How We Handle Church Abuse Matters – A Synopsis

NY Times “I Was Assaulted. He Was Applauded” by Jules Woodsen – Regarding Andy Savage

We use words like “forgiveness”

We put “timelines” on crime (“20+ years ago”) as if their “good life” after made up for it

We allow offenders to “step down” (this only means from this church because of the “blemish”, but they move on to others)

We “throw them going away parties and send them off with love”

We, as a church board, decide to “deal with it internally” instead of turning the crime and criminal over to authorities for earthly consequences, in essence, we break the law “for Christ”

We keep “the incident(s)” a secret from others and encourage the victim to do the same

We pull the “Grace card”, but only for the offender. The victim is shamed, blamed, silenced and ousted.

We promote a very broken “leader” and allow them to move on to “mega” ministry for the victim to watch the rest of their lives, sending a clear message of what really matters.

When called out “20+ years” later, when the victim finds her voice and cannot remain silent a moment longer or “take it to her grave”, we allow the offender to come up and “humbly” apologize while minimizing the “incident” and we allow him to make it sound as if it were consensual even though the victim has very clearly told the real story, it was not consensual nor even expected – it was a young girl, a student being put in a position of assault and non consent with an adult church LEADER…it is disgusting, and a CRIME.

If this were a school teacher and a student, it would lead to firing, reporting, arresting, trial, time in prison and a sex offender status – “consensual” or not – it would be taking advantage of a minor in layman’s terms, sexual offense criminally. Why does the church get to decide it was “an incident”?

How do we, as a church, deal with the victim?

Silence

Shame

Blame

Disgust or at minimum avoidance

They are pushed out of congregation and fellowship:

  • either by avoidance which makes them feel shameful
  • coupled with their own self-imposed shame
  • assaulted again by the process, the offender “steps down” which equates to “moves on” and is often celebrated since no one really knows what has been done, the ones that do remain silent
  • we minimize the offense if it is mentioned at all to others
  • we lie, cover, manipulate, whatever is needed to minimize the damage to the “cause” or to the “church” though one of the members of the church are suffering
  • we place an entire family into torment and destruction – the victim’s family – and place a lifetime sentence on them, remain silent and “let us handle it” (poorly) and we (as the church board) really hope that the family stops attending so we don’t have to feel bad or worry, they make us uncomfortable.
  • we leave the victim and their family alone and we move forward – that “grace” and “forgiveness” card is only used for the offender because it makes us feel better biblically (2 or more witnesses, apology, dealt with, check)
  • we continue to build our church, grow in numbers, preach about sin and forgiveness, amazing grace and we prosper – while the victim suffers and may never be the same or be able to fully recover.
  • the victim watches their offender grow big churches and followers, all the while living a lie and carrying the secret.

Every time a victim hears of a crime of the same proportions, they re-live their trauma. They wonder why their crime wasn’t important enough and why their offender prospers. They see stories in the news of an assault and watch the picture of the offender posted and his subsequent arrest – while their offender is publicly televised every Sunday preaching the word of God with a big smile, a soft voice, and a bunch of amen’s – hypocrisy.

And the bookend to it all? When the victim finds her voice, 20+ years later, and the offender has to face the music when she finally tells the real story…we as a church applaud the offender (that must have been so hard for him to admit) and we publicly blast and chastise the now adult victim on social media (tweets and messages) and in emails, we publicize her address and info so others can harass her and her family for the “crime” (?) of TELLING the TRUTH of the crime that happened against her from her teacher/youth Pastor when he took advantage of her and the trust of him. Yes, let’s attack the messenger while we applaud and celebrate the poor “man of god” – because this is how we “christians” handle church abuse.

