Child Abuse In The Church


The daughter of one of my long, long time preacher friends, posted what most people would call a “RANT” today about child abuse by professing Christians. She is SPOT ON! Here is one of my experiences about that very thing.

Back in 1992, shortly before we moved to Pampa, I was doing some volunteer work for CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates, in Oregon. I had done most of the leg work on a child abuse case, when I got a call from our CASA director. She asked me how my case was going, so I told her I was about done and would be submitting my report soon. That’s when she sprang a shocker on me.

“Mike, would you be willing to hand that case over to one of our other volunteers and take a new case?” I thought that sounded strange, since I had already done most of work. So I asked her, “What’s the catch?”

The catch was this: she had just received a new case that involved a church and their preacher. “Mike, both sides believe that you would be the perfect person to research this case; FAIR and OBJECTIVE and TRUTHFUL. “So you want me to be the one between the rock and the hard place, huh?” I agreed to switch cases.

Here was the case: a local preacher was being charged with sexually inappropriate behavior with a couple of young girls in his church. The preacher and his church thought that I’d be the perfect person to be on their side, since I was also a local preacher. The parents of the children making the accusations had learned that I was very hard on sexual abusers in my reports; they were certain that I would be on their side. Both sides loved me. That was the ROCK and the HARD PLACE.

The great thing about CASA work is that the court gives you the right to interview anyone and everyone you believe to be somehow connected to the case. Therefore I began conducting interviews.

One of my first interviews was with 2 of the leaders in that church, not the preacher yet. They suggested that we meet at our local mall. I questioned the public environment because of the private issues we would be discussing. They said they didn’t think that would be a problem. So I agreed.

I asked them for the overall details of their calling of the preacher. They said that they had done extensive research on him and his wife and their past and felt like he was the preacher God wanted at their church. They thought that would be the end of the interview and expressed joy over me being appointed as CASA for the case. I corrected their misunderstanding by informing them that this was just the beginning of our interview. They were very uncomfortable at that point.

I dug a little deeper concerning the preacher and his wife and found out that they had recently become foster parents and currently had 2 little girls in their home. When I asked if the leaders had spoken to the little girls living with them, they were offended and said, “NO, of course not, that’s none of our business.” I corrected them by suggesting that everything was their business with this kind of case. “If you lose this case and are found to be liable, you could financially lose your church.” They were shocked that I would even suggest they might lose. “Aren’t you on our side?” I told them, “CASAS are only on the side of the children.”

They got up to leave. I informed them that if they were leaving before I asked all of my questions, I would have to include that in my report. They sat back down, but were frustrated. When I learned that the preacher hadn’t been at their church very long and had come from a different state, I asked, “So how did they get approved so quickly for foster care?” One of the leaders stammered how they had vouched for them and then made a strange look at the other leader.

At that moment I was blessed with one of the few GOD TOUCHES I’ve ever experienced. Suddenly I knew what to say: “They had the same kind of troubles where they lived before, didn’t they? You vouched for them because they had been foster parents there too, huh? You called a preacher who had previous sexual abuse problems, then vouched for him without telling anyone anything and didn’t prevent him from taking 2 little girls into his home. Have you lost your minds?” Their only reply was, “Well, we thought he deserved a second chance. Don’t you believe in second chances?” They clammed up at that point.

Word spread through that church about our interview. Suddenly everyone there hated me and I couldn’t reveal anything about what I’d learned in our private conversation. The church was ALL IN supporting their preacher (without knowing the facts) and as the case proceeded they looked like fools in the community, even like supporters of child abuse, which they were not. It was a sad mess.

The timetable of the case suddenly expanded and about that time we moved to Pampa, before the case ended. I didn’t hear what the settlement was from the church, nor did I hear about the results of the criminal charges.

Here is what I learned from my brief time as CASA for this case:

1- Sin is sin, no matter who is the sinner and it must be punished accordingly.

2- Practicing “as a person sows, that shall he also reap” can be hard.

3- Second chances? YES! Blind, Foolish second chances? NO!

4- Don’t assume anyone is innocent until you have all of the facts.

5- Love TRUTH, no matter who gets hurt.

6- If Christians don’t hold other Christians accountable, then we are hypocrites.

7- Comfort the hurting and protect the children, protect the children, protect the children.