Quiet! Don’t Break the Ninth Commandment!

By | January 2, 2017

“Just because we are Calvinists doesn’t mean that our celebrities are any more immune from the temptations of fame and wealth as the heretics of the Word/Faith movement.”
Todd Pruitt, “Gospel-Centered Monster Making,”

“…out from the door of the farmhouse came a long file of pigs, all walking on their hind legs…out came Napoleon himself, majestically upright, casting haughty glances from side to side, and with his dogs gambolling round him.

He carried a whip in his trotter.

There was a deadly silence. Amazed, terrified, huddling together, the animals watched the long line of pigs march slowly round the yard. It was as though the world had turned upside-down. Then there came a moment when the first shock had worn off and when, in spite of everything-in spite of their terror of the dogs, and of the habit, developed through long years, of never complaining, never criticising, no matter what happened-they might have uttered some word of protest. But just at that moment, as though at a signal, all the sheep burst out into a tremendous bleating of-

“Four legs good, two legs better! Four legs good, two legs better! Four legs good, two legs better!”

It went on for five minutes without stopping. And by the time the sheep had quieted down, the chance to utter any protest had passed, for the pigs had marched back into the farmhouse.”
― George Orwell, Animal Farm

“Since when have Evangelical pastors ever looked to the law in determining whether they should speak out about evil?”
-Boz Tchividjian in an interview by Janet Mefferd (listen below).

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.
James 2:8 NIV

For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galations 5:14 NIV

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied:‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:36-40 NIV

On another Sabbath day, a man with a deformed right hand was in the synagogue while Jesus was teaching. The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees watched Jesus closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath. But Jesus knew their thoughts. He said to the man with the deformed hand,“Come and stand in front of everyone.” So the man came forward. Then Jesus said to his critics, “I have a question for you. Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?”
He looked around at them one by one and then said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! At this, the enemies of Jesus were wild with rage and began to discuss what to do with him.
Luke 6:6-11 NLT

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “There will always be temptations to sin, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting! It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to fall into sin. So watch yourselves! If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive.”
Luke 17:1-3 NLT

“What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.”
Luke 11:42 NLT

Recently I, and several other “watch-blogs” who are much better known than me, have published articles concerning the indictment, arrest and jailing of Reformed Baptist pastor Tom Chantry. Chantry has been indicted on five counts of molesting children and two counts of aggravated assault with serious injury. He now awaits a March 27, 2017 trial date. It appears the professional clergy class of the ARBCA conducted an investigation into the Chantry abuse and wrote a detailed report which they have sat on for fifteen years.

Predictably, the profesional clergy class rushed to the defense of their colleague, quickly accusing the rock throwing peasants (that would be me) of slander and breaking the 9th Commandment. Their actions are eerily reminiscent of the scene from “Animal Farm” above and seem to me to be carried out with the intent of silencing the laity.

In the days prior to the internet and “watch-blogs,” clergy intimidation was largely successful. Things are changing however; the sheep are not so quick to bleat out “preacher good, laity slanderous.” Instead, Christians in ever greater numbers are boldly standing up and truthfully speaking out on behalf of the victims.

R.Scott Clark recently wrote an article, which, in my opinion was an attempt to silence the laity. The article may be read here. Obviously I was not the only one with this opinion, as Clark addressed it in the comments section of his blog. I suggest you read his article and form your own opinion.

Here is, in part, what R. Scott Clark, a highly educated member of the clergy class,  advised our actions should be on the Chantry scandal:

Observe the ninth commandment. God’s moral law has 10 words or commandments. On the internet, however, the ninth commandment, takes quite a beating—as do the others. The substance of the ninth commandment is to tell the truth. Indeed, the ninth commandment is intended, in the first instance, for judicial procedures. It applies well beyond civil and ecclesiastical trials, however. It applies to the internet. I have addressed that application repeatedly in this space. See the resources linked below. It is sufficient here to urge those who are concerned for the victims, and the alleged victims, as they should be, to observe the ninth commandment. They are not more righteous than God. Their concern for the well-being of victims and potential victims does not excuse them from the obligations of the ninth commandment. It says: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Like it or not Tchividjian and Chantry are our neighbors.

My response is to, first of all, recognize Clark for acknowledging that we should be concerned for the victims. Based on his past track record, I believe he is sincere. Many of his colleagues are not. (Boz Tchividjian makes this point on the audio above.)

What bothers me is Clark appears to make a blanket implication that people such as myself do not tell the truth and that we think we are more righteous than God. I and the bloggers I am acquainted with carefully research subjects prior to writing about them. My goal is to write accurate, truthful accounts; if I am shown to be in error on anything I  acknowledge my error and correct my article. My conscience is clear in relation to the observation of the ninth commandment. As for anyone thinking they are more righteous than God, none of my friends would fit that bill; in fact, the only ones I can think of who possibly fit that description is the Pharisees in New Testament times, and possibly some modern day Christian celebrities.

Below is some additional information on the ninth commandment. Again, I would refer the reader back to the audio of Boz Tchividjian for examples of individuals who may want to read up on this.

The Westminister Larger Catechism
Q145: What are the sins forbidden in the ninth commandment?

The sins forbidden in the ninth commandment are, all prejudicing the truth, and the good name of our neighbours, as well as our own, especially in public judicature; giving false evidence; suborning false witnesses, wittingly appearing and pleading for an evil cause, out-facing and over-bearing the truth; passing unjust sentence, calling evil good, and good evil; rewarding the wicked according to the work of the righteous, and the righteous according to the work of the wicked; forgery, concealing the truth, undue silence in a just cause, and holding our peace when iniquity calleth for either a reproof from ourselves, or complaint to others; speaking the truth unseasonably, or maliciously to a wrong end, or perverting it to a wrong meaning, or in doubtful and equivocal expression, to the prejudice of truth or justice; speaking untruth, lying, slandering, backbiting, detracting, tale-bearing, whispering, scoffing, reviling; rash, harsh, and partial censuring; misconstructing intentions, words, and actions; flattering, vain-glorious boasting, thinking or speaking too highly or too meanly of ourselves or others; denying the gifts and graces of God; aggravating smaller faults; hiding, excusing, or extenuating of sins, when called to a free confession; unnecessary discovering of infirmities; raising false rumours, receiving and countenancing evil reports, and stopping our ears against just defence; evil suspicion; envying or grieving at the deserved credit of any, endeavouring or desiring to impair it, rejoicing in their disgrace and infamy; scornful contempt, fond admiration; breach of lawful promises; neglecting such things as are of good report, and practising, or not avoiding ourselves, or not hindering what we can in others, such things as procure an ill name. (Link)

Here is a screen capture from Clark’s same article. It made me wonder just who is slandering whom?

Clark seems to think the only option available to a Christian concerning Tom Chantry’s alleged crimes is to inform ARBCA church leaders of Chantry’s abuses. He told a friend of mine “People with relevant testimony should present it to the churches. They should contact Jim Renihan for direction on how to proceed.”

When my friend questioned Clark about how one can be sure that Jim Renihan will deal with evidence in a godly manner, Clark replied: “I’ve known him for twenty years.”

