Tag Archive: Mormonism

Millions and Millions of People Say Evangelicalism is True: Are Christian Converts Making it Up?

size matters

Determining Which Religion is True

Recently, an Evangelical man by the name of Mike left the following comment on the post titled The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Evangelical Bill Wiese Preys on Dying Atheist:

JESUS offers the only way to Heaven. It is not difficult but some are so arrogant or get off on their unbelief. The problem with that is this life ends in a blip. Life is just a vapor. Choose Heaven…over hell. Are these people with these incredible experiences all making it up? All of them? Be serious.

We shall all die and be totally forgotten…except by GOD thankfully.

Mike asks, “Are these people with these incredible [conversion] experiences all making it up?” Well, certainly some of them are making it up. Evangelical churches are filled with people who are just going through the motions; people who don’t really believe. I have no doubt that on Sundays, Evangelical churches even have atheists in their midst; unbelievers who go through the motions for the sake of the marriages or families. Some churches even have atheist pastors — men who don’t believe, yet preach the “gospel” Sunday after Sunday. (Check out the Clergy Project for more information about help for unbelieving clergy.)

Now, Mike is likely a True Christian®. He probably knows countless other people who are members of the True Christian® Club — Established 33 A.D. by Jesus Christ. Mike incredulously asks me to be serious. Do I really think that people with incredible conversion experiences are all making it up? No, I don’t think True Christians® are lying when they testify to what Jesus has done in their lives. I almost always take Christian professions of faith at face value. That said, since the Evangelical God has never been seen, and neither has the Holy Spirit, is it not fair for skeptics and atheists to question whether such beings exist and whether said conversion experiences can, in fact, be proved? The very nature of faith requires believing without seeing. (Hebrews 11) While Jesus, in fact, walked the streets of Galilee almost 2,000 years ago, no one has seen him since the first century. There’s no credible evidence for claims that Jesus physically resurrected and ascended to Heaven. Jesus, supposedly, now sits at the right hand of the Father, awaiting the day and time when Gabriel will blow his trumpet, signifying the second coming of Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, to earth. Millions of Evangelicals gather on Sundays to praise and worship the resurrected Christ and the wonders of his saving grace. Evangelical worship is rooted not in fact, but faith; again, believing what cannot be seen. No one has ever seen God, the Holy Spirit, Jesus, angels, Satan, or demons, yet Evangelicals believe these entities exist and are intimately involved in their day-to-day lives. Surely, the fact that they “believe” these things to be true makes them so, right? No! No! No!

Is the fact millions of people believe something to be true, make it so? Of course not. Humans can and do believe things that are patently false or are rooted in myth. Just because millions and millions of Evangelicals believe Jesus is the virgin-born, miracle-working, crucified, and resurrected Son of God, doesn’t mean their beliefs are, in fact, true. When Evangelicals are pressed for evidence for their theological claims, they ultimately appeal to the Bible and faith. Either you believe or you don’t. Evangelicals, for a variety of reasons, suspend rationality and choose, instead, to put their faith and trust in the Christian narrative. Atheists and other unbelievers refuse to set reason aside and faith-it. Granted, Evangelicals have all sorts of apologetical arguments they use to refute atheist claims, but the differences between the two parties really come down to one thing — faith. Evangelicals have it and atheists don’t.

Mike would have us believe that the mere fact that countless Evangelicals believe in Jesus and have had conversion experiences, alone, is “proof” of their truthiness. Of course, this notion is easily disproven. Evangelism is, by nature, exclusionary. Only those who have repented of their sins and put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ are blood-washed members of the True Christian® Club.  All other religions are false. Wait a minute, if the sheer number of adherents determines whether theological claims are true, wouldn’t that mean that Islam, with 1.8 billion believers, is true? Couldn’t the same be said for Mormons? Mormonism is quite Evangelical in theology and practice. Almost 15 million people worldwide worship the Mormon version of Jesus Christ. Surely, this means that Mormonism is true too, right?

