Day Seven of the Thomas Chantry Trial

By | August 8, 2018

Photo credit – Verde Valley News

8/2/2018

I entered the courtroom about 8:55 A.M this morning and found Judge Astrowsky, Prosecuting Attorney Susan Eazer, and Defense Attorney John Sears engaged in a discussion concerning the upcoming testimony of C.L.  It was evident Sears was worried her testimony could do serious damage to Tom Chantry. If you want to see what worried Sears you can go here and read page three of the “Motion in Limine Regarding Pastor Lindblad.”

Judge Astrowsky ultimately ruled that C.L. could testify, but he had strict guidelines concerning what she could be questioned about.

The jurors were called in at 9:13 A.M. and the first order of business was to poll them to see if their schedules could be changed to allow for an unscheduled extra day of court on Friday the 10th. All the jurors said they could make it work so the day was added to the schedule. Court next week will now be in session on Wednesday-Friday.

The State called Rich Howe as a witness at 9:17 A.M. Howe attended Miller Valley Baptist Church for 27 or 28 years and was an Elder when Tom Chantry was the pastor at the church.

Howe discussed the July 4, 1995 incident where Tom Chantry punched 12-year-old Victim 5 in the face, knocking him to the ground. Chantry had only been at the church for a short time and was still in “interim” status. Rich Howe testified that he did not witness the actual punch to the face.

Susan Eazer asked Howe if there were concerns or discussions about Chantry’s behavior. Howe said there was, and they had talked to Tom, but at the end of the day, they decided to forgive Tom and move on.

When the father of Victim 2 (who was also an Elder) learned that Chantry had spanked his son bare-bottomed Howe reported there was significant concern. Both he and the father of Victim 2 confronted Chantry. The father of Victim 2 said bare-bottom spanking was not appropriate, but Chantry denied he had done this. Howe said that nobody in the church was told about the discussion he and the father of Victim 2 had with Tom Chantry.

Eric Owens (Shorty) replaced the father of Victim 2 as an Elder after he and his family moved.  Rich Howe and Eric Owens both were informed of Chantry bare-bottom spanking the son of C.L.  Howe and Owens confronted Chantry once again, and then on another occasion, Eric Owens and C.L. talked to Tom about the bare-bottom spanking of her son. Again Tom denied the charges.

At this point, the jury was dismissed. More discussion ensued concerning the same subject discussed the first thing this morning. Sears was striving to eliminate any discussion of the bare-bottom spankings of D.L,  Susan Eazer said these bare-bottom spankings go to the heart of the case. Eazer said that Chantry has been confronted three times about bare-bottom spankings administered to three different children and Chantry adamantly denied them all.

Somewhere in the middle of all this technical discussion about allowable evidence, there was what I considered a lighter moment. Judge Astrowsky told Susan Eazer she needed to stop rolling her eyes when Sears was talking. Eazer said she wasn’t aware she was doing it.

Judge Astrowsky said, “you are doing it, all the time.”

I never noticed this from my vantage point and I can see where it could unduly influence the jury, but to be honest, I completely understand the eye rolling and I bet the jurors do as well.

A few interesting things I learned from the Rich Howe testimony – his daughter is married to Bob Selph’s son, and the ARBCA called Miller Valley Baptist Church and asked if they wanted them to investigate the Chantry mess.

(Later in the day John Sears stated that the ARBCA three-man investigative committee was suggested by Bob Selph and Selph is the one who selected the three men to serve on the committee.)

Rich Howe testified that it was his impression that the ARBCA committee assured the MVBC that Chantry would not be a pastor again. Howe also said the ARBCA did not instruct him not to call the police and he regrets not having done so.

Howe further testified that he holds no grudges nor hatred of Tom Chantry although he hates his actions – what Tom did to the children. He stated that the ARBCA Council attempted to resolve the issue by having Tom repent and the church forgiving him.

Rich Howe then testified about the 2015 meeting regarding Victim 1’s revelation that Tom Chantry sexually molested him when he was 4. Howe believes he first heard about this event from Bob Selph. Victim 1’s mother had called Selph and Selph then called Howe.

Rich Howe and Eric Owen attended the meeting at Victim 1’s home in 2015. The outcome of the meeting was that it was clear a report needed to be made to the police and Victim 1’s family would be the ones to do it.

Howe said Chris Marley Jr. and Sr. had concerns about Chantry’s church in Wisconsin coming into the ARBCA. All the MVBC Elders discussed this. Howe said the conditions laid out in the 2000 ARBCA report for Tom’s restoration were that he would repent and apologize to each family. He said Tom did not ever do this.

In the Cross Examination Howe said Tom was angry and uncomfortable during the 4th of July celebration. He stated that Tom’s attitude was self-assured, prideful and not one to change.

One very good point Sears made was regarding the ordination of Chantry, which occurred in February of 1996. Sears has a certificate of ordination given to Tom Chantry at the church service. The certificate stated that Chantry had demonstrated a “consistency of life and testimony.” This certificate was signed by Howe and Eric Owens. Sears asked Howe how, in light of all the terrible things he alleged Tom had done, he could sign that certificate?

In my opinion, this was a very logical question. Clearly, Chantry should have never been ordained. He should have been removed one month into the job when he punched a 12-year-old in the face. There were plenty of other red flags along the way that were ignored or forgiven. Howe’s response was that they realized Tom wasn’t perfect and had areas he needed to grow in, after all, he was only 24, but Howe believed he could mentor him and Tom would grow.

I am going to summarize the rest of the day by just writing some thoughts I found interesting.

John Giarrizzo, pastor of Grace Covenant Church in Gilbert, AZ advised Tom that he needed to leave Miller Valley Baptist Church.

In 2015 the Marley’s (pastors at MVBC) attended the General Assembly to oppose Chantry’s bringing his church in Wisconsin into the ARBCA.

In 2016 Rich Howe left MVBC.

Rich Howe said Walter Chantry, whom he considered a friend, expressed a great deal of anger towards him and Eric Owens over the charges against Tom Chantry.

C.L. testified that Tom Chantry approached her about tutoring her son.

In September or October of 2000, C.L. picked her son up from the parsonage after a tutoring session with Chantry. Her son had been beaten so bad he could hardly walk. From the top of his buttocks to the bottom of his thighs were purple bruises, welts, and blisters. It looked like he had been struck by a 4-inch wide board. She felt sick and did not know what to do. She called Rich Howe. Rich Howe confronted Chantry. Chantry again denied bare-bottom spanking but did admit spanking the boy.

C.L. left the church shortly after the ARBCA investigation concluded. She regrets not having called the Police.

In a move which surprised me, Defense attorney Sears declined to cross examine C.L.

Eric Owens was the final witness for the day.

When Owens went to the parsonage to discuss the beating C.L.’s son received from Chantry, Chantry uttered his prophetic sentence of “I’ve done something from which I can’t recover. I’ve spanked some kids and I may have taken it too far.”

Owens said Tom left the church in November of 2000. He told no one, only leaving a note of resignation in the church office. Owens said he thought Chantry knew he would be facing discipline so he jumped ship. Chantry’s resignation took them all by surprise.

Owens said item 8 of the ARBCA outline of steps Tom needed to take had never been fulfilled. He then stated, totally unprompted, that “I believe Tom is not a Christian.” This ended the day.

After the jurors were dismissed Sears voiced concern to Judge Astrowsky about the last statement Owens had uttered.  While the Judge agreed he also stated that Sears did not object at the time it was said.

