No Apologies

I know I have been posting a lot lately on sex abuse by church “leaders” – like author and “apostolic worker” Frank Viola, Sovereign Grace Ministry’s head C.J. Mahaney, and the recent case we helped wrap up at Christ Chapel Assemblies of God involving allegations of abuse by several pastors.

I know I have also been posting a lot about those – like Jon Zens, Bart Breen and even otherwise respected leaders like Felicity Dale – who condone such abuse by seeking to excuse or cover it up through threats, lies, slander and intimidation.

These are not issues with which I ever wanted to become involved.

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Exposing Abusive Church Leaders

Into the Light: A Series on Abuse and the Church looks like it will be a good series by Rachel Evans on the need to expose abusive church leaders and those who hide the abuse. We need more such voices of courage and resolve.

The recent situation with Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) illustrates this need. Over the years, Marianne and I have seen lives destroyed by one of their churches near us. We tried to raise warnings locally, but they were lost among the outward images of “success” by that church and the charisma of its leading “apostle” and popular author and conference speaker.

Yet behind the scenes, the arrogance of leadership there, and their attitude of being untouchable, was astounding. Fortunately, however, God has a way of protecting His people by eventually exposing such sin, after all opportunities to first confess and repent have been ignored.

I’ve been involved in way too many of these kinds of cases – as a friend, a counselor, a church leader, and even as an attorney. Each one has deeply affected me as I had to come beside the victims and be strong for them, while also unflinchingly standing up to some narcissistic – but always charming yet manipulative – exploitive church leader.

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Christ Chapel Sexual Abuse: An Update

shameLast Friday, a Federal judge rejected Christ Chapel’s claim that under the First Amendment its pastors could, in essence, sexually abuse others with legal impunity – and no court had authority to stop them.

As a result, the court ruled that a Federal lawsuit may proceed against Christ Chapel, which alleges a pervasive pattern of sex abuse at the church.

That suit was filed on behalf of one victim and her husband, and alleges employment discrimination through sexual abuse, exploitation, harassment and a hostile work environment directed against women in general and victims of abuse in particular.

Although many victims of abuse, at the hands of several men on staff at Christ Chapel, are alleged in the lawsuit, Virginia has a two year statute of limitations. Thus, not all of the victims could actually join in the lawsuit (some of the abuse happened as long a six years ago) as actual plaintiffs asserting claims against all of the alleged abusers.

Nonetheless, the one named plaintiff and her husband were able to set forth in the complaint the history of abuse against multiple women by multiple men on staff at Christ Chapel – based on an alleged overall pattern of sexual exploitation and overall hostile environment at the church – on behalf of all the victims.

Addendum:

After failing to get the sex abuse allegations dismissed, Christ Chapel Assembly of God – a large church in Woodbridge, Virginia – agreed to come to satisfactory terms with the plaintiffs and settled the lawsuit.

The factual case against Christ Chapel primarily was investigated and assembled by Nathan’s Voice, a ministry created several years by our local fellowships to help church abuse victims.

I want to personally thank and acknowledge the help of countless people, as well as the courage of the many victims, in helping with the investigation and eventual successful outcome of this case. I believe that because of this case, it is highly unlikely that sexual abuse will ever be tolerated again at Christ Chapel.

There were times I was moved to tears as I got to know many of the victims and their families, and witnessed their compassion and resolve. It gave me the strength needed to devote over a year to this case before finally handing it over to a litigation law firm for final prosecution.

If any further issues or questions surface regarding Christ Chapel, the complaint (Todd v. Christ Chapel, with all the factual background) and related documents are a matter of pubic record and can be obtained from the Federal District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. You also can open the full complaint here.

See Christ Chapel: Pastoral Sex Abuse for more information.

~ Jim Wright

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About Justice

About Justice

Jesus comforted the afflicted, and afflicted the comfortable.

Compassion for the Afflicted or for Evildoers?

When, through your silence or denial, the afflicted pay the price to maintain your comfort zones – in your personal life, your church, your community or your nation – watch out!

Justice, in its most basic terms, is making sure that evildoers – rather than their victims – bear the cost of their evil.

Injustice is when we impose those costs on the victims, often because we are unwilling to be discomforted by admitting to – or dealing with – the evil among us.

Jesus, because He is love, is also about justice.

And so, even today, He comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.

Christ Chapel: Pastoral Sex Abuse

Eventually, the truth comes out as people see with their own eyes see the arrogance, victim-blaming and lies that surface when a church and its senior leadership desperately try to deny responsibility for repeated instances of clergy sexual abuse.

Christ Chapel in Woodbridge, Virginia

Eventually, people – who may have been hesitant before – become very motivated to step forward and bear witness against the evil that occurred.

Eventually, tyrants through their own arrogance dig their own graves.

Just like what we’re seeing in the sports world and in the political world – where sexual predators and the institutions that supported them are becoming exposed despite initial denials – so it’s starting to happen with Christ Chapel Assembly of God, a large local church in Woodbridge, Virginia.

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Hypocrisy and Courage

Why is it that folks who condone sexual abuse by refusing to bear witness against sexual predators in our churches, often seem so concerned about young people otherwise staying sexually pure?

Condoning Abuse and Predation

If those folks don’t care enough about the sexuality integrity of our young to protect them from sexually exploitive church leaders, then why do they think our young will listen to their messages about sexual purity?

What stark hypocrisy!

I must add, however, how grateful I am for all who did come forward to bear witness against the evil that occurred over the last several years at Christ Chapel, a large Assembly of God church in the area. Thank you!

Your willingness to step forward, even though it was difficult and it took lots of courage, is making a difference. You have shown the world that there yet remains men and women of integrity in our churches.

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Abusive Church Leaders (Part 2) – How Should We React?

How should we react to an unrepentant pastor who’s used his position of trust and power to prey on women – often after turning to him for spiritual counsel and support during vulnerable times in their lives?

All the theory in the world is great. But one thing I’ve learned from experience is this: Those who want to help these women find justice and closure, and protect others, need an unflinching resolve to stand toe to toe against these predators.

Typically, a predatory pastor is not accustomed to being questioned or challenged by anyone. He often will try to deflect accountability either through intimidation or a charm offensive – or both! These men are master manipulators, and it takes a God-given strength of will to stand firm, force answers, stop the abuse, and expose their evil as a warning to others.

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Abusive Church Leaders (Part 1) – My Personal Angst

Much to my dismay, God keeps bringing people to my door who have been abused by a pastor or other trusted church leader.

Over the last year, I’ve taken on three cases against abusive pastors. Two involve significant embezzlement and fraud by pastors in different churches. A third involves extensive sexual abuse and misconduct by around half a dozen men on the pastoral and ministerial staff at Christ Chapel Assembly of God in Woodbridge, Virginia.

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