4 lessons we can learn from a church that hired a sex offender

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Handcuffs - photo courtesy of Victor via Flickr

Handcuffs - photo courtesy of Victor via Flickr

“We’re firm believers in the Bible, so if God’s forgiven you, then we’re in no position to treat you otherwise.”

These are the words of the interim pastor at New Gospel Outreach Church, shortly after learning that the senior pastor was arrested for sexually abusing a fourteen-year-old boy.   What is so incredibly dreadful is that the senior pastor was a convicted sex offender when he was hired three years ago. What is so incredibly appalling is that the church knew that when they hired him! Yes, the folks at New Gospel Outreach Church knowingly hired a convicted sex offender as their pastor!  This church just doesn’t get it.

Handcuffs - photo courtesy of Victor via Flickr

Handcuffs – photo courtesy of Victor via Flickr

At first glance, many who read this news story may dismiss it as an extreme situation and being thankful that their church would never do anything so horrific. Sure, most churches are not knowingly hiring convicted sex offenders to be pastors. That is good! However, churches and faith communities are increasingly faced with decisions related to sex offenders and disclosures of sexual abuse. My hope is that we can all learn from this church that just doesn’t get it.  Here are just four lessons:

  1. “The allegations were false”: At the time he was hired, the pastor informed the church of his past conviction and claimed the allegations were false. Despite the fact that a court of law found sufficient evidence to convict this man of a sexual offense against a child, the church preferred to believe his words. I have seldom encountered child sexual abusers who did not claim that the allegations made against them were false. I even prosecuted cases where the defendant gave a full confession to law enforcement as he maintained his innocence to friends and family. Anytime we are dealing with someone who has been prosecuted for sexually abusing a child, we don’t have the luxury to accept his or her words of denial. Here are some basic steps anyone can take to guard against being deceived:
    • Review the court file. If a person has been prosecuted, the courthouse will have a file of their case that is available for review. Oftentimes, these court files contain critical information about the offender that he or she would prefer you never read.
    • Speak with the investigator. Every child sexual abuse case is assigned a lead investigator who knows more about the case than anyone else. Though they may be limited in what they can share with you (though I have found that most are happy to tell you what they know), they will certainly be able to confirm or deny what the offender has told you about the allegations.
    • Meet with the probation officer. If the offender is or has ever been on probation for the offense, a probation officer will have supervised them. This person will not only be very familiar with the facts of the criminal case, but they will be in the best position to give you a current assessment of the offender’s character and behavior.

It is time for our faith communities to stop placing greater value on the words of sex offenders than the bodies and souls of our children. This church just doesn’t get it.

  1. “Everybody has a past”: All too often scripture is distorted in order to justify the blind embracing of those who have sexually victimized children. Though the interim pastor proudly states, “We are firm believers in the Bible”, he provides no scriptural basis for his “belief” that past offenses of a sex offender should be forgotten. He provides none because there is none. At the time this offender arrived at the church, many obviously believed his words that he was a “changed person” in Jesus. Even if that were true, Christians must understand the fundamental difference between an offender’s changed position before God and the fact he/she is still the same person who committed an abhorrent offense against a child that comes with lifetime consequences. (The 7th chapter of Romans has much to say about the fact that Christians are still in a battle with our flesh.) Don’t be fooled, offenders love a distorted theology that gives them immediate access to the little ones in the church. Whether or not the offender is a “changed” person before God, he/she is the same person who was convicted of sexually abusing a child. That is a past that should never be forgotten by those around him. This church just doesn’t get it.
  1. “Don’t judge the worshippers”: In one of the few public statements made about the pastor’s arrest, the interim pastor stated that he hopes people don’t “judge” the worshippers. A church hires a known sex offender who then sexually abuses a child in the church, and its primary concern is the reputation of the church? Perhaps its primary concern should how best to serve a 14-year-old boy who trusted his pastor and was repeatedly violated. Perhaps its primary concern should be cooperating with the police to identify other children who may also have been victimized by this offender. Perhaps its primary concern should be ways the church could serve other abuse survivors in their congregation who are likely being re-traumatized by this scandal. Perhaps its primary concern should be for the church to publically acknowledge that it was complicit in the abuse of this child due to its inexcusable decision to hire a known convicted sex offender. Perhaps its primary concern should be to reach out to experts for help in becoming educated on this issue so that this horror is never repeated. There is no lack of primary concerns for this church – its reputation certainly isn’t one of them. This church doesn’t get it.
  1. “We did no wrong”: Tragically, instead of acknowledging the grievous consequence of hiring a convicted sex offender, this church has spent the last week defending and excusing its inexcusable actions. All too often, I encounter church leaders whose immediate response to disclosures of abuse within the church is to be defensive instead of wanting to learn where they (or the church) may have failed and what can be learned. I believe this inclination towards defensiveness is often found when leaders place greater value on themselves and “their” institutions than on the lives and souls of individuals. The Gospel tells Christians that our identity is in Christ alone, and that all that we possess belongs to Him. It also tells us about a God who laid down his very life for each of us. These countercultural truths should free each of us to be teachable when faced with the dreadful news that a child in our church has been sexually abused. This church just doesn’t get it.

Perhaps we can all learn much from the simple, but compelling words of the detective when describing this pastor, “He’s a predator and he doesn’t need to be on the street. I’m glad we got him.” It is time that more faith communities recognize the dark reality that there are predators in our midst and become more vigilant in making sure that they are never in positions to access and hurt little ones.

Does your church “get it”?

  • JMC

    Thank you for this. Three different churches have chosen to hire the youth pastor who repeatedly assaulted me, even after I tell them my story and provide many references. He was not convicted, which complicates things, but this article echoes many of the things the churches have told me.

  • Learning to be a survivor

    It would seem that this should be a rare story, only occurring in some remote place that is somehow different from typical churches, however, it is something that I have seen as common from my own experiences.
    I have seen this played out twice with offenders who were missionaries and once with someone who works with children in his church. Of the three, one continued his ministry for years after his first offense became known. One continues to work on the mission field today while his mission board is fully aware of his past crime. The third continues to work with children in his church with seemingly no accountability. Always, the message is the same. If the victim doesn’t keep silent, the victim is the one who is destroying God’s work. Never have I heard any from those Christian circles consider that somehow the offender himself is responsible for his actions. The victims seem to bear the weight of “destroying” the perpetrators if they tell.
    In talking with the mission board director of the offender on the mission field, I was told that if I didn’t remain silent, I would destroy this godly man, his family, and his ministry. Why do I still feel the weight of that as if it is my burden to carry? Why are the victims of sexual abuse always supposed to become their offenders’ protector? That is my only worth to a segment of the Christian community…my silence and protection of these great men of God.
    I don’t what will change the mindset of so many religious groups who don’t consider this to be a problem? It would seem that every church, every school, every mission, etc. should have policies in place that would prevent these things from happening.