Aside from the obvious problem that ARBCA leaders have known of Chantry’s abuse for fifteen years and concealed it,  a trusted Christian with knowledge of ARBCA leaders points out further problems with Clark’s advice:
“I have no doubt Jim Renihan is privy to all that goes on in ARBCA. And I would never trust him to look into the cover-up. He’s one of the boys.”
Additionally, Brent Detwiler did write to some pastors in the ARBCA. What was the result of Detwiler’s letter?
 

“In response to my first letter, I received a caustic denunciation from one of the pastors emphatically stating “There is nothing here for you to ‘expose.’” ( Link )

Does Clark’s twenty-year friendship with Jim Renihan explain his recent article?

Clark’s article received numerous comments of praise, some from fellow clergymen. He and I engaged in a short, fruitless exchange on Twitter.

On the bright side, I did receive this helpful response:

Need I remind the reader again of the greatest Commandment? (See the Matthew 22:36-40 quote at the top of this article.)

Also among the clergy class attempting to shame the rock throwing peasants into silence was Todd Pruitt, he of “Mortification of Spin” fame. He tweeted this in response to the Tom Chantry scandal:

Pruitt also retweeted Clark’s article:

And then he added his voice of approval to Clark’s article:

I was thrilled when I  heard Aimee Byrd, Todd Pruitt and Carl Trueman, leaders from the reformed evangelical world, finally calling out their colleagues for participating in a conspiracy of silence regarding fellow leaders participation in, or coverup of sexual abuse of children. (See Mortification of Spin Podcast from April 19, 2016 here.)

You can imagine my disappointment when I observed Todd Pruitt once again criticizing those of us who have spoken out against Reformed Baptist pastor Tom Chantry, indicted on five counts of sexually molesting children and two counts of aggravated assault with serious injury. Below are quotes from Pruitt and Trueman on sexual abuse.  You can also listen to them on the audio clip.

“I would encourage, I would plead with ministry leaders, well-known Evangelicals, to sit and talk with some of the victims of this child sexual abuse, to some of the parents, and to begin to empathize with the horror that they have gone through.” – Todd Pruitt, Mortification of Spin Podcast

“This has done incalculable damage to ordinary Christians, not only those who have been abused, but those who, quite frankly get sick of the cover-ups, and sick of the self-serving rhetoric at the top. I can understand why people drift away from the Reformed faith on this score …our faith is being damaged by the need to preserve certain organizations and certain ministries – that’s a problem!” -Carl Trueman, Mortification of Spin Podcast (listen below).

 

 

Over the years it appears the MOS crew, and especially Pruitt has been quite enamored with Chantry. One wonders whether Pruitt’s frequent recommendations to read Chantry’s blog are partially influenced by a friendship between the two men. I readily admit this is speculation on my part, but it would explain how Pruitt has apparently regressed from his position of concern for victims of abuse, and speaking out about cover-ups, to once again promoting silence until such time as a jury has returned a verdict.

 

Jeff Crippen and Barbara Roberts author a great blog titled “A Cry For Justice.” They wrote an excellent article, published on December 14, 2016, titled “Evil is Using “Unconditional Respect” to Hide Itself Among us. And Questions about the case of Ps Tom Chantry.” (Link)

The article deals with how Christian leaders mishandle the Scriptures in an attempt to silence valid criticism of themselves or their friends in ministry.

They have graciously given me permission to post their article on this blog. I have done so below.

In a recent post, we dealt with a typical distortion of Scripture which insists that a wife must respect her husband no matter what he does, no matter what kind of person he is. Respect. Obey. Honor. We saw that such mishandling of Scripture is very common. We saw how it hooks out a precept from God’s Word and turns it into absolute, unbending principle that supposedly applies no matter what.

Jesus exposed this kind of evil distortion of God’s word among the religious leaders of His day when they were turning the Sabbath into a heavy burden —

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:1-8, emphasis added)

Now, here is an incredibly evil thing that these “unconditional” lies effect among us. When we are taught, and when it is enforced, that the Christian must NEVER speak negatively about those God says we are to honor and respect and obey, evil is using its darkness to hide in our pews and homes. Evil is of the realm of the kingdom of darkness. Secrecy. Hiding. Deception. And what better gimmick to remain unseen, appearing as some angel of light or a wolf disguised as a sheep, than to convince everyone in the church that evil can never be spoken of, pointed out, called to accounts, especially when it is seen in those we are to “unconditionally respect”!!

We all know it’s true. Christians are being taught and commanded that they must NEVER “speak against” a pastor, a church elder, a church member (especially if such member is a supposed ‘pillar’ of the church), a Christian author, a Christian ministry leader, a husband (we would include “wife” here too but the fact is that it is often much more permissible for a husband to speak of his ‘cranky’ wife than for a Christian wife to expose her husband’s sins), a parent…and so on. To say something negative about such a person is said to be gossip, slander, breaking the ninth commandment, speaking “against the Lord’s anointed” and so forth.

An example within Reformed Baptist circles

Recently it has become public information (see here) that pastor Tom Chantry, a “notable and respected” Reformed Baptist leader has been charged in the state of Arizona with five counts of molestation of a child (the five counts relate to two minors), and three counts of aggravated assault on three separate minors as well. The events are alleged to have occurred in 1995, 1996, and 1998–2001. We do not know which years pertain to the alleged molestations and which pertain to the aggravated assaults, so we caution readers to make no assumptions about which years pertain to which charges.

The secular justice system works like this: anyone charged under the criminal code is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and the alleged offender is only convicted when the evidence is judged to be ‘beyond reasonable doubt’. That’s how the criminal justice system works. (At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.) The prosecution’s case against Tom Chantry case must comply with those principles. And the New Testament tells Christians to recognise and respect the responsibility and the role of secular governments in the delivery of justice (Romans 13).

But Christians are required to pay attention to more principles than just the ones which govern the secular system. We are going to explore some of those principles in this post.

We have no doubt that we are going to learn that quite a number of church leaders knew about at least some of the allegations years ago, before Chantry was arrested in July this year. We think it highly likely that even now, with the charges having been laid, some church members are being told things like:

  • We must not speak of these things or we will be guilty of gossip.
  • The ninth commandment says you must not bear false witness against your neighbor, so any speech, especially public speech, about this case is wrong.
  • We must respect Chantry because he is a fellow Christian and a pastor.
  • Respect means BE QUIET! (this does not have to be said in words; it can be conveyed by a frown or a glare)

Here is a very typical lashback at someone who works to expose evil:

“Any discussion about this is gossip. There is nothing here that should be exposed.”

“ANY discussion. ANY questions. So just…shut up.”  To expose evil in the church is gossip, you see. The fangs quickly come out and snarl those kinds of words. But the Lord says—

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. (Eph 5:11)

The website of the church which Chantry has pastored for the last ten years or so—Christ Reformed Baptist Church, Hales Corners, Milwaukee, Wisconsin—says he is on ‘leave of absence’ (link). Here is a screen shot from the church’s website.

If you click on the screen shot it will enlarge. You will see that since leaving the pastoral position in Arizona, Chantry spent four years teaching in a Christian school in Chicago, and has been a pastor in at least one other church.

We wonder if Chantry is on paid or unpaid leave. We wonder why the church website does not state that Chantry’s leave of absence is related to him having been arrested and charged on multiple criminal charges. We wonder why the church website does not inform the church members about the charges which Chantry is facing.

