Alleged Hephzibah House Abuse Survivors “Must Be Silenced”?

Additional note 7/8/09 — just to be completely clear, I personally know the pastor who made this statement, but I am not the author of the letter I received. Because the writer of the letter specifically asked not to be identified, I cannot identify the pastor either. But, what matters even more is that this pastor’s sentiments are not unique. So his identity is virtually irrelevant. In fact, the pastor’s words were an extension of the actions, general verbiage, and attitude of Ron Williams, who has been invited to speak and generate financial support at that church multiple times.

[This was sent to me and the writer wishes to remain anonymous. The writer is not one of the alleged victims of abuse at Hephzibah House but is knowledgeable about the situation.]

They Must Be Silenced…
“The women must be silenced in one way or another.”

In a Sunday evening church service a discourse about the alleged victims of Hepzibah House troubled me greatly. There was no room given for the possibility that the victims were telling the truth. It was obvious that in the mind of the speaker Hepzibah House had been acquitted.

I grew more uneasy, then righteously angry, with every word spoken. When the discourse ended with the words, “the women must be silenced one way or the other” my heart wrenched for every victim of abuse who have broken their silence, taken a stand for justice and the protection of other children.

[Commentary by Danni]

This writer quotes a pastor’s words, “the women must be silenced one way or the other.” What kind of attitude is this? It is appalling!

First of all, the alleged victims are being assumed to be liars (another direct quote) without any research into the situation at all. The leadership of this church has assumptively taken the side of the leadership of Hephzibah House, which the church supports financially. While this same church says they have a “safe” policy regarding abuse allegations against church leadership, they are demonstrating that this policy would only be followed if they personally have not taken a “side” on the issue based on their own personal likes and dislikes. Since they have a personal relationship with the leadership of Hephzibah House, they will not consider that the allegations made just might be true.

This happens all the time in churches and is part of the reason the church is not a safe place for victims. The church leadership is almost always automatically believed and the alleged victims both disbelieved and condemned. Every situation is the “exception to the rule” because “we know these people and they would never do that.” But that’s what people always think — always! Abusers in church leadership didn’t get to that position by being stupid and obvious! They can play the game flawlessly.

Another horrifying thing about this is that a pastor would say these words from the pulpit — “the women must be silenced one way or the other.” I have no idea what that man meant by “or the other” but the words are an implied threat, even if he would never actually do anything tangible against one of the women involved. By making the threat, he has uttered a curse against these women.

And words are powerful. Death and life are in the power of the tongue — and out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. That is a powerful indictment against a pastor who would express this attitude.

Further, by making these statements (and not just in one church service; the theme has been revisited multiple times from the pulpit) this pastor is clearly communicating to any and every victim of abuse in his church that they will be automatically judged and condemned unless their abuser is a blatant unbeliever. This pastor has made a public statement that anyone wounded by a “Christian” is not welcome here; they will be beaten and trampled by the leadership in this body.

25 Responses

  1. This is so sad to me and for some reason, I cannot help but feel betrayed all over again. Trust has not easy for me, not after HH, but to trust in another pastor again…I’m not sure I could manage it even if I wanted to. Besides, are there really any loving pastors left in the world to trust?

    • I wish those who agree with this pastor’s mindset could read, and really grasp, your words. You are expressing what so many of us have felt. I didn’t experience HH, but have experienced the same betrayal.

      There are good pastors out there. But trusting blindly because someone wears the label “pastor” or has the right “brand” (denomination) is the height of foolishness in today’s world. GOD is trustworthy, but that trustworthiness does not automatically extend to those who purport to speak for or represent Him.

      Personally, I had to just pray about it and let God plunk one in my path because I knew I could hunt indefinitely and not find one. That may seem like a harsh indictment to people who haven’t been profoundly betrayed by pastors, but that is reality for those who have. It’s not because of bitterness; it’s because the betrayal has roots that even many pastors who wouldn’t think they could be hurtful are unaware of. And I know I am just one of many, many, many who walked outside of the church walls for awhile because I couldn’t find a safe place inside them — without ever abandoning my faith in God.

