It's been an interesting and often disheartening week or so in the blogosphere following the recent developments in the (now largely dismissed) sexual abuse lawsuit against Sovereign Grace Ministries, two SGM congregations, and several of its current and former pastors. It seems to me that Sovereign Grace leaders and their neo-Reformed friends are more interested in saving face and serving themselves than they are for taking responsibility for their actions and serving the victims. As a mother of 10 and a former long-time member of SGM, I am quite disturbed. A think we need a lot more light in this darkness.
Short story: a civil lawsuit originally filed against SGM last October and expanded in both January and May alleges that at least 11 children whose families were members of SGM congregations were sexually abused. I have read the entire lawsuit. In some cases, the alleged crimes were committed by pastors, teachers, and other ministry leaders on church property during church events, with the knowledge of church leadership, who did nothing to stop it. In other cases, the alleged crimes were in homes by church members who were either family or babysitters during home group meetings. According to the lawsuit, when the families reported this to pastors, they were ordered not to go to the police, the young victims were shamed and made to "reconcile" with the perpetrators face to face, and official investigations were impeded. In one instance, a man who served jail time for incest is still active in the church with free access to children through music ministry and other events. The lawsuit also alleges an on-going interstate conspiracy among the pastors to cover up pedophilia cases in the churches. Unfortunately, most of the lawsuit was dismissed solely because of the statute of limitations. The attorneys had hoped for an exception to this based on the conspiracy allegations. Additional criminal investigations are also taking place.
Isn't that enough to make you vomit? You'd think that most evangelical leaders would be in a complete outrage! But here's the rub... They haven't, at least in the neo-Reformed circles. By and large, they stayed silent, and when they finally started speaking up this week, their responses were basically, "We stand by our friends. The lawsuit has been dismissed and nothing has been proved, so we have to assume they are innocent. Nothing to see here, so let's move along." Want to see their real words? See The Gospel Coalition: Why We Have Been Silent statement by Don Carson, Kevin DeYoung, and Justin Taylor and T4G (Together for the Gospel) Statement by Mark Dever (9 Marks), Al Mohler (SBC), and Ligon Duncan. Note: The latter statement was originally posted on a Facebook page, but due to the moral outrage against SGM and T4G expressed in the comments, the entire thing was pulled rather quickly. The post on their own site has comments disabled. Of course, in their side bar they are advertising a new music album from SGM for sale. Hmmm.
I have written about SGM problems related to sexual abuse in these posts:
- Where are the Voices? The Continued Culture of Silence and Protection in American Evangelicalism - by Boz Tchividjian, law professor, grandson of Billy Graham, and director of G.R.A.C.E. (Godly Response to Abuse in Christian Environments) See also
- Depreciating Humility: The Importance of Being the Best at Being Right by Thad Norvell, a pastor in Texas, guest posting on the G.R.A.C.E. web site.
- The Elephant in Our Own Backyard - Wendy Alsup of Practical Theology for Women
- Sovereign Grace Ministries’ 2nd Amended Lawsuit: A House of Horrors? (Graphic) at Wartburg Watch -- these folks are keeping a sharp eye on SGM and other abusing ministries. See alsoSovereign Grace Ministries category.
- Plaintiffs in Sovereign Grace Ministries File Second Amended Complaint at SGM Survivors. See also Court Dismisses Civil Lawsuit Due To Statute Of Limitations and What Sovereign Grace Ministries Is Telling SGM Members About The Lawsuit
- by Julie Smith of Spiritual Sounding Board. See also Court’s Ruling on Sovereign Grace Ministries Alleged Sex Abuse Cover-Up Lawsuit
- When women lead the way – Sovereign Grace Ministries lawsuit, The Gospel Coalition and the chirping cricket - Sallie Borrink. See also her post
- How’s that prophet, priest,and king thing workin’ out for ya? | thatmom.com - Karen Campbell
- Sovereign Grace Ministries and Abuse: Time to Speak Out – Kristen Rosser
- SGM Lawsuit: What Feeds the Crazy? by Hännah (part of her series on growing up in Sovereign Grace Ministries) -- Note to sensitive readers: this post has some strong language, but I think it is worth reading
- A False Gospel of Reconciliation by Zack Hoag
- Latest Interview About the SGM Child Sex Abuse Class Action Lawsuit by Sola Sisters
- Some words of support and love for the survivors of abuse… by Rachel Held Evans
- Protecting the Powerful at the Expense of the Weak by Jenny Rae Armstrong
- Church Cultures that Crush the Weak by Sharon Hodde Miller
Just two of many secular news reports:
- More sue Louisville-based Sovereign Grace Ministries: Leaders covered up abuse, lawsuit alleges Louisville Courier-Journal
- Sovereign Grace Ministries, class-action civil lawsuit involving child sex abuse – WJLA TV
- Evangelical Leaders Stand By Pastor Accused of Coverup