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Law Prof

I’ll add one more thing. I know Sue Eazer, the prosecutor. Not a personal friend, but many years ago I saw her in action in the courtroom a fair number of times. When I was a judicial clerk with a criminal court judge in Pima County, I saw her fiery attitude towards those who abuse kids behind closed doors in the judge’s chambers. She’s not afraid of anyone, she’ll tell a judge off to their face if she thinks it’s warranted (I’ve seen that very thing happen up close). You don’t ,mess with Sue, you don’t try to lie on the stand with Sue. Guaranteed she has no fear whatsoever over a well-fed pastor of some small church in the Midwest–or a whole procession of ARBCA suits, sitting up there on the witness stand, trying the little games that scare the daylights out of parishioners. She eats people like that for lunch. If I were an abusive pastor, one who liked to shade the truth and maybe do a little flat out lying, and used to getting away with it with those over whom I had control, she’s the last one I’d want to be cross examined by. I mean the last!

JHenry

That is very encouraging to hear! Thanks for sharing.

Law Prof

When a kid shoots a water gun at me, I never fan my hand out to block the spray or run the other way laughing–no, it just makes more sense to clench your fist up into a tight little ball. Stops more water that way. Why of course, everyone knows that.

And if the kid with the water gun is running at me, it’s common, very common indeed, for my wrist and elbow and arm just to lock up, frozen there, as the kid runs my way, I’m always paralyzed, unable to avoid to crunch of my fist into their face–terrible thing! I thought that was a common malady, frozen-arm-when-approached-by-kid-with-water-gun paralysis. Doesn’t that happen to all of you?

And the types of kids who shoot water water guns at chubby little pastors like Mr. Chantry, why they all tend to just keep running once they start in a direction, unable to stop even when they see a clinched fist in the path of their faces–something like a train that takes a mile to stop from sheer momentum. Have you ever seen it turn out differently?

So there you have it, folks, Mr. Altvater is trying trying to educate us all–for the glory of God, of course–about Water Gun Clenched Chubby Pastor Fist Frozen Arm Kid With Plastic Gun Who Can’t Stop from Sheer Locomotive Momentum Syndrome.

JHenry

Mr. Altvater, Perhaps you are unaware of how God, throughout history, has used one wicked ruler to bring down another? In all honestly, it would not change things one whit if Chantry’s evil deeds were exposed by someone for revenge, or out of spite, jealousy or any other wicked motive.

You surely do not mean to suggest that the alleged person or persons seeking revenge orchestrated or made up the charges and evidence of documented abuse being put before the jury this very moment? Even if it was revenge that led to the horrific actions finally reaching the light of day, the horrific actions remain real and worthy of condemnation. Surely you see the absurdity of any attempt to excuse Chantry’s actions based on the motivations of those who, all too late, decided to take previously hidden accusations more seriously?

God indeed works all things together for good, and I do not interpret that in the obscene manner that Reformed folk do, as if God himself inspires or ordains the abuse of children or the other evil that evil men choose to do against God’s revealed and spoken will. What it does mean is that God will use the wicked to bring down the wicked. Their jealousies, rivalries, hatred and lust for power and wealth will cause them to turn on, expose and throw one another under the bus. But that does not mean the evil they expose was less evil; or less worthy of being exposed, denounced and punished.

The problem with Reformed Theology, IMO, is that it utterly distorts the heart and ways of God. It seeks to place the blame for evil at God’s feet, all the while clamoring about ‘giving him the Glory’. Well, God doesn’t need anyone’s help getting glory. Nor will any paltry human succeed in stealing any from him. Not in the long run, that is.

So, yes, evil motives may have been involved in Chantry’s comeuppance. I know little about the ongoing rivalries, and don’t really care. They only provide more evidence that these men who preen before others as men of Gawd are more often seeking their own interests.

May God expose them all, one by one, until he naive, deceived masses see Him truly and recognize at last who the ‘wicked’ truly are.

Paul Gordon

James you are not an honest man. I am not surprised you have an affinity with other dishonest folk. I have nothing more to say to or about you.

I agree with Lydia. All the comments have been great, yet this one sums it all up.

Thanks!

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Law Prof

James – Why don’t you speak in English? What the heck do you mean about “Tom’s book and the difficulties within the RBC” revealing themselves in this blog? And what in the world does that have to do with a dark connection between church factions and re-awakening of this case? And how did Paul reveal this to you? You are starting to sound absolutely unhinged. And if you “understand Dee’s anger”, then why do you act this way towards her? What do you mean? Are you even capable of rational thought? You have me wondering.

James, your comments are not falling within the blog guidelines anymore. You need to start answering the questions people ask you instead of only attacking others. Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

James Altvatar, while your comment meets the blog guidelines, it also, in my opinion, reads like a typical script from abuser-defenders.

I know the script because I’ve seen it so many times. It goes like this:

Accuse the whistleblowers (who in this case are Todd Willhelm, his blog team, and most of the commenters here) of the ‘sins’ of gossip, judgmentalism, stirring up strife, vengefulness, bitterness, having planks in their eyes, and failing to bring glory to God.

All those accusations are false. What a blog like this is doing is exposing and shining the spotlight on evil so that those who have been deceived and oppressed by evil can wake up and become more discerning.

Your attempt to dump guilt on me does not work. I see right through it. Rant as much as you like, but it will make no difference.

But rather than ranting, why not humble yourself and listen to those who have acquired some wisdom in dealing with evil.

Thanks, the most recent comments from this gentleman arguably do not meet the blog guidelines. Todd and I don’t want to censor comments that defend Tom Chantry.

However, people need to address facts and answer at least a few of the questions they are asked.

So I’m holding off on approving any more of James’ comments for a while.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan.

Jo

Does Chantry have children? Are they safe?

Shauna

JLC I have no issues except to say that you and I disagree on some things and we have a mutual understanding. You are doing a good job trying to be fair.
Rather than go back and forth I prefer that support for this blog and it’s rul are better than asserting my opinion after I have given one. I want to spend time more in discussion over relevant issues stemming from Todd’s reports and be supportive even towards the parents. Maybe I need to after thinking about this put myself in their shoes right now and show more empathy and grace in my assertions.
Most important I want to encourage these young men to stay the course and let them know we are with them.
I appreciate your feedback and definitely holding your position even if someone like me may not always agree. So as far as I’m concerned I think you are serving the blog well and time will tell how our opinions are viewed.

James Altvater

Ms. Parsons,

I understand your anger. This, however, is not a social site. I’m not going to lower it to that type of bickering insulting standard by responding to insults ok. No offense. I understand if you feel one of my comments is offending. I’m sorry for that. I may very well be wrong in certain circumstances. However, I do not know you and you don’t know me personally at all, therefore the insults don’t carry any hurtful weight to me. I hope they don’t make you feel better, it would be sad if that were the case.

Best regards.

James Altvater

Law Prof

The problem is, James, you’re just kind of down on your hands and knees begging for personal insults. When you say stuff that is on its face absurd, and you say it in the sing-songy, faux righteous, sanctimonious way you’re saying it, such as the immensely Screwtape-type comment you just made to Ms Parsons (which frankly sounds more like a socoipath trying to gaslight than a genuine Christian of good conscience), just understand that it sets people off. You know, when it comes to child abuse, people get a mite touchy. When it comes to someone insinuating that out of the blue all these kids just made this all up, got up on the stands lying through their teeth, little monsters that they are, which is about the only way of interpreting your attitudes expressed when you tell us that Mr. Chantry is wholly innocent and that dark forces are conspiring against him–meaning, I guess, all those kids–well, you just kind of ask for it.