      In fact, the assumption by people in church that those who walk alone outside the church are all backslidden and bitter only adds more betrayal onto the pile. Rather than having compassion, they offer judgment and self-righteous platitudes, because they do not understand and have made no attempt to do so.

      Some people walk away from God as a result of their abuse within the church system. This is because they have been told that their abuse and their abuser is a representation of God and His righteousness. They know they sure don’t need a god like that, so what else is there? Their behavior is completely logical – and can in fact be laid at the door of their abuser according to the Word (judgment for causing one of these to stumble)! The sad irony of this fact is that those who are condemning the wounded for acting exactly as the Word says they may, then point to their behavior choices outside of God as evidence that they are making up the whole allegation of abuse. Rather, their behavior may be the evidence that their hurt is real and their allegations are true!

      Others walk outside of church either for a season, or permanently, still holding to their faith – either firmly or tentatively – because their abuse and their abuser have made it clear the church may very well hurt them in the name of God.

      — Danni

  2. He needs to be named

    • He cannot be; by me, at least – it would violate a trust. And, again, it doesn’t really matter exactly who it is because he is hardly alone. Ron Williams himself has said almost exactly the same things in churches all over the place – and many of them have likely taped the services, so this should be easily documented – and has been chasing around after HH protestors practically stalking them (following them with video cameras as if by the simple fact of protesting they are doing some documentable evil; at the very least it could be considered harrassment).

      And who is standing up to him? Yes, I know there are some; perhaps quite a few. But certainly not enough to raise a ground swell of general opinion that this type of behavior is intolerable in the church. If that would happen, the tide would turn within weeks and most of the pastors supporting Ron Williams would 1) “realize” the spirit reveals the truth of the heart (out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks), and 2) cease to support someone whose fruit reeks like a week-old dumpster (we are known by our fruit and the Word tells us to judge fruit; all the Bible verses and pious rhetoric in the world can’t cover for the scent of rotten fruit).

      And the only people who have enough weight to do this are other pastors. Pastors have enough pull with other pastors to accomplish this. All it takes is for people to find that they suddenly have no speaking engagements, their work won’t be published in denominational publications, their books and albums won’t sell, denominational bigwigs will no longer come speak at their church functions, etc. Pastors may not have any actual authority over other pastors within the denomination, but they do have power. And pastors also have the ability to find out which other pastors have this type of attitude. The fraternity is close; this isn’t hard to accomplish if people really want to find out.

      — Danni

  3. Yes, I realize you cannot name him,. but the person who told you needs to name him. It is not irrelevant. Hold the bully up to public accountability for his words. He does need to be named. And then the other bullies will learn to either stand and fight and be accountable or stop their stupid tirades. Silence protects nobody, and as long as he remains anonymous, all anybody can do is voice a general disapproval. Name him, and you’ve got real, hard evidence. I know you cannot break the journalist trust. But the person who alerted you should name him.

    • I did let that person know the comments that had been made. And there is a confrontation in process. I don’t know what will happen from that point.

      — Danni

      • Thanks Danni, that’s the most you can do. This culture of refusing to name wicked pastors is part of the enabling, and so I am thankful for a chance to point out how flawed it is. After all, the man was not making a private comment to a friend, but rather a public declaration during an evening service to a group of people. He really has no reason to expect a protection of confidentiality. It was a public statement.

    • I completely agree. This person and any others making these types of statements need to be named. There is way too much hiding being done by “men of god”. The church must police its own but how can it if the “men of god” are allowed to offend anonymously? If one has taken vows to serve, as ordained ministers have, shouldn’t they be held responsible for all they say in public? If this was said in the pulpit, how can it be considered “private” or “confidential”? As long as you are willing to let this man, or any person, hide behind “anonymity” when his statements were public, the abuse will continue. Expose all to the light, sister.

      • The identity of the writer is confidential and for me to identify the pastor would be hearsay, and I could be sued, actually. Someone who actually heard him say it has to be the one to identify him.

        — Danni

        • Understood. I challenge the person from which this information came to bear true witness to these statements as they were uttered. Publicly. Please pass my request on to your “informant”.

