ICYMI: on Friday, a megachurch pastor whose brand is all about marriage and sexual purity admitted to sexually assaulting a 17yo girl when he was her youth pastor (he called it an "incident" not an "assault")
He didn't deny the details she shared, which make clear that it was an assault.
What's more, the men in charge of the church at the time of her assault further abused her by how they handled it.
This morning, he stood up at the megachurch where he is now a pastor and spoke. Here's a transcript of his remarks, as well as the remarks of the lead pastor: makechurchsafe.com/2018/01/07/tra…
A few things to note:
1 - "more than 20 years ago" - this is said repeatedly and is meant to minimize what happened
2 - he continues to call it a sexual "incident" rather than sexual assault
3 - he says he took full responsibility for his actions, but what he did was actually illegal, and he did not take any take any legal responsibility
4 - he says he shared every aspect of what he did with his wife before he asked her to marry him - the implicit framing here is that the issue is about sexual purity rather than sexual assault and abuse of power
5 - he says "I never sought to cover this up" - but where in all his teaching about sexual purity has he admitted to sexually assaulting a minor under his spiritual care?
6 - the lead pastor prays that God would touch the heart of the victim and "heal her of the pain that was caused from this sin 20 years ago" - notice again the minimizing use of the time frame, as well as the use of the word "sin"
7 - the use of the word "sin" carries the subtle implication of her participation in a shared failure rather than her victimization
8 - the lead pastor says "Guess what, this sin did not happen in the last couple days. This sin happened over 20 years ago. That does not minimize the sin." - I can't see why they would continue to emphasize how long ago this happened for any reason other than to minimize it
9 - the lead pastor says, "none of us want anyone to throw a stone. Why? Because you never heal by hurting others." - the implication is that telling the truth is throwing a stone, and that asking for the truth to be told is hurtful
The patriarchal underpinnings of evangelical purity culture continue to allow abusers to flourish while their victims carry the stigma and shame of what happened.
It is shameful that churches keep getting this so wrong. It is shameful that men in power preach a gospel that excludes LGBTQIA+ while propping up and shielding leaders who actually victimize people.
I'm trying now to listen to the lead pastor's sermon from the 2nd service (struggling to get through it) - highpointmemphis.com/watch-now#!/sw…
He asks "What do we want for Miss Jules Woodson? We want for her to be healed. We want for her to receive forgiveness from Andy, forgiveness from God, forgiveness in whatever way that she needs, and to be healed." What. WHAT.
What does he think she needs forgiveness for?
I think this shows (again) what they really think --> they don't see this as a sexual crime perpetrated against her, they see it as a sin she participated in. WRONG. #churchtoo
Last night, someone who was at the #highpoint service responded saying the pastor merely misspoke. I would certainly prefer to think this was a misstatement. (That person's tweet is gone now).

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