  • M Gustafson

    I’m struggling….big time. I agree that abusers should not be excused for their behaviour. I agree that victims deserve to be heard, and justice served. I agree that steps should be taken to insure these things do not happen again….BUT….I struggle with the idea that “the church” should keep a confessed but repentant sinner (yes, and CHANGED) basically shunned for life. I’m sort of venting here, and not talking about this particular case, as I do believe this church did not examine the senior pastor very well, or appropriately, considering all the circumstances, etc. Where I’m headed, though, is the “tough” line taken against ALL sinners of a given “type.” I’ve heard it said that a sex offender NEVER changes. Hello? If that is true, God is not God, and God cannot forgive and change a sinner into a “saint.” I realize the offender has brought a lot of consequences upon himself because of his sin, but the Bible does not teach shunning…it teaches us to “restore the one who has fallen.” Where are the writers who talk about restoring an abuser? A sex-offender? Who is helping “the church” to know how to do this? How to know when the repentance is real, the one to walk alongside as he/she learns to not yield to temptation, perhaps AA style? It has been acknowledged that alcoholics struggle with this issue for life, but many, many have been freed from its grip, and have lived full lives without carrying a stigma and badge of “alcoholic” emblazoned across their chests.

    As I stated above, I am not opposed to seeing offenders face the consequences of their actions, but I’m wondering, where are the ones who, in spite of their abhorrence of the actions, still have God’s heart of love for these sinners, and want to see them restored (especially and specifically the Christian brothers/sisters) to the fold? The church who hired a known sex-offender maybe doesn’t get it, but does the worldwide church “get it” in terms of ministering the love of God to the fallen, or is she simply into turning away from the gems buried in the stench of the garbage heap, simply to preserve her Pharisaical “cleanness?” Just wondering….

  • Spectatormom

    M Gustafson:
    Your point is understood and, of course, we should always extend grace to sinners, as each one of us happens to be one. However, and I say this strongly, we are NOT to ignore an abhorrent past and blindly assume that the offender has “changed their ways,” especially on their word alone. WHY would ANY organization allow a known sexual offender to get anywhere near a child unsupervised? Each person on the board of that church who knowingly allowed this person into such a position is an accessory to his crimes. God’s grace is amazing, sufficient and extends to all, but it doesn’t give any person who loves Him permission to ignore what is right in front of their faces! “Get thee Wisdom!” Prov. 4:5

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  • Bill

    I agree with you, but that still doesn’t begin to answer how we restore these men and women.
    many of these men and women become like lepers in church and their lives. branded for life, which implies we don’t believe they can change for the rest of their life. and if that’s the case then M Gustafson is right.
    so where is that line then? because a god that doesn’t forgive isn’t worth serving, and a church that doesn’t have a model leading towards restoration of all sinners, even if a process must be taken, isn’t worth attending in my opinion. if We are going to brand men and women for life in the church then we might as well give them a scarlet letter and tell them “The church has nothing for you.”
    Yes the church is to judge with “righteous judgment”, but that doesn’t give it the right to basically inform someone they can in fact be saved BUT just not changed.
    it’s tantamount to stating our devil is more powerful than our God. why? because our god can’t fix this sect of people over in the corner. and if he can’t fix them, why bother attempting to restore them? if we can’t restore them, even of its hard, why bother serving him?

    certainly all crime has a punishment. and I have seen some churches that try and make an agreement with the offender to have an elder follow them around and monitor them etc etc etc. also their contact with people of certain age groups is limited. but at least these guys can attend church.

    but if our job is just to give them grief and misery and never make a effort to restore, why bother.

    I apologize in no way am I attempting to down play the terrible things the victims have gone through. nor am I implying the offender shouldn’t be punished. just seems like a hypocrisy though to label some sins as more sinful. I was in the understanding that any sin have you cast from gods presence including eating a piece of fruit.

  • Jeb Barrett

    I think there is a huge problem in looking at abuse though the filters of archaic writings from so many different centuries and cultures and calling sexual misconduct “sin” rather than what it really is, crime. Most of us have a conscience which identifies right and wrong, and civil society provides us with laws to enforce values, morals and ethical behavior. Any distraction from acknowledging what we inwardly know is right and wrong in itself is criminal. Presceintific, religious thinking is the most blatant example today of such distraction, because it filters out common sense, something probably unique to humanity, full humanity. I am one who recommends lifetime supervision of sex offenders, not simply registration.

  • April 1st

    My daughter and 3 other girls were sexually abused by our youth pastor and his brother. When we first found out, the thing that upset us the most were the people taking up for the abuser! They would say things like, I cannot believe they would do that, they are such good Christian young men! It must be just a rumor, that could not happen here; the girls were just fantacizing that something happened!! Even after they were put in jail people would say that is just an allagation. This kind of attitude from the church that they grew up in made the girls feel more shame, more guilt, more degraded! Then in court the youth pastor got in front of the court and blammed the girls! He said they started texting them innapropriate things first! They were 14 and he was 25! The Bible says flee from sexual immorality. All other SIN a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually sins against their own body. 1 Corinthians 6:18. Whoever causes one of these little ones to sin, it would be better for him to drown! Matthew 18:6 My point is this… please do not revictimize the victim … sexual offenders are big boys and can take care of themselves.

  • Thank you for feeling free to express your thoughts as you struggle through this difficult issue. After 20+ years of addressing this issue as both a prosecutor and in my role with GRACE, I have observed first hand a Christian culture that for generations has shunned victims as it has embraced offenders over and over again. I have also spent untold hours dealing with offenders who have run to the church and said all the right things and were “welcomed back” only to victimize more children. The great sadness of it all is that most experts will tell you that most child sexual offenders will always be attracted to children. Most will reoffend, some won’t. However, just about all will be drawn to reoffend if given the opportunity…even those who have been justified by the blood of Jesus. I don’t think I’ve ever advocated that we “shun” repentant offenders. What I have argued is that the determination of authentic repentance in the life of an offender is a process that cannot be determined in a matter of moments or days or even months. I have simply encountered too many offenders who have claimed repentance only to reoffend and destroy more lives. Please know this about the Gospel…someone has violated the body and soul of a child is not beyond the redemptive work of the cross. However, that change in one’s spiritual position before God does not negate the horrific crime they have perpetrated upon a child. In fact, the truly repentant person gets that difficult truth more than anyone else. They realize that their crime has lifetime consequences…including surrendering to the authorities (even if the victim hasn’t even reported the crime), accepting the punishment of the civil authorities, not being in positions to have access to children, and any other safeguards implemented by both the civil authorities and the church. In fact, the truly repentant offender will be the one asking for and embracing such safeguards knowing what they are capable of doing to a child. In my opinion, that type of attitude is what demonstrates the transformative power of Jesus in the life of one who has sexually abused a child.

    Sadly, I have never encountered a child sexual offender who has been completely “freed” from the grip of this evil. The research in the past 20+ years supports my own experience. I encourage you to read Anna Salter’s book entitled, “Predators”. It will open your eyes to this truth. The authentic repentant offender realizes this agonizing truth and welcomes a faith community that demonstrates its love in a manner that creates boundaries and safeguards to protect little ones and to make sure the offender is never placed in a position to reoffend…that is is how the Church ministers the love of God to offenders.

    This is a much needed discussion that needs to take place within the Christian community. Due to the fact that it has been the victims who have all too often been shunned and marginalized by the church as their offenders go on with “life as normal”, I have decided to focus most of my energies on generating a public dialogue on how best to protect children and serve survivors. However, you may have given me some thought for a future blog post 🙂

    Again, thank you for your honesty in writing what you did.

  • Thank you for sharing these powerful insights. We still have a long way to go…

  • Sexual predators do not change, they may quit molesting children, but only because they must. They may be forgiven, but it does not mean that they do not have a desire or will be able to control themselves forever. Sexual predators must NOT be allowed in the presence of children or in positions of authority where children are present.