Ciaran

“little monsters that they are”.

Actually, LawProf, I dont know what kind of experience you’ve had with ARBCA, but your sarcastic quip is not very far off the mark. The way I heard it put was that my 4 month-old, for instance, “would kill me if he could”. I.e. Because he’s “born in sin” and because he’s not yet “saved” and because he’s not really been “sanctified” in any real sense, it’s a good thing that he’s so cute and helpless, or else I’d be a dead man.

Law Prof

I have no experience with ARBCA, but substantial experience with neocalvinist reformed-tyes, having served as an elder in such a church, and in some respects, they are apparently identical. It is as if being made in the image of God Himself, which the Bible tells us we all clearly are, is utterly worthless and we’re all demons from hell and incapable of doing anything other than being monsters of iniquity. I understand the concepts of original sin, that this destructive sinful nature has been passed down for millenia, that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. I understand the difference I experienced when I came to know Jesus, the love I felt that had never been there before. Yet, I also know I’ve been treated with kindness by people who didn’t know God but yet hadn’t completely blotted out that image of God in which they were made, and that God loved them also, that He died for all, the cosmos, not just the elektos, that being made in God’s image is of immense value.

Just seems like the types who want to make believe we’re all monsters of iniquity, worthless garbage (not human beings of infinite value), tend to be those most determined to prove the point.

Paul Gordon

It is unhelpful and uncharitable at all times to misrepresent the beliefs of others for whatever reasons you may think to be just. No Reformed Baptist type would recognize the straw man you are tearing down as being any part of our faith. Nowhere in our confessions, in our sermons, in the writings of our teachers would you find anything resembles those of whom you say “want to make believe we’re all monsters of iniquity, worthless garbage (not human beings of infinite value)” I do not recognize just who you are talking about but it is clearly not confessional Reformed Baptists. We may have our problems but they do not reside in a view of man as created, redeemed or fallen in which such words have ever been spoken by anyone I have ever heard, heard of, read or know of. If you know different please be specific.

Hi Paul and Others,

I don’t wish to jump into the debate about how doctrine may affect behavior, too much, because it is not a subject I focus on. However, while I am not an expert on anything, I have spent an average of 5-15 hours a week informally advocating against the cover-up of child sexual abuse, in churches, for about 7 years.

During that time, I have seen no correlation between doctrinal beliefs and the cover-up of child abuse or any other type of crime, for that matter. The tendency of pastors and church leaders to throw children under the bus to save their own skins appears to be universal.

To me, the red flag is how a church relates to the secular legal system. Churches that respect the civil government are much more likely to report crimes like child abuse to the appropriate authorities. Churches that have no respect for the law are more likely to cover up crimes.

That’s my take. Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Ciaran

“Just seems like the types who want to make believe we’re all monsters of iniquity, worthless garbage (not human beings of infinite value), tend to be those most determined to prove the point.”

LawProf, just so. It’s like a weird “self-fulfilling” prophesy.

And no one should underestimate the harm that hearing that message all your life can do to a child. My guess is that not only do the various Chantry victims have to contend with the pain of what he did, they have the deal with the intrinsic shame that gets baked into a person’s very core in systems like that. It messes with you in ways that can take years to understand, much less unravel and/or deal with.

I don’t know how right I am about this or not, but having been one of those children raised in such a church and having heard all my life how depraved and deserving of wrath and hatred of god I am (yadda yadda yadda) I’ve currently come to the following conclusion:
the main difference between children and adults is that kids suck at being bad. It’s the adults (sanctification be damned, so to speak) who are skilled at evil. Kids are just honest.

Hi Folks, just an FYI that I have family in town and Todd is in court today covering the trial. We read and approve all comments individually, which can be time-consuming. If you don’t see your comment after 3 or 4 hours, feel free to send me an e-mail.

Also, unless a comment is vile, we’ll let you know, by e-mail, why we can’t approve it. Please don’t assume that if you don’t immediately see your comment, that’s because we’ve censored it or don’t like you. 😉

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Shauna

Hi Jana,

I respect the fact that you may not agree with me. That is ok😊 I am not saying all together your censoring everything. Again it’s coming from personal experience and of course someone with very strong opinions. If you are not posting my previous comment there are no hard feelings coming from me. I don’t agree with your position but we can agree to disagree and still respect each other.

No worries, Shauna. I, too, have very strong opinions. 😉 So does Todd. We’d like to think that Thou Art The Man is a good place for people who boldly say what’s really on their minds. Sometimes I go overboard with my statements and criticism of others, yet I usually calm down and apologize. Doing so has been a humbling experience for me. When I was younger, I didn’t apologize for much. Please don’t think I’m suggesting that you have anything to apologize for. I’m just talking about my own journey as an outspoken person discussing the very disturbing subject matters about which this blog is about.

I also know that outspoken women in general, and especially outspoken women in authoritarian churches, are often treated very differently than outspoken men. Specifically, they’re often told to just shut up and submit to the wisdom of men who possess no wisdom. That’s one reason that I’m especially hesitant to censor comments made by women.

Over the years, Todd and I have tried to make clear that bashing women commenters (apparently that’s not a real word but I’m going with it), in subtle or not so subtle ways, is not appropriate on this blog. Thou Art The Man aims to be a safe place for everyone and especially outspoken women.

Please also know that this is Todd’s blog and choosing to at least temporarily dis-allow criticism of parents, especially the parents of Chantry’s victims, was his call. I know this may start to seem like my blog, because I’m handling all the comment moderation while Todd’s covering the trial in court, but it isn’t. I weighed in heavily on this decision regarding critiquing parents, yet it wasn’t my decision. People are welcome to contact Todd about any issues, although please know that he is unlikely to change his mind right now regarding not allowing people to criticize the parents of victims.

Also, the decision to disallow or censor comments critical of the parents of victims was not made lightly. I ran it by several people whom I deeply respect and have much experience doing advocacy work against abuse. They said it was a tough call generally, yet most thought that it is not fair or kind to allow people to castigate parents who cannot respond publicly about a case they’re in the middle of. Todd and I will take your feedback into consideration regarding this policy, Shauna. We’re not sure about the degree to which, in the long-term, dis-allowing people to criticize the parents of victims is fair and intellectually honest/morally just.

You made many good points in the comment, which I haven’t approved, Shauna. You’re certainly welcome to re-submit it without criticism of parents if you want to.

I don’t agree with your position but we can agree to disagree and still respect each other.

Of course, yet please know that this decision isn’t a done deal, in the long-term, and your feedback is important to us. I wanted to approve your comment, yet have to treat everyone the same way regarding the policies of this blog.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Shauna

