I am always on the lookout for unusual folk art. This caught my eye while shopping at the my local Farmers Market in Cerritos. I met the artist a few minutes later.
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Pastor James Ray Guerrero was convicted of sexually assaulting two young boys in his Westminster home-based church. He would molest the boys at his in-home bible studies.
A jury in Westminster today found self appointed pastor James Ray Guerrero guilty of sexually assaulting two young boy relatives at "church" meetings and Bible studies in his home.
That sets 54-year-old James Ray Guerrero of Westminster up for a possible maximum sentence of 123 years to life in state prison, according to prosecutors.
Source: "Pastor" James Ray Guerrero Guilty of Sex Acts with Boys at His In-Home Bible Studies by Matt Coker
Guerrero was a self-appointed pastor. As many as 40 adults attended his church. How does one follow an uneducated and unaccomplished pastor?
The poor bastard is guilty of being a sexting pervert before widespread use of snapchat.
According to the affidavit, the texts between Hall and the Lexington girl came to light on March 24, when Lexington police took a report from a mother who said she had seen suspicious texts on her daughter's iPhone.New rule: Youth pastors shall not have snapchat installed on business or personal phones or tablets, nor shall they ever use the application or have an account.
The texts were from a person saved as "Prince Charming" in the daughter's contacts. The contacts also listed Prince Charming as Zachary Blight Carter. Several texts asked the girl whether she was deleting the texts and photos the two were sending each other, the affidavit says.
Friday, November 29, 2013
This poem was written by atheist poet Sean Wright.
My eyes along the tree line fall,
It is no idle pastime though;
No pleasant thoughts do I recall.
I watch for demons dressed in green.
My children play, as children do,
With fingers pointed, thumbs cocked back.
I played this game till it came true;
I watched for demons dressed in green.
My wife against the rising light
Holds up a child. With thought I'm struck
Of ancient Abram's mournful plight.
I watch for demons dressed in green.
A call I answered long ago.
In foreign soils my blood is sown.
The price was paid (I thought it so).
I watched for demons dressed in green.
And Christ-like is the ledger square?
Or do my children fear me too
As shades of green, my actions bare?
I watch for demons dressed in green.
A sacrifice, I made for life
And though those men in green lie dead
And arguments my only strife,
I watch for demons dressed in green.
A silent cohort are we all
And only death will end our charge.
My eyes along the tree line fall.
I watch for demons dressed in green.
This poem is reprinted with the approval of the poet. If you would like to submit a poem for publication here, please see this link. - Mojoey
A Shreveport, Louisiana pastor was denied bond and indicted on federal charges for allegedly taking underage girls in his church’s choir across state lines in order to commit illegal sexual contact with them.
KSLA-TV reported on Tuesday that 54-year-old Andrea Lewis is still listed as the pastor and choir director for Act of Faith Ministries. A Shreveport Police detective testified that a search of Lewis’ home produced a cell phone containing pictures of his activities.Act of Faith Ministries in Shreveport. The victims were girls as young as eight-years-old.
This poem was written by atheist poet david m. myles.
Art, as you
You start with clean canvas
and fresh palette primary
at first a cacophony
you learn line and form
time ads its own colors
or steals them
landscape, the surreal
shades of darkness
If you would like to submit a poem, please see this link. - Mojoey
Thursday, November 28, 2013
"otherwise he would be denied the Kingdom of Heaven" - parents of child kill by their religious negligence
Russian religious zealots ensured that their child would die from a injury sustained in a car crash by driving to their church for an emergency baptism instead of seeking aid at a hospital.
“This is superstition, not religion,” an Orthodox Church spokesman told Fontanka.ru. “They should have gone to the hospital, it’s only human.”
“A psychiatric ward is the best temple for such people,” an unidentified Investigative Committee official was cited as saying.
You've got to love the approach the Orthodox spokesman used. It is perfect.
And a story...
I stopped by a local Mcdonalds for some iced tea yesterday. I saw a Christmas Tree lot next door, so I jumped out of the car to shot a few quick photos. There was something about the photo above that caught my eye. I think it was the layers of Christmas and its overall tackiness. While I was shooting a woman yelled at me as she was walking into the restaurant. She called me a pervert. I was not surprised, nor did I respond. A moment later a Sheriff called to me as he walked out of the restaurant. He asked what I was doing and he did so nicely. I told him I was taking a few photos. He asked if I was shooting children. I said no and handed him my camera. He looked though a few shots and said, so really, what are you doing. I explained that I was an artist and that I liked the layered imagery of the tree lot. He smiled and said, “Can we keep this going another minute so that the crazy lady inside the restaurant thinks I've done my job? She thinks you are a pervert and is letting everyone inside the restaurant know about it.”
I glanced back towards the restaurant and saw a dozen people looking back at me. None of them looked amused. I’m suddenly pissed and disappointed at the same time. Friggen busybodies…
I smiled a lot and nodded my head as we talked photography, beer and busybodies. He wagged a finger back at the restaurant and then handed me my camera. He also gave me his card and asked that I send him an email of the photo.
I don’t even like the photo, but I posted it here so I could tell the story. Good times.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
I love photography, and of course, religion is hot topic here on my blog. When the two mix, I usually like the results. I found Mormon Women Bare via Reddit while browsing this afternoon. It's a photo project dedicated to active Mormon women, which I was not expecting. Here is what the artist said:
A young girl is shamed by her friends for not dressing “modestly” enough. A BYU student is chastised via note from a male student for wearing leggings. A BYU-Idaho student is not allowed to take a test because her jeans are “form fitting”. After hearing these stories and others in 2012, I threw up my hands in exasperation. What on earth is going on in this culture? I don’t remember it being like this when I was a child and teen growing up in the church. Why has the modesty culture of the LDS church gotten so extreme and what can we do about it?
Women around the world deal with objectification, body shame, and the burden of the male gaze. Mormon women have an added layer of complexity and heavy expectations: while being warned against becoming “walking pornography,” we also face immense pressure to be attractive and fit. We must both attract and protect against male desire.
Read more (this link is safe)
The Mormon girls I knew from back in the day (the late 70s), were modest but not overly so. I was a bit taken aback after reading about the project. I had no idea that this had become an issue.
Mormon Women Bare is a NSFW website, but it is not porn. The photos are tasteful and beautiful depictions of women with all body types. This is what photography is about to me. I found the artist authentic and thoughtful. Again… not what I excepted from a Reddit link. I read the Reddit comment thread and was disappointing because it did not address my question. Instead, it digressed into a discussion on the values of the faith. I want to know what Mormons think of project. I’ll have to ask a few of my Mormon friends.
What I learned… people sag, just like me.
We measure others by what they do, and in this case it is clear that Christians have failed yet again. When young Vanessa VanDyke, a student at Faith Christian Academy, went to the school’s administration with concerns about bullying because of her naturally curly hair, the administration told her to tame it or find another school. They refused to deal with the actual problem. Instead of dealing with the bullies, they went after the victim. When the story broke the Internet, the school related, allowing her to keep her hair and remain a student, but the school has still have not addressed the original problem. Go figure.
