Hey there! Here’s some helpful information on how to keep abusive situations alive and thriving in a church. The key ingredients are:
1. A good strong foundation of controlling, dominating authority. Reinforce, with all the means available to you, that adults are superior and smarter than kids. Don’t allow for any exceptions, you wouldn’t want them questioning their godly authority! Remember: the goal of protecting kids from abuse is always secondary to the goal of making them obedient, willing servants. Make sure to warn kids against the statistically rare case of the “stranger in a dark ally”, and forget to mention that most abusers are family members or close friends. That way if a church member is responsible for the abuse, they’ll doubly question their own judgement and just “forgive and forget”! (But don’t worry, that’s not what happened in the Tina Anderson case . No no, Chuck Phelps assured us of THAT!)
This authority angle will work especially well in conjunction with a child’s natural shame about the situation, compounded of course by a good conservative religious atmosphere which only reinforces that shame! Here we have a fool-proof recipe for cover-ups.
What, you say? This sounds just like a fundamental, independent Baptist church? I’m sure that’s just a coincidence. Let’s move on.
2. I’m talking to you now, pastors. What’s important in these situations is to keep your nose clean, and prevent any news of this from leaking to “the world”. How to do that? Well, certainly don’t repent of mishandling things, apologize to all involved, and let a full police investigation take place. Instead, attempt what you are so mightily qualified for–investigate and handle the situation yourself. Get all parties involved to apologize to each other, and the congregation. Oh, don’t worry if the victim seems squeamish about confessing to her being raped as if that’s a sin–she was doubtless complicit! Squash those feelings of compassion. The great thing about this is you come of looking super helpful–everyone has said they’re sorry, the spiritual pecking order has been preserved, and no outsiders have found out. And the psychological and emotional suffering of the abused, which goes unchecked for decades? Ah. That’s just psychological mumbo-jumbo! Give them the cure for “A Noisy Soul”.
(More coincidence. This is definitely not a description of conditions at IFB churches. No need to change the status quo, folks!)
3. Now, we need a helpful group of Defenders. This is where that evil Internet can actually be a help to you, pastors! If you’re unfortunate enough to receive international attention from how you’ve cared for your flock, damage control is a must. It’s very important that you belong to the extensive BJU/IFB notwork–if not, you can’t expect much help from this influential, wide-reaching web. If you do, though, you’ll get all manner of help. Let’s introduce ourselves to a few key Defenders:
First, we have Sharper Iron. This shining gem of fundy wisdom occupies itself with threads about the modesty of bicycle shorts, but shuts down discussions in which precious IFB leaders might have their reputations tarnished. These folks really get it! More examples of the SI brilliance which will keep your scandals tightly under wraps:
Even the guy who runs the site will make sure to alleviate himself of any responsibility:
And when 20/20 does an expose of your helpful pastoralship, SI will joyfully parrot the “biased media” line in your defense:
Wooster wants to
squelch the inaccurate comments that are being targeted against these two excellent biblically sound ministries
See how he preaches that bunker mentality, the “us vs. them” feeling? That’s a big theme. Make sure you turn this into an example of persecution, not one of your neglectful leadership.
Normally, the less said and written is the best approach to take when the media either misrepresents a story or when someone is maligned
Keep it silent, keep anyone from finding out. This guy is really gaining my respect!
we believe the right course of action for us to take is to commit these matters to the Lord who “judges righteously.”
This is your out. Just claim that God will handle the situation–no need to actually provide the justice yourself. You’re not responsible for what happens in your church, that’s up to God.
Then we have Mike Shrock, BJU Representative and Defender Emeritus. Any embattled BJU graduate under persecution from the mystifying perseverance of the United States justice system can expect help from Shrock. His activities are well-documented here and here (the authors of these blogs have some strange bias against Mr. Shrock though–don’t pay attention to that. Just glean from his wise handling of these situations).
The last key group of Defenders are the Facebook crowd. Now, we all know that these social media thingies can be really detrimental to fundy ideals–that’s why they had to be blocked and castigated at Fundy U for so long. However, there is a large and helpful bloc of Facebookers standing ready to keep your scandals out of the light–basically they keep the skeletons firmly locked in the closet. You can recognize your friends there by these tactics:
Please stop criticizing these men of God. They handled these abuses as best they could, and every ministry has its faults.
It seems you have a bitter spirit against BJU and many churches. Please read your Bible and stop focusing on their faults.
How are your words building up and edifying believers? We should not be posting things that tear others down.
See how this is done? Shift focus away from the victim and justice for them. Focus on keeping the sacred schools and ministries free from criticism. Take note! These are your friends. Their efforts help keep you in power, and the abused powerless.
Hopefully these tips have been helpful. To sum up: keep abuse victims quiet. Clean up the mess quickly, get back to “normal”, and involve as few trained professionals as possible. Pray you get lots of help from the prominent Defenders on the internet. I forgot to mention that one verse in Deuteronomy about stoning a rape victim. That helps too…