Destroying The Innocent

Many posts on this site are intended to be humorous and light-hearted. This is not one of those. I will freely admit that I’m am writing this post while angry — not something I typically do. But at this moment there is a white-hot righteous indignation that has kindled in my bones and I either have to write this down or spontaneously combust. You have been warned.

Imagine for a moment that you’re a fundamentalist pastor who has just learned that a 15 year old girl in your congregation has been raped and is pregnant by a 39 year old member of your church. Now try to imagine what kind of thought process might lead you to decide that the proper way to proceed is to bring that teenager before the entire church to apologize for her part in being so thoughtless as to get raped and end up pregnant. Then imagine forcing her to write a letter to the wife of the rapist apologizing for your part in his crime.  Of course you then send her away to another state and make sure that the baby is adopted off to another fundamentalist family.

What kind of person would do this? Surely this must be some pastor from the darkest fringes of fundamentalism, someone so far outside the “mainstream” that they are almost unrecognizable as an Independent Baptist. Or perhaps not.

For the pastor in question is none other than Chuck Phelps, who left the scene of this outrage at Trinity Baptist Church  to become President of Maranatha Baptist Bible College. To be fair to MBBC, they quickly realized that they were dealing with someone a little too far out for their taste and gave him the boot in the nicest way possible. He also is the chairman of the board of Central African Baptist College and sits as vice-chairman of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship. Last but not least, as of 2008 he was listed as an adjunct professor at Bob Jones University’s school of religion and a member of their cooperating board(PDF).

Oh, but the story and connections don’t end there. For this paragon of fundy virtue now pastors on a church staff with none other than Bob Taylor, former pastor of the Campus Church at Pensacola Christian College. The ‘crazy fringe’ of fundyland is never as far from the center as it would seem.

Now let’s play another game of let’s pretend. Let’s imagine that you’re the current pastor of a church where all this happened.  Let’s further imagine that like your predecessor you’re also a favored son of Bob Jones University and that you were actually there at the church while this travesty was being executed on this victim. What do you do now? Apologize? Issue a statement condemning what was done to the 15 year old girl? Or do you do damage control and cover for your old pastor even going so far as to send e-mail to your church members instructing them not to speak to anybody about the situation?

And then lastly imagine you’re a fundamentalist type who is observing this situation from the outside? Does your heart break over the injustice and your anger rise to think of the victim in the case? Or do you flee to your favorite fundamentalist message board and question whether the 15 year old girl may have seduced the 39 year old man and is to blame for the whole situation?

I can only assume that these people involved in the humiliation and condemnation of this girl cannot really believe in a righteous God Who’s justice is terrible toward those who hurt the innocent.  If I had a scrap of mercy to spare for these miserably failed hirelings, I would be very, very afraid on their behalf. But I don’t. All I have is a small voice to expose their evil to as many as have ears to hear.

Destroyer of Innocents thy name is Fundamentalism.

(updated 29 May at 4:07 pm.)

169 thoughts on “Destroying The Innocent”

  1. Mountain,

    That’s fine about the point. I am certainly not above misreading and misunderstanding. I have done it plenty. I think I have made my point clear about why I took it as I did.

    As to the frequency, you mention two churches and let’s assume TBC is three. I could name some others. But among what is surely tens of thousands of fundamental churches (most of whom I want nothing to do with), we hear of this relatively infrequently, wouldn’t you say? Again, I am not minimizing it in any way. But do you really think that the percentage of fundamental churches with these types of problems is great? I know a lot of people have stories, and I don’t impugn them in any way. I have no doubt that there are a lot of problems. But I think, in terms of numbers, that it is a fairly infrequent.

    BTW, I can’t help but notice you didn’t apologize for erroneously accusing me of attributing a comment to Darrell. Is that part of the fundy scheme of avoid taking responsibility for doing wrong??? 🙂 … I am just giving you a hard time, but since fundamentalists not taking responsibility already came up, I thought I would have a little fun with it. Notice in my post, I actually admitted the possibility of being and asked forgiveness for it. I am sure to lose my fundamentalist card over that one ‘cuz we all know fundies never do that.

