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Big S*xual Abuse Lawsuit Against Sovereign Grace Churches (Trigger Warning)


JumpyTheFrog
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***Trigger Warning***

 

 

The Wartburg Watch has been covering the lawsuit extensively over the past few months. Today's post is especially interesting. What do the SGM lawsuit and MLK Jr. have in common?

 

For those who haven't heard of SGM before, they are a group of churches that are really a denomination (although I'm sure they'd say they aren't). The lawsuit has many plaintiffs stating that they, or their kids, were s*xually abused in the last few decades and that SGM leaders, including the founders of the denomination, not only knew about it and did nothing, but actually told parents not to go to the police! Larry Tomczak, author of "God, the Rod, and Your Child's Bod" (what a horrible title!) has been accused of spanking a woman for 25 years (since childhood) and also of locking her up and depriving her of food.

 

One of the worst cases in the lawsuit is the case of a child who was made (at age 2 or 3) to try to "reconcile" with her pedophile. What kind of disgusting pastor/elder would think it is a good idea to force a little kid into a room with such scum, rather than drag him kicking and screaming to prison?!

 

There several websites devoted to being survivors of SGM churches. It seems the idea of pastor as near-dictator is not just limited to one or two of the churches in the group.

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Just a side note - there are many churches that are reformed/Calvinistic and use the terms "sovereign grace". That group might use those words, but it doesn't mean other churches with that name have anything to do with the SGM group.

Also from what I read it looks like the cases were all from Virgina and Maryland? It didn't look like it was wide spread throughout these churches, but I may be wrong. Any case of child molestation makes me sad and angry. :crying: :cursing:

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What is wrong with those people?!?!

 

 

From what I cam tell, they are really hung up on the whole "we pastors can adminster church discipline better than the court system can deal with criminals" idea. Of course, their idea of "church discipline" has been to blame the victim and protect pedophiles.

 

Some or all of these "leaders" are think "government is evil - except if we ran America, everything would be great! Then would could imprison (or execute) all those evil people who do XYZ."

 

It's distrubing. It also lines up with many people I know from the family-integrated church movement. Some of the men at our previous church love Ron Paul and his libertarian ideas....yet they also want a Christian theocracy! What it really boiled down to, in my opinion, is they want to control other people (grown kids, especially daughters, and wives), but don't want to be held accountable to anyone else, in the church, or in the government.

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Here's the SGM Survivors website: http://www.sgmsurvivors.com/

 

People from SGM churches all over the country report being spiritually abused. Unless they are all lying, it seems controlling leaders aren't limited to just the churches named in the lawsuit. This really shouldn't be too surprising, though, since if a group is run by corrupt leaders, the corruption will tend to spread to all levels.

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Here's the SGM church locator: http://www.sovereign...ted-states.aspx

I'm just going to jump in and say although I know very little about these particular churches. Just because a church is listed on their site doesn't make them a part of this particular scandal. There is one church listed there under my state and it is in our town. I know many people who go to it as well as the pastor and from what I can see they aren't creepy weirdos. Also as far as I know they are an independent church. My BIL attends it actually.

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People from SGM churches all over the country report being spiritually abused. Unless they are all lying, it seems controlling leaders aren't limited to just the churches named in the lawsuit. This really shouldn't be too surprising, though, since if a group is run by corrupt leaders, the corruption will tend to spread to all levels.

That may be true. I just have not seen that locally. I hope that the churches who aren't a part of this will distance themselves from said corrupt leaders.

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Not surprising. The Catholic Church did worse for decades and still has those who try to defend its actions.

 

 

I agree, but worse is a relative term, I think. The Church did it for a lot longer than this group, but it's kind of like saying that being eaten alive by a shark is worse than being eaten alive by a tiger. KWIM?

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Poor wording by me. I should have said "on a larger scale".