Journalist Tiffany Stoiber writes:

According to a police report filed in January 2016, an elder of the church  [Christ Reformed Baptist Church in Hales Corners, Prescott, Arizona] reported that Chantry had, during a private meeting, admitted to spanking some kids at the church and said that “maybe he had taken it too far.” He added that Chantry apologized to one of the families and left the town a few days after.

Once Chantry left, the same report said, “more allegations from other victims was (sic) revealed.” The elder said that a committee of church association members investigated the claims, which included interviewing every adult and child at the church about their contact with Chantry.

After the church investigation, the elder said in the report that other elders, parents, and other church members were “not happy with the end result.” He added that the church association told parents about their options, including reporting the incidents to law enforcement; however, it seems that no families contacted the police at that time.

The first report of these incidents to law enforcement, according to police records, was not until July 2015.

Chantry was arrested in July 2016, and now, December, the indictments have been announced (court record details here or do your own search here by writing Chantry, Thomas, Prescott Court into the appropriate fields.

Scripture requires that a man be “above reproach” to be a shepherd in Christ’s church

… appoint elders in every town as I directed you—if anyone is above reproach, … not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. …
For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith … To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. (Titus 1:9-16 ESV emphasis added)

Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, … sober-minded,self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. … Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. (1 Tim 3:2-7 emphasis added)

Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those [elders] who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. (1 Tim 5:19-21, emphasis added)

Some questions about the Tom Chantry case

By listing these questions we are not implying that we know any of the answers. Nor are our questions pointing to or hinting at any snippets of the truth. Our list of questions is not exhaustive, and it is not meant to be used to infer how to join dots and so find out the truth. But they are legitimate questions to ask.

Five key questions:

  1. When did church authorities first become aware of an allegation or allegations against Chantry, made by one or more of the children or their caregivers?
  2. When church authorities became aware, what did they do about it?
  3. How long was Chantry allowed to remain a pastor after allegations became known?
  4. When church authorities became aware that Chantry had been arrested in July this year, what did they do about it?
  5. Since the indictments have been spelled out this December, what have church authorities been doing about it?

Thirteen subsidiary / more detailed questions

  1. If Tiffany Stoiber’s report is correct and elders, parents, and other church members were “not happy with the end result” of the Church Association’s investigation, how come Chantry was able to go on pastoring in other churches and teaching in a school?
  2. If Tiffany Stoiber’s report is correct, how could the representatives of the Church Association which investigated the claims back in year x (whatever year they did their investigation) not feel duty bound to report the allegations to the police?
  3. If Tiffany Stoiber’s report is correct that Chantry had “admitted to spanking some kids at the church and said that ‘maybe he had taken it too far’  … apologized to one of the families and left the town a few days after” — is it likely that Chantry was above reproach from then on?
  4. A pastor who admits to ‘maybe’ spanking kids too hard and apologises to one (but not all) of the families and leaves town a few days after — is there not a question mark over his reputation, by (a) his own admission and (b) the fact that he skipped town so rapidly?
  5. How could any later churches Chantry pastored after he left Arizona be confident he was above reproach?
  6. Did the unhappy church in Arizona get the opportunity to pass on to other churches their warning about Chantry — how and why they thought he was not above reproach?
  7. Did the Arizona church try to tell others in their stream of Christendom, only to find their testimony discounted?
  8. What did the Church Association Representatives who investigated Chantry’s Arizona conduct do? Or not do?
  9. What did the other churches who were members of that Church Association get told?
  10. If those other churches were told anything, what did they then do or not do?
  11. Why didn’t the wider church get warned about Chantry?
  12. After Chantry was arrested this July, did the leaders at the church where Chantry was pastor and the leaders at places where Chantry he had worked before tell their flocks immediately?
  13. In cases like this, the congregation has a right to know early on because they need to re-examine what they have been listening to. If a man has been preaching to others week after week but has been evading responsibility for crimes against children, wouldn’t he have been interpreting Scripture through self-justifying lenses? And therefore, wouldn’t that preaching have been endangering the flock?

Since Chantry has been charged with child abuse, it is VERY important to inform all the parents of families Chantry has pastored or taught. By knowing that information, parents may be able to care for their children more wisely. And informing parents sooner rather than later may give rise to more information being reported to the secular prosecuting authorities — information which could enable justice to be done.

Here is part of a statement made by David Clohessy, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, in relation to Tom Chantry’s indictment:

… now is not the time for complacency. An arrest is not a conviction. Many times, we see shrewd predators get expensive lawyers and exploit technicalities, escaping convictions or long sentences. Then, sometimes they assault more kids.

So we call on Chantry’s current and former church supervisors, colleagues and members in Wisconsin and Arizona to use pulpit announcements, bulletin notices and church mailings to help law enforcement prosecute Rev. Chantry and seek out – and help – others he may have hurt.

These churches gave Chantry access to kids. So their civic and moral duty doesn’t end with his arrest. …

Ministers call themselves “shepherds.” In cases like this, a caring shepherd admits there are likely other “lost sheep” out there, suffering in silence, shame and self-blame. He or she would use every possible method of reaching out to them – church signs, bulletins, mailings and pulpit announcements. Instead, most ministers do little but focus on protecting themselves from criticism and litigation. We hope this doesn’t happen here.

Jeff Crippen’s experience of ARBCA

In the past couple of years, I (Jeff Crippen) had some conversations with several pastors whose churches (like mine) were formerly members of ARBCA (Association of Reformed Baptist Churches in America). When our churches were members of ARBCA there was huge turmoil and division over what I consider to be, at best, a third-level doctrinal issue (at least, that was the STATED issue).  The doctrinal issue, divine impassibility, was being elevated by the Theology Committee and Association Council to the level of a definitive doctrine to go to the wall for, and which must be adhered to or a person/church would be put out of the association. Many, many pastors and churches and missionaries left ARBCA as a result.

As I spoke with these pastors who left ARBCA, at least three of them who were “in the know” said that they had seen evil at work in all this. AND YET THEY WOULD NEVER SAY SO PUBLICLY. At all of their meetings, in all their larger circle discussions of the matter, they would call this whole thing “a sad disagreement among Christian brothers.” Those who went on to hold organizational meetings for a new association would start off their meetings with something like, “Now, we don’t want to speak negatively at this meeting. We don’t want to say anything negative about our brothers in the Lord. We don’t want to dwell on that.” So any and all discussion of the possibility of EVIL having been at work among us was effectively squelched. They did not learn their lesson, and they are destined to repeat the very same allowance of wickedness to assault them again from within.

There is a Code of Silence taught and enforced in the church and Evil is hiding out because of it.

The Code-of-Silence dynamic works constantly in our churches. It is the ugly sister of the more genteel-looking Tone Police. Wives must never speak negatively of their husbands and if they do—even if they are reporting rank domestic abuse—they are often silenced with the accusation that they are sinning by disrespecting their husband. Children are taught to obey their parents, and rightfully so; but even that obedience does not mean unconditional obedience no matter what a parent does. Family secrets lie buried. Church secrets lie buried.

How do you think that pedophiles so successfully continue to work in the flock? The signs are seen. The revelations are (sometimes, eventually) made by victims, but the matter is consistently hushed up. “Oh, we must not think such things about a brother in Christ. That man is a pastor, God’s anointed. Where are the multiple witnesses you need? Don’t ever say such things again.” Or else they “tell you about your options, including reporting the incidents to law enforcement” but they don’t report it to law enforcement themselves, even if as ministers they are mandated by law to do so.  And people like this don’t offer to support you if you decide to report it to the police. If you look like you might be thinking of going to the police, they give you cold vibes, to deter you.