    I am a 65 year old survivor of child sexual molestation that happened in a small Baptist church in the Mississippi Delta. The Christian church has never done a single thing to address the pain that has been in my heart since I was molested and shall remain there until I draw my final breath. Just like a sexual predator it will be with me always……you decide who you will stand beside and offer your support to……the children who continue to be molested by your preachers or the preachers you hire who molest them.

  • Mary Wiedenhaupt

    To pity or absolve a sexual predator at the cost of the victim is another crime. I am 78 years old and I vividly remember my experiences perpatrated on me by such people. While mine was on a handful of occasions and not repearedly, it scarred me and my mental value of myself for years, believing it was an indication that God did not value me enough to protect me. Only in my second marriage to a loving husband have I received the healing I needed. To aid and abet this suffering and reject a child’s right to be free of such a stain is sinful, indeed!!

  • Learning to be a survivor

    M Gustafson, I understand a bit of your confusion and don’t know the answer. I am a victim who is hopefully on the path to becoming a survivor.
    I do have compassion regarding offenders. I have known a few during my lifetime and don’t hate them. I honestly don’t really know what to think about them. Sometimes I feel sorrow for them and desperately hope that they will repent. I don’t think I have ever seen anything yet that would appear to be true repentance. I have seen the apologies, but along with the apologies has come an insistence of silence about what they did and an insistence that the victims become their silent protectors to ensure that their actions not negatively impact their ministries.
    Wouldn’t someone truly repentant care more for their victim’s wellbeing, than their own reputation? Wouldn’t they care more about truth than covering up sin? Wouldn’t they steer away from roles within the church where they would be blindly trusted by children, teenagers and young vulnerable adults where they could perhaps have too much temptation to sin in the same way again?
    I haven’t ever seen offenders shunned – ever! I have often seen victims shunned. Victims are the ones considered dangerous as we might speak up. We are too high of a risk. Some see their ministries propped up by our silence. They don’t want a continual reminder of how easily those ministries could crumble.
    The victims are seen almost another species. People have all sorts of questions about us. It seems they want somehow to differentiate themselves from us, to know that somehow we are different and they could never themselves become victims. Sometimes I think they want to find a way to blame us to ensure that these things couldn’t happen to them or to their family members.
    They don’t want their sons or brothers to marry us as we are unclean and impure.
    I remember the first person I dated after returning to a church. I dated him mostly because he seemed safe, not someone who would force me to do something I didn’t want to do. In time, as things progressed, I realized that perhaps things were getting a bit serious and perhaps I should tell him that I had been sexually abused. He was horrified and left that night in horror in disgust. He wouldn’t even look at me. I remember curling up in a ball that night realizing just how much my abuse had cost me and realizing that because of it, I would never know what it meant to love and be loved back.
    He eventually came back, but not without consulting his brother, a leader in the church who gave him strong recommendations to have nothing to do with me. He warned him that I would cheat on him and lie to him, that all victims of abuse are “that way.” I was shocked, but realized that he believed his brother’s caution and broke things off. I couldn’t live a life where I was already condemned through no actions of my own.
    Never have I seen this sort of treatment towards offenders!!!! Not once! I have never seen people recoil in horror at what they have done. I have never seen the looks of disgust that were shown to me to ever flash across the faces of those hearing of an offender’s acts. Why are we as victims, seen as so much more vile and disgusting than those who did these things to us?
    I do believe that there are some ministries, few and far between, who attempt to do right towards the victims and offenders, but I don’t think that is common. I don’t know what that would look like.

  • Patrice

    Earlier, you drew a useful parallel to the alcoholic. So, how would we treat the alcoholic differently if, for eg, he trashed several children every time he fell off the wagon? Additionally, imagine that the alcoholic had to swear off all beverages except water in order to keep from falling. These additions would begin to approach the difficulties facing a pedophile.

    Forgiveness is not a relevant concept when facing the profound disability of pedophilia. Forgiveness doesn’t free us from “thorns in the flesh”, right? If Paul had to bear his, surely we don’t think the rest of us will be freed simply by sincere repentance and request!

    There are many thriving AA communities; where are the thriving Pedophile Anonymous groups? The lack is because most pedophiles do not see others as “real”, “actual” but only as tools to help themselves feel better. It is a deep flaw inside them, one that must change in order for them to understand the meaning of repentance, but this flaw proves insurmountable for most of them. We do not understand why this is. We do not know why God usually doesn’t move in their hearts. It isn’t that God can’t do it, of course, but that He doesn’t. We must wait for repentance, we cannot make it happen, and are grieved that it seldom genuinely happens beyond a mouthing of the words and a few initial gestures.

    Here’s how true repentance shows in the pedophile: He will accurately assess his great need for help (the equivalent of wheel chair, braces, physical therapy, and a home aide) and search for it. He will be grateful when it is offered. He will recognize that his support system needs to be in place for life. He will not look for work that puts him at risk, and that includes church leadership. When a pedophile asks for a church leadership role, we can know he is lost in delusion, similar to when a quadriplegic asks to be goalie for the neighborhood soccer team.

  • A Smythe

    Why on earth would a victim of sexual abuse approach their pastor, priest or minister to sort it out. For goodness sake, go to the police and demand they take action.
    Look at how many “religious” men are being prosecuted for sex crimes and ask yourself why. Simple, they are power hungry and the church gives them the power they crave. And by not doing our civic duty and reporting crimes we just feed their power egos.
    Let the law decide how much forgiveness will be given to offenders, let the law deal out judgement!

    It may be hard to trust a policeman because he isn’t a member of your faith, but if you put your faith in a pastor just because he is of your faith, then you will be unlikely to see the truth.

  • C Beebe

    Perhaps churches should…I don’t know…read the Bible to see what it says about qualifications for church leadership? I’m pretty sure that child molestation violates the “above reproach”, “respectable”, “gentle not violent”, and “self-controlled” requirements of 1 Timothy. It is amazing that a church would knowingly put someone like this in a leadership position. By the way, I also believe that divorce should disqualify you from church leadership…same reason, same source.

  • A Smythe

    Oh but those church leaders do read the Bible. They read it so that they can decipher exactly what they want to and then use it to control those who dare not question their infallibility.
    Being a Pastor is not a life of hardship, it’s a good living with lots of perks and when you need some more perks, just crank up the pressure and the gullible will cough up to ease their dented consciences.
    So the masses sit in their rows listening to the rubbish and lies that come out of the pulpit and never question it, because it is wrapped up in religious terms. Then they wonder why the pastor is being accused of abusing a child or having an affair! Simple, he got the power he was after handed to him on a plate and then found he couldn’t deal with it, because absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    Alas I know from personal experience, but then who really cares about my story, I’m just one of the fallen who few in the church ever bothered to show any compassion too. And certainly no one bothered to ask why I fell, or why the person who tripped me is still in the pulpit, waiting for his next victim to groom.

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  • There is a big difference between forgiveness and restoration and placing trust in someone. Sexual predators are statistically repeat offenders. The time they got caught is statically not their first offense. My responsibility is to protect my children and the other weak, defenseless and innocent. Not to put a predator into a position of temptation and power.
    Btw, in the Bible, the punishment for sexual predators was death. Not restoration.

  • April 1st

    I agree with Barefoot Hippie Girl!!!

  • Isobel M.

    Not disagreeing with the comments on selecting church leaders — that’s for you all religious people to decide. But don’t misrepresent reoffending rates. Here is what the science says..


  • Isobel – Thanks for your note and for reading the post!