  2. I have nothing to apologize for. I didn’t falsely accuse you of falsely accusing Darrell of having said something. Darrell never said this goes all the way to the highest reaches. You may think he was trying to subtly tie them to the issue by lumping them together, but his point is that Phelps is not fringe. He did ask if the other institutions would address the accusations or just quietly distance themselves. Even that is not accusing them of being involved in the specific affair, but is a comment about how fundamentalists typically handle such problems.

    But in reviewing your posts I noticed something. At first you said: The fact that these institutions have other problems means that they have other problems. They don’t need Phelp’s situation; they have plenty of their own. They have destroyed the innocent on many occasions. But you weren’t writing about those. This is about this situation.

    Then you turned around and said such behavior is infrequent. Which is it?

    Personally , I don’t think the problem is limited to fundamentalists. Southern Baptists have the same kind of problems, Sovereign Grace Ministries seems to have these problems, as does the Roman Catholic Church and many Pentecostal groups. But this isn’t StuffCatholicsLike.

  3. Mountain, Mountain, my friend, please go back and read my post to you a few minutes ago where I explained this and documented it. Here goes again:

    At 9:31 you said, Darrell never said, “this goes all the way to the highest reaches.” You have put words in his mouth that he didn’t say nor has anyone else said.

    The fact is that I did not put those words in Darrell’s mouth. Meow was the one who made the comment that I was responding to, as I quoted in my response to you a few minutes ago. So you made two errors:

    (1) You accused me of putting words in Darrell’s mouth, which I did not do; I did not attribute the words to Darrell; they were Meow’s words and Meow is the one to whom I was responding; and

    (2) you said no one else said this, when in fact Meow did say it at 3:31 when he/she spoke of “others high up in the movement.” “Highest reaches” was my phrase; not his/hers. That was not a quote the first time; the second usage was me quoting myself.

    So you were wrong … twice … I am not bothered by it. I don’t even care. I was having a bit of fun with the fact that fundamentalists are often accused of being unwilling to admit they are wrong, no matter how clear the evidence is against them. I just had no idea you would prove my point.

    With respect to my quote, as you yourself quoted it, I said these institutions have “other problems.” And there are many of these other problems of all different types, as those who have been around know well. They are not necessarily problems of covering up sexual abuse. They are “other problems,” which is why I said, “other problems.” That distinguishes them from Phelp’s situation, from problems covering up sexual abuse. I will take responsibility for being unclear in that.

    So which is it? Problems are rampant; sexual abuse cover up seems relatively infrequent given the large number of fundamentalist churches. Honestly, I don’t know what the number might be; I assume you don’t either. I don’t think anyone does. I think the problems are all over, just like you do. But I am not sure they are as rampant as the news stories would have us believe.

  4. I just read Phelps letter, red flag for me was that he is consulting(or as he put it, “made myself accountable to”) David Gibbs III, an attorney. That name sure sounded familiar, and will be familiar to you Floridians as the media savvy lawyer from the Terri Schiavo situation from a few years back.(done well for his clients in that matter, can’t blame an advocate for doing a job well, but why is he involved in this?)

    I love this quote, “Mr. Gibbs has contacted the authorities on my behalf to register my
    concern regarding the way the police have represented this matter to the media.” Seems like a “hide behind my lawyer” stance there.

    Interesting. This could be a big media circus, maybe even Hannity will get involved. Start a national conversation on victims rights. But wait, who’s on what side again?

    Phelps is taking this seriously if he went straight to the Christian Law Assoc. for representation. But how can they spin this when the victim went to MBBC and is a member in good standing of the movement still? Is this now a civil liberties case? Is Phelps a righteous martyr now?

  5. Sorry, don’t want to spread false info, this was from the SI thread:

    “Should the fact that this woman went on to get a degree from Maranatha and then taught in a respected Christian institution in Arizona lend credibility to her story? She didn’t come out of this and renounce Christ and turn to live a wicked life. She seems to have been serving the Lord, inspite of this that occurred in 1997, and she seems to have a Christian family.”

