Frank Page, CEO and president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s executive committee, retired after admitting he had a “morally inappropriate relationship in the recent past.” Page has also called his behavior an “indiscretion” and a “personal failure.” I find it interesting that the word SIN is never mentioned. Why is that? After all, Southern Baptists are big on calling out the sins of others. How about calling a spade a spade; that Page’s “indiscretion” is actually a sin against his wife and his God. Just keeping it real, Baptists.
Frank S. Page has resigned as president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, effective today (March 27) over what is described as “a morally inappropriate relationship in the recent past.”
Florida pastor Stephen Rummage, chairman of the Executive Committee, released a 300-word statement Tuesday afternoon (March 27) on behalf of the EC’s officers noting the circumstances of Page’s resignation:
“Last evening, the officers of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee met via phone conference with Dr. Frank Page during which he announced his plans for retirement. Today, I spoke with Dr. Page and learned that his retirement announcement was precipitated by a morally inappropriate relationship in the recent past.
“This news will, we understand, bring great sorrow. I have shared with the Executive Committee officers what Dr. Page shared with me, including Dr. Page’s repentance and deep regret that his actions have caused pain for others.
“My heart is broken for Dr. Page, his family and everyone affected,” Rummage, senior pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla., stated. “I believe I speak for the entire Executive Committee in saying that we are committed to provide them the spiritual and emotional support they need in the coming days. We also recognize the stewardship we owe Southern Baptists and the watching world to communicate with truth and candor and to honor the Lord in our actions and decisions.
“I call upon all Southern Baptists to pray for everyone involved in a situation like this, and especially for Dr. and Mrs. Page. Please pray for the Southern Baptist Convention and all that is entrusted to the Executive Committee.
“As officers, we are committed to provide leadership that the Southern Baptist Convention will recognize and trust. To those ends, in keeping with our Executive Committee bylaws, we will be working on a plan to provide for interim transition in the wake of Dr. Page’s immediate departure and also to conduct a search for the next president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee. I am personally counting on the prayers of Southern Baptists, as I know are all who serve on our SBC Executive Committee.”
Page released a statement as well Tuesday afternoon:
“It is with deep regret that I tender my resignation from the SBC Executive Committee and announce my retirement from active ministry, effective immediately. As a result of a personal failing, I have embarrassed my family, my Lord, myself, and the Kingdom. Out of a desire to protect my family and those I have hurt, I initially announced my retirement earlier today without a complete explanation. However, after further wrestling with my personal indiscretion, it became apparent to me that this situation must be acknowledged in a more forthright manner. It is my most earnest desire in the days to come to rebuild the fabric of trust with my wife and daughters, those who know me best and love me most.”
Page, 65, as EC president, has held a key role in coordinating the work of the SBC’s national ministries, encompassing two mission boards, six seminaries and other entities, overseeing a Cooperative Program budget of nearly $200 million yearly. Page’s work also included building relationships with 42 state and regional Baptist conventions and 47,000-plus Southern Baptist churches in all 50 states.
The Black Collar Crime series is in its ninth month, having published almost two hundred fifty reports of clergy and church leader misconduct. Using Google Alerts, I receive immediate notice any time a news story about clerical malfeasance is posted on the internet. It is important that these stories receive wide circulation. Victims need to know that there are people standing with them as they bring to light that which God’s servants have done in secret.
I realize that these reports are often dark and depressing, but the only way to dispel darkness is to turn on the lights. Clergy who prey on congregants — especially children — must be exposed, prosecuted, convicted, and sent to prison. By leveraging this blog’s traffic and publishing these reports I am serving notice to law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges: we are paying attention, and if you fail to provide justice for victims, we will hold you accountable.
Sometimes these seemingly untouchable predators are brought to justice, but not before the public puts pressure on law enforcement and prosecutors, forcing them to act. The sordid story of abuse at Restoration Youth Academy is case in point. Decades of reports about abuse were filed with local law enforcement, yet nothing was done. Yes, they finally acted and the perpetrators are now in prison, but what do we say to the hundreds of children and teenagers who were ritually abused before prosecutors got around to doing their job?
I am sure that this series will bring criticism from Evangelical zealots, reminding me that accused/charged clerics are innocent until proven guilty. While they are correct, all I am doing is sharing that which is widely reported in the news. In the nine years I’ve been writing about clergy misconduct, I can count on two fingers the number of pastors/priests/religious leaders who were falsely accused. Two, out of hundreds and hundreds of cases. The reason for so few false accusations is that no person in his or her right mind would mendaciously accuse a pastor of sexual misconduct.
Secondary reasons for this series have to do with exposing the lie that Evangelicalism is immune to scandal. I remember when the Catholic sex scandal came to light. With great glee and satisfaction, Evangelical preachers railed against predator priests and the Catholic Church who covered up their crimes. Now, of course, we know that Evangelicalism is just as rotten, having its own problem with sexual abuse and subsequent cover-ups. Evangelicals love to take the high moral ground, giving the perception that their shit doesn’t stink. Well, now we know better. Not only does Evangelicalism have a sexual abuse problem, it also has big problem with pastors who can’t keep their pants zipped up. (Please see Is Clergy Sexual Infidelity Rare?)
I am receiving an increasing number of threats from people defending their religious heroes. Threats of legal action are common, even though all I am doing is republishing stories publicly reported by news agencies. Last week, a pastor featured in one of my reports contacted me and said that reporters had it all wrong. As I do with everyone who asserts they are being falsely accused, I told this preacher that he could give his version of the facts, sign his name to it, and I would gladly add it to the post. Usually, this puts an end to any further protestations. Most often, the accused want to bully me into taking down my post. In this preacher’s case, he provided me his version of events and I gladly added it to my post. After adding the information, I decided to investigate this pastor further. I found more information about his past indiscretions and crimes. I dutifully added them to the post. I have not heard anything further from the good pastor.
I am not immune from making mistakes, so if you spot a factual error in one of stories, please let me know and I will gladly correct it. If you come across a story that you would like me to add to this series, please use the contact form to email me. Please keep in mind that I need links to actual new reports in order to add them to this series.
Some of this story was previously published in March 2017.
Several days ago, I received an email from a Christian man by the name of Tim Clark. Here’s a screen shot of Tim’s email:
Tim could have found the answers to his “thoughtful” questions by exercising a bit of curiosity and reading the posts found on the WHY page. Unfortunately, Tim evidently is not the curious sort, so after reading a couple of posts he decided to email me. Tim came to this site via an internet search. He landed on my post about a California pastor accused of sexual misconduct. I suspect Tim was looking for the latest dirt on this preacher, and, while reading my post, decided to email me about what he suspects is my own “immorality.”
Tim’s email subject line says, “Are you “free” now? He put the word free is scare quotes. I assume he did so because he believes that no one is truly free unless they have been saved; that non-Christians such as myself are in bondage to sin and Satan. Telling Tim, YES, I AM FREE, THANK REASON, I AM FREE, will surely fall on deaf ears. For Tim and other zealots like him, the dictates of the Bible determine who is free and who is not. Christians are free, everyone else is not. No amount of discussion will change Tim’s view of me. I walked away from Jesus, and nobody does that without having some sort of secret desire to live sinfully, especially sexual sin. (It’s always sexual sin, right? Evangelicals are voyeurs, obsessed with sex — who is doing it, when, where, how, and with whom.)
My first thought after reading Tim’s email was to tell him to go fornicate with himself. I am more than a little tired of self-righteous Evangelicals who refuse to accept my story at face value. I am beyond tired when it comes to receiving emails and Facebook comments from Christians who are certain that there is some other reason than what I have stated for my loss of faith. But, tired as I may be, I will muster up a bit of strength so I can answer Tim’s questions. Or are they accusations? Either way, here are my answers.
Did I “turn from the faith” to “justify some sin in [my] life”? No, I did not. As the posts on the WHY page make clear, the primary reason I deconverted was that I no longer believed the central claims of Christianity; I no longer believed the Bible was what Christians claimed it was; I no longer believed the Christians narrative could be intellectually and rationally sustained. Simply put, Christianity no longer made any sense to me. (Please read The Michael Mock Rule: It Just Doesn’t Make Sense.)
What Tim really wants to know is whether I turned from the faith to justify “immorality” in my life? Why would I have left Evangelicalism to live an immoral life? As The Black Collar Crime series makes clear, Evangelical preachers can commit adultery, fornication, and even be sexual predators, all while preaching the gospel and condemning sinful behaviors. If I desired to have sexual affairs, chase after prostitutes, frequent gay bars, or get massages at the local massage parlor, I could have done so and still remained an Evangelical pastor. When feeling guilt or conviction over my immorality, all I would have had to do was confess my sins (I John 1:9) and Jesus would cleanse me of my sin.