    The consistent problems with these recidivism studies related to child sexual abuse is how they obtain their data. Since this offense is one of the most underreported crimes (in that most offenders don’t get caught), it is virtually impossible to obtain accurate data if its based upon police reports, prosecutions, or prison sentencing. I encourage you to read Anna Salter’s book entitled, Predators. She has spent the past 30 years interviewing confessed sex offenders – her findings are quite disturbing.

  • sam h

    i am an alcoholic and member of AA and a Christian. I know that if I get a job tomorrow at a bar or night club I will probably relapse even though I have been set free from alcoholism. if a man or woman is a pedophile is truly repentant then he wont mind discussing and confessing openly his/her sin and he wont want to be put in a position of authority over children because as the article pointed out we do battle our flesh and temptation until Jesus takes us home. A pedophile can indeed be restored to right standing before God and the Church with true repentance but it is not to say that he/she will be given authority and implied power over congregants or that they should ever be left alone with children. A truly repentant person whether he goes to AA or not will make amends and actually go back and deal with the destruction he has left behind him. A sign of true repentance is like what I have heard elsewhere on blogs, the repentant sinner doesn’t demand forgiveness or restoration because he knows he doesn’t deserve it, he is truly sorry for his sins and the fact that Jesus Christ the Lord of heaven and earth would forgive his deeds is enough. If the body of Christ gets in the position of judging people who are forgiven as you say by shunning them, that is wrong, but the opposite is wrong also, restoring them to power in the church.

  • sam h

    I would like to add something since one commenter brought up AA and Boz mentioned the part about turning themselves in to authorities even if the sexual abuse victim doesn’t come forward.
    AA big book 3rd edition copywrite1976 page 78,
    “Perhaps we have committed a criminal offense which might land us in jail if it were known to the authorities….We have already admitted this in confidence to another person, but we are sure we would be imprisoned or lose our job if it were known…..(continues pg 79)….Reminding ourselves that we have decided to go to any lengths to find a spiritual experience, we ask that we be given strength and direction to do the right thing, no matter what the personal consequences may be. We may lose our position or reputation or face jail, but we are willing.”
    true repentance the AA way.

  • sam h

    @learning to be a survivor
    thank you for sharing your experience with the treatment of survivors and the treatment of the abuser in churches. I am a victim of abuse and hope that one day I can get to the place where I can share what it is really like as well as you have done. God bless you and comfort you.

  • sam h

    Billie McGregor, Mary Wiedenhaupt, A Smythe, C Beebe, thank you so much for sharing. I am so sorry you went through those things and so glad that you have been a voice to speak out against it. God bless you.

  • sam h

    one time when I had my little kids with me at an aa meeting long ago, an old codger that had been in the group for many years, came up to me and said, ‘lots of people come to aa, some of them are sent by the courts, some are here because they want to get sober, some of them are here for other reasons, there are a lot of pedophiles in this aa group and I am letting you know so you will keep a close eye on your kids.’ This didn’t make me not want to go to that aa group, it made me respect the leadership even more, because they were willing to be honest and open and truthful. I did not continue taking my kids there unless they sat right beside me but I went myself often.I think the same thing would happen if churches started being open and honest and truthful. what if a pastor got up and preached about when Jesus sent the 12 disciples out and gave them power and authority and signs and wonders even, that one of them was named Judas? what if pastors started saying things like, I think the Lord showed me this (his sermon) but remember I am just a man and am fallible. what if instead of elevating the best men or the worst sinners (who are repentant cause they said so), pastors got back to taking care of the wounded outcast and hurting? instead of people running from his church I bet the attendance would go way up.

  • Learning to be a survivor

    Your comment is encouraging. I don’t see myself at that place yet. I stumble around with my words, trying to sort through what I am thinking!
    I hope you feel encouraged to share as you can. It is a freeing thing to start finding a voice, just one step at a time!

  • Rebecca Lynn

    As a little nine year old girl a deacon at my church caught me in a back stairwell and put his hands up my skirt. For several months he harassed me following me and trying to touch my hair and told me how pretty a little girl I was. I was scared and felt dirty inside. I told the one person I loved more than God at that time…my grandma and she advised I try and forget because she knew I would be called a liar and put on trial….a little nine year old in sneakers and a dress!!! My pigtails would be blamed or maybe something else. Either way she told me that GOD would get justice for me. I never talked about again until just the last few years. Not long after this I cut my hair short and it has never touched my neck since, the act of trying to grow out my hair makes me upset. My hair has been boy short for over thirty years now. When any church refuses to truly take seriously the allegations of child, or hires a pastor who has molested it gives authority to the offenders and gives them permission to reoffend. No one who has ever molested a child should EVER be ALLOWED in leadership again, forgiven or not, changed or not. That authority is for those who have lived righteous and good lives, those who meet all the requirements of scripture and I don’t see how anyone can do that with a child rapist past. I am survivor that has finally found a voice after many years of silence. The pain I carry is still very raw, and I want to believe people will stop rushing to forgive and restore these perverts and start worrying instead about the victims. We need and deserve restoration first….

  • sam h

    thanks for sharing that Rebecca, I really agree with what you said about who is qualified to be a leader in the church. and also thank you for using that voice of yours…I have been struggeling for years about if my hair gets so long it gets on my forehead or my neck. thank you for letting me know i’
    m not alone in this

  • eric brind’amour

    Keep up the good work. Evangelicals are sleepwalking through a storm of sexual misconduct and seem utterly uninterested in any sort of self examination. Instead of focusing on external threats, evangelicals should clean up the moral cesspool that they swim in. We are no better than the Catholics in dealing with sexual abuse, ABWE is a prime example.


    The greatest evangelist in the history of the church was a self-confessed murderer. By extending you reasoning, St. Paul should have been kept away from all humanity. I believe that ANY blanket rule barring ANY previously convicted sex offender from ecclesiastical authority is Anti-Christ and, therefore, anethma.


    Rubbish! Paul had a direct, personal, and physical address from Jesus. His calling into ministry was a direct result of that meeting. It was not a matter of personal emotion nor a response to a felt internal calling or drawing. I am not aware of other evangelists called into ministry by direct contact with Jesus Himself. Therefore, let’s not use the 1 individual called to ministry in that fashion, after being a murderer, to establish the appropriate measures whereby we may find proof that someone has a legitimate call to ministry.

  • If the victims’ groups are right, 80% of people who are committing sexual offenses have not been caught. Most of them are our friends and neighbors. In other words, the problem is epidemic. That could be because the Bible says “For all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory”. This sin the Bible talks about includes all kinds of sin, murder, robbery, jealousy, hatred, gossip, adultery, etc. The person above who said that sexual offense sin calls for the death penalty probably wouldn’t feel the same about adultery or homosexuality, which the Bible says God calls sin and falling short of His glory.

    Instead of focusing our efforts on prevention of ongoing offenses of the 80% who have not been caught, we have focused all of our effort, money, resources of all kinds, on the 20% of people who have been caught and convicted, trying to make sure they do not recidivate. Of course the percentages are nebulous, but they may actually represent something close to the truth in terms of numbers. ATSA (The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers) has just taken a change in direction with its policy in terms of where its focus will be in the present and future. It is now focusing on education and prevention, and more money will be put into these activities.

