Thursday, July 9, 2009

Heritage Baptist had two molesters

In Vinton, Virginia, two church officers at Heritage Baptist Church have been sentenced on sex crimes involving children.

On July 7, the former assistant pastor, Daniel Silverman, was sentenced to prison after he pled “no contest” to a charge of aggravated sexual battery of a 12-year-old.

A week earlier, a former deacon, Dean Stone, was sentenced to prison on 12 felony sex crimes involving three young girls.

With two church officers sentenced on child sex crimes in one week’s time, what do you imagine that senior pastor Bob Barton, shown in the photo, had to say about it?

Did he act as a good shepherd and reach out to try to help any others who might have been wounded?


Pastor Bob Barton’s response to this horror was to lash out at the media. He claimed the news media “had unfairly linked the personal failings of two members to the entire church.”


Do you see what pastor Bob Barton is doing? From the get-go, he’s trying to minimize things by acting as though these two men were mere “members.” Of course, it would be plenty awful enough even if they were mere members. But they were more than that. They were church officers -- an assistant pastor and a deacon.

And “personal failings”? To hear pastor Bob Barton talk, you might think these men did little more than drink a beer or two. But let’s be clear about something. Child molestation is a great deal worse than a “personal failing.” First of all, it isn’t merely “personal” because it victimizes another human being -- a child. Second, it’s not merely a “failing” – it’s a crime.

Pastor Bob Barton continued by saying this: “They have literally dragged our church’s name through the mud when we had nothing to do with any of this.”

Oh… boo-hoo. The poor church. The poor church “name.”

Obviously, pastor Bob Barton is a great deal more worried about his church’s “name” than he is about the kids who were sexually abused.

What kind of a pastor talks that way?

Well…. according to WDBJ-7 News, it’s a pastor who “refutes accusations he asked church members to change their stories.”

“Have you tinkered with the investigation in any way, shape or form?” asked WDBJ-7 News.

“No,” said pastor Barton. “I don’t know of anyone who has been asked to recant anything.”

Uhhhh… what’s THAT about? Why was pastor Bob Barton having to publicly refute accusations that he asked church members to change their stories in connection with a child molestation investigation?

I don’t know the answer to that. But I did find a former charter member of Heritage Baptist, Steve Lambert, who certainly has a strong point of view about pastor Bob Barton. Mr. Lambert talks about “cover-ups” and says that pastor Bob Barton “places more weight on maintaining a good ‘godly’ appearance while concealing dark secrets.”

I’ve never met pastor Bob Barton, and I don’t know whether Mr. Lambert’s opinion of him is accurate or not.

But this much I do know: A pastor who has two church officers sentenced on child molestation charges in one week’s time, and who responds to that horror by railing against the media, is a pastor who has lost his moral bearings.

Or maybe he never really had any.


Ramesh said...

It's ALL about image.

When a Church looses the significance of Sin and it's consequences, and does not honestly examine it's effect, this is what happens.

Maybe, they preach this, meaning that Sin and it's consequences are for the pew sitters and not for the management, as in Clergy, Deacons, Pastors and Hired hands.

Very sad day, when Churches want their good name, preserved than what is right.

Truth does not have to hurt so much. All it needs is to remove these people who have sexually abused others from their positions and possibly do a Church Discipline, bringing the ENTIRE matter before the WHOLE Church. If these people truly repent, they can be brought back into the fold of the Church but not as people who have any dealings with children or have any authority over anyone.

This is not that hard to do.

And finally give solace and comfort to the victims from the beginning of this coming out.

Ramesh said...

Of course, please contact the Law Enforcement from the beginning.

Anonymous said...

I was with you until you printed the stuff Lambert wrote about Barton without even knowing if it was true. Surely as an attorney, you know better.

BTW, I think Barton may or may not have known what was going on but he should have called police the instant he even had suspicions about improprieties.

Christa Brown said...

Anyone who googles Heritage Baptist in Virginia can readily find Mr. Lambert's remarks. They're online for all the world to see, and I clearly stated in my posting that I don't know whether they're accurate or not. But whatever anyone may think of Mr. Lambert's online remarks, they do at least seem to provide some possible context for why a media outlet like WDBJ-7 News was publicly asking the sorts of questions that it did.

Anonymous said...

He never had any moral bearings.

Yeah, I love the personal failing excuse. It was just the victim for the rest of their lives!

You would think they would learn by now we are on to them. But they are so concerned with their jobs they do not give the victim a thought...or yes, they do. They are ANGRY at the victims for putting them in that position.

Put it all up Christa and let people sort it all out for themselves. I love these censors who come on here. Perhaps you should demand signed affidavits from now on. Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

A signed affadavit isn't necessary but being absolutely sure something is truthful before printing it is...

