.

    He did rightfully acknowledge not just Cindy, but the pain of other victims sitting in the church who have experienced similar things. The church should seek to understand how to care for them. (GRACE could be helpful here.)

    And congregants should demand that anyone who signed NDAs be released from them.

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  76. S Johnson: I don’t think it will be allowed to continue in its current structure and form.

    Strictly my opinion, but I believe this is a watershed moment for the church in the USA. National awareness.

    IMHO, this exposé of a criminal situation in a great church with a mega footprint of a seemingly wonderful good looking well-spoken pastor with a shining spotless public image, is extreme and unfathomable. Can’t make this up. And now we can’t unsee it.

    For Cindy and her family to carry the burden of this intel themselves for decades is unimaginable. Yikes. Thank God for Wade, Rachelle, Dee, Todd, TWW.

    No need nor call for a witchhunt regarding pastors. Quite the opposite. The fact is that we simply don’t know what we don’t know, which calls for humility, observation, and awareness. Listening.

    Assumptions either way are ignorance. Nothing to say either way until there is something to say. Someone may not share your/my experience. We may be their camou.

    Eyes open, ears listening, both externally to testimonies* and internally to the Holy Spirit is the obvious best practice. Because who the good guy churchmen are, and vice versa, is simply not obvious, especially for those outside of the target* demographic.

    *According to national stats, the intel church testimonies are mainly going to be from females and mainly going to be about men. Ref: the research of Andrew Denney at UTC. These stats are neither opinion nor any one individual’s experience.

    Wisely listening to these mainly women and girls is the primary path to weeding out the bad guys, who may be few and far between. It seems like listening is mainly what Dee and Todd do. Todd has even sat in on lengthy criminal pastor trials. Lots of listening and observation.

    Any guy, other than Jesus, who claims to have an inside track on who the good guy or bad guy pastors are, best step back and take a look at the fact that Cindy’s loving caring spiritually mature dad had no idea what his BFF preacher friend was doing to his own daughter for 5 years.

    This whole situation reminds me of Rachael Denhollander’s testimony about Dr. Larry Nassar. Only the targets knew about that masterful predator in professional disguise, too, and the parents were in the same room! Yikes!

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  77. “True repentance and restitution include a clear acknowledgment of the sin.”

    That is a quote from DOVE, Guidelines for Discipline and Restoration.

    I don’t see any sign of any acknowledgement of sin here by Robert Morris. I see him blaming the girl for his abuse of her… making up some Jezebel spirit nonsense, indicating that she seduced him… but no acknoledgement of sin. Am I missing something?

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  78. dave: This was a small midwestern town in the 1980.

    Wasn’t the Millennial Kingdom in Left Behind: Volume 13 a world-wide Midwest (no mountains, no oceans) speckled with Small Midwestern Towns?

    With the Resurrection-bodied Immortal Saved throwing their weight around on their Inferiors, the surviving Mortal Heathens?

    After all, the last scene in Left Behind: Volume 12 is the two Author Self-Inserts walking away from the Judgment Seat of the Returned Christ in their Resurrection Bodies with their Crowns of Glory, one ASI telling the other that “Now we can finally Have a CHRISTIAN Nation”. They are IN the Timeless Halls, they have just received a new Arda (if not a new Ea – All That Is) from the hand of Eru Iluvatar Himself, and their only concern is how this can advance their political agenda.

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  79. Leanna Ellis:
    Ydoesthiskeephappening,

    I wonder if there are other victims and did they sign NDAs. I wonder if someone could check the church files for all those NDAs. I also wonder what ministries are benefiting financially from Gateway Church and if those benefits have caused leaders not to speak out. There have been a lot of speakers at Gateway over the years. I haven’t heard many of them commenting on this. Where is the outrage in the leadership of ministries?

    Ava Aaronson: 4 highly important questions everyone should be asking.

    Those who don’t ask these questions, why? That by itself is telling.

    Ava Aaronson: 4 highly important questions everyone should be asking.

    Those who don’t ask these questions, why? That by itself is telling.

    Silence in the face of evil is evil itself. I pray all victims will come forward even if they signed an nda. I highly respect all preachers or ministries that speak up against this evil.

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  80. Ava Aaronson: women and girls

    We should not forget boys. There is the horrific Smyth case in UK (young adult males) or Pressler (young adult males) or Camp Kannukuk (young boys) in USA. The Denney study here https://www.mdpi dot com/2077-1444/9/1/27 actually cites a study by John Jay college that 81% of the victims were male. That seems quite skewed to me based on other statistics, but I did not look up that study to see if there was an explanation.