    It may or may not be true and this Maranatha may not be the MBBC from the Milwaukee area, so correct if necessary, I was just relaying this info, and should have included “weasel words”.

  6. A couple thoughts:

    1. In one of my biblical counseling classes back in Bible college, my professor talked about dealing with a rape victim’s sin, specifically her sinful reaction to the rape and/or things she may have done to the contribute to the rape such as her dress. He prefaced this by saying that you, as a counselor, should first listen to her and comfort her, but that you should have the goal of eventually dealing with how *she* sinned as the victim.

    2. There is some irony in the fact that the people who take such pains to have a good “testimony” perpetuating crimes this way. Going to the movies, having the occasional glass of wine, wearing shorts, etc., does *not* give you a bad testimony before the “world” (assuming for sake of argument that you *should* be motivated by the desire to have a good testimony). Covering up and enabling abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual), on the other hand, DOES, and gives ample opportunity for nonbelievers to blaspheme the name of Christ. (I just used two of the words I can no longer stand to hear in my post-fundy days: “testimony” and “world/-ly/-liness.” Excuse me while I go gag.)

    1. Of just come back to this site and have been reading some of the posts. Your comment hits a nerve with me. There are a couple of Christians I encounter every day who would be so Fundamentalist they are actually off the scale and one of them recently went on a rant -for want of a better word- about how a Christian should never do anything to Destroy Their Testimony” To do so would to bring shame to the Gospel and to Jesus and might turn someone way from wanting to be a Christian and so condemn them to the eternal fires of hell. Unfortunately it doesn’t take much to Destroy Your Testimony – reacting badly to a situation, a maybe using a single word forbidden to Christians, drinking the wrong beverage, having an appearance that is “different”, doing anything they might not agree with – the list is endless but still growing. That shouldn’t bother me, but to them I have Destroyed My Testimony and they are convinced I am not a Christian at all, and never was. What hurts me is that they appear to be intent on convincing other Christians of that as well…..

  7. Ok, with regard to not understanding that you were referencing Meow, I apologize.

    If you read the literature available on personality disorders, abusive families and groups, and religious cults, there’s a fair amount of documentation of a correlation between religious fundamentalism and sexual and physical abuse. I’m not personally aware of there being a comprehensive, authoritative study on the matter, though there’s plenty of evidence it’s not as rare as you suggest.

    It’s not really an IFB thing; it exists in many different sects and the reasons for it are a lot more complex than “they don’t care about children!” I could list a few reasons, such as the tendency to judge leaders by how well they fight liberals than by their character, viewing abstract doctrine as more important than the welfare of human beings, an over-emphasis on depravity (we ‘re all better of than we deserve), and a basic ignorance of how abusive individuals think and operate.

  8. Thanks Mountain. I am aware of some of the types of studies you refer to, and I think there is merit to it. It would be interesting to know how widespread it actually is. I have no idea.

    I think your last paragraph is particularly good, particularly that it’s a complex issue. I won’t get into all of it here, but there are some very interesting characteristics that I notice in many (not all) ex-fundamentalists that lead me to believe they didn’t leave all the bad part of fundamentalism behind.

  9. Amanda, regarding your first statement, I think most who’ve gone to a fundamentalist Bible college or seminary has heard something like that. If you have a preacher boy who is a little out-of-touch to begin with and tell him something like that then you shouldn’t be surprised when he grows up and does something like make a rape victim stand in front of church and apologize. He may even think he’s doing the right thing in doing it.

    I have no problem saying that victims need help dealing with their fear, anger, and sadness in an appropriate way. They’ll probably need to be told this or that reaction was wrong. But the way it’s phrased in your statement and in the article I linked above is creepy. Why not say something like “Victims need to realize the only person whose behavior they can control is their own, and they need to make a choice to break the cycle and overcome what happened to them”? That’s so much better (and seemingly more natural) than saying the victim needs to be brought to repentance for their own sin.

  10. Larry,

    I can’t argue with the statement that ex-Fundamentalists leave the movement but not the mindset. I see it all the time. A person will exchange KJBO for Calvinism as the thing to fight over.

