As an adolescent boy, Ben was sexually abused by pastor George O.A. Lowe at Mt. Hope Baptist Church in Stafford County, Virginia. About a year ago, Lowe was convicted on this crime, and last week Lowe was denied parole.
Since Lowe’s conviction, Ben has been trying to get help from the church for his psychological and spiritual healing. In January 2009 he met with church leaders and asked for help. He also asked for the chance to speak before the full congregation.
After waiting over six months to even respond, church leaders finally wrote back and rebuffed Ben’s requests. Although they expressly said that “the governing body of the church is the whole congregation,” they refused Ben the chance to speak to the congregation and to ask the congregation for help.
Here’s what the church did instead.
For “spiritual support,” the church made a “gift” to Ben of a CD entitled “When we are abused” by Rev. Charles Stanley. And the church proudly pointed out that it was gifting the CD to Ben “free of charge.”
It’s a CD that typically sells for about $7.00.
Then they asked that Ben “refrain from contacting” any member of the church.
So . . . because this looks so appallingly cold and callous, let me just make sure I didn’t miss anything.
- As a kid, Ben was sexually abused by the pastor that Mt. Hope chose and hired.
- As a kid, Ben was abused by that pastor on the church premises.
- Now, church leaders won’t allow Ben to speak to the congregation.
- Church leaders don’t want him to even talk with any church members.
- Church leaders are gifting to Ben a $7.00 CD “free of charge.”
- This is what church leaders call "spiritual support" for a clergy molestation survivor.
What did I miss?
Oh… here it is. Church leaders say they “prayed long and hard” and that they made this decision “centered on prayer.”
It almost makes a blasphemy of the whole notion of “prayer,” doesn’t it? Do they imagine that, if they purport to “pray” about it, they can pass the blame to God for such hard-heartedness? Do they imagine that, if they purport to “pray” about it, then they themselves are freed from moral responsibility?
If these are “Christians,” then my own prayer will be “Christ, please keep us safe from the Christians.”
And if the sick reality of Mt. Hope’s “spiritual support” isn’t chilling enough for you all on its own, consider this additional pathetic twist. The church’s gifted “free of charge” CD is by Rev. Charles Stanley, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of the prominent First Baptist Church of Atlanta. That’s the church where my own perp was children's minister for 19 years.
When SNAP tried to leaflet at First Baptist of Atlanta -- to inform people that their prior children's minister was known to have sexually abused a kid in Texas -- church leaders called the police on us and tried to run us off. Afterwards, SNAP wrote to Rev. Charles Stanley to make sure he knew how rudely we were treated, and we asked for the opportunity to address the congregation.
We were rebuffed. Apparently Charles Stanley didn’t care to have his congregation hear any talk from a clergy abuse survivor either.
So . . . given that Charles Stanley didn't give any indication of thinking a minister's molestation of a kid mattered enough to even be worth informing people in the pews, and given that Charles Stanley didn't offer even the tiniest bit of care to a person abused by one of his own long-time staff ministers, the notion that a Charles Stanley CD would give a clergy abuse survivor “spiritual support” seems a sad joke.
That CD is a coaster -- nothing more.