Elizabeth Vargas’ Year-long Investigation into the Independent Fundamental Baptist Church Airs on “20/20,” Friday, April 8, 10-11 PM ET

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Elizabeth Vargas’ Yearlong Investigation Into The Independent Fundamental Baptist Church, Airs On “20/20,” Friday, April 8, 10-11 PM ET

Try to imagine the pain and humiliation of a teenage girl, just 15 years old, who says she was forced to stand in front of a New Hampshire church congregation and confess her “sin” of being pregnant. She says not only was she forced to confess her pregnancy, but also to ask for their forgiveness – with no mention of the man she says sexually abused her. After all, she says, the pastor told her it’s better than being stoned to death as the bible describes. That is what Tina Anderson alleged happened to her at her ultra conservative Independent Fundamental Baptist, or IFB, Church. The IFB has thousands of congregations across the country, but many people have never heard of it. That was, until another woman, Jocelyn Zichterman, began a public campaign – armed with nothing but a computer and memories of her own alleged abuse that she says church beliefs can foster. And survivors are now coming out of the woodwork, to say she’s not alone.

Can't wait

That should be pure joy... and completely fair, too, I'm sure.

As someone said on the other

As someone said on the other thread on this subject, this is going to be self inflicted pain. Phelps could have led in repentance and self correction. Instead, he surrounded the wagons in self protection. Sadly, the Wilds and BJU are going to be affected by this as well. The Wilds just had him in as the lead speaker on some kind of youth conference, which defies my ability to explain.

To Louise

Louise,

Your comments about Pastor Phelps and what he did are completely without merit. You've obviously believed the young lady's side of things without giving him any consideration at all. Please, please hesitate for a moment, and consider that maybe Pastor Phelps did the best he could with an incredibly difficult, legal/moral/ethical situation. After having spent three hours with him last summer (just after this story broke) I know his side of the story and it's compelling. I know that in his shoes, I probably would have done as he did. There are so many laws governing these things, that after considering the legal issues and then the Biblical ones as well, I think he did what he could. Unless you know something new about what happened here, I think you should give Pastor Phelps the benefit of the doubt.

Matt

Matt, I have great respect

Matt,

I have great respect for you. But I think you are dead wrong on this one. Just with the facts out there, there is no excuse for at least some of the things Chuck did. Even looking at how Brian Fuller has handled this will show that there were things that could have been handled better. I think I am being generous. Had He been humble enough to at least admit that last year, this story Friday night might not have even come out. I have followed the facts of this case very carefully and am VERY disappointed in Chuck Phelps.

Aaron,

You are probably right that it wont be fair. But I am hopeful that it will. Elizabeth Vargas is a smart reporter and has done good work in the past. I know it will be painful, but I hope and pray it will at least be fair. But you very well could be right.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

The heart of the matter is

The heart of the matter is that an adult man willingly had a sexual relationship with a minor. That is both a sin and a crime.

For the record, twenty five years ago a similar instance happened in a small fundamental Baptist church. The pastor escorted the man to the sheriff's office and, after his arrest and trial, the perpetrator went to jail.

Quote:
Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I'd have the facts.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Wait a minute...

I am sickened by how many fellow Christians want to throw Dr. Phelps under the bus. It is very easy - and wrong - to sit back and armchair quarterback events from 10-15 years ago. As a fellow pastor my heart goes out to him. We can only make decisions based on the information that we have AT THAT TIME. This is hardly a cut-and-dried case.

If you've been in ministry any length of time at all, you have been confronted by situations where people can have very fanciful recollections of things that didn't happen, or were completely different that what they say. It seems to me the women making the most noise here have an ax to grind against fundamental churches.

I know Chuck Phelps personally and he is a decent, godly, gracious Christian man. Please at least give him the benefit of the doubt and refrain from passing judgment until you know ALL the facts.

Twitter: tsbbcnh *** www.peterlaitres.net ***  www.ysbbc.org

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 KJV)

Matt Walker wrote: Please,

Matt Walker wrote:
Please, please hesitate for a moment, and consider that maybe Pastor Phelps did the best he could with an incredibly difficult, legal/moral/ethical situation. After having spent three hours with him last summer (just after this story broke) I know his side of the story and it's compelling. I know that in his shoes, I probably would have done as he did. There are so many laws governing these things, that after considering the legal issues and then the Biblical ones as well, I think he did what he could. Unless you know something new about what happened here, I think you should give Pastor Phelps the benefit of the doubt.

Matt, I'm not saying that he wasn't conflicted over what to do or earnest in what he did do. It was still wrong. We all make mistakes with the best of intentions. We still must repent.

Deja Vu all over again

So we're going to "retry" Chuck Phelps again with just as much evidence as before (almost none).
Why do people find it so hard to admit that they really don't know what happened or why?

It's really not that hard. Watch....
I really don't know what happened or why.
See, that wasn't so hard. More people should try it.

I'm sure glad it isn't my job to sift through a few vague statements, a few second hand reports, and a tanker load of blog blather then pass judgment on cases! (Come to think of it, who's job is that? Hmm.)

Aaron, a lot has been

Aaron, a lot has been established by multiple witnesses. What do you think people are accusing him of that is still in question? For me, the issue is 1) bringing a minor who had been raped up for church discipline and 2) allowing the rapist to continue in the church without recourse. Are you still in doubt as to whether either of those actually happened? Maybe enough first hand witnesses will be interviewed by 20/20 to convince you of at least that much.

It seems that we know what

It seems that we know what happened. What puzzles me is this: If I knew a man had had sex with an underage girl and I called the police and they did nothing, I wouldn't accept their response.