Let’s go back to the first century for a moment. The Romans ruled most of the known world. God’s chosen people, the Jews, were under the thumb of Rome. A ragtag group of misfits walked the streets of Jerusalem and Galilee, claiming that their leader, Jesus, was some sort of miracle worker — a man sent from God. Yet, when all the Christians gathered in an upper room to await the Day of Pentecost, they numbered 120 people (Acts 1). Think of all the miracles Jesus purportedly worked. Think of the things that happened when he died: the veil in the Jewish Temple was rent in twain, graves opened up and dead people came back to life and walked the streets of Jerusalem, and the sun was darkened. Think of all the miracles Jesus worked after his three-day weekend in the grave. (Please see I Wish Christians Would be Honest About Jesus’ Three Day Weekend.) Yet, come the events recorded in Acts 1, the disciples of Jesus numbered 120. Talk about failure. Why, President Trump would be tweeting about what a failure Jesus and the Apostles were to him! Using Mike’s logic — just being serious here — it would seem that the gods of Rome were the true Gods. If crowd size determines whether theological claims are true, it’s fair to say that Christianity is false.

Now, I know that Evangelicals have all sorts of apologetical arguments they use to show that Evangelical Christianity is true, and all other religions (and non-religions) are false. Mormon believe this or that, and this proves Mormonism is false, Evangelicals say. Similar arguments are made against Islam, Buddhism, Roman Catholicism, HinduismPastafarianism, Shintoism, Santeria, and cargo religions. Bruce, all these other religions are false! Why? Why is Christianity true and all other religions false? Look at their crazy beliefs, Bruce! Only Christianity is true! Really? Try taking a look at Evangelical Christianity from the outside. Isn’t the Evangelical narrative just as crazy as that of other religions? I have already disproved the notion that the size of the sect proves its truthiness. Lots of sects have millions and billions of adherents. If penis size alone determines which appendage is the one true cock, what can be said about Trump-sized groups such as Evangelicals — whose numbers are quite small when compared to Roman Catholicism, Hinduism, and Islam?

No, the fact that millions and millions of people profess faith in the Evangelical Jesus proves nothing. Just because individual Christians testify to the miracle-working power of their God, it proves nothing. Sure, religion can and does effect change in the lives of people, but beliefs need not be true for them to be transformative. Humans believe all sorts of things that are false. In science, there is what is called the placebo effect: a beneficial effect produced by a placebo drug or treatment, which cannot be attributed to the properties of the placebo itself, and must therefore be due to the patient’s belief in that treatment. Most humans want meaning, purpose, and happiness in their lives. Is it not possible the religion in general and specifically Evangelicalism produces a placebo effect? Evangelicals “believe” and it works. Evangelicalism doesn’t work for atheists. Why is that? Atheists don’t believe; they don’t have the requisite faith necessary for one to become a Christian.

I hope that this post puts to rest the argument that truth is determined by crowd size. It’s not, and if the Mikes of the world want to prove that Evangelicalism is true, it is time for them to prove it; not with lame presuppositions or Bible verses, but real evidence. Of course, no such evidence is forthcoming, and for this reason, and others, the number of unbelievers continues to grow.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Black Collar Crime: Mormon Sunday School Teacher Noel Anderson Sentenced to 50 Years in Prison

noel anderson

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

In March 2018, I posted a story about Mormon Sunday school teacher Noel Anderson’s arrest on aggravated sexual assault charges. At the time, Anderson admitted molesting ” four children between the ages of two and six over the past seven years.”  Yesterday, Anderson, 23, was sentenced to fifty years in prison without the possibility of parole.

Anderson’s arrest and conviction troubled his fellow church members.  One church member said, “He was an outstanding youth in our church. The gold standard for what you would want your son to grow up to be.” He may have been an “outstanding youth,” but he was also a sexual predator. Faith does not protect children from such people.

I do find myself wondering what, exactly, went wrong with this boy. News reports say that Anderson molested these children for seven years. This means he was 15 when he began preying on children.  While my heart goes out to the victims, I do feel sorry for Anderson. He will be 73 years old before he is released from prison. I wonder, what drove him to molest these children? Was there anything in his past, his upbringing, that was a contributing factor? Were there other victims, children that have not come forward? How did Anderson behave while on mission?

One thing is for certain, child molesters don’t stop harming children until they are caught.  I have no doubt that the victims coming forward saved other children from being preyed upon by Anderson. If they had not spoken up, Anderson would have continued in his predatory ways.  More ruined lives left in the wake of his vile behavior.

Black Collar Crime: Mormon Bishop David Moss Arrested on Sex Crime Charges

david moss

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

David Moss, a Mormon bishop at the Mill Pond Ward in Lehi, Utah, was arrested last month in a human trafficking sting.

