In this piece Dr. Don Boys writes:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity….” Dickens’ opening sentence came to mind as I considered the plague of child molesters stalking the halls of good churches and the foolish and, yes, incredulous responses (or lack thereof) from church leaders. We are observing a plague of foolish irresponsibility lash the face of some of America’s greatest churches.

by Don Boys, Ph.D.

Two thousand years ago Roman bridge-builders were required to stand under their arches as the scaffolding was removed thereby holding them accountable for any mistakes in design or bad workmanship. There were no second chances since a mistake would cost them their lives. They had to do it right. I wonder about church leaders who are dedicated to building churches but who are reluctant or refuse to report child sexual abusers to authorities and remove them from church membership. Their ministries could come tumbling around them.

Recently a member of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis wrote me saying, “I have been told this week that Dr. Gaines told Paul Williams two days before he was fired that he (Steve Gaines) had things worked out and that he (Paul) would be allowed to remain on staff.” That information was from two sources, one being a current deacon. That is amazing and appalling.

It must be remembered that the Bellevue staff member (a counselor!) admitted to sodomizing his own son 17 years earlier and if Gaines even considered keeping him on staff it is unbelievable. Let me make it clear that God can and does forgive the vilest sin and no one can speak authoritatively as to whether Williams had genuinely repented and confessed. If so, then it was “under the blood” as of the day of his confession. However, that does not close the book on the issue.

In most states, the law requires that when child sexual abuse is discovered it must be reported. The authorities don’t deal with “forgiveness” and don’t traffic in “under the blood” discussions. There was an infraction of the law that had not been satisfied; furthermore, who is to say that others may not be vulnerable? I don’t know of one instance where a child abuser molested only one person. The typical abuser molests 117 victims according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

In Jacksonville, a longtime pastor of a Trinity Baptist Church has been accused of French-kissing more than 20 little girls and is awaiting trial on four counts of capital sexual battery. The new pastor, the former associate, became the senior pastor and did not report his former boss nor did any of the megachurch leaders! Furthermore, another longtime child molester was hired during this time as a counselor and college professor even though his long history of child sexual abuse was known to church officials! If nothing else, I should think church leaders would be gun-shy about hiring “former” child molesters.

What are church leaders thinking when they respond so cavalierly to such heinous crimes? Is the church reputation more important than children? Is the possible loss of income or members of such importance? Is arrogance a part of the equation? Are they so naïve that they think a surface “confession,” or a genuine confession will suffice?

Child sex abusers who repent, rehabilitate, and reform also repeat their crimes as long as 20 years after treatment according to Prentky, Lee, Knight, and Cerce. No sane person would stake his life on the assurances that a molester will not molest again. No compassionate person would stake the life and future of an innocent child on those assurances either.

No person who has ever been accused of child sexual abuse should ever be permitted to work on a church staff or with children in any way. In fact, I would not permit such a person to do volunteer work in a church and the only way I would permit such a person to even join the church I pastor would be with the understanding that they would always be observed for a relapse that almost all experts say is in their future. Only God knows if the abuser has really repented and will never repeat his sin. You might be willing to take the chance on someone but you aren’t the only one taking the chance: innocent, helpless children may be unnecessary victims of you “taking the chance” on a person’s sincerity.

Suppose a pastor and his church board are convinced that “Bill Smith,” an admitted child molester, has really repented and is no longer tempted to molest children; however, he does repeat and your daughter or granddaughter is the victim! Like me, you would demand some scalps of church leaders. In fact, I could defend the position that those church leaders who enable child molesters should share the molester’s cell!

Many have lost sight of Christ’s statement in Matt.18:6 where He warned that for people who harm children it would be better for him that “a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” I’m afraid that there are not enough millstones!

What a travesty when spiritual leaders betray their ordination vows and marriage vows and break criminal laws by taking advantage of innocent victims. Church leaders are to protect the sheep from preying wolves not pay wolves to ravage the sheep. Sexual predators should be in prison, not the pulpit, and they should stay in prison.

I have observed a “cover-up” mentality in many large evangelical and Fundamentalist churches that seems to be systemic. They emphasize the inerrancy of the Bible but are very weak on implementing Biblical procedures of church discipline. Why boast about preaching the very Word of God if it is not practiced in personal lives and in church procedures? It is time to practice what we preach. It is time to stop coddling sexual abusers, adulterers, and other abusers whether they are in the pew or pulpit. They should be in prison.

Copyright 2007, Don Boys, Ph.D. Republished by permission.

706 965 5930
P.O. Box 944
Ringgold, GA 30736

(Dr. Don Boys is a former member of the Indiana House of Representatives, author of 13 books, frequent guest on television and radio talk shows, and wrote columns for USA Today for 8 years. His most recent book is ISLAM: America’s Trojan Horse! His websites are cstnews.com and muslimfact.com)