Thursday, April 1, 2010

Church letter of support for pastor-predator

In Indiana, a Southern Baptist pastor pled guilty to child sex crimes and his sentencing hearing is set for April 8th.

Daniel Moore, shown in the photo, was the pastor of New Whiteland Baptist Church in Franklin, Indiana. He was arrested about a year ago, but to this day, the church website still lists him as “pastor.”

However, since his arrest, he has actually been attending Calvary Baptist Church, which is in nearby Greenwood, Indiana.

The two churches are both affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

Now, in anticipation of Moore’s April 8th hearing, the pastor, ministers and deacons of Calvary Baptist have written a letter to the judge, apparently in the hope that it might influence the judge to impose a lesser sentence on Moore.

The letter is signed by Dr. Ernest E. James (senior pastor), Rev. Andy Rardin (minister of students), Rev. David Tripp (minister of music), an interim ministerial staff-person, and eight other men who are apparently deacons.

The letter in its entirety is set out below, and you can see the original of it on church letterhead with the court’s file-stamp here.

When Moore was first arrested, a woman in Franklin was quoted in the news report as saying, “I think it’s really scary to live across the street from a church with a reverend there that’s doing anything like that.”

Scary, indeed.

But I imagine it might also be “scary” for the people of Greenwood if they realized that, despite the serious charges against Daniel Moore in Franklin and despite his guilty plea on March 4th, he was nevertheless allowed to move among them “anonymously.”

Yet, this is what the leaders of Calvary Baptist Church clearly state in their letter to the judge. They declare that, at their invitation, Daniel Moore worshipped among them “quietly, humbly and essentially anonymously.”

Weren’t the parents at Calvary Baptist entitled to at least be told?

That’s the part I think is the most “scary” of all. Twelve leaders of Calvary Baptist Church decided that they knew what was best for everyone else there, and they invited Daniel Moore to join among them “anonymously.”

Now those same twelve leaders have all signed off on a letter to the judge, expressing their support for Moore after his guilty plea on child sex charges.

Perhaps they intended their letter to be a secret. Maybe they hoped it would remain private with the judge. But don’t you think the people of Greenwood are entitled to at least know that this is what the leadership of Calvary Baptist Church chooses to do?

And how do you imagine the victim and her family might feel when they see such a letter from other Southern Baptist church officials?

One thing for sure, I don’t imagine any Southern Baptist officials have extended any support for them.

The Letter of Calvary Baptist Church officials

"Honorable Judge Loyd:

We, the staff and deacons of Calvary Baptist Church, Greenwood, Indiana, are writing regarding Daniel J. Moore, whom you have scheduled for sentencing April 8, 2010. Neither Dan nor his attorney is aware of this correspondence.

For the past ten months Dan has, at our invitation, worshipped among us. He has done this quietly, humbly and essentially anonymously as it is his desire to avoid drawing attention to himself and for his fear of embarrassment to the church.

Dan has been broken and is tearfully repentant, remorseful, regretful and ashamed. Daily, he has spent hours in Bible study, soul searching and spiritual regrowth.

We as staff and deacons stand ready and eager to help Dan in his continued healing and restoration in any way possible. We are writing to inform you of our availability as a support and accountability group for Dan both during and after his incarceration. If you desire or require any communication with us prior to your passing sentence we are certainly available for that also.

Our faith is about God’s forgiveness and restoration. It is certainly not about condoning the transgression but we are seeking to restore the person. If our responsibilities in helping Dan can in any way work hand in hand with your duties, it would be our privilege."


Update 4/2/10: Check out Ed Pettibone's victim-blaming, "two to tango" comments about this case on the BaptistLife forum. Tragically, we have seen similar comments from Ed Pettibone over the course of several years, and his ignorant mind-set is far from unusual in Baptist life.


John Wesley Hardin said...

Wow, i can sure appreciate the spirit of the leadership of that church taking responibility to restore him and offering to work with the judicial system

Anonymous said...

Hah! Restoring him. Yeah, right. Baptists would do a lot better if they would worry a lot more about trying to restore the victims.

Oh yeah, and I just bet he wanted to avoid drawing attention to himself, like they say in the letter. THAT'S HOW PREDATORS OPERATE! Been there, seen that. They're always about secrecy.

And if he's so big on repentance, why isn't he open about what he did? Why is he at that church and mixing among those people (and their children!) "anonymously?"