Fox-13 reports:

Detectives say 51-year-old David N. Moss, using the alias “Pilot”, contacted women he believed to be prostitutes on social media. Moss told the women he could manage them, which he claimed was different from being a pimp.

Officers say Moss told the women he could protect them, help them avoid police, and book their clients on their behalf. He told the women he had “run” other girls in the past.

Moss ultimately met with the two undercover officers, and during that meeting he showed them cash and said he was “not opposed to paying” for services, detectives allege. He also detailed ways to avoid police and at that point forcibly grabbed one woman’s hand and placed it on his genitals.

The document states Moss then unzipped his pants and exposed himself to the two undercover detectives.

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Detectives wrote that Moss’ current position as a religious leader and his prior work as a vice squad cop in St. George gave them reason to worry there may be more victims out there.

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Moss was booked into jail for the Lehi incident on charges of exploiting a prostitute, patronizing a prostitute, sexual battery, and two counts of lewdness.

Moss was a former police officer. He was in charge of the vice squad for the St. George Police Department. According to Fox-13:

Capt. Mike Giles, St. George Police, said Moss previously supervised their vice squad but resigned his position in their department seven years ago. He said Moss was involved in a consensual sexual relationship that had “an on-duty component” but was not in any way related to the current allegations Moss faces.

Giles said Moss resigned after his case went to a pre-determination meeting but before any recommendation for termination was made.

 

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Marie Osmond Fears Losing Freedom to Worship God

marie osmond

There’s strength in numbers, and… really, why are we here? You know, several years ago… I realize that some people say, it is like a wave that’s coming. And that’s what made me think of Hawaii, too. There’s this wave that Christianity… has had its day. That the world has changed and Christians are out of touch. That we need to move on to modern times in this world that we live in, and we need to let the past be the past. And we have a lot of pressure to accept worldly values and things that… where people feel that the world has changed. But we know that God never changes.

And I look at our Christian families and the values that we hold dear and there’s, like I said, this great storm and this struggle where we could lose our freedoms, and we could lose our values, and the things that we hold so dearly, as Christians, to worship our God freely.

And we are one nation that was created under God, and the world that we are living in right now is trying to remove those freedoms from us. And I tell you: I know that it is time for us to be ‘ohana. To be united as a family. Because we are weak individually, but we are strong as we are united. We are. We are powerful.

I believe that standing together strong and showing the world that the teachings and the example of Jesus Christ are not only timely more than ever, but are timeless… tonight. I love that we are uniting together in a celebration of song and love and passion for our beloved God and our Savior Jesus Christ to worship through music today. And I pray that the Holy Spirit will be here, that we will, in our efforts to be ‘ohana this evening, that we will all have faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And I say this and that in His beautiful name, amen.

— Marie Osmond, Interfatih Event in Hawaii, October 12, 2018

Video Link

HT: The Friendly Atheist

Rodrigo Duterte May be a Psychopath, But He’s Right About God

rodrigo duterte

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is a psychopath. Duterte’s approach to drug abuse and trafficking brought the praise of American sociopath Donald Trump, but most governments rightly condemned him for murdering addicts and traffickers alike. Duterte sees himself as a Filipino version of President Trump. Trump admires thugs, autocrats, and dictators, and I suspect if it weren’t for the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law, the president would likely behave as Duterte does. Imagine how Trump would resolve the immigration problem if he were unencumbered by law and public opinion.

Last Friday, Duterte riled up Catholics and Evangelicals in a televised speech shown on CBS News when he said:

Who is this stupid God? This son of a bitch is then really stupid. How can you rationalize a God? Do you believe?

[Duterte lamented that Adam and Eve’s sin in Christian theology resulted in all the faithful falling from divine grace.] You were not involved but now you’re stained with an original sins [sic] … What kind of a religion is that? That’s what I can’t accept, very stupid proposition.

Perhaps Duterte knows the Christian God better than offended Christians think he does. You know the old adage, it takes one to know one. Duterte, a psychopath, knows a fellow psychopath when he sees HIM.

Filipino Catholic Bishop Arturo Bastes had this to say about Duterte:

Duterte’s tirade against God and the Bible reveals again that he is a psychological freak, a psychopath, an abnormal mind who should have not been elected as president of our civilized and Christian nation.

Ponder, for a moment, what Bishop Bastes is saying here; that people who don’t believe in the existence of the Christian God and don’t buy the notion of original sin have abnormal minds and are uncivilized. Evidently, Bastes has never read anything about the history of his church; especially the days when people were tortured and murdered by the church, and secular powers blessed by the Catholic church pillaged countless villages, raped women and girls, and murdered thousands of people.