  4. How many victims need to speak before “their word is established”? My Bible says in the mouth of 2 or 3!!!! These men obviously don’t read the Bible I am reading— and mine’s even the KJV. They cannot handle the TRUTH when it is staring them in the face. 80+ victims and no response from other pastors in fundamentalism? Come on already. God must be vomiting.

    • I completely agree re: witnesses! There is so much about this that is SOOOO obvious that it is really hard to even remotely justify anyone thinking the girls are lying. However, at the very least the Word demands that the charges be considered potentially credible, if for no other reason than that there are multiple agreeing witnesses. That’s plain black and white – no grey, no questions, no maybe’s.

      And in this case, there are not just 2 or 3 witnesses, there are a lot more than that (I originally said 80 – but I think that includes supporters and not just alleged victims themselves who are speaking out). Give me a break!!! And, contrary to the lies and insinuations of Ron Williams and his supporters, these women are not all wicked, drunken sluts out to destroy the man of God. While some of these women have subsequently walked away from God, all the ones I have corresponded with (and my understanding is these are the majority) are godly women who still have an active relationship with God — who are quite simply doing what is right and standing up for righteousness and the safety of other girls who are still in that environment or could be next week or next year – at great personal expense both financially and in terms of being maligned, harrassed, denigrated, slandered, etc. by the “man of God (?!)”

      — Danni

      • Can I throw in a bit of sarcasm here?!

        All the women that ‘he was responsible for’ are wicked, drunken sluts – going out of their way to Slaunder a man of God? He has over 80 critics? Sounds like refunds are in order! He didn’t do what he claimed he would!

        Sounds like a repetiable establishment he is running huh?

        If he is so awesome, and does this great work – why all the backlash years later once they grow up? Why not take on the ‘suffering’ Christ asked him to?

        This stuff makes me sick. We aren’t allowed to use common sense, and yet they are the ones yelling at people when they don’t see red flags before you step into an abusive marriage. They are the ones that claim we need to have ‘both sides of the story told’, and yet he HIDES from doing just that!

        They can’t even live by what they want others to do. The amount of denial over this with all the alarms bells ringing? Shows you why you need ‘secular’ doesn’t it? Maybe that is why people spend so much time trying to make you HIDE from them! They were the ones that placed the HR911 (i think it is called) rolling. Accountabilility? They get to tell you when they NEED that – you don’t tell them! Its all so biblical.

        Where is the barf bag?

        On a serious note – I’m praying for all you HH girls! Dont forget he can’t hide from God, and he will be answering for his deeds. There isn’t any political, friendly way around that one! He won’t be able to hide, and use lawyers…and all the rest. He is hiding because he can, but he won’t be able to forever. If he was a man of God he would be stepping up, and at the very least…repenting for the pain he caused you – percieved or not. That would show a humble nature that God calls for. The man is a coward. Bullies always are.

      • I’m one of the “wicked, drunken sluts” and my words are just as valid as any of the “godly women who still have an active relationship with God”. I too am “doing what is right and standing up for righteousness and the safety of other girls who are still in that environment…”

        Just thought I would set that record straight.

        • You know, I didn’t even think about how that would sound! I was writing from the perspective of the pastors who keep harping on “all those women are lying drunken sluts,” who supposedly would take the word of someone who is still in church. You are completely right – your voice matters just as much as anyone!!! And I did not intend to imply differently. I just think it is absurd that such a distinction creates a value-difference in the worth of a person or their testimony. But even given this religious hierarchy of worth (which is bogus), their own standard is invalid — which was the point I was trying to make.

          My apologies for not being more clear!!!!

          — Danni

          P.S. And for the record, I wouldn’t call you a “wicked, drunken slut” regardless of your choices. Somehow I don’t remember Jesus ever calling anyone derogatory names, even when addressing those the religious leaders wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole. Not only did He not call names, He did not condemn or judge. But, in a rich twist of irony, Jesus frequently spoke harshly and with judgment to those same religious leaders. Imagine that! That would be a lesson well-learned, I think.