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

The facts are not established

Louise,

Your two facts are her two facts and have only been established by people who are speculating as you are here. The facts...at least pastor Phelps perspective has never been given publicly because he is unable, legally, to do so. He has been advised that to go public would be a problem legally. I talked with him and like pastor Carlson, I was skeptical of pastor Phelps but wanted to hear him out. His argument is compelling. No he probably didn't do everything exactly right but his situation was incredibly difficult.

Matt, I strongly disagree

Matt, I strongly disagree with you. It is not HERE that I get my information. The situation has been established by multiple witnesses. In fact, it was not Tina who brought this public but another Trinity church member present at the church discipline. I have read written accounts by at least two other members who were there in person at the time. And even Brian Fuller himself has not denied that this happened.

Last post. I am getting too

Last post. I am getting too worked up. But being warned against speaking publicly due to legal concerns is hardly compelling. The only person he could implicate is himself. And the only way he'd implicate himself is if he did something wrong.

Louise Dan wrote: Aaron, a

Louise Dan wrote:
Aaron, a lot has been established by multiple witnesses. What do you think people are accusing him of that is still in question? For me, the issue is 1) bringing a minor who had been raped up for church discipline and 2) allowing the rapist to continue in the church without recourse. Are you still in doubt as to whether either of those actually happened? Maybe enough first hand witnesses will be interviewed by 20/20 to convince you of at least that much.

Last I knew, just about all of that was in dispute. But I have to admit I have very little interest in the case. I have not paid any attention to it since we beat it to death here last year. As far as I know, there have been no new news reports or any results of investigations. We had conflicting versions of whether it was "discipline," what sort of role the perp. was allowed in the church, etc., and still do.

The thing with "multiple witnesses" is that you have to weigh testimony not just count it. That's why courtrooms cross examine and instruct jurors to ignore this or that. I'm not in a position to weigh the testimony. It has not been gathered and presented in way I can handle that way.

I don't think anybody is saying no mistakes were made on the church's part, including Phelps. So I guess that's established. Beyond that, it would be nice if definitive evidence could end all the speculation and we could move on. If 20/20 can achieve that, more power to them. But they have shown a fondness for making anybody who is even traditional (much less Bible believing) look bad. I'm not optimistic.

Louise Dan wrote: But being

Louise Dan wrote:
But being warned against speaking publicly due to legal concerns is hardly compelling. The only person he could implicate is himself. And the only way he'd implicate himself is if he did something wrong.

Not true. History is full of examples of people's testimony being used against them when their words are used contrary to their intent or when the audience is particularly hostile. This is why defense lawyers advise even innocent clients to let the council do the talking. The legal system is very complex and somebody as innocent as lilies can step on a mine by saying the wrong thing at the wrong time... especially to the press.

Hedging her bets

Even Vargas is careful to use the word 'alleged'. The problem with this and other cases is that there is no way to verify much of the information that comes down the pike. It's very much "he said-she said". And eye witness testimony is http://criminaldefense.homestead.com/eyewitnessmisidentification.html not unassailable . I have no doubt that this incident was not handled properly, but I seriously can't see how any of us can claim to know exactly what went down.

There was a case here not too long ago where several families united against a pastor because of some accusations of sexual abuse, but when the case was investigated by authorities, it fell completely apart, and all charges were dropped. So much for the reliability of multiple witnesses, and now an innocent man who spent a year being harassed and practically tortured has lost his church and his reputation. No one is lining up to repent to him, or make reparations, or help him find a job, I can tell you that.

BTW, it is SOP for those involved in a case to refrain from speaking about an ongoing investigation. Ulterior motives should not be read into silence about an open case.

What was amusing is the reference to how many churches there are in the IFB. If that's supposed to be a flash of brilliance, none of us are going to need sunglasses for this report. After seeing the CBS report years ago about 'the dark side of homeschooling', I'm not going to be putting any stock into the information presented by the news media.

I’m blogging at Every Day of Education, helping homeschool families on a budget use real books and real life experiences to prepare their children for the real world.

Christ is our example

What if this was your daughter? She was 15. He was well over twice her age. Why should this even be an issue? Sexual abuse is NEVER the victim's fault. And, the victim should NEVER be blamed. Both of those things are being done. She is still being accused of it being consensual and the very fact that she had to stand before the church and confess shows her being blamed.

I ask you. What would Jesus have done? He is our example. The Pharisees wanted to stone the woman in adultery and Jesus said, he who has no sin throw the first stone. This precious broken child (and yes, you are STILL a child at 15), was stoned. She was innocent, yet the Pharisees stoned her. Jesus as our example would not have judged her. A) because she was an innocent victim and Cool because he loves His children. For those of you who are choosing right now to stone Tina because you believe either she is lying now or it was consensual, why don't you look at your own life before throwing stones.

I hate that we will defend a person simply because he is "God's" man. The problem is -- he is "just" a man. No matter how godly someone is. They still make mistakes. They still sin. They are human. And, I believe that this situation was handled inappropriately. Being a pastor does not equate perfection. The best thing that can and should be done with this situation is that Dr. Phelps and even everyone here on SI, recognize the mistakes and aim to make policy changes in our churches so that this situation NEVER EVER occurs again.

Throwing stones

Anne- I don't think any here is 'stoning' Tina. What most are concerned about, at least from what I can tell, is that we don't know how the situation was handled after the fact. I have no doubt about Tina's story as far as the rape was concerned. In no way, shape, or form was any of this her fault. What we don't know for certain is how it was handled by the church and law enforcement. There are too many conflicting stories, and to my knowledge none of us has the ability to sort these things out with any measure of accuracy. That is what the legal process is for. When Phelps is allowed to speak openly or in court about what happened, then a fuller picture might present itself. Meanwhile, I think efforts should be focused on prosecuting the perpetrator of this heinous act. Phelps may have botched the whole thing as far as the church was concerned, but the man who raped Tina is the criminal here. Let's not forget that.