Duterte is an interesting psychopath to the degree that he doesn’t see religion as a tool to use for the advancement of his cause. In this regard, Duterte is different from the American Psycho. The president, every bit the atheist that I am, understands how valuable certain Christian sects — namely Evangelicals, conservative Catholics, and Mormons — are to the advancement of his anti-human agenda. Trump knows as long as he pretends he cares about abortion, religious “freedom,” and other hot-button cultural issues, Evangelicals, Catholics, and Mormons will continue to support him. Trump, I’m sure, is paying attention to the outrage over Duterte’s comments. Just say the right things, Donald, the president says to himself, and take care of My Evangelicals®, and they will make me dictator for life! Praise Jesus, right?

Black Collar Crime: Mormon Elder Dr. Gerald Mortimer Accused of Sperm Switcheroo

gerald mortimer

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

A recently filed lawsuit alleges that Dr. Gerald Mortimer, an elder in the Mormon church, used his own sperm to artificially impregnate Kelli Rowlette’s mother. Roweltte was unaware of the switcheroo until her Ancestry.com DNA test revealed that Mortimer was her biological father.

CBS News reports:

Millions have used Ancestry.com to trace the roots of their family tree. But Kelli Rowlette, a woman from Iowa, says it led to a stunning discovery about her biological father.

A 14-page lawsuit filed in Idaho revealed her biological father was allegedly her parent’s fertility doctor.

The suit claims that Dr. Gerald Mortimer, an elder in the Mormon church, helped Rowlett’s parents get pregnant in 1980. He recommended they use a “85 percent mixture of her dad’s [Mr. Fowler] genetic material, and 15 percent of the mixture would be from anonymous donor.” The suit alleges that didn’t happen, and instead Dr. Mortimer used his own sperm.

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When Ancestry.com test results said Mortimer was her father, Rowlette thought there was an error. But she “discovered her birth certificate had been signed by Dr. Mortimer,” and she was “horrified and contacted her parents in a panic,” according to the suit.

The Idaho Statesman adds:

A doctor in Eastern Idaho is accused of secretly using his own sperm to fertilize a patient in 1980. Almost 40 years later, the baby is a grown woman who says she just learned the truth from a mail-in DNA test.

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Sally Ashby and Howard Fowler were having trouble conceiving in 1979. They went to Dr. Gerald Mortimer, who ran an OB/GYN practice in Idaho Falls, looking for help.

The problem, Mortimer told them, was that Ashby had a tipped uterus and Fowler’s sperm count and motility were low.

He recommended artificial insemination — using a mix of semen from Fowler and an anonymous donor, chosen by the couple based on whatever characteristics they desired.

They chose a donor who was in college and who looked like Fowler — over 6 feet tall with brown hair and blue eyes.

Mortimer told the couple he had a donor in mind, and he performed the artificial insemination procedure three times a month on Ashby, throughout the summer of 1980.

The couple welcomed a daughter, named Kelli, in May 1981. Mortimer delivered the baby.

Ashby continued to see Mortimer as her OB/GYN for several years. The couple eventually decided to move to Washington — after adding a son to their family without medical assistance.

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Three decades later, Kelli Rowlette was a grown woman. Like many other Americans curious about their lineage, Rowlette sent in a DNA sample for analysis on Ancestry.com.

She got a notification last July that her DNA sample had a match: a parent-child relationship with Mortimer.

Rowlette had no idea who Mortimer was. She didn’t know the story of how she was conceived. She assumed Ancestry.com was just plain wrong and mentioned to her mother how disappointed she was in the service.

“Mrs. Rowlette gave Ms. Ashby access to the results from Ancestry.com,” the lawsuit says. “When Ms. Ashby was alone, she accessed the account to investigate further. When Ms. Ashby saw Dr. Mortimer’s name, she was devastated.”

Ashby called Fowler, now her ex-husband, and filled him in. Both of them were devastated, and they spent “several months” trying to decide whether to tell their daughter who Mortimer was, the lawsuit says.

The parents “struggled to cope with their own anguish, and had difficulty contemplating the torment the discovery would cause their daughter when and if she found out,” the lawsuit says.

Last fall, the choice was made for them. Rowlette was at her father’s house helping him clean out old papers. She found her birth certificate — and on it, Dr. Mortimer’s signature.