I can tell Tim this much, I have never had an affair. Thirty-nine years ago, I stood at the altar of the Newark Baptist Temple and told my bride that I would be faithful to her unto death. I can humbly say that I have kept that vow. I am far from perfect, having done things that are sure to be on Tim’s sin list, but not adultery. Have I ever looked at porn, been to a strip club, walked through the door of an adult book store, or “lusted” after a woman who is not my wife? Yes. And a survey of Christian men would show that most of them have too. In fact, I am quite sure that Tim, if he is a normal, healthy, heterosexual male, has lusted after women too. Jesus said in Matthew 5:28:
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
I have no doubt that most men, at one time or the other, have “looked on a woman to lust after her” and have “committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
Evangelical zealots looking to root out the real reasons for my loss of faith will continue to poke and prod, hoping that I will someday reveal the secret sins that lie buried in the depths of my sin-darkened heart. These Geraldo Riveras of Christianity will surely be disappointed. I have been quite transparent, open, and honest about my past and the reasons I am no longer a Christian. If the Tims of the world can’t accept what I say at face value, that’s their problem, not mine. Have I aired out every corner of my life for all to see? Of course not. As all writers do, I choose what I want to tell readers, leaving buried things that are too painful to talk about. Perhaps someday I will write about the secrets that remain, but for now I have told all I need to tell to adequately relate my story. Readers can rest assured that there will be no women coming forward to tell about having adulterous liaisons with Bruce Gerencser.
Fourteen months ago, Jacob Malone, pastor of Calvary Fellowship in Downington, Pennsylvania was arrested and charged with raping and impregnating a teenager who lived with his family. Since his arrest, Malone has remained in jail awaiting trial. On Wednesday, Malone appeared in court expecting the judge to approve his plea deal. Instead, Judge Jacqueline Cody rejected the plea, saying, “Given the facts of this case, I’m not going to accept this plea.”
Calling the circumstances “way too serious,” a Chester County judge Wednesday rejected a plea deal that would have imposed a two-year jail term on a former pastor accused of raping and impregnating an 18-year-old who considered him a surrogate father.
Jacob Matthew Malone, 34, had been a pastor at Calvary Fellowship, a nondenominational church in Downingtown, when he gave the teen alcohol and had sexual intercourse with her while she was intoxicated, he admitted. Sexual contact, which also included touching and kissing, occurred almost daily during the teen’s senior year in high school. The teen, who met Malone at age 12 when he was her youth pastor in Arizona, did not have a father in her life, and Malone invited her to stay with him and his wife in their home in West Whiteland Township. She helped look after Malone’s three children.
In March 2016, the young woman gave birth to Malone’s daughter, whom she called “a sweet, beautiful, and intelligent little girl,” in a statement she read at the Chester County Justice Center on Wednesday. Now 20 and living in Arizona, she addressed “Jake” and said he took advantage of her “mentally, physically, spiritually.”
She recounted regular occurrences before school and before Malone left for work at the church, “as I lay in bed not moving hoping you would get the message that I didn’t want it.”
She said she wanted more than a two-year sentence for Malone, whom she said she had thought was a “godly man,” but “you were something else when no one was watching.”
The girl had told police Malone began to sexually assault her in the fall of 2014.
Under terms of the rejected agreement, Malone would have pleaded guilty to corruption of minors, institutional sexual assault and endangering the welfare of children.
When the judge asked District Attorney Emily Provencher why the plea did not include the more serious rape charges, she said there was a question as to whether the commonwealth could prove the absence of consent.
On Wednesday, Malone, wearing shackles, bowed and shook his head while the woman read her statement before he addressed the courtroom. He did not say he forced himself on her, but he said he had made “mistakes” and should be held responsible for the sexual contact.
Malone resigned in November 2015 after church leaders confronted him about the teen’s pregnancy and he admitted he had impregnated her. He had worked at the church for about 18 months.
In January 2016, police in West Whiteland Township asked for help locating Malone, who they believed fled to avoid arrest. When he returned to the United States from Ecuador, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers arrested him on Jan. 18, 2016, at Newark Liberty International Airport.
It was unclear whether plea negotiations would continue or the case would proceed to trial.
Previously, I reported that Malone planned to admit raping the girl. Evidently, the good pastor had a change of heart.
Last January, noted Scottish pastor Ian Campbell committed suicide by hanging himself after being admitted to the hospital for a drug overdose. Campbell, a member of the Free Church of Scotland — a Calvinistic sect — pastored Point Free Church in Point, Isle of Lewis. According to the Point Free website, Campbell:
contributes to the e-zine of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, Reformation21, and is a frequent contributor to Ligonier ministry’s Tabletalk magazine. He is a weekly columnist for the local paper, the Stornoway Gazette.
When a leading church minister died in unexplained circumstances on the Isle of Lewis, the close-knit community was in shock.
Tributes to Reverend Dr Iain D Campbell, 53, came from around the world, while shops on the island closed for his funeral in January.
But it has emerged the father-of-three hanged himself after his 54-year-old wife Anne accused him of having up to seven affairs with churchgoers at the same time.
And now she has called on their church to kick out the women for adultery – even hiring herself a public relations professional.
The Free Church of Scotland, often referred to as the ‘Wee Frees’, is investigating while the accused women are understood to be instructing lawyers to help declare their innocence.
Dr Campbell was a leading light in the church – which has strict teachings on the sanctity of marriage and ethics of suicide – in Stornoway.
The minister had been a senior official in the Free Church and minister of the Point Free Church in Lewis, which is off the Scottish mainland’s north-west coast.
A source said: ‘It is said Anne was suspicious about Iain’s activities, and confronted him at the manse [a Scottish vicarage] allegedly after finding compromising emails in his computer trash files.
‘Anne is wanting all this to go in front of a church court and for them to throw them out of the church for adultery.
‘It will cause havoc with their marriages and the entire Free Church.
‘Even though she’s a widow people are saying Iain had a difficult home life and there’s a lot of anger towards her.’
A source close to senior church figures said: ‘There was never a whisper of a rumour about affairs until after he died – on such a close-knit island they would have been very difficult to keep secret.
‘Yet Anne has supplied names of these alleged mistresses to the church. If she is right, he had been leading an extraordinary double life for years.
‘This is a widow talking about her own late husband.
‘It’s now in the hands of senior Free Church ministers on the island – James Maciver, who conducted the funeral, and Callum Macleod.
‘This is a terrible human tragedy it is difficult to resolve.
‘A dead man can’t be disciplined and can’t defend himself.
‘Suicide is wicked, but it is possible he feared he was about to be ruined. I am hearing there is real evidence to back up these extraordinary claims.
‘But the greater fault would be with Dr Campbell who, as a minister, had a duty of care.’
They said that, if the women admitted affairs, they may be allowed to continue receiving communion. But the source added: ‘It would never be forgotten on the island.’
The women accused of affairs or their families refused to comment or made denials.
In an obituary for Dr Campbell, long-serving Free Church minister Professor Donald Macleod had written: ‘Too late, we know that he was in pain, and sometimes pain is more powerful than faith, and more powerful than reason, and altogether too much for the balance of our minds.’
A spokesman for the Free Church on Lewis confirmed the allegations had been made, saying the church was ‘taking these very seriously and acting on them’.
Last night a public relations professional hired by learning support assistant Mrs Campbell made no attempt to deny any details of the story, but said: ‘The family has lost a husband and father.’
According to the Scotland Herald, Campbell not only committed adultery, he also fathered a child with a woman who is not his wife. The Herald also alleges that these allegations could reach as far back as the 1990s.
There are no winners in this story. If reports are true, Campbell was living a double life, one that his wife had knowledge of before he died. While it is likely that his suicide was related to the threat of being exposed as an adulterer, we will never know for sure, because Campbell didn’t leave a note. It’s clear that Campbell’s wife Anne is hurt and angry and she is taking it out on the women who had sexual relationships with her husband. Anne Campbell’s allegation are sure to cause great havoc and damage, both in and outside of the Point Free Church. Worse, the Campbell’s adult children must not only mourn the death of their father, but also deal the fallout from their mother’s allegations.
Campbell’s duplicitous life and suicide are a real conundrum for Evangelical Calvinists on both sides of the pond. Ministerial colleagues, parishioners, and friends all praised Campbell for his devotion to Christ during his fifty-three years on earth. Campbell wrote numerous books, along with articles for Calvinistic publications. He was loved and well-respected. Now that it is known that Campbell committed suicide, and according to his wife he was screwing his way through the female church membership, I wonder what lengths Calvinists will go to square what he said with how he actually lived and ended his life.
Calvinists believe that Christians must persevere to the end to be saved. Despite all of their talk about grace, Calvinists preach a conditional salvation that requires those who say they are Christians to live lives of good works until death. Those who don’t persevere until the end — people such as myself — never were true Christians. (Actually, since I am still among the living, it is p-o-s-s-i-b-l-e that I could return to the faith, that is IF I am one of the elect.) I wonder how Calvinists will square Campbell’s ‘works’ with their theology and the clear teachings of the Bible. Consider:
By committing suicide and adultery and not repenting, Campbell died having unconfessed sin.
