Denomination Sued in Sex Abuse Case

The Church of God denomination is being named as a defendant in four lawsuits related to sex abuse charges. Former pastor Sandy Martin Cook was sentenced in February on multiple counts of third-degree sexual assault and sexual abuse by a parent, guardian or a custodian. He was sentenced to 20 years to 60 years in prison.

Three of the plaintiffs in the case and one additional alleged victim have now filed suits against Cook and the Church of God. According to the linked article, “the suits maintain that the Church of God knew of Cook’s ‘propensity of sexual misconduct on minor children’ in the 1990s, yet did nothing to stop it. The suits accuse the church of conspiring to hide Cook’s activities and of ‘using threats, intimidation, religious doctrine and coercion to ignore and prevent the abuse from being reported.”’

This case is significant because this will be the wave of the future if denominations do not immediately take warning. Church autonomy will not be an adequate legal dodge, especially when collusion, corporate denominational intimidation, foreknowledge, and deliberate neglegence can be both proven and documented.

Former Assistant Pastor Daniel Silverman Sentenced in Sex Abuse Case

Former assistant pastor Daniel Silverman was sentenced yesterday to 18 months in prison for sex abuse charges. Silverman pleaded no contest to charges, stating his innocence and his desire that the child involved not be required to testify. The prosecutor in the case said that Silverman previously confessed to the charges. There was no proof offered in the linked article to support either Silverman’s or the prosecutor’s statement.

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.

Tulsa’s Grace Christian Fellowship & School Sued in Sex Abuse Case

Grace Christian Fellowship and Christian School in Tulsa, OK, are being sued for negligence in not preventing or stopping abuse by Aaron Thompson, a former teacher who pleaded guilty to sex abuse charges in 2003. He was charged with abusing 9 boys in the school, and was sentenced to 25 years in prison and 15 years of probation.

Former Youth Minister Gordon Lunceford Indicted for Child Sex Abuse

A grand jury has indicted former youth minister Gordon Lunceford on 13 sex-related charges including six counts of 3rd degree rape, one county of first degree sexual abuse, five counts of third degree sodomy and one county of second degree sexual abuse.

Lunceford has been a youth minister at churches in Anderson, Madison and Franklin counties in Kentucky. Police are asking for anyone with information or additional possible victims to call 502-227-2221.

Michael Guillermo Taboada Sentenced in Sex Abuse Case

Former pastor Michael Guillermo Taboada was sentenced today to up to 10 years in prison for sexually abusing a girl in his congregation. The sentence corresponded to an earlier plea agreement. According to the linked article, in May, Taboada pleaded guilty to eight counts of second degree sex assault.

Using Abuse in the Church to Change Abusers?

By Danni Moss
Copyright protected, all rights reserved

Listen to this brief video clip, by Mark Driscoll, pastor of mega-church Mars Hill, Seattle — then read my commentary.

People are flocking to hear Driscoll by the thousands, and his video clips are all over You Tube. However, this clip reveals a glimpse of the extremely dangerous and flat-out anti-Christ things he is teaching in the name of “preaching the truth.”

First, shaming an abuser is utterly ineffective. Throwing gas on a flame is counterproductive. It may be liquid but it’s not going to put out the fire. An abuser is generally operating from a shame-based modality anyway. You’ll get nowhere constructive by using Satan’s tools to try to accomplish righteousness.

But I think it is even worse that while speaking against abuse Driscoll is being abusive. Screaming at anyone — and in this case very obviously screaming with contempt — is abusive; the end. I don’t care if that person is someone you don’t respect (abuser heart attitude number one – disrespect) there is no person on this earth who wasn’t created in the image of God and whom Jesus did not sacrifice His life for out of LOVE – not rage.

The Word says the anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God. So this whole thing here is NOT GOD’S WILL because it cannot accomplish His righteousness.

Then he dares to literally say that it is the HOLY SPIRIT who is doing the yelling. Look out Ananias and Saphira – is that sulphur I smell? Blaspheming the Holy Spirit is one of only two behaviors (that I can think of off the top) that God says will bring death under the New Covenant. This is not a small thing. THIS BEHAVIOR BY DRISCOLL IS EXTREMELY SERIOUS.

It is impossible for the Holy Spirit to act in such a way. The Word says that Jesus paid the penalty for ALL sin – past, present and future. It says that God’s wrath is not even being revealed against sinners in this time under the New Covenant — it is being held until the judgment — because Jesus already paid the penalty for this sin, too; even the sin of those who do not acknowledge Him. They will be judged at the end of time for rejecting Christ – not for the sin He paid for.

So how could the Holy Spirit possibly be screaming at anyone?

What Driscoll is advocating is SELF righteousness – since He’s sure not advocating the righteousness of Christ, since the anger of man cannot accomplish the righteousness of God. That would mean that Driscoll is advocating self idolatry!!!! That is diametrically opposite to the truth of the Word. It is literally anti-Christ.

When Driscoll says, “You change now, little boy! You shut up! Maybe one day you can lead a woman…” he is himself being abusive (since we know that cannot be coming from God) in the name of stopping abuse.

He is also advocating works to please God. Once you get it right, some day maybe you’ll be able to lead a woman. Huh? The only way any of us will ever be able to be righteous is by coming to understand we ARE righteous in Christ. It’s already done for us.

And we can choose to be the servant of Christ or the servant of Satan – by learning how to walk and live in Christ, under the control of the Holy Spirit — resulting in the evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives; or not. It will never happen by “doing” all these “right” things to hopefully, some day, measure up to Driscoll’s yard stick.

An abuser is an abuser because s/he is choosing to be the servant of Satan and demonstrating the deeds of the flesh. And what Driscoll is saying will only fuel that problem because he’s not pointing to the right answer, he’s reinforcing the problem.

I wish there were a way to make people see how dangerous this is.

Even more horrific is that here we have yet another example of someone proporting to speak for God and speaking Satan’s lies in Jesus’ name. The Word says that faith comes by hearing, hearing comes by the Word of God – and how can they hear without a preacher.

But the preacher is speaking Satan’s lies. Faith does come by hearing. And if what we are hearing is lies, that is what we will believe! Far worse, when what we are hearing is lies which say they are the Word of God, God’s people are being effectively, not only destroyed by lack of knowledge (the TRUTH), but they are being simultaneously innoculated against the truth because they think they are hearing it! It isn’t merely that we are believing Satan’s lies — we are believing those lies came out of God’s mouth, so how then can we ever get to the healing truth Jesus died to provide?