 

 

 

I understood what you meant. It's all atrocious no matter what. It's very sad, too, because all the people in those churches who aren't sickos get branded by the actions of the group leadership. It's like that with Catholics, too. There are honest priests out there. They know that there are people who look at them and think "pedo" right off the bat. It's too bad that their organization puts them in such a position.

 

The moral thing to do would have been to nip the sickness in the bud. Too bad someone missed the memo on what the moral thing to do was back when it started.

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I understood what you meant. It's all atrocious no matter what. It's very sad, too, because all the people in those churches who aren't sickos get branded by the actions of the group leadership. It's like that with Catholics, too. There are honest priests out there. They know that there are people who look at them and think "pedo" right off the bat. It's too bad that their organization puts them in such a position.

 

The moral thing to do would have been to nip the sickness in the bud. Too bad someone missed the memo on what the moral thing to do was back when it started.

 

 

Agreed. I am not Catholic, and certainly not a fan of the leadership for how they handled the molestation cases, but one of my favorite people in this world is a Catholic priest who is a wonderful man with an infectious spirit. I do hate that he is tarred with the same brush as those who sullied his faith.

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Not surprising. The Catholic Church did worse for decades and still has those who try to defend its actions.

 

 

I read your following comment, too, about your Priest friend. And I DO hate that the wonderful priests have been tarred with the same brush.

 

What I would like to interject into this conversation is that teachers have the same rates of molestation. It's not a clergy problem, is a societal problem.

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I read your following comment, too, about your Priest friend. And I DO hate that the wonderful priests have been tarred with the same brush.

 

What I would like to interject to this conversation is that teachers have the same rates of molestation. It's not a clergy problem, is a societal problem.

 

However, in the case of the Catholic Church it was an institutional problem. Too many priests. Too many years. Too many transfers. Too many cover ups. Too many victims.

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I had not heard this before. Is this the same sovereign grace church that CJ Maheny started?? If so, I am in shock. So it is sexual abuse they are covering up? I must have been under a rock or something!

 

In the last I have read his wife's blog and enjoyed it...and they started a sovereign grace church down here in Knoxville, a good friend goes there and they love it.

 

Ugh. I'm rambling....but I'm shocked and so saddened.

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However, in the case of the Catholic Church it was an institutional problem. Too many priests. Too many years. Too many transfers. Too many cover ups. Too many victims.

 

Schools aren't an institution? Tenure, unions...

 

When I was in grade school (35 years ago), the principal, who had been a teacher/principal for 30 years, was finally put away after one brave boy came forward. It was a domino effect.

 

How many people might have known?

 

Sandusky? Penn State isn't an institution that protected their biggest payers?

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Schools aren't an institution? Tenure, unions...

 

Show me where school districts were asking parents not report what happened to the police and then transferring the teacher to another district.

When I was in grade school (35 years ago), the principal, who had been principal for 30 years, was finally put away after one brave boy came forward.

 

How many people might have known?

 

Who knows? The comparison would be if you found out that two other school districts hid his crimes before transferring him to your school.

Sandusky? Pen State isn't an institution that protected their biggest payers?

 

Third time's the charm for missing the point.

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Show me where school districts were asking parents not report what happened to the police and then transferring the teacher to another district.

 

 

Who knows? The comparison would be if you found out that two other school districts hid his crimes before transferring him to your school.

 

 

Third time's the charm for missing the point.

 

 

 

The principals just sweep it under the rug, send them to another district, parents don't even *know*. They can't report, they have no knowledge.

 

Wiki

 

 

In schools

 

In US schools, according to the United States Department of Education,[166] "nearly 9.6% of students are targets of educator sexual misconduct sometime during their school career." In studies of student sex abuse by male and female educators, male students were reported as targets in ranges from 23% to 44%.[166] In U.S. school settings same-sex (female and male) sexual misconduct against students by educators "ranges from 18–28% of reported cases, depending on the study"[167]

 

 

 

JohnJay says that the actual rate of sexual crimes against children among Catholic priests is actually LOWER, at 4%.