I wonder. If a little white girl with long blond hair had reported bullies pulling her pigtails, would the administration have told her to cut her hair? I don’t think so.
Christian Failure Mode (CFM): Blaming the victim, coercion and racism, exacerbated by caving to external pressure. Plus, failure to address the actual problem.
“There have been bullies in the school,” said the girl’s mother, Sabrina Kent. “There have been people teasing her about her hair, and it seems to me that they’re blaming her.”
Oops. Let’s talk about atheist fail for a moment. I made a mistake a published a link to the wrong school I mentioned Faith Christian Academy in Orange Park, Florida, and published contact information. I asked my readers to reach out and give them some love. I linked to the wrong school. They reached out to me and asked that I acknowledge the mistake and correct the error. I apologize to Faith Christian Academy for my actions and for any harm this has caused. My bad… I hope this helps.
The correct link is Faith Christian Academy. Phone: (407) 275-8031. eMail: email@example.com
Venessa - your hair is beautiful. Don’t ever let them tell you otherwise.
Gordon Klingenschmitt is already on my nutballs list for his insane rant about Christian persecution. He’s made the list again with another absolutely crazy idea. Klingenschmitt thinks that a Demon of rape is sending transgender people to violate your daughters while they use the bathroom. I cannot find a sing case of a transgender person raping a girl in a bathroom, so I’m not sure where he gets his information. It must be God. In fact, all searches indicated that transgender people are often the victim of rape or violence, but who needs facts?
Remember back in January when Victory Christian Center tried to argue that a 13-year-old rape victim was not entitled to monetary relief even though the rape occurred on church property and was committed by a church employee? Plus, head pastor Sharon Daugherty and her son and daughter-in-law John and Charica Daugherty, were convicted of failure to report a crime after waiting two weeks to report the rape. Well… Victory Christian Center settled.
An Oklahoma mother who sued a mega-church last year after her then-13-year-old daughter was raped on church property by the janitor has been awarded a settlement.
A Victory Christian Center spokesperson declined to share the details of the settlement, citing the confidentiality of the family.
This lawsuit's decision comes after the now-21-year-old former janitor Chris Denman pleaded guilty in 2012 to "first-degree rape, forcible oral sodomy, lewd molestation, making a lewd proposal to a child, and two counts of using a computer to facilitate a sex crime."
We may never know how many millions were doled out in payment, but the damn church is still in business so it was not enough.
Mom, I thought he was my friend - the 11-year-old victim of pastor Ray Teets
The Kentucky baptist seminary Pastor Ray Scott Teets attended, knew that he had a prior conviction for child sexual abuse but did nothing. This led to Teets ordination as a pastor, which in turn led to his recent arrest for indecent contact with a minor. You can read the whole sordid story here.
"After the verdict I learned he was in a Baptist school studying to be a minister," Markey said. "I filed a garnishment of any pre-paid tuition that he may have had. I attached to [the request] a copy of the complaint and the verdict that showed he had been convicted of the rape. I did that solely to let them know that they are teaching a rapist –- that they are going to make a rapist a minister. I never heard back from them."
The school knew he was a child rapist and chose to turn a child rapist into a pastor, which is fucking evil. Teets was the pastor at Fallen Timbers Community Church in Springhill Township, Pa., at the time of his arrest.
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
This is a guest post by atheist poet Joe Hinol. If you would like to submit a poem, please see this link. - Mojoey
As I traversed the World Bazaar
I spied an apple from afar
It glistened in the sun with taste
I had to own this fruit, post haste.
But as I sauntered down the path
A question in my mind was asked
I felt compelled, but filled with fright
…Something with this fruit’s not right.
So as this question slowed my pace
I chanced upon a preachers face.
He told me he would count me wrong
If I refused this gift so strong.
He shouted out I must be dumb
And I’d forever be the one
That went against the people’s whim
If I refused to dine with him.
He said I’m privileged, all the more
Traditions knocking at the door
He told me it’s the cake to get
To quote Archduchess Antoinette
Turn off your brain, ignore your sight
Embrace our patriotic right
Taste the nectar on your breath
Escape the consequence of death
His words, more eloquent than mine
I bit this apple so sublime
And watched the twinkle in his eye
As I began to slowly die
My sight grew dim, my heart expired
I lost my soul, consumed with fire
Alas, such wisdom inspires the lost
To ask how much the apple – really - cost
The author, Joe Hino, grants permission to reprint this poem. If you do so, please credit the author.
I passed on a story. I regret it now.
I was outraged by the thought of a Christian couple stiffing a gay waitress and leaving an obnoxious message instead of a tip. This type of insensitive bullying makes my blood boil. I hate it.
I wanted to post, but when the story broke, I thought about it and passed. My reasoning was simple, it was a one-sided story. I don’t like one-sided stories as they often bring me inbox grief, so I passed.
I’m mad at myself now, because I realize my dislike for one-sided stories can be a filter which prevents critical thinking. What I should have done was think. I should have demanded the other side of the story. I should have asked to see proof. I should have thought about how it would have been possible to validate the story. I should have asked why everyone jumped in and donated money before the facts were in. Everything about this story should have caused me to dig deeper, but my filter stopped me because… I did not want the grief. If I had posted the story, my inbox would have filled-up with people complaining that I was anti-gay or a hater because I had questioned the authenticity of Dayna Morales’ story.
People want to believe this kind of story. I want to believe this kind of story myself because it fits my view of how some Christians act and that is a shame. I should have made the damn post.
It’s well-known to many, though possibly shocking to some, that President Ronald Reagan‘s son, Ron Reagan, is a vocal atheist. He taped a radio ad currently airing on Randi Rhodes‘ show that proclaims his godlessness and advocates for the Freedom From Religion Foundation:
I’ve been meaning to join… I guess I better get on with it.
TBN is a huge Christian organization ostensibly dedicated to spreading the Good Word, but actually focused on enriching its founders Paul and Jan Crouch. The Crouch's were so focused on the reputation of their broadcasting empire, that they failed to report an allegation of rape involving their granddaughter.
The Trinity Broadcasting Network has withstood a lot of blows over the years--in no small part because of its close ties to the religious right. However, a recently-filed lawsuit could potentially bring this evil empire down for good. Carra Crouch, the granddaughter of TBN founders Paul and Jan Crouch, is suing her grandparents and TBN for sweeping a horrific allegation of child abuse under the rug.
Carra claims that back in 2006, when she was only 13 years old, she was raped by then-TBN employee Stephen L. Smith in an Atlanta hotel room. Carra was in town for TBN's spring telethon.
In my experience, writing about thousands of cases of clergy sexual abuse and Christian hypocrisy, I’ve found two distinct reasons why a Christian organization will not report an allegation of rape or abuse. The first is a desire to protect the church and its members from public ridicule. The second reason is financial. I call this the megachurch excuse, because we often see large Christian organizations tying to hide allegations of abuse in order to protect its membership and by extension, donations and membership tithes.
