Concord NH Rape Case Victim Goes Public

NH church at center of 1997 teen rape; police investigate whether leaders knew about assault

“I was completely humiliated,” Anderson said, her voice quavering at the memory. “I hoped it was a nightmare I’d wake up from, and it wouldn’t be true anymore.”

Concord Detective Chris DeAngelis learned of her case through a Facebook page titled “Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Cult Survivors.”

Earlier post here

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Since 10/14/09 22:10:45
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Trinity Baptist Church responds...

Trinity Baptist Church responds...

http://www.tbcnh.org/contact_us/article245254.htm

Don't rush to judgment yet. Confident that the truth will come out. Psalm 27.

Aaron Blumer's picture
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Since 6/1/09 19:00:00
7433 posts
Source

I'm always suspicious of cases unearthed by organizations that exist for the purpose of finding victims. Not that they are necessarily wrong, but there is built in temptation to find victims where they don't exist and to distort the cases of legit. ones to fit the organization's emphasis.

Jim's picture
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Since 5/6/09 20:47:03
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I think the police dropped the ball back in '97

[URL=http://www.concordmonitor.com/article/pastor-no-cover-up-of-alleged-rape... ]Pastor: No cover-up of alleged rape - Police told immediately, he says[/URL ]

Quote:
The former pastor of Concord's Trinity Baptist Church says that there was no attempt to cover up the alleged rape of a 15-year-old parishioner in 1997 and that he immediately reported the crime to the police after learning of it.

"I was the first one to report this to the police, as was my duty. . . . The people who didn't do their job was the Concord Police Department," said Chuck Phelps, 51, who is now senior pastor at Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Indianapolis.

...
Phelps said yesterday that he reported the crime, as well as the names of the victim and alleged perpetrator, to the police and the Division for Children, Youth and Families within 24 hours of learning about it. He said that the woman remained in the area for at least two to four weeks before moving away and that he was never contacted by the police.

"I'm not in the ministry to hide felons," Phelps said. "I'm not in the ministry to hide child abuse."
...

Phelps said yesterday that he didn't tell the woman she was responsible for what happened but that she needed to be responsible by avoiding contact with Willis, whose children she baby-sat.

"She's not responsible for being raped. Of course not. She was an underage minor. That's why I called" the police, Phelps said.

Phelps said he told her to "be responsible, don't allow yourself to be around a person you know to be dangerous. She knew this person was dangerous after the first time, but she continued to be around him. . . . She needed to be responsible."

At a church meeting, the woman said, Willis confessed to being unfaithful to his wife and Phelps read her letter about her pregnancy as she stood before the congregation.

Phelps said the meeting was not any sort of punishment, but was intended to inform the congregation and create a safe environment for people to help the woman with her pregnancy.

"I expected Ernie Willis to be arrested," Phelps said. "So to prepare the church for his imminent arrest, I communicated with the church or had him communicate with the church that he had been unfaithful to his marital vows. And to the young lady, she was with child, she needed help. . . . There was no discipline. Discipline implies she was put out. She was not put out. She was embraced."

The woman told the police Phelps helped move her to Colorado after she came forward. There, she said, she was home-schooled, was kept away from people her own age and gave birth to her daughter, who was then adopted.

Phelps said the woman was sent away in accordance with her mother's wishes, to continue her studies in a safe home. He said that he knew the couple the woman stayed with through his previous work as a minister in Colorado and that they were experienced in home-schooling.

"Her mother turned to us and said, 'I can't care for a daughter in this situation,' and our recommendation was, 'What would you like us to do?' . . . Her mom did not want her in the public school. That was her mother's decision. What else was there to do?" he said.

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Since 6/2/09 07:12:34
299 posts
Very well

I appreciate Chuck's responses and glad that he didn't stick by his earlier comment of "I've said all I need to say." One of the things we can learn about this situation is the importance of keeping dated notes of communications (e.g. with the police), with timelines, etc. It may also be helpful to video, or at least audio, record church discipline sessions. I especially appreciated his clarification regarding the girl's "discipline" and the explanation of her responsibility. Of course, there are a bunch of unanswered questions, and the reader's comments mention quite a few--not the least of which concerns Willis's ongoing membership in TBC(?!?). Nevertheless, Chuck's steps toward fuller disclosure do help us better see that there's another side to this. Let's hope for more.

Susan R's picture
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Since 5/6/09 20:48:52
4366 posts
Learn from it

While this is a very delicate topic, I think there is much to learn, as Bro. Bryan points out. Churches must keep good records, and we need to understand that the best intentions and well meaning actions can be twisted and re-interpreted at any point in time to attempt to criminalize church polity/methodology, ie the idea that women are practically prisoners because of the doctrine of submission, or someone feeling they were subject to public humiliation because leadership believes in bringing matters before the church. What seems perfectly normal to us, such as teaching Biblical gender roles in the home, looks outmoded, primitive, and suspicious to modern society. It is also difficult when you are in the midst of a crisis to act with foresight- sometimes you are too busy playing Whack-A-Mole with all the problems that keep popping up to know what all the possible ramifications are going to be.

As much as we need to be careful when discussing this, it's a good time for church leadership to ask themselves what they would have done in a similar situation, especially since we can see these repercussions from this situation years later.

Blogging at Susan Raber Online

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Since 6/2/09 08:08:04
884 posts
Just the facts

The fact is that a man had sex with a child. To label this as being unfaithful to your spouse is an understatement.

I am familiar with two similar situations. in the first, the adult male church member had sex with a teenager and was confronted with his crime. The pastor escorted him to the authorities, where he turned himself in and did his time in prison. In the second, the adult male church member was seduced by a 15 year-old (she testified to the fact that she had seduced him) and he chose to defend himself on those grounds. The judge ruled that there was no excuse for a man having sex with a child and the perpetrator is in prison.

If you were guilty of a crime, would you wait for the police to arrest you or would you turn yourself in to the authorities?

All of us are still getting the facts in this case and there still is much to learn.

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

Jim's picture
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Since 5/6/09 20:47:03
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More on Colorado connection

http://cbs4denver.com/crime/tina.anderson.rape.2.1720573.html

Quote:
The pregnant Anderson was then moved to Westminster where she lived with a family associated with Tri-City Baptist Church. The Pastor at Tri City at the time was Matt Olson, who has since left and is now President of Northland International University, a Baptist bible college in Wisconsin. Administrators at the College said Olson was away for several weeks and could not be reached for comment.

Larry Robbins, currently an assistant pastor at Tri-City Baptist in Westminster, worked at the church in the late 1990s and told CBS4 via email he remembers the situation. He says Olson "helped out another church and Tina Anderson by assisting the young girl."

Robbins said Olson and Phelps knew each other and had worked together prior to the Anderson situation.

"It basically was 'someone who knew someone' making the connection with the ... family who happened (at that time) to attend our church."

"My only recollection was that Tina attended our church and was warmly welcomed and encouraged by the congregation during the time she lived here. There was really nothing secretive about any of it. It was really hard to believe that any investigator from Concord would have had any trouble contacting her 12 years ago -- they must not have tried very hard at the time."

Robbins said while he was aware of her pregnancy he was not made aware of the circumstances that led to it.

More on the rape victim

Quote:
Anderson says the family she was housed with was "kind" and treated her well. She said she was home schooled, was not allowed to associate with other young people, was monitored closely by Olson and now feels there was a conspiracy to keep her under wraps.

"I think they kept me hidden to keep him (Willis) from getting in trouble and they covered a crime. They did wrong."

She says at one point while she was living in Colorado, Olson had her write a letter to the wife of Willis.

"He made me sit down and write a letter of apology to the rapist's wife for betraying her trust by seducing her husband. I basically wrote what they told me to write," she said. "I think it's completely disgusting. It's wrong."