 

And, those years it wasn't "not dealt with" but dealt with in the way that the professionals told them to...to refer them to psychologists for treatment, they were ALL ignorant about recidivism rates.

 

And here's a great article for you

 

 

Consider the statistics: In accordance with a requirement of President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, in 2002 the Department of Education carried out a study of sexual abuse in the school system.

 

 

Hofstra University researcher Charol Shakeshaft looked into the problem, and the first thing that came to her mind when Education Week reported on the study were the daily headlines about the Catholic Church.

 

 

"[T]hink the Catholic Church has a problem?" she said. "The physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests."

 

 

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/08/24/opinion/main1933687.shtml

 

You love to pull out the snark, don't you? The RCC has dealt with the problem in a forceful manner. I couldn't even become a catechist until I passed a background check and took classes on child protection and abuse. Was it horrible and disgusting? Yes. I don't think anyone denies that. And they've done everything they could do to make sure it never happens again, they've been progressive and proactive about fixing the problem.

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***Trigger Warning***

 

 

The Wartburg Watch has been covering the lawsuit extensively over the past few months. Today's post is especially interesting. What do the SGM lawsuit and MLK Jr. have in common?

 

For those who haven't heard of SGM before, they are a group of churches that are really a denomination (although I'm sure they'd say they aren't). The lawsuit has many plaintiffs stating that they, or their kids, were s*xually abused in the last few decades and that SGM leaders, including the founders of the denomination, not only knew about it and did nothing, but actually told parents not to go to the police! Larry Tomczak, author of "God, the Rod, and Your Child's Bod" (what a horrible title!) has been accused of spanking a woman for 25 years (since childhood) and also of locking her up and depriving her of food.

 

One of the worst cases in the lawsuit is the case of a child who was made (at age 2 or 3) to try to "reconcile" with her pedophile. What kind of disgusting pastor/elder would think it is a good idea to force a little kid into a room with such scum, rather than drag him kicking and screaming to prison?!

 

There several websites devoted to being survivors of SGM churches. It seems the idea of pastor as near-dictator is not just limited to one or two of the churches in the group.

 

 

Never heard of this SGM before. Sounds like a cult, just from your post. I'm going to look it up.

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The RCC has dealt with the problem in a forceful manner. I couldn't even become a catechist until I passed a background check and took classes on child protection and abuse. Was it horrible and disgusting? Yes. I don't think anyone denies that. And they've done everything they could do to make sure it never happens again, they've been progressive and proactive about fixing the problem.

 

I disagree. The RCC's actions to date have not been "forceful" at all. They have issued apologies for SOME cases and they have made a spectacle of a few SELECT cases. They have instituted background checks, which are merely placebos designed to placate people into a sense that some measures of security are being taken. IMO, they have done JUST enough to appear contrite without having to open themselves to the full investigation of the depths of their cover-ups. I realize that doing so could possibly open them to such catastrophic lawsuits and legal actions that it could bankrupt the entire organization.

 

However... possible bankruptcy/dissolution is no excuse for not opening themselves up to complete transparency (which they are most certainly NOT doing). It is still covering up and it is still immoral on an egregious scale.

 

And, I would like to conclude this by saying that I have no beef with Catholics. The actions of the RCC on the issue of child abuse, however, are woefully inadequate at the very best.

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I've read the same statistics that justamouse cited. Assuming they are correct, if any other organization--church or school--were as large and global as the RC Church, the abuse and cover up could have been much worse. As it is, other groups are relatively small and when abuse happens, it doesn't get the same worldwide attention and isn't fed by the same ill will.

 

I attended a relatively small high school where a teacher acted inappropriately for years before he was caught in the act with a student. He was moved to another school. And this wasn't all that long ago.

 

As awful as what happened in the Church was, in many cases the handling of it reflected society's understanding of the issues and how to deal with such a problem at that time. There was a learning curve, unfortunately it was too long.