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Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Rape is the Same as Consensual Gay Sex, Says Mormon Quentin Cook

quentin cook

It is commendable that nonconsensual immorality [rape, sexual assault] has been exposed and denounced. Such nonconsensual immorality is against the laws of God and of society. Those who understand God’s plan should also oppose consensual immorality [gay sex, fornication, adultery], which is also a sin.

Mormon Apostle Quentin Cook at the 2018 Mormon General Conference

Black Collar Crime: Former Mormon Missionary Training Center President Joseph Bishop Accused of Rape

joseph l bishop

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Joseph Bishop, a former president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Missionary Training School stands accused of attempted rape. Bishop cannot be prosecuted due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. A 1980 interview of the former dean of women at Weber State College — where Bishop was president — suggests that Bishop was lacking in moral character.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

A former president of the LDS Missionary Training Center has admitted that he took a young woman into a small room at the Provo campus in 1984 and asked to see her breasts, according to a report released Wednesday by Brigham Young University police.

The release comes three days after MormonLeaks published an explosive, taped conversation between the woman and Joseph L. Bishop, whom she accuses of attempting to rape her.

Bishop, now 85, said during their December conversation that he didn’t remember taking her into the room, let alone sexually assaulting her. But he repeatedly apologized, describing himself as a predator and saying he had confessed to other sexual misconduct — disclosures that have ignited outrage online and questions about whether the Mormon church failed to protect women.

Bishop was the president of Weber State College (now University) in the 1970s, a Mormon mission president in Argentina from 1979 to 1982 and president of the missionary compound until 1986, supervising thousands of young male and female missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In November, the woman told BYU police she wanted to report being sexually assaulted at the center in 1984. Before she spoke in detail with officers, however, she visited Bishop in Arizona, posing as a writer who was interviewing former mission presidents.

During their nearly three-hour conversation on Dec. 2, which she secretly recorded, the Colorado woman urged him to admit what he did to her and others. The woman reminded him that during their time at the MTC, Bishop flattered her, took her out of class and told her she was special. He shared intimate aspects of his own marriage, including his sex life, she said, describing specific details.

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He claimed not to remember the assault she alleged, but three days later, he told BYU officers that he recalled going into his small preparation room with her. “Then while talking to her he asked her to show him her breasts,” the report said, “which she did.”

The woman told officers that Bishop attempted to kiss her in the room and she resisted. She said he ripped her blouse and skirt, pulled down other clothing and raped her, according to the report. She said she then pushed him off and left the room.

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Deputy Utah County Attorney David Sturgill said he could not pursue charges against Bishop because the statute of limitations had expired. In 1984, he said, the legal deadline for filing a rape charge was four years.“ I have no reason to doubt the victim’s disclosure, and would have likely prosecuted Mr. Bishop,” Sturgill wrote in the report, “but for the expiration of the statute of limitations.”

The woman leveling this allegation against Bishop released the following statement:

I’m the woman in the recording with Joseph L. Bishop. My identity will be revealed when I file the lawsuit.

First, although MormonLeaks did release my recording prior to my consent, Mr. McKnight and Mr. Dodge support my cause. It is my belief that they were concerned about ALL of the victims that may become forgotten if my story was silenced by a settlement and non-disclosure agreement. I cannot fault them for that. Having this story leaked has actually helped me. I was struggling with the settlement. Part of me wanted to take it and part of me didn’t. They made it easy for me. I didn’t have to choose. Some have stated that I am heroic and brave. I am neither of those things. I interviewed my rapist because I was pissed off. The church told me I wasn’t entitled to know what action, if any, had been taken in my reporting his raping me to several church leaders for 30 years. I was fed up. It was neither brave nor heroic.

Part of me wanted this to go away quietly and a bigger part of me wanted to scream from the top of the mountain what he did to me. Now I get to scream!

Even if the leak of the recording was prior to my consent, I do not agree that these men are re-victimizing me. I don’t think they would have released the recording without giving it serious thought and weighing the consequences heavily.

I look forward to sharing more of the story in the coming weeks.

You can listen to the woman’s audio recording of her interview of Bishop here.

Black Collar Crime: Mormon Sunday School Teacher Noel Anderson Admits Sexually Assaulting Children

noel anderson

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Noel Anderson, a Sunday school teacher at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in McKinney, Texas, was arrested on aggravated sexual assault charges after he admitted to sexually assaulting four children.