Jules Woodsen, Megan Lively, Rachael Denhollander, Amy Smith, Lori Anne-Thompson, to Kelly Downing, to Christa Brown, to Julie Anne, to Suzanne van Dyck, to Rachel & other victims of Tullian Tchividjian, to the victims of John Finley, the victims of Mark Aderholt, the victims of Darrell Gilyard, the numerous victims of the cover up’s by Paige Patterson, the victims of Paul Pressler, to ALL of the others I have not listed…

I am so thankful for the grace of God and love of our Father, it is the only thing that gets us through. While I believe fully in His grace and forgiveness, I wrote the above acknowledging the cheapening of this gift when so easily being used to cover abusive men who should be Shepherds to us. I do know you are all strong despite the crimes against you and the ever present pain that the crime and injustice brought. I do not mean to place any of us in a “victim” mindset, though we are all survivors of crimes. However, we are more than conquerors and His grace is sufficient.

Much love and support, #MeToo #Churchtoo

A Repost to Paige Patterson Defenders

This article posted on June 5th, 2018 by @Jake_Meador deserves a repost. Especially for those defending Patterson and claiming there was a lack of due process or apporpriate grounds through a Biblical process.

A Brief Note on Paige Patterson’s Defenders by Jake Meador

Also, as a reminder, many of us know of the long standing past of Paige Patterson listed briefly here, Ethics Daily, Patterson claims he doesn’t turn a blind eye to clergy sexual abuse. This article touches on my complaints against Patterson after my own experiences with him in 1991 and following decades of him covering my predator, Pastor Darrell Gilyard.  It chronicles Patterson’s response and attack on Christa Brown, who was only speaking in our defense, as victims whose crimes were covered and predators protected by Patterson for decades, which is also reported about here in The Dallas Morning News in 1991 following my coming forward following my predator, Darrell Gilyard’s attack on me. Darrell Gilyard went on to continue leading another large church until his arrest in 2008 for molestation and innapropriate texts with 2 young girls, he served time and is now a registered offender.

Please remember that Patterson has a long history of covering abuse of women, girls, and boys. He is currently listed in a lawsuit against his friend and cohort, Judge Paul Pressler for knowingly covering abuse of boys listed here.

Due Process – When Does this Apply?

Due Process 

noun 

  1. fair treatment through the normal judicial system, especially as a citizen’s entitlement

“Fair treatment” – when was this shown to the hundreds of victims?

“Normal Judicial System” – Why were we told to be silent and not go to authorities for the judicial system to decide the punishment of our abusers?

“Especially as a citizen’s entitlement”. Much less as a Sheep being led by a Shepherd. Or more to the point, as the President of the Seminary and prior President of the SBC.

Where was “due process” for the treatment of Dr. Sheri Klouda? How about the many female employees of the seminary that found themselves ousted? How about Megan Lively? What about me, my perpetrator, Darrell Gilyard had abused at least 50 before he got to me and Paige had covered EVERY SINGLE one and promoted him simultaneously. Paige does not deserve the title, he made the choices.

However, Paige Patterson is now being protected and people are rallying behind him. The man who has talked about women in a demeaning way, shamed women, silenced women, and most damagingly has hidden predatory abusers while shunning the victims. The most shameful of behaviors of a “leader”. A failure as a Shepherd. Yet, now, millionaire donors are rallying behind him, threatening the seminary that they will withold funds and possibly seek the investigative powers of the Attorney General of Texas, General Ken Paxton.  As stated in the recent article in The Washington Post, “The seven-page letter also threatens that the school could lose its accreditation and face investigation by the Texas attorney general’s office because, the letter writers claim, the trustees violated school bylaws by convening the meeting at which they fired Patterson without giving him proper notice.”

Folks, Paige Patterson has been given decades of “proper notice” and he chose to overlook it and continue the very deeds that got him fired. Paige Patterson became, in his own eyes, “invincible” and unquestionable. This is how you, millionaire donors, want a Seminary to be run? This is the corruption you choose as your leader?

I am curious as to how you would respond if one of us, the victims, were one of your beloved. Would you stand up and fight for us? Would you demand justice for the victims and firing and charges for the perpetrator? Or would you require “due process” for the decision maker who covered up the previous crimes that allowed the perpetrator to continue to move within the churches and continue to abuse before finding your beloved? I seriously doubt you’d be that gracious if faced with this reality. Yet, we have lived with this for years, some decades, as a result of this man.

