Mar 16

When churches minister to accused perpetrators

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My old church has asked the Bishop for special permission to allow the man accused of molesting a teen to attend church with his family. I would love to offer suggestions how they can “balance” that with recognition of the trauma of people who are victimized and support them as well. Not funny is how I am starting to shrug my shoulders and go “oh well”, instead of pressing my friends in that church to speak up - I’m losing my upset and fire to protect victims and children and oppose those blind mud perceptions- (that was meant to be misperceptions... but auto spell changed it to something way more accurate). How do you go about maintaining a commitment to speak up, and act as advocate - to confront this ugly ugly ugly abuse of power?

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  • I need some help sorting this out-many if you know the organist at my old church was charged with child sexual abuse of a student. Pending the trial, he deeply wants to worship at the church with his family. At first the Bishop said no, but the priest begged for dispensation- and he’s allowed to come on Sunday and a Vestry member sits with him, not as a guard but to make sure he’s not feeling abandoned. A friend told me yesterday he and his family sit in the left side of the church which is where a majority of others sat, but now all the others have moved to the right side, leaving him and his family there alone. Is it weird this breaks my heart? I hate to think of anyone having to go thru hard times alone- and just the fact that everyone is deserting him makes me want to go sit in the pew behind him, so he won’t be alone. There is no reason that would make me go back to that church, but for this acceded child molester I’d go to be with him. FYI we had a man in a wheelchair who couldn’t get up the steps to the altar for communion and I would sometimes kneel beside his wheelchair in front of the steps because I couldn’t bear for him to be excluded either.) I am also furious at “good” church people who are saying so loudly - he is bad and we are good. We are going to have nothing to do with him. Aren’t we all bad? I do hear Jesus’ words in my ear... let him who is without sin... none of us are without sin. How dare they sit in judgment of him and not examine their own participation in sin...and - here’s the irony- when they declare him innocent and the young victim? They’ve said It’s just malicious gossip against the organist. For gods sake, if they think he’s innocent, go sit with him! if you’re gonna fight for him to be able to come to the church, then be with him in the fight! Don’t beg the Bishop to let him come then go sit in the opposite side of the church. This drives me crazy. Let your yea be yea and your nay be nay. But how dare they beg the Bishop to let him come then go out of their way to condemn him within the church setting? I’m also struck thru the heart they went to the Bishop to see how they can help this man worship there. Did they go to the Bishop to ask how to help a victim (me) worship there? Did they say, Bishop, our hearts are broken this victim of sexual abuse isn’t coming to church- what can we do to welcome her, minister to her? I have so many conflicting feelings on this matter- help me cut thru what is false “pity” and what does the love of God look like in this situation? I know I am reenacting old patterns of “protect and take care of the perp because oh poor them they are unhappy”, but what’s healthy? Why am I angry at good people who don’t want to associate with a child molester tho they’ve allowed him to attend church with them? And is it sour grapes to say they went to the Bishop for him, but not for me?
  • Thank you Kelly Haines and Jules Woodson Capps for speaking up on the Dr. Oz show taped today. Praying wings like eagles for all advocates. I swear you keep my head above the water most days.
  • I have set this thread for a few very clear purposes: 1. To give us a space to discuss ways and means of advocating for one another 2. To give us a space to discuss ways and means of advocating for those who continue to be victimized 3. To give us a space to discuss news and events as they surface 4. To provide safety for those who do not want to participate in these conversations I will ask all Forum Members from now on to post in this thread all news stories or resources or ideas or requests for advocacy, change, etc. This way Members must come to this thread intentionally to see the posts that are most likely to contain triggering information. I am sorry I did not think of this earlier...I am learning alongside you all and learning a tremendous amount from you. Please do not hesitate to post here...and to suggest sub-threads--or start sub-threads yourself--to this discussion thread. Peace and blessings to you all!
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