Home > Ecclesiology, liberals, religion, writing > “A Public Statement Concerning Sexual Abuse in the Church of Jesus Christ” = “Another Chance to Condemn Conservatives as Secret Child Molesters”

“A Public Statement Concerning Sexual Abuse in the Church of Jesus Christ” = “Another Chance to Condemn Conservatives as Secret Child Molesters”

What an evil document is “A Public Statement Concerning Sexual Abuse in the Church of Jesus Christ”! It pretends to be a confession, but it actually is a condemnation of other people. But then the signers don’t dare make any specific accusations. They make general accusations that are slanderous, while helping to protect sin by careful lack of specifics. The Baylyblog does a good job of discussing the Statement and talking about what churches really ought to be doing about sexual abuse, but there’s more to be said. Here are a couple of notable sentences from the Statement:

“Recent allegations of sexual abuse and cover-up within a well known international ministry and subsequent public statements by several evangelical leaders have angered and distressed many, both inside and outside of the Church. These events expose the troubling reality that, far too often, the Church’s instincts are no different than from those of many other institutions, responding to such allegations by moving to protect her structures rather than her children….Institutions ranging from the Catholic Church, various Protestant churches and missionary organizations, Penn State, Yeshiva University High School, the Boy Scouts, and all branches of our military have been rocked by allegations of abuse and of complicity in silencing the victims.”

It’s actually funny— they’re participating in the cover-up from the get-go, in their very first sentence. Then they condemn the Church for cover-up in the second sentence. That’s *my* church they’re accusing, and I’d like to see some evidence before she’s abused. Then these signers, Protestants all as far as I can tell, do name names: The Catholic Church, Penn State, Yeshiva, the Boy Scouts, the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. I’m surprised they didn’t add the Koch’s,the Republican Party, and the Bayly brothers. This is very much like the passive-aggressive way that liberal churches pretend to beat themselves up for being racist while actually using the occasion to slander other Christians with accusations too general to be proved or disproved.

Please, signers, go back to the drawing board and confess to us the particular cover-up of sins in your particular church, preferably cover-ups not yet been detected by outsiders rather than disclosures forced on you by newspapers and police. And if there is no sexual sin in your church, do tell us that, at least— but in that case please don’t pretend to be a Calvinist. I’ll be looking out for these names:

Community Bible Fellowship Church in Red Hill
Westminster Theological Seminary (PA)
Reformed Theological Seminary
World Reformed Fellowship,
Biblical Theological Seminary
O’Donnell Clark and Crew, LLP,
Extraordinary Women,
The American Association of Christian Counselors,
Liberty University,
Northwest University (Potschefstroom, South Africa)
Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Rye, NY,
Redeemer Seminary,
Western Theological Seminary,
Newbigin House
Valley Community Church in Louisville, CO
Mercy Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Forest, VA
The Presbyterian Church of Brazil (Sao Paulo)
North Hills Community Church in Taylors, SC
The Reformed Church in Poughkeepsie, NY (RCA)
Park Cities Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Dallas, TX
City Church in San Francisco, CA
BenefitWorks, Inc.
Atlanta Westside Presbyterian Church
North Hills Community Church in Taylors, SC
The World Reformed Fellowship, The Russian Orphan Opportunity Fund,
Celebrate Kids
Westmont College
China Graduate School of Theology
The United Bible Societies (Scotland)
(there are a lot more, but I’ve run out of time)

If you’re shy, Signer, because you can’t pretend to represent these organizations, don’t worry. We won’t think that you do; just speak up an individual. It will have all the more impact if you have the courage to speak out against how your leadership covers up sin.

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  1. July 25th, 2013 at 02:06 | #1

    @Linda M. Fossen
    Please don’t be satisfied with words like those in the Statement. Confessions from people who didn’t do wrong aren’t useful. I can understand how even this little would be a relief if all you have never been shown sympathy. But what you deserve is for someone to actually confront those who abet evil.

  2. July 25th, 2013 at 02:02 | #2

    @Julie Anne

    Perhaps “slander” isn’t the right word. I didn’t mean it in the legal sense, of course, but in the everyday sense of “to maliciously try to make someone look bad without having evidence”. It is carefully crafted to convey the impression that the Church is rotten, while including lots of weasel words to allow easy deniability. For example:

    “These events expose the troubling reality that, far too often, the Church’s instincts are no different than from those of many other institutions, responding to such allegations by moving to protect her structures rather than her children.”

    Well, of course, if the Church were even once to have an evil instinct, much less do evil, that would be too often. What the sentence is trying to convey, though, is that the Church is no different from corrupt organizations (like the Roman Catholic Church).

    “This is a longstanding problem in the Christian world, and we are deeply grieved by the failures of the American and global Church in responding to the issue of sexual abuse.”

    Well, yes— sin of all kinds is a longstanding problem. Why emphasize this particular failure to deal with sin? I don’t like seeing a vague accusation against “the American and global Church” either. Certain churches are guilty of this— indeed perhaps *most* churches are— but name them, then, rather than accusing the Church generally.

    “But we have hindered the victims. By our silence and our efforts to protect our names and institutions and “missions,” we, the body of Christ, have often sided with an enemy whose sole purpose is and has always been to destroy the Lamb of God and his presence in this world.”