There is a Code of Silence taught and enforced in the church and Evil is hiding out because of it.

This code of silence is promoted by false teachings on “unconditional” respect, obedience, love, forgiveness, patience, yada, yada, yada.  This is how false sheep/shepherds successfully continue their masquerade.

Years back when I (Jeff) was just beginning my sermon series on domestic abuse hiding in the church, the series that led to the book A Cry for Justice [you can still access that sermon series here], I met strong resistance immediately. A man who was an elder in our church and who is no longer in our church, how shall I say it, “freaked out” in anger. He tried to stop me from preaching that series. He threw fits at elder meetings, making accusations of unforgiveness against us. The Code of Silence, you see. By God’s grace it didn’t work — and A Cry for Justice as a ministry began.

It is long past time for us to stop being silenced by this wicked Code. This is what needs to happen. Christ’s Word needs to be spoken once again, and when it is we will be astonished because it has been sooo long since we heard it:

And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. (Matthew 7:28-29)

***

Further Reading:

https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2016/12/11/does-the-bible-command-us-to-respect-no-matter-what/

The Abuser’s Evil Demands for Secrecy

Getting “Gossip” Wrong Will Silence Voices Exposing Evil

God’s Rules of Evidence are Often Misapplied, to the Harm of Abuse Victims

Abuse and Secrecy: What Have We Got to Hide?

Wise as Serpents: “Keep it Secret, Keep it Safe” – Darkness and Secrecy are Part of the Very Essence of Evil (Part 17 of sermon series)

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[…] well-being of the victims, especially if what the victims say is true.  Todd Pruitt (and others, on Tom Chantry, apparently inconsistent with this acclaimed MoS noted on thouarttheman from 8 months before […]

Shy1

I saw this unfold on Twitter and I cannot understand the charge regarding the 9th commandment. Announcing that someone has been arrested for certain charges and alerting church leadership to seek whether there might be unknown victims is not bearing false witness. Indeed, by avoiding the subject and refusing to speak of it even though it is very pertinent and there may be more victims, are these leaders not bearing false witness in the sense of lying by omission?

Those who are close friends with Mr. Chantry would do well to copy our legal system and *recuse themselves* from taking a stand, since they are not in a position to be neutral. But making a public announcement and seeking further victims is THE only responsible thing to do. If they cannot do it, need to pass the responsibility to someone who can.

Ron Oommen

I’m joining this discussion quite late so apologies for this.
I’ve been thinking about this pontification about the 9th commandment by all these supposed theological ‘giants’..The New Testament records several instances of the apostles, particularly Paul, dealing with situations of sin or error in the church
I cannot recall even one single instance ( as far as I can tell – I could very well be wrong) where believers are exhorted to keep this one or that of the ten commandments in any particular situation. Paul did not exhort the Corinthian man who was committing sexual immorality with his stepmother to remember the sin forbidden by the Seventh Commandment. He did not exhort the others to keep the Seventh Commandment when he warned against the gravity of sexual immorality – I wonder why? On the contrary Paul constantly reminded his hearers that he who breaks one commandment breaks them all – and no one is justified by attempting to keep the law.

So why so do we have these supposed preachers of New Testament ‘grace’ trying to deal with a situation by reminding us to keep a particular commandment?? Are the ‘wise’ indeed become so foolish?

That’s not even touching on the idiocy of their approach itself – which you and many others have already addressed above. I was just wondering about this aspect, particularly because these learned fools, like Carl Trueman, make strange statements about those leaving the ‘Reformed faith’ – as though there is no Christian faith but that bound up in the fetters of the Westminster Catechism ( as opposed to the Christian faith set out in the Scriptures). Odd, because I do not hear similar lament from about someone leaving the ‘ Christian faith’ so clearly they believe Reformed = Christianity. Since they clearly view their belief system as the only biblical one – I say nothing of their blindness and arrogance – and the ‘doctrines of grace’, is it not strange that their practice of such faith is at such odds with the example of the actual New Testament writings we have been given?
This is not even touching on the stark absence of grace, truth, goodness, kindness – any fruit of the Spirit, in fact – or basic common decency in their self- righteous sermonising and self-aggrandising efforts to protect their edifices and pay cheques.

Linn

I find it interesting that these same spiritual leaders have no problem calling out politicians on their faults, but cry foul when it is one of their own. That’s quite a bit of a double-standard.

Linn

I find it fascinating that the same churches that cry foul when sexual sin with the clergy is discussed are very quick to publicly decry the immorality of political leaders.

Just a bit of a double standard.

Darlene

First time commenting here. Thank you so much Janna & Lydia for shedding light on the real problems that plague churches in dealing with child sex abuse. It boggles my mind that pastors/elders in the local church rush to defend those who have been indicted for child molestation. What I think is that these pastors/elders realize that they no longer control the narrative now that bloggers are able to expose the shenanigans that are afoot in many churches.

Thanks, Darlene. I think that all the comments on this article were great, and I have more commentary to add to this discussion. I just wanted to make sure that everyone else had a chance to say their peace(s) before I put any more of my opinions out there.

Thanks especially to Barbara for trying to post on Mr. Clark’s blog, thereby giving him an opportunity to discuss the issues he raised here on his own turf.

What’s most appalling to me, after 5+ years of doing heavy advocacy work against child sexual abuse in Churches, is actually not Pastors’ rushes to aggressively defend people very credibly accused of child sexual abuse. That’s true even though in many cases Pastors who immediately defend accused pedophiles, while also throwing reported victims under the bus, are doing so for a blatantly self-interested reason, such as trying to ensure that their piece of the Institutional Church can continue to pay their salaries, as opposed to being wiped out by bad publicity/lawsuits because it really does deliberately harbor child molesters.

What’s super-hard for me to accept is how casually many Evangelical Pastors, who claim to be Christian leaders of integrity and probably even believe that they are, use their ecclesiastical authority to systematically bully reported child sexual abuse victims into remaining silent. And I don’t just mean publicly silent. In many cases, behind the scenes, Pastors discourage victims from going to the police or other civil authorities who could help them seek justice in a framework that is designed to be transparent and fair to all parties in a conflict.

In other words Pastors clearly communicate the following: “You may have been grievously harmed, but God thinks that doing anything which might lead people to form a negative opinion about the Church is the worst possible sin you could commit. So shut up or we’ll launch a ‘you are a slanderer’ smear campaign against you and make sure that you’re shunned by Christians you thought you could trust.”

By contrast, Jesus specialized in ministering to people who were marginalized and suffering, as many child sexual abuse victims are for a bunch of reasons.

So, I won’t and can’t pass judgment on Mr. Clark personally. However, I think the attitude behind and the content of his article about the 9th commandment is an embarrassment to Christianity as Jesus lived it.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

And here is a close paraphrase of my comment ‘D’ which I just submitted to R Scott Clark’s post on the 9th Commandment:

R Scott Clark, you said “deciding before we’ve heard both sides is the definition of prejudice.”

Did the Apostle Paul ‘hear both sides’ before he denounced Ananias as a liar?

Acts 5:1-4 ” … a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.’ “

R Scott Clark has still not published my comment.