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Since 6/2/09 07:12:34
299 posts
The disgruntled, disenfranchised

I would urge caution here about being too critical of Tina Anderson. One of the easiest things to do is to claim that she and harsh commentators are just "disgruntled, disenfranchised church members" whose comments shouldn't be taken too seriously. Without implying that it's definitely the case in THIS situation, I know all too well how people can be terribly mistreated even in our "flagship fundamental churches," discarded, and then maligned as malcontents--they are effectively silenced, declared not worth listening to. Unfortunately, some of those so mistreated end up becoming bitter, wanting nothing to do with fundamentalism at all. And some keep the church at arms' length altogether.

I know firsthand what it's like to be the powerless victim of a pastor who "can do no wrong." In my case (along with many others in that particular ministry), the shameful treatment came from the top, and there was no one to appeal to. If I had tried to tell a deacon how I was mistreated, I would be considered an unsubmissive troublemaker and summarily fired. It wouldn't be the first time. I heard many former staff and church members spoken of disparagingly, but I eventually learned that their treatment was similar to my own, though perhaps for different reasons--none of which were justified. So, generally our family suffered silently so as not to jeopardize our income, and we prayed diligently for another place to serve. There were a few people outside the organization with whom we shared our story. Most listened quietly and offered the obligatory, "Well, we'll pray something else opens up for you." A few tried to offer some kind of defense of the pastor. But for the most part, we just took it. The deception--both we and the entire congregation were deceived--and the hurt, though, took its toll. For our part, my wife and I carry scars, fought and sometimes fight the bitterness battle, and will never be able to look at a large fundamentalist ministry with strong pastoral leadership without wondering how many people were broken and cast aside for the sake of "the empire." I won't begin to describe the effects on my children.

The sad thing is that were I and the many other victims to stand up and say "Hey, listen! This is wrong! This is what happened to us!", there would be all kinds of smooth talk to spin things, and we would be the bitter, critical-spirited bad guys on a vendetta. We would be marginalized and the powers that be would stand with the abuser. I heard it with my own ears, enough times to keep my mouth shut.

Again, I emphasize that I am not saying that this is the case in the TBC, Concord situation. I'm simply encouraging us not to marginalize Tina Anderson and others whose comments are unflattering. They may very well be bitter, critical, and disgruntled...but they may also have been given a reason to be.

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Since 6/22/09 14:30:00
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more info still coming?

I haven't commented here for some time now, but this case just blew me away. I am a little confused about what kind of info is still coming in this situation that should cause any to withhold assessment. A girl is raped and the fruit of the validity to her claim is pregnancy...the accused pervert confesses responsibility...but...is not taken to the police??

"I expected Ernie Willis to be arrested," Phelps said. "So to prepare the church for his imminent arrest, I communicated with the church or had him communicate with the church that he had been unfaithful to his marital vows.

Chuck Phelps said the public confession was for unfaithfulness, not the crime of raping a minor. Reporting the accusation within 24 hours was appropriate, but the thought of allowing a child rapist to only publicly call (without shackles and an orange jumpsuit) his sin unfaithfulness to his wife is seemingly an almost unbelievable scenario. What excuse could there be for not immediately escorting this rapist to the police where his confession would be given...seduction or no seduction?

There is enough information here to makes us sick to our stomachs for this devastating crime and to provide insight about how we deal with each case of such accusation.

AHB
Pastor for Preaching and Vision
Grace Church of the Valley

Greg Linscott's picture
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Since 5/22/09 14:27:02
2325 posts
The "Best Case"?

As I am understanding the facts, the best case scenario I can imagine here is that the physical involvement between the listed parties was consensual. That being said, I am having difficulty understanding why church leaders would believe that the responsible thing to do here would stop with reporting it, and not being willing to pursue to the matter to the fullest extent of the law. If a church member would murder another member, would anyone argue that church discipline would be adequate, and that the consequences available at the discretion of the state ought not be implemented because it was a church matter? I understand the principle that believers ought not to take church matters into public courts (1 Corinthians 6), but at the same time, the jurisdiction of a local church to carry out the consequences of justice is limited. This isn't as simple as settling interpersonal conflict. The church has jurisdiction to settle a matter like this in the body, but I believe that part of that solution involves leading the adult in this specific scenario to a willingness to accept the consequences for one's actions, and if he is not willing, delivering him up to the authorities anyway.

BTW- a good article on handling abuse matters like this is [URL=http://www.peacemaker.net/site/apps/nlnet/content3.aspx?c=aqKFLTOBIpH&b=... ]"A Better Way to Handle Abuse"[/URL ] by Ken Sande of Peacemaker Ministries. The article's conclusion:

Quote:
In one case, a pastor discovered that a man had abused several children in the church, including the pastor's daughter. In the midst of his own personal anguish, the pastor prayed to respond to the situation in a way that would reflect the love of Jesus. After consulting with a Christian conciliator and the church's insurer, the pastor and his elders set out to minister to everyone who had been hurt by this dreadful sin.

They persuaded the abuser to confess his sin to the families of the children and to turn himself in to the police. He willingly accepted his prison sentence, and was even grateful that his destructive behavior had finally been stopped.

The leaders spent many hours with the families themselves, grieving and praying with them, and making sure they received needed support and counseling. In addition, the leaders improved their screening and supervision policies to guard against similar incidents in the future.

They also reached out to the abuser's wife and children, who were so ashamed that they planned to leave the church. But the leaders understood what being a shepherd is all about. They ministered to this broken family, reassured them of God's love, and kept them in the fold.

Instead of being dragged through an excruciating lawsuit, the victims and their families, the abuser and his family, and the entire congregation experienced the redeeming power of God. This remarkable process culminated months later during a Christmas Eve service. As the church prepared to sing "Silent Night," two young girls came forward to light the candles. One of them had been abused. The other was the daughter of the abuser. As they finished their task and smiled at each other, the congregation saw tangible evidence of God's love and grace.

Abuse in the church does not have to end with catastrophe. When a church follows its Lord, even this great tragedy can result in healing and restoration.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

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Since 6/2/09 07:12:34
299 posts
Good example

Greg Linscott wrote:
BTW- a good article on handling abuse matters like this is [URL=http://www.peacemaker.net/site/apps/nlnet/content3.aspx?c=aqKFLTOBIpH&b=... ]"A Better Way to Handle Abuse"[/URL ] by Ken Sande of Peacemaker Ministries. The article's conclusion:
Quote:
In one case, a pastor discovered that a man had abused several children in the church, including the pastor's daughter. In the midst of his own personal anguish, the pastor prayed to respond to the situation in a way that would reflect the love of Jesus. After consulting with a Christian conciliator and the church's insurer, the pastor and his elders set out to minister to everyone who had been hurt by this dreadful sin.

They persuaded the abuser to confess his sin to the families of the children and to turn himself in to the police. He willingly accepted his prison sentence, and was even grateful that his destructive behavior had finally been stopped.

The leaders spent many hours with the families themselves, grieving and praying with them, and making sure they received needed support and counseling. In addition, the leaders improved their screening and supervision policies to guard against similar incidents in the future.

They also reached out to the abuser's wife and children, who were so ashamed that they planned to leave the church. But the leaders understood what being a shepherd is all about. They ministered to this broken family, reassured them of God's love, and kept them in the fold.

Instead of being dragged through an excruciating lawsuit, the victims and their families, the abuser and his family, and the entire congregation experienced the redeeming power of God. This remarkable process culminated months later during a Christmas Eve service. As the church prepared to sing "Silent Night," two young girls came forward to light the candles. One of them had been abused. The other was the daughter of the abuser. As they finished their task and smiled at each other, the congregation saw tangible evidence of God's love and grace.

Abuse in the church does not have to end with catastrophe. When a church follows its Lord, even this great tragedy can result in healing and restoration.

Perfect. And in what independent fundamental Baptist church did this occur?