Please understand that should you continue to pursue a reversal of this decision, you will learn more than you ever wish to know about the man whom you are defending. I believe a stronger force of voices from all of these decades will find the courage to tell our stories. The stories are not pretty, and we are deeply wounded. You will be appalled. However, I know I speak for many when I say, Paige Patterson may have silenced us for a while when he “broke us down”, but we are stronger now. We know that Father loves us and we also know that Paige does not represent our Shepherd, he greatly failed us. We have forgiven and we have grace, but we will not stand silent and allow this poor influence to continue to cover abuse. We will not give abusers power, and we will hold leaders accountable. We desire a strong message that strips his title and involvement and sends a concrete message to all of those who may be abused in the future, it will not be tolerated and we will not be silenced.

God is bigger. He doesn’t need your money and His plans will still succeed.

#MeToo #ChurchToo #PaigePattersonMeToo

#MoneyIsntEverything #LivesBeforeDonations #DirtyMoney

Evil Wall of Silence and Power Plays

Why are we allowing and playing along with the evil wall of silence?
Churches are continually being run like corrupt businesses. How is it acceptable for “men” to decide who is in and who is out of leadership based on conflicting views? I thought the church was God ordained, since when does God tell people to sign false letters of wrongdoing and force people into early retirement? 
I am calling this what it is, SIN, Evil, falsehood.
These men and puppeteers ARE NOT Godly – they are MEN who are thriving on the power and control they have been given. They are false prophets, they are wolves in Shepherds clothing. They speak of 1 Timothy 5:19 accusing ministers and they speak of the confrontation of sin, Matt 18:15 and evidence, 2 Cor 13:1…yet, when these things have been done and they still choose to continue to sin…they forget that they are still accountable. They do not get a hall-pass. They (leaders) cannot manipulate people into silence regarding the leaders sin and allowing it to prosper by quoting scriptures.
THIS IS THE EVIL WALL OF SILENCE – BY FORCE
Yes, the Bible says that confrontations about sin be personal (Matt 18:15), be based on evidence (2 Cor 13:1), and that great care be taken in accusing ministers of the gospel (1 Tim 5:19) in order to protect Christian leaders from baseless accusations. We all know this. But what is said further once these steps have been taken, private confrontation and no repentance, accusations proven by evidence and fact yet silenced by threats. Guess what? The Bible is truly clear on the results of an unrepentant heart of leaders and the great call and double punishment of their failures to lead and protect the sheep. In fact, He says He Himself will remove them and He will care for the sheep.
I’m sure I am not the only one who is seeing through the statements like this: Anonymous and unsubstantiated claims on social media constitute slander, and should find zero support among those who claim to know Jesus Christ.
It is manipulative and false. Speaking the truth, telling the other side (especially with evidence) after attempting the Biblical ways first with your offender, does NOT constitute slander nor does it have any bearing on your salvation (“claiming to know Jesus Christ”).
TRUTH is LIFE!
TRUTH is FREEDOM!
TRUTH is JESUS CHRIST!
LIES are the Enemies game!
LIES are the greatest tool of the enemy to divide!
Deception is the consequence of pride and the fall – the enemy is a thief and a liar!
Manipulation is the lie of the enemy – “you too can be like God”!
Do not be confused and deceived by these leaders if they are speaking the words of the enemy and using his tactics. GOD NEVER ASKS FOR SECRECY except when praying, serving, gifting. He wants us to not be flagrant and showy about our relationship with Him (gifts to others, prayers, service), but that is a sign of humility and a right heart, not secrecy and shame.
These men are protecting their positions, their plans to prosper, hiding their agendas, hiding their secrets done in the dark, hand picking those that align with them for their purposes. Notice that none of this involves allowing God to lead – allowing God’s plans. They were not given supernatural authority to remove people who do not agree with them, or to “call” a new leader because they do not like the direction they are going. Maybe God was taking them on a new direction and they closed the door deciding that their interpretation was better than God’s plan. Maybe they aren’t even seeking God’s plan any longer – it certainly seems that way lately. Eyes are opening. God is allowing things to be exposed – shining light on the darkness is the only way to Christ and Godliness.
Men who we have been looking up to for years are falling in great numbers and their long-standing sin and corruption is being exposed. Do not protect them, do not remain silent because they shamed you or falsely taught you it was ungodly to be forthright. The only way to take back a platform of Biblical truth is to act Biblical, to act justly and purely. The leadership is not doing this.
The irony is that it depends on “whom you know” and associate with, what you offer, how you align. As we all know with the recent #ChurchToo movement, many predators are protected and moved around within the churches silently, leaving many to wonder what happened. A victim is threatened or manipulated into silence about what took place, and evil prospers. 
 