    In fact, when I use fundamentalism in a negative sense I tend to refer to the dogmatic, belligerent, and controlling mindset more than the specific set of doctrines one holds. Often the doctrines are merely accidental. They happened to serve a purpose at the time. For example, Jack Hyles wasn’t KJBO and in fact HAC expelled students for being vocal Ruckmanites right up until the sex scandals broke. Then suddenly he became KJBO and claimed that “liberals” were lying about him.

    StuffFundiesLike: red herrings

  11. this fundy “movement” is rotten to the core. i can’t believe that i ever aligned myself with this group of self proclaimed holier then thou bigots. i also can’t believe that God is allowing this crap to continue to mar His holy and just name.
    i know that this whole thing will be a major player in how the rest of the country sees Christianity, both true and false, and i say, “let the chips fall where they may.” because if and when it all comes to light, the scum will hopefully be taken out of the pool so to speak.

    it still really bothers me that they can ruin others lives and get away with it….

  12. Larry, I also agree that some people leave Fundamentalism but don’t leave the bad part behind. However, that has nothing to do with the question of whether Chuck Phelps made a 15 year old rape victim apologize for her role in the rape, apologize to her rapist’s wife, and then he whisked her off out of sight to live a life of solitude while he addressed the rapist as having consensual sex with an adult and let him off with an apology. It doesn’t mattter what kind of attitude others have in regard to these facts. This happened. Phelps committed a great evil, and he needs to come to repentance and change his outlook so that he treats women and children with the mercy and dignity that Christ commands. And Fuller needs to quit covering for him and acknowledge that the church leadership was wrong.

  13. Bassenco,

    What would make you think I disagree with anything you said? I am not sure why you address that to me.

    Remember, I have said nothing in support of Phelps or TBC. In fact, my comments were on something else entirely in response to something good that Mountain said. So please don’t think or suggest that I am somehow in support of Phelps or anything that happened there. I am not and I have said so.

  14. Then I’m just trying to get the discussion back on point. The discussion is about Tina Anderson and what that church and its leadership put her through as a victim of rape at the age of 15. It was wrong, and they have committed an evil thing, which they continue to hide and defend and even lie about. Fundy, former fundy, or something else entirely, that is what is going on.

    The question arises, is this typical of Fundamentalist churches, and yes, it is. Again, fundy, former fundy, or something else entirely, there is abundant evidence that this practice of deceit and cover up is normal in Fundamentalism.

  15. Fair enough, Bassenco, just so long as it is clear that I am defending Phelps in anyway.

  16. A few of my observations so far:

    – A fatherless child was raped, where were the men of the church to protect her?
    – Chuckie made 2 super duper calls to the police…”and I have documentation dammit”.
    – Fundamentalism is closer than you think to Fundamental Islam in the treatment of women and girls.
    – Chuckie – “we are not a cult”? Then quite acting like one.
    – I just can’t believe the police would let this drop. Maybe Chuckie knew someone on the inside and had it hushed…Ok this one is far fetched and total speculation, but if it is true you heard it here first.

  17. I will be very interested to see if International Baptist College counseled Tina not to go public. The fact that she resigned from IBC the day before Willis was arrested makes me wonder. IBC and its mother church–Tri-City Baptist Church in Chandler, AZ has historically been a strong supporter of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship of which Phelps is Vice Chairman. Mike Sproul, the Pastor of Tri-City and the Chairman of the Board of IBC is also a member of the Board of Directors of the FBF. I know how these fundamentalists think ( I taught at IBC for 9 years). They are concerned about covering their own butts under the pretense that public revelation of these kinds of “sins” will do great harm to the “cause of Christ.”

    I saw this same kind of thing play out in the 1980’s when I was a member of Forrest Hills Baptist Church in Decatur, GA. It was revealed that Bill Pennell, the Pastor and “big time” conference speaker at the time, had been unfaithful to his wife numerous times over their marriage. He had convinced her not to go public because of the damage it would do to the “cause of Christ.” She eventually had enough and went public. She told the deacons at Forrest Hills and initially they sided with the Pastor. He had told them that his wife was having a nervous breakdown and needed to be hospitalized. To give Pennell credit, he soon after admitted his sin and took responsibility.