Susan R's picture
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Since 5/6/09 20:48:52
4366 posts
Both sides

BryanBice wrote:
I would urge caution here about being too critical of Tina Anderson. One of the easiest things to do is to claim that she and harsh commentators are just "disgruntled, disenfranchised church members" whose comments shouldn't be taken too seriously. Without implying that it's definitely the case in THIS situation, I know all too well how people can be terribly mistreated even in our "flagship fundamental churches," discarded, and then maligned as malcontents--they are effectively silenced, declared not worth listening to. Unfortunately, some of those so mistreated end up becoming bitter, wanting nothing to do with fundamentalism at all. And some keep the church at arms' length altogether.

I know firsthand what it's like to be the powerless victim of a pastor who "can do no wrong." In my case (along with many others in that particular ministry), the shameful treatment came from the top, and there was no one to appeal to. If I had tried to tell a deacon how I was mistreated, I would be considered an unsubmissive troublemaker and summarily fired. It wouldn't be the first time. I heard many former staff and church members spoken of disparagingly, but I eventually learned that their treatment was similar to my own, though perhaps for different reasons--none of which were justified. So, generally our family suffered silently so as not to jeopardize our income, and we prayed diligently for another place to serve. There were a few people outside the organization with whom we shared our story. Most listened quietly and offered the obligatory, "Well, we'll pray something else opens up for you." A few tried to offer some kind of defense of the pastor. But for the most part, we just took it. The deception--both we and the entire congregation were deceived--and the hurt, though, took its toll. For our part, my wife and I carry scars, fought and sometimes fight the bitterness battle, and will never be able to look at a large fundamentalist ministry with strong pastoral leadership without wondering how many people were broken and cast aside for the sake of "the empire." I won't begin to describe the effects on my children.

The sad thing is that were I and the many other victims to stand up and say "Hey, listen! This is wrong! This is what happened to us!", there would be all kinds of smooth talk to spin things, and we would be the bitter, critical-spirited bad guys on a vendetta. We would be marginalized and the powers that be would stand with the abuser. I heard it with my own ears, enough times to keep my mouth shut.

Again, I emphasize that I am not saying that this is the case in the TBC, Concord situation. I'm simply encouraging us not to marginalize Tina Anderson and others whose comments are unflattering. They may very well be bitter, critical, and disgruntled...but they may also have been given a reason to be.


It's a double-edged sword. On the one hand, we know how far events can be misconstrued and twisted by the accusers, but on the other, it seems SOP for folks to engage in covering up unethical, immoral, and even criminal activity that has taken place in a church body. We just can't know what has taken place when we aren't part of the problem or the solution.

It isn't just church leadership that should keep good records, btw, but if a lay person is in a conflict/crisis, they should also keep records of correspondence and use witnesses to conversations whenever possible.

Blogging at Susan Raber Online

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Since 6/3/09 09:50:47
402 posts
Did that man, back in 1997

The comments from the church completely avoid dealing with what believers are concerned about. The authorities were notified. The law enforcement authorities will have to explain why they didn't purse this more aggressively. But, why did the church practice church discipline on the young woman? The pastor seemed to tell her that she put herself into a compromising situation. Maybe so, but the girl was 15. Do all 15 year-olds make wise decisions? Why did the man not confess publically, in church, to the rape of that young lady? Why were the situations dealt with as if they were unrelated? These are the issues that the church must answer. I don't know pastor Phelps; I know he is highly regarded in fundamentalism. Maybe he owes us all an answer, maybe not. It is a shame to see ministries fail to confess their past sins because they fear what liabilites this may open themselves up to.

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Since 6/2/09 07:12:34
299 posts
Structure

Quote:
It's a double-edged sword. On the one hand, we know how far events can be misconstrued and twisted by the accusers, but on the other, it seems SOP for folks to engage in covering up unethical, immoral, and even criminal activity that has taken place in a church body. We just can't know what has taken place when we aren't part of the problem or the solution.

You're absolutely right, Susan. I think that one factor to consider in trying to determine the validity of the disgruntled's claims is the authority structure of the church. 1) Just how readily does the pastor accept criticism and admit error/wrongdoing/failure? 2) If someone does feel wronged by the pastor and cannot seem to resolve the matter with the just the two of them, to whom can the hurt party turn? 3) Does it ever happen that the offended goes to a third party who is in leadership (deacon/elder), who ends up agreeing that the pastor was in the wrong? 4) Will the 3rd party go with the offended to try help the pastor see the error of his way? 5) And if so, is the pastor humble enough to agree & ask forgiveness?

In my situation referenced earlier, answers to the above questions are: 1) Never; 2) No one; 3) Rarely; 4) No way; 5) Are you kidding?

In contrast, if the answers are 1) very much so…2) a deacon/deacons or elder/elders… 3) yes… 4) yes…5) yes, then you can be 99% sure that a vocal, complaining, disgruntled (former) member is not worth listening to.

One of the things that troubles me when situations like TBC, Concord arise is a lack of willingness to say, "It would've been wiser had we __________." The almost defiant "we did everything right...they did everything wrong" and "I don't need to explain myself" attitudes tend to make me listen more attentively to the victim.

rogercarlson's picture
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Since 6/2/09 16:07:12
499 posts
I am glad Phelps gave a

I am glad Phelps gave a better response. But I still wonder why this man wasn't escorted to the police right after his "discipline?" I also wonder why instead of confessing his unfaithfulness, he was not also ordered to confess his criminal activity? Those are still nagging unanswered questions in my mind. They are not there to impune this ministry...they are there so that it can be a lesson for all of us in case some wickedness happens in our ministries.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

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Since 4/16/10 09:40:51
11 posts
Independent...check Fundament

Independent...check
Fundamental...check
Baptist...check
Pastor named Phelps...check
That surely won't help with public relations. Wouldn't surprise me to see Fred Phelps and his lovely family picketting in Concord some time soon.

Aaron Blumer's picture
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Since 6/1/09 19:00:00
7433 posts
Forgiveness confusion

To Jonathan's post a few up the chain... I think some of those questions are predicated on things we don't know at this point.

But I would not be surprised if there was some forgiveness confusion involved. It's pretty common--in evangelicalism every bit as much as in fundamentalism (based on what I've read and heard). What I mean is that people often don't realize forgiveness is something that can exist only in relationships. People/groups only have the power to forgive what has been committed against them. Only God can forgive sins against God. Individuals can only forgive what has been committed against them (or partly forgive what was committed against a group of which they are a part), and crimes can only be forgiven (or not) by the state. The same act may provide opportunities in all three categories.

But sometimes churches/believers get to thinking that forgiveness means not turning someone in who has committed a crime. There is no relationship between the forgiveness a church/believer can provide and the debt a person owes to society (just as there is no relationship between my forgiving someone and God forgiving him).

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Since 6/3/09 09:50:47
402 posts
This is an article with a

This is an article with a quote from Phelps:

--------- Forum Director --------
Poster did not provide link . I found what may be the link added it

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gcKuFXet0XK6WOFgLmwLnV...
------------------------------------

Phelps said he reported the rape allegations to police and child welfare officials within a day of hearing about them from Anderson 13 years ago and did nothing to conceal her whereabouts. He said he also told Willis he was calling the police and advised him to turn himself in.

"I never once got a call from the Concord police. ... They simply didn't do anything. This is unconscionable, what's happening to the Church here and to my reputation," Phelps, now a pastor in Indianapolis, said Thursday.

Police declined to comment Friday because of the ongoing investigation.

Phelps said Anderson's mother made the decision to move her to Colorado, while his role consisted of helping to find a family for her to live with.

Phelps did the right thing in reporting the crime, but he seems to believe that all of his other actions were right. But these are questions that still need to be answered:

1. He says that the mother made the decision on her own for the girl to leave, but what input did he have? Did she come up with that on her own, or did she do so at his suggestion? If he greatly influenced the mother in doing this, what was his motive? Getting pregnant ouf of wedlock is not the stigma that is used to be; shipping a girl two-thirds across the country is a draconian measure in this day and age.