    “What do you mean, `We’, White Man?” as the old joke goes. http://www.centerforinquiry.net/blogs/entry/whos_we_white_man_or_the_medias_mythical_majority/ Some people are guilty of this— perhaps even most pastors are guilty of it; I don’t know— but is the body of Christ guilty?

    Please understand that I am not saying that church protection of sexual sin isn’t a problem. It is. Many churches protect sexual sin. Saying everybody does it, though, diminishes the offence and tars with the same brush those churches that are doing something about the problem. It’s easy enough to be nice to victims, but being nice to the victims is not the way to stop the cover-ups. That requires being unpleasant to those who run the cover-up. Rather than saying everyone covers up sexual abuse, we need to say “Pastor Smith covers up sexual abuse”.

    I hadn’t heard, for example, of the SGM case that Julie Anne mentions, but now I’ve read the legal complaint and seen the webpost of The Gospel Coalition. ( http://www.brentdetwiler.com/class-action-lawsuit/,http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2013/05/24/why-we-have-been-silent-about-the-sgm-lawsuit/) I don’t know whether it’s true that the SGM churches discouraged report of sexual abuse, but it’s certainly plausible, and the Gospel Coalition writers’ emphasis on the civil law instead of on whether the charges are true is completely misplaced. If the “Document” signers had investigated that lawsuit and come to a conclusion about it, I would be more impressed with them, at least with those signers who are otherwise friendly to the SGM denomination.

  3. July 24th, 2013 at 16:23 | #3

    As a survivor of ten years of sexual abuse at the hands of my preacher father, I am disgusted by your scathing condemnation of “A Public Statement Concerning Sexual Abuse in the Church of Jesus Christ”. You go so far as to call this “an evil document”. You can’t be serious! I don’t know what rock you crawled out from under but there has been decades of sexual abuse, cover-up and collusion in the entire evangelical community. I know because I have lived with it all my life and I have seen it as an advocate for other survivors. Contrary to your arrogant claim, this is not about YOUR church – this statement is much bigger than that. It is about the entire evangelical community of churches. It is a call for all of us to join together to take a stand that we will no longer sit smugly in our pews and think that this is only a “Catholic problem” or a “secular problem”. It is saying this is “an evangelical church problem” too and we will no longer ignore it.

    I don’t know if you were abused or not, but for the thousands of us who have been and have read and signed this statement, these are precious words that we have waited a long time for. Yes, it is a piece of paper but it is a start. Every momentous movement starts with a plan. There have been prayer warriors who have prayed for years that the Church of Jesus Christ would rise up from her complacency and start confronting the sin from within. We are tired of churches who have predator pastors, diabolical deacons and mindless members. We are tired of pedophiles targeting our churches because we are so stupid that we give them instant access to our children. We want a church where abuse survivors are welcomed and embraced, not marginalized and shamed into silence. We want a church where we can go and find healing and hope, not a church that tells us to ‘just move on already”. In short, we want a church like the one described in this statement.

    Listen to the words of the last paragraph in the statement:

    “To all who have been abused, broken, deceived and ignored, we have failed you and our God. We repent for looking nothing like our Lord when we have silenced you, ignored you or moved away from you and then acted as if you were the problem. You are not the problem; you are the voice of our God calling his church to repentance and humility. Thank you for having the courage to speak truth. May God have mercy on us all and oh may the day come when his church reflects the indescribable love and compassion of Jesus, even to the point of laying down our lives for his precious sheep.”

    I waited 45 long, painful years to hear someone, anyone from the Church of Jesus Christ say this. I wept tears of joy to hear these words. For you to take the historic and precious words of this statement and twist them into a some sort of conspiracy to “slander” your puny little church is not only offensive, it is insulting. Shame on you!

  4. July 24th, 2013 at 15:59 | #4

    What church is your church?

    The document was referring to the Church in general (Universal Church)—all those who are professing Christians to step up, report these crimes to law enforcement and protect the innocent which I can say as a survivor and a advocate for survivors is often not done.

    The writer is conservative Christian. He is Boz Tchvidjian grandson of Billy Graham and former Sex-crimes prosecutor. Hardly someone bent on destroying the church.

    He founded an organization named Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (G.R.A.C.E).
    “The Mission of GRACE is to empower the Christian community through education and training to recognize and respond to the sin of child abuse. helps survivors of sex abuse and churches and para-church organizations. ” http://netgrace.org/about-us/mission/

  5. July 24th, 2013 at 14:03 | #5

    Link fixed— I’ll reply to Julie Anne’s request later today.

  6. July 24th, 2013 at 13:52 | #6

    PS – Can you please check your Baylyblog link? I think it’s going to the wrong place.

  7. July 24th, 2013 at 13:48 | #7

    I’m new here. I do not know who you are or your connection with anyone, but someone sent me this link because I’ve been closely following the happenings with the SGM case and the church’s collective response (or non-response).

    When you say “slanderous,” are you using the definition used in our civil courts or the biblical definition? And since you are using such a strong word as slander, could you please identify for your readers those “slanderous” words/phrases from the Statement? That would be helpful. Thanks.

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