I just submitted two more comments (let’s call them comments C & D) on RSC’s post about the 9th Commandment. I have no confidence that my comments will make it past moderation, going by how RSC has declined to publish my comments previously.

Here is a close paraphrase of my comment ‘C’ on RSC’s post:

R Scott Clark, I’m glad to hear that you agree with Boz’s article.
[ The Boz Tjjvidjians article I’m referring to is — http://religionnews.com/2015/01/16/innocent-proven-guilty-really-mean/ ]

Boz summed his article this way:
” The next time you are admonished for ‘rushing to judgment’ because of expressing concerns about someone who has been accused of sexual abuse, take comfort in the fact that “judgment” is the responsibility of judges and juries, but taking steps to protect the weak and vulnerable is a responsibility given to all of us by God.”
I’m still not clear what precise statements in Todd Wilhelm’s posts about Tom Chantry are (in your view) showing that Tood has arrogated to himself the responsibility of judges and juries.
Can you please make that clear?

Thanks for the update, Barbara. Mr. Clark has claimed to be a Christian leader of integrity who genuinely cares about the rights and needs of child sexual abuse victims. I think that every reader of this blog now has enough information to decide if Mr. Clark’s conduct supports his stated beliefs and goals about the capacity of Church leaders to address child sexual abuse allegations, responsibly, within the context of a so-called Ecclesiastical court process, of which he is a part.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Bill M

2samuel127: “R.Scott Clark recently wrote an article, which, in my opinion was an attempt to silence the laity. ”
As the dust settles it strikes me that his comments here confirm that your opinion was correct and not just speculation.

Lea

>The ninth commandment says you must not bear false witness against your neighbor, so any speech, especially public speech, about this case is wrong.

The truth is than Chantry was arrested and evidence was credible enough for a trial. The truth is that there were multiple accusers. The truth is that this was investigated by the church and hushed up years ago. The truth is that Chantry has been in multiple positions since that time that would give him access to children, including teacher, pastor and boy scout leader.

9th commandment? What nonsense it is to try to squelch the truth with that.

I agree, Lea.

From Mr. Clark:

“>The ninth commandment says you must not bear false witness against your neighbor, so any speech, especially public speech, about this case is wrong.”

If that’s true, then what gives you the right to publicly talk about this case, Mr. Clark? Are you not breaking the 9th commandment by doing so?

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Dave A A

“The ninth commandment says you must not bear false witness against your neighbor, so any speech, especially public speech, about this case is wrong.”
This is very troubling, since he seems to be saying any speech about alleged wrongdoing MUST be false speech unless there’s already been a legal or ecclesiastical trial.
His subsequent assertions also are, I think, worthy of further scrutiny by us and clarification by Mr Clark: “These two men have yet to be given an opportunity to make their case. To condemn them, in these cases, before they have been heard and their cases properly adjudicated is a classic violation of the ninth commandment.”
He’s talking about not only Mr Chantry but Mr Tchividjian. What’s he mean by “condemn”, to begin with? Any speech, especially public speech? I guess I have a different definition of “condemn”. And these two men have NOT been given an opportunity to make there case? Mr Chantry has the legal right to remain silent, but he has no legal or moral OBLIGATION to do so, and certainly bloggers are not forbidding him to do so. So he CAN be heard and make his case if he so desires. He could comment right here right now and tell his side of the story, though it might not be legally wise to do so. As for Mr Tchividjian– Mr Clark’s assertion is laughable. TT has posted articles on the internet to make his case, and has been heard hundreds of times on social media. He even got an article in the Washington Post (for cryin’ out loud) where he could tell the world how he was just minding his own business, came home from an trip, and found his wife cheating on him, which made him so upset he had to seek inappropriate comfort from a friend.

Dave A A

“The truth is that there were multiple accusers” I can’t see how anyone reading any of the news articles could fail to agree with this.
Yet Mr Clark still has this line in his article”Only days ago news broke that another pastor, Tom Chantry, has been indicted, in Arizona, on charges of molesting a child two decades ago.” A child. One.
In case we might be misunderstanding, he goes on to assert: “In the second case, there has been no acknowledged or even charged pattern of abuse or misconduct.”
There we have it. No charged pattern of abuse. Based on the public record, I fail to see how this can be an accurate statement. I hope Mr Clark can clarify.

I just posted this comment at R Scott Clark’s blog

R Scott Clark, I’m going to lay down some groundwork, and then ask some questions.

You said — “All I ask is that well-meaning victim advocates refrain from convicting the accused before there has been an investigation and a trial. Already I have seen charges of a ‘cover up’ and the like. Again, if there is evidence of such, take it to the civil and ecclesiastical authorities.”

And you linked to the timeline article by Brent Detwiler, which it titled “Did Reformed Baptist Leaders Cover Up Tom Chantry’s Alleged Sex Crimes & Serious Physical Injury of Children?” In that article, Brent quotes from (and gives a link to) the report by Tiffany Stoiber in South Now, Dec 8, 2016.
South Now is part of the USA Today Network. I presume you would not class South Now as a ‘watch-blog’ site.

Allow me to quote some of that report by Tiffany Stoiber —

“According to a police report filed in January 2016, an elder of the church [Miller Valley Baptist Church] reported that Chantry had, during a private meeting, admitted to spanking some kids at the church and said that ‘maybe he had taken it too far.’ He added that Chantry apologized to one of the families and left the town a few days after.

“Once Chantry left, the same report said, ‘more allegations from other victims was (sic) revealed.’ The elder said that a committee of church association members investigated the claims, which included interviewing every adult and child at the church about their contact with Chantry.

“After the church investigation, the elder said in the report that other elders, parents, and other church members were ‘not happy with the end result.’ He added that the church association told parents about their options, including reporting the incidents to law enforcement; however, it seems that no families contacted the police at that time.

“The first report of these incidents to law enforcement, according to police records, was not until July 2015.”
[End of quote from Tiffany Stoiber’s report]

I trust you agree with me that Stoiber — a mainstream journalist, not a watch-blogger — would have actually viewed that police report and recounted it accurately. It was Stoiber’s article — not any watch-blogger’s) which first published the information that there was a Church Association investigation into Tom Chantry’s conduct years ago, and that Miller Valley Baptist Church AZ was ‘not happy with the outcome of that investigation’. Miller Valley Church not being happy surely suggests that there might well been a coverup by the Church Association, after they had completed their investigation.

You yourself have said that if anyone has evidence relating to Tom Chantry’s conduct or the way the Church Association and local congregations may have handled things relating to Chantry, then they ought to present the evidence to ecclesiastical and secular authorities. And you have named Jim Renihan as the man who can tell people the process for providing evidence to the ecclesiastical authorities.

Since you name Jim Renihan, I’m gathering you are agreeing with myself and other bloggers that ARBCA is the Church Association which would have done that investigation on Tom Chantry years ago.

Now, to my questions:

If ARBCA did do an investigation into allegations about Tom Chantry’s treatment of children years ago, and if ARBCA covered up the findings/results of their investigation, what confidence can anyone have that ARBCA would deal honourable and impartially with any evidence that anyone might bring forward now about a coverup of the findings of that investigation?

If ARBCA (or some members of it) were corrupt back then, what confidence can anyone have that corruption does not still exist at ARBCA?