Within the churches and seminaries, a silent power war and struggle are going on and hundreds of families are being affected. People are being treated so poorly, deception abounds, firings and early retirements forced and many do not know this is happening. A wall of silence has protected evil. For decades, people have been removed from positions and lost their livelihoods and families, left suffering and hurt and angry, stumbling. Why? Because some powerful Pastor, Deacon, Board Member, Head of a seminary, has decided to cut them out (forcefully) and usually deceptively, and ordered them into silence. These families leave and people who love and adore them are left scratching their heads – they cannot understand why “they left”. It is an outrage! It is far from Godly, it is corruption and pride. God never ordains destruction of righteous people, He does not need men to fire a person in order to put another in place. I mean, does that even need to be stated aloud? Isn’t it common sense? We are speaking of the God of the Universe!
I personally know many families who faithfully served our home church for decades and  found themselves completely cut off (usually abruptly) or framed, or pushed into early retirement simply because a leader decided it was time for a new agenda. We are talking about families who have sacrificed and lived on meager salaries, gave up family time, maybe even careers in order to do what they felt called to do – only to be completely cut off, left jobless and struggling – and were threatened not to tell anyone what happened. Many of these families have children who walk away from faith due to this horrible example of “church”.
You leaders will answer for this. I am so ashamed to know some of you by name and I am ashamed of the leadership you align with. You have not done what is right.
To again touch on the irony, the people who are corrupt and actually do things that are wrong, blasphemous, illegal, ministry canceling are simply “secretly handeled”, no firing,  no public shame or forced early retirement, no they are usually sent off with going away parties, letters of recommendation, and help moving into another ministry. Pass them off to the next unsuspecting church. While the victim of this perpetrator is left to suffer with absolutely no help, instead a heap of shame and secrecy is placed on them.
Do you not see the injustice? Do you not see the enemy at work?
Do not fall for the wolves in sheep’s clothing…be diligent! Ask questions, investigate, speak truth and life. We are responsible for evil prospering if we do nothing.
This is but one example:
Wrongful Firing of Professor Johnson
and interestingly, Heath Lambert gained the position of Professor Johnson. And then, as the world turns…look at what happens to Pastor Mac Brunson and his family when they are ready to bring Heath Ledger to First Baptist Church of Jacksonville. And people are hurt, families ruined, congregants left with a bad taste in their mouths for Mac Brunson since they think he just turned on them – no one knows the whole saga. And the same thing happened to a hundred families working at the church by the same power players over the last 20 years. All presented with “early retirement” or false “grievances”. It is an absolute shame and a travesty.
The truth is a beautiful thing, as it allows for change. Secrets only lead to more secrets and the end is death.