  18. I will be very interested to see if International Baptist College counseled Tina not to go public.

    Maybe she just wanted to preemptively take that option off the table? If I were in her shoes that is what I would do– get myself out any organization tied to my abusers so that they can’t retaliate if they want to.

  19. @Darrell: Ditto everything. @Larry: Ditto everything.

    Huh? My point is, if we all employed the “throw the baby out with the bath water” approach, we would eventually have to separate ourselves from every organized people group on earth. Because we live in a fallen world, scandals abound in every corner. Here’s what it must appear to the casual observer:

    Fundy scandal = deserves moral outrage
    Non-fundy scandal = gets a pass

    It seems there is enough finger-pointing on both sides to encourage the staunchest atheist to remain so. At least in his world, there’s no God to impose those pesky absolute values. Therefore, who’s to say rape is even a sin? Sure makes things simpler.

    Now I’ll crawl back into my hole and prepare to be eaten alive by all the “loving” ex-fundies.

  20. @Observer I’m not really quite sure what your point is. If you’re looking for outrage at non-fundamentalist scandals perhaps you should check a blog named Stuff Non-Fundies Like.

    Thanks for playing the “the real problem is pointing out there’s a problem” card. I’d invite you to read this post:

  21. Larry,
    What would make you think I was saying you were disagreeing with anything I said. I am just trying to keep the thread on point. The topic is the 15 year old rape victim who was made to apologize for being raped and was then sent away.

  22. @Larry – one of the points here is that one of the characteristics of fundamentalism is supposed to be separation. I remember having biblical separation hammered into my head while I was in college. However, when it comes to separate and draw lines about something that is truly wrong, such as the way that Phelps treated this young lady, the major fundy institutions are unwilling to do what they say everyone else should be willing to do.

    They need to speak up publicly about the wrong that was done and cut ties from this man and those who helped harbor his activities which at least border on criminal negligence. Unfortunately what we will see is everyone ignoring/covering up the problem unless someone in fundamentalism decides to grow a pair and separate from someone that did wrong instead of the victim.

    That is the point of the first picture – here are the links, are these institutions going to do something about it, or are they just going to wait for the hubbub to die down and then go back to business as usual? This is all news to me, and I live in Indiana close to where the “man of God” is currently located. I am waiting to pass judgment until more facts are available, but when they become available, the response from all of these institutions should be immediate and unmistakably strong. This man should be removed from fellowship, pure and simple, until the time comes when he is repentant………..and ten years from now, we will still be waiting for that to happen.

  23. Bassenco, The way you wrote your post seemed to imply that I was disagreeing, so I just wanted to make sure my position was clear.

    Kevin, Many fundamentalists already have nothing to do with Phelps, so separation would be meaningless since there is no fellowship. It will be interesting to see what happens.

    Just curious about something you said though. You said you are “waiting to pass judgment until more facts are available,” but you also say this is “truly wrong,” it “borders on criminal negligence,” and Phelps should be “removed from fellowship …”

    So here’s my question: What will you opinion be when you finally pass judgment?

  24. Larry, yes your point was very clear but I never said you were disagreeing. I want to be clear on that, too. What I want to point out is that the thread is about the 15 year old rape victim who was made to apologize for being raped and was then sent away.

  25. Three things.

    1) Thank you all. You know who you are. And I personally found great Sabbath rest in your words. Thank you.

    Now for the nerd stuff:

    2) Jordon — Can you give me the link/source for Augustine’s words about rape victims? The more I read that guy, the more I love him, but I’m unfamiliar with this.

    3) Mountain — Can you give me the link/source for the research connecting religious fundamentalism to dysfunctional abuse? . . . I’d like to read that for myself as well.

    God bless you all!