I don’t wish to resubmit what I said because the premise of my statement ties into my initial response which you are not posting. you stated your reasons in the initial response which I accepted and did not dispute except to say I agree to disagree. I don’t believe my statements are cruel but what some would question themselves given the situation however are prohibited from giving their full perspectives.
It can be said about Chantry (and I’m in no way advocating for him) he to can not comment or defend so err gos the problem it’s ok to bash and call one out but it’s not acceptable to speak our mind on the behavior of the parents and even the church!
My question is then why open comments if they are censored?
In regards to being outspoken in a church my being direct before or after my sons abuse had not affected my position as a woman in church. In fact nothing was brought to my attention in regards to prior abuses until we left. Which had I known your darn straight I would have said something and left. I did it once I realized how we were lied to and what I was asked to do. A heavy price came with our exiting and even after we left. It was difficult and I had to struggle with some of my decisions in how that impacted my child. I would not have become so resolute until I learned from my own mistakes and others pointing them out at times no matter how difficult. None of this situation is comfortable for anyone but it’s a harsh reality.
In regards to Todd how he operates his blog no where in my response have I questioned or criticized except to say I don’t fully agree on censorship. I understand and respect his position which is why I’m not offended by you not posting my initial comment, it’s perfectly ok.
In regards to to advocating for victims I think it’s great you do this. However coming from someone who has personally experienced abuse as a child and my child also being abused my opinions are stemming from personal experience on many levels.
Bottom line is the focus is not just parents whatever they did or didn’t do they are in a position now to try to make it right I truly hope they do and end up having peace with their children.
Chantry, the church leaders set this whole thing in motion and placed a dangerous man upon the church. I believe my frustration could be coming out more harder on the parents than it probably should. My frustration with this mostly is these men who literally placed themselves as Gods and decided what was best in a disgusting situation that Chantry did.
So I need to say again my previous comment don’t worry about it it’s ok to not post it I understand your position and Todd’s very clearly. My opinions are not personal and they are not meant to be harmful and if they have offended you or anyone then let me apologize as that was not the intent.
My sons story was posted and told and in our community along with my family I faced some hard criticism. It wasn’t easy believe me but it also helped me to advocate harder and fight back when the church came after my son.
More events have occurred since my sons story that I had not reported to the other blog due to their busyness. I have not posted about it but have decided to go another direction and have the attention of some major media outlets and I’m assisting them with not just our story but more information which has come out in hopes to support others who share our struggle and experience.
What Todd is doing is wonderful and I believe I have stated that I support him 💯. I hope he knows this.
So no hard feelings just another person supporting this blog and giving my opinion on the matter.

Thanks, Shauna. I did not mean to imply that you were cruel or unkind. When I have a chance, I’ll edit my comment to take out the word “kind.”

It put it in, because some parents are likely devastated by mistakes they have made and may be frustrated that they can’t say so right now publicly.

I’m not sure I understand your general unhappiness regarding the unfairness of perceived censorship on this site. While all blogs have to censor some comments, that’s generally not feedback we normally get from people we respect like you.

Your concerns are noted, and I’ll discuss them with Todd.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Hi Shauna, obviously you’ve been through the mill with abuse and the church responded appallingly when your son was abused. I honour you for doing what you did to protect your son and yourself. 🙂

You may know that I also run a blog (A Cry For Justice). And I follow a fair few other blogs that deal with abuse in a Christian context.

Each blog owner has their own comment moderation policy, as I’m sure you’re aware. Some bloggers choose to allow almost all comments, even comments that are pretty obviously teaching unbiblical garbage, or defending abusers, or whatever. Other bloggers (such as the myself) choose to not publish comments or parts of comments that teach unbiblical ideas, or myths about abuse, or defend abusers, or blame victims, or advise (or order) other commenters how to feel, think and behave.

Also, on the blog I lead, we edit comments before they are published. We remove or airbrush details that we think are too identifying of the commenter, and phrases and terms that we know would be triggering for other readers. We do this because we want our blog to be a really safe place for victim-survivors. And we know many victim-survivors are easily triggered because they are suffering from ongoing abuse and/ or complex-PTSD.

So there are many reasons to moderate comments.

May I make a suggestion? Instead of thinking that when a blog owner moderates comments they are engaging in ‘censorship’ (a word that has negative connotations), you might like to think of it as the blogger making the best call they can for the purposes and goals of their blog and their overall readership.

Marsha Iddings

Wow. Really? We have seen witness testimony to the horrific things Chantry did and all his cousin in law can do is make a pitiful excuse for the punch in the face?

An excuse is just the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie. His cousin doesn’t even have the skin of a reason. It’s a naked lie!

I do agree with him that there is something
Very dark about this case. It is dark and has pervaded almost if not all ARBCA churches. I look at what happened to our family in an ARBCA church and I read similar things experienced by others in ARBCA churches and I see a dark and sinister pattern of deception and justification of deception emerging. I see leaderships that are increasingly unaccountable to anyone and I see spiritual abuse and in some churches psychological and physical abuse taking place. I see congregations fearful to ask questions or report abuse and when they do they are silenced. These churches are not led by shepherds. They are led by wolves! What else can you call this organization but a cult masquerading as a Christian association of churches?

Shauna

JLC let Mr. Avatar or whatever his name is post he just keeps making the case for the boys with his ridiculous statements! When you don’t censor comments the other side makes the case for the victims 100% and literally make themselves look like fools, the public is paying attention. We are not stupid we can see and read what is coming out of court and what fools like him open their mouths they insert FOOT!

Hi Shauna,

I appreciate your passion, yet I don’t think that you know very much about this blog. Todd and I censor very few comments. For instance, I just approved a comment from James, because it does meet the comment guidelines whereas his other ones did not. If you look at all the comments we’ve approved for the Chantry articles alone, you will see a wider range of opinions than you are likely to find on many other blogs. However, Todd and I both agree that, at least for the duration of the trial, we cannot allow people to keep criticizing parents who are not able to defend themselves.

Therefore, I understand and agree with many of the points you just made in a comment that I cannot approve, unfortunately.

Also, respecting your general criticism. Please consider that Todd is spending his own money and resources to cover this trial. He does not live near the court house. I have spent countless hours helping this site achieve great search engine placement. Many of the commenters made it a great place to intelligently discuss difficult issues.

We’re no the bad guys, Shauna, even if we have made a decision you don’t agree with. 😉 Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

James Altvater

If you will read my first posting, I think you will see that I have agreed with all of you regarding the just and rightful punishment due Tom, If in the eyes of God, he is guilty of these grievous sins. For certain, family or not, the accusations made upon him are terrible, and deserve punishment if true. However, my concern about this blog are not only the children, Tom and the legal procedure now in process. It is the moral implications of how most of the respondents have used it as a form of gossip. Clearly accusations have been made of Tom, and his father and their church and elders. None of the accusations have yet been proven legally and many of the concerns deserve serious productive loving discussion to unite the church and not divide. So, I have sincere questions, guilty or not, what edifying purpose does this blog have for God’s church in general? How does this blog glorify God? We know, hopefully all know, that we are all sinners who deserve God’s wrath. Which one of you is confident to stand before God and say “I had no heart of revenge within me when commenting on this blog about this issue connected to your church.”? To exemplify; what purpose would a person have to “Immortalize” my statement on a social site? How many within this blog are satisfied and gloating to see it done? It seems to me that we all have planks in our eyes at times. This, simply of course, is why God sent His son.

Sincerely,

James Altvater

Thanks, James. This comment does meet the blog’s guidelines, so I am happy to publish it.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Thanks again for the comment. You’ve said repeatedly that you simply cannot believe that Tom Chantry is guilty of harming children. Will you change your mind if he is convicted, by a court of law, of doing so? Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

James Altvater

Thank you Janna,

The best way to answer your question is with an honest Christian question. Was it just for the legal system of the time to imprison Paul and eventually behead him? The legal system was certain that he was worthy of death, but in the eyes of God was he? Many probably believed he deserved the punishment and others were convinced he wasn’t. None of their opinions, however, would have an affect on God’s ultimate development of historical events .

Regarding Tom, I respect the court of law in our country. I believe that God is sovereign and the government in place today for us living as citizens in America is to be obeyed. If the law finds him guilty, then God has ordained the event. However, ” Many are the plans in the hearts of men, but it is the Lords purposes that prevail”. I can’t say that Tom is guilty of all charges. I am not God, I am not omnipotent and I was certainly not there. I am sure Tom is guilty of sins. I can say this because we all are. This is why I believe we should be very careful not to make judgments that potentially impugn the spirituality of the church. It is a very dangerous place to put ourselves when our actions could potentially take away God’s due glory and spread of the gospel.