Unrest

My mind and heart are not at rest.
The message is losing its power and I do not feel peaceful about where the future leads in regards to the momentum that began weeks ago.
We are still missing the larger problem and message, though the bruising and stains were touched upon recently. Large audiences were watching, many voices were heard, changes were made, yet the silence is still deafening. It’s as if the church convention body, like a beaver, has simply built a temporary diversion for the flow of the river, in this case the voices of the victims, which merely created a pool in which we can feel safer. While the changes were needed and Paige Patterson needed to be publicly removed, it is only a step. What will happen next? Will it matter in the actual crisis of the church a year from now? Ten years from now? Or will there be more to come?
Using archery and target practice as a visual, I feel unrest because only the larger portions of the outer rings of the target were hit. Paige Patterson may represent in many ways the core of the target just by position and leadership. In many ways most feel that since Paige was voted out, new leadership is at the helm, an example was made, meetings were held, votes were cast, forums begun…many feel a change is in motion and that we are well on our way.. However, I feel unrest, we only skipped a stone across the surface. So much lies underneath, the springs are still largely dry as many at the depths are still holding back the natural flows of the power and love of Christ. Things will largely become secondary and complacent again far too quickly. Yes, some churches will heed the cries for dealing with the atrocities of crimes against women and children within the church, yet at my core, I believe that the ripple effects will go largely unattended and therefore more temporary dams will be built, one by one. The health of the river and the success of the archer all depend on the flow and the site settings. A beaver sets up his dam with knowledge of the flow of the river and what is needed to change the flow in order to allow a safe place to build its home. An archer or hunter must set their site properly in order to hit center mass of its target. So the church must really, fully gauge the flow of their message, the body of the water, and the resulting target of the message. We are no where near these goals as a full body. It is all fragmented, we have only just begun the practice.
Several times this last week I have wrestled with a message, I am aware it will be largely misunderstood, it may be criticized by some as pessimism, thus I have not written until today. As I read an article today that allowed me to see I am not the only one with this feeling. We have merely scratched the surface, in fact, that is generous. Truly, we have only begun to acknowledge a problem publicly that many have been crying out about for decades. It was finally acknowledged, that is all. The real work is still to come.
This article Truth Is In Crisis shows me that others are thinking the same. We need to do more. We must keep pushing, we must continue the conversations, we need a revolution of hearts and minds.
In the American Revolution, the hearts of the people revolutionized change. In John Adams words, the war was effected before it commenced. This powerful portion of his letter is a great reminder:
“The Revolution was in the Minds and Hearts of the People. A Change in their Religious Sentiments of their Duties and Obligations. While the King, and all in Authority under him, were believed to govern, in Justice and Mercy according to the Laws and Constitutions derived to them from the God of Nature, and transmitted to them by their Ancestors— they thought themselves bound to pray for the King and Queen and all the Royal Family, and all the Authority under them, as Ministers ordained of God for their good. But when they Saw those Powers renouncing all the Principles of Authority, and bent up on the destruction of all the Securities of their Lives, Liberties and Properties, they thought it their Duty to pray for the Continental Congress and all the thirteen State Congresses, etc”
Like our recent unveiling of leadership failings for decades, John Adams further illustrates here the change of thought:
“There might be, and there were others, who thought less about Religion and Conscience, but had certain habitual Sentiments of Allegiance And Loyalty derived from their Education; but believing Allegiance and Protection to be reciprocal, when Protection was withdrawn, they thought Allegiance was dissolvedAnother Alteration was common to all. The People of America had been educated in an habitual Affection for England as their Mother-Country; and while they Thought her a kind and tender <, Start deletion,Mother, End,> Parent, (erroneously enough, however, for She never was Such a Mother,) no Affection could be more Sincere. But when they found her a cruel Beldam willing, like Lady Macbeth, to “dash their Brains out,” it is no Wonder if their fillial Affections ceased and were changed into Indignation and horror.”

We should feel an uprising of indignation and horror at the atrocities that so many revered men have been doing in secret within our churches, the thousands of women and men and children that have been brutalized physically, sexually, emotionally and spiritually all while utterly failing at the position of shepherding. I witnessed an outpouring of shepherds standing to criticize the uprising, tweeting and unlovingly chastising the voices standing and the rise to protect their own. I still have yet to see a true uprising and apologetic tone from the shepherds to the many sheep left astray due to the crimes of these men, I see no outcry of sorrow, only small insignificant words quoted in interviews while still showing a “we’ve done what we can” attitude.