  26. Camille,

    I’m familiar with a handful of unpublished Ph.D. dissertations, but for the most part I’ve not documented where I found this stuff, unfortunately. If you read on the subjects of Borderline and Narcissistic personalities, then you find references here and there to religious fundamentalism being common among those types of people. However, I don’t think there’s been any definitive study on it. Once upon a time I was encouraged by a few people to embark on such a study but decided it’s somewhat late in life for me to start down that road. Maybe if I were ten or fifteen years younger.

  27. Thanks, Mtn. I, too, have read stuff and have heard shadows of research that the Pearl-like infant discipline causes narcissistic personality disorder. An interesting hypothesis, for sure.

  28. @Camille, the passage from St. Augustine is in City of God, I, chs. 16-18. An excerpt that is just as pertinent to this rape case as it was to victims of the sack of Rome:

    ‘But,’ it will be argued, ‘there is the fear of being polluted by another’s lust.’ There will be no pollution, if the lust is another’s. . . . What sane man will suppose that he has lost his purity if his body is seized and forced and used for the satisfaction of a lust that is not his own?

    It’s a small part of his larger arguments regarding the deterioration of the Roman Empire, suicide, and a number of other topics. His salient point is that those who worry about having lost their chastity by force have in fact lost nothing, because they did not make a wrong choice. He draws an example from Matthew 5:8, saying that a woman on her way to a willing act of lust cannot be said to be chaste, even though she has not bodily committed the act yet. He concludes:

    just as bodily chastity is lost when mental chastity has been violated [i.e, the person has chosen to act immorally], so bodily chastity is not lost, even when the body has been ravished, while the mind’s chastity endures.

  29. Wow. Thanks, Jordan. Wow. My friend has published a pretty widely acclaimed book on Augustine and gender politics. I’m sure she covers this, but I haven’t gotten the funds to buy the book yet. Your citation goads me to work harder at saving up for it. Thanks!

  30. Oh. And just a friendly word of advice here. . . . There are no accusations present in this advice. I’m not saying that anyone here has any ulterior motives.

    If you have chosen to remain anonymous in this forum, stay anonymous. Even behind the scenes. Even very-well-intentioned calls to make yourself known can go south very, very quickly. The temptation is often too great to **not** share identities and use that information as leverage in the fundamentalist world. There’s a stack of letters in my file at BJU from some posters/readers over at Sharper Iron complaining about opinions I stated over there. And those letters played a major role in our forced resignations in 2007. Mind you, I don’t know who wrote those letters. I have never seen them. I am not even sure if there is more than one. But my unconventional opinions in cyberland spilled over into anonymous-to-me threats at my employment.

    More proof of exactly what Darrell is saying in this original post.

    And before you say, “Well, that happens in the secular world too!” It does not happen anonymously. It does not happen ethically. It does not happen about **private** opinions.

    It’s okay not to share identities. It’s okay to keep that private. It’s okay to have boundaries.

    I’m just sayin’.

  31. From the comment section on the website:

    by Markus May 30, 2010 10:31 AM EDT

    “Maybe BP ought to try another junk shot and plug the oil leak with the deacon and his former pastor.”

  32. Wow, just wow. I work in churches. Let me tell you how this would go down in my United Methodist church:

    After the rape and pregnancy have been revealed:

    1 – The pastor or staff member calls the police to make the initial report.

    2 – The pastor then informs the chairperson of the Staff-Parish Relations Committee (Personnel Committee), the Lay Leader and chairperson of the Administrative Council, who in turn will meet with the pastor, staff and others that may be involved to create a time line of events, offer ideas and counsel to each other and pray. If any staff member was involved, that person is placed on administrative leave pending investigation. If a volunteer was involved, that person looses volunteer capacity and will have to be shadowed while on church property during the investigation.

    3 – The church cooperates fully in any police inquiry.

    4 – At the conclusion of the investigation, people are fired or reinstated per policy. When someone is found guilty of a sex crime, that person isn’t allowed on church property until after their debt is paid to society, and that person will NEVER be left alone with sole responsibility for any children.

    We are a church. We are about forgiveness, but that doesn’t mean we should let people with a history of sex crimes be around our children. We still allow them to serve, but not have sole responsibility with children.

    Had Phelps followed these steps, this conversation would not be happening right now.