2. Why was the girl forced to confess to the church? Calling the police shows that Phelps believed a crime was committed on the man's part. So, why didn't the church treat her as a victim? Why was the victim of the crime treated by the church as guilty of some sin?

3. Why did the girl have to confess to something that wasn't sinful on her part (being raped), but the man was able to make a confession that fell short of a truthful confession. Did the man say to the church, "I raped so-and-so." What was the purpose of bringing this matter before the whole congregation if the congregation wasn't given the truth. I know that all the details of a sin don't need to be graphically explained, but there is a BIG difference between confessing being unfaithful to one's wife and the sin and crime of the rape of a minor.

Church discipline is a necessary practice, but I have hardly ever seen it carried out in a biblical way. Unless there is some major light to shed on this, the way this whole ordeal played out is inexcusable and biblically indefensible. When I was in Christian college, a female student was raped by a male with whom she was alone in an elevator. Reflecting on that event made me ask: "Would I send my daughter to a Christian college (Maranatha) where such leadership would perhaps hold her responsible for a crime committed against her?" NOT ON YOUR LIFE!

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Since 6/2/09 07:12:34
299 posts
The Christian School factor

Quote:
1. He says that the mother made the decision on her own for the girl to leave, but what input did he have? Did she come up with that on her own, or did she do so at his suggestion? If he greatly influenced the mother in doing this, what was his motive? Getting pregnant ouf of wedlock is not the stigma that is used to be; shipping a girl two-thirds across the country is a draconian measure in this day and age.

2. Why was the girl forced to confess to the church? Calling the police shows that Phelps believed a crime was committed on the man's part. So, why didn't the church treat her as a victim? Why was the victim of the crime treated by the church as guilty of some sin?

It seems the underlying issue related to both of your areas of question is that Tina was a student in Trinity Christian School. Apparently it was deemed unacceptable for her to continue to be enrolled as a student in the church's school, so her mom's options were public school and home schooling. The mother was on her own (dad was in prison), so there was no way she could homeschool her daughter. Nor did she consider public school an acceptable alternative [Sidebar: Tina may have gotten some rotten information in the public school setting, but she wouldn't have been treated as a pariah. Let's mull over that one. ] So, that's where the idea of sending her to Colorado came into the picture. All of this makes me wonder how differently this would've played out in any fundamentalist Christian school setting. I don't really have firsthand experience with all that many schools, but I got to wondering how many of those that I'm familiar with would allow a 15-yr-old pregnant girl to remain enrolled, even if she were a victim of rape or incest. Anybody out there heard of a pregnant girl being allowed to continue attending a Christian school?

Joel Tetreau's picture
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Since 5/6/09 22:30:53
652 posts
Well.....

Well....I've been busy enough in the shadows of the cacti, that I've been limited in my participation here at SI. My apologies to the three of you that enjoy my posts. This one brings me back.

My first comment is let's wait for all sides to fully bring to the table "their side." Sometimes ministries and leaders are lied about. This is why the Scriptures say what they say about confirming what is accused by way of witnesses.

My second comment is a bit "off trail" but I believe an appropriate "off trail" if what has been said actually happened the way it's been presented then I might respond with the following:

I'm not sure I'm on board with the exegetical/theological basis of having sexual failure brought before the congregation if and when it turns into pregnancy, otherwise all other sins are ..... "tucked away." Of course I'm clueless "if" or "how" Chuck and Trinity handled other failures. Now if this kind of public communication (bringing brothers and sisters before the congregation) is for the purpose of restoration in a spirit of meekness, forgiveness and restoration....and is practiced consistently accross the board to all sins that we believe should make it to that level.....I'm all for it! However, I'm not convinced that this practice is really the result of serious exegetical thought. I sort of think it's not...what I do know is that this is right out of "the type A fundamentalist ministries especially if we have a Christian School" type approach to discipline. What I know has happened in some ministries "out there" is that a 15 or 16 or 17 year old kid would be paraded in front of the congregation (especially if they were enrolled in the Christian School attached to said church), while adults with as clear a failure in the same ministry would be "left alone." Now I don't know that certain "failures" by adults vis-a-vis "guilty teen" are actuality "covered up" by leadership in these kinds of ministries..... but at best I'm uneasy here. Back to this particular sitatuation....I'm uneasy here. Believe me...being the pastor of a church I'm wanting to give Chuck the benefit of the doubt. There have been times we as a leadership team at SVBC have dealt with "sin issues" privatly and then were accused of not handling the issues because what we did in "private" never made it "public." I've even had to keep my mouth shut afterwords (that is not defend ourselves to our critics) about what we did in private. All that to say I do want to give Chuck and the leaders the benefit of the doubt. What's hard about that here is that we are talking about a crime that was committed against a minor. So....I'm grateful Chuck reported this within 24 hrs. I'm hopeful that much more happened behind closed doors. I'm sad to see that we moved this gal from NH to COL? What I know is that too often (and I mean way too often!) a gal having any kind of a pregnancy (either by consensual or not....sorry to add that.....) in a ministry like ...... some Type A churches with a some Type A Christian schools (and I'm clueless if this NH ministry is this way).....lives with a reputation of having "failed" (even if she was violated) and too often in these kinds of ministries, this person is "tagged" and there is not an attitude of grace that extends the love and reception that Paul demands of the Corinthian Church towards the young man who was called to account in the first epistle to the Corinthians. Having said that, I'm with Adam here.....I know hindsight is 20-20 and it's easy to say "We would do better.....different.....etc...." The reality is ministry is messy. I hope I'd have the clarity to drive this guy to the police station myself and have him "booked" right on the spot. I will do one bit of arm-chair quarterbacking here - from a Shepherd's point of view - How in the world would I encourage a gal like this to be shipped away from my spiritual care after she was violated to the spiritual and emotional depths that this kind of violation brings? How in the world can you do that as a pastor? Especially when this young gal has no "active father?" Isn't the local ministry amongst other things to opperate as a hospital of grace for these kinds of things? I'm grateful that the family in COL was willing to open their arms to this gal. I'm assuming there was a church connected to this family that also ministered to this gal, so I'm grateful for all of that....especially if this COL family and any ministry connected to them was "strong in grace.' All things being equal...to me.....it's simply not the best situation to take this gal out of her home and away from her church home right when she needs them the most.

I hope my thinking out loud here is appropriate. Frankly I'm sickened to think about what's happened here. All of us in leadership should spend some extra time on our knees and our faces before God pleading with him to spare us from these kinds of "events." When they do happen let's pray that God will give us grace and wisdom to act with leadership, responsibility and mercy.

Straight Ahead!

Joel

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Baptist Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

Susan R's picture
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Sins made public

I agree, Bro. Joel, that it seems hypocritical to bring 'certain sins' before the congregation while others appear to be swept under the rug. Sometimes this is true, but sometimes I think it is perception. There are situations that are public by their very nature- any criminal activity that is made public record and the obvious signs of pregnancy are two of them. There are times IMO when full disclosure to the congregation is for the purpose of stamping out conjecture and speculation, not to punish or humiliate someone. I would think it would be less hurtful for everyone to know what happened so that gossip is minimized and true healing can occur. On the other hand, there are churches that look more like The Montel Williams Show with all the public confessing of sins that are better left between the affected parties and the Lord.

I also agree that the way young girls are treated when they've become pregnant (consensually or not) is often ludicrous. Fornication repented of is not the unpardonable sin ( and every unrepentant rebel should be treated the same way, not banishment just for fornicators), and a pregnancy that is the result of rape is NOT the time to further shame the victim by stashing her away like damaged goods not fit to see the light of day. I also notice that the young men responsible for the plight of these young girls are usually not shipped off to Timbuktu, nor are they held financially responsible for the child they've had a part in creating. What is truly shameful is the scapegoating and whitewashing that takes place, when a better testimony would be to face up to the facts and deal with the problem fairly and Biblically. Then perhaps Baptist churches would not have the 'cult' stamp applied quite so often.