There is nothing ambiguous about Galatians 5:19-21:
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
or 1 Corinthians 6:9,10:
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neitherfornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
It is with stories such as this one that the Calvinistic rubber meets the road. Campbell and his fellow Evangelical preachers — in Puritan-like fashion — view themselves as proclaimers of God’s standard of morality. Asked if homosexuals or same-sex married couples are Christian and will go to heaven when they die, I am sure that, to the man Campbell and his Calvinistic brethren would say no. Will they say the same about Campbell, a self-murderer and adulterer?
We Love Stornoway published (link no longer active) the following obituary for Campbell:
The tragic death of the Reverend Iain D. Campbell has cast a gloom over the island of Lewis such as it has never known in my lifetime; and the gloom is not confined to Lewis. Iain was a well-known figure in Evangelical circles throughout Britain, and beyond, and tributes have already come in from the USA and elsewhere.
‘He could have adorned pulpits in the largest cities in the world,’ writes Dr. Geoff Thomas of Aberystwyth, ‘or become a professor in an American seminary, but he valued the community which nourished and nurtured him, and he shared their values.’ To that community he dedicated his life, and from it he drew the strength that supported his wider ministry.
Iain D. Campbell was a brilliant communicator, in constant demand as a lecturer and conference-speaker. He had a quite extraordinary fluency of speech, but the fluency was disciplined by clarity, precision and careful arrangement. The delivery was effortless, though often passionate, the mastery of the subject complete, and while there was no trace of arrogance he spoke with the Bible-derived authority of a true preacher.
But he was also a master of the written word, as his many publications show, and the Free Church recognised this by appointing him Editor of its magazine, the Record, not only once, but twice. He was still serving in this capacity at the time of his death, and one of the most poignant memories we shall carry is that his very last issue (the February one) contains a photo of him in the prime of a splendid manhood, looking perfectly at peace with himself and the world. His editorship avoided controversy, but it reflected faithfully both the growing diversity within the Church and its links with the wider Christian world; and his own contributions consistently dealt with the profoundest themes at a level which was well within the compass of an intelligent laity.
Iain D was a rare combination: an academic and a natural preacher, and all who knew him assumed that sooner rather than later he would be appointed to teach at the Free Church College. Such opportunities did indeed arise and I, for one, devoutly wished to see him as either a colleague or a successor. My attempts to persuade him failed, to my chagrin, and now to my lasting regret, but the College’s loss was Point’s gain. He was inducted there on 21st August 2009, and as in his previous charges of Snizort (1988-95) and Back (1995-2009) his preaching quickly rekindled enthusiasm for the Christian message, and people who had lost their spiritual appetite found themselves once again looking forward eagerly to their Sundays and to preaching which fed their minds and stirred their souls. Thanks to the marvels of modern technology these sermons were heard all over the world and within hours of his death an American pastor was writing, ‘I never met or heard Dr Campbell in the flesh, but I knew him from sermon audios, and the sermons I heard told me all that I needed to know of the man. The reason for his high reputation was obvious. He was a man of transparent piety, for whom the Bible and the God of the Bible was a Being with whom he was familiar. The Bible irradiated everything he said, and every application he made of Biblical truth seemed so searching and personal, even though he did not know those whom he addressed. He knew men’s deepest needs and he addressed them with gentleness and compassion as one who felt for them, and wanted them to have the comfort of Christian peace. His death is a loss, not only to his immediate family and to the congregations he pastored, but to the wider church across the world.’
Iain D would have risen to eminence in any profession (and once toyed with the idea of becoming an SNP candidate for the Scottish Parliament), but he chose the Christian ministry, and in that chosen field he became a giant. Yet, for all the consummate ease with which he presented himself in public, he was a very private man who seldom shared his feelings, and he exuded such an aura of calm competence that none of us thought to ask, ‘Are you OK?’ Now, too late, we know that he was in pain, and sometimes pain is more powerful than faith, and more powerful than reason, and altogether too much for the balance of our minds. Bereft of him, we are traumatised, our hearts bleeding, our minds stunned and our prayers turned into protests.
I find myself swirling in a vortex of questions, narratives, disinformation, regrets and fears. St. Paul assures me that ‘God works all things together for good,’ but never has my faith in that great promise been so severely tested. How He can turn this grievous loss into good, I see not. But grace shone brightly in the life of Iain D. Campbell, such grace does not let go, and if it leads me home we shall soon be with the Lord together.
The obituary stated that Campbell was “a man of transparent piety.” Evidently, not. The obituary also said Campbell “knew men’s deepest needs.” To that, all I can say is, indeed.
While men such as David Robertson have attempted to cut off public discussion of Campbell’s immorality, this story remains a hot topic in some Calvinistic circles. From my perspective as a former Evangelical Calvinist and a pastor, this story is a reminder that preachers can and do have secret lives. (The same could be said for all of us.) It seems clear, at least to me, that Ian and Anne Campbell’s marriage was troubled and that Ian found love in all the wrong places. As mentioned numerous times in the Black Collar Crime series and other posts, Evangelical pastors, evangelists, missionaries, elders, deacons, and Sunday School teachers — supposedly pillars or morality and virtue — can be every bit as “worldly” and “sinful” as the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world.
These men of God preach thundering sermons about the sins of Adam’s race, call on all men everywhere to repent and believe the gospel, yet they themselves cannot live according to what they preach. Campbell leaves a legacy that says, now that his adulterous affairs have been exposed, do as I say, not as I do. In other words, Campbell was a hypocrite. And that would be fine, if it weren’t for that fact that Campbell, along with his fellow Calvinistic pastors, pompously dare to demand that everyone live according to the anti-human moral precepts and teachings of the Bible. When these so-called mouthpieces of God are found out to be less than their bio suggests, it is certainly fair for unbelievers such as myself to point out the hypocrisy. If Evangelicals don’t like having their sins exposed to the light of day, I suggest that they quit exposing what they believe are the moral failures of believers and unbelievers alike and admit that they are every bit as “fallen” as the rest of us.
From an atheistic and humanistic perspective, I feel sad for Anne Campbell and her children. The stain of their father’s and husband’s sin and death will be with them forever. Anne Campbell will always be viewed as a woman who extracted some sort of payback by exposing her husband’s affairs. Silent while her husband was living, Anne has unleashed her scorn and wrath on those who dared to let her husband into their beds. It will be interesting to see if the Point Free Church can survive this scandal.
Ian Campbell’s body lies in a grave, returning to the earth from whence it came. His secrets and his tragedy live on, but he does not. There is no hell, so no eternal punishment of fire and brimstone await. The only hell is that which Campbell left behind.
Humans are such complex characters. It is probably unfair that we ask more of certain people than we do of others – clergy, office holders, others in high positions – and of ourselves. Of course, we despise certain characteristics in ourselves, even as we continue to engage in the despised behaviors. But we expect those to whom we admire, and those who have sought high positions, to be better than we are. I am reminded of your post just yesterday when your congregant objected when you admitted you knew what it was to lust after a woman.
I concur. It is time for Evangelicals to stable the moral high horse, and rejoin the human race. Then posts such as this one won’t need to be written. The story then is that of a bad marriage, a scorned woman, and a man who couldn’t keep his pants zipped up. It is probable that Campbell’s religious beliefs fueled his suicide attempts. Campbell broke his marriage vows, as countless people do, but such lapses don’t normally lead to suicide. Throw religion, particularly Evangelical Christianity, into the mix and that changes everything. Imagine the depths of Campbell’s guilt, fear, and shame. It is not hard to imagine a follower of Jesus, in a moment of despair, turning to suicide.
Why is it that many Evangelical Christians have a hard time believing that pastors, evangelists, parachurch leaders, Christian university presidents, and other notable Christian leaders commit crimes such as sexual assault, rape, child abuse, murder, and fraud or otherwise engage in behaviors deemed by faithful Christians to be sinful? Every time I write a post about a pastor or some other Christian leader committing crime or behaving in ways that make them out to be hypocrites, I end up getting comments and emails from people objecting to my publicizing the story. Often, these objectors leave comments that suggest that they have some sort of inside knowledge about the matter, and once the “truth” comes out the accused will be vindicated. Other objectors will take the “they are innocent until proven guilty” approach, subtly suggesting that these kinds of stories should not be publicized until there has been a trial and a conviction. With righteous indignation they attack me, the messenger, for daring to publish anything about the stories, warning me that God is going to get me for causing harm to his servants and his church. And when the trials are over and convictions are handed down, do these same people return to this site with heads humbly held low, confessing that they did not know these men and women as well as they thought they did? Of course not. If anything, they will demand forgiveness for the offender. After all, we are all sinners in need of forgiveness, right?