Anonymous said...

How do you prove an opinion? And what did Lambert write that has you so upset?

The preachers own words damn him. 'members' when they were leaders. "personal failing' when it was a heinous crime against a victim.

What is it you are so upset about?

Anonymous said...

BTW: It is people like you that keep predators free. You know, we never have first hand eye witness proof of child molestation.

Anonymous said...

From a cursory look at your blog, it seems that you think every baptist minister or leader is a potential child molester. I am in full agreement that any crime (against a child or otherwise) should be immediately reported to law enforcement. The offending person should suffer the full consequences of their actions. My concern with your blog is that you could indeed drive people away from the church and the message of salvation that every person desperately needs. I am not saying that your goal is unworthy but perhaps you should throw in some positive stories from baptist churches as well. Just a thought.

Christa Brown said...

Anon 9:16 - As you say, you've taken "... a cursory look."

What drives people away from the church is the truth of the fact that this is a faith group that elevates institutional protection ahead of kid protection. A faith group that fails to protect the young and that allows faith to be used as a weapon against the young is a faith group that has abandoned the most fundamental principles of decency and humanity. And please... don't heap onto clergy molestation and rape victims the responsibiity for other people's salvation. That's a guilt tactic that too many Baptist preachers have spewed forth on clergy molestation victims a few too many times, and we're all a bit sick of it.

Phyllis Gregory said...

Anon 9:16: the SBC church itself is what is driving people away from the church -- you need to put the blame where it belongs and accept the responsibility of what religious church leaders and members have done. You offer nothing real and pertinent for people today. You want to make sure people are SAVED for heaven but you do nothing to minister to their needs here on earth. The Baptist church is a sham and you should be ashamed.

Anonymous said...

You offer nothing real and pertinent for people today. You want to make sure people are SAVED for heaven but you do nothing to minister to their needs here on earth. The Baptist church is a sham and you should be ashamed.

July 11, 2009 9:22 PM

AMEN! In reality, there IS NO MINISTRY when the Bride is so impure.

Many folks in the SBC look at salvation as notches on the church belt. I was at the convention and the talk was nothing but numbers..both walking the ailse and baptism. I kept wondering what these folks thought they were being saved to or from.

A "postive story" for us would be a leader who fell on their face in shame and repentance for ignoring all the victims and protecting the predators.

Why not help get that positive story. Unless, you just want stuff that makes you feel good. Some truths are negative and are for grown ups.

Anonymous said...


I've been a reader of your blog for quite some time and appreciate the work you do here.

I wanted to mention that sometimes there's more to the story then is published. Dan Silverman was charged after he left the faith/deconverted and there is some question that his wife and pastor Barton worked together to bring about this charge against Dan because he was no longer a Christian.

As an ex-Christian myself and having read many stories regarding others who have left, some Christians will do anything to ruin the reputation of a former Christian.

I can't say for sure if Dan is guilty of the charges. Dan was blogging at one time and explained the reason he pled "no contest." If I can recall correctly, "no contest" is not an admission of guilt or innocence on his part.

If indeed Dan's wife and pastor brought about these charges and they were false, because they wanted to keep Dan, now an atheist, away from their children, less he lead them astray, then they themselves have become the abusers.


Christa Brown said...

Dan Silverman pled "no contest," which is not an admission of guilt, but in most states, it is viewed as constituting an acknowledgement that there is enough evidence to convict.

Though I don't pretend to know exactly what... I too think there is likely more to this story... as might be gleaned from the picture that I posted with it.

Steve Lambert said...

It has been a while since I Googled "bob barton pastor", but I did today and found this blog. I was surprised to see my name in print, but have no problem with it. I was the minister of music as well as a charter member. Although I am certainly not anti-God or anti-church, I am anti-barton, based on what I know and have experienced. My statement referenced in this blog stands without apology. I was actually interviewed (in my home) by WDBJ7 for 2 and 1/2 hours (camera and all). It was only when barton's attorney threatened the network did WDBJ7 back down. I don't blame the network; they have to cover their bases.

Steve Lambert

Christa Brown said...

Steve: Welcome to the blog!
I'm not "anti-God" or "anti-church" either, but I've certainly been called that a lot. It's kind of amazing the things that people will say and the names they'll spew toward those who speak out against abusive and overly-authoritarian pastors.

Steve Lambert said...