John Adams wrote, “This radical Change in the Principles, Opinions Sentiments and Affection of the People, was the real American Revolution.”

No powerful rulers or military could stand against the people when they rose passionately for what they believed in, and how they believed they should be treated. It took the people hurt and wounded and tired rising up. We are the hurt, the wounded, the passionate ones who want what is good, right, just and merciful, we want the love of Jesus to be the true message and to be what is demonstrated to the people as a church. We have been missing that mark for so long. The people are heartbroken, discouraged, distrustful, lost in a sea of failed leaders, looking for some Shepherds to be worthy of the calling.
I had the blessing of attending a service last week that demonstrated the most powerful truth in action of what this revolution of leadership hearts would look like. It starts with brokeness, laying pride aside, acknowledging that we have been doing it wrong, and a broken heart for the people harmed and the shepherding gone astray. This Pastor stood before us broken, he has been on a 3 year journey with the Lord of questioning all that he thought he was and laying himself bear before his church, saying,  “I don’t know what I am doing anymore. And I am asking God to create in me a new heart for His people and I am sharing the brokeness I am feeling because it is all I know to do.” He does not want to leave a frivolous legacy or title as a Pastor, he was broken by the idea that maybe he isn’t doing it right, that he was missing a larger lesson of what God expects from him and others for this world. We all cried with him, we all were moved to evaluate, it was the most moving thing I have seen from leadership in a long time, and it held power. Humility before God, it is the only way.
I wish you all could hear it…there is a battle cry from the hills and the rocks, they are crying out a warning that if we don’t get this right, the casualties are so costly, the entire church is at stake. Heaven knows what the cost is, many of us have already experienced it and our eyes are wide open, our sensitivities heightened because Father has been closer to us than you are aware, as we only have Him, we have no titles, no brotherhood of preachers protecting us, no committees to hide behind, no Shepherd because we no longer can depend on you. The cost is high. But the love of our Father and the comfort He gives to the broken hearted, I would take any day in trade for your titles and salaries while your pride grows and your hearts harden.
Psalm 34:18 “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
Proverbs 16:18-19 “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.”

Silence Can Be Deafening

Silence and serenity…beautiful words at times.

Silence, as defined, is the complete absence of sound and the synonyms quiet, stillness, tranquility all sound peaceful. The thought of a peaceful, quiet moment alone with your thoughts and nothing that is pressing to accomplish.

Serenity, the state of being calm, peaceful and untroubled.

However, silence can also have an alternate state, it can be debilitating in many ways. I am speaking from experience when I say that silence can be deafening. When misappropriated, it can lead you to a place of restlessness and alarm that makes finding peace elusive. You can also find yourself afraid to be alone in the silence and yet also afraid to make a sound. For many, being silenced is an open ended prison sentence of which there is no reprieve. A place that, when you are alone with only your thoughts, you find that the memories and the quieting of those memories and lack of justice leaves you feeling helpless and alone.

Jesus never intended for us to suffer alone, “Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ,” Galations 6:2 and He also never asked for us to cover injustice in order to protect the reputation of the “church” or to protect the roles of “men of leadership”. In I Peter 3:14, we are told that even if we suffer for what is right, we are blessed, “Do not fear their threats, do not be frightened.

In 1991, as a young girl, I made a decision that I now believe changed much of the course of my life. I did not realize that what I was allowing others in power to influence, would follow me the rest of my life. I did not then know the alternate definition of this silence, or of the cost of the choice. Life has taught me a costly lesson and many times I have wanted to unburden myself from the deafening silence. This silence that remains as a loud internal “knowing” that has cost others and that being silenced also sentenced others to the secrecy.

I used to believe that a moment of chosen silence is almost always a good thing, I still believe that there is a time and place and that a word fitly spoken is important. I also believe that people misuse and misquote scriptures and that words and motives are tremendously important in deciding when to address issues. Motives are huge indicators of false teaching.

