Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How can churches be so stupid in responding to clergy sexual abuse?

How can large evangelical churches, organizations with considerable resources, multiple specialized staff, and highly sophisticated social media resources be so stupid in their responding to allegations of sexual abuse of minors by their staff members?

I cannot explain it but see it regularly.

Check the recent case of The Church in Corinth, an Assembly of God church near Dallas:

Texas pastor tried to coerce high school girl into stripping for him

 The pastor, perhaps forty something, locked the high school girl in a room and tried for two hours to get her to strip for him. The actions, if proved, constitute a felony.

Here is the initial statement of the church:

“We have no knowledge of nor any reason to suspect any inappropriate behavior,” Fink said. “We intend to and will fully investigate the allegations, and we will fully cooperate with the authorities. Our prayers go out to this family of our church.”
Here is a formal statement issued later by the church:
Allegations have been made. At this time, they are allegations. And, our Pastor is on a leave of absence. A leave of absence is the best thing we can do for him to give him time to be with his family and to deal with everything going on in his life. Any time, when something like this happens, the impact that it has on everyone is painful. With that pain often comes a response that looks very much like the stages of grief. You may be feeling hurt, afraid, and confused. Many of us will feel angry. Anger is a response that we use to defend ourselves against the hurt, fear and confusion. Some will feel depression. But, with time – and a lot of prayer, we will begin to go through a period where we can begin to heal.
Wonder of wonders, the pastor is a victim!

We are going to give HIM time to be with HIS family, to deal with what is going on in HIS life...it's painful...the church family is grieving, hurt, confused, afraid, and angry...but in time WE can begin to heal.

The church website has this message for members:

So, what will the future look like at The Church of Corinth? In the short term, the Deacon board will continue to help in the day to day decision process of the operation of the church. We have already been in contact with the leadership of the Assemblies of God about the events of this week and are following their direction as well as getting input from their vast experience and wisdom.... 
Something missing from the church's response?

How about ANY mention of the victim, the girl the spiritual leader, authority figure trapped in a room with lecherous intent?

Not a syllable.

This is as pathetic as it is stupid.

Sure, the charges are allegations (although authorities have audio recordings, a couple of hours worth, of the pastor) and a measured response would be appropriate.

But to read the church statements one would think that it is all about them, their people, their future.

Oh, by the way, the church website says this:

Our community believes that it is our responsibility to be the hands and feet of Christ to the world. We desire that our body is marked as Christ-followers in a culture that is broken and in need of hope.

 Something is indeed broken here.

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