    The Denney study here https://www.crimrxiv dot com/pub/p1afmq2i/release/1 gives examples of both male and female victims.

    Males are 90+% of the perpetrators, but both males and females are the victims.

    I also noted in the first Denney study that high levels of narcissism were noted in perpetrators.

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  81. Eyewitness: We should not forget boys. There is the horrific Smyth case in UK (young adult males) or Pressler (young adult males) or Camp Kannukuk (young boys) in USA.

    Absolutely. Boys are also targets, mainly by men, too. We need to listen to, and be on the lookout for this, too.

    Yes, there are women offenders, in much smaller numbers. The clergy offenders are mainly male.

    In Jimmy Carter’s TED talk, regarding his human rights work, he said the frequency of male offenders, CSA & DV, in religious culture is due in part to religious beliefs.

    Thanks for looking at and sharing Andrew Denney’s research. His work is truly God’s gift to His church.

    Sunlight disinfects.

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  82. Donna: I highly respect all preachers or ministries that speak up against this evil.

    Amy Smith @watchkeep posted a TikTok video on twitter, interviewing 2 women from Gateway Church Frisco. These two women are members and served at Gateway Frisco. They reported a leader for child sex abuse to LE. He was arrested and charged, and is now awaiting trial. The 2 women informed other parents, for the safety of other children. Gateway Frisco church leadership now forbids the 2 women from serving at Gateway Frisco, and has asked that they leave the church.

    Reference: see Amy Smith’s TikTok video on Twitter.

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  83. BZ: Stats don’t mean squat if you’re one of them.

    Statistics provide a broader understanding of trends, risks and culture, without diminishing the impact of individual suffering. Both comprise the complete picture.

    The frequency or demographics of clergy predators may have roots in training, church structure (access, accountability), culture, or theology. Data can guide solutions or prevention. Andrew Denney’s work has purpose. All incidents matter.

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  84. Church girl,

    I do not go to Gateway but I have several friends who do. One of them told me that they were not celebrating on Sunday but rather in tears because they are genuinely hurting. Some of the things that my friend expressed to me is that some of them are still in shock. They are horrified and confused about how this could have happened. They are hurting for the little girl. They also feel like they have been victimized. I wish that people would not take their anger with Robert, Debbie, and the elders that knew out on the church. The church at large is not at fault for this happening.

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  85. The problem with churches whose identity is based around a celebrity pastor instead of Jesus, is that if/when the celebrity pastor is exposed as a charlatan (or worse), the entire church collapses like a house of cards.

    That is because such churches are all about the celebrity pastor, so when he (and it usually is a he) goes down, his sycophantic church that he created in his own image goes down with him.

    This happened with Marc Driscoll and Mars Hill, it happened with CJ Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries, and it happened with Ravi Zacharias and his pompously-named “Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.”

    Honestly, the best thing Gateway Church can do now is to disband. The separate campuses should each become an independent church which has an identity based on Jesus Christ, rather than an identity based on Robert Morris and what amounts to his family business.

    When you have a church like Gateway whose identity is entirely wrapped up in their celebrity pastor, it’s very difficult to move forward from a scandal where that celebrity pastor is exposed and discredited.

    I don’t think that it’s wise or spiritually healthy for Gateway to try to “move beyond” this scandal and continue to exist as Gateway Church.

    That is because Gateway Church is Robert Morris’ creation.

    No matter how many times the Gateway leadership apologize, and no matter how sincere their apologies may be, the fact of the matter is that Gateway Church was founded and led throughout its entire existence up to this point by a pedophile, a rapist, and a sex predator.

    As long as Gateway continues to exist, that dark history will be with them.

    So if Gateway continues to exist, their options will be to be open and honest about how their church was founded by the pedophile Robert Morris, or they can try to sweep the origin of their church under the carpet and hope that people forget.

    With regard to the first option, I doubt many people will want to join a church founded by a pedophile. So the church membership will probably decline, and Gateway will wither.

    With regard to the second option, it is even worse. Secrets, lies, and cover-ups are not only immoral, they are what got Gateway into the situation they are currently in, with their church shamed and discredited.

    The moral thing to do is to be open and honest about the history of their church, but not many people will want to join a church founded by a sex predator and rapist.

    The Gateway name and brand is permanently and irreparably tarnished.

    That is why I think the best possible thing to do going forward, is for Gateway Church to disband and stop using the Gateway name.

    Of course, just changing the name is not a good solution, because it would still be the same church with a different name.

    The separate campuses should become independent churches with new names, and maybe even some of the campuses should split into several smaller churches.