My story is one of many and certainly of no importance over another, it’s just that I now live with the fact that so many came after me. I see the impact of not warning others, I see the benefit of “men of God” (quoted oh so loosely here, only as a title) choosing to manipulate scriptures and intimidate the abused into silence. Men who choose to tell the abused that their silence is beneficial to the church, when in reality, it only benefits them personally, the cost to the church is greater than many realize. The church is not a building or organization and the church is fluid and is the body of Christ, which means we take it with us everywhere we go. This also means that when we carry secrets and shame never intended by God, but instead is an effective tool of the enemy, we are giving the enemy power to continue to destroy and to bind. When leaders choose to cover abusers crimes, there is a high cost and only the silencer and abuser are protected, for a time. I believe that everything done in secret is eventually exposed to the light, it’s just a matter of time. And now, the world is watching as once again, secrets of the powerful silencing the sheep is being exposed on a grand scale.

Paige Patterson and Jerry Vines became my silencers – but the silence was deafening because I have had to live with the noise it sequestered, and the cost was high. Their motive was only to reduce noise for their own personal rise to fame and influence, therefore it was not Godly, it was not I Timothy leadership.

“…Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned (Meaning genuine; sincere) From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfullyKnowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;”

I know that God knew the secret thoughts of their heart, that God knew the pride that was brewing there. God knew they had lost their way, forgotten their first love and continued to place themselves as clanging glass and tinkling symbols – just noise with no substance of faith. Two parts of this verse really speaks to me, “faith unfeigned” – unfeigned means genuine and sincere faith…so the very leaders that told myself and so many others to remain silent didn’t have faith that God could handle the fallout from alerting authorities of crimes by a minister. Think about that a moment. They thought they knew better – motives, pride, fear, falsehood. Further, they didn’t trust God to bring them out of it. Is this who we choose to follow?

My story is a bombshell, so much so that nearly 20 years after I was attacked and came forward the first time, when I came forward on behalf of other victims 17 years later as an adult woman, Paige Patterson and Jerry Vines both contacted me to get me to remain bound in my silence. Others joined in as well, such as Mac Brunson, others bullied and shamed using scriptures out of context such as, “touch not my anointed…”. Do we really believe that God allows a big rug to the “anointed” ones to sweep the ugly things under? No, it is not the case and through the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movement, the full exposure is evident and a day of reckoning is here. What will we do with it? I did my Biblical duty and I went to my earthly shepherds for help, and instead of protecting me and others from the predator, they sent me out to the pasture and moved on forward up the mountain and took my predator along with them. They chose to push members of their flock out into open land, unprotected, and they failed to warn others that the wolf was among us. They will all answer someday, in ways we cannot comprehend, that is not my goal. What happens to all of the sheep left wandering unprotected, unsure of whom to trust anymore, without an earthly shepherd, feeling like the little black sheep among the herd of white sheep saints because they were violated in the most vile way? What are we going to do for them? Why do we block their voices and healing in order for the “church” to prosper? Why do we send mixed messages to the hurting and give them life sentences of feeling alone and silenced and yet promote and glorify men like Paige Patterson, Jerry Vines, Paul Pressler, Darrell Gilyard who either know of the predators in our midst, or are the predators in our midst.

For each one of you who is also a #PattersonMeToo and when you heard about his email request asking for time to “break her down” concerning a victim, you know this happened because it also happened to you. Or read his words in which he states “I take exception to accusations that I ever knowingly ignored or failed to follow appropriate protocols in cases of reported abuse of women, students, or staff at any institution where I have served,” as reported in his statement, and everything in you screams because you know this to be a bold lie?

I ask you to stand with me and the others, let’s all break the silence and send a strong message that transcends time and will help protect future generations. We all have an opportunity to make noise in order to lift the proverbial rug up and sweep out the choking dust that keeps us bound and unhealthy. It does not change history, but it can change the future. The future survivors can have a safer place to land and not be bound to silence, and then we have made something good and beautiful from the ashes. God bless each one of you, I carry your pain and suffering with me, and I wish joy and peace over you.