I’m blogging at Every Day of Education, helping homeschool families on a budget use real books and real life experiences to prepare their children for the real world.

Misunderstanding

Anna Walker wrote:
I hate that we will defend a person simply because he is "God's" man. The problem is -- he is "just" a man. No matter how godly someone is. They still make mistakes. They still sin. They are human. And, I believe that this situation was handled inappropriately. Being a pastor does not equate perfection. The best thing that can and should be done with this situation is that Dr. Phelps and even everyone here on SI, recognize the mistakes and aim to make policy changes in our churches so that this situation NEVER EVER occurs again.

No one here is defending Phelps because he's a 'man of God'. There's a massive difference between defending someone who is 'the man of God' - like what happened at Jack Hyles' church - and what we're all speculating on.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Pastoral Concerns

I posted elsewhere my opinion that there are factors in how we structure our churches and in our view of authority that do lend themselves to this. It wasn’t one of my finest posts in terms of proving my point, but maybe we need to watch this 20/20 special with a little more of an open mind. They may miss the boat on the immediate case under discussion, yet still recognize something in our churches that we desperately need to understand about ourselves.

The discussion here about the New Hampshire case leads me to post some pastoral concerns:

Speaking as someone who has been in on a few of these situations, at one level or another:
1). All of us need to be very carefully planning our own policies on how we will handle these things.
2). We need to acknowledge that the victims of such treatment are understandably injured, and frequently carry scars of this injury. The result is that their interpretation of what we say and do may be anger-tinged, even if we do everything right. In fact, their interpretation WILL be different as adults than it is as the victimized child or teen. We need to accept that they may question how we handled things later, even if we do nothing wrong in how we handle them.
3). Hindsight is 20/20, and all of us will look back at how we handled these situations and realize that there was something we could have handled better.
4). Following Roland Pittman’s posts on one of the related threads, I have to share his concern that we let Biblical and Pastoral concerns guide us, rather than merely letting the modern child abuse industry’s (for lack of a better term) paradigm control our action. And no, I don’t agree with Roland’s posts in general.
5). Two times in my ministry years, I have run across cases in which a child/young teen attempted to seduce an adult. Be warned: this is not simply a case of an immoral child or young teen. Invariably, there is a molestation matter lurking in the background history somewhere. Dig, dig, dig, for the good of the kid.
6). In certain families, the “old guard” (grandparents, or even older parents) will oppose involvement of authorities. Be prepared to lose them from your church. Or, alternately, preach on this matter, and pre-inform folks in your congregation of what your church would do. Let them think about how they would handle it before the pressure is on them with people they love involved.
7). Here’s the one that will have some of you shooting at me, but we need to think it through. The moral/ethical sphere and the legal sphere share some areas in common, but do not necessarily completely overlap. For example, let’s talk about the limits of responsibility of teenaged victims. On a legal level, a teenaged victim under that state’s age of consent for sexual activity is not in any way culpable for their behavior in such situations. The moral sphere is more complex. If the perpetrator stirs in their targeted teenager desires that they otherwise would not have had at that time, that is not the teenager’s fault. In the eyes of the Lord, I’m certain that the “millstone principle” applies. It is not their fault, because they are too immature to be consensual, I grant. But if a teenaged victim willingly engages in activity that they knew was morally wrong based on upbringing and moral instruction from God’s Word, at some point, realization that they are doing wrong begins. The resources of the perpetrator to manipulate them through kindness, faked love, lust, or fear, are many. The victim is not prepared to cope with those feelings; the conflict between feelings and moral responsibility frequently overwhelms them. In addition, the damage done by violated trust is deep. At this point, there are two extremes to be avoided. Extreme # 1: I place some blame on the teen, who knew God’s law, and violated it anyway. This may be what resulted in the forced public confession in the one case – if such a forced confession ever occurred. Personally, I would have apologized for her being pregnant, stating that she had been victimized, rather than expecting her to “confess”. Extreme # 2: I accept the “victimization” mantra of modern society, pack the child off to a counselor, and wash my hands of the matter, completely ignoring the profound pastoral implications of the complex moral, emotional, and ethical dilemma forced on this teenager at way too early an age. This is ALWAYS a mistake.

The proper response will not only do all the things we all know should be done (i.e. notification of authorities, notification of any uninvolved parents/guardians, advise and assist with counseling matters, sensitive revelation to church leadership and/or membership as necessary, removal of church personnel involved in perpetrating or covering, review of church policies that may have been insufficient in such matters). The proper approach will involve making sure that the pastoral/discipleship issues involved in the teen victims life are all addressed over time, as the teen’s recovery continues and as they can handle it. This is a process that may take years in some cases. Such issues include 1). What to do in the future when those in authority expect me / manipulate me to do the wrong thing, 2). What to do when my emotions and my conscience are in conflict, 3). What does love really mean? 4). What is God’s designed intention for sex within the loving marital relationship? 5). What does it mean that a person in leadership over me in God’s church (if this was the case) did this? 6). What does it say about our fallen world that this happened to me? 7). How can I accept that God loves me when He permitted these things to occur? 8). What has this event done to me, and in what way can I use it for good in the future? 9). Distinguishing between suspicion, hearsay, testimony, and fact when someone is accused of something in the future.

Some of the above pastoral/discipleship concerns will also exist in child or pre-teen victims, to varying degrees, depending.