I’ve recently found another example. When a church acts to protect its pastor because he is a man of God. This situation is common to independent Baptist churches and deeply troubling. Members do not care about the victim. In fact, they are often shunned, fired or bought off. In these cases the prevailing logic is that the pastor can do no wrong. This is not the case at TBN. It looks purely financial.
If the allegations are true, the Crouches acted with a purely financial motive, which is not surprising. However, the approach they used to contain the matter with their own granddaughter looks like classic example of a type of bullying behavior called blaming the victim.
Distraught over the incident, Carra Crouch was advised by her mother to inform Jan Crouch and Trinity attorney John Casoria, who also is an ordained minister and a nephew of Paul and Jan.
A meeting took place at the Crouch family mansion in Newport Beach, where, according to the lawsuit, Jan "became furious and began screaming at Ms. Crouch," and began telling her "it is your fault."
Carra Crouch alleges that after the screaming fit thrown by Jan, she approached Casoria, who allegedly became agitated with the 13-year-old, said he didn't believe her, and suggested that she was already sexually active "so it did not really matter," and she "may have propositioned him."
Sunday, November 24, 2013
I don't remember how I landed on this article. It’s been an open tab on Chrome for a few days. It is something I do when I want to let a story percolate. It was written for The Muslim Times and titled, "Do Atheists have the right to offend Muslims?"
The article talks about atheists being asked to remove "Jesus and Mo" t-shirts depicting carton caricatures of Jesus and Muhammad sharing a beer together.
The image is satirical and funny too some. I am not offended. I could understand how Muslims would be offended, but I do not care. It’s humor and a fitting part of western culture. On the other hand, I am offend by the question implied by The Muslim Times’ headline, “Do Atheist have the right to offend Muslims?”
The headline and the article implies that our right to free expression is something that can be removed simply because what we might say, write or do, offends people. It implies that we should be silenced. The best way to fight back is to keep doing what we do best. I want to see more of this, lots more.
I read the story of white supremacist and racist Craig Cobb this morning. It seems Cobb had his DNA tested for a segment on the Trisha Goaddard show. When the results showed Cobb's African roots, the audience cracked up and he went on the defense. Flash forward a few days and we find Cobbs in jail on charges that he brandished a shotgun. The backstory... his racist brothers turned on him, and I laughed and laughed.
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Christian ventriloquist Ronald William Brown (profiled here), who ministered to children via a bizarre anti-porn puppet show, was sentenced to 20-years-in prison for… well planing to eating kids and possessing child porn.
A Christian puppeteer who regularly used his long-running Christian Television Network show to warn children about the sin of pornography was sentenced this week to 20 years behind bars for possession of child pornography.
More troubling still is Largo, Florida resident Ronald William Brown's involvement in an alleged conspiracy to kidnap, cook, and eat a child whom he met through his affiliation with the Gulf Coast Church.
This story makes it to my top ten list of Christian nutballs. I’m happy to see he will be out of circulation for the next 20 years.
I learn something new every day. I was reading an article about Jim Carrey and his belief system called "the law of attraction." I'd never connected the term to an actual believe system, but I do now, and it freaked me out a little.
Jim Carrey selects his movie roles based on his belief system.
“I believe in manifestation,” Carrey says at one point in that clip. “I believe in putting a rocket of desire out into the universe. And you get it when you believe it.” (Video here)
Friday, November 22, 2013
Youth pastor Aaron Kenneth Hudgins (30) of Timberlea, which I think is in the Great White North, was charged with possessing and accessing child pornography. Hudgins is a Baptist. He worked for the Timberlea Baptist Church.
This morning we were made aware of the charges against Aaron Hudgins. We are deeply shocked and saddened by this news, and its impact on this community," the church wrote.
Immediate action was taken, and Aaron has resigned from his position at Timberlea Baptist Church. Please be in prayer for the church, and his family.
Hudgins was allowed to resign? What was the immediate action? Did they have a church meeting to draft a press release?
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Parents of children who attended Kings Way Baptist Church held a closed meeting recently to address allegations of sexual abuse linked to Rev. Bill Wininger. I wonder why it was closed?
A former church member and sexual abuse counselor told Tom Regan that she wished to attend the meeting but was told only parents and grandparents of school children were invited.
"I decided to come down here, because I've known about this problem with Brother Wininger and know that it has been severe, and I'm hoping in some way that I can have an influence tonight," said former church member Mary Ellen Cowling.
Source: Sex abuse allegations against former pastor prompts church school meeting by Tom Regan
Did any of my readers attend the meeting? Your observations are welcome. Please post them in the comments.
Ohio teacher John Freshwater, profiled here, had his day in Ohio Supreme Court and lost. He was fired for preaching his religious beliefs in class. He also branded kids with a small cross.
The Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld Mount Vernon city schools’ firing of an eighth-grade science teacher who was accused of advancing religion and the Christian theory of creationism in his classroom.
But the court held that the district’s orders that he put away the personal Bible he kept on his desk violated his First Amendment rights of freedom of religion and therefore would not have been sufficient cause to fire him.
Loons like John Freshwater are why we fight the good fight. He thinks my kids are fair game for conversion to his religion. I’ll never understand the motivation of these people. It is unethical.
Youth pastor Morgan Frawley of The Congregational Church of New Canaan, was arrested and charged with risk of injury to a minor. It's not what you think. He allegedly had a cell phone full of sexual images.
Morgan Frawley, of Soundview Avenue, was a part-time youth group advisor at The Congegational (sic) Church of New Canaan for less than two years, according to current minister, Anne Coffman. In April of 2013, parents of a 15-year-old boy told ministers at the church that they had found disturbing sexual images on his cellphone. Harald Masback, minister at that time, immediately gave the information to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) as all clergy are obliged to do, said Coffman. The DCF, in turn, gave the information to New Canaan police.
It is Canada after all, so I guess the risk of injury was exposure to pornography. I bet that's punishable by what... three weeks in jail? Oh Canada...
Monday, November 18, 2013
Okay, so Brian Gore is not a pastor, but he went to church so that makes him a Christian of sorts. Brian and Shannon Gore were arrested for child abuse, attempted murder and murder, after authorities found a caged 6-year-old girl in the Gore’s doublewide and the body of another child buried near a shed. The young girl was in horrible condition and attempting to eat herself.
A young girl was found caged and attempting to eat herself in a mobile home in Virginia, and cops say her parents are responsible.
The malnourished girl, believed to be either 5 or 6, was discovered in a crib that was converted into a makeshift cage after police arrived at the home in Gloucester County to investigate a burglary last week.
The girl's parents, Brian and Shannon Gore, were arrested and charged with felony child abuse. The mother was also charged with attempted capital murder.
However, the gruesome twosome now faces first-degree murder charges after the remains of what authorities believe to be another child were found buried outside their mobile home.