  33. Here is the introduction to the policy:

    Dear Friends:
    “People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.” (Mark
    10:13-16, NRSV)
    Our Lord placed sincere value on children and the example of faith they provide for us. He was also concerned about their vulnerability. The Social Principles of The United Methodist Church state that “children must be protected from economic, physical and sexual exploitation and abuse.”

  34. Anyone gotten smacked with the Eph. 5:12 stick yet? Just curious how long it’ll be before that verse gets ripped out of context and waved around by those wanting to squelch discussion on the matter.

    To those guys: there’s the bait. Please bite. 😀

  35. The current pastor of the church in Colorado where the rape victim was sent is “Will Senn.” You can’t make this stuff up. I actually know Will as he was a student at BJU when I was and he rec’d a lot of kidding about his name back then.

  36. The defense of this situation by other IFB pastors shouldn’t shock me so much but it still does.

    Aaron Blumer is pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Boyceville, Wisconsin. So far on Sharper Iron he’s had this to say about the case

    I’m always suspicious of cases unearthed by organizations that exist for the purpose of finding victims. Not that they are necessarily wrong, but there is built in temptation to find victims where they don’t exist and to distort the cases of legit. ones to fit the organization’s emphasis.

    [L]et’s keep in mind what responsibilities belong to whom. The church deals with sin, the authorities deal with crime. They are not the same thing.

    In dealing with the sin, the church’s responsibility is to seek the restoration of the sinning member. Disfellowshipping is merely a step in the restoration process and not one you take if the believer has repented. So once the sin has been dealt with biblically, the church has nothing more to do except see that the law is also honored and the authorities have their opportunity to deal with the crime. Does that responsibility involve more than notifying the authorities? I’m really not sure if it does or not.

    May I suggest to you, sir, that if you haven’t figured that one out that you have no business in the ministry? My unchurched neighbor down the street probably has more insight into what the moral thing to do in this situation would be than you appear to.

    Hint: It’s not to get an incomplete apology from a rapist before the church and then restore him completely, make a few calls to the cops, move the victim to where they can’t find her and then try to forget the whole thing ever happened.

    Why wasn’t the member told that in order to be restored he would first have to go down and confess his crime directly to the police?

  37. Absolutely Darrell, absolutely!
    It’s all just seems to be an exercise in Public Relations Crisis Management, and it is the “ministry,” meaning the reputation of the Pastor and the Church that are the top two priorities. People are just disposable commodities unless you are in the right caste. Modern Churchianity is a Class system and people are treated according to what class the fall into: Family, Monied Men, Monied shrews, males and then the rest of the lower classes.
    The Administration of the modern church has nothing to do with Biblical precepts other than an obligitory reference to a verse that they can use as proof-text after a given paragraph in their charter documentation.
    Maybe there are some churches out there who are doing it right and are Biblical…. So long as the current Clergy/Laity, one man rule cult is in place I highly doubt it, I highly doubt it. Lord Acton laid this charge at the Pope and it applies to all the little Popes running the modern Protestent (and especially Baptist for all the landmark cult members) churches:

    “I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority. There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it.”

  38. Darrell,

    The folks on SharperIron think that the most important thing is “who is really a fundamentalist”. They seemed to be obsessed with whether certain conservative evangelicals are fundamentalists are not. Don’t they realize that the term “fundamentalist” is some type of fetish for them?

    While others are discussing important issues they are hung up on labels and classifications. How pedantic.

  39. @mounty: You’re just dying to come back at them with the previous verse, aren’t you? 🙂

  40. I am disgusted that becoming *pregnant* was treated as her sin.

    It’s just so Middle-Ages, to believe that a woman must have enjoyed it if she conceived.

  41. @Larry

    You are wrong. These organizations definitely do have fellowship with this man. That is the point of Darrell’s original little graph, as simple as it was. Also, the more comments I read, the more connections there are to big names in the fundamentalist circles. These circles are INCREDIBLY INBRED, and all of these prominent organizations not only know who this man is, but they have him on boards, as president, as teacher, or in some other official or unofficial capacity. The point is that the problems in fundamentalism are not isolated as some would have us believe, but instead they are systemic because of faulty doctrine, thinking, or practice.