Regarding the children, (now adults). I am assuming Mathew 18:15 was followed properly by their parents, and they were not satisfied with the church’s conclusions? There seemed to be a time of somewhat acceptable resolution? Yes/No? What happened 15 years later that re-opened a church resolved wound that had many years to heal? If it wasn’t resolved, why wait 15 years? (This is meant as an honest question?) My understanding is that Tom was arrested in church during a time that seemed to create the most public damage. Why? Could this not have been taken care of from his home? Would this not have been a good discerning thing to do to protect Christ’s bride? Can you see why a stranger (discerning Christian) can look at this entire case and say there appears to be darkness? The reflection of hate and revenge seems to be present brothers and sisters. God knows our hearts. I fear there may be many souls in a dangerous place.

All this being said, Tom Chantry, if guilty, should beg forgiveness directly to all affected, and most important ask God’s forgiveness. If the courts find him guilty, God has ordained it! So be it! However, the parents and children will still have to learn to forgive in order to move forward. Hence, they will be idolizing hate and revenge and that is difficult to take to heaven.

Sincerely,

James Altvater

Thanks, James. I was just wondering why you were criticizing people for declaring Tom Chantry guilty before he was legally convicted in a court of law. It seems, in general, that you don’t have much faith in the secular legal system. Therefore, why would you be critical of people for reaching their own conclusions just because your cousin-in-law hasn’t been declared guilty by a jury of his peers?

Also, regarding hate, let’s assume for a moment that Tom Chantry really is guilty. There’s certainly a boat load of factually evidence indicating that he is. Wouldn’t he then be responsible for planting hatred in the children he beat up and molested? You seem to be placing the burden of forgiveness on victims when at least one of them has sworn, under oath, that your cousin-in-law told him that God would be angry if he reported abuse to other adults.

Also you’ve stated that you do not believe your cousin-in-law is guilty. In that case, do you believe that the victims are lying?

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

You’ve directly said you’re sure that Tom Chantry isn’t guilty in previous comments. That’s also implied in all of your comments. Thanks.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Matthew 18 has no bearing on this situation. It was obviously not meant to be applied to major crimes against society, like child sexual and physical abuse, in 2018. I believe that any serious, ethical theologian will tell you that. I also don’t know why it matters if the crimes took place more than 10 years ago. Does God grant a statute of limitations on sins and committing crimes if you just get away with them long enough? Do you not know how hard it is for victims of child sexual abuse to come forward under normal circumstances, much less a one in which they’re being told that God will hate them if they report abuse to the police? That’s what your cousin-in-law told at least one victim, by the way. That person testified under oath.

You’ve accused people here of gossiping. So far, you’ve referenced no facts even though this blog presents much factual information including many legal documents. In that case, what makes you think that you aren’t the one really guilty of gossiping?

The U.S. separates church and state when it comes to investigating crimes. It does not allow people to create underground theocratic court systems like the one ARBCA created for Tom Chantry. If people don’t like that, please move to another country as opposed to allowing a “trial by corrupt pastors or church leaders” system to illegitimately exist. Plus, the ARBCA leaders lied to parents about what they knew regarding allegations of abuse against Tom Chantry. Was that aligned with any possible interpretation of Matthew 18? You would know all this if you took the time to read any of the factual information on this blog, as opposed to just gossiping. 😉

Further, would you argue that if Tom Chantry had murdered a child, that the child’s parents should have consulted the elders and had a long discussion about Matthew 18 before calling the police? If not, then why does a different standard apply to the heinous crimes of child sexual and physical abuse?

I agree that there’s a dark cloud surrounding this case. It’s called ignorance, in your case, sir.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Dee Parsons

James
You said “what edifying purpose does this blog have for God’s church in general? How does this blog glorify God?” It preaches the gospel in that all men are sinners and that all church members better beware that even their pastors can do horrible things. It is preventing others from being abused. It is protecting out kids. In fact it is doing far more for the gospel than your comments.

In the meantime, do you believe that beatings on CL’s son bottoms were caused by his butt and legs bumping into the paddle? Your “he ran into his hands” comment is getting around.

Also, using your *reasoning* youmust believe that OJ Simpson is innocent since he was found *not guilty* by a jury?

JHenry

It is one thing to jump to conclusions. It is another to insist that no one can use their own judgment apart from a man-made civil legal process. Frankly, I will not be limited to believing what the jury declares. I once sat through an entire trial, of which the defendant was found innocent of all but one charge. Several of the jury members afterwards recounted how they genuinely did not want to find him guilty of even the one charge, but felt themselves manipulated and intimidated into doing so. Anyone who has sat through a trial, and seen how games are played, how genuine evidence is often withheld based on some legal definition of what is admissible, becomes aware that legal proceedings are, at best, limited in their ability to arrive at truth.

I cannot make claims to knowing all things. I do not know Chantry, nor any of his alleged victims personally. I had more connection to the ongoings at Willow Creek, as a close relative was once on the worship team, and many family members once belonged or attended, and yet I could not honestly claim that I has inside information as to what Bill Hybels may or may not have done.

Yet, I have a God-given mind, that is capable of careful thought, reason and logic. Such things instruct me. Little children rarely make up stories of abuse, particularly involving trusted and/or beloved authorities. Multiple accusers alleging similar crimes, with physical scars to prove them, cannot be discounted as ‘false memories’. Many, many accused abusers have been declared ‘not guilty’ by juries manipulated and intimidated by obscure theories of how ‘false memories’ are implanted in the minds of multiple young children of horrific, unthinkable abuse. Victims who were severely traumatized, had STD’s and multiple internal scars; who described physical attributes, visceral smells and activities that most adults would be unable to imagine have repeatedly been declared to have ‘false memories’.

Some may feel constrained to the legal rulings. I do not. I do not believe that the many women who came forward making similar accusations against Hybels had somehow, over the years, conspired to make up this false story, cleverly reporting these made up incidents to spouses, friends and even elders. These women were adults when the incidents occurred, and they still struggled to recognize and come to terms with the inappropriateness, grooming and abuse of someone they trusted and loved.

Imagine the helplessness of a small child, whose own parents refuse to fully believe them? How does a tiny person, who should not even know what sexual intimacies are, make sense of and report to others the indecent liberties that were taken with them? Do we expect them to be able to produce witnesses, as if the perpetrator would be foolish enough to do his deeds in front of others? And what do these past trials tell those who as adults struggle to see justice served, as well as protect others from being victimized as they were? They learn that few are willing to believe that vaunted persons in positions of authority could commit secret crimes. They learn that their are clever lawyers and psychologists who can invent ‘syndromes’ to explain how multiple small children can describe similar horrific incidents without conspiring together. What they cannot adequately explain is what would make psychologists all around the country conspire to perpetrate these ‘false memory’ implantations. And how the heck did they manage to invent the physical scars, as well as correlate so well with so many victims who told the same stories before even meeting with these supposed conspirators?

If you believe that the perpetrators of heinous evil will not go to great lengths to cover their wickedness and escape punishment, you are extremely naive. If you choose to believe that the legal system is infallible, the guilty never falsely set free and the innocent never falsely punished, that is your right. Personally, I will not ‘turn off’ my own reason on command from religious or civil authorities. Let Jesus be our example, as we ponder whether the ruling powers of this world can falsely condemn the innocent and allow the wicked to flourish unpunished.