"I've done this for 20 years, and I've never seen anything like this in my life," Gloucester Sheriff's Maj. Darrell Warren said.
I’d say that the fact that Gore went to church had nothing to do his alleged behavior if I had not reported on a thousand other cases of abuse, but I have…
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Pastor Alex E. Thompson of Harvest Vineyard Ministries in Crestview was arrested and charged with child neglect without great bodily harm. Apparently, he housed children in a group home with convicted child molesters and did report a missing child.
Harvest Vineyard, which is on North Main Street, is a group home for more than 80 members. Some residents are convicted felons and sex offenders and lived in the facility with the children, the news release reported.
Thompson was charged due to “a multitude of neglect issues pertaining to his responsibilities,” including failing to report that a child under the ministry’s care was missing to law enforcement or the parents, said police spokesman Lt. Andrew Schneider.
From the comments:
Jan Zizka - Does this mean no more sex offenders washing cars **40 feet** from a school?
Kellie Diaz - You know you belong to the “Fake Christian Club” when you operate under “ mouth dropping" violations. Karen Spencer, you are right, totally unacceptable!
Patricia Morris-Clifton - There is more to the story that will come out. This man is pure evil and using his power to manipulate and benefit from those who are struggling and are desperate for help. For people to make comments on how law enforcement could allow this to happen have no idea how the law works. People of the community probably have known that there were things going on that weren't right and they should have spoke up.
I know this type of operation; a Christian ministry dedicated to feeding the homeless and thumbing its’ nose at the local community. There is one down the street. A homeless camp full of ex-cons. I’ve never seen a child around the place, and the church does a marginally adequate job policing its members, so an uneasy peace exists between the Baptist church and its neighbors, despite complaints. It sounds like that is not the case with Thompson and Harvest Vineyard Ministries. Too bad… it seems the children suffer.
Another case, this time a long-time Presbyterian pastor.
Jonathan H. Smith, 58, who recently resigned after spending nearly a decade as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Salem, was arrested Thursday, according to Salem City Police Chief John A. Pelura III.
The Market Street resident was charged with aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault on a minor and endangering the welfare of a child, according to records.
Further details of the case were not released by police. Smith was lodged in the Salem County Correctional Facility, in Mannington, in lieu of $150,000 bail. The investigation is being handled by the Salem City Police Department and the Salem County Prosecutor's Office.
He looks soft. Prison will be a bitch.
I only have a snub article to post:
An area pastor allegedly used Scripture to “lure” a teenage boy into submitting to sexual touching, an arrest affidavit states.
Jeremiah Quintero, 42, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust and held on a $60,000 bond. Formal charges have not been filed.
Quintero, identified in the affidavit as a pastor at Glenwood Apostolic Church, as well as a pastor in Delta and Grand Junction, repeatedly denied having subjected the 14-year-old to sexual contact. The affidavit notes that Quintero’s interview was not recorded, because of an equipment failure.
Another small-town crime with small-town coverage, I miss a lot of these stories.
If you have any additional information or press sources, please post a link.
A Carter County clergyman has been arrested for allegedly being one of the biggest pill traffickers in the state.
FADE Task Force detectives and officers with the Drug Enforcement Adminsitration arrested Scott Gillum, 42, of Olive Hill, on Friday. Gillum is reportedly the pastor of the Holiness Tabernacle Church off Perry Tabernacle Road...
...Gillum and Logan both have been indicted on charges of conspiracy to distribute oxycodone and possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute by a federal grand jury and are scheduled to be arraigned Monday in U.S. District Court in Ashland.
Pastoring must not have paid well.
I have a problem with pastor who run for office. It is simple really, a pastor is charged with leading a flock. That should be his or her job and primary focus. It's a calling. So when I see a pastor running for political office, it leads me to think that will be neglecting his flock. I think it is unbiblical and irresponsible, but I'm just an atheist so what do I know?
A Leavenworth minister has announced he's running for the Kansas House of Representatives.
Tony Barton, 52, is running for the 41st District, which is made up of portions of the city of Leavenworth and Fort Leavenworth.
Barton, pastor of the New Life Fellowship Church in Leavenworth, is the second Republican to announce he's running in the 41st District.
Source: Pastor runs for Statehouse
I'm ok with a former pastor running for office.
Another factor... A pastor who runs uses his church as an election machine, which is a perversion of its intent. Is it ethical for a pastor to use his church this way? No!
I have a test for the stories I post about clergy behaving badly. I ask my, "Is it ethical?"
It is a simple test, but I think it leads me in the right direction. For example, I did not post on a recent high-profile suicide because I felt the pastor’s actions were his own business and the situation way too personal, painful and complex for me to discuss with any meaning or insight. I’m troubled by the case, but that is because it is hard to understand suicide. Another case, where a pastor accepted a $120k check from a 99-year-old man with dementia, fails my test. Of course it is unethical to accept money from anyone under custodial care and suffering from dementia.
A Catholic priest named Rev. Rodger Bauman of the Guardian Angels Catholic Church in Oakdale, Minn., received a $120k check from an elderly dementia patient. Bauman cashed the check and then dispersed part of the funds to family members and friends. He had no intention of returning the check and in fact, viewed the check as a gift. When confronted by Lou Dziengel’s caregiver and the local police, Bauman eventually returned the funds.
Bauman still serves as pastor of Guardian Angels parish in Oakdale, and declined to be interviewed for this story. The day he received it, Bauman wrote his former parishioner and Dziengel's longtime girlfriend a note saying he was "truly moved" by the gesture.
But to Maplewood Police Chief Paul Schnell, accepting the money was inexcusable.
"The conduct and the behavior itself is concerning and disturbing. We have a vulnerable adult, we have a person who [is] in a position of authority, certainly a person of significant influence in another person's life," Schnell said. "And to be given $120,000 and not to have some gut check about that? It just seems unusual."
Do you see the point where Bauman failed? It is pretty obvious to most of us. Why did a priest miss it? Why does he still have a job if he does not understand the basics of his job? It’s his job after all.
I don't have any... It's useless.
The Friendly Atheist does though: This is How You Pray Harder, While Accomplishing Nothing
My favorite, "Pick a small but regular sacrifice (no sugar in your coffee, no condiments, no added salt). Thank Jesus for his sacrifice every time you make yours." Seriously? Thank you Jesus for no sugar in my tea. What the hell does that accomplish?
Do something. Act. Give. Move a little dirt in the garden of your life.
This story is unbelievable. 348 adults were arrested in an international child pornography bust centered in Canada. Among those arrested were nine pastors and priests. Nearly 400 children were rescued. Authorities caught some very bad pedophiles, including this retired Canadian school teacher:
Citing a particularly egregious example, she said police found over 350,000 images and over 9,000 videos of child sexual abuse in the home of a retired Canadian school teacher. Some of the images were of children known to the man and he was also charged with sexually abusing a child relative.