Last year, I remember a number of people getting upset with me over my publicizing on Facebook their pastor’s criminal behavior. He didn’t do it!. I KNOW this man! I’ve been friends with him for 20 years! He led me to Jesus! It’s just the word of a confused teenager against the word of an honorable, devoted man of God. It was interesting to watch all these outraged people disappear once multiple girls came forward from several churches and said that this pastor had taken sexual advantage of them. Why is it these church members had a hard time believing that their pastor committed felony sexual crimes?
When Jack Schaap was accused of carrying on a sexual affair with a teenage girl he was counseling, scores of outraged members and supporters of First Baptist Church in Hammond Indiana came to this blog and declared Schaap’s innocence. These are the same people who, to this day, believe that Schaap’s father-in-law, Jack Hyles, never carried on with his secretary, and these same people, while not condoning David Hyles’ heinous crimes, demand that he be given favorable treatment since God has forgiven him. Who are we to condemn, if God has forgiven him, they said. He that is without sin let him cast the first stone! Judge not!
Bob Gray, the one-time pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville Florida, was accused of sexually molesting young children. Countless Gray supporters said that their pastor could never do such a thing, yet we now know that it is likely he had been a sexual predator for most of the fifty years he spent in the ministry. How is it possible that a pastor who was considered by many, including myself, to be a Holy Ghost-filled man of God, could, for decades, sexually harm children, yet no one know about it (or at least was willing to report it)?
Last week, Justin White, pastor of First Christian Church in Columbus, Indiana was arrested on felony charges of insurance fraud and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Come to find out, White was a heroin addict. I found myself asking, how is it possible that a man could preach three times a week and lead a large church while on heroin? Those must have been some pretty awesome and inspiring sermons. Did church leaders know that White had a heroin problem? It seems likely that they did. In 2015, White went out of state for thirty-two days to a rehab center, returning clean to a none-the-wiser church congregation. If news reports are to be believed, White’s recovery was short-lived, resulting in him committing insurance fraud to pay a $11,000 debt he owed to a drug dealer. Despite the evidence and White’s subsequent resignation, there are congregants who believe that their pastor is innocent of all charges. Why do these church members, and others like them, have such a hard time believing that the man who stands in the pulpit on Sunday can be someone other than who he says he is?
These same people have no problem believing that non-Christians commit all sorts of crimes. When newspapers report the crimes of unbelievers these followers of Jesus shake their heads and say, if they only put their faith and trust in Jesus all things would become new for them. In their minds, Jesus is an antidote for bad and criminal behavior. And, to be honest, he often is, or least the idea of Jesus is an antidote for behavior deemed sinful or unlawful. Countless alcoholics and drug addicts clean up after having a come to Jesus moment. While I could write much about why this is so, the fact remains that in some instances having some sort of conversion experience leads people to change their ways. If Jesus really is the antidote for sin and the answer for what ails us, why then do so many Christians fall (or run) into behaviors that are considered sinful or criminal? Why is there no difference behavior-wise between nonbelievers and believers?
The reason then that Evangelicals have a hard time believing their pastors could ever commit the crimes they are accused of is because they think — despite evidence to the contrary — that people are protected from moral and ethical failure by their Christian salvation and the presence of the Holy Spirit living inside them. This is why the Black Collar Crime series is so important. The series is a public reminder of the fact that religion, in and of itself, does not make anyone a better person. It can, and perhaps at times does, but there are countless people who are nonreligious or who are members of religious sects Evangelicals have deemed false who live exemplary lives. Religion is not a prerequisite to goodness. And because Evangelicals refuse to understand this, they find it difficult to accept that the men and women they hold up as pillars of morality and virtue can really be perverts and criminals in disguise.
While we should generally trust people, we should not do so blindly, and therein lies the problem for many Evangelicals. They are taught to obey those that have authority over them. They are reminded that gossip is a sin and that church members should not believe an accusation against an elder (pastor) unless it can be firmly established in the mouth of two or three witnesses. Jack Hyles was fond of saying, if you didn’t see it, it didn’t happen. Countless Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preachers have used this very line to turn back whispers about their sexual infidelity or criminal behavior. You keep your mouth shut now. If you didn’t see it happen, you have no business talking about it. I’m sure former IFB church members can remember blistering sermons about gossip and about the dangers of speaking badly about the man of God. Remember those boys who mocked the man of God in the Bible? Why, bears came out of the woods and ate them. Best keep your tongue quiet, lest God send bears to eat you. How often do Evangelicals hear sermons about not touching God’s anointed? Mind your own business, church members are told, and let God take care of the preacher. If he is sinning, God will punish him. But here is the problem with this kind of thinking: God doesn’t punish sinning preachers. They just keep on sinning and sinning and sinning. They will keep on molesting little boys and girls, raping teenagers, and sleeping with vulnerable congregants until real flesh-and-blood human beings make them stop.
Think of all the times that church leaders heard rumors or reports about clergy misconduct, yet did nothing. They were more concerned about the testimony of the church than they were the victims. Think of all the times that church leaders heard rumors or reports about clergy misconduct, conducted their own investigations, and once finished, buried the accusations or elicited a promise from offenders that they would never, ever do again that which they were accused of. After all, since Jesus has forgiven them, shouldn’t the church? The short answer to this question is HELL NO! When clergy commit criminal acts that harm other people, they must be held accountable. This is why states have mandatory reporting laws. When church leadership hears of reports of possible criminal sexual misconduct they are required to immediately report these actions to law enforcement. It is not their responsibility to investigate or mete out punishment. We have a legal system that is responsible for investigating crimes and bringing offenders to justice. I wish more churches would be prosecuted for failing to report. If a handful of church deacons or elders had to spend time in jail for not reporting or covering up crimes, perhaps this would put an end to these men and women placing their religious institutions reputations above the welfare of those who have been victimized.
I spent twenty-five years in the ministry. From the time I was fifteen to the age of fifty-one, I was a member of the preacher fraternity. I know what went on behind closed doors. I know about scandals, sexual affairs, fraud, and suspected criminal behavior. I know where the bodies are buried. I know the real story behind Pastor So-and-So’s abrupt call to a new church. I know why certain missionaries had to come home from the field, never to return. I know that preachers are not any different from the people they pastor. Yes, most pastors are good people. Yes, most pastors generally desire to help others. What is also true is that some pastors are lazy and see the ministry as a way to make a quick and easy buck. It is also true that some pastors watch pornography and have sexual affairs with people in and out of their churches. People are people, and the sooner that church members understand this, the better. Stop putting pastors on pedestals. Stop thinking that pastors and their families are in any way better than anyone else. They are not, and I wish that pastors would stand before their congregations on Sundays and be honest about this.
The reason they don’t, of course, is because few congregants want honesty and transparency. Instead, they want pastors who are victorious over sin. They want pastors who are above the fray. They want winners! They want men and women they can look up to as examples of moral purity and virtue. Years ago, I remember admitting in a sermon that I knew what it was to lust after a woman. My objective was to let congregants know that I was just like them, that I was not in any way morally superior to them. After the service a man came up to me and told me that he was upset over my confession. In no uncertain terms, he let me know that he didn’t want to hear about my sins or failures. He wanted a pastor who was a shining example of holiness and righteousness. In other words, he wanted me to be God. Needless to say, this man did not last long in our church. He quickly found out that I was, like the apostle Paul, the chiefest of sinners.
Have you ever attended a church where the pastor, deacon, Sunday school teacher, or some other revered leader in the church was accused of criminal behavior or sexual misconduct? How did the church respond to these accusations? Were some of the members unwilling to believe that the accused could do the things he or she was accused of? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section.
The Omega Fire Ministry Worldwide has barred members from making further comments or statements on the alleged sexual relationship involving its overseer, Johnson Suleman.
In a statement issued by the Directorate of Media, the church said commentaries on the matter had overstayed their relevance and the members should no longer allow themselves be distracted by it.
“It has become imperative that we advise all Omega Children and Christians Worldwide to put an end to the ongoing media war that we have engaged in,” the church said in the statement seen by PREMIUM TIMES.
“Every wise person would know that this is not a battle of humans but one between the Kingdom of God and that of darkness.
“Therefore, nobody is permitted further to issue a statement or comment on the matter. All Facebook Live Videos on the issue should also stop forthwith. It is advised that we spend our time concentrating on more relevant issues that bothers on the Kingdom.
“We are well aware were all these are coming from and we will deal with it spiritually.”
The statement came just as a second lady, who identified herself as Queen Esther, came forward on Sunday to speak about an alleged sexual relationship with Mr. Suleman (popularly known as Apostle Suleman).
For the most of last week, Mr. Suleman and a Canada-based singer, Stephanie Otobo, traded accusations over allegations of sexual affair, forceful abortion of pregnancy, and breach of marriage promise.
On Sunday, Mr. Suleman’s spokesperson, Phrank Shaibu, declined further comments on the matter.
But in several videos posted online by Celebration TV, the church’s television arm, Mr. Suleman told his congregation that those behind the allegations would be destroyed within 24 hours.