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You love to pull out the snark, don't you? The RCC has dealt with the problem in a forceful manner. I couldn't even become a catechist until I passed a background check and took classes on child protection and abuse. Was it horrible and disgusting? Yes. I don't think anyone denies that. And they've done everything they could do to make sure it never happens again, they've been progressive and proactive about fixing the problem.

 

I missed this when you edited it in.

 

The RCC became progressive and proactive about this issue...after paying out something in the neighborhood of $3 billion in damages and having their dirty laundry aired. Sorry, but calling the RCC "progressive and proactive" is a bit of stretch. I don't think you want me to go in to how they have treated some of the victims, do you?

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I disagree. The RCC's actions to date have not been "forceful" at all. They have issued apologies for SOME cases and they have made a spectacle of a few SELECT cases. They have instituted background checks, which are merely placebos designed to placate people into a sense that some measures of security are being taken. IMO, they have done JUST enough to appear contrite without having to open themselves to the full investigation of the depths of their cover-ups. I realize that doing so could possibly open them to such catastrophic lawsuits and legal actions that it could bankrupt the entire organization.

 

However... possible bankruptcy/dissolution is no excuse for not opening themselves up to complete transparency (which they are most certainly NOT doing). It is still covering up and it is still immoral on an egregious scale.

 

And, I would like to conclude this by saying that I have no beef with Catholics. The actions of the RCC on the issue of child abuse, however, are woefully inadequate at the very best.

 

I can only speak for my involvement in different churches in recent years. The rules are strict. In addition to fingerprinting and background checks and education sessions on abuse and how to prevent it, the churches where I've been involved required two adults be present in religious education classrooms at all times, and children, even teens, must be have a parent present supervising them at all times when not in an adult supervised activity.

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I can only speak for my involvement in different churches in recent years. The rules are strict. In addition to fingerprinting and background checks and education sessions on abuse and how to prevent it, the churches where I've been involved required two adults be present in religious education classrooms at all times, and children, even teens, must be have a parent present supervising them at all times when not in an adult supervised activity.

 

Which is what many organizations have been doing for some time.

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I had not heard this before. Is this the same sovereign grace church that CJ Maheny started?? If so, I am in shock. So it is sexual abuse they are covering up?

 

 

Yes, this is the same CJ Mahaney, author of a book on humility. You can read about the original lawsuit where he, among others, is a defendent here: http://www.sgmsurvivors.com/2012/10/18/lawsuit-text-with-address-redacted/

 

The amendend lawsuit, with new victims coming forward, is here: http://www.sgmsurvivors.com/2013/01/14/amended-lawsuit/

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And, those years it wasn't "not dealt with" but dealt with in the way that the professionals told them to...to refer them to psychologists for treatment, they were ALL ignorant about recidivism rates.

 

Well, at least the Catholic church isn't anti-psychology. SGM is one of those groups that tells people that psychology is wrong and of the devil and such, so don't use it. (Instead, they promote "biblical counseling" which from what I've read, often has a "blame the victim" mentality to it. Some people call it "sin sniffing.")

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Show me where school districts were asking parents not report what happened to the police and then transferring the teacher to another district.

 

 

This has happened in my district. With teachers, complaints have often gone ignored and references given even when there was doubt. Google Seattle Schools Broadview Thompson and also northshore school district. Schools enjoy the privilege of being seen as smaller, localized districts. The church anywhere is sen as the church everywhere.

 

At my high school in the 1990s, it took years to fire a teacher who was guilty of sexual abuse and harassment. Dude was paid for 2 long leaves of absence- we're talking years of pay. And the time lapse from complaint to suspension was 5+ years before that. The same school took less than a school year to fire a teacher for theft. This is hardly an exception when it comes to getting rid of criminal teachers.

 

The Catholic Church is not innocent or just a reflection of the overall issue- I agree their conduct was for decades remarkably awful (speaking as a cradle Catholic here.) that said, I can think of many times and places where abuse is minimized, denied, blamed on the children, ignored and left unaddressed across the whole of our culture.