In this particular situation, unless there is some documentation to support one side or the other, it's going to come down to "He said, she said". I think the only thing that can be gained from discussing this is to help us consider the reality that people are going to be caught up in sinful situations, purposefully or not, and church leadership need to be thinking about the Scriptural principles that should guide the church in dealing with sin, restoring the fallen, and healing the wounded, as well as the public ramifications of their actions.

Blogging at Susan Raber Online

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Since 6/2/09 13:04:13
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Without commenting directly

Without commenting directly on the situation, which appears very disturbing but I don't know enough actual facts about it to say much, let me just comment on the confession issue. As always, sin really complicates life and there are no easy answers, particularly when there two authorities involved (state and church). Perhaps with some discussion of this, we can turn this conversation to something that would actually be profitable.

At least two people I think (Adam and Ron) have questioned the nature of the man's public confession, and I think it is a good question. I also think it is a bit more complex than simply saying the man should have made a complete and open confession of legal crimes. In our legal system, under the 5th amendment, a person has the right against self-incrimination. He never has to testify against himself in court or in a deposition. He does not have to answer questions. He can get a lawyer whenever he wants to advise him. He cannot be compelled to testify against himself. Therefore, it seems to me that it may be unwise for a man to make a public confession in a situation in which there are (or should be) impending legal proceedings because anything he says in the church becomes evidence against him, and anyone who hears it can be called to testify (except the pastor, in most cases). To wait until the legal proceedings begin and progress is not unacceptable. He can (if he wants) wait until the legal case is made, and make his guilty confession a part of his plea bargain.

I think he absolutely should take spiritual responsibility and legal responsibility. But I think those are two different issues. I don't think taking responsibility biblically and completely means necessarily giving up your legal protections or jeopardizing a legal case. It does not mean volunteering to take the full maximum penalty under the law. Biblical responsibility does not mean hanging oneself. A person who has committed murder does not have to go and also commit suicide in order to take responsibility (i.e., life for a life). He doesn't have to make the prosecution's case for them. One can in fact, break the law criminally (or civilly, but remember they are different) and never turn himself in and never be prosecuted or arrested, and still be biblical in his response.

So I am not commenting on what should have be done with this man. I don't know enough to know what was done or said.

Furthermore, while a pastor or church member can encourage a person to turn themselves in to the police, and volunteer to go with him, they cannot force the person to go. They can, and should, take all necessary legal steps of reporting the crimes (and it appears by all accounts that that was done). No one suggests that Phelps failed to report it the police, or tried to cover it up. It sounds like the police also dropped the ball in at least some respects. So again, I don't know the ins and outs (and I doubt that anyone here does, beyond the news reports), so I don't want to take any position on that, except to say that this is disturbing in many respects.

Rape is a heinous crime against God and man, as is child molestation or abuse. It should never be covered up by the church, by the pastor, by the deacons, by anyone in authority. No one in authority should ever encourage a victim to cover it up for any reason, or to hide from testifying or being interviewed by legal authorities. So please don't mistake my comments for any sort of defense of anything that happened in this particular case. I don't know what happened.

BTW, some have complained about requesting the church members to not say anything about it. There are also good reasons why, in some cases, a church can legitimately ask members not to comment but rather to let all church positions be made through a spokesman for the church. There are some things that a church member may simply not know, or may be incorrect about. If those statements are made, it could greatly confuse the situation and end up putting untrue things out to the media. This is not in any way a call to cover up anything or to "submit to authority." It simply recognizes that there are times when it is good for a church to speak with one voice by one who actually knows enough about the situation to speak truthfully. A lot of confusion can be caused by well meaning people who simply don't know everything. Nothing should be covered up by the church. Just speak with one unified voice.

As a side note, it is interesting how many critics of fundamentalism complain about the lack of due process in church disputes and abuse of authority situations, about how leaders make judgments off the cuff without hearing both sides and doing the research, and then proceed to do exactly the thing they complain about.

So again, I repeat, I am not defending Phelps or TBC or anyone. I simply do not know, though this situation looks very bad. My main point here is about the legal issues and biblical responsibility.

JohnBrian's picture
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Since 6/2/09 02:29:27
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CBS news

Just watched the tail end of an interview Tina was doing on the CBS Saturday morning news show. The video will probably be on the website later this morning.

CanJAmerican - my blog
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Greg Linscott's picture
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Since 5/22/09 14:27:02
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Letters from TBC Church Members

Source Link: http://www.concordmonitor.com/article/unfair-to-trinity-baptist-church

Quote:
It has been distressing to see how one-sided the reporting has been over the past couple of days as my church, Trinity Baptist Church, has been dragged through the mud over a crime that took place 13 years ago.

I was a friend of the young lady at the time, and I can assure you that when she went public with her terrible news, the families in the church supported her, assured her of their love, and tried to do what was in her best interest. There never was any desire to "cover up," or "whisk her away." There were no questions from the authorities that were left unanswered by staff at Trinity.

I remember having her over to my house in the weeks after the news broke and before she left town. I remember her coming back to visit the church, after having had her baby, and recall warmly welcoming her. I remember writing to her. I know members of the church who have prayed for her many times since those days.

It seems that the Monitor has purposely hunted up people who are bitter against Trinity (or Christianity in general) for some reason and has not balanced that by doing any research amongst people on the other side. The Monitor should be asking the authorities why they did not fully investigate this years ago, rather than blasting a church that tried to support her.

GLORIA WOETZEL

Concord

I would guess (but am not certain) that Gloria Woetzel would be somehow related to Kurt Woetzel, best known in our circles for co-authoring Music in the Balance with Frank Garlock.

From the comments underneath the original

Quote:
I also speak as a former church member
By concordmom42 - 05/29/2010 - 2:23 am
And I didn't leave because of a disagreement of any kind. I moved too far away to continue attending.

I have no bitterness or malice of any kind toward the church members with whom I am still in friendly contact, the current pastors and leadership, or former pastor.

I can tell you unequivocally from personal knowledge that Tina DID tell someone that she was raped and that in the church discipline session that Pastor Phelps did NOT tell the congregation it was rape. To this day, there are those defending Pastor Phelps' actions that believe Tina shared part of the blame--they thought it was consensual because of what they were led to believe (and yes, they understood then and understand now that such a thing would be considered statutory rape because of her age, but because they believed what they were told, they simply thought the police did not pursue it because it was consensual).

I can also state with confidence from personal knowledge that the home situation of Tina was very difficult--stepdad in prison and a mom that never was a strong advocate for her daughter or her son.

Did the police drop the ball? It certainly appears that they could have been more aggressive. I am sure as the case moves forward more will come to light on that part of the situation.

ppayette, your frequent posts suggesting that this victim seduced her attacker are way out of line. Choose to believe that the pastor did his best. But stop violating the victim further by suggesting what does not have one ounce of truth to it.

You ask why Ernie was allowed to run around for 13 years. I have a question related to that. Why did the church leadership at the time not report this to the congregation during church discipline that Sunday evening as rape? Why did they let Ernie play in the brass ensemble and help chaperone activities with teens after this?

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Aaron Blumer's picture
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Since 6/1/09 19:00:00
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Quesitons

Jonathan Charles wrote:
2. Why was the girl forced to confess to the church? Calling the police shows that Phelps believed a crime was committed on the man's part. So, why didn't the church treat her as a victim? Why was the victim of the crime treated by the church as guilty of some sin?
3. Why did the girl have to confess to something that wasn't sinful on her part (being raped), but the man was able to make a confession that fell short of a truthful confession. Did the man say to the church, "I raped so-and-so." What was the purpose of bringing this matter before the whole congregation if the congregation wasn't given the truth. I know that all the details of a sin don't need to be graphically explained, but there is a BIG difference between confessing being unfaithful to one's wife and the sin and crime of the rape of a minor.

These are only "remaining questions" if the events they are predicated on actually occurred. I don't think we have it from the folks at Concord that any confession was required, do we?