When multiple witnesses to evil arise, witnesses with nothing to gain and much to lose in coming forward, I believe we are foolish to dismiss their claims on technicalities of law. I am thankful for all that Todd is doing to make available to us information we might not otherwise have on what is taking place in the legal proceedings. I am desirous and hopeful that justice will prevail, but I am not so naive as to believe it is inevitable.

Paul Gordon

James Altaver writes:

Clearly accusations have been made of Tom, and his father and their church and elders. None of the accusations have yet been proven legally and many of the concerns deserve serious productive loving discussion to unite the church and not divide.

I must confess Mr Altaver that in reading this plea for restraint against unproven allegations I thought of the story of the guy who killed his parents and threw himself on the mercy of the court on the grounds that he was an orphan.

Are you simply unaware of the writings of the Chantry’s, both father and son? Who in modern history has done more to foment divisions among the churches. ARBCA was birthed amid divisions based on allegations from the senior Chantry that widespread abuse was being practiced among churches that subscribed to the 1689 London Baptist Confession. He publicly disseminated a letter in 1990 in which multiple lies and inaccuracies appeared to make his case that people should leave their churches, cease fellowshipping with certain churches and join his crusade to form an Association that would punish those he perceived to be offenders. I know there were lies because he included a fallacious report about me in which the only thing he got right was my name.

The lies and slanders of dad were trifles compared to the production of his son. Holding Communion Together is little but an extended gossip column in which investigative journalistic practices were nonexistent and rumor and innuendo abounded. Every major figure in the RB community and many in the wider Reformed and Evangelical community were raked over the coals for trivial offenses or else Tom’s own misperceptions. I mean calling John Frame an “Epistemological Relativist” is the height of absurdity.

I am sure you were ignorant of all the pain and harm these men deliberately sought to do to honorable men with unblamable character or else you would have risen to their defense in the name of restraint and church unity.

My point is simply that these men never cared a fig for restraint in their unfounded charges of others nor for church unity.

What you may perceive as gloating James is simply the satisfaction that these proud hyper-critical men have had their hypocrisy revealed. Tom laughed at me when I proposed a truce over the book controversy. He mocked attempts at unity, understanding, reconciliation, “productive, loving discussion” when I proposed them to him. You can’t possibly be serious in proposing that he now become the symbol of the very things he so resolutely rejected just because his sins have found him out.

Such defenses leave me cold and if anything makes a disposition of mercy towards him more difficult than ever.

Jay Webler

Amen, Paul. Thanks

JHenry

I am in the dark as to what is meant by the ‘book controversy’. Could you please advise? Thanks!

J Henry, I’m no expert but when Paul Gordon refers to ‘the book controversy’ I understand he is referring to the book co-authored by Tom Chantry and David Dykstra titled “Holding Communion Together”.

Paul Gordon

Yes the book controversy was the publication of Holding Communion Together which was alleged by its authors to be a History of the Reformed Baptist movement in America. What it was in fact was a memoir of Walt Chantry channelled through his son combined with an apologetic for ARBCA that took the form of a hate filled attack upon perceived adversaries by two (It was co-authored by ARBCA pastor David Dykstra) very experienced and proficient haters.

Lydia

Paul, I wish there was a like button for your comment.

Jay Webler

Although it is normal to wonder how something like this could happen. (I.E. Elders, parents, etc. let this stuff go on and seemingly did little about it). I am at times sensing a thread of self-righteousness. If something like t his happened to me and my child I would have done something about it. As I get older I have found many regrets because I did not act consistent with my convictions at all times. I have also learned to temper my outrage at another’s sin because of the recognition of my own.

I sent the following to one who has proven himself over 50 years of ministry because I felt a need to vent because of all of this: “I’m reminded of something I read once; I think it was in Pilgrims Progress. “I know I am a Christian because I hate sins in others.” (We may know that we our Christians when we hate sin in our own hearts). Although the anger is understood, it would be well for all to remember Rom 8:13 “for if ye live after the flesh, ye must die; but if by the Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body, ye shall live. Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” Also, “Psa 37:1 A Psalm of David. Fret not thyself because of evil-doers, Neither be thou envious against them that work unrighteousness. Psa 37:2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, And wither as the green herb. Psa 37:3 Trust in Jehovah, and do good;”
I’m also reminded of Joseph, who was surely abused by his brothers. Despite all that was done to him, he saw past the evil that his brothers did and looked at the good that God intended. I sense, (and I may be wrong), that righteous indignation can very easily turn into vengeance because of the remaining sin in our own hearts.”

Another verse has come to mind as I am writing this: “Pro 24:17-18 Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, And let not thy heart be glad when he is overthrown; Lest Jehovah see it, and it displease him, And he turn away his wrath from him.”

I have been around Reformed Baptist for almost 40 years. I have never been a member of an ARBCA Church nor would I ever become one. I saw what many of these men were made of when “Shepherding God’s Flock” first came out in the late 80’s. I saw the lies and halve truths in the recounted anecdotal stories and knew who was actually putting them forth. Just when I had some hope that things would turn around, Chantry and Dykstra came out with “Holding Communion Together”, which was Shepherding God’s flock on steroids. What amazes me is these men are the ones who put forth ARBCA as the thing needed to protect other reformed Baptists. They failed to understand one fundamental truth: God will not share His Glory with any man. God has given us teachers for the purpose of teaching so that we may grow. But anyone who begins to think they are God’s gift to the church they need to check their footing before they set themselves up for a fall.

To all who are understandably upset by all the Mr. Chantry and ARBCA has done, I implore you not to let it take you over to the the land of bitterness and revenge. God will judge in His time and His judgement will be far more accurate than mans.

Thanks Jay Webler, I appreciate your comment. 🙂

Dee Parsons

Jay: You said this. “To all who are understandably upset by all the Mr. Chantry and ARBCA has done, I implore you not to let it take you over to the the land of bitterness and revenge. God will judge in His time and His judgement will be far more accurate than mans.” Why is it that anytime a horrific situation involving child abuse rears its ugly head, people feel the need to remind others not to be bitter and not to take revenge? Frankly. it is a bit off-putting.

First, we are following the law of our land in following up on crimes. Our legal system allow for the redress of victims. In the US, sometimes we do not need to wait u til the hereafter for crimes to be punished. Since there is no one on this blog calling for Chantry to be drawn and quartered outside of the court system, could you explain why you feel the need to say this? Are you making assumptions about the motives of others?

Secondly, we have banned the word “bitterness” at TWW. This word is often used by others to heap blame on those who naturally long for justice in this world and who sometimes becomes frustrated when that doesn’t happen. See OJ Simpson for an example. I think OJ is guilty.

I grow weary of some Christians who believe they must take a dig at fellow Christians by claiming things of which they do not understand. Most people do not need you to *implore* them not to take vengeance or be bitter. Why not assume that we are doing just fine?

http://thewartburgwatch.com/2013/06/27/abusers-are-welcome-and-the-abused-are-just-bitter/

JHenry

You are more gracious than I, dear Dee. My sister’s father-in-law molested her child, his own grandchild. He was also a retired pastor. Let me tell you that the last thing I would say to my sister is to not be angry or bitter. In fact, I told her to ignore anyone who tried to implore her to ‘forgive’ her father-in-law and welcome him back into the family once he was out of jail. She is a sincere child of God, and has had to work through an enormous amount of trauma, sadness, anger, guilt and countless other emotions. And you know what? I tell her to remain angry as long as she needs to – maybe forever. Anyone ever hear of the wrath of God against evil? Do you think it is going to offend him when we are angry at those who rob the innocence and peace of sweet little children who should have been protected and treasured? Personally, I don’t think so. I am furious whenever I think of the sort of animal that would harm a child, or anyone, for their own personal kicks. Of all the sins in the world – if it even is one – I’m sorta betting that anger at child abusers is one God will overlook.