    BTW, you are absolutely right in thinking that I have already judged this issue in my mind. From Phelps own words it has become clear that he did just what this young lady said that he did. The problem is that he still either truly believes or just acts like he did no wrong.

  42. Kevin,

    First, what was I wrong about? I said “Many fundamentalists already have nothing to do with Phelps, so separation would be meaningless since there is no fellowship.” Take me for example. “Separation” is meaningless since there is no fellowship. I can’t separate from Phelps. And I really can’t separate from anyone who has fellowship with Phelps were I so inclined to practice secondary separation because I have no fellowship with them at this time. I know many other fundamentalists who can’t separate from Phelps for the exact same reason … they have no fellowship with him. Other fundamentalists do have fellowship with Phelps, and as I said, it will be interesting to see what happens.

    Secondly, you say you “have already judged this issue in my mind.” So why did you previously say you were “waiting to pass judgment until more facts are available”? Surely you can see that those are two diametrically opposed statements, both of which cannot be true, and both of which you said. So it raises the question, Why say you were “waiting to pass judgment until more facts are available” when in fact you “have already judged this issue in your mind”? That seems dishonest, doesn’t it? Help me understand that. And what was the point of saying you were withholding judgment anyway, since it was obvious from your post that you had already passed judgment, as you now admit. Seriously, is this kind of stuff really acceptable in ex-fundy land? Does the truth not matter as long as someone is pursuing a good thing?

    Third, you say these institutions still have Phelps in these various capacities. But until last week, I know of no reason that they would not (even though I wouldn’t). He was certainly in their stream, theologically and philosophically (though he’s not in mine), and to my knowledge there was no blight on his moral character. Go back to your earlier statement where you said you were “waiting to pass judgment until more facts are available,” which presumably means that at that time you thought it was acceptable to wait until more facts are available. Assuming that no more facts became available overnight, why would it be wrong for these institutions to do what you said you were doing, which is to wait until these “more facts” are available? Are they wrong by not being persuaded by a few newspaper stories and a TV interview?

    Fourth, you say the problems are systemic in fundamentalism. So if that is true, why aren’t all fundamentalists like this? I know a fair number of fundamentalists, most of whom I have nothing to do with, but I know of very few situations where allegations are made like this. If this is systemic, wouldn’t it be more widespread than it is? (I am not saying it’s okay because it’s not more widespread.)

    Fifth, and last, and connected to the above point, you say the problem is that Phelps “still either truly believes or just acts like he did no wrong.” You see, I think differently. I don’t think the problem is what Phelps (or anyone else) truly believes or acts like. I think the problems are what was actually done or not done.

    Now to be fair, I haven’t read all the stories and news reports, so I know very little. To my knowledge, I know no one at TBC or anyone connected with this situation. I have heard Phelps speak only one time that I know of. So there is a lot I don’t know. As a result, I have avoided commenting on the situation itself because I do not want to comment out of ignorance. I am not comfortable when I do that, and I am not comfortable when other people do that. But I can only control me. So I am not going to speak out of ignorance.

  43. Oops…..
    Now I see that Bassenco’s article has already been discussed on another thread.

  44. If you have not yet heard it, your will. Here is the ultimate cop out for fundamentalists caught with their pants down: “Touch not God’s annointed.” I don’t remember the reference, but I’ve heard it enough times that it’s got to be in there somewhere.

  45. For someone who isn’t defending Phelps or any of the institutions, Larry sure argues a lot.

  46. Mountain,

    I am not sure there is any arguing going on here. It’s a comment section where stuff gets commented on and discussed. And as you can tell, my comments have been directed matters other than the particulars of the TBC case, particularly areas of truth in speech and representation, and problems of argumentation.

    All of my comments, aside from the first one, have been in direct response to stuff that was said to me. I don’t think I have responded to anything that wasn’t addressed to me, or addressing something I have said.

    My understanding of discussion and conversation is that people respond to what is said to them. If I am incorrect on that, my apol0gies.

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