In any case, I advise pressing hard on the "speculation brakes" and giving this some time to work itself out. It appears that more facts are coming to light, and I'm also sure the police in Concord are going to turn up some facts in their investigation.

Joel... on the theology of bringing certain matters before congregations vs. keeping others hidden (probably a better direction for the discussion), the principle I've often heard (and agree with) is that circle of impact determines the circle of confession... or something like that. The idea is that confession should be public to the degree sin is public. In the case of a pregnancy resulting, it's a little bit different though. There, it's not that the sin is more public (than when there is no pregnancy) but that the results are more public.
What you have then is a situation where it is impossible for the body of believers to be unaffected or uninvolved. At a minimum they will see and wonder what happened. Realistically speaking, they will talk about it and speculate. So then the reason for "public confession" is not so much "public sin" but the health of the body. Open talk about what happened is necessary to end the rumor mill (or preempt it) and also establish a clear path forward for the victim (if she is a victim, or for the sinner if that fits... or both if both fit).
Let's remember too that shame and alienation are unavoidable in this situation even if the woman involved is absolutely innocent. That's just built in. And if the circumstances that resulted in the pregnancy are not disclosed, the woman has no direction to go in rebuilding relationships.

Not sure I'm saying it very well, but the gist is, there can be more than one reason to have "open talk" in the congregation about an incident.
But whether the "open talk" takes the form of confession depends on who's doing the talking and whether she has anything relevant to "confess."

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Since 6/3/09 09:50:47
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If the story is going to be

If the story is going to be that this was consensual, then on what basis was this conclusion reached? Did they take the man's word that this was consensual (I'm assuming that was his story)? Did the victim just come right out and w/o pressure say that it was consensual? Was she pressured into saying that it was consensual? If so, did the fact that she had a difficult home-life lead people to assume that it might have been consensual ("Well, look at her home life; a girl with that kind of background is apt to get into these kinds of situations")?

Should the fact that this woman went on to get a degree from Maranatha and then taught in a respected Christian institution in Arizona lend credibility to her story? She didn't come out of this and renounce Christ and turn to live a wicked life. She seems to have been serving the Lord, inspite of this that occurred in 1997, and she seems to have a Christian family.

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Since 6/2/09 16:07:12
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I agree that we should let

I agree that we should let all of the facts come to light. There are still unanswered questions but we should wait for the facts. There are many things about this that angers me, but I hope it is untrue that this man was restored to playing in the orchrestra and was a worker in the youth group. But let's wait to find out.

Going forward. I should give a little more background. I was a bus kid who was in Christian School all the way through high school - sometimes I was a member of the church and sometimes I was at a different church. I came from a broken home (my mom had 5 kids and my dad had 6 and they married and had me. When i was 4 my mom and dad split up. I did have a stepdad). I know first hand what it is like to be stigmatized in Christian Schools. It was almost always unintentional, but we were treated differently (sometimes pitied, sometimes looked down upon). I should say this never happened to me at the last Christian School that I was at.

I also have had the privilege to teach at two other Christian schools. I saw "high risk" kids treated badly. If there was something that went wrong, they were the first thrown under the bus. I battled that a lot at one of the schools that I worked at. And when it came time let kids back in the school after expulsion, "high risk" kids were not let in as easily at "good kids" from good families, even the the "good" kids were the ring leaders. It has been years since I worked in a christian school, so I hope this has changed. But my experience was that kids such as the young lady mentioned here were the first alienated when something when wrong. Fair treatment overshadowed by the possibility of loosing tithing families ( I was told essentially that one time).

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

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Since 6/8/09 11:04:06
6 posts
wait

First, yes, Gloria Woetzel is Kurt Woetzel's wife.

I do have some personal knowledge of this situation and we need to wait until all the facts come out.

As far as the being ostracized 'bus kid'. I will have to disagree from my circumstances. I was the 'bus kid' although I didn't ride the bus. I was the kid from the home of unsaved parents. I was the kid that came to a Christian school every day smelling like smoke because my mom smoked. I NEVER felt ostracized. I was taken in to a loving church/school family. There was a family in our church that loved me and took me under their wing. Their daughter and I were and are best friends. I practically lived at their house and went on vacations with them. Not all 'outsiders' are treated badly.

Back to the Trinity situation...I doubt everything was done perfectly, but I'm sure that Pastor Phelps did what he thought the Lord wanted him to do. He's a godly man with many years of ministry behind him. Let's not throw stones until we know the entire story. And whatever it is, we need to support our fellow Christians.

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Cindy,I am glad you had a

Cindy,
I am glad you had a great situation as a bus kid. In the several schools that I have first hand knowledge, only one treated the kids the way you were treated. Again, most of the time it was completely unintentional.

As far as this current situation, I think we should wait. Fellow believers should be supported. And any wrongdoers should be punished and corrected for God's glory.

BTW, I used to have the smoke smell too. I felt badly my mom would work so hard trying to help me get my things ready when I would go to college. I never had to heart to tell her that I had to rewash everything when I got to BJ every semester. Smile

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Matthew Richards's picture
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Since 6/2/09 11:40:41
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what a sad story

this is a sad story indeed with many blanks to those of us on the outside. My prayer is that justice would be served even though this clown should have been prosecuted a long time ago. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out but our prayers should be for those hurt by these heinous and despicable crimes. If there was any cover up or obstruction involved I am sure it will come out during the reopened investigation.

Growing up under the Hyles regime, cover ups and shuffling people around to protect the guilty were common place. I hope that this was not the case here--time will tell. If it was the case then certainly those who were in positions of power should be held 100% accountable.

Matthew Richards

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Since 5/6/09 22:36:48
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Can Fundamentalists Do Better?

Fundamentalism can do better when it comes to these heartbreaking situations. Fundamentalism is willing to boldly speak out about a lot of things. Unfortunately, at the same time, we allow the embracing of ministries like the one in Hammond where serious moral failures were never repented of. Many fundamentalists will even prefer a ministry in its camp like Hammond over any ministry out there that decides to operate out of the fundamentalist box in any way. I believe this mindset creates and environment that hinders ministry leaders from properly dealing with these issues and now the world really does not see a difference between us and the Roman Catholic Church in these issues.

If Tina was made to confess her "failures" before a man who raped her against her will and before a congregation that did not understand a crime was commited against a 15 year old girl, then I can't begin to imagine the pain that she has felt all of these years. Any help offered in NH or CO could not begin to heal that pain under these circumstances. If the police department did not do a better job locating her, then they did create this pain as well. Also, I read that the man who commited the crime against Tina admitted paternity in papers in CO. If this is true, then the people in charge of those papers messed up.

God is a healing God. His hand is able to touch and mend the most broken of hearts. I truly believe that if everybody on every side of this situation will truly look up to Him, they will find direction, healing, and reconciliation. I pray that healing will be the result.

I hope the child who was born out of this crime will know Jesus, love Jesus, and serve Jesus.

While all of the details of the this situation are not known yet, I do believe in general that fundamentalism can do better when it comes to these issues.

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Since 6/2/09 08:08:04
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While we're waiting

While we're waiting for all the facts to come out, we do have some facts which we can evaluate.

An grown man had sex with an underage girl. That was a premeditated act that was a sin, a crime, and inexcusable.

That man never confessed his real sin to the church and was allowed to continue in the church with no consequences.

The people who knew this crime had been committed did not actively pursue justice.

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

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Since 6/3/09 09:50:47
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The case of John Calvin and

The case of John Calvin and Servetus came to mind. Servetus had a non-Trinitarian Christology. He visited Geneva, was arrested and with Calvin's consent was burned at the stake. Calvin was certainly wrong in that, yet we wouldn't cast aside all that was good and godly about his life and ministry. I really don't want to do the same thing with Chuck Phelps (he teaches a required seminary module that I eventually have to take). Maybe we will never be able to reconcile a single wrong action of what was, otherwise, a good and godly man. But it sure would be refreshing to see a fundamentalist leader look at an old action with fresh eyes and say, "I was wrong."