And how logical or sensible is it for you to tell people to present their evidence to ARBCA, if that were to be the case?

What would you advise doing, if the influential people at ARBCA were and still are in fact corrupt?

And if myself and other watch-bloggers are onto something in raising these issues, are we not in fact ASSISTING the progress of justice, at least in the secular court system?

After all, if the watch-bloggers were not putting oxygen onto this issue, it would barely have been noticed in the wider church. And IF there ARE more people out there who have evidence about Chantry and/or ARBCA, the watch-bloggers drawing attention to the matter may well be the catalyst which galvanises those people into coming forward.

I submit to you that the watch-bloggers are doing a good service to the Christian community (and the wider community) by drawing attention to that which would otherwise slide by mostly unnoticed.

Lev 5:1 “If anyone sins because they do not speak up when they hear a public charge to testify regarding something they have seen or learned about, they will be held responsible.”

I believe that, by and large, the watch-bloggers are doing a valuable service to Christendom by prompting people to come forward and testify about heinous sins and corruption which they have seen in the visible church.

If the ecclesiastical authorities were doing their job properly, the watch-blogs wouldn’t have to do this kind of thing.

And the internet IS our community now. Like it or not, the local congregation, denomination or ‘association of churches’ are only facets of the broad landscape of Christian interconnection, reputation, responsibility and authority these days.

Furthermore, many of us are so browned off with local churches and denominations and associations that we simply can’t in good conscience be members of ANY of them. Why are we browned off? Because of the coverups, the injustice to victims, the limp-wristed ‘discipline’ of abusers, the naivety amongst church leaders about the tactics and mentality of evil people who wear sheep-suits…

Great comment, Barbara. Thanks.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

My comment on R Scott Clark’s blog has not made it out of moderation. But the moderator there HAS published several comments by Rebecca Davis, and RSC has replied to Rebecca, so the moderator (presumably RSC) has obviously attended to the blog in the last 12 hours.

Janna L. Chan (team member)

Thanks for the update, Barbara. I hope that Mr. Clark does approve your comment, as opposed to censoring it for no apparent reason.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Lydia

My limited experience working in the mega world caused me to see how ignorant those pastors really were in their attempt to slap a plastic fish bible passage on every issue, problem, response. It’s a bubble world. Around the time I got out, social media was just ramping up. Mostly forums. I went looking for anything out there that might mirror my concerns. One of the first pastor sites I found was Rick Warrens, Pastor Forum. Oh.my,word. Those guys were brutal and often referred to their pew peons as wolves. They were arrogant and cruel. And often lacked basic common sense as everything was filtered through their position as pastor.

Then blogs exploded and it was everywhere. It was shocking to read how so many pastors really think sans a pulpit. That is why I have such a gimlet eye toward the pastorate and their opinions or teachings on matters. The exceptions were rare online. I do feel a bit sorry for the good ones but they won’t bring much attention online.

All this, over the years, is why I wasn’t impressed with MoS initially as so many were –especially Truemans writing on celebrity. And I do understand how thrilling it is to find any Christian leader who even hints (and all they do is hint) at the problem. I have been burned so many times by those types, I just don’t buy in anymore to save myself the disappointment. . Truman never faced his public part concerning Mahaney. He does not have the courage to name names when chiding celebs and so on.

But the even bigger issue is they rarely make sense. Clark says the 9th commandment is about telling the truth. He is basically saying it’s not about deliberate lying. Catch that?

Well, what if you are trying to find the truth? You can’t because asking questions is breaking the 9th? That is what they want you to think. Be careful asking questions as they might contain a lie. People speculate and not all speculation is bad when looking for certain patterns of behavior. It is a must in some instances, the search for truth is messy because of deceptive people.

I have seen countless YRR use the 9th to shut down blog comments they don’t like by accusing one of ‘bearing false witness’. I finally took to using the 9th on those using the 9th. Bearing false witness of me by accusing me of bearing false witness. Theater of the absurd! But that is their world.

And Pruitt. Let’s see, ‘accusations are not evidence’. Duh. The problem Pruitt has there is that accusations lead to evidence or no evidence. Period. Is he claiming it is common for nothing but an accusation to lead to an indictment for a criminal trial? Perphaps he is confusing the criminal with the civil suit?

And now we learn the “ecclesiastical court” focus they promote means there was some sort of documentation concerning Chantry kept hidden by godly leaders. (Sarcasm alert) . See your own problem there, guys? Those victims grow up.

Pastors who try to use scripture as a club need to understand that outside their bubbles not everyone is as ignorant as they might think. We know the definition of slander, too. Me thinks they should not worry about mob justice online (they can’t control online discussions) but they might well be writing themselves out of a job and position as the wise biblical godly leader of pew peons.

Bill M

“Already I have seen charges of a “cover up” and the like. Again, if there is evidence of such, take it to the civil and ecclesiastical authorities. ”
Do you have any idea how hollow this sounds? No one is calling for a mob justice but the insistence that everyone stay silent and wait for a potentially corrupt ecclesiastical structure to police itself instills no confidence what so ever.

Bill,

If there is a conspiracy to pervert or corrupt justice, that is a crime. In the quote you have above I wrote “civil and ecclesiastical authorities.” I did not write “either/or” but both/and. I want justice for victims but I want it through the process.

Unsubstantiated internet allegations of a coverup do not constitute justice by any reasonable definition.

Mr. Clark:

Have you read all or any of Todd’s articles about the allegations that Tom Chantry’s Churches covered up allegations of child sexual abuse against him? If so, why are you claiming that Todd has not substantiated his allegations regarding the Chantry case when he clearly has?

In other words, why are you deliberately slandering Todd, given your clear belief that slander is a sin?

Thanks. Janna L. Chan ( blog team member)

Janna,

What do you see in the post the constitutes evidence?

Lydia

“What do you see in the post the constitutes evidence?”

Which is based on reasonable doubt. So not sure what you are demanding as evidence that you approve.

Go sit with some victims of pedophila during a trial, sometime. Do you think children keep DNA samples and fingerprints? You think they take pictures of the acts or chronicle the grooming process?

It is very hard to obtain a conviction years later. Which is why most peds have anywhere from 50-100 victims when finally convicted.

Yes, and apparently there’s a double standard regarding the legitimacy of speculating about any issue. For instance, it’s okay for Mr. Clark to speculate that a Church, facing many allegations of covering up child sexual abuse, can fairly adjudicate felonies in a so-called ecclesiastical court even though such a notion makes no logical sense.

However, it’s not okay for victims’ advocates to assume that Mr. Chantry, who has has been arrested, charged, and indictment for several counts of child sexual abuse and aggravated assault and WHO IS NOT EVEN CLEARLY STATING THAT HE’S INNOCENT PUBLICLY, should be presumed guilty to the point that his Church should clearly state that they will never allow someone facing the charges he’s facing to volunteer in the nursery until they are proven innocent.

Even though that idea makes a lot of sense.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Lots of arguments backed up by credible primary and secondary sources. If you have a problem with the evidence Todd presents or the arguments he makes, can you state your position clearly instead of relying on vague one-liners?