I’m not saying that addressing these matters is the top priority. But the matter doesn’t end with a few sessions with a psychologist. It goes on for years.

resources

Great post, Mike. Along these lines, I wanted to share a link to a ministry that helps churches make sure their policies and plans are robust enough to truly protect against abuse in today's society. This ministry also helps churches when something like this comes up, counseling them how to handle the scenario.

http://www.netgrace.org/ http://www.netgrace.org/

You can also listen to an informative interview of the director of this ministry, Basyle ’Boz’ Tchividjian, here:

http://reformedcast.com/2010/11/15/episode-10-abuse-in-the-christian-env... http://reformedcast.com/2010/11/15/episode-10-abuse-in-the-christian-env...

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

What is not in dispute vs. what is

What so often happens with this topic (and others that are emotionally charged) is that what is not in dispute gets lumped in with what is being debated and then arguments are offered against the former and folks act like they've made a case against the latter.

So I have a bowl of apples. I toss in a rotten potato. Then I point out that the potato stinks and argue passionately (preferably in all caps) that apples are obviously terrible things, fruit baskets are pure evil, and all fruit basket makers should go to the salt mines?

Nobody here is saying that 15 yr old gals are entirely, or even mostly, to blame for sex with middle aged guys.

  • Some have questioned whether guilt is really an all-or-nothing thing in every case.
  • Others have questioned whether maturity necessarily conforms to the law and children suddenly become adults at midnight on the eve of their 18th birthdays.
  • A few have even wondered if maybe they were accused of a crime or of covering one up, they'd prefer to be seen as innocent until proven guilty.

Now I would never think about any of those possibilities, myself. I'm not that much of a glutton for Internet thrashing. But some people have wondered.

One more... a few have even had the audacity to wonder if modern social science ought to be where we get are interpretive grid for these matters.
But I would never ask that question. It's not proper to be curious about things like that.

If I were one of the apples,

If I were one of the apples, I'd be pretty anxious to get the rotten potato out of my bowl and away from us other "good apples."

The premise that we struggle

The premise that we struggle with is who is at fault here and who shares part of the guilt. From the victim's standpoint, to even have a hint of blame is horribly traumatizing. Because, the abuser often grooms the victim and will tell the victim that it is her fault -- that she wanted it etc. And, it reinforces the trauma when outside people start to question, oh, did she have just a little part in it. Maybe she knew it was wrong and didn't stop or didn't tell someone or horror of horrors -- did she enjoy it? I know you think I'm way off base. But, I STILL sense an underlying current of blaming Tina for what happened. Do you men have daughters? Do you realize that (yes, even if this society) a fifteen year old girl is still a child? It doesn't matter how she dressed. She could have been half naked parading town and it still would not be her fault that she was raped. A man has the choice whether to lust after a woman or not. He has a choice. Have you guys SEEN the pictures of Tina from this situation. She wore ankle length jumpers. JUMPERS! I am sorry, but you can't be seductive to a guy wearing that. It doesn't matter what a girl wears, a guy can choose to see what he was. He can still undress her with his eyes and let his brain go to the far reaches of depravity.

If this was an isolated

If this was an isolated incidence, then maybe I might view it is one angry victim with a vendetta. But, this is not isolated. It happens a lot. We need to stop playing mind games and trying to pass the buck. Who cares if he handled it slightly right, but not perfect. Let's stop and admit, someone dropped the ball here. Let's learn from this and make sure it never happens. Key item #1 no matter the age of the victim, she has not a single ounce of fault at all. None. Key item #2 support the victim and her/or HIS family Key item #3 report it and make sure you do everything you can to assist the police investigation and encourage justice.

So, because someone has been hurt by abuse and how it was handled, we should disbelieve what they say because oh, their interpretation is off. Um, excuse me. If we are truly pastors who desire to shepherd our flock and guide them, we need to listen and see if there are areas that we have failed. Listen with a desire to grow/change from what may have occurred. Yes, most abuse victims are passionate. They have to be. In order to survive this kind of trauma, they must overcome insurmountable odds. Don't judge them simply because they have a strong personality.

Yes, hindsight is 20/20. Let's learn from history and not make the same mistakes. Let's not be so protective and afraid to admit error. We need to learn from the ABWE handling of their situation. They admitted wrong and were humble. That will go a long ways towards allowing closure for those victims. Did Dr. Phelps handle the situation perfectly. If he did, then we not be having this conversation. Let's use this as a good thing. A growing thing in our lives and churches.

It is not your place to determine what part the girl had in it. Whether she morally knew it was wrong or not. Discussing this kind of trauma is horrific to relive. And, many pastors feel it is necessary for them to basically interrogate the girl to find out exactly what happened. That is not your place. Your job is to report it to the authorities, provide the girl counseling and be a support to her. This is not the time to cast judgment, because oh, you should have known better.

I know you are probably just tuning me out here. But, I beg of you, listen and be willing at least in your own heart to admit that we fail miserably in our treatment of abuse victims. And, I have no intentions of destroying anyone, I simply want to see this maltreatment end. Jesus loves the broken and the hurting. His churches should to.

Underlying current

Anna Walker wrote:
The premise that we struggle with is who is at fault here and who shares part of the guilt. From the victim's standpoint, to even have a hint of blame is horribly traumatizing. Because, the abuser often grooms the victim and will tell the victim that it is her fault -- that she wanted it etc. And, it reinforces the trauma when outside people start to question, oh, did she have just a little part in it. Maybe she knew it was wrong and didn't stop or didn't tell someone or horror of horrors -- did she enjoy it? I know you think I'm way off base. But, I STILL sense an underlying current of blaming Tina for what happened. Do you men have daughters? Do you realize that (yes, even if this society) a fifteen year old girl is still a child? It doesn't matter how she dressed. She could have been half naked parading town and it still would not be her fault that she was raped. A man has the choice whether to lust after a woman or not. He has a choice. Have you guys SEEN the pictures of Tina from this situation. She wore ankle length jumpers. JUMPERS! I am sorry, but you can't be seductive to a guy wearing that. It doesn't matter what a girl wears, a guy can choose to see what he was. He can still undress her with his eyes and let his brain go to the far reaches of depravity.