The inspector said an indispensable aspect to the success of the operation and the rescue of 386 children from child exploitation was the expansive cooperation between Toronto police and organizations worldwide.
I don't know what to say. In my world, this kind of crime is unthinkable. I am thankful that other people investigate this type of crime. I would do little investigating and lots of beating. The ringleader appears to be Brian Way, who instructed people around the world to create videos of children.
Way was charged with 24 offences, including child pornography. He is in jail. Police also designated Azov Films as a criminal organization, charging Way with giving directions on behalf of a gang. Beaven-Desjardins said this is the first time in Canada that anyone has been charged with being a part of a criminal organization in regards to child pornography.
Of course, it is Canada, so Way is will only spend a few years in prison.
Examples of those busted include:
Also under arrest was a Georgia school employee who received child pornography and admitted to placing a hidden video camera in students´ restrooms in an effort to film their genitals.
A preschool teacher who produced child pornography while he was employed in Japan and a Texas police sergeant who produced video of a child involved in sexually explicit conduct, were also among those arrested.
I’ve looked hard for the list of pastors and priests associated with this bust, but so far I have not found anything. If any of my readers come across the list, please pass it along to me.
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Catholic school teach John Fischler was awarded over $360k in compensatory damages. Two girls branded the teacher a "perf" and "creepy", plus alleged that he had touched them inappropriately.
The unusual case began in 2011 when administrators at Holy Spirit school in Almaden Valley were told that teacher John Fischler had inappropriately touched their 10- and 11-year-old girls and peeked in a girls' bathroom. School officials and police cleared Fischler of sexual misconduct.
But the teacher, claiming the ordeal had indelibly stained his reputation and ruined his teaching career, declined to return to what he called a poisonous atmosphere at work and filed a lawsuit seeking nearly $1 million in damages.
The lawsuit contended he was the victim of a "conspiracy" by "classic parent bullies" and their daughters, including a popular girl he described as having a "gang-leader-like personality," to get him fired from the private Catholic school where he was an at-will employee.
I did not report on the case when it hit the press. I don’t remember why and my notes don’t give me a clear indication, but I can speculate that without physical evidence, I found it hard to believe a simple witness statement.
It seems like a simple question. I ask, “What is your impression of Mother Teresa?”, when speaking to my Christian and non-Christian friends. I usually frame the discussion that follows around the concept of Christian charity and the nature of suffering. I want to know if suffering is thought of as a Christian concept, especially when viewed through the lens of the good works associated with Christian charity. My benchmark is the internationally recognized secular organization Doctors without Borders, so I often compare the Sisters of Mercy with the former. Doctors without Borders provides medical care for the needy wherever it is needed and often at great personal risk. The Sisters of Mercy provided no medical care, not even simple pain killers.
When I introduce the concept of suffering as espoused by Mother Teresa, the result is complete and total disbelieve. Few people understand that she believed suffering brought the poor closer to Christ. She actually wanted poor people to experience the pain of death. The popular narrative about Mother Teresa is one of caregiving and love, not suffering and death. The disconnect is almost insurmountable, but I feel an ethical responsibility to chip away at her fictional narrative. What Mother Teresa and the Sisters of Mercy did was closer to a systematic human rights violation than an act of love and charity. Mother Teresa allowed people to die in horrible conditions without medial aid or even adequate food despite having the means to provide both. She operated a house of death, or I should say, Mother Teresa and the Sisters of Mercy operated houses of death. Tens of thousands of poor people died unnecessarily horrible deaths for no reason.
I have a hard time getting people to read Christopher Hitchens work on Mother Teresa, The Missionary Position. Christians associate Hitchens with atheism and reject the book outright as anti-Christian propaganda, but there are other sources of information, and at least one credible academic source. I’m tired of sounding like an angry Atheist on this subject, but I will continue to chip away at the big lie.
I met Ken Starr back in 2006 when he gave a speech at Pepperdine University, where I was a graduate student. I took notes at the time and when I dug them up for this post, It was clear I thought he was a smart true-believer who was also motived by politics and self-interest. In other words, I did not like him because he was an active political Christian. I like him less now.
Tucked away in a Washington Post story about a Potomac high school teacher accused of molesting female students over a thirty-year period is the fact that more than 90 people — including former ABC World News anchor Charlie Gibson and former special prosecutor Kenneth Starr — wrote letters on his behalf.
It’s worth a read. Christopher Kloman was sentenced to 43 years in prison for molesting five girls at McLean’s elite Potomac School back in the 60 and 70s. Starr’s daughter attended the school. Why would Starr do this? It really is a mystery, unless you take into account the whole Christian club thing.
Youth pastor Daniel Diaz was murdered in a drive-by shooting in the California city of Pomona. He had spent time that day at a prayer rally against gun violence. Did God hear his prayers? Perhaps...
33 year-old youth pastor Daniel Diaz, was driving home from a church party with friends in Pomona, California, just hours after community leaders held a prayer rally calling for an end to gun violence in the city.
Eddie Reyes, who was in the car with Diaz said, “I heard loud bangs and the broken glass and at that point I realized we’re getting shot at.” Diaz was the only passenger struck by gunfire.
God either listened or he did not. The evidence suggests he did not, or perhaps God wanted Diaz to die to bring attention to the problem. What kind of God would do that?
Diaz, who seems like a well-loved community pastor, was the 24th murder victim in Pomona this year. Yikes! I’m not visiting Pomona any time soon because I do not think anyone is listening and few people are acting to prevent gun violence. Nothing magical happens through prayer. It is only though the efforts of people like Daniel Diaz that the community and government start to pay attention to the problem. They apply pressure which raises public awareness. People will act and that will result in change. Let’s hope that happens. Nobody should die like this.
Sunday, November 10, 2013
I tend to focus on pastors who abuse their flocks, but there are larger cases. I'd like to comment on these cases too, but I seldom have the time. The Friendly Atheist has a story up about systemic hypocrisy at Salem Baptist Church in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania.
What officials of the influential Salem Baptist Church in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania did to contractor Walter Logan was more longterm and insidious. The gist of it, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, is this:
The church’s lawyers accused Logan of a crime they knew he didn’t commit. Then, well-connected church members used their power and political pull to see to it that Logan got arrested, cuffed, and perp-walked, destroying his reputation and his business. They carried out this dishonesty and venality in an effort to gain the legal upper hand in a contractual dispute between Logan and Salem Baptist.
What I find most interesting is the level of cognitive dissonance involved. How does a church hold the message of Christ and screw over a contractor without outright lies and the deliberate infliction of harm?
I have a theory. Let’s call it tribalism. These churches behave as if they are an individual and the position they take is often at odds with what we think a church should be. I hold no such illusions these days. I’ve talked to too many pastors to believe that the status quo is anything other than deceit and self-interest.
Youth pastor Josh Wheeless stands accused of trading sexually explicit images with minor girls via text message. When additional charges came to light, he was arrested again.
A former youth pastor from Cary faced new child sex charges Monday after apparently being caught off-guard by his arrest over the weekend.