    States like Colorado where I am from play “God” through the Sex Offender Management Board, trying to be 100% sure that people with any kind of sexual offense (and yes, there are all levels and kinds, not just pedophiles who are actually a very small percentage of persons who commit sexual offenses) do not recidiviate, or commit another sexual offense. Millions of dollars are spent retaining people in prison long past the amounts of time that good sexual offense research shows they need to be there, and then retaining them on parole and in treatment, studying the same topics over and over again. The literature actually shows that low risk offenders who are overtreated are MORE likely to recidivate.

    The church as a whole appears to be ill-equipped to deal with matters of sin and wrongdoing amongst its congregants. I truly believe that people who are repentant must be allowed to fellowship with other believers and should not be kept outside of the church. Whatever the sin is, it should be confronted and the church must move on. It is also clear that in some cases, that may mean a church within prison confines, or it may mean an “adult only” church, or it could mean, for some who have sexually offended and are low to moderate risk to reoffend, that they set appropriate boundaries with appointed church leaders and with their therapists and supervision officers regarding their place in the church. Treatment groups require disclosures of the nature of offenses, and in some cases, churches may need to do the same thing. If a person with a sexual offense is to be part of a small group, it may be that at least a partial disclosure needs to be done.Or for some low risk persons, it may be that at some point, a visit with the pastor or a lead elder is enough.

    According to my Bible, there is only one sin that is unforgivable, and that is shaking our fist at the Holy Spirit and saying, God, I don’t need you. All the other sins are committed by people just like us. There is an old 60’s song that said “everybody’s got to have somebody to look down on”, and that’s the truth. If every sinner/wrongdoer had to disclose all the wrong things they have done the way those with sexual offenses do, we would all look pretty bad. Do adulterers hurt people? Yes, they do. Do they hurt children? Yes they do. So do those who drink and drive, those who do drugs, those who burglarize and threaten with knives and guns etc. Do we spend millions on incarcerating and treating all of these people forever? No we do not, nor could we. And yet, we have demonized all people who have ever committed a sexual offense, from peeing on the sidewalk and masturbating in public, to being caught in an internet sting, to fathers who repeatedly abuse their children or nieces or nephews over many years; from misdemeanors to felonies etc. Something about this does not make sense.

    I have yet to meet a prosecutor who “likes” people who have offended sexually. In most cases, they demonstrate massive hate for them. It is my hope and prayer this this prosecutor does care for the hearts and souls of people who have sexually offended, sees that God can do something beautiful in their lives, and is part of making that happen.

  • Learning to be a survivor

    Susan Walker,
    I’m not sure I understand your argument. Do you understand what sexual abuse and rape is?? Do you understand the permanent destruction that results from it?
    If you have a neighbor who is burning down houses with their families in them, would you argue that your neighbor should be repeatedly “forgiven” and permitted to remain in your neighborhood?
    If you have a local daycare where the caregivers purposely chooses to leave young children unattended and those kids drown in the backyard pool, do you insist those daycare providers keep their license and send YOUR children to their daycare?
    If you have a local restaurant who purposely violates standard safety procedures and purposely sells tainted food that results in the death of some customers, do you argue for their “right” to stay in the restaurant business?
    If your local paramedics, nurses and doctors are operating and treating patients while intoxicated or high, will you argue that they should remain in those positions??
    In these examples, I am referring to people who purposely make choices that knowingly hurt or risk hurting others. I am not referring to an accident – a child playing with matches, a mother who turns her head for a moment thinking her child is asleep, etc. I am speaking of those who knowingly make selfish, horrific choices without caring the cost that the “victim” will pay.
    Safety policies and procedures have nothing to do with forgiveness!!! A judge who accepts bribes is not typically permitted to continue being a judge. He/she is no longer qualified. . A surgeon cannot continue as a surgeon the moment he/she preforms their first surgery intoxicated or high. He loses his license. Teachers who abuse children are no longer permitted legally to teach in schools. Those who work in accounting lose their licenses if they use their skills to commit fraud.
    Can these people be forgiven (by God)? I don’t think that keeping a sex offender out of ministry is any different. They have proven by their actions that they are not responsible enough to be in that position. It isn’t right for the victims OR for the offender, but it has nothing to do with forgiveness.
    If you have a child fascinated with matches, is it considered unloving or unforgiving to keep matches, lighters, etc. out of his or her reach? Is proof of “forgiveness” for a past offense proven by giving that child a box of matches and lighters to demonstrate forgiveness?
    It doesn’t make sense to say that forgiving an offender means putting the offender in circumstances where he or she is easily trusted and able to reoffend.

  • 7-11-14

    I am not arguing that a person who has sexually offended against children should be a Sunday School teacher or a pastor in the traditional sense of the word. However, as I suggested, there are ministry opportunities with those coming out of prison (all adult churches), and a variety of urban ministry opportunities that do not include children. As someone said above, a person who has truly repented and is moving forward to a “good life” who has offended against children is not likely to put themselves in a position where they might be tempted to do it again. They will choose a non-child environment in which to minister.

    The population of people who are considered pedophiles is a very small percentage of the sexual offending population, around 5%. Many of those folks (the ones who have been caught and convicted) will spend their lives in prison or in some other kind of supervised environment. Those who are incest offenders, when caught and treated, have the lowest recidivism rate of anyone who commits sexual offenses.

    Jesus said to the woman taken in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more”. This is the Biblical principle we must follow if someone is truly repentant, has gone through supervision and treatment, and has “checked in” with the appropriate church officials regarding their attendance at church, and their ministry opportunities. When all of these things are in place, the reoffense rates are extremely low.

    I hope this makes some sense. I don’t want more child sexual offense any more than you do. I also don’t want children beaten and killed in the homes of murderers, drug addicts and perpetrators of domestic violence. I just don’t want the person with a sexual offense hung on a different cross than anyone who has committed what the Bible calls sin. We are all sinners. Christ is able to redeem anyone who calls on His name. That doesn’t mean he has the same path (i.e. the pastorate, Sunday school teacher) for everyone, those with sexual offenses or other “offenders” (sinners).

    I have heard and seen the pain of those who have been victimized. I have also heard and seen the pain of those who have committed sexual offenses, who were sexually abused by their own parents or other relatives or friends, who were beaten, who were neglected etc. Does this excuse their sin (offense)? Of course not. But as Christians, we are called to forgive. Not easy, but that is what we are called to do.

    Let me know if I can further clarify.

    Susan Walker

  • sam h

    I appreciate your post, and the sound reasoning that “restoring” someone is not the same as giving a youth pastor who has sexually molested a minor a job again as a youth pastor, but also not excommunicating someone.
    I do have a question also, you said:

    “Those who are incest offenders, when caught and treated, have the lowest recidivism rate of anyone who commits sexual offenses. – See more at: http://boz.religionnews.com/2014/06/27/4-lessons-learn-church-just-doesnt-get/#comments

    I was wondering where you get statistics on that, incest it seems to me is the least reported and least publicized sexual offense, I have seen very few cases of say, fathers that abused their daughters ever being charged, whether that is because of the statue of limitations and that most children of abusers don’t report it until they are older and out of the house, or the shame of that sort of abuse that victims don’t report it and the offender is never charged. just wondering what those statistics say in how many cases there are actually charged or prosecuted. and if it is incest that is charged and prosecuted often the family seperates and therefore the offender even when he is released from jail and treatment, has no contact with his children. he may offend with unsuspecting neighbor kids or similar but that wouldn’t be charged as incest, therefore he wouldn’t be reoffending in incest. anyway curious about those statistics and if there was ever an anonymous survey asking how many people were victims of incest compared to how many people ever get charged with incest formally. thanks, again I appreciate your post