My story in full is coming, and I will be heard because it needs to be told for all of those to come. It also needs to be heard to set the recent records and recent public statements straight and to release me from the burden of silence I have allowed for far too long. I have been troubled and have suffocated in the silence far too long.

#DeafeningSilence

#PaigePattersonMeToo #JerryVinesMeToo #DarrellGilyardMeToo

#Churchtoo

It took a week, but I finally worked up my brave and googled #churchtoo. I heard about this hashtag almost as soon as it hit Twitter, but I couldn’t bring myself to look. I knew what to expect. I knew the stories that would show up. I knew . . . because I have heard too, too many of those stories in the last few years.

So here is how #churchtoo got its start. About a month after the #metoo campaign began, #churchtoo showed up on Twitter. Emily Joy and Hannah Paasch used the hashtag and told their stories of being abused by church leaders. Unfortunately, their hashtag caught fire, and hundreds of women and men shared their own horror stories about the church.

I read through those stories and found some common themes:

  1. The victims of sexual abuse in the church were often blamed. Their clothes were too suggestive, they shouldn’t have been so appealing, THEY were in the wrong place. The victim caused the abuse. The victim was responsible.
  2. Victims were told that it wasn’t abuse at all–it was normal. It was necessary. It was common practice. They shouldn’t make such a big deal out of what had happened.
  3. Victims were not believed. Church leaders and church members dismissed the stories told, refused to listen to those stories, or completely discounted the stories, accusing the victims of lying.
  4. Victims were forced to apologize for being abused–to ask forgiveness from the congregation or from the perpetrator’s spouse.
  5. Victims were told that they had a responsibility to their abuser–to help their abuser find absolution and redemption.
  6. Many of the victims were really young. Some were small children, others were teenagers, but adults also were abused by church leaders.
  7. A very high percentage of victims left the church, and many have never returned. The church failed them, and they walked away. Thus, the initial abuse result in a secondary trauma–rejection by the Christian community.
  8. Angry haters continue to abuse these victims–posting vile messages on Twitter, accusing victims of blasphemy, demeaning them for “wanting to destroy the church,” discounting their pain.

The reality that such abuse has happened in our churches for two thousand years horrifies me. The truth is that the church has turned a blind eye to sexual abuse, has re-victimized victims, and has pushed victims away. My heart breaks that the Christian community has lost so, so many, who justifiably want nothing more to do with the church.

Reading through #churchtoo left me troubled, but it also provided some critical takeaways.

  1. Victims need safe places to tell their stories. They need to have freedom to speak their truth and hear the stories of others. One woman wrote, “Story connects us. Story saves us.”
  2.  Victims don’t need sympathy or empathetic responses. They don’t need words of concern or comfort. They don’t need vows that churches will do better. They need to be heard. They need for their stories to be heard.
  3. Serious conversations about theology are desperately needed in every. single. church. Churches need to address patriarchal theology and to talk about what has been taught and is being taught about God, gender roles and expectations, sex, and sin.

It might take you a week or more, but I challenge you to google #churchtoo and to read the stories. Just read. You don’t have to comment. You don’t have to offer answers. You don’t need to think you can fix what has been broken. Just read.

Pam Durso is executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry, Atlanta, Georgia. 

General Assembly 2018 — #metoo: Join The Movement, Be The Change — CBFblog

By Emily Holladay On Thursday morning of General Assembly, Pam Durso, Executive Director of Baptist Women in Ministry, led a workshop entitled, “#metoo: Join The Movement, Be The Change.” More than 75 people gathered to learn about the growing movement of women naming their experiences with sexual violence, and how the Church can take a […]

via General Assembly 2018 — #metoo: Join The Movement, Be The Change — CBFblog

Strained Relations — JimsBlog

I’m in Dallas, Texas, this week, attending the General Assembly of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. But as the Holy Spirit would have it, the Southern Baptist Convention is being held here as well, and most of us are staying at the same hotel, which means there have been a few uncomfortable moments in hotel elevators. […]

via Strained Relations — JimsBlog