    If some of the people from Gateway want to stay together with other Gateway members, they should create new independent churches with no ties to Gateway.

    There is no shame in the origins of a church being: “we used to be part of a bigger church until we found out that the founding pastor was a criminal, so we left and created our own new church so our group of friends could stay together in a congregation.”

    Make sure that the focus of these news churches is on Jesus Christ and His Gospel and Teachings.

    Reject the temptation of celebrity pastors and megachurch status.

    That would be my advice to the members of Gateway Church who want to try to salvage what is left of the institution, rather than simply leave and join another church that already exists.

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  86. Teresa Coyne,

    Understood but maybe it’s time to go to a church that God has bulit… that preaches the Word in unction and anointing of the Holy Spirit. That is meat not milk. That gives Holy Spirit a place to run the service.

    Could it be that God hasn’t built the house called Gateway? Has it been man and flesh?

    Campus pastors won’t leave because of their fat salaries. Hence the USS gateway keeps on chugging.

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  87. Teresa Coyne: I wish that people would not take their anger with Robert, Debbie, and the elders that knew out on the church. The church at large is not at fault for this happening.

    The congregants on the whole are not at fault, but, do the congregants on whole have any power in this particular church beyond the power of their pocketbook. This not appear to be polity where congregants can vote on budget, elders, much less pastor.

    Now I will note that that videos posted are likely to be chosen and edited to show what those with power in the church want to show.

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  88. There may be a bit of confusion as to the various “churches” under Gateway. Here are the specifics:

    Main campus: Southlake
    (They also have two office locations, one just a bit west of the main campus and another in an office park to the SE)
    Branch campuses: North Richland Hills, North Fort Worth, Justin, Grand Prairie, Plano, Frisco, Prosper, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming
    Affiliates: Gateway Phoenix (run by Preston Morrison, a former associate pastor), Gateway Houston (run by Ethan and Elaine Fisher; Elaine is RM’s only daughter), and Table Church (Austin area, run by Josh Morris, RM’s oldest son).

    The Southlake property also contains the HQ for XOMarriage (fka Marriage Today) run by Jimmy Evans. However, Evans has distanced himself from Morris in recent months and is now hanging with Ed Young Jr. over at Fellowship Church (Young may have some odd views on sexuality himself, but to his credit he has remained faithful to Lisa).

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  89. Max: Before I go fishing, I thought the TWW community should know about the standing ovation given to one of the Gateway elders after his remarks yesterday. The Wartburg community is very familiar with standing ovations.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGAVmB8fnUE

    Was the standing ovation at a Saturday service? Protestia is reporting that the standing ovation was Saturday. On Sunday, “the 11:00 am service was half empty.” Apparently they replayed the Saturday apology on video and followed with another video per their report.

    https://protestia.com/2024/06/24/gateways-church-service-yesterday-was-a-sad-affair-many-walked-out/

    Here’s my similar experience. I was in a church the Sunday morning after utterly devastating news about the founding Pastor’s sexual misconduct. We sang Psalm 51, and we all knew why. One of the other pastors delivered a message on sexual sin. It was not explicitly aimed at the fallen pastor, but we all knew why the topic was chosen. Believe it or not, there are pastors who will instruct people in the Word of God, and then trust them to vote in a church meeting according to their conscience, as guided by the Word of God. There were no excuses. There was certainly no standing ovation. No avoiding the elephant in the room. Just the love of Christ, through His word, to some really hurting people that day. It was a hard day, but healing. Things like that don’t resolve with just one message of course; this is just a snapshot of that Sunday morning. To my knowledge, that fallen pastor is still in a secular trade.

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  90. Max,

    I did not gush.

    I did listen to Ethan Fisher’s message from Houston. There have been a few times I have heard Ethan speak at Gateway South Lake. I don’t remember anything diluted and appropriate message were presented, nothing that alarmed me. And I think Elaine is a gifted teacher as well. My heart breaks for Elaine, Ethan and their children…the difficulty of the conversations they have with their children concerning this-hard to imagine. I felt Ethan’s tone was appropriate that Houston would put the congregation first and do whatever is necessary to help the congregation heal. I also realize (and I didn’t know this before) Houston is much more independent of South Lake, at least from the summary Ethan gave.

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  91. Chris,

    It was at the Saturday service.

    Gateway always has the sermon (RM or whoever) live on Saturday at 4PM Central time at the Southlake main campus. All other services (whether at Southlake or a branch campus) feature either a simulcast or a tape delay. The only part of the service which is always live is the music and this is at all campuses.

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  92. Mark R:
    Chris,

    It was at the Saturday service.