Josh Wheeless appeared bewildered by the additional charges, and told that to a judge Monday afternoon at the Wake County Justice Center.
"I'm, I'm just kind of confused about this whole thing ... I bonded out on one of these charges less than three weeks ago, so I'm kind of confused like where my attorney is," said Wheeless.
He was originally arrested in July when a father checking his 16-year-old daughters’s cellphone found nude photos. The girl had been sexting with 28-year-old Josh Wheeless, who sent nude photos of himself to the girl.
Former youth pastor William Schneider was arrested when police found pornographic images and videos of children on his computer. It is unclear what church or sect Schneider is linked to, but I’m going with Baptist.
The files were discovered through an investigation by the St. Charles County Cyber Crimes Unit. A search warrant was executed at Schneider's home on Thursday, court documents say. Schneider admitted downloading the files, which were shared with an unknown amount of other people, police said.
Source: Former youth minister in St. Charles County charged with possessing child porn by Susan Weich
This bit of information is odd... Schneider was using girls underwear for sexual gratification. Yuck.
Pastor Ioad Pop stands accused of sexually assaulting women inside a funeral home.
A Toronto reverend is accused of sexually assaulting women inside a funeral home and police believe there may be more victims.
After a Tuesday court appearance, Ioan Pop, 54, is now facing 13 sex assault charges and one charge of forcible confinement.
Police allege he also sexually assaulted women inside All Saints, a Romanian Orthodox Church, in the Birchmount Road and Danforth Avenue area, as well as in homes in Durham region and Toronto.
Source: Toronto reverend accused of funeral home sex assaults by Ioan Pop
Pop faces seven counts of sex assault and one count of forcible confinement.
Pastor Bill Vandergraph, who stands accused of molesting a child, was found not mentally fit to stand trial.
In a recent bench trial, or discharge hearing, the judge decided there was enough evidence to convict if Vandergraph had been fit to stand trial. As of now, he is not guilty.
At a status hearing on Tuesday, October 15, the court ruled that Vandergraph is required to register as a sex offender even though he wasn't convicted. He will have to submit a DNA sample.
Source: Pastor accused of sexual abuse found not mentally fit to stand trail by Amber Ruch
Let's hope he's committed at his next trial date in December.
From time-to-time I work with a Christian group from a church in Long Beach whose mission is to feed the poor. They do so with no agenda. They simply feed the poor. They do it in another church's multi-purpose room, but that church sits in the heart of darkness and despair and is dedicated to helping the poor too. Neither party has an agenda. They are called to serve and for decades they have put together good meals and care packages, all without a single religious handout or prayer session.
I stood in a circle with these people while they prayed before letting people in the door to eat. Two other atheists stood with me. The Christians simply asked that the people they were about to serve be shown that somebody cared about them. They assumed that showing people that they are loved through their actions is the heart of Christianity. I love these Christians. I'll do anything for them.
It's easy for atheists to think of Christians as the enemy. They are not. I judged them by their actions. Some Christians are simply good people who try to help. Some Christians have an agenda that gets in the way of helping. I don't think of them as bad, but the word misguided comes to mind.
I was prompted to write this morning by a post I read on Patheos: Kansas City Atheist Coalition Turned away from feeding the poor. Atheist volunteers were turned away after years of volunteer work because the Christians running the mission have an agenda that is at odds with feeding the poor. They want to proselytize along with feeding the poor, therefor atheists cannot help. In my book they are misguided. They are adopting an agenda that can result in a less effective event. They do this to win souls, of course this assumes that the people they are feeding are not already Christians, which I think is the height of arrogance.
On my last visit to Long Beach to feed the homeless, I stood near the door talking to a small group of men who had just enjoyed a meal. One of them said to me, "I prayed for help last night. I prayed for somebody to listen to me. I prayed for somebody to see me. Thanks man." He gave me a hug before walking back out on to the streets. We are all capable of showing other people love without an agenda.
Saturday, November 09, 2013
I posted on Pastor Bill Wininger, who stands accused of molesting a child or perhaps several children, back in the 90s. He wrote a book back in 1995 called, A Church Falsely Accused, It is a first person account of how the author and his church survived allegations of child sexual abuse that took place in 1992. The allegations arose from the bus ministry, where a bus driver was alleged to have given a child a special hug. I read the book yesterday in an about an hour.
A Church Falsely Accused by Pastor Bill Wininger
Copyright 1995, Revival Fires Publishers
Hardback, 166pp. $11.99
The book is an easy read. I think in part because it is a full-sized hardback with reduced-sized pages. Instead of a standard margin, each page has doublewide margins. It could have been written in 80 pages. There are 14 chapters, each of which is similar to the other, except for the chapter titled, May I offers Some Suggestions, which goes into specific recommendations to help other churches protect against allegations of abuse.
The author describes, in very general terms, an allegation of abuse lodged against a bus driver and a deacon. There is very little information on the actual accusations besides trivializing the accusations as coming from a child who had been hugged by the bus driver and pointing out that the child lived in a trailer park and was young. Instead, the author goes into what it is like to lead a church when the press is reporting on the alleged crimes and the community hates you. I read the book as a list of grievances, punctuated with bible verses and short sermons. Pastor Wininger stood by the accused and believed their stories without reservation. There was no mention of the alleged victims.
This was a story of outsiders (kids in the bus ministry) versus an established church which circled its wagons to survived and support the accused. Those accused were eventually found not guilty or had the charges dropped, so all of the support the church offered reads as the correct and godly thing to do. Plus, Wininger makes the story personal and talks about what it is like to be a leader besieged by outsiders and how he cared for the accused. I would subtitle the book, a whiners tale.
The chapter that makes recommendations was interesting in that I disagreed with each recommendation.
1. Maintain a good records system: Since the church is focused on its bus ministry, it keeps detailed records for each child it picks up. The used a form in triplicate that captures data to show how many children are saved for Jesus. They used the data to disprove accusations by showing which dates children rode the bus and who was the bus driver. I understand why they do this. It a numbers game. They judge their success by the number of children that hear the word of god or are saved. Unfortunately, this protects the church from accusations, while it does nothing for the kids. The recommendation is worthless. If you must prey on poor children to boost your church numbers, then at least have a driver and a second adult. Use the two adult rule. No child should ever be left alone with an adult while at church or in route.
2. Educate your workers: The thinking here was that an overactive or disruptive child was the root of the problem. At least in this recommendation that actually state a worker should never be alone with a child, but as we know now, preventing child abuse actually relays upon supervision of adults and not unruly children.
3. Know What's Going On: This church actually has roaming bands of adults who make sure kids are in Sunday School classes and not paying in the yard. The message here is direct. Children need to learn about Christ. Instead of sweeping the grounds, these adults should be doing random audits of adults in the bible classes. The abuse happens when an adult is allowed to be alone with a child. Safeguards should be focused in this area and not in making sure kids are placed in risky classrooms.