  • 7-14-14. Thank you so much for your response to my comments. I would like to refer you to my website, where there is a whole list of literature that confirms what I am saying. In particular, a great discussion on this issue can be found on my website under “Articles and Publications”. The name of the study is: An External Evaluation of The Colorado Sex Offender Management Board Standards and Guidelines by Drs. Deirdre M. D’Orazio, David Thornton and Anthony Beech. They are all world class researchers in the sexual offense field. Pages 60 through 70 present an excellent, honest and well-rounded discussion of the issue of recidivism. While these particular pages in and of themselves do not answer your direct question about incest offenders becoming recidivists outside of their own family once they receive treatment and supervision (prison, probation or parole or all three over time), they will give you a clear picture of why Boz’s simple statement regarding unreported offenses is not an adequate discussion of this issue. Also if you would look on the same website page mentioned above (Articles and Publications), you will see articles listed by Karl Hansen, a leading researcher in this area as well. He does have charts in some of his publications re: the different “kinds” of sexual offenses, and talks about their rates of recidivism. Listed on this page, you can find articles regarding just about anything you would like to know regarding sexual offending and propensity to reoffend, depending on how much you would like to read.

    Let me know if you have further specific questions, or what you found if you are able to take the time to read the sections of these studies to which I have alluded.

    Susan Walker, M.A.
    Director, CSOR
    P.O. Box 27051
    Denver, Co. 80227
    720-690- 7125

  • 7-14-14

    I forgot to give the address to my website in the last post. it is http://www.csor-home.org.

    Susan Walker

  • Susan:

    I am always stupefied when I read posts about recidivism rates related to child molestation. Here’s why…In incidents wherein men molest male victims =>5% report. Recidivism rates are generally obtained by studding offenders who have been caught, convicted, sentenced and released. Do you honestly believe this pool to be the type where honest professors of wrongdoing thrives? If you do, perhaps you should review the Van Wyk Study. Boz can show you where to find it. 23 offenders entered program. They collectively admitted to an average of 3 victims. When faced with a polygraph and an absolute need to pass it…They admitted to 170 victims each on average. I have forgiven my molester as set forth within my book. He presently pastors a church in AZ. ‘The focus of his ministry?’, you may ask…”Pastoring young men and women to become ministers.” He further boasts that he takes youth abroad to whiteness in third-world countries. He also tells of how he purchases children from slavery within the Sudan. I have every reason to believe that he is still offending! In 52 years of doing God’s work he has never excluded children and youth “ministries”. We, as Christians, have not been given the authority to dole-out eternal judgment, however, we have been given authority to engage human reason and caution. Incidentally, take 90 minutes and watch pbs.org/secrets of the Vatican. I’m not convinced you have a broad enough understanding of the darkness of the human heart. It’s a real eye-opener.

  • April 1st:

    I’ve been watching my e-mail for your thoughts on the book.

  • 7-14-14

    Hi Robert,

    I am sorry for your pain. I have watched Secrets of the Vatican. I also write to hundreds of persons who have committed sexual offenses across the country, but especially here in Colorado.

    I correspond with a group here in Colorado that were sentenced under an old 1 -Life sentence before the current Lifetime Sentence of 1998 was passed. All of those men are still in prison because of the horrific nature of their offenses and the number of their offenses. However, in the report that I mentioned earlier from Drs. D’Orazio, Beech and Thornton, and via the Circles of Support and Accountability Program from Canada (Dr. Robin Wilson) – began in the Mennonite Church, extremely high risk offenders when surrounded by a circle of 4 – 5 persons who care about them and meet with them once each week had incredibly low rates of recidivism. I would like to see the church embrace a model such as this one, and we are beginning to do Circles in Colorado. Unfortunately, not a lot of church folks have shown an interest so far, but I am hopeful that they will. You are welcome to look at the literature by Dr. Wilson and his colleagues that shows the incredible success rates with these high risk offenders.

    I am the one that said above that the victims’ groups believe that 80% of those who have sexually offended (that would include church leadership, legislators, cops, D.A.’s, school teachers, parents, neighbors) have not been caught. Perhaps sin, including this one, is part of the human condition!? It affects Christians, Muslims, athiests etc. Of course appropriate steps need to be taken to prevent these offenses (sins) and educate people about where they are likely to occur (we agree on where they are likely to occur – in church and everywhere!). None of us are exempt from the possibility of being caught in this behavior given the right circumstances (i.e. alcohol or drug use, and lots of other positions we may put ourselves in) that raise our risk to engage in inappropriate behavior. Remember that pedophiles are a small percentage of the total number of persons who sexually offend (caught and uncaught),

    I appreciate your perspective, and I hope you can appreciate mine. I do not want more victimization – look at my webpage and you will see my mission and vision and values statements, and that will be clear. I also do not believe that it is right that people who have committed sexual offenses should be treated as animals, forced to live under bridges, ridiculed by the police, neighbors, the media etc.

    If you would like to e-mail with me at susancwalker1@gmail.com, I will share some other facts that you may find interesting regarding my perspective on this issue. I believe that: physical, psychological, social, emotional and spiritual restoration of the person with the offenses = reduced victimization which in turn = enhanced safety for all. Notice I make it clear that it will not stop victimization and will not provide safety for everyone at all times. We live in a fallen world, and even those saved by grace continue to sin.

    This is a crucial dialogue.


    Susan Walker, M.A.
    Director, CSOR
    P.O. Box 27051
    Denver, Co. 80227

  • Susan:

    Thank you for your reply. You and I agree on many levels. However, as your concern is the reconciliation of offenders who perpetrate this crime with society and Christian Fellowship, my concern is for the victims of this crime. Boz covered it well when he indicated that it is his experience that victims tend to be re-victimized, stigmatized, ostracized, and might I add pushed out the front door of the church. Ours is a voice that simply will not be heard. I cannot explain it as I do not understand it. I am haunted by the reality that victims of this crime will be lost eternally because they are unable to be re-integrated into the society of faith proclaiming Christians. I further believe that it is Christian leadership who creates the vast divide that keeps victim’s from being heard within the Christian community. Needless to say, I do not know your position with regard to a literal hell. What often moves me to tears is the reality that people have walked out on their own faith because of this terrible mis-treatment both at the time of the offense and as they attempt to recover their faith within the Christian community. The loss is tragic and eternal, however, the disregard for victims is a fact that numbs my mind at times. Unfortunately, it appears to me that nothing has changed with regard to the objectives of church leadership since the time of Christ. Please take no offense, however, you may see your work as critical to human rehabilitation, but, your efforts would be better spent, I believe, on reaching out to victims.

  • Hi Robert,

    As part of my work with CSOR, I am, along with others who are also called of God to work with those who have offended, reaching out to the advocates for those who are victimized and those who have been victimized themselves. So far, they are very hostile toward CSOR and any thought that we might be working toward healing for everyone involved. We must begin to talk with each other. One of the representatives of a major victims advocacy group in Colorado and a colleague had breakfast with me and one of my colleagues (reluctantly) and made the comment during breakfast that “I have a hard time looking at sex offenders as individuals”. As the Mom of a son who committed a sexual offense (one – he is not a pedophile and did not offend against a child) and has clearly been called by God to minister to people who are currently, and who have been incarcerated for a variety of felonies (including sexual offenses). God has worked a miracle in his life. He was deeply into drugs and alcohol, and when he had a chance on probation (outside of prison) to focus on treatment and supervision and changing his life, his target was drugs and alcohol. He was terminated from treatment and sent to prison for 5 1/2 years. God changed his life immensely, and he now has a ministry called The Cell Church, which you can look up on the web. There is a picture of him in his “greens” and a picture of him as he looks now on the outside. He is being used by God in a mighty way to support the spiritual growth of those in God’s church who have been incarcerated.