    Gateway always has the sermon (RM or whoever) live on Saturday at 4PM Central time at the Southlake main campus.All other services (whether at Southlake or a branch campus) feature either a simulcast or a tape delay.The only part of the service which is always live is the music and this is at all campuses.

    Mark, thanks for clarifying.

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  93. Church girl: I wonder if we will see anyone with integrity take a stand. A pastor who can stay working at such a place knowing the elders knew is agreeing with it without saying it.

    In classic supernatural pulp fiction, if you watch black magic going down and make no objection to it (even just to yourself), you have made yourself a part of the magickal working and given it power over you.

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  94. Ydoesthiskeephappening: I have heard comments like “but look how much good Morris has done, we wouldn’t have that had he gone to prison back then”, or “you have to weigh the bad against the good and he has done far more good”, “the news shouldn’t be sensationalizing this now”, etc. Yes, actual comments!!!!

    Blending Ursula LeGuin’s “Those Who Walk Away from Omelas” with South Park’s “Cartman Joins NAMBLA”:

    “As for me and my House, We Shall Remain in Omelas.”

    “DUDE! YOU! HAVE! SEX! WITH! CHILDREN!”

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  95. Donna: It is obvious their law firm is in control … Damage control

    Yes. At this point, all communications from Gateway staff/elders are surely filtered by the law firm. They may even insist on screening sermons before they are delivered. Words are important right now … “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:37)

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  96. Ava Aaronson: Statistics provide a broader understanding of trends, risks and culture, without diminishing the impact of individual suffering. Both comprise the complete picture…..

    All incidents matter.

    I get it. I have a huge interest in data.

    “Stats dont matter ..” is an old phrase.
    Its essence:
    News that “DUI arrests in Local town USA fell for the third year in a row, from high of 12 down to 1” gives no comfort to the parent who lost two children hit by that last drunk driver.

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  97. Karl: Pastor of a rural church was forbidding his teenage son to date a girl. The son argued she was a good Christian in the youth group and there’s no reason we can’t date. Pastor realized he’d have to tell him the truth… “She’s your half-sister”

    But if the church was in Alabama, Mississippi, or the South for that matter that would be ok (HT: Jeff Foxworthy).

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  98. R’as al Ghul: But if the church was in Alabama, Mississippi, or the South for that matter that would be ok (HT: Jeff Foxworthy).

    “IF YOUR FAMILY TREE DOES NOT FORK…
    YOU MIGHT BE A REDNECK.”
    — Jeff Foxworthy

    And a little momento from Dr Demento on the same subject:
    Shawn Elliot’s 1964 arrangement of the 1943 calypso song “Shame and Scandal in the Family”:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAkkLQr2Kjc

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  99. I’m still reading through the comments on this post….and I’ve yet to read the news posts and their comments.

    I decided to comment while I was thinking of it 🙂 …and it’s not that I value other TWW commenters less….I don’t comment very often….

    Max: Ava, the facts I share are based on personal experience of doing church in America for the better part of a century. I have known many pastors who have been faithful …. I have served alongside them, prayed with them, wept with them …. they have lived lives worthy of their calling as evidenced by the fruit of their ministries. I have used them as a plumbline of the genuine when I comment about the counterfeit we are seeing exposed in the church. My personal experience is not open to the arguments of others. I’m sorry that you haven’t experienced this in church and are seeing only the underbelly of church in your search for facts.

    Max,

    I love the stories you tell of your personal experiences 🙂 ….whether of your family and / or the Church and / or the “church”.

    On other posts you’ve commented about some of the truly humble pastors you’ve encountered, as well as some of the truly Christian (the capital “C” Church”) communities in which you’ve lived. 🙂

    You’ve also commented on the small “c” churches you’ve attended, etc.

    Your experiences and experience are a gift to everyone. 🙂 And I love the way you use and quote the Bible….using Scripture appropriately, not “prooftexting”. 🙂

    Thank you for all the times you’ve taken the time to comment. 🙂

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  100. researcher,

    Thank you for your kind words, researcher. It’s been a pleasure working in the blogosphere with you … Lord knows, we’ve all got plenty of work to do to address problems in the American church. Fortunately, there’s still a scarlet thread woven through the fabric of the institutional church; we find it when we look for it with all our heart … there has always been the Church within the church, Praise God!

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  101. Eyewitness: And congregants should demand that anyone who signed NDAs be released from them.

    And for those who DID sign NDAs, CONSULT A LAWYER!
    Everything you tell him will be under Attorney/Client Privilege, and you can check whether the NDA can be invalidated – as far as I know, NDAs cannot be used to cover up a crime or criminal act.

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