Thanks! Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Bill M

“Unsubstantiated internet allegations of a coverup do not constitute justice by any reasonable definition.”
Oh good grief. I’ll set aside the prejudicial “unsubstantiated internet” part and just say that allegations are not being construed as justice. Under review here are allegations, unsubstantiated or otherwise, I think everyone understands that. I don’t understand the part about staying silent on them. Part of the “process” has always been preserving the public interest. In a silent vacuum the public interest if often if not usually perverted in the interest of the powerful and the connected.

Agreed.

The commenter just pays lip service to the idea that victims should utilize the secular legal system, while primarily encouraging people to adjudicate felonies through an underground corrupt theocratic legal system.

In my opinion.

What’s really offensive about the initial comment, in my view, is not the tired and falsely pious arguments it contains. It’s that its author claims that he cares about sexual abuse victims that he’s obviously never bothered to interact with.

The idea that victims’ advocates are trying to silence the Church is also ridiculous/slanderous. Todd and many others, who have proven that they genuinely care about victims, spend countless hours trying to correspond with Church leaders in attempts to get their take on matters, prior to writing blog posts that may portray them in a negative light.

99% of the time they ignore such correspondence in addition to declining issue public statements saying that they don’t believe that their religious beliefs give them the right to enable pedophilia.

Could that be because they’re guilty of covering up child sexual abuse and are afraid that the real legal system will punish them for their crimes?

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Todd,

In this post you have significantly misrepresented my position, in part, because you do not understand or perhaps because we do not agree about the relationship between process and justice. I am emphasizing the importance of following both civil and ecclesiastical judicial processes in order to enable victims to speak out and achieve justice.

My application of the 9th commandment is not intended to silence victims. It is, however, intended to caution all of us to tell the truth (what we actually know) and especially in the matter of civil and ecclesiastical justice. That cannot be a bad thing.

We may disagree about how to achieve justice for victims but we do not disagree that Christians must seek justice for victims. I trust that we both agree that Christians are obligated to tell the truth about one another, to protect the reputation of others. In this case, you have (perhaps unintentionally, in your zeal to seek justice for victims) violated the 9th commandment by saying that I am seeking to silence victims. I am not. You may think that my application of the 9th commandment may have that effect but I am not seeking to silence victims. I am encouraging victims and their advocates to use those procedures, both civil and ecclesiastical, established by our Lord.

For what it’s worth, I believe with all my heart that the Lord himself established both civil courts and churchly assemblies. Those who have been sexually (or e.g., by violence) abused in the church should pursue justice (as appropriate) through the criminal justice system. The church also has a role here. Offenders also should have been prosecuted ecclesiastically. In both spheres (secular and sacred) there should be investigations and trials.

My argument in the Chantry case is not that victims should not come forward. It is EXACTLY the opposite. They should come forward! They should pursue justice in the secular courts. All I ask is that well-meaning victim advocates refrain from convicting the accused before there has been an investigation and a trial. Already I have seen charges of a “cover up” and the like. Again, if there is evidence of such, take it to the civil and ecclesiastical authorities.

I am not arguing that the church is infallible. Far from it! We all know, however, that the civil courts are not infallible either. One great problem is that many American evangelical congregations either have no process (no court system, no courts of appeals) or they are not used. In a rightly ordered church, there are courts (assemblies) of original jurisdiction and courts of appeals. There are procedures for investigation, trial, and conviction.

I imagine that this sounds odd to many American evangelicals but in my tradition, we have followed this pattern for most of 500 years (with varying degrees of success). So the question has never been whether victims should pursue justice nor has it been whether Christians should advocate for them. The questions are:

1. Where (in the civil and ecclesiastical courts) not on blogs
2. How (using the divinely instituted procedures, not trying people in the absence of an investigation)
3. When (during the process, which takes time)

Thanks for your zeal for victims. They do need advocates but to achieve true justice, both victims and advocates must pursue it through those institutions (the civil and ecclesiastical courts) established by our Lord.

To anticipate an objection: I am not counseling victims to go to the church in lieu of the criminal justice system. The ecclesiastical procedure may have to wait until the secular system has done its work but there are cases where, e.g., the secular statute of limitations has expired, where the church may yet act even when the civil authorities can no longer do so. The church needs to recognize when one of its members has committed a sin or a crime against another and the church needs to speak too for the sake of the member directly injured, for the sake of the other members, and even for the sake of the offender, who needs to repent and believe for the sake of his immortal soul.

To silence the church in these matters will not help either victims or the accused or the guilty.

Sir, I think you need a reality check.

In 2017, in the United States, non-profit Churches do not have the capacity to investigate or pronounce any type of serious judgment (even the fake kind referenced above) about crimes against society such as child sexual abuse, kidnapping, murder, etc. in so-called “ecclesiastical courts.”

In fact, trying to do so could lead to charges of obstruction of justice because “Church judges” have illegally hurt victims by messing with their rights under the secular legal system.

Can an “ecclesiastical court” arrest people or subpoena documents? No, it can only tell the victims to shut up, publicly, until the secular legal system makes a judgment, as the author of the comment above clearly states, all sanctimonious statements to the contrary notwithstanding.

That’s very convenient given how hard it is to prosecute sexual abuse cases in criminal courts, especially when Churches have covered them up for decades.

It’s tragic given that many more children will be molested because they don’t know to stay clear of a credibly accused child molester. And yes, that will happen because studies have shown that people have deliberately lied about being molested in only 3%-7% of cases brought to the real civil and criminal justice systems.

Suggesting otherwise (i.e. in implying indirectly that there’s a high chance that the reported victim is lying), in my experience, invariably hurts victims, all protestations to the contrary.

In addition,the comment above suggests that most Evangelical Churches want to help victims seek justice, when all the evidence available indicates that Evangelical Churches are as guilty of covering up abuse as Roman Catholic Churches were 20 years ago.

In my view, the person who wrote the comment above is being naive or disingenuous.

Therefore, I encourage all victims of sexual abuse to avoid a Church that’s encouraging them to participate in a “ecclesiastical court” just because that’s what people claiming to be Christians are telling them to do.

A responsible Church will avoid trying to adjudicate felonies, in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways.

Instead, please take your case to the police and civil lawyers who are not affiliated with your Church.

Lastly, responsible members of society must prioritize the safety of children over excessive fears about slandering someone. That’s just a trade-off society has to make. If someone has been arrested and charged with crimes pertaining to child sexual abuse, the world needs to know that.

The “guilty until proven innocent” legal standard does not apply to protecting children generally. Instead, “accusation and suspicion” are often sufficient grounds to have someone removed from state-monitored foster parent and baby-sitting lists.

Lastly, there is a great deal of evidence that many people conspired to cover up allegations that Tom Chantry was sexually abusing children. The author of the comment above would know that if he’d bothered to research Chantry’s case instead of accusing those who have of slander.

I also find it peculiar that he’s not asking members and leaders of Tom Chantry’s Churches to defend themselves from us well-meaning advocates.

Is it possible that they cannot because they’re guilty of conspiring to cover up child sexual abuse so have been advised by their “ecclesiastical Court” to remain silent?

And I leave that with you. Please don’t take your case to so-called Church leaders advocating the self-serving sanctimonious nonsense in the comment above. Chances are, they’ll just undermine your case with the real secular criminal justice system and endanger more and more children in the process.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Janna,

When our Lord said, “tell it to the church” and when the apostle Paul said, “Let him who has done this be removed from among you” was that “fake justice”?

It seems that we have vastly differing views of the visible, institutional church.

