This morning’s evangelical buzz is all about C.J. Mahaney and the lawsuit that has been filed against Sovereign Grace Ministries. Today, after saying nothing for 6 months, some leaders are coming forward in support of him. (Their original post was removed after an incredible outcry on their FB page but a reader saved it.) Their silence has already shown that they sided with the churches who ignored abuse and “kept it in house” but today they feel empowered to offer real support to Mahaney and others for one reason: the statute of limitations ran out for filing a civil suit against these men for 9 of 11 plaintiffs. Did you catch that? None were found innocent, there was just a loophole and they all are jumping through it! (My friend, Sallie, has an excellent article praising those who have taken a stand. Kudos to them and to her!)
One thing that intrigues me about this whole situation and one reason why I think it should give homeschoolers pause is this:
Some of the same players at HSLDA who have not taken stands against child abuse AND who are pushing the parental rights amendment AND who have participated in drafting a manifesto that desires abolishing DCFS, are/have been members (in one case, an elder, as I understand it) of these same churches named in this lawsuit during the same time that this was going on! Now I have no proof that they were legal counsel in any of this madness. In fact, I am not saying that anyone was. But I know that in churches I have been part of, church members who are attorneys are often called on in these situations, just as bankers sit on finance committees, electricians help repair electrical problems in the church building etc. If you read the actual lawsuit, be warned, it is horrifying stuff. It will make you hug your little ones a while longer today.
As I posted links to some of this madness this morning on Facebook, someone asked me why so many pedophiles were attracted to this one denomination. Here is my response as to why I think we are hearing so many of these sorts of stories lately. I am convinced that sexual abuse is so widespread it would make heads spin if we knew the truth. I remember as though it was yesterday when World Magazine wrote a cover story on the whole child abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. Here we are nearly a decade and a half later and what has actually changed? The stories keep coming forward. Now we are seeing the very same thing in evangelicalism and why? I think there are several reasons:
1. The internet is a powerful tool for accountability and information. It can be abused, too, I know, but victims no longer have to be alone in shame and ignorance of what was done to them. Most victims of sexual abuse have been warned that they or someone they love will be killed or harmed if they ever tell. So they don’t. Children also cannot possibly begin to process what happened to them until they are much older. Sometimes their first understanding is triggered by something they read online. Also, those who have been harmed by certain organizations or individuals can quickly find out that they were not the only ones, empowering them to take a stand.
2. Some of the attitudes about women and children in these groups perpetuate this sort of environment. Look at how so many of these victims were counseled to deal with pedophiles. Keep it in-house. Wives side with husbands, etc. What one thinks he owns he also thinks he can do with whatever he likes. How’s that prophet, priest, and king thing workin’ out for ya?
3. Evil, truly evil, people can play the part of good holy people and fly under the radar for a long time if they are clever. Peck’s book People of the Lie quotes several people who committed heinous crimes and who describe how they were able to get access to innocent victims by pretending to be godly church members. Chilling.
4. Modern Christians are being trained to not be Bereans. In fact, how often are they told NOT to be Bereans, just to obey their leaders, elders, etc. A few weeks ago I posted a quote from Mark Driscoll where he said rebels are those who “do word studies.” This mindset is crazy.
5. The celebrity status both within homeschooling circles and evangelicalism in general invites this sort of behavior. People are far too trusting of the “who’s who” crowd. And those who are part of it become much lest circumspect.
6. A false theology of “blanket forgiveness” is being taught in church after church. This article is one of the best discussions on what true and righteous forgiveness looks like I have ever read. Is this what you have been taught? It sure hasn’t been my experience and, in fact, I have been admonished more than once to simply “forgive” false teachers rather than examine and expose false teachings! Ludicrous!!!
7. The nutty makes it way into the mainstream of the church and becomes acceptable first and then embraced. There are so many of these examples but here is one I ran across yesterday. Scott Brown from the Family Integrated Church network, you know, they guy who claims that Sunday School is unbiblical and the end of Western Civilization as we know it fame is a guest speaker at, of all things, a DISCERNMENT conference! This gives credibility to so many of the things we all know have been so dangerous and destructive to homeschooling families. The mind reels!!!
So, any thoughts?