 

If you think the Catholic Church as an organization is unique in minimizing sex crimes and covering for abusers you are quite mistaken. That is a phenomena seen by childhood sexual assault survivors (myself included) across American society. The Catholic Church may be the largest example of an institutional failure to act against abuse and failure to protect children but it is not the only, by a long shot.

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Never heard of this SGM before. Sounds like a cult, just from your post. I'm going to look it up.

 

You wouldn't be the first to call them a cult. I know a few people that (at least a few years ago) went to one. One family had left the cultish family-intregrated church we went to go to the local SGM. Everything I've read indicates their doctrine is very similar and legalistic.

 

The other man ("Jack") we knew who went there was a big devotee of guess who? That's right, Bill Gothard! He could barely stand to work in the same room as one legalistic Christians from our previous church because he listened to some Christian rock groups while they worked together. This really, really bothered "Jack".

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I find it hard to keep track of all the players involved in the SGM lawsuit. One of the things I've read about was that CJ Mahaney blackmailed someone in the past. People think (or maybe it's been proven now) that he blackmailed Larry Tomczak, which was probably easy to do, since Tomczak is allegedly a pedophile.

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Sexual abuse is quite common in any legalistic religious environment.

 

 

Do you think it is mostly that abusers are attracted to legalistic groups to find their victims? Or does the legalism, itself, make it easier to become an abuser?

 

Based on my experience with a FIC (family-integrated church) that was filled with Michael Pearl fans, I think the unrealistic expectations combined with legalism make it easier for people to cross the line from "normal" spanking to actual child abuse.

 

I can see how the emphasis on patriarchy could lead a man to think his wife "owes" him s*x and that martial rape isn't possible.

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we live a few miles from the original SGM church. We've had friends/family deeply hurt by them over the years. We never had a desire to attend - even in our Protestant days. I'm sorry to see something this awful has been happening behind the scenes and being covered up.

 

That article first article is bizarre. It kind of rambles and takes a while to get to their point..

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Background checks do essentially nothing to protect children. In fact the false sense of security they offer may put people at risk. Most rapists and abusers are never arrested or convicted and have just as clean of a record as you or me.

 

 

What can we do as parents, then? Avoid leaving our kids in Sunday school? We leave them in child care at the gym, but I figure people come in and out of the room more often. I don't feel comfortable letting them go to Sunday school.

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This is truly disturbing. I use quite a bit of Sovereign Grace music for our church music. Our church denomination is PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) and is reformed. I find their music very much in line with our doctrine, at least I thought it was.

 

Not sure how the SGM church leadership got so many things wrong as they appear to have in light of these cases. It's absolutely disgusting! I can't imagine how these families didn't get out of there as soon as they found out what had happened to their children.

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I can't imagine how these families didn't get out of there as soon as they found out what had happened to their children.

 

 

Maybe some did. Maybe others had most of their friends at their church and were afraid of being shunned. After all, some churches are requiring people to members to sign covenants stating they won't leave the church without, basically, the pastor's permission. I don't know if any SGM churches are doing this, but they are the type that would.

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Do you think it is mostly that abusers are attracted to legalistic groups to find their victims? Or does the legalism, itself, make it easier to become an abuser?

 

Based on my experience with a FIC (family-integrated church) that was filled with Michael Pearl fans, I think the unrealistic expectations combined with legalism make it easier for people to cross the line from "normal" spanking to actual child abuse.

 

I can see how the emphasis on patriarchy could lead a man to think his wife "owes" him s*x and that martial rape isn't possible.

 

 

 

I will take a stab at answering this. I think people with sexual urges that make them feel ashamed are attracted to highly structure, strictly governed, high cost religious environments in the hopes that if they devote themselves fully to God, he will save them from their urges. When this doesn't happen it then becomes about protecting God's image and things get ugly and complicated. :(

 

I am in no way defending what they do, but I can see how it happens. :(

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