One of the videos was uploaded on You Tube on Saturday.
“God just told me something. And in 24 hours, marine will be disgraced publicly. Marine…I’m not just prophesying on you, I’m prophesying on myself. In 24 hours, the truth will be exposed,” Mr. Suleman told his church members amidst cheers.
“In 24 hours, the marine kingdom will be disappointed. Kingdom of the water and their representatives, that made themselves available tool will be disgraced. And they shall know that it’s the ‘I am that I am’ that sent me.
“We don’t fight with our mouth; we fight with our knees. We can’t do certain things and still carry the anointing that we carry, no we don’t do that nonsense.
“If I’m true or not true, real or not real, 24 hours. I’m tough mehn, I’m tough. You don’t see me preaching? Do I look shaky? Do I look worried? Get a better agent.
“If the devil wants people to start doubting you, he attacks your reputation. We know this.
Johnson Suleman, the controversial Nigerian pastor at the center of an adultery scandal gave a $76,000 brand-new Mercedes-Benz 450 GL to Nollywood star Daniella Okeke in 2016, an official Lagos State website shows.
Ms. Okeke was previously named by Stephanie Otobo, Apostle Suleman’s estranged lover, as being one of the other women in his life.
For her part, the actress in 2016 proudly displayed the Mercedes-Benz SUV GL 450 on her Instagram page in front of a brand-new house where she parked it.
After her name was revealed by Ms. Otobo at a press conference covered extensively by Saharareporters, some Nigerians invaded Ms. Okeke’s Instagram questioning the source of her wealth given that she has not featured in any prominent movies in recent years.
The more inquisitive among them took advantage of a new website for vehicle registration in Lagos State which unveils the ownership of any vehicles by its number due to a bug on the webpage, and discovered that one of Ms. Okeke’s most prized possessions, the posh Mercedes-Benz car, is registered to “Apostle Suleman Johnson.”
This discovery is the second window into the pastor’s private life following the one opened by Ms. Otobo, but he has vigorously denied the amorous relationship she claims to have had with him.
Last week, Ms. Otobo was arrested and detained by Apostle Suleman, who procured some federal police officers to rough up the woman. She was behind bars for a few nights.
Ms. Otobo had insisted that Apostle Suleman impregnated her following sex romps in Italy, New York and Nigeria. The pastor denied the allegations and threatened to sue SaharaReporters for reporting the story.
In a rebuttal on Friday, the law office denied that Mr. Keyamo, its Head of Chambers, was actively involved in the matter, as he has been in Abuja. It described the pastor’s allegations of a conspiracy against him as pathetic, ludicrous and a nonsensical smokescreen.
Among others, the chambers revealed that the pastor paid millions into Ms. Otobo’s account and that it has pictures of him exposing his private parts, evidence of which it said would emerge in court. It also stated that other victims of the pastor have started to come forward to tell their stories, armed with proof.
Pastor O. Jermaine Simmons stood before his congregation and asked for forgiveness. But he also tried to reconcile the man his parishioners had known for a decade with the adulterer being laughed at in church circles and the media.
Since he took over as pastor in 2005, more than 4,000 people had joined Jacob Chapel Baptist Church in Tallahassee. It had added 27 ministries, focusing efforts on the homeless in Florida’s capital and ministering to youth.
And Simmons had just released his first book, “I Need a Man,” a Bible-based paperback on modeling “Godly manhood.”
Then Simmons’s affair with another man’s wife went public in dramatic fashion: On Jan. 17, the 36-year-old pastor — a married father — found himself cowering naked behind a fence, hiding from a gun-toting husband who’d stumbled on the affair, police say.
“What I want from God, I have already received — that’s his forgiveness, ” Simmons told his congregation five days later.
According to a Tallahassee police report, officers were called to the Sienna Square Apartments by a woman who said her husband had a gun — and was looking for her lover.
The naked man behind the fence was Simmons, who was also her pastor, she told officers.
She wasn’t sure where her husband was.
But she knew he was angry — and armed.
The pastor had come over to the woman’s house to “talk over starting a business, patents and trademarks, and providing less fortunate kids with clothes and shoes,” she told officers, according to the police report.
Instead, they ended up in her daughter’s bed, having sex, police said.
That same day, the woman’s 6-year-old son had gotten sick at school. Administrators couldn’t reach the woman, so they called her husband instead.
He picked up the sick child and headed home — where he found his wife cheating with their pastor, police said.
“The man yelled ‘I’m gonna kill him’ and went to their room and got a small handgun,” according to the police report.
Simmons ran out of the apartment naked and hopped a privacy fence behind some shrubs, the report said.
But his car keys and his clothes were inside the house with the woman and her enraged husband.
It is commonly believed by most Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church members that unmarried members are virgins and that they do not masturbate or have lustful thoughts. Listening to preaching multiple times a week, daily reading the Bible and praying — along with cold showers — are sure antidotes for sexual sin. When the preacher’s daughter someday marries the deacon’s son, everyone will think that both of them are pure as the driven snow, with thoughts of only serving Jesus. This is the myth that is promoted in Baptist sermons, books, and on websites. It has no basis in reality, but people sure do believe it. After all, if getting saved turns sinners into new creations and gives them a desire to love and follow Jesus, why, any thought of hormone-raging Fundamentalist young adults engaging in any sort of promiscuity is preposterous. As is often the case, reality paints a far different picture.
In recent years, a plethora of Fundamentalist ministries have begun ministering to those with addiction problems. Based on the number of ministries geared towards helping Christians addicted to porn, one can easily conclude that Evangelicalism has a huge porn problem — easily the size of John Holmes, AKA Johnny Wadd. If Jesus is the cure, the solution, and the answer for what ails the human race, why are there so many Christians committing what Evangelicals consider sexual sins? Why are there so many IFB preachers and church leaders who can’t keep their pants zipped up or have Google search histories that would make Hugh Hefner blush? Why are the biggest hypocrites on Sunday the men standing behind the pulpits of Evangelical and Baptist churches?
No matter how many moral scandals rock Evangelicalism and the IFB church movement, their pastors, church leaders, Sunday school teachers, evangelists, bloggers, and culture warriors continue to present Christianity as some sort of superior way of living. Never mind studies and anecdotal stories that suggest otherwise, these purveyors of Evangelical truth continue to say that Jesus is the only way to keep unmarried young adults from committing fornication. Just say YES to Jesus and NO to physically and emotionally satisfying romps in the hay.
So what happens when church teenagers and young adults ignore the moral standard or, in a moment of understandable passion, give way to sexual desire and fulfillment? Most of the time, as long as the keepers of the chastity belts do not find out, these fornicators and pleasurers will continue to engage in behaviors that — according to their parents, churches, and pastors — will land them in hell. As one aged preacher tried to impress on us young preachers: a stiff prick has no conscience. Once aroused, sexual desire usually wins the battle. On those Sundays when pastors rage against immorality, frothing at the mouth and pounding the pulpit as they wage war against normal, healthy sexual behavior, those who have given into their desires will be drowned in seas of guilt, shame, and fear. Sometimes these fornicators will make their way down to the front of the church, and kneeling at an old-fashioned altar, they will promise God that they will never, ever spank the monkey or engage in any behavior remotely considered sexual. If need be, they will pluck out their eyes. Yet, come Saturday night they will be tempted to break their vow. While some will hold out, most will engage in the very “sins” they confessed the week before. Why? Not because they are in any way morally inferior or weak. Much like drinking and eating, desiring sexual fulfillment is every bit a part of what makes us human. It is these preachers of abnormality who are the problem. Instead of teaching sexually aware young adults how to handle their sexuality and how to engage in thoughtful, satisfying sex, these deniers of human nature do everything possible to shame and guilt people into obedience.
Since no one in Evangelical churches is committing fornication and everyone is waiting to have sex until they are married, there is really no need for church young adults to be taught about birth control. As a result, it is not uncommon for church girls to get pregnant or for young adults to come down with sexually-transmitted diseases. How do pastors and churches respond when such things occur? Often, not very well.
I want to conclude this post with several stories that I think will illustrate how some Evangelical churches handle sexual indiscretions.
One of the teenage girls in the first church I worked in became pregnant. Here is how the pastor handled it. He told the girl that she must immediately marry the father. She was also told that because she was no longer a virgin she forfeited her right to a church wedding. Only her family would be permitted to attend the wedding. No announcement would be made to the church about it. And if these prohibitions were not bad enough, the pastor informed the pregnant teen that she would not be permitted to wear a white dress. She had sullied the name of Jesus and as a result she would be required to wear an off-white dress. Much like wearing a red A, it would be clear to everyone that this girl had violated the holiness of God. Marked forever as one who could not wait, she would carry shame the rest of her adult life. Perhaps, in time, her fellow church members would forget her scandalous behavior, but, for now, she had to bear the weight of her indiscretion. The severity of the punishment was meant to be a deterrent. Church girls, seeing how severely _______ was punished would think twice before letting some boy have his way with them.