    I will continue to try to work with the victims’ groups and their leadership to create ties between our organizations. I do believe we share more in common than what they are willing to admit.


    Susan Walker, M.A.
    Director, CSOR
    P.O. Box 27051
    Denver, Co. 80227

  • Susan:

    Thank you again for staying engaged in this dialogue. I am happy to hear that your son is well on his way to recovery. It is my hope that his work to enlarge the kingdom of heaven is nothing short of sincere and genuine. I do believe that people can recover. I also believe that those who have committed the most egregious of crimes can be forgiven. I further believe that they can be fully redeemed. Perhaps you can take a look at my book. I am endeavoring to work for victims. I put it all out on the table when I wrote the book and held back nothing. I have been told I should use it as a business card. Therefore, if you can give it a look over and let me know if I can get involved with your organization at any level I would like to know. Finally, you should be aware that I have a brother who committed child molestation. You will read about him in the final chapter. Thereby, I am fully acquainted with the sorrow that comes with family decisions and those that bring brokenness to so many homes. My email is:
    Rnewmiller@comcast.net. The book is available at speak-for-truth.com. That is the fastest way to obtain a paper copy of it. It is also available at Amazon.com and other booksellers. Perhaps we could continue this conversation in a less public format moving forward. Thank you again.

  • Sounds great Robert. You have my regular e-mail and my phone is 720 690- 7125. I will be more than happy to take a look at your book (to read it). I’m really glad we kept at this discussion and will look forward to hearing more from you re our e-mail addresses.


  • “I will continue to try to work with the victims’ groups and their leadership to create ties between our organizations. I do believe we share more in common than what they are willing to admit.”

    Having read your comments here, I can appreciate your heart for offenders. However, as a survivor of rape and sexual abuse — and someone who is becoming increasingly active in the “survivor community” — I have to give a strong word of caution. For many of us, an essential part of our healing journey is developing trust relationships with people who are unequivocally and totally on the side of survivors. Many of us prefer to see therapists who do not work with offenders. We are bombarded with messages that we need to forgive our offenders. Many times, we have been rejected and abandoned, while our offenders are welcomed and embraced. How our hearts long for those few trustworthy advocates who will stand by us, without crushing us with the question, “Yes, but what about the offenders?”

    Please don’t try to take away any more safe places from survivors. An organization that works with our perpetrators, with those who nearly destroyed us, will not be a safe place for many of us.

  • Rebecca:

    Thanks for your cogent comment. May I ask how long your voice has been held captive? For me it was 32 years. It is important that people understand our struggle to speak with regard to these wounds. Thank you in advance.

  • sam h

    @ susan you said:
    I hope this makes some sense. I don’t want more child sexual offense any more than you do. I also don’t want children beaten and killed in the homes of murderers, drug addicts and perpetrators of domestic violence. I just don’t want the person with a sexual offense hung on a different cross than anyone who has committed what the Bible calls sin. We are all sinners. Christ is able to redeem anyone who calls on His name. That doesn’t mean he has the same path (i.e. the pastorate, Sunday school teacher) for everyone, those with sexual offenses or other “offenders” (sinners). –

    I think Jesus actually said it would be different for those that sin against children:
    And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea. 43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: 48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
    Mark 9:42-48 (KJV)

    He didn’t say those harsh words of condemnation regarding adulterers or theifs and so your comparing pedophiles and sexual offenders to ‘all those other sins’ doesn’t work for me.
    also I have to question your advocating for the offenders here, this is normally a page where the abused post (often the first time they are able to even speak of their abuse) and you never said one thing in empathy/sympathy for anyone that has been abused even though you allude to your compassion for them. if you truly had compassion for the abused as well as the abuser I would expect you to say even one kind thing to the abused that read and post here.

  • Robert, it was in college that I somehow got up the nerve to send up a desperate cry for help to a therapist I was seeing at the heists ce if a concerned friend. Rather than asking questions, or seeking better understanding, my therapist seized on one of the things I’d stammered, and made a blaming statement. I walked out and never returned. I remained silent for about 30 years, telling myself that the long ago sexual abuse was “no big deal”, just “that weird thing we did”, and that it had no impact on the rest of my life. That’s if I thought of it at all.

    After college, I was raped by two neighbors. My initial net to was to tell no one but my doctor; however, that didn’t work out. I wasn’t completely silenced, but close to it. Very few people knew, and I dealt with the aftermath of my ordeal pretty much on my own.

    Time does not heal wounds. Most of the time, I thought I was OK. The thing is that I had no frame of reference for “OK”. Five years ago, the whole house of cards came crashing down. This time there was no more propping things back up and pretending all was well.

    I didn’t “find my voice”. Desperation and anguish drove it out of me in agonizing shrieks of pain, wracking sobs, and frightened whispers. It as been a difficult road out of captivity, but so much worth it.

    May God bless you with freedom and joy.

  • Rebecca:

    Thank you for your reply. “No big deal & That weird thing” seems to be the perception of people who have not been impacted by this crime. Keep your eyes on Jesus or get them focused on Him moving forward. He is the great physician and the excellent therapist. One day our corruptible will take on incorruptible and our freedom will be eternal. Place your hope in the only hope!

  • Learning to be a survivor

    Hi, I just looked at your website briefly and really don’t know what to think. It was something I couldn’t really read through, so have a limited perspective, but want to share a bit of how I see it.
    I have been a victim of CSA and r*pe as an adult. I have also known many offenders, even some who began offending as children. I get it that there is another side, in the sense that the offenders are people and perhaps there are some who see it as their role to work with them.
    Here is were I see two major conflicts.
    One is the offender himself. From my experience, I don’t see how any offender can possibly begin the path of getting “help” without first openly accepting the full responsibility and full consequences of his crime without defending his actions, without blaming his victim or anyone else, with humility, honesty and transparency. An offender who is ready for help, should (in my opinion) not have an issue with safety policies put into place. He should not seek out positions of trust that would put them in a position where they could “slip” back into old patterns. He should understand that his actions carry some effects that will last his lifetime. This is a natural part of life.
    Drunk drivers lose their licenses. They can be reintegrated in society, but my not get their license back and will be barred from specific types of employment.
    A surgeon who abuses prescription medication and because of that, “accidentally” kills a patient, will lose his medical license. He can be reintegrated into society, but will never again work as a doctor.
    A lawyer who violates ethical regulations that he is bound to, will lose his license to practice law. He can be reintegrated into society. He just can no longer practice law.
    There are many, many situations where the consequences of someone’s actions will affect the rest of their lives. No one is stating that we should go around and HATE everyone who breaks laws. It is simply that doing so, has permanent lifetime consequences.
    If you were to be in a car accident where one of your family members dies and later found out that the driver who caused the accident had his license revoked for drunk driving, would you not have a problem with that?
    If your child gets molested by his school teacher, would you not have a problem if you were to later find out that that specific teacher had already been convicted of molesting other boys, but was allowed to teach again?
    Would you want to go into surgery if you were to know that your surgeon has an addiction problem and his patients have a tendency to die on his operating table due to careless mistakes?
    I agree that it is helpful for people to find ways to reach offenders and put in place things that will either be supportive of him not reoffending or obstacles to him not reoffending. That isn’t cruel or unkind. It is simply acting with wisdom.