I don't think it is fair or reasonable to attempt to interpret an 'underlying current' on an internet forum. It is very close to violating the Comment Policy, which prohibits assigning motives or focusing negatively on the participants in the threads. Let's stick to the issues.

NONE of us here have enough accurate, verifiable information to determine who did what and why. For instance, Willis admitted to social workers that he was the father. Those social workers knew that Willis was 14 years older than Tina, so why didn't they do something?

I would like to point out that it is not wise to completely remove the fact that our behaviors place us at risk. There is an element of responsibility we all have to not do things that are unwise or endanger us in some way. We teach our children how to avoid risky situations, such as not going into bathrooms alone, or getting into someone's car. We can say all day long that it isn't the child's fault that they were abducted because they got into a stranger's car, but if they have been taught not to get into a stranger's car, at what point do we say without igniting a firestorm of hysteria that the child was responsible for that act of disobedience?

I’m blogging at Every Day of Education, helping homeschool families on a budget use real books and real life experiences to prepare their children for the real world.

I dont want to rehash what I

I dont want to rehash what I said last year. but I will say a couple of things. I don't disagree with Aaron and Mike that it is possible for a consensual physical relationship can develope between a teen and an adult. I don't disagree that it would be sin by both parties. Now let's assume that is what happened here (full disclosure, I don't believe that). What bothered me fromt he beginning is that the adult in the situation was treated with kid gloves and the teen was dealt with more harshly. I will take Phelps at his word that he reported it. But I can see no reason why he was still a member in good standing and she was sent away. I can see no scenario where that was God-honoring and to me it smells very badly. I have other thoughts about this but I expressed them before, no need to again. You have a question, messege me.

I will also say what I said on the ABWE thread. How ABWE has responded recently is a good start. I think had Chuck Phelps done the same thing a year ago when this scandal broke, we probably would not be seeing a 20/20 special air about this - at least not the Tina Anderson angle

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Back that up

Anna Walker wrote:
The premise that we struggle with is who is at fault here and who shares part of the guilt. From the victim's standpoint, to even have a hint of blame is horribly traumatizing. Because, the abuser often grooms the victim and will tell the victim that it is her fault -- that she wanted it etc. And, it reinforces the trauma when outside people start to question, oh, did she have just a little part in it. Maybe she knew it was wrong and didn't stop or didn't tell someone or horror of horrors -- did she enjoy it? I know you think I'm way off base. But, I STILL sense an underlying current of blaming Tina for what happened. Do you men have daughters? Do you realize that (yes, even if this society) a fifteen year old girl is still a child? It doesn't matter how she dressed. She could have been half naked parading town and it still would not be her fault that she was raped. A man has the choice whether to lust after a woman or not. He has a choice. Have you guys SEEN the pictures of Tina from this situation. She wore ankle length jumpers. JUMPERS! I am sorry, but you can't be seductive to a guy wearing that. It doesn't matter what a girl wears, a guy can choose to see what he was. He can still undress her with his eyes and let his brain go to the far reaches of depravity.

Anna-

That's a very, very serious charge, and I'd like to see proof that anyone here has ever alleged any such thing.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Susan, So if a child goes

Susan,

So if a child goes into a bathroom alone and is abducted or molested, you think they should be counseled about there sin? I am not comfortable with that. But before we even get to that point (not even sure that I would ever get to that point), we focus on the criminal brought to justice!

Let's get away from this case and think in the abstract. I find out a teen and a man in my church are in a relationship, I bring him in first. He is there when I call the police cheif, whom I know personally. He waits until he is arrested. If he runs I tell Mike (Cheif) where I think he went. Then bring the girl in. If she "consented" on some level, that will be dealt with down the road. But you have to prioritize, and help her and see that she gets the help she needs for the abuse that took place. Let's face it, in most of these situations the adult (whether male or female) was in a position of leadership. So these kids were doubly abused, and that is the first thing to be dealt with.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

I would also say that we have

I would also say that we have seen a documented history of such abuse as being fairly common among IFB churches. Let's admit that. We can throw stones at the Roman Catholics but tend to avoid admitting this ugly fact about our own group.

The preacher as "man of God" teaching, the emphasis on authority and control, the lack of openness by church leaders, often no accountability for senior pastors, no denominational checks and balances, a persecution mindset and remnant mentality, a tendency toward externals and legalism, emphasis on coporeal punishment -- all this can combine to make IFB churches susceptible to such abuse. We need to admit that and work to safeguard our churches from this.

Yes 20/20 will overstate the case but don't kid yourself into thinking that there isn't some level of a case to be made that there is a very large problem in this area.

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

Well said, Bob

Bob Hayton wrote:
I would also say that we have seen a documented history of such abuse as being fairly common among IFB churches. Let's admit that. We can throw stones at the Roman Catholics but tend to avoid admitting this ugly fact about our own group.

The preacher as "man of God" teaching, the emphasis on authority and control, the lack of openness by church leaders, often no accountability for senior pastors, no denominational checks and balances, a persecution mindset and remnant mentality, a tendency toward externals and legalism, emphasis on coporeal punishment -- all this can combine to make IFB churches susceptible to such abuse. We need to admit that and work to safeguard our churches from this.

Yes 20/20 will overstate the case but don't kid yourself into thinking that there isn't some level of a case to be made that there is a very large problem in this area.