One church I know of required exposed fornicators and pregnant unmarrieds to stand before the church and confess their sins. I remember one young woman weeping uncontrollably as she admitted having the sex that led to her pregnancy. Sadly, this kind of slut shaming still goes on today. Described as church discipline, it is really an attempt — through fear, shame, and guilt — to make sure that any other prospective fornicators toe the line. Who wants to stand before the church and have her — it is almost always teen girls and young women — secrets exposed for all to see?
As many former pregnant out-of-wedlock Evangelical women will attest, some churches subscribe to the out of sight, out of mind way of handling fornication. Unmarried young women who find themselves in the family way are often shipped off to Christian boarding schools or homes for unwed mothers. Since their pregnancies are viewed as acts of rebellion against God, the Bible, and Evangelical morality, it is hoped that intensive authoritarian indoctrination and control will force slutty Baptist women to see the error of their way and recommit to following the Evangelical moral code. While they can never regain their virginity — unlike salvation, once virginity is lost it can never be regained — these fornicators can have their sexual indiscretions washed in the blood of Jesus. Once washed in his blood, their lives will once again be pure.
While I may have been a card-carrying Evangelical and a subscriber to narrow moral strictures, I never heaped shame, guilt, or fear upon the heads of those who failed to measure up. Part of the reason was that I knew about the moral failings of more than a few Evangelical preachers. I also knew that I was not without sin. I readily admit that my preaching — at times — was quite hypocritical. As with many Evangelical preachers, I sometimes used the pulpit as a way to confess my sins and atone for them. What better way to assuage one’s guilt and shame over a perceived moral failure than to admit before the church — in a generic, nonspecific way — that I understood their moral struggles and failures. More than a few church members were upset by my honesty concerning lust. These faux pillars of moral virtue wanted a preacher who could be inches away from a hot naked woman and not be tempted to touch. They wanted a man who was above the fray, a man so holy and righteous that having a front row seat for a wet T-shirt contest would not cause arousal or heightened sexual desire. After admitting that I knew what it was like to lust after a woman, the super saints moved on to other churches, oblivious to the fact that their new pastors were no different from me. Now I am in no way suggesting that I cheated on my wife. I didn’t. But I am saying that I always understood what it was to be a normal, healthy heterosexual man. One time, my child-molesting Evangelical grandfather publicly objected to a sermon I preached on the sin of mixed bathing. He told me that he could go down to the beach and look at women wearing bikinis and never have a lustful thought. I looked at him and told him that I did not believe him and that perhaps he needed to be examined by a doctor. I do not believe for a moment that a man — in particular an Evangelical man — can watch a Sports Illustrated swimsuit photo shoot and not have sexual thoughts. Thinking otherwise is a denial of human nature and abnormal. I knew then, as I do now, that it is normal and healthy to have sexual thoughts, and that having these thoughts does not make someone a bad person.
As an Evangelical pastor I frequently dealt with members who had some sort of moral failing. While I certainly held to the Evangelical interpretation of the Bible’s moral teachings, I understood that no one was perfect. People are going to make mistakes — including having sex before marriage and getting pregnant. When one of the unmarried women of the church found herself pregnant, I did not berate or heap shame upon her head (though I am sure my preaching likely had this effect). Once the deed is done, there is no way to undo it. The only question that mattered was now what? Instead of publicly shaming unmarried women — again, men are almost always given a free pass — I did what I could to help them make the most of a bad situation. What possible good could ever come out of publicly humiliating someone because of some sort of moral failure? Surely it is better to help them pick up the pieces and move on with their lives.
Of course, I now understand that the real solution is to distance oneself from religious moralizing and puritanical sexual beliefs. These Bible thumping liars help no one. Guilt, shame, and fear only lead to more of the same. The solution is to get away from those whose goal in life is to destroy human nature and self-worth. The 1960s birthed a sexual revolution that continues to this day. There is no going back, and the sooner Evangelical churches and pastors understand this the better.
Having lost the battle against heterosexual immorality, Evangelicals are now focused on LGBTQ people and their “sins” against God. Preaching with all their might about those evil queers, Sodomites, and reprobates, these keepers of moral purity fail to see that they are driving scores of millennials and thoughtful older people away from their churches. To these preachers of puritanical morality I say, keep up the good work.
“I resigned from my position at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church today due to ongoing marital issues. As many of you know, I returned from a trip a few months back and discovered that my wife was having an affair. Heartbroken and devastated, I informed our church leadership and requested a sabbatical to focus exclusively on my marriage and family. As her affair continued, we separated. Sadly and embarrassingly, I subsequently sought comfort in a friend and developed an inappropriate relationship myself. Last week I was approached by our church leaders and they asked me about my own affair. I admitted to it and it was decided that the best course of action would be for me to resign. Both my wife and I are heartbroken over our actions and we ask you to pray for us and our family that God would give us the grace we need to weather this heart wrenching storm. We are amazingly grateful for the team of men and women who are committed to walking this difficult path with us. Please pray for the healing of deep wounds and we kindly ask that you respect our privacy.”
After the release of her husband’s statement, Kim Tchividjian sent the following message to The Post:
“The statement reflected my husband’s opinions but not my own. Please respect the privacy of my family at this time, thank you. I do thank everyone for the outpouring of love for my family as well during this difficult time and we appreciate all the prayers and support we are receiving.”
In 2009, Tullian Tchividjian assumed the pastorate of Coral Ridge, a church pastored for decades by culture warrior D. James Kennedy. At the time, Christianity Today published a feature story about the strange appointment of Tchividjian to replace Kennedy:
…For decades, another Presbyterian church in South Florida pressed to win the culture for Christ. Coral Ridge, once led by D. James Kennedy, is 12 miles away from New City in Fort Lauderdale. Once visited by as many as 7,000 on Sunday mornings, Coral Ridge shrunk to 1,400–1,500 regular attendees as Kennedy’s attention turned to national politics. Kennedy last preached on Christmas Eve 2006, and suffered cardiac arrest four days later. He died September 5, 2007, and the church’s leaders searched far and wide for a new senior pastor.
No culture warrior himself, Tchividjian seemed like an unnatural replacement for Kennedy. Yet in January 2009, Coral Ridge and New City proposed a dramatic plan: If the two churches could agree to merge, Tchividjian would become the senior pastor. If not, he would happily remain the pastor of New City. As the churches completed their merger March 15, Tchividjian inherited a high-profile opportunity to work out his vision for an unfashionable church.
Though Tchividjian had never preached at Coral Ridge before March, he was no stranger to its congregation. He hosts a monthly radio program on its radio station, has spoken on numerous occasions at the Kennedy-founded Knox Theological Seminary, and attended Coral Ridge’s private school, Westminster Academy, when his family moved to South Florida in the late 1970s. For a time they even worshiped at Coral Ridge. Once the fastest growing Presbyterian church in the country, Coral Ridge welcomed Billy Graham to dedicate its gorgeous campus in 1974…
…But unlike many others who emphasize this universal dimension, Tchividjian cares little for political life. Millions of dollars dumped into Florida during the past three presidential campaigns have numbed him to politics. Like other young evangelicals, he’s reacting against the overemphasis of the Religious Right, which has precious little to show for extraordinary efforts. Yet Tchividjian does expect that his weekly scriptural expositions will help Christians understand their cultural, social, and political obligations, including how they will vote. And he does not shy away from speaking directly about social issues clearly addressed by Scripture, such as abortion, which he called the “Holocaust of our generation.” Nevertheless, he believes politics reflects, and does not direct, cultural trends.
“For a long time now, I’ve been convinced that what happens in New York (finance), Hollywood (entertainment), Silicon Valley (technology), and Miami (fashion) has a far greater impact on how our culture thinks about reality than what happens in Washington, D.C. (politics),” he writes in Unfashionable. “It’s super important for us to understand that politics are reflective, not directive. That is, the political arena is the place where policies are made which reflect the values of our culture—the habits of heart and mind—that are being shaped by these other, more strategic arenas.”
Unlike the Religious Right’s founders, Tchividjian preaches little about winning the culture wars. Like his grandfather, he believes that focusing on the gospel will reap the reward of faithful church practice, an appealing apologetic in a skeptical age. Now as senior minister of Coral Ridge, he takes this message into one of America’s most prestigious pulpits.
According to Washington Post, a significant number of Coral Ridge members did not like Tchividjian’s approach to the Evangelical culture war and tried to unseat him:
Before he became senior pastor of the Fort Lauderdale congregation, Tchividjian’s church plant, New City, merged with the larger Coral Ridge. Seven months in, a group of church members, headed by Kennedy’s daughter, circulated a petition calling for his removal. Church members voted 69 percent to 31 percent to keep him, but a group of congregants formed a new church in response.
I know, nothing new here.