    The second major issue I have with all of this is that there is a serious lack of understanding and/or caring on the part of religious groups. From my perspective, they can do almost nothing to help victims or offenders if they don’t understand the problem. Churches often think they are being kind by quickly forgiving the offender, helping them avoid consequences (since they have proven their repentance with tears), and putting them into positions where they can offend again as an indication of forgiveness and trust. This is ludicrous.
    If a church member stole from the church, the church would likely react much more harshly than towards an offender who steals the souls of his innocent victims. There is something wrong with this.
    Why would someone who harms property that can be replaced be treated to much more serious consequences than one who harms people???
    You may be able to help offenders with your ministry, but whatever you provide, can’t be at the expense of sacrificing their victims.

  • Learning to be a survivor

    One question…
    Do you believe that men who rape adult women should also answer legally for their crimes? Do you believe that they, also, should not be pastors, youth leaders, missionaries, etc.?

  • Pingback: Toxic Tuesday: Church Leadership Supporting Sexual Offenders Part 2 | GiveMe Chocolate()

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  • KJones

    I started attending a new church after we moved to our new city. I graduated from a Christian college, attended church for over 15 years, read the bible through several times, and studied in Sunday school under assistant pastor for 7 years at my old church. Almost immediately, I noticed the teaching a little “off “at the new church. My kids noticed it too. I have a masters degree in business and noticed the financial report in the bulletin seemed “off”. This was confirmed with my suspicions the next week when the church said it only received 500 the week before in collections, and I gave 100. I was wondering how the church could afford the salaries of its new pastor and assistant pastor and all the church renovations. I got suspicious and checked the credentials of the pastor. He was a graduate of a mail order Bible College and a sex offender from another state. I confronted a Deacon about it. He said “the pastor gave us the entire account, including the details how this (14 year old) attempted to smear him for 6 years”. The pastor was only convicted of stalking. The deacon said “the pastor said he did stalk her, as private investigator, to try to get the motive for the false allegations”. The deacon said that he was sorry that I saw this as a bad character flaw and that he didn’t. Since the case didn’t go to court (it was settled out of court – the pastor took probation) the deacon felt the pastor was falsely accused. The deacons position was “I have seen others that were falsely accused, some (high profile) you are familiar with.” I left that church and now am going to a church where the minister has the appropriate credentials and has been preaching for many years and is reputable in faith, family, and service to the Lord. I hope that the pastor isn’t a repeat sex offender, and I wonder how a church could put a wolf in charge of the flock.

  • Valerie Parkhurst

    Parishioners must look at their state Laws. In Florida sex offenders had the unfettered ability to get online Bible degrees and then petition the state to open summer camps with Biblical names. I did some intensive research on this issue when it made headlines a few years ago and the public would be woefully disappointed if they really knew how often the “ball is dropped” by public agencies who get PAID to do oversight on these grant request. My research led me thru a tangled web of agencies who were given the task of “background checks” but never implemented the Protocol to perform them?? Oh they had plenty of time to “promote” their yearly conferences on the taxpayers dime at pricey beach resorts, but never quite got around to linking criminal databases and cross referencing the SOR to those who opened summer camps for our kids. My cynicism for the “system” runs deep at this juncture and to blindly “take to the bank” anyone in a position of authority is naive’ at best. This is my suggestion. Anyone who wants a position in any category where children are present should provide their own background check and update it at least once a year. Never look or assume those in management positions have done this check, you will be disappointed. These people should also be prepared to present that background check when requested. Never, Ever take either the offender’s version or family members version of the conviction on Face value. They will outright lie and or minimize the conviction to make the offender more palatable to whomever has contact with him or her.

  • Valerie Parkhurst

    I must add a very important detail. In days gone by an allegation of inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature was usually handled by transferring the “suspect” to another position or out of area, Public schools were notorious for this as most Union based jobs. “protectionism at its finest” Daycare centers have egregious histories of allowing family members or friends access to our kids also. Two years ago a Public school teacher had “after school” curriculum at which time her “husband” a convicted Predator with a horrendous background would come to the school and “hang around” under the guise of driving her home. Our children and our vulnerable are at risk from a million different directions and until Parents take the initiative to demand better accountability from those who access to our children, we will continue to read headlines that leave us shaking our heads. People are often too polite, They don’t want to “ask” or “offend” those we assume are “watching the store”. That Politeness is decimating our children;s lives.

  • I think all these comments fall short. Sure I’m glad the sex offenders in church, what better place for a sinner. I guess we all keep forgetting about Paul’s conversion. I wonder why it was part of the bible? Well was Paul a sex offender, well he sure was a chief sinner. Was his mission to preach to the heathen gentiles. What a person has done in the past is pasted once they accept Jesus Christ. A sex offender is no different from any other sinner. Now you all can be right. Anybody can be right. I don’t want to be right, I don’t want to be wise. Let God be true as with God all things are possible. Man would rather wipe the slate clean with the sex offender. Churches would also if you want to know about human behavior. I would rather live beside a sex offender than have a name labeled on me. Maybe we all are learning how to love with the sex offender issue or any issues in the church. You know if the registry wasn’t public I don’t think anyone would know who’s a sex offender from a preacher to one of the associates.

  • Belinda

    I know the horrors of this all too well my adopted father was a minister and abused my sister and I for years. We tried telling our mother she turned a blind eye we thought and ignored our problems. I went to the church officials myself cause the bible principles I was lead to believe I was told to stop ” sinning” and spreading rumors. That this problem had been taken care of years ago why was I dragging up the past. Really then why was he still doing the things he was ” cured” of in your two week yes I said two weeks of counseling the church sent him to. I was ridiculed banned from church and left confused hurt and so mentally scarred I have fought a long way to come back from.

  • Catlady

    There are some ways that abusers are parallel to alcoholics who get very drunk and drive. Sometimes they make it home undetected; as abusers may many times feel aroused but circumstances are such that they cannot follow through. Some times, they severely injure other(s). There’s the Episcopal woman bishop who killed the bike rider, a well respected man, and left the scene, only returning later. She had a previous arrest but this was overlooked or forgiven and so a a life was lost and a family shattered.
    Should the hiring committee not have taken this warning seriously since she claimed to have changed? And I’m sure had prayed and probably felt bad and guilty? Mostly, we know enough not to trust alcoholics’ promises of change. And thanks to MADD, jail sentences have become the common response. What we may need is an equivalent mothers’ group for the tragedy of abuse. Somehow, sometime, we will find ways of enforcing abstinence, but until then, children must be protected.

  • Between2Oblivions

    As someone who has was once a victim and made an inexcusable decision to offend, I have to say that I agree with the findings that the author and some people have written in the comment section. I agree that for anyone to truly be repentent of their sins (no matter the sin and no matter how humanity wants to define a sin) he/she needs to take the steps necessary to ensure that they aren’t in a situation where they may reoffend. When going to church or a church event, I go with someone who can be a sort of “chaperone.”

    I really have no idea what I could do to not feel guilty of the things that happened to me in my past and to right the very wrong that I have caused someone else.

    The rapture has never sounded better.