Thanks for the welcome. I admire what you are doing (with the blog and all). Yesterday evening I spoke with a dear friend who is also a former member. He had also read your blog and was impressed with the insight that you and others on the blog had expressed when you commented on Barton's recent comments. I prompted a group of three men to pursue Barton's resignation, and ultimately had a meeting of nine people in which three of us called for his resignation. Of course it did not happen. I pulled my family out of that church the following day. Later I ordered a collection of ten lectures on spiritual abuse, and showed the videos to several families who had left the church. It was actually three of the videos (I watched online) that gave me the courage to call for Barton's resignation and the courage to leave the church.

So, that is a quick summary of my story.

Bookborn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bookborn said...

Blogger Bookborn said...

I used to be a member of Heritage Baptist Church. Bob Barton is sick. He seems to suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Those type statements are typical for Barton - who is a Spin master. Dean Stone was not just a Deacon, but a member of the Shepherd's Group (Elders to be; Barton's elite group of yes-men) and was the Minister of Evangelism (went door to door and knocked on thousands of doors, etc.) Dan Silverman was not an assistant pastor but a Co-Pastor of the Church. To say that the church had NOTHING to do with it is laughable. In my last meeting with Barton, I was told by Barton and by Dean Stone that the Holy Spirit led them to bring on Dan Silverman. Dan is now a full-blown blaspheming atheist. The 'failings' statement is typical Barton who would say that any of us are capable of any sin. Image is the most important thing to Barton. Also, everything that Steve Lambert posted is absolutely true...

August 7, 2009 11:41 PM

Anonymous said...

Steve Lambert and or Bookborn:

I visited Heritage Baptist Church on several occasions in the past. I understand about Pastor Barton's controlling tendencies and narcissism. However, I do not see the possible relationship of that to what ended up happening with Dan Silverman and Dean Stone. Do you think that Pastor Barton knew about these things for awhile and kept them covered up? Do you believe that other people in the congregation suspected that things were going on but kept quiet? Do you think that Pastor Barton played any kind of role in these abuses other than possibly turning a blind eye to them? By the way, although Dan Silverman was not at the church when I visited, I was stunned to find about what happened with Dean Stone. He seemed like a fine Christian man with a fine Christian family. I grieve for his wife and children.

Christa Brown said...

"Do you think that Pastor Barton played any kind of role in these abuses other than possibly turning a blind eye to them?"

If that's so, wouldn't "turning a blind eye" be plenty troubling enough?

"I was stunned to find about what happened with Dean Stone. He seemed like a fine Christian man...."

Almost invariably, in almost every case, there are people who say this sort of thing. But of course, predatory people don't look any different from ordinary people, and they often look better. In Baptist churches, and other churches, all over the country, "fine Christian men" have molested and raped kids.

Anonymous said...


Of course you are correct that even if "all" that he did was turn a blind eye to it, that is reprehensible and wrong and inexcusable. I was not trying to minimize the severity of that.

Anonymous said...

Oh, what memories this brings back...memories of Heritage Baptist Church...just thinking about our membership to that cult brings back horrible memories. The pain still comes back again and again. Oh, the stories we could tell about things that happened at that church. Things that were covered up. Things that no one should ever have to hear about. Everything you have heard from Steve Lambert and others who have experienced this is true. There is so, so much more that people should know...but in the Baptist circles the philosophy is "don't see, don't speak, don't hear" and if you do, you're gossiping, being unforgiving, or whatever kind of Christianese lingo you want to call it. When we open up about this pain that we experienced, we are told that we "need to forgive." Believe it or not, those that tell us to "forgive" are pastors themselves. It's ludicrous.

I dare not say who I am or even breathe a word because ol' Bobby Boy's arm is far-reaching. If I never see that man again, it will be too soon. You can't imagine the pain that man and that church has caused to so many people.

I'm sorry...I probably said too much already. He'll track us down like he has so many other people and have us ousted from our church like he has so many other people...Acquaintances of ours who went to a local baptist church in Roanoke were ousted out because of Barton and all the problems he caused the church. This church wanted nothing to do with any Heritage Baptist church ex-members.

If those of you reading this can't take Steve's word for it or anyone else's word for it, just know that as ex-members, we first-hand experienced the pain of church abuse at Heritage Baptist Church. You don't get over this quickly. And to think they hold a local chapter of Reformer's Unanimous!!! They are the ones who need the reforming. I guess this would truly be the blind leading the blind.

Anonymous said...

I attended Heritage Baptist Church starting in 2003 before either Dean Stone or Dan Silverman began attending and what has been said it true and also Barton knew about what was happinging with the Silverman case and refused to let Dan's wife call the cops for TWO WEEKS untill she got so scared one night and call the cops herself in spite of his strict orders and so e had their computer bugged. And you also might want to know this this "pastor" has 3 legal restraining orders aginst him for harassment especially of ex-members.