You have a one time famous Evangelical church that is in serious numerical decline. They bring in a big name preacher to fix what ails them. When some members don’t like the cure they attempt to remove the pastor, and when this fails they abandon the church and start a new one. And all of this is done because God is leading and directing.
Behind closed doors, the famous grandson of Billy Graham is having marital problems. His wife seeks out the comfort and support of another man and he does the same. How many times have we seen this movie? Same plot, different actors. What remains to be seen is whether the Phoenix will rise again. My money is on Tchividjian surviving putting his penis in a non-approved receptacle. The same goes for Kim Tchividjian. The heart wants what the heart wants, and only in the alternate universe of Evangelicalism do people fail to understand this.
I pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years. Men of God seeking out the comfort of a woman not their wife is common. Less common is a pastor’s wife doing the same. Usually, the pastor’s wife is left to endure the indignities heaped upon her by her skirt-chasing husband. It’s somewhat refreshing to see a pastor’s wife doing what has long been the provenance of God’s chosen ones. Progress? Equal opportunity philandering?
Evangelical pastors, Tullian Tchividjian included, have spent the last five decades riding a high horse on the range of moral superiority. Before the internet, clergy sex scandals rarely made the news. Sure there were whispers, but most vow-breaking Evangelical clergymen survived the scandal and continued to pretend they met the ministerial qualifications found in 1 Timothy 3. Thanks to the internet and smartphones, this is no longer the case. It is not IF a pastor will be found out but WHEN. (and I know of NO pastor who meets the qualifications set forth by the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 3 and the book of Titus)
Shane and Morgan Idleman
It’s time for Evangelical pastors to admit that there is no difference between them and any other man. Not that every man has an affair, but every man (and woman) can, in the right circumstance, break their marital vows. Why is it that Evangelical pastors refuse to admit this? Take Shane Idleman, pastor of WestSide Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California. Idleman thinks Tullian Tchividjian’s run from grace is due to:
Within weeks, two of my heroes have fallen from grace, and some of my friends in pastoral ministry have taken detours in their destiny as well. Moral failings among leaders are becoming an epidemic. No one is beyond the reach of Satan’s grasp. Although I’m disappointed, my faith is not shaken because only Christ should be placed on a pedestal.
Why do they fall? They fall for the same reason that all Christians fall. Each of us are drawn away by our own evil desires and enticed. When these desires are acted upon, they lead to sin (cf. James 1:14-15)…
Consider the following ways that sin gains entrance:
1. “It will never happen to me.” 1 Corinthians 10:12 reminds us that if we think that we are standing firm, we should be careful that we don’t fall. “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). Pride says, “I’ve never committed adultery. It will never happen to me.”…
2. I’m “too busy.” We are all susceptible to putting God second and ministry first. If we’re too busy to cultivate a prayer life that places God first—we’re too busy. Men would live better if they prayed better…
3. Holiness is compromised. The enemy attempts to draw us away from God’s holy standard… Of all the attributes of God described in the Bible, holiness is seen most often. Holiness is a vital weapon of defense against the enemies attack (cf. Ephesians 6:14). But holiness must come from brokenness and humility not legalism. A low view of holiness always damages morality…we rationalize instead of repent. I’m convinced that today’s media plays a significant role in the decline of holiness. Sadly, hollywood, not the Holy Spirit, influences many. We cannot fill our mind with darkness all week and expect the light of Christ to shine in our lives.
4. Many build unhealthy relationships with the opposite sex. We must be on high alert in this area and have tremendous steps of accountability in place. The devil doesn’t show those involved in counseling appointments, inner office meetings, and private “fellowship” the pain and anguish and the years of regret that moral failure brings; he deceives them with a false sense of freedom in ministry…that we are simply “helping” the other person. If you are married and attracted to another person, or if the potential is there, take steps now and remove yourself from the environment. Adultery begins with small compromises. We’re often too smart to take deliberate plunges, but we’re easily enticed to take one step at a time, one compromise at a time, one bad choice at a time until we’re at the bottom. Don’t fight sexual desires; don’t entertain them…flee (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:18).
5. We fail to strengthen weak areas. The demands of life often tempt us to seek gratification in alcohol and other things. We must be on high alert. The enemy uses “opportune times” to draw us away from God. (cf. Luke 4:13.) The line is so thin that it is often hard to determine when we cross over. Weak areas such as drugs, alcohol, pain meds, sex, anger, marriage issues, and so on are “opportune times” for the enemy to strike. We must expose these areas through repentance, and install safeguards and accountability. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. (As a sidenote, depression and anxiety can work against us as well. Much can be done to safeguards these areas too…
6. Accountability is often breached or minimized. Accountability is a safeguard, but its not bullet-proof. Accountability, by itself, doesn’t work—it’s not realistic to ask others to hold you accountable. Your heart must be focused on honoring God’s Word. Accountability simply adds another level of security in the battle against sin…
I also have accountability software that sends all websites visited to my wife’s email every week. This is a major deterrent and it makes me very conscious of even seemingly innocent sites. To some, this may seem extreme, but we need to be armed for the enemy who steals, kills, and destroys. The greater our influence, the greater the need for accountability: spiritually, financially, and relationally.
7. Loneliness becomes an excuse. Ministry is hard and can easily take it’s toll. Feeling a sense of entitlement if often the beginning of justifying wrong choices. We can easily become jealous and judgmental of those who seem to have “all the fun.”…
In closing, if you are on the cliff or have already fallen, take time now and repent…
Seven points and poem from Idleman only confuse and obfuscate what the real issue is. Forty years ago, a crusty old preacher-professor told the preacher boys at Midwestern Baptist College, the college my wife and I attended in the 1970’s, that a “stiff prick has no conscience.” No need to slather Tullian Tchividjian’s affair with hyper-spiritual blather. The sexual want, need, and stirring that arose in Tchividjian’s body gave him sufficient warning. Danger Tullian Danger, you want this woman. He chose to act on his desire, as did his wife. While there are certainly contributing factors that led to the affairs, the base reason is the need for sexual fulfillment
Idleman’s article is little more than an attempt to justify the moral failure of his hero. It’s time for Evangelical pastors and churches to come clean about sexual infidelity in their ranks. ( please see my post Is Clergy Sexual Infidelity Rare?) It’s time to admit that there is no difference between the Evangelical Christian and the unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world. The moral high ground is a fiction used to prop up House Evangelical. As the light of day continues to shine on the dark secrets of Holy Spirit filled men of God, we should expect to hear of more and more stories like this one.
I focused on just one aspect of Shane Idleman’s article. There was just too much bullshit to shovel in one post.
Am I the only one who notices that most of these big name Evangelical preachers have hot wives?
Pastor Bob shows Church Member Felicia How Much Jesus Loves Her
In October 2013, Doug Phillips, president of the now defunct Vision Forum Ministries confessed to church leaders that he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a woman who is not his wife. Defenders of Phillips took to their blogs, websites, Twitter, and Facebook to do damage control on the behalf of Phillips and the patriarchal movement. One such defender is Independent Baptist pastor Voddie Baucham, a man who is widely viewed as the African-American version of Doug Phillips.
Dennis, You ask, “How many times do we see this in Christian leadership?” The answer may surprise you, but it is actually quite rare. There are hundreds of thousands of churches in America. We hear of these types of things on a national basis when they happen to high profile people. However, considering the number of people in Christian leadership, the numbers are quite small. As to your other point, most men who go through something like this never recover. Of course, there are exceptions. Moreover, there are some circles wherein things like this, and much worse, are merely swept under the rug. However, in circles where leadership is taken seriously, it is very difficult for a man to come back from things like this. People have long memories, and tend to be rather unforgiving. (emphasis mine)
Baucham repeats the oft-told lie that clergy sexual misconduct is quite rare. I have heard this line more times than I can count. It is an attempt to prop up the notion that clergy are more moral and ethical than most people; that they are pillars of virtue and morality. Such claims are patently false.
Of the one thousand fifty (1,050 or 100%) pastors we surveyed, every one of them had a close associate or seminary buddy who had left the ministry because of burnout, conflict in their church, or from a moral failure.
Three hundred ninety-nine (399 or 38%) of pastors said they were divorced or currently in a divorce process.
Three hundred fifteen (315 or 30%) said they had either been in an ongoing affair or a one-time sexual encounter with a parishioner.
So much for clergy sexual infidelity being rare.
Numerous studies have been conducted concerning sexual infidelity among married people. The percentage varies widely, but it is safe to say that between ten and twenty percent of married people have been sexually unfaithful to their spouse. The percentage is higher for men than it is women.
We know that men of the cloth are not morally or ethically superior. In the United States and Canada, there are approximately 600,000 clergy. According to the Hartford Institute for Religion and Research, this total includes active clergy and “retired clergy, chaplains in hospitals, prisons and the military, denominational executives, and ordained faculty at divinity schools and seminaries.” This number does not include clergy who are affiliated with independent churches. If between ten and twenty percent of married people commit adultery, and clergy are no different morally from non-clergy, then this means that between 60,000 and 120,000 clergy have committed adultery. Again, so much for clergy sexual infidelity being rare.