Dee Parsons

Great comment, JHenry. She is blessed to have you helping her to work through this awful thing.

Jay Webler

Dee, I think you are reading far more into what I said than I actually intended.

Jay Webler

I want to leave a clarification for Dee Parsons and JHenry. When I wrote my original post I was not referring to victims of abuse. I was addressing what, IMO, I thought was a strain of self righteousness in some of the comments that can lead to victriolic speech. This was based on what I have read over the entirety of this process. In one of my statements I failed to put quotes which may have contributed to the lack of clarity. I will correct it here. ” I am at times sensing a thread of self-righteousness. “If something like this happened to me and my child I would have done something about it””. Jana actually addressed this when she asked that people not be so quick to blame the parents.

As I said in my post I have been aware of many of the players in this whole mess for over 30 years. I have been praying for many years that God would reveal the hearts of ARBCA in general and Tom Chantry in specific. I consider this entire chain of events that have occurred as an answer to these prayers. I have also prayed that certain people I personally know, that were in ARBCA, would be brought out by the hand of the Lord. Those prayers have also been answered. I have never found it necessary to go on a blog to show my outrage at the things that have been going on for years.

I apologize for any misunderstanding that I may have caused by my poor wording or excessive rhetoric.

JHenry

Jay, if you are saying that you were suggesting more grace to parents of victims rather than for abusers, to this I can concur. I believe that we are all far more easily deceived and manipulated by trusted, spiritual authorities than we might imagine. And in days past, when we could still claim naiveté, most of could not imagine that so many who go by the name of pastor, priest or elder could actually be predators. Sadly, we can no longer claim such innocence; but I try and remember that this was not the case even a few short years ago.

I think that you do perceive why those who have spent any time studying spiritual abuse are very sensitive to those who appear to be suggesting that victims, or their advocates, should be forgiving and refrain from ‘bitterness’, which is typically code for ‘shut up and get over it’. Even when, or if, a victim is ready to forgive, I do not believe they should ever shut up and get over it.

Your clarification and gracious apology is accepted.

Ann Carpenter

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, evil NOW has a face and that face is Tom Chantry . Why would anyone believe this guy , allow him to be the pastor, allow him to be ordained and defend him. Hitting a little guy in the face , spanking a child till the butt is bruised, red, and the child can’t walk ! Come on James , maybe the department of social services in your state should be checking out your home . Is it nurture or nature that caused Tom Chantry to be an evil man . You don’t have to read the tea leaves to find out what is happening here. Tom Chantry put himself into these situations. Can’t make these things up . I’m glad to see this blog post is spot lighting ridiculous, shameful, sinful abuse of authority of a mere man who stands in a pulpit who hurts the least among us .

Dee Parsons

Hey Todd and Jana
I have immortalized James Altvater’s comment that his cousin did not punch the kid. Instead “the kid ran into his hands” I am tweeting this out as well. This is one for the books!

http://thewartburgwatch.com/2018/08/08/the-tom-chantry-trial-proceeds-and-chantrys-cousin-makes-the-stupidest-excuse-for-abuse-ever/

By all means, immortalize this one. I’m certainly not approving anymore like it.

Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

shauna

This post has made me cringe and so furious not just at Chantry but everyone involved who DID NOTHING!!!!! Even the mother C.L. I don’t care who this man is but if I had ever picked my child up with even a bruise much less purple bruises down to his legs I would have choked the life out of Chantry and if not that then certainly would have had the police arrest him before I took one most step with my child off that property. As a mother how do you justify this? Who in their right mind and I don’t care how much brainwashing, or how enthralled she was with the church or this piece of crap, Chantry is from the pit of hell as far as i’m concerned. Forgiveness??? are you kidding me? Why would that even be at the forefront of their minds when hearing about what he is doing? Forgiveness comes when acknowledgement, time and change has occurred! How stupid do you have to be to ignore not one not two but three incidents and then ordain this fool? As far as i’m concerned this is not just abuse, sexual abuse, emotional and physical abuse, but now child endangerment, reckless endangerment, Kidnapping (he confined the boys in his office to punish), and anything else I can think of like Torture!!!!! Everyone involved in Chantry’s abuse are responsible these are grown men and seriously if they can’t even protect the children why in the world should they be trusted to operate a church much less a business? Even the ones who walked away and said nothing “Shame on all of you”!! This is why we spoke out not because it was easy but because someone needed to say something in my sons case. And since many members walked away in silence many of them are responsible for what has happened to people after they left including my son. So let me get back on the subject when you know of abuse of any sort in a church and choose to say nothing you are encouraging abuse to continue to the next person plain and simple. I am so disturbed by this testimony.

Hi Shauna, I really appreciate your contributions to this blog and am very sorry about what you’ve been through. I also deeply admire your decision to speak up when others have not.

I also realize that there are many reasons to question the judgment of the parents’ of Tom Chantry’s victims and parents in similar situations. However, I also suspect that these parents are going through a terrible time and they cannot defend themselves, or speak publicly on blogs, for the duration of the trial. Therefore, I am going to let comments about parents that have been approved stand.

However, I will ask that people refrain from criticizing parents at least until the Chantry trial is over and they may be able to respond. So the comments I have approved will stand, yet future comments that criticize parents will not be approved at this time.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Greg Wolak

Since he has not yet been judged by a jury of his peers I must, as a Christian, refrain from pronouncing judgment on him at this time. That will happen soon enough and we must believe that God’s will be done in this sad case.

However, I will admit that I have had the displeasure of knowing Tom Chantry. He was truly a very good expositor of Scripture and that, I believe, fooled many people, myself included into believing that he was a godly man. God does write straight with crooked lines I guess.

Striving to be as objective as humanly possible and writing without malicious intent and in Christian charity I must say that Tom always seemed that he had something to hide. He was very guarded and stand-offish people. He did not let people in but maintained a distance from most. I actually felt sorry for him at times since he seemed like a very lonely and insulated man – but of his own doing. He rejected the godly advice of those who loved him as a brother. I found that arrogant and utterly sad but that is the attitude of most people these sorry days. Their truth is not YOUR truth.

It has only been rather recent that I came to the firm conviction that Tom was a misfit in ministry or unfit for ministry based upon his lack of interaction with the flock he was charged with loving and shepherding. There were warning signs (as safeguards) along the way and many are to blame for allowing him into the ministry – Tom’s family of origin, IRBS, Westminster, ARBCA, the parents at MVBC, the elders at MVBC and a few others.

This all could have been avoided had the authorities in charge at the time reported the suspected abuse to the police as required by law. The parents really dropped the ball in this regard in their naivete and unwillingness to allow things to become too uncomfortable and messy. If there ever was a time for righteous anger to be expressed – that was the time.

As has been shown by the legal evidence so far presented (not my opinion) ARBCA appeared to run interference for him for a long time. I believe that this was done to downplay the scandal that would ensue with the allegations and embarrass and humiliate his father, Walter Chantry. So what do we get from all of this? What lessons can be learned?

The lesson to be learned is that we must EMBRACE the truth – our Lord Jesus Himself – and not just profess the Truth. By embracing Jesus means that we must be willing to do difficult things as the cost of discipleship if we are to truly love and honor Him. He may have been professed in this case but He certainly was not embraced.