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Since 6/2/09 13:04:13
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Ron, Just curious here,and I

Ron,

Just curious here,and I wish it wasn't connected to this case because I have no desire to defend anything here. I wonder about the extent of this. I am not sure.

Do you think a person who may face legal issues should be required to incriminate themselves before the church prior to their legal proceedings? How much specificity should be required?

To get it off of this case, let's say for instance that a man has been caught with child p0rnography. He is caught and confesses it to the pastor. There is an impending legal case. Should he be required to confess specifically that he was involved in child p0rnography to the church, knowing that he would be incriminating himself in the legal proceedings?

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Since 5/22/09 14:27:02
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Mrs. Woetzel is not listed as "Gloria"

Cindy wrote:
First, yes, Gloria Woetzel is Kurt Woetzel's wife.

Unless she is going by another name in the letter, that is not correct.

From [URL=http://www.acswebnetworks.com/tbcnh/pastoral_staff ]Woetzel's bio at the Trinity Website[/URL ]-

Quote:
Mr. Kurt Woetzel Minister of Music

Trinity Baptist Church held its first services in Kurt and Suzanne Woetzel’s home. From 1980 to the present, Kurt has led Trinity’s nationally recognized music ministry and has been ably accompanied on the piano by his wife, Suzanne. The Woetzels both received master's degrees in music from Pensacola Christian College. Kurt is a published author and travels with the Majesty Music College under the direction of his dear friend and mentor, Dr. Frank Garlock.

I do have some familiarity with Trinity (though I am far from an expert) from when I pastored in Maine. We had Dr. Phelps and another associate from Trinity speak for retreats our church hosted. I presented a workshop for their Leadership Conference one year. I have met Mrs. Woetzel before.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Greg Linscott's picture
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Since 5/22/09 14:27:02
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To Larry's question

FWIW, I would see no problem with doing that if he were doing something both immoral and illegal that had serious consequences. I would think true repentance would be evidenced by making a similar statement before the police that he would before the congregation. In your scenario, Larry, what possible legitimate reason would a confessed child pornographer have to withhold such information from the authorities?

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

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Since 6/2/09 13:04:13
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Several reasons, Greg. 1.

Several reasons, Greg.

1. Because of the law itself -- Child p0rnography is not entirely clearly defined by the law, and there are some legal issues surrounding it that are still being litigated, according to my understanding. He may not be guilty before the law, but once he confesses it, it can be used against him.

2. Because of sentencing issues -- Certain crimes may carry say, 20 years, while other crimes may carry 10 years. I am not convinced that biblical repentance means volunteering for the maximum. A person may know he is guilty of a 20 year crime, but the prosecutor for the sake of saving the trial expense and risk of acquittal may say, "If you will plead to the ten year crime, we will call it even." But if he has confessed to the 20 year crime, he has in effect committed legal suicide. Does he still have to confess to the 20 year crime? I am not sure he does. And what if he is offered probation? Should he turn that down because he knows he committed a greater crime. I would say, generally speaking, in legal situations, the less you say the better. I wonder if we don't need to separate biblical repentance from legal issues. They are not necessarily connected (see below).

3. I also think that police/authorities are entitled to more information than the church body as a whole is. I am not sure anyone is helped by very specific admissions. For a man to confess that he was unfaithful to his wife (read no connection to this case at all) is significantly different than confessing that he carried on with 15 women. I don't think the latter is necessary information to demonstrate biblical repentance.

4. Furthermore, if he has confessed it at the first confrontation or the second (cf. matt 18), then it does not necessarily have to come before the body for confession. The exception, in my mind, is when it will become public information. As a pastor, I want to be on the front end of that news cycle, to say to the body, "You are going to read some things, some which may or may not be true. I want you to know that we know, that we have dealt with it, that there is fruit of biblical repentance and accountability." I don't want the church finding out in the newspaper. Of course, there is some experience involved in that judgment.

Let's take another case: Does someone who confesses to using drugs have to turn themselves into the police in order to demonstrate biblical repentance? What about someone who confesses to selling drugs? Or someone that drove while drunk and didn't get stopped? Does biblical repentance involve confessing everything that we know and volunteering to take the max?

Can someone say, "I did wrong. I broke the law, but I have repented and am following Jesus. One day it might come back to haunt me, and when it does, we will cross that bridge and deal with it." Assuming that it does not involve someone else, is that wrong? I would entertain the argument, but I don't convinced as of not that it is wrong to take that approach. Again, I am not convinced that biblical repentance means committing legal suicide.

In the bottom line, it seems more complex than "Get up front and tell everyone exactly what you did." We need to weigh the need of people to know specifics, the legal issues that might arise, the way that a church body can help a fellow believer, etc.

Again, none of my comments here should be interpreted to apply to the TBC case in any way.

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Since 5/22/09 14:27:02
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Your scenario

Child pornography harms and exploits other people directly- particularly the children involved. In that way, it differs from your examples of drug use and drunk driving. I am thinking especially of someone who was involved in production/distribution- though regularly viewing it is also serious.

I agree with your points, esp. 2 and 4. But to answer if someone can say "I did wrong. I broke the law, but I have repented and am following Jesus. One day it might come back to haunt me, and when it does, we will cross that bridge and deal with it."- like Zacchaeus, I see a big connection between repentance and demonstrable fruit. If someone realizes that they have been guilty of reprehensible crimes against God and humanity by producing child porn, I would say that repentance would not only involve turning one's self in to the authorities, but exposing the distribution ring, getting the children to safe places and homes, and so on. Similar things might be said if someone had committed murder, for example- turning one's self in would be crucial, I would think.

That being said, the actions of, say, a repentant prostitute or drug user might be different that those of a repentant pimp or madam or high-level drug dealer. For that matter, someone who breaks the speed limit and is repentant would have a different course of action with the authorities than someone who committed a hit-and-run.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

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Since 6/2/09 13:04:13
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Production/dissemination is

Production/dissemination is different than using and the law recognizes that at least to some extent (similar to drugs, BTW). Murder is certainly up there. Prostitution is another interesting case. There's a lot of ins and outs that I haven't thought fully through. I have dealt with some and have given some thought to it. I would hesitate to say that there's an easy "one size fits all" answer. I am curious though as to why you would disagree with 1 and 3. I think 1 is an ongoing case law situation, and not sure why 3.

The issue with Zaccheus is that there was someone that he could repay. And it also wasn't illegal, was it? But how does someone who merely (and don't read too much into that) but merely looks at child porn repay anyone? Surely a child was harmed in producing it, and that person must pay. And yes, if there was no market for it, he wouldn't produce (actually he probably would because it's not a profit crime). But how does one repay or make restitution? I think perhaps that is an issue that must be considered as well. Are we in danger of some form of Shylock-ism, demanding our pound of flesh for no real reason that public shame and humiliation. I think we should be cautious of our own depravity.

On your last line about speeding vs. hit and run, I specified earlier the difference between civil infractions and crimes. Speeding is a CI and hit and run is a crime. I think we handle them differently. I don't run down to the police station every time I speed, cuz then I would have to go once a month or so. But hit and run is a misdemeanor I think.

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Since 6/2/09 08:08:04
884 posts
Thanks Greg

It's late and I'm tired and incapable of any long answers. Simply put, Larry, I would say, yes, if you're guilty, incriminate yourself and pray for mercy. If i recall, the first question the judge is going to ask the defendant is, "How do you plead?" The truthful answer is, "Guilty."

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

Greg Linscott's picture
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Since 5/22/09 14:27:02
2325 posts
FWIW

I didn't disagree with the other numbered points- I just thought the ones I mentioned were especially strong.

Repay/restitution- I think there, exposing the ring so production is halted is one possible way.