Well said, Bob. Sadly, sex scandals have been all too common in the IFB movement and we need to address the root cause.

Pretzel knots

rogercarlson wrote:
Susan,

So if a child goes into a bathroom alone and is abducted or molested, you think they should be counseled about there sin? I am not comfortable with that. But before we even get to that point (not even sure that I would ever get to that point), we focus on the criminal brought to justice!


The example I gave was getting into a car. I have directed my children on multiple occasions that there is NO WAY they are to get into a car with ANYONE without looking into my God-given eyeballs and asking for permission. They also know that my dh and I do not use other people to give them directives. They have cell phones as well, and so always have the ability to ask us about anything they are unsure of. SO, having said all that, if they get into a car with someone in disobedience to clearly stated and understood commands, that action, and that action alone, is their sin. They are not responsible for the actions of others.

So ok- let's take the bathroom scenario. I've make it my job as a parent to not put my young kids in the position of so desperately needing to use the facilities that they feel compelled to go alone. If I ever do so, then I'll take the blame for what happens. But if they've been told not to go to the bathroom in a public place alone, and they defy that order when they have other options, and they are abducted or molested, they are not only going to get counseling about dealing with the attack, but about the disobedience that placed them at risk.

To use Anne's example, if a girl runs around naked, she is not responsible for the actions of the man who rapes her, but since she knows that she shouldn't run around naked, she is responsible for that sin.

And the facts are- some actions place us at risk. We are each responsible for our own actions, and if we engage in risky behavior- driving to fast, walking down a dark alley alone wearing a Rolex, having unprotected sex, or jumping off the garage roof with a trash bag parachute- we increase our odds of experiencing an unpleasant consequence of those actions.

If, however, you are hit by a car while sitting in your living room eating Doritos and watching Dancing with the Stars, you have not done anything to place yourself at risk of being the victim of vehicular manslaughter. You are simply guilty of bad taste in television viewing.

I’m blogging at Every Day of Education, helping homeschool families on a budget use real books and real life experiences to prepare their children for the real world.

Susan, do you realize that

Susan, do you realize that most instances of rape and molestation occur by someone the child knows. A situation where the child is not knowingly putting themselves into a risky situation. A situation where the child has no control over what happens. What about incest? I don't care how that child is dressed or what rules that child may or may not have broken, incest occurs even in the best of homes. There is nothing a child could do to encourage it to occur or to prevent it from occurring. Even teaching your child to not let someone touch you, won't prevent it from occurring. The child can tell you after the fact, but a child is by its very nature unable to fight off an adult. A child telling a wannabe child molester no, will not actually stop the act from occurring. So, incest is huge. What about a teacher? Or, pastor? Or babysitter? People that the child knows and is told to obey and respect. I'm sorry, but if my child is ever molested, there will no blame at all. They won't need punishment for (in your words) their sin. Even if my child went to a public bathroom against my wishes and were molested, I will not punish them for that. BECAUSE, they are already being punished. They are facing the consequences of their actions the rest of their life. There is no need to further damage an already shattered child by punishing them more.

@ Anne

I think you are the one who is tuning others out. I didn't say that a child's actions would prevent anything or guarantee their safety. Precautions reduce risk- that's all. I made it very clear that a child is not responsible for the actions of others. They are only responsible for their own actions. I have also made it clear that because I am aware that most crimes against children are committed by someone they know and trust (although I may not have said that in this thread) my kids have permission to disobey and remove themselves from any adult- teacher, pastor, Congressman- who even so much as makes them uncomfortable.

You are, of course, free to teach your children as you like.

I’m blogging at Every Day of Education, helping homeschool families on a budget use real books and real life experiences to prepare their children for the real world.

Blame

rogercarlson wrote:
I dont want to rehash what I said last year. but I will say a couple of things. I don't disagree with Aaron and Mike that it is possible for a consensual physical relationship can develope between a teen and an adult. I don't disagree that it would be sin by both parties.

If this is in reference to me, what I said was…

Mike Durning wrote:
For example, let’s talk about the limits of responsibility of teenaged victims. On a legal level, a teenaged victim under that state’s age of consent for sexual activity is not in any way culpable for their behavior in such situations. The moral sphere is more complex. If the perpetrator stirs in their targeted teenager desires that they otherwise would not have had at that time, that is not the teenager’s fault. In the eyes of the Lord, I’m certain that the “millstone principle” applies. It is not their fault, because they are too immature to be consensual, I grant. But if a teenaged victim willingly engages in activity that they knew was morally wrong based on upbringing and moral instruction from God’s Word, at some point, realization that they are doing wrong begins.

I agree that the teen could agree to the sex. I’m saying they don’t have the authority or judgment to agree or to disagree with any major decisions. That’s why God gave them parents. Their agreement would be irrelevant.

From a pastoral and discipleship perspective, they will at some point need to understand why their agreement to it was wrong, even though it is irrelevant to the wrongness of what the perpetrator did. How you navigate whether this makes them feel more guilty than they already do is a matter of timing and wording.

Thought experiment... give this a try

As a thought experiment, suppose we change the scenario a little and make the crime http://definitions.uslegal.com/a/aggravated-assault/ aggravated assault .

Let's say a teen boy walks into a bar, insolently insults the mother of a guy twice his size. Let's say the kid is 14. The big guy hears the insult, turns around and pounds the kid with a chair. The kid lives, but he's a mess.

Absolutely nobody is going to say "That was the kid's fault, period." The law is certainly not going to "blame" the kid.

Now please consider this question:

If we say the kid shouldn't have done what he did, does that reduce the guilt of the guy who pounded him?

It does not.
See, if we stop thinking of guilt as zero-sum or, worse yet, binary, things start making a lot more sense. The adult man is 100% responsible for his behavior.

