A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Abusers in Church – Why churches are abuser-friendly environments

Jude 1:4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

In discussing the double life that sex offenders and other predators establish in order to gain people’s trust, Anna Salter (Predators, Pedophiles, Rapists & Other Sex Offenders  *affiliate link) quotes a man who was the youngest deacon in his church:

“I lived a double life…. I would do kind and generous things for people.  I would give families money that did not have any money that was not from the church treasury, it was from my own bank accounts.  I would support them in all thew ways that I could.  Talk to them, encourage them.  I would go to nursing homes.  Talk with the elderly.  Pray with the elderly.  I would do community service projects.  Pick up liter off the side of the road.  I would mow lawns for elderly and handicapped people.  Go grocery shopping for them.”

But this was only his “double.”  The real person was actively and regularly sexually molesting children — and his children of choice were the emotionally disturbed children who no one would believe even if they told.  And when two of them did tell, many people from his church came to his defense.  Ultimately he went to prison for molesting one child from the youth group he led, but in fact he had violated 95 others, all from the youth group.

As domestic abuse victims know all too well, churches are one of the most abuser-friendly environments.  Even when they are reported multiple times, they are most often not prosecuted and the victim is disbelieved.  When they do go to prison, they frequently return to a church that does not know them once they are out of prison, and begin the cycle all over again.  Churches usually don’t bother to check the person’s criminal history because the nice, “Christian” facade is so well played.  Salter suggests a number of reasons why Christians are so gullible:

1.  The abuser’s double life.  “Niceness and likability will override a track record of molestation/abuse any day of the week.”

2.  Children usually do not report being molested, especially when the perpetrator holds a position of trust in the church.

3.  Molesters realize that “church people” are easier to fool than most other people because they have a trusting mentality.  They want to believe in the “good that exists in all people.”  [Something the Bible certainly does NOT teach, by the way!]

4.  Despite the fact that decades of research have demonstrated that people cannot reliably tell who is lying and who isn’t, most people believe they can.

All of these factors also come into play in the case of domestic abusers who pose as Christians.  Almost every Christian who has been victimized by an abuser will testify to this wall of refusal to believe such evil could be happening, let alone perpetrated by “such a fine Christian.”

This is all intentional and dangerous naivete.  God’s Word has plainly and repeatedly warned us about evil people who will come in among us.  We are to test the spirits to see if they are from God.  We are to expect savage wolves in sheep’s clothing and examine them even if they can “baa.”  But we don’t.  We haven’t been.  And we are paying the piper for it.  Or, more accurately, the victims are paying.

Why is being on watch and on guard considered to be mere paranoia and a lack of faith?  Why are shepherds who truly watch over their flock viewed with suspicion and criticism?  Why?

 

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9 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Speakingtruthinlove's Blog.

  2. I’m emailing this to some people who work in the secular DV Justice System.

  3. This is an excellent, excellent post.

    • Jeff Crippen

      CrimeDime – Thank you. Yes, these facts are not only really interesting, they expose things that really need to be broadcast in the light. We are all naturally naive, and churches can be exceptionally naive about evil, which is ironic, because we are supposed to be dealing with evil and exposing it. The Bible has TONS to say about how evil people think and operate, but somehow we miss it, or don’t believe it, or just plain think we are so smart that no one could ever put one over on us. The statistics show us we are wrong.

      • Anonymous

        Believe it or not, Pastor Crippen, a friend once looked me in the eye and said, “He can’t pull the wool over me. I always knew he was a fraud – I could tell he was manipulative. But now I can tell he is genuine; he has changed. I would know it if he was lying. I can tell…” She was pleading with me to trust her that she KNEW he had changed. I still can’t believe anyone can be that sure of her ability to detect lies, but hey, apparently, most people think they can!

  4. Anon – Even trained psychologists and other professionals have been shown to not be able to consistently detect lies. The TV series “Lie to Me” is a fiction. In the end, only Christ can sort it all out. In the meantime, I prefer to operate with the theory “abusers don’t change.” I will be right far more than I will be wrong.

  5. anonymous

    Jeff, I so appreciate your insight and willingness as a male to walk against the current and address this subject which many church leaders refuse to believe is even a reality. (Apparently it is just too difficult to accept, for to do so would require too much messiness and inconvenience to deal with…. Time is better served in preparing the next wonderful sermon than to consider believing and helping an abused wife or child.

    • Jeff Crippen

      As soon as someone (usually a woman) comes to the pastor and starts laying out a story of abuse, immediately fear sets in because if it is dealt with openly and justly, then it is going to cost. It could cost the loss of a substantial donor, it could cost the pastor the loss of a friend, it could divide the church, etc. So the temptation is to be selfish and minimize it, which means really wishing the victim would just go away. Justice demands we deal with it impartially and without favoritism no matter the cost. Thanks much!

  6. Finding Answers

    CrimeDime commented “This is an excellent, excellent post.”

    ^That.

    Barb commented “I’m emailing this to some people who work in the secular DV Justice System.”

    Unfortunately, the secular DV Justice System many times prefers to blame the victim.

    From the original post “Why is being on watch and on guard considered to be mere paranoia and a lack of faith?…..”

    ^That. I was brainwashed to believe this by my abusive family of origin, and the “c”hurches I attended in later years were no different in their teaching.

    From the original post “Children usually do not report being molested, especially when the perpetrator holds a position of trust in the church.”

    (Strikethrough added by me.)

    ^That.

    Jeff C commented “…..In the end, only Christ can sort it all out……..”

    ^That.

    I will never find justice for any of my abusers either through the “c”hurch or the secular justice system.

    I have no proof, merely flashbacks, terrible memories, and an uphill climb up the wall of the pit. I cannot prove my healing, nor can I prove any of my correct diagnoses. I cannot prove anything, but I am still alive and battling.

    Ultimately, Justice will prevail over justice.

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