I agree with Ron that it is late, too. Good night, all.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

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Since 6/2/09 02:29:27
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Stuff Fundies Like

CanJAmerican - my blog
CanJAmerican - my twitter
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Susan R's picture
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Since 5/6/09 20:48:52
4366 posts
Evidence and spin

JohnBrian wrote:
http://www.stufffundieslike.com/2010/05/spinning-scandals/ Spinning Scandals

1. I'd love to see some "rock solid evidence" on either side of this case instead of Tuesday Morning Quarterbacking.
2. The new rebuttal regarding any disagreement is to accuse the other of 'drinking the Kool-Aid. Still sitting here waiting for some evidence to surface. And drinking coffee.
3. Each situation must be weighed on its own. It is regrettable and shameful that there have been cover-ups in other situations, but one calico cat doesn't mean that every cat in the universe is a calico.
4. The generalization that circling the wagons is a common characteristic of all Fundamentalism is the pot calling the cornflakes black.
5. Not everything is a conspiracy. Sometimes good people faced with a crisis will do things that seemed like the best recourse at the time. It is important, however, for wrong decisions, regardless of the intentions, to be admitted and reparations made- on both sides.
6. Any time you say you are waiting for 'rock solid evidence', that in itself is evidence that you are One Of The Bad Guys. In order to be a Good Guy, you must immediately accept the second-hand stories and horrific anecdotes at face value .

I've seen plenty of spin in my life. I've seen Biblical principles used to manipulate and control others with fear... but that is not a Fundy thing, it's a wickedly sinful human thing. We all must deal with our deceitful hearts that constantly look for scapegoats. The best thing IMO to do with an event like this is to stop trying to do an autopsy when none of us have access to the body, but take what little we do know and humbly prepare ourselves for the possibility that we may one day be faced with a similar situation.

I think Larry has brought up some excellent points to consider. We do have a legal system that must be considered in any situation. Some behaviors are immoral and/or unethical but not illegal. In our legal system there are categories of infractions- civil and criminal. In any case, we are supposed to presume innocence until evidence of guilt is presented or a confession obtained. I think the presumption of innocence is Biblically supported. And evidence can only be given by those directly involved- being the friend of a friend of Aunt Martha's catsitter is not being directly involved.

Blogging at Susan Raber Online

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Since 6/2/09 08:23:01
21 posts
new article provokes more questions and concerns

A new article posted this morning gives more details and provokes more questions and concerns.

http://www.concordmonitor.com/article/woman-i-was-afraid-to-tell-of-rape

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Since 6/2/09 12:59:01
17 posts
Sickening

I find this whole situation sickening. Between the actual crime to the cover-ups...it's nauseating.

There was absolutely no reason for that 15 year old girl to be publicly disciplined at church. She is the victim.

The perpetrator was clearly unrepentant for his crime or he would have confessed the rape to his church and asked this young girl for her forgiveness. Unfaithfulness to his wife was only a small part of the story.

At the end, for me this girl was just that : a girl. This deacon from Trinity caused permanent harm to her not only through the rape; but the emotional trauma of being ostracized from her family and giving up her baby for adoption. It is unbelievable to me that the rapist was allowed to continue his life until now.

Cindy wrote:
Back to the Trinity situation...I doubt everything was done perfectly, but I'm sure that Pastor Phelps did what he thought the Lord wanted him to do. He's a godly man with many years of ministry behind him. Let's not throw stones until we know the entire story. And whatever it is, we need to support our fellow Christians.

There will be no support from me for Christians who took part in ruining a young girl's life until apologies are made for their wrongdoing. Specifically how they spoke to this girl, the fact that she was publicly shamed at her church, and for allowing the perpetrator to continue fellowship with their church.

Aaron Blumer's picture
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Since 6/1/09 19:00:00
7433 posts
What do we know?

Quote:
There was absolutely no reason for that 15 year old girl to be publicly disciplined at church.

Again, do we know yet that this happened? I don't think I've seen that in Trinity/Phelp's version of events, yet and we should probably leave it in the "maybe" column... and wait and see. We also don't know that there was anything rising to the level of cover up.
At this point, probably best to neither believe nor disbelieve the parts of the accounts that seem to be contradictory.

Edit: In fact the story linked to a couple posts up containst this statement..

Quote:
Phelps said this wasn't a case of the church disciplining Anderson. Instead, it was a chance for the congregation to help Anderson.
"Church discipline is the removal of a person from the assembly," Phelps said. "This was not that. This was a chance for people in the church assembly to embrace her, and they did."

Aaron Blumer's picture
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Since 6/1/09 19:00:00
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Crime vs. sin

Also, let's keep in mind what responsibilities belong to whom. The church deals with sin, the authorities deal with crime. They are not the same thing.

In dealing with the sin, the church's responsibility is to seek the restoration of the sinning member. Disfellowshipping is merely a step in the restoration process and not one you take if the believer has repented. So once the sin has been dealt with biblically, the church has nothing more to do except see that the law is also honored and the authorities have their opportunity to deal with the crime. Does that responsibility involve more than notifying the authorities? I'm really not sure if it does or not.

Greg Linscott's picture
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Since 5/22/09 14:27:02
2325 posts
Hmmm...

AB wrote:
Does that responsibility involve more than notifying the authorities? I'm really not sure if it does or not.

So, do you let a confessed/convicted child molester serve in the church nursery? Do you put a forgiven embezzler in a role as church treasurer?

Forgiveness and restored fellowship does not mean that all privileges needs be returned. Forgiveness can be immediate, but building trust takes time, and may never be fully restored in some cases. That in no way reduces the reality of forgiveness and restoration to Christian fellowship.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

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Since 6/3/09 09:50:47
402 posts
Come on Aaron, are you buying

Come on Aaron, are you buying the story that the church/Phelps did not practice church discipline on that girl? I think they are playing with words here. They are limiting "church discipline" to mean putting a person out of the church. I have never read anyone who has written on church discipline (MacArthur/Dever/Grudem) limit "church discipline" to just the final step of excommunication. I've always heard the term used to refer to any point in the process. Yes, this girl was disciplined by that church. I wish Phelps and that church would understand that this doesn't just involve them. This story has been on the wire services, was on CBS the other morning, it is giving fundamentalism a bad name. For young fundamentalists who hold a tentative attachment to fundamentalism, this could well be the think that pushes many to just walk away.

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Since 6/2/09 07:12:34
299 posts
Restoration

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Also, let's keep in mind what responsibilities belong to whom. The church deals with sin, the authorities deal with crime. They are not the same thing.

In dealing with the sin, the church's responsibility is to seek the restoration of the sinning member. Disfellowshipping is merely a step in the restoration process and not one you take if the believer has repented. So once the sin has been dealt with biblically, the church has nothing more to do except see that the law is also honored and the authorities have their opportunity to deal with the crime. Does that responsibility involve more than notifying the authorities? I'm really not sure if it does or not.

But in an attempt to work toward reconciliation within the body and restoration of the sinning member, wouldn't the process demand repentance, which would certainly also demand taking full responsibilities for one's actions? If that action was a crime--and that isn't in question here--I would demand the criminal take full responsibility, which would include turning himself in to the authorities and accepting whatever consequences that involved. Ernie Willis admitted to his pastor that he had gotten a 15 yr old church member pregnant--a crime against a minor. The pastor knew he was guilty of a crime for which he did not take full responsibility, yet the man continues as a member in good standing, even serving in various capacities in the church? I'm sorry, but this is inconceivable to me.

As far as the "church discipline" process, at least as it has been repeatedly described:

Quote:
Phelps said this wasn't a case of the church disciplining Anderson. Instead, it was a chance for the congregation to help Anderson.
"Church discipline is the removal of a person from the assembly," Phelps said. "This was not that. This was a chance for people in the church assembly to embrace her, and they did."
....isn't it fascinating and terribly problematic that both the victim of the crime and the criminal were treated in the same way? Sounds like one could conclude that Willis, likewise, was not subject to church discipline, rather, "it was a chance for people to embrace [him ] and they did." Again, this boggles the mind.

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