But if I'm thinking in biblical categories (rather than legal and sociological ones), I recognize that though the kid is scot-free before the law, his is not necessary 100% innocent in the matter. The math is not zero zum. The adult is 100% to blame for what he did, but the kid is also 100% guilty for what he did--which was something else entirely.

We could tweak the scenario further. Suppose the kid keyed the adult's car on the way in, too.
Is the big guy less to blame for his assault? No... but I bet some of you are starting to feel a little sympathy for him. Shame on you (no irony intended). He's still sitting right there at 100% guilty.

Is the kid to blame for being insolent and for property damage? Yep. He's sitting at 100% too, for a different crime.
Is the kid to blame for getting hit? That one's complicated. I'd say no, he isn't. He's to blame for being very, very foolish and apparently malicious as well.

Now add a couple more details: both the kid and the adult are members of your church and you witness the event and you're the pastor. What do you do?

Is the big guy less to blame? Again, no.
Has the little guy sinned too? Yes!

Since this is an assault by adult on a minor, you, as the pastor have to report it. Legally, the big guy's in trouble but the little guy's not. Spiritually, they both need help, and you're not doing the little guy a favor to ignore his need. He needs alot of comfort. He's been beat up by a brute. But he needs more than comfort. He needs some correction.

  • Legal issues... spiritual issues. Two different things.
  • Sociological dogma... theological principle. Two different things.
  • Guilt for assault.... guilt for malice. Two different things.

Aaron, Could you please

Aaron,

Could you please specifically state what correction a teenage rape victim needs to receive from her (or his) pastor?

Aaron, you are blaming the

Aaron, you are blaming the victim. I know you don't think you are. But, you are. Your very example is meant to blame the victim. Because you are MAKING the victim in your story (the little boy) look as sinful as possible. You "say" that the bigger child is the one responsible. But, your very words put the blame on the little boy. I was raped. I was nine years old. Now, I KNOW you will say that I am reacting because I'm a victim. But, I'm reacting because I see how rhetoric like yours is used to blame the victim. I went to an Independent Baptist Church. My pastor graduating from BJ. Everything is exactly like what most of you here on SI will relate to. I know you "say" that the child is not at fault. But, your very fine line between, oh morality and legality is wrong. There is a problem. Legally I was not at fault. Morally I was also not at fault. But, my pastor chose to blame me. He chose to say that what occurred was consensual. Now, I love my pastor. I believe like many of you, his education about this subject was limited. That's why we need to view the Tina Anderson situation with open eyes so that we can learn from it. I don't want another little girl to go through the trauma I went through. There is no sin on the victim's part. Because the man who raped me attended my church/school and was in a position of authority over me, I had no ability to say no. And, when I told what happened I was blamed and the man was never punished.

Abuse is everywhere. We don't like to believe that. It is easier to turn a blind eye. Every religion has it. I mean look at the sex scandals in the Roman Catholic church. I believe that it is high time that light is shed on it in our own circles. Sin breeds on darkness. Let's shed light on this issue and make changes. Let's help the shattered little boys and girls (and TEENAGE victims too), so that they can heal. That is what Jesus would have done.

I can't believe

you all think, after reading this entire thread, that Aaron's illustration was addressing the forcible rape of young children. I'm aghast. I'm perplexed. I'm... I'm... http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php ][img ]http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-sick014.gif[/img ]

Anne- you've begged people to listen to you, but you are not listening to anyone else. Not everyone in this thread is talking about Tina Anderson, especially since so many have repeatedly said that they don't know what happened in her case, and aren't going to speculate. Some of us are attempting to discuss the many issues that the incidents in recent years raise.

I'm sorry you experienced such trauma, and at a very young age. No one around here is going to say or even think that you are at fault. But if you want to discuss the issues that have been raised here, you are going to have stop interpreting what people say through the filter of what happened to you.

I’m blogging at Every Day of Education, helping homeschool families on a budget use real books and real life experiences to prepare their children for the real world.

At least in part, it's pride

AndrewSuttles wrote:
Bob Hayton wrote:
...but tend to avoid admitting this ugly fact about our own group.

The preacher as "man of God" teaching, the emphasis on authority and control, the lack of openness by church leaders, often no accountability for senior pastors, no denominational checks and balances, a persecution mindset and remnant mentality, a tendency toward externals and legalism, emphasis on coporeal punishment -- all this can combine to make IFB churches susceptible to such abuse. We need to admit that and work to safeguard our churches from this.

Well said, Bob. Sadly, sex scandals have been all too common in the IFB movement and we need to address the root cause.

Putting in my two cents, Andrew. The root cause is not lust or pedophilia (although they may have something to do with it). In cases I am familiar with, I have found that the root cause of this kind of sexual perversion is not about solely about gratification but is largely about power/control, which ultimately is about pride. The coverups and denials are all about reputation...again, pride.
I'd say Bob hit the nail on the head. And instead of looking at this with a persecution mindset (which is a focus on self...pride), we need to say a deep groaning "Woe is me" and seriously work to rid our "group" (as Bob put it) of pride and humbly seek God's wisdom in dealing with the problem, as several others have said.
Can't think about this much more...my heart aches too much....

Shawn Haynie

Ladies and Gentlemen, I have

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have to say that I am appalled at some of you. Phelps is not the issue here. Tina Anderson is. The Pastors (plural) involved BLEW IT! You can make any excuse you want but it is just that -- an excuse. There is no scenario, (biblical, theological, social, moral, et. al.) in which a teenage girl is at fault and a 38 year old man is allowed to continue to attend and worship at the church in question without it being sin. PERIOD. That alone puts all of the men in question under suspicion. I know many of the men named personally. I studied under some of them and fellowshipped with them. I guarantee you I will no longer do so.

