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What About the Good Samaritan? Part 2

Jun 20, 2008 — Categories:

Four teenage girls were molested by their youth pastor. When one teen finally disclosed, the senior pastor fired the youth pastor and reported him to the police. He was charged and prosecuted for sex with a minor. So far, so good.

Four teenage girls were molested by their youth pastor. When one teen finally disclosed, the senior pastor fired the youth pastor and reported him to the police. He was charged and prosecuted for sex with a minor. So far, so good.

But someone on the parish council decided to “help out.” He sent an email from the church to the members requesting that they write letters of support for the fired youth minister and send them to the judge. Thirty church members did so. The perpetrator was convicted, but the teens were devastated by the actions of their church. They have left the church and may never return.

So twice within a few weeks I find myself pondering how a congregation could abandon their own members who have been victims of abuse? Just at the time that these young women needed all the support they could get, just at the point that they had taken a huge risk to come forward and disclose, their pastor believed them, supported them and took action. The action their church took harmed them immeasurably.

As I tried to restrain my judgment of this congregation, I had to acknowledge that no one had prepared them for the disclosure that their youth minister was a perpetrator. That’s because we don’t like to talk about such things until there is a crisis; then it is too late.

It does remain incomprehensible to me, however, that when it is disclosed that a known and respected faith leader molests young people, so many people’s sympathies go immediately to the offender and not the victims. And for the victims, it must be truly an Alice in wonderland experience. But it is certainly not biblical or faithful.

In fact, Christianity, Judaism and Islam all require people of faith to stop the harm, hold the perpetrator accountable and support the victim. But we can’t be prepared to live into this response unless we have studied the texts and teachings and discussed the possibilities ahead of time.

A faith leader in any mosque, church or synagogue can end up doing harm to members or others, even criminal harm. How does our faith guide us in these matters and give us the strength not to go down the path of fearful sympathy which then betrays the trust of church members one more time.

We cannot afford to keep getting this wrong.

Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune
FaithTrust Institute
www.faithtrustinstitute.org

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Wonder Why?

Posted by Marijke Fakasiieiki at Jun 10, 2010 11:37 AM
Why is it that many churches where this similar situation happened are surprised 1, 5,10, 15, 20, 25 years later that there are no children in their congregation? In working with many of our churches, a lot have separated themselves almost entirely from their preschool programs, and the preschools themselves want little to do with the churches. Coincidence?