I am NOT advocating interfering with the criminal/civil justice system. I am arguing that the church has a role in condemning particular, impenitent sins and in seeking restoration where possible. That’s the nature of church discipline. I am aware of no statutes that prohibit the visible church from fulfilling its divinely appointed function.

As I mentioned in the comment above, the civil courts often fail to achieve righteousness but we keep going back. Why are we so confident above civil justice but so dubious of ecclesiastical procedure?

I agree entirely that the visible church has a mandate (a command) to help victims of abuse seek civil/criminal justice.

Again, If there is evidence (not mere supposition) of a cover up that evidence should be presented to civil/legal (criminal) authorities and to ecclesiastical authorities.

I think we have different ideas about using our religious beliefs as an excuse to protect Churches that enable pedophilia.

Since you’ve ignored every thing I’ve said, factually speaking, there’s not much more I can say. 🙂

You clearly know nothing about the realities concerning the cover-up of child sexual abuse in corrupt Evangelical Churches and would rather slander victims and victims’ advocates than face hard facts about the Churches you’re defending.

Have a nice day!

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Janna,

I have absolutely NO INTEREST in using our religious beliefs to protect abusers.

Asking questions and disagreeing is not the same as ignoring.

Who is silencing whom now?

I have absolutely NO INTEREST in using our religious beliefs to protect abusers.

Asking questions and disagreeing is not the same as ignoring.

I agree, and anyone can see that instead of addressing the points I’ve made, which are backed by facts and years of experience in victim advocacy work, you’ve chosen to ignore them. Correct? 😉 I’m also entitled to an opinion about the way in which you are using your professed religious beliefs. You certainly don’t have to agree with it.

Who is silencing whom now?

Are you accusing me of silencing you? If so, why? Have I failed to approve your comments or discouraged you from posting here? Declining to spend a lot of time interacting with someone who ignores the arguments you make and facts you present is not the same as silencing them. Correct?

Thanks! Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Lydia

“When our Lord said, “tell it to the church” and when the apostle Paul said, “Let him who has done this be removed from among you” was that “fake justice”?”

Tell it to the church was about conflict between two people. So, which church should Chantry and his victims go to for ecclesiastical justice since they don’t attend the same one. Should Chantry choose his old church? Perhaps the victims attend a liberal Methodist church now. Matthew 18 is so misused.

As to 1 Corinthian 5, should we go back and look at Roman criminal law to see where it fits in there? The church in Arizona had him move on. The denomination had their say. The victims –too young to process it all and file charges (which is why they are often targets of abuse) and many parents in the past would not stand up to church leaders. So, now we have a mess because of the church!

. Had they referred it to the authorities it would not come up again all these years later –unless Chantrys alledged problem has a pattern. I pray not. We don’t need anymore victims but I do think that Alumni of the school where he taught need to be alerted because of the indictment.

Lydia

“As I mentioned in the comment above, the civil courts often fail to achieve righteousness but we keep going back. Why are we so confident above civil justice but so dubious of ecclesiastical procedure?”

History –both long past and recent. If I were a victim, I would rather take my chances with an atheist judge than authoritarian pastors/elders who seek to protect the image of the church and their paycheck. See SGM. See The Villiage and so on. It is often the victims who end up in church discipline.

In reply to Mr. Clark Why are we so confident above civil justice but so dubious of ecclesiastical procedure?

Because civil courts have the capacity to provide due process by allowing both sides to do things such as subpoena witnesses, arrest people, and cross examine witnesses on the stand.

Do your non-existent ecclesiastical courts have the capacity to provide people with due process of any kind?

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Lea

I am confident that civil prosecution will at least try to find evidence and present arguments because they have no motive to cover things up. Which is different from the churches, who often have financial motives to cover up charges, and reputation motives and ‘protect my good buddy/son of a friend Tom’ type motives.

I am not confident that they can often convict in these cases, because sexual abuse of children and rape are difficult crimes to prosecute due to their nature. Which is why I would NEVER set ‘convicted of crime’ as my person standard for whether or not I think an event happened.

Which is why I would NEVER set ‘convicted of crime’ as my person standard for whether or not I think an event happened.

No one does, Lea. The same person who will say it’s a sin to privately believe that Tom Chantry molested children unless he’s convicted in a court of law will turn around and tell you that O.J. Simpson is guilty of murdering two people even though he was acquitted of that crime by a jury.

Certainly, the Bible doesn’t say that you have to use a legal secular standard, such as “innocent until proven guilty,” to justify endangering children by letting very credibly accused alleged pedophiles have unfettered access to them in Church settings.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Lydia

“Again, If there is evidence (not mere supposition) of a cover up that evidence should be presented to civil/legal (criminal) authorities and to ecclesiastical authorities.”

That is what Discovery is for. In these church situations some of the evidence comes from the so called, “ecclesiastical authorities”. Like in the Nate Morales trial. But not because they wanted it too.

If the church needs a lawyer to deal with subpoenas, get one. :o)

But the arrogance to think the victims (from a church leader!!!!) need to deal with ecclesiastical authorities!!! who would that be? The church leaders at Chantry’s current church were his father in law is pastoring? Or should it be the victims church if they still attend at all? How would that have anything at all to do with Chantry and church discipline? How about The denomination that might have very well covered all this up in the first place? What is the point?

Are you sure you aren’t confusing all this with Calvins Geneva ?

In response to R. Scott Clark.

“Again, If there is evidence (not mere supposition) of a cover up that

Aren’t all arguments suppositions ultimately? For example how do you know that World War I really happened? Were you in the Trenches on the Marne are you just naively supposing that the concept of World War I isn’t just a giant conspiracy designed to discredit Germany?

😉

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

In reply to R. Scott Clark.

What happens in the event that your Church’s actions affect a non-Christian because it open its doors to and solicits donations from the public? For example, what if a visiting Jewish child is molested by a member of your Church, Mr. Clark? Would you expect his or her parents to submit to your Christian ecclesiastical authority?

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Lydia

“In 2017, in the United States, non-profit Churches do not have the capacity to investigate or pronounce any type of serious judgment (even the fake kind referenced above) about crimes against society such as child sexual abuse, kidnapping, murder, etc. in so-called “ecclesiastical courts.”

In fact, trying to do so could lead to charges of obstruction of justice because “Church judges” have illegally hurt victims by messing with their rights under the secular legal system.”

Bingo, Janna.

“To silence the church in these matters will not help either victims or the accused or the guilty.”

I hate to break it to you, but in most cases “the Church” is the guilty party because its members and leaders been subtly or not-so-subtly covering for pedophiles for many years.

Perhaps you would know that if you actually spent any time advocating for child sexual abuse victims who are being further abused by the sanctimonious nonsense you’re spreading.

“The ecclesiastical procedure may have to wait until the secular system has done its work but there are cases where, e.g., the secular statute of limitations has expired, where the church may yet act even when the civil authorities can no longer do so. ”

In many cases, the statute of limitations has expired because the Church in question discouraged victims from going to the police. Again, you would know this if you had interacted with the child sexual abuse victims you claim to support and understand.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Lydia

“I trust that we both agree that Christians are obligated to tell the truth about one another, to protect the reputation of others.”

What is the truth when you are dealing with deceptive people–which can include pastors, elders, etc. That is the question. Deceptive people seek to keep truth hidden and shame others for asking questions?