Thank you for your comment. You make many good points. I would just note that the “guilty until proven innocent standard” is used by the secular legal system, in the United States, to determine whether or not the state should impose criminal penalties on an individual. It is not, to my knowledge, a Biblical concept or guideline, although others may have a different opinion about this.

People can choose to believe that Tom Chantry is guilty or innocent irrespective of the jury’s verdict, in my view. We all know that guilty people go free and innocent people are incarcerated. Juries can even be bribed, although I have reason to believe that anyone is being bribed in this case.I do believe that is been proven without a doubt, per the legal document in this post, that there would have been more evidence or newer evidence against Tom Chantry had ARBCA leaders reported what they knew to the police immediately, as they were ethically and likely legally required to do.

Also, ARBCA hid evidence from the families regarding their perception of Tom Chantry’s behavior toward children. More about that situation can be found in earlier posts.

Thanks. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Greg Wolak

Hi Janna,
Well, as a Christian who worked with children in public education for over 30 years, I was “schooled” on enough occasions to know my duties as a mandated reporter if I witnessed or was informed of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse of children. The penalties for failure to report were a possible $10,000.00 fine or six-months in jail or both. I believe that the mandated reporter laws were enacted nationally because legislators realized the human tendency for people to minimize or cover-up abuse – for whatever reason – and they wanted these safeguards in place to protect children – be that as it may. I also believe that massive clergy sex abuse scandals still be covered up by the Roman church played a huge role.

Now, we can pit scripture against scripture if we wish (Matt 18:15-17 vs. Romans 13) but it had become evident that the ARBCA (in the guise of being the church), in this case, was negligent and unable or unwilling to truthfully investigate the issue and disseminate the information properly to all parties involved (Linblad’s prevarications). In cases like these then, and most unfortunately, the secular state must be included to insure that some type of justice is provided.

Since this issue has grown to monstrous proportions (much as a cancer will grow if ignored) people like Ted Tripp will, most likely, be vilified (perhaps even more) and more important – this case will provide more ammunition from the unbelieving community to ban corporal punishment altogether – which would be a mistake. By the way, I do believe in certain forms of corporal punishment but only if it is not the preferred or “go to” mode of family discipline and is done without anger. It should be done judiciously and as a corrective measure to get the unruly child’s attention and to sober up. The child should always perceive that it is necessary by a loving parent.

Colleen S

Hi Janna – I think you left out a “not” in the first sentence. And I’m not sure if you are aiming for irony with “guilty until proven innocent” – or if it’s a typo.

” Juries can even be bribed, although I have reason to believe that anyone is being bribed in this case.I do believe that is been proven without a doubt, per the legal document in this post, that…”

” I would just note that the “guilty until proven innocent standard” is used by the secular legal system, in the United States, to determine whether or not the state should impose criminal penalties on an individual.”

Thanks. People have pointed out that I made a bunch of typos in that comment. I wasn’t aiming for irony. I will fix them, as soon as I can. I have a professional commitment right now.

Thanks again. Janna L. Chan (blog team member)

Greg,
Here is a news flash for you: the Bible requires that an accused person be allowed to face his/her accusers, that all witnesses must testify, that the accused has a right to speak in his/her own defense. But the Bible never tells us that we have to wait to see what a jury of a person’s peers decide before we make up our minds. It is wise to wait until all witnesses have spoken; otherwise, making up your own mind for yourself is far more scriptural than waiting for a jury to make it up for you. The church has a protocol laid out for it to follow in Scripture. Tragically, churches don;t follow that protocol, and the American jurisprudence system, while a fine secular system, is not a good replacement. Chantry should have been removed from office the moment he punched that boy. He should have been placed under discipline, and if he failed to demonstrate repentance, he should have been excommunicated. That may sound harsh, but it would have spared four (or more) other victims.

Greg Wolak

Hi Jeri,
As a follower of our Lord I know that you are correct in your admonishment! I am sorry and repent of my rash judgment. I am a sinner also and perhaps guilty of the same type of thinking and attitudes that Tom has been accused of. However, I found some children exasperating when I worked with them, I never ever hurt children as I was always charged with protecting them. Thank you.

Hi Greg Wolak, you said:
“Since he has not yet been judged by a jury of his peers I must, as a Christian, refrain from pronouncing judgment on him at this time.”

I would like to challenge this idea of yours. The Apostle Paul pronounced judgement on the man who was sleeping with his father’s wife, and Paul did this on the basis of the report which Chloe and her people had written to him. Paul didn’t tell the Corinthian church to set up a jury trial before they could judge this man. Paul ordered the church to put the wicked man out of the church pronto!
“Hand him over to Satan” are the words Paul used.

Greg, the chances are you have been taught a bunch of hooey about what the Bible says about judging others. The idea you presented is so common, so widespread in the visible church, that you’ve probably just absorbed it without thinking that it could be wrong.

I invite you to read this article:
https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2014/01/14/judge-not-are-we-forbidden-to-judge/

Greg Wolak

Hi Barbara,
I think that the Biblical situation (the context) you mentioned was quite different from the one facing Tom Chantry today. I am exhausted reading all of this so I will flub things up if i attempt to write more. My brain is still trying to process all of this. I do understand your point however. All I can say as a Christian is that we must love our enemies – even those who may have committed despicable acts – and be charitable to those we do not like or understand. I did not like Tom personally (and a few others at the church) but I had to refrain from disseminating my feelings to others since it would cause division. I found myself praying to the them and sometimes 🙂 asking the Lord to change my heart. The most important reason though – was that my feelings were subjective and were, most likely, tainted by the sin that still resides within me.

Hi Greg, I understand how hard it can be to wrap one’s head around this kind of stuff! So I’m happy to respect your need for time to process. 🙂

I agree that as Christians we must love our enemies – even those who may have committed despicable acts. But the Bible gives us many examples of what that love ought to look like in practice. Being ‘charitable’ to those we don’t like or don’t understand, is one thing. But being ‘charitable’ with those who commit despicable acts while passing themselves off as believers…that’s another thing entirely.

My understanding, which I have derived from my study of Scripture, is that loving our enemies means things like exposing their sins, calling them to be accountable and take responsibility and repent of their evildoing, and putting them out of the church if they are masquerading as Christians but have been committing heinous sins and covering them up.

There are so many examples of this in the Bible.

When you’ve got more time to digest things, you might like to check out this article:
https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2016/01/03/blessings-and-woes-from-the-politically-and-spiritually-incorrect-lord-jesus-christ-and-naming-names/

JHenry

This comment suggests all that is wrong with the church, and how abusers have been allowed to flourish unchecked. I am sure you are naively sincere, Greg, but you have simply been fed a wagonload of rubbish.

One does not simply ‘love’ and ‘pray for’ persons in authority who abuse those for whom they have the responsibility to shepherd and care for. Rather, you can love and pray for them all you like – when they are safely confined in the prisons in which they belong.

Too many – and I speak from intimate experience – have suffered from abusers in the church who were allowed to move from victim to victim by silent elders, parents and spouses, most of whom had been silenced by the same bag of tricks used on you.

There is an immense difference between two adults committing fornication, then confessing and repenting of their sin and a secretive abuser using his position and trust to manipulate and abuse innocent victims – particularly helpless children. The one can be ‘forgiven’, ‘loved’ and even rehabilitated. The latter needs to be locked up, and never again granted access to potential victims. And I do not care how ‘sorry’ they are for their sins. We can leave eternal judgment and justice to God, who can be trusted to judge properly, but we cannot not allow such abusers, however penitent, the chance to repeat their crimes.