4. Get Good Legal Counsel: Seriously? This protects kids how?
5. Deal Wisely with Authorities: The backstory here is the church feels it was abused by the police even though they did police appreciation events. Dealing wisely with authorities is an area I care about because it is the one that is abused the most. Christians use police inquiries to justify the "Christian under attack by Satan" justification for protecting accused pastors. I see it in store after story. Christians should cooperate fully with investigations into allegations of child abuse. There is no other story.
6. Have good insurance coverage: Really? This protects kids how?
The reader will notice that the church does not actually do anything to protect children from adults. Instead, the book is about protecting the church from accusations, which is wrongheaded. The book is also about a church and a pastor being victimized by accusations of abuse, and frankly, it is self-serving and used to justify a ministry process that preys on underprivileged children. I find the concept reprehensible and the book foolish.
Thursday, November 07, 2013
I spoke to a man four different times over the three days. The first time he commented on the evils of the flu shot. He was encouraging others to rely on faith to carry them the flu season. His reasoning was sound, at least it was to him. If you lived right, prayed and rejected pseudo-science, one would not get the flu. After all, he had not had the flu for years. While the room rolled it's collective eyes, I countered his assertion with the safety of the herd argument, socialized immunization and what happens when immunization is interrupted, and lastly, reasons why at-risk individuals should ignore his advice. I finished with my story. After a particularly nasty round of the flu in 2001, one where I was out for 14 days, I started getting a regular yearly flu shot. I used to get the flu every year, sometimes several times, and now I never get it, nor does my family. He laughed at my comments and said something about the flu shot and eugenics.
The next day he offered that there was more historical evidence for Jesus than there was for Julius Caesar. I countered with Caesar's life and accomplishments being documented in historical documents, accounts, and the writing of secular histories of his time. I added that there was no such evidence for Jesus and that he is not mentioned in any historical documents or accounts of that time period. The bible aside, Jesus does not exist in history. I went on to talk about this argument being something that Christian apologists put forth as to uneducated Christians in an effort to give them intelligent sounding talking points. He countered with, "Your facts are incorrect. I know what I know."
The third day he talked about how the Theory of Evolution does not address how the universe was created, therefor he did not believe it. I said that is like saying that the Theory of Gravity does not explain how bread is made. I pointed out that Evolution is about Natural Selection and not cosmology. He countered with my lack of faith blinding me to the truth.
I grew frustrated... I took a deep breadth and let it go. The problem i,s that when this man speaks about anything, I get stuck on the idiocy he spews related to his faith or beliefs. If he can't see truth in facts, how am I supposed to listen to him on other subjects? For me, it is best to just walk away.
Monday, November 04, 2013
Youth pastor Robert "Bobby" Price was arrested and charged with five counts of indecent liberties with a child.
The charges date back to Price’s work as a youth minister at his father’s church, King’s Way Baptist, in Concord.
Price’s brother, Rusty, is now the lead pastor at the church...
..It is not clear if the charges against Price are connected to a suit filed in 2011. In that suit, a man who was then 23 years old told Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police that Price molested him as a 12-year-old.
Another Baptist youth pastor in another child sex abuse scandal. It’s hard to keep track of these guys.
You may not know Rev. Mack Ford yet, but you will. He ran the New Bethany Home for Girls and Boys in Arcadia. And as my readers know, mix a christian pastor together with a bunch of children and add questionable oversight and what do you get? Well... It starts with allegations of abuse. It ends with a long prison sentence.
As more and more revelations come to light about the treatment of residents of the New Bethany Home for Girls and Boys in Arcadia and similar homes run by Rev. Mack Ford and wife Thelma in other localities, many serious questions remain unanswered.
Why, for example, have the Fords and employees of the home never been charged with felony child abuse? How can a man (and dozens more like him scattered across the U.S.) mete out such barbaric treatment of children in the name of a Savior who’s every utterance of love, peace and forgiveness is in direct contradiction to the policies of these institutions?
I’ve been contacted about this case a few times but could not publish without a source. I don’t do investigative reporting. I wish I could do more, but my lack of training would get me in trouble. Instead, I try to help my point out resources and publishing stories here when they make it to the press.
There are more than a dozen affidavits from alleged victims.
LouisianaVoice has obtained more than a dozen affidavits from women who lived at New Bethany as teenagers and each one accuses Ford of sexual abuse, including rape and in at least one case, of having forced a 17-year-old girl at the school to perform oral sex on him.
Nobody believed these girls. It was thought so improbable that a pillar of the community could molest children that the victims had a difficult time bringing this story to the public. Nobody wanted to help them. At least one woman killed herself.
Another girl who claimed to have been subjected to sexual abuse at the hands of Ford, attempted to have Ford prosecuted after she left the home, married and had children of her own but law enforcement officials and the district attorney’s office in Bienville Parish ignored her claims until, despondent over her failed efforts, she committed suicide. Before she killed herself, however, she fired off a scathing letter to Ford.
In her letter, she reminded Ford that she was recruited for a singing quartet which would visit area churches to give testimony in order to attract monetary donations to the home and he would then later force her to have sex with him.
I want to see this story get as much attention as possible. Please read the articles and then spread the word. I’d also recommend that you read the comment thread in each article as they are full of additional information. If you write a post yourself, send me a note so I can point my readers to it.
Doug Phillips of Vision Forum and Vision Forum Ministries resigned after admitting to an extramarital affair. Phillips is was a major player in the anti-birth control Quiverfull movement and a nutball proponent of Christian Reconstructionism. To put it simply, if I had an enemies of free thought list, Doug Phillips would be on it.
There are no words to describe the magnitude of shame I feel, or grief from the injury I caused my beloved bride and children, both of whom have responded to my repentance with what seems a supernatural love and forgiveness. I thought too highly of myself and behaved without proper accountability. I have acted grievously before the Lord, in a destructive manner hypocritical of life messages I hold dear, inappropriate for a leader, abusive of the trust that I was given, and hurtful to family and friends. My church leadership came alongside me with love and admonition, providing counsel, strong direction and accountability.
Satan the Destroyer! blah, blah, blah… Another leading Christian falls. It is a sad story of hypocrisy, but one that is repeated so often that I actually get tired of writing about it. The only surprise here is that it was not a gay affair.
Saturday, November 02, 2013
I skip reading stories that pop up in my Facebook feed because of my biases. When I read this headline, Jesus costume gets Highland Park senior thrown out of school, I thought was about the costume being sacrilegious, so I did not read it. I'm sick of reading about Christian privilege. It permeates the news, my Facebook feed, and even my email. I was wrong. The story was about something else. The administration thought the costume would offend.
Shortly before school let out for the day, the high school released a statement, stating that: "We initially were concerned that the costume could be offensive to religious sensibilities. Upon further review, we realized the student did not intend to be offensive."
The kid wanted to celebrate converting to Christianity, so the school thought his intent was ok. I don't understand this. What does his intent have to do with how others will view his costume?