        • Apology accepted. 🙂 I understand and agree that their “value system” is skewed and screwed. LOL. Thank you for your clarification.

        • WICKED DRUNKEN SLUTS! is that really what he calls the girls that are there? if i find out he ever called my girlfriend that!– its hard enough just reading about stuff that went on there! and my womans parents think hh is the perfect place to change there daughter! god is in control- he is a misterious god! but i believe society has an major effect on us!

        • This pastor did not say those words. He used the words “liars” and said they “must be silenced…” Others have used words such as drunken sluts. And the words (all of these) have been directed toward the women who are protesting alleged abuse, not toward girls who are there now.

          — Danni

  5. And this is why we have remained silent for so long, we do not need Pastor Williams calling us all liers and sending out threatening messages. He is still abusing us after 28 years, and has ruined my faith in religious personnel. I know the truth, I was there.

  6. We remained silent because no one believed it was that horrible…….I too were there,2 yrs of darkness that have plaqued my life to the present……..We do not trust, and we are angry with God for all of this……We are disfuntional and scarred…………. does that make Williams happy? You bet it does, but guess what, we are all grown up with voices and we have not forgot…….I challenge anyone calling us those terrible things because Williams called us those things………he set us up for defeat………..

  7. I don’t know why these people who are supposedly doing “the Lord’s work” feel they can make rude and slanderous statements with no repercusions. The universe works in mysterious ways and I truely feel these false prophets will find themselves saying “Lord, Lord, have we not done all these things in your name?” and He will turn away from them all and say “Depart from me, for I never knew you.” I honestly do believe some people need to read the Book they claim to build their lives on.

  8. I have read much a lot about the allegations against HH. I went through boot camp in the army and other than the spankings basic training included what the victims are alledging occurred at HH. In basic training we were not allowed to call our families very often, we were supervised 24/7, our movements were very restricted, we were told what to wear, if the barricks were perfectly cleaned, we were “smoked” with painful, physical exercises, not just the person who dropped the ball, but everyone in the platoon, etc. The food was not that good and portions were small. Soldiers on the “fat boy” program were given even less to eat. Believe me I hated it at the time, and still don’t look back at those particular weeks with fond memories. However, with that being said, the discipline I experienced there made me into a focused, self discipline person. In large part, I credit that to those rough weeks in basic training. I have went on to get a master’s degree, and am very sucessful professionally. I am an administrator in a public school.
    I don’t think the article on that statement alledging that a pastor said these girls should be silenced should be brought up unless the speaker is identified. Otherwise it is heresay and merely an unsubstantiated induendo. Do you have proof that Mr. Williams has called the girls who have made these allegations those names? If he has indeed called these girls these names and you are that passionate about it, why don’t you file a class action lawsuit for slander? It sounds like he has a lot of money and if you win the lawsuit, maybe HH collapes.

    • There are several differences with Army bootcamp. In the first place, you went there voluntarily. Secondly, it wasn’t done to you as a punishment. Third, it was for a brief period of time – not for the better part of 2 years. Fourth, Army basic training is for a very specific purpose of military discipline. And there’s nothing in the world to suggest that abuse in basic training is any less wrong than anywhere else. Discipline doesn’t need demeaning treatment any time, anywhere. Just because “it’s always done that way” doesn’t mean it is right or the best. Another thing is that military boot camp does not begin to lay the claims of spiritual authority as a Christian home for troubled teens, blatantly teaching that God is Himself an abuser. According to the Word, God does not treat anyone that way, regardless of their behavior — ever.

      — Danni

  9. There are many things in the working……….just watch and see………God is in charge and he will lead us to the appropriate people to help us to get this place shut down………..Write this down,Williams will be held accountable for abusing all of us, precious children of God!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Oh to be a fly on the wall……….many good things are in the working…………….God is good and he will provide for us a way to get justice, and for Williams to be shut down!!!!!!!!!!!!!! this is 2009-We will keep on keepin on until there is no more H.H. or places like it………and honey, about boot camp, you were there voluntarily, and you were not a minor………..we were there against our wills and our parents didnt know we were abused until we came home, and many of us never told until now….its a vicious cycle and PTSD.

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