NBC-5 reports:

McKinney Police have arrested a 22-year-old who is now facing Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child charges.

Investigators say Noel Anderson admitted to sexually assaulting four children between the ages of two and six over the past seven years.

Police said Anderson is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints located at 1020 North Lake Forest Drive in McKinney.

Investigators said Anderson found his victims through church activities and meetings and that he also held church responsibilities, such as being the primary instructor for children ages 7 and 8 back in 2014.

Officers are now asking for the public’s assistance in identifying and additional victims that may have come in contact with Anderson. If you believe inappropriate contact was made, contact McKinney Police Detective U. Watson at 972-547-2729.

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CBS-DFW adds:

There is a new charge facing a former McKinney Sunday school teacher accused of abusing the children of families he befriended at the church. Noel Anderson, 22, was arrested last week and charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child. Police have since added a second charge of indecency with a child sexual contact. According to investigators, Anderson has admitted to the abuse. Church members say the sense of betrayal is deep.

“He was an outstanding youth in our church,” says a concerned parent with knowledge of the case, “the gold standard for what you would want your son to grow up to be.”

In spite of the fact that Anderson has allegedly admitted his guilt, this parent says families fear speaking publicly about the case and we agreed to not disclose the church member’s identity. An earlier report that cautioned about the lifelong consequences of failing to treat childhood trauma prompted the parent to speak up.

“Sexual abuse is like throwing a grenade in the middle of somebody’s psychological life,” says Sylvia Gearing, Ph.D., a Plano clinical psychologist. “It stops their development.” Early treatment, she say is key. But, first, additional victims have to be identified and encouraged to come forward.

“I have lost all trust and hope,” says the church member, “just bewildered. Shocked.”

According to McKinney police, a young child made the initial outcry. A parent with knowledge of the case told us that the child saw a picture of Anderson and said “I don’t like him.” We’re told a parent had the courage to ask why, and what followed were heartbreaking words.

“She indicated that Noel had touched her in her privates,” relayed the church member.

That child’s courage has no doubt saved others. Still, families are wrestling with the pain and betrayal… telling me, they not only knew and loved Noel Anderson, they trusted him and his spiritual leadership.

“A complete lie. These abuses took place before and after his mission,” added the church member, referring to police reports that Anderson had been abusing children for years.

Black Collar Crime: Mormon Frank Selas III Sentenced to Five Years in Prison for Sexually Abusing Children

frank selas mr wonder III

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Frank Selas III, a Mormon and former children’s TV show host, was sentenced to five years in prison for sexually abusing children while on a camping trip.

The Star Tribune reports:

A man once known as “Mr. Wonder” to viewers of his children’s television show was sentenced Thursday to five years in prison, nearly four decades after he vanished amid allegations he sexually abused children on a camping trip.

Frank John Selas III, 78, pleaded guilty to one count of indecent behavior with a child before a judge in Alexandria sentenced him, Assistant District Attorney Brian Mosley said in a statement.

With credit for time served since his January 2016 arrest in California, Selas could be eligible for parole as soon as July, his attorney said.

Selas had faced the possibility of life in prison if convicted of two counts of aggravated rape, three counts of sexual battery and eight counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile. All of those charges related to one child who had been on the 1979 camping trip, according to defense attorney J. Michael Small.

Small said the plea deal was a “no-brainer” for Selas, given the potential consequences if he went to trial on Feb. 5.

Mosley said authorities consulted the victim before determining that a plea deal was in the “best interest” of the man and his family, due to the “sensitive nature of this case.” Resolving the case this way also spared them a grueling trial that would have been covered by “countless media outlets,” the prosecutor added.

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In the late 1970s, Selas hosted the “Mr. Wonder” show on KNOE-TV in north Louisiana. He allegedly fled to Brazil in 1979 after parents complained to authorities that he abused their children during a retreat in central Louisiana. By 1985, he had settled in the San Diego area, where he legally changed his name to Frank Szeles. Selas initially claimed that authorities had arrested the wrong person, but a San Diego judge ruled he was the fugitive who had been wanted in Louisiana since 1979.

Selas briefly worked as a news anchor at Monroe-based KNOE-TV, but it was his children’s show that turned him into a local celebrity. It started as a weekly program but went daily as its popularity grew. Often wearing a top hat and tuxedo coat, Selas presided over contests between teams of children bused to the station from local schools.