The kid goes on to make it a racial issue, which I also think is a wrongheaded too. The schools administration was simply doing what do-gooders do; screw things up by trying to control things they can’t control. Let the kid be Jesus. Some people will be offended, others will slap him on the back, as long as my kid can be Zeus, it's all good.
Friday, November 01, 2013
Pitt is accused of impersonating a peace officer in Jefferson County back in June, a charge that he previously faced in 2012 in Shelby County.
But those close to him say his jail cell isn't stopping him from spreading God's message. Some of the guys who have visited Pitt in jail say he's having Bible studies and ministering to inmates while he's locked up.
While Pitt is ministering inside the jail, his supporters continue to spread his message outside the jail. They've started a movement called "Free Pitt."The tag is getting some traction, but it’s only a few posts per day. I can do better myself with my own tag #ScrewMattPitt. Matt Pitt is not going anywhere. He needs to face a judge and do his time.
Source:’#freePItt’ movement spreads support for jailed youth pastor by Clare Huddleston
I don't believe in sin. The concept drives good people nuts and ties people in knots over the dumbest things. I recently counseled a young man over his battle with lust. My approach was simple - lust all you want, who does it really hurt? He’s married with a new baby. If he’s a good man, he will stand by his family. If not, he will deal with the consequences of hurting others. My moral code is simple, which is why it is easy to implement. I know if I’m doing something that will hurt people, so I am able to stop myself, or better yet, I’m able to anticipate the negative outcome and never act in the first place. What goes on in my mind is my own business and hurts no one. What I do is actually what matters. Judge me by what I do.
I was reading a Christian's blog recently when I came across this paragraph.
Mug shots of people who do what we do should serve as a sobering reminder. While we may self-righteously look down on those who find themselves on the wrong side of the jailhouse lens (usually because of some impropriety or sexual indiscretion), we would be wise to turn our backs on such foolishness and instead pause to take a look at the face in the mirror. There's not one of us who is immune to traveling down that same path. In fact, taking that route is our default setting as people who battle the soul-eating "bacteria" known as "sin." Grappling with that fact is both humbling and wise.
Walt Mueller uses all the right Christian language in a way that I’ve come to expect from a certain type of believer. Let’s call it true believer newspeak, but that is not the problem. I’ve learned to decode it. The real problem is sin. He's talking about clergy sexual abuse and the ease of falling into sin. It is all bullshit. It’s not our default behavior to sexually abuse children. It's predatory behavior and atypical in the general population. These are the real question. Why do so many youth pastors abuse children? What is it about the profession that attracts monsters? Why do you minister to children with young men in the first place (The typical abuse is in his 20s. The typical victim is a girl 13 to 15). Is there a link between believe, youth pastors and sexual depravity? Has anyone looked?
I do not understand the appeal of small churches, but I guess lots of people like them. Small churches should not escape controls though, otherwise sex offenders can sneak through, like in this case.
Steven Lennard Johnson was volunteering as a youth minister at St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church when authorities found out he was a sex offender and arrested him. He was the dating the pastor's daughter, so no background check was done. He's on his way to back to prison now.
A registered sex offender has been convicted in Winston-Salem of working as a youth minister at a church.
The Winston-Salem Journal reported that 53-year-old Steven Lennard Johnson of Winston-Salem pleaded guilty Monday to working with children and being in a place where children were present.
Prosecutors said Johnson is married to the daughter of the church's pastor, but the pastor said neither he nor his daughter knew about Johnson's criminal background.
Church folk… by now you all should know not to trust anyone with your children. Always demand a current background check. If the church refuses, move on down the road to the 2nd Baptist church of your little burg. I should not tease about the baptist church thing as there are seven within three miles of my house.
When youth pastor Danny Smith volunteered at Brainbridge Island’s Woodward Middle school during lunch hours, few people thought he would try recruiting children, but that is what he did, and how people are upset.
"I come here because I know that it's important for every student to know that they each have value and a purpose," he said.
Smith is one of three youth pastors who have volunteered at Bainbridge Island's Woodward Middle School during lunch hours. Thursday night families packed the school district's auxiliary room and more than 20 people spoke about the religious controversy.
"As a parent, I do want to know who my child has contact with throughout his day," said Dawn Jano.
Some parents heard allegations from students that the pastors spoke about church and Christianity during lunch periods.
Source: Youth pastor volunteers cause school controversy by Jonathan Humbert
I can see it now. Local church leader meet around a table and discuss ways to win souls for Christ. We can hide our intentions and volunteer at local schools, and they we can slip in our message. It’s a tad unethical though, don’t you think?
It's a small story...
A 29-year-old former church youth counselor in Lander has been charged with having sex with 16-year-old.
Zachary Fuhriman is charged with third-degree sexual abuse of a minor.
If convicted he faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.
A 29-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl in a professional counseling situation at a church. I starting to think this is unwise.
Former youth pastor Matthew Capranelli pleaded guilty to sexual assault and the sexual exploitation of a child. He faces 10 years to life at his sentencing. Let’s hope for life.
Capranelli, who subjected a former Mountain View Community Church youth group member to sexual contact repeatedly between Oct. 1, 2004 and Aug. 31, 2007 while she was between 15 and 18 years old, will be sentenced Dec. 12 in Douglas County.
Capranelli must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Baptist pastor Bill Wininger stepped down from his post at King’s Way Baptist Church amidst allegations that he molested a girl at another church 20 years ago. The abuse started at age three.
“We want to prayerfully inform everyone that we have been informed that our pastor has resigned and will be submitting his formal resignation immediately,” Dr. Ray Conway, King’s Way Christian School administrator, wrote in the Oct. 18 letter. “Pastor Wininger will no longer be involved in the ministry of The King’s Way Baptist Church and King’s Way Christian School. As many of you already know, our pastor has inflicted life-threatening harm upon himself and we would prayerfully ask that you pray for his well-being.”
Source: Pastor out at King's Way as 1990s allegations of abuse in Michigan resurface by Mitch Sneed
Wininger wrote a book titled A Church Falsely Accused. He published about the time as his alleged abuse. It told the story of unproven allegations of sexual abuse at his Michigan church. I bought a used copy for my library.
The victim in this case went public and is my hero. She is Bethany Foeller Leonard. She started the Facebook group Justice for the Victims of Bill Wininger. Please join her group if you are able. We need more voices, and more heroes, demand justice. You can read her story here in a letter she wrote describing the abuse.
There was no questioning him; he was never wrong. You did not tell him “no”…kids, adults, nobody. He had an anger that could send chills down your spine, whether it was the screaming from the pulpit or the intimidating words he could offer face-to-face. So when he told me that I was bad, I knew he was right. After all, in the IFB realm, the adults were always right. They held all the power and the kids held none. Parents were taught to always side with the authority, to never let their kids see adults be undermined.
I read the whole thing. It’s chilling.
The Facebook group reads like there are more victims that have yet to come forward. I’ll do my best to keep current on the story here.