When the Church Usurps Authority

Another situation where the church usurped the authority of the government has been before the court. Unfortunately, the church itself wasn’t confronted directly — I believe that day in our country is probably not far away. But Kenneth Duncalfe pleaded guilty to sexual assault and indecent assault against his daughter, Susan Duncalfe. He was sentenced to 9 months in jail, partly in consideration of his age and poor health.

But the church’s complicity in this case is glaring, and was remarked upon by the judge in the case, John Lenaghan. The problem is that the church was told in 1990 about Duncalfe’s constant assaults on his daughter. From the time she was 14 years old, until she left the church at age 22, she experienced hundreds of sexual assaults at the hands of her father.

There are two huge issues which should give the church pause in this situation.

First of all, Susan realized that the only way she could get away from the abuse she was experiencing was to leave the church. That means, whether anyone wishes to acknowledge it or not, the church was a defacto abuser in this case. The church empowered and enabled her father because it teaches the absolute authority of men. Susan realized that if she left the church she would become “untouchable” and the abuse would stop. The church was not a place of safety, salvation or comfort for her. Instead, it was a place of danger and destruction, literally tearing her soul apart and driving her away from what should have been a refuge.

Secondly, when a family member reported Kenneth’s sexual assaults of his daughter to the church, her father was brought before the church and excommunicated for “lasciviousness.” Nothing whatsoever was done to help the family or Susan. And after a brief separation, Kenneth was restored to fellowship with the church. Now, what was that supposed to have accomplished? NOTHING was done about the problem!

When Susan finally attempted to work toward healing in the family, Pastor Bev Toews of the Abbotsford Mennonite Church of God in Christ stepped in. He insisted that Susan not press charges against her father (something church leaders often suggest since “Christians are not to take each other to court”) and he assured her he would make sure her father got the help he needed.

However, Susan later discovered the Pastor’s interpretation of getting her father the “help he needed” was to counsel him personally, rather than insisting on responsibility and serious counseling by a qualified professional.

So Susan took the matter to the police, though, according to the attached article, she says it was the hardest thing she has ever done.

The church does not have the authority to violate the law of God – which states we are to submit to governmental authorities. The Word says government officials have been given for our protection and for punishment of evil. The church does not have the authority to supercede that. There is no Scriptural justification for such an idea. The fruit of these actions will always lead to the triumph of evil and destruction in the lives of the sheep the church is called to protect.

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