In San Diego, the man known to neighbors as Frank Szeles was a Cub Scouts leader who advertised swim lessons and other activities for young children from his suburban home in Bonita. Federal marshals found a Cub Scouts cap in his house when they arrested him

The Boy Scouts of America has said Selas was removed from his position several years before his arrest for failing to comply with the organization’s “youth protection policies and procedures,” after a parent made an unspecified complaint that didn’t relate to scouting. Selas also belonged to a Mormon congregation in San Diego, but the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has said it removed him from “all positions related to children” for failing to comply with the church’s child protection policies.

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Black Collar Crime: Six Mormon Families Sue LDS Church Over Sexual Abuse Cover Up

civil lawsuit

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Six Virginia Mormon families have filed a civil lawsuit against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), alleging the church knew “one of their members was abusing children and actively covered up the abuse that continued for years.”

KUTV reports:

A group of families are suing the LDS church, alleging it covered up child sex abuse by another member in West Virginia.

A total of six families with nine children filed the lawsuit against The Corporation of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints according to court documents — available at the end of the story.

The families allege LDS leaders knew one of their members was abusing children and actively covered up the abuse that continued for years. The case is scheduled to go to trial in January.

“My church family preached to me about forgiveness — that I needed to forgive him,” Helen said. “How do you forgive something like that?”

The abuse allegedly took place over the course of two months in 2008.

According to documents, in January 2012 the children told their parents what Jensen had done to them five years before.

She didn’t contact law enforcement immediately when she discovered the abuse.

“That is something that does eat at me. It is something that I wish that if I could go back and change, I would have done it differently,” Helen said. “I felt if i couldn’t even get these people that are supposed to have my family’s best interest, why would a jury believe what happened?”

In 2012, the abuser, Michael Jensen, was indicted for abusing other children and she contacted law enforcement. She said one of her sons testified at the trial but the court proceedings were not about his abuse.

According to court documents, Jensen was on trial for abusing two children in 2007. The papers say the boys, 3 and 4-years-old at the time, were forced to perform oral sex on Jensen while he was their babysitter. In 2013 Jensen was sentenced for up to 75 years in prison after he was convicted beyond a reasonable doubt for abusing the two boys.

The appellants’ brief states:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day (sic) Saints knew that it had a sex offender in its midst as early as December 2004-January 2005, when Michael Jensen was charged in Provo, Utah, with felony sexual abuse of two girls and pled guilty to two sex offenses in the presence of his parents (who became Church leaders) and a Church bishop in Provo.

Is says that instead of warning others about Jensen, even as his predations began to mount, local church leaders “covered up, minimized and denied” his abuse and “dangerous proclivities; sponsored false explanations when evidence of abuse surfaced; touted him as a trustworthy and exceptional member of the Church community.”

Attorneys in the civil case contend local church leaders discussed the allegations of Jensen’s abuse as early as 2007 and no one reported them to law enforcement. The layers also claim LDS church leaders in Utah knew Jensen was convicted of other sex crimes in Utah in 2004.

….

The legal papers state that between April 2007 and August 2012, after moving from Provo, Jensen sexually abused nine children.

Helen said she doesn’t want to forgive, she wants justice.

“And this is the only way I know how to do it,” she said. “The only way for [my son’s] voice to be heard and my voice to be heard and to force them to change their policies so that this doesn’t happen again.”

….

Black Collar Crime: Mormon Counselor Jeffrey Graton Accused of Sex Crimes

jeffrey graton

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Jeffrey Graton, a counselor affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was arrested Monday on sexual abuse allegations.

The Daily Herald reports:

A second counselor in a bishopric in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was arrested Monday after reportedly sexually abusing a girl multiple times.

Jeffrey Graton, 40, of American Fork, was arrested on suspicion of three counts of forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony.

Police responded Sunday to a call at the 300th block of 620 South in American Fork Sunday night on a welfare check after an LDS bishop called to have police check on Graton, a second counselor in an LDS bishopric.

Graton reportedly had left his home with a gun and wasn’t answering his phone after it was reported he had inappropriately touched a girl several years ago, according to a police report. Graton was found and gave the rifle to an LDS leader.

The abuse reportedly happened 10 times.

Graton reportedly told police he had touched the girl’s chest and thighs, both under and over clothing, while giving her a massage in two occasions two and a half years ago. He also admitted to grabbing the girl’s hand and using it to touch his genitals.