Keep in mind, this is only the number of CONSENSUAL sexual relationships. Each month, the Freedom from Religion Foundation newsletter publishes reports of clergy misconduct on their Black Collar Crime Blotter page. In the October 2013 newsletter, there were over sixty reports of clergy being accused, arrested, charged, convicted, sued or imprisoned for criminal acts, many of which are sexual in nature. As we know from cases like Bill Wininger, Bob Gray, and David Hyles, predator clergy can prey on children, teens, and women for decades before they are caught.
Voddie Baucham’s suggestion that there is not a problem with clergy infidelity is a denial of the facts on the matter. As with the Catholic church, Protestant and Evangelical churches have their own their own sex scandals. Evangelicals love to point to the Catholic church’s sex scandals, all the while ignoring their own increasing problems with sexual infidelity, sexual abuse, and predator clergy.
Most clergy are faithful to their spouses and most of them are not sexual abusers or predators. That said, there are tens of thousands of clergy who can’t keep their pants zipped up and there are thousands of pastors who use their position of authority to abuse and prey on those who trust them.
Jack Hyles, David Hyles, Jim Krall, World’s Greatest Men
Jack Hyles, the late pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Indiana, had a son named David. David Hyles was the youth pastor at First Baptist. He later pastored, if I remember right, Miller Road Baptist Church in Garland, Texas. Miller Road was previously pastored by his father. David Hyles, like his father before him, and like his brother-in-law Jack Schaap, (see Chicago Magazine articles on Schaap) had a problem with keeping it in his pants. He was accused of having sex with girls/women at First Baptist Church, Miller Road Baptist Church and several of churches he attended after he could no longer find a church to pastor.
A post on Café Mom succinctly details the serial adultery and criminal behavior of David Hyles:
Jack’s son, Dave Hyles is famous for his perversions that his daddy attempted to help cover up.
Dave Hyles used to scream until his face went purple when I was teenager. Dave used to travel around the country and hold youth rallies where he would scream: “BE PURE! BE PURE!!!” I was a teen then but I always knew there was something ungodly in his rage.
Not too long after that, they found a suitcase in a dumpster in a church parking lot containing pictures of Dave Hyles and a woman (not his wife), both very much in the nude and in compromising positions. Of course Dave wasn’t removed from the ministry, just moved to a different church in a galaxy far far away. (Texas)
Then David Hyles was kicked out of that church for running around with lots of women. 19 to be exact!!
David Hyles ran off to Indiana with Brenda Stevens. (One of the women who was in those photographs with Dave Hyles found in that suitcase above.) Brenda Stevens had a young son, named Brent.
In late 1985, 15-month-old Brent was found dead in his crib. David Hyles, who had been alone with the child, claimed he found him not breathing, and called police. In reality Dave called his father Jack Hyles first. Jack Hyles was on the scene long before the police were called.
A coroner’s inquest into Brent’s death Dave Hyles exercised his Fifth Amendment rights. Brenda Stevens— the baby’s mother didn’t even attend the coroner’s inquest into the death of her own 15 month old son.
At this inquest, it was revealed the investigation was thwarted because the little boy had been embalmed and buried the very next day— Jack officiated, The boy was buried before a proper autopsy could be performed.
The little 15 month old had nine different broken bones in different stages of healing. The case remains open to this day.
Was Dave Hyles banned from the ministry even after all the above? Oh no. In the 1990′s Dave moved by daddy where Dave taught Sunday school at a Pinellas Park Baptist Church in Florida. He was kicked out of that church because of adultery.
Dave Hyles was then thrown out of the next church he attended (Berean Baptist Church in Orange Park, Florida), for “sexual misconduct” with three different women. One of those 3 women was the church secretary Joyce Phaneuf, who was arrested for prostitution in 2003. Joyce Phaneuf, her mug shot and arrest report — which notes the tattoo on her right-upper thigh, reading “David’s Girl.”
After all this, Dave Hyles finally married Brenda Stevens and the two had their own son who they named Jack David. In March 1999, Brenda Stevens said little 5 year old Jack David must have fallen out of her car, she didn’t know it, and she ran over her own son with her own car–killing him.
Of particular interest is David Hyles’ involvement with Joyce Phaneuf, the secretary at Berean Baptist Church. The following graphic, detailing Phaneuf’s tattoo, pretty well says it all.
Dr. Bob Gray Sr. is pastor emeritus of Longview Baptist Temple, an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) megachurch in Longview Texas. The Gray franchise is now pastored by Bob Gray, Jr. Bob Gray, Sr. prepared for the ministry at Hyles-Anderson College and is a stanch defender of all things Hyles. It should come as no surprise then that when David Hyles recently showed up at the Longview Baptist Temple, he was warmly received. A known serial adulterer, with a suspected criminal past, was given a warm welcome by Pastor Gray. (Junior I believe, since Senior was preaching in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on October 27th.) A person with a close connection to the Longview Baptist Temple emailed me about Hyles’ appearance at the church. This person, a committed Christian, knowing Hyles’ backstory, was rightly upset over Hyles being given a warm welcome.
Here is what I know about Bob Gray, Sr. Rather than being offended that a known serial adulterer, a PREDATORY abuser, and a suspected criminal, showed up at his church, he will be more offended that somebody dared to talk out of school. How dare someone report to an atheist what is going on the House that Bob Built!
This is a reminder to me that there are still decent, good people who attend IFB churches. I don’t understand why they still attend these kind of churches, but they do (and the reasons may be things like fear, family, social connection). These good people rightly understand the indecency of giving a man like David Hyles one moment of respect. They rightly understand that the only place for David Hyles is back under the rock he crawled out from under.
Until David Hyles makes a full and public confession of his “sins” — which he will NEVER do because of possible criminal liability — he should not be allowed to step foot in a church. David Hyles left behind a trail of broken lives, women whose lives were ruined by a man of God why preyed on them. How can men like Bob Gray not understand this?
Dr. Bob Gray, Sr. obsesses over blogs such as this one. As a controlling egomaniac, he is outraged that he can’t control the story line. He will take to his blog to express his unrighteous outrage, but his actions will be for nothing. Thousands more people will read this blog post than will ever read Gray’s blog, Solve Church Problems. Those of us who make it our business to expose what goes on in IFB churches can’t be silenced. Prayers that God kills us go unanswered and people, good Christian people, continue to share what is really going on in places like the Longview Baptist Temple.
We are on to you, Dr. Bob.
Perhaps Gray, Sr. was paving the way for what took place at Longview on Sunday with the following post on his blog:
…No one is perfect; we are all dirty scoundrels. We have all offended and mistreated other people. If all of us seek vengeance towards those who have mistreated us, we will all be in trouble. If you continue to hold bitterness in your heart towards someone, you will never find happiness. You will die young because of hatred and bitterness. Instead, you should realize God has forgiven you of far greater sins than the sins people have committed against you. If He can forgive you, then surely you can forgive other people.
Once you have enjoyed the sunset of forgiveness, you will never again enjoy the sunset of vengeance. Once you have tasted the sweetness of forgiveness, once you have bathed in the sunlight of restitution, once you have eaten from the table of heavenly manna, love, and kindness, you will never be satisfied with hatred.
It is not my job to seek vengeance – that is God’s responsibility. I do not know how to play the organ; the organist knows how to do it, and that is her responsibility. I do not know how to play the piano or sing; we have pianists and musicians to do that. If I were to walk into church one day and try to play the piano or organ, I would fail at it. I do not have the training. By the same token, it is not my responsibility to seek vengeance. That is God’s responsibility.
There is a difference between my vengeance and His vengeance. My vengeance is destructive; I want to destroy a person. God’s vengeance seeks to catch a person’s attention so He can salvage him. I am incapable of properly seeking vengeance just as I am incapable of playing the piano properly.
My job is to forgive. It is not Christ-like to be forgiven, because Christ never sinned. On the other hand, it is Christ-like to forgive. If someone treats me wrong and I forgive him, I am being Christ-like…
Gray seems to not understand that forgiveness requires confession and repentance. In David Hyles’ case, public sin requires public confession and repentance. Until this is done, there is no reason for anyone to forgive David Hyles. I am content to leave the forgiving to God; however, in THIS life, his victims deserve seeing David Hyles shamefully confessing his “sins.” Perhaps, in some small way, this would allow them to come to terms with what happened to them and they can find peace. There are wounds that time often does not heal. Sexual wounds fall into that category. If Dr. Bob Gray Sr. really wants to do good, he will demand David Hyles come clean about his past. He will also demand that he make restitution wherever possible.
Of course, Dr. Bob won’t do this. The ONLY thing he is concerned about is…who told?
I trust the person who sent me this news. I treat these reports like TMZ. I reserve the right to amend the story if further details are made known. If you know anything about David Hyles being at the Longview Baptist Temple, please let me know.