I can also tell you that I think this whole thread is ridiculously preposterous. I am ashamed to be a member of this site and hereby request to be removed from your membership. Sin is sin. All involved need to repent and make restitution. May God grant repentance and mercy.

Just because life is a vapor doesn't mean we need to blow smoke!

Here's the problem

[quote=Susan R ]I can't believe you all think, after reading this entire thread, that Aaron's illustration was addressing the forcible rape of young children. I'm aghast. I'm perplexed. I'm... I'm... http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php ][img ]http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-sick014.gif[/img ] quote ]

Whoopi Goldberg on the View went on the record in her defense of Roman Polanski by claiming what he did wasn't "rape rape" just non-consenual sex with an underage minor. Conservative commentators had a field day with that one. When you use words like "the forcible rape of young children" you come awfully close to making the same kind of argument--that unless there was a knife to the throat or a gun to the head, it's not really all that bad. I'm not trying to judge your motives, I'm trying to explain why people (like me) react so strongly to some of the statements that are being made in this thread. Those words convey a message. They convey an attitude. They convey a conclusion.

The illustration Aaron used sounds to me exactly like an attempt to diminish the focus on the two adult men--one rapist (and yes, given what has been admitted, that is what he is, period) and one pastor, and place it back on the girl. And if that illustration isn't meant to address the issue of rape, why is it on this thread? Do I completely misjudge him? Here's a thought experiment (to coin a phrase): suppose a person wanted and intended to shift the focus on responsibility from the men to the girl. How would another analogy better serve that purpose?

Susan, I AM responding to the

Susan, I AM responding to the issues being presented. I think you are the one that keeps throwing wrenches into things.

You say that nobody would fault me or blame me. I share my story not for sympathy, but to say that yes I was blamed. By my pastor, by my (multiple) nouthetic counselors, by my own father. What happened to Tina is NOT unusual. I share my story to highlight that fact. Do I want or need sympathy? No. I have an amazing God who has guided me to a secular counselor and I am healing and honestly I now grieve for my abuser instead of hate. I have truly forgiven him and pray for his salvation.

My story is meant to bring a personal side to your views. I don't think that you guys (Aaron and you are the first people I'm thinking of), realize how your comments can be twisted to blame victims. I'm saying that even though outwardly what you say may "sound" good, when it is put into practice it falls apart and causes damage. Your rhetoric has been repeated for years and years by many pastors and universities. Let's change that rhetoric. Let's recognize the flaws.

We NEED to change our treatment of abuse victims. And, I know it hurts to have to acknowledge that maybe we have been wrong. But, I wish you could look into the eyes of a scared fragile broken child who has been abused and then ask them to repent of their sin. I have a picture of me taken with the man who raped me. A picture that traumatizes me to look at it. I was twenty years old when that picture was taken. The look of terror on my face as I am seen next to my abuser is palpable for anyone who sees it. But, but, but . . .that picture is now a sign of victory to me. Because my God. My great, amazing, God of the impossible has rescued me. The man is now facing life charges for rape of a minor. He will never touch me again. The fear that was so palpable in that face is gone. Can redemption come out of horrible tragedy? Yes. It can. That, Susan, is why we need to change our rhetoric. We can see victory and joy and hope come when abuse situations are dealt with. I hate what my rapist has done. I believe that he deserves to face the consequences of his sin. But, that doesn't mean I hate him. I will never trust him. I will never be alone with him. And, he very likely will spend the rest of his life in prison. But, I want my life to reflect my God. Not the God of judgment that so many of you describe. But, the God of healing and renewal and grace.

1 Corinthians/2 Corinthians

Let's say a man is having a sexual relationship with a relative...oh, perhaps his own step-mother. He attends the local IFB church. The pastor finds out about this relationship and the church disciplines the man out of the assembly. However, in this particular case, the man repents of his sin. Should he be allowed to return to church?

Imbeded in all the "I'm appalled" reading into people's motives that has overtaken this thread (you'd think Aaron was actually the embodiment of Mr. Willis now), and all the threats to leave this site forever (I'd like to see if the earlier person reads this entry or not at some point), ... there has been a reaccuring argument that the rapist, having repented, should not be allowed back at church... "period" is the word some have used. That's a strange view of the church don't you think?

As for this not being about Pastor Phelps...

While there are always going to be areas in which we (as pastors) can do things better, I am still going to argue that when all the facts of this case are known many of you who are slandering this pastor are going to have to do some repenting yourself...or maybe we should kick you out of church...period! Smile

Seriously, take a deep breath here. No one, no one, no one is advocating/defending Mr. Willis. No one. Not one person. No one. The argument is whether Pastor Phelps did the right thing and because not all the facts are known to just about every person in the argument, it is somewhat ludicrous for the posts to be made in the first place...which was my primary argument at the beginning. When all the facts are known, if you think Pastor Phelps did wrong, then you should do what your conscience leads you to do knowing the Biblical admonitions about chastising a pastor (1 Timothy).

Matt

Quick Question for Matt

Since you seem to have more first-hand knowledge of the situation than most, would you please tell me what leads you to conclude that the man repented?

Did he go to the legal authorities and confess his sole responsibility for the crime of rape before being allowed back into the church?
Did he go before the church and confess his sole responsibility for the sin of rape before being allowed back into the church?

I wouldn't argue such a man should never be allowed back in church even if he had repented (although I believe such people should be killed slowly and painfully--perhaps with a millstone--in which case the issue of returning to the church wouldn't come up). I just would like to have some reason to believe there has been actual, Biblical repentance before that happened.

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