Anonymous said...

Wonder is this advice from the founder carries any weight:

"Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believed in me, it were better for him that millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." Matthew 18:6

Anonymous said...

I am so tired of it all being so backwards. Aren't the sheep supposed to have a shepherd who fights for their well being? Why in the world would these people stand up for wickedness and not righteousness? What would happen if the church stood behind the wounded with such letters as this? I saw this in my own denomination as the child of a pastor who sexually abused me. It never was about justice but about their own image and welfare.

Anonymous said...

Baptists ARE backwards. They think Matthew 18 says to hang a millstone around the little ones.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"Baptists ARE backwards. They think Matthew 18 says to hang a millstone around the little ones."

One on the internet has put it this way:

" Disgruntled Christians sometimes "unload" their gripes and complaints on young Christians. The writer has seen this over the years and has observed the following. Usually the disgruntled person is cowardly and selfish. He gives no thought to what sort of dreadful effect his complaining might have on the babe in Christ because his only desire is to vocalize his complaints, attack those he disagrees with, and gain the impressionable new convert to his side. The complainer normally talks about "they" as being guilty of displeasing him, but rarely will he name who "they" are. Never does the complainer encourage the new convert to listen to the other side of the story. (An honest person is happy for one to listen to both sides of the story.) Never does the disgruntled complainer separate his opinions from what is Bible teaching. He speaks of his own ideas and opinions as if they had been spoken by Christ himself. He leaves the impression that when the congregation goes against his opinions they have violated the Bible.

Of the offenses mentioned, the discouraging of a new Christian by a disgruntled complainer is the most inexcusable. It is the result of mindless selfishness and constitutes behavior of the worst sort. The leaders of every congregation are encouraged to take quick, direct, and forceful action against those who seek to so damage babes in Christ. Consider the following illustration. Suppose your friend buys a new car and one day finds a man beating it with a big hammer in a parking lot. He calls the police, and they find that the man is mad because his own car won't start so he is taking out his frustration on your friend's new car. We would all regard such behavior as mindlessly selfish as well as criminal. But, this criminal is no worse off than the Christian who ‘beats" a new convert with the "hammer" of his own petty complaints thereby spiritually injuring or perhaps killing the babe in Christ. Such behavior cannot be tolerated!"

So it's addressing the bloggers who bring up the issue.

Christa Brown said...

"He leaves the impression that when the congregation goes against his opinions they have violated the Bible."

Yup. Sounds like one of those Baptist preachers who has kept quiet about one of his buddies' abuse of a kid. Maybe "Shut 'em down Gaines"? But of course, it could be a whole lot of them. They've got a pulpit and they use it for their own ends. They distract from their own dastardly cover-ups by blaming the people who talk about it. "They're just whiners," they say. "And how dare they hurt the cause of Christ and keep us from winning more souls for Christ?" So now we're not only blamed for the abuse perpetrated on us by one of their ministers, but then we're also blamed if we dare to talk about it because they say it causes other people to wind up going to hell. All of it - every last bit of it - makes a mockery of all that they purport to believe.

Alisha said...

The biggest astonisment with this letter is the fact that the members that signed this took it upon themselves to include not only them, but every single member of the church's names through a court case and Dan has only been going to this church for less than a year. Now, if MY church decided to put their name in a court case, which also puts me, as a member, into that letter, I think I should have a right to at least KNOW!, let alone the fact that they don't even have a say in the matter. Also, if you are attending a church, should one not have the right to KNOW that a child molester is worshiping in the same pew? And the people of this church, sons, daughters, parents, aunts, uncles, etc, could have NO CLUE that this man could be looking at their young girls with a "sexual fantasy." The only way this church would know is if they took it upon themselves to find out by news, papers, websites, etc. It is ridiculous, and overall quite scary.

Anonymous said...

do you think for one minute if the predator was my husband...or yours, that church would take him in so willingly??? I think not. how will they keep it all a secret? He is on the sex offenders list.
What is done in secret, shall be shouted from the rooftops...

Christa Brown said...

"Also, if you are attending a church, should one not have the right to KNOW..."

That's the part that always amazes me in these cases. For those on here who weren't raised Baptist, let me just remind you that this is a faith group that purports to place a high value on "congregational autonomy." The congregants are supposed to be the decision-makers. Yet, what we see over and over again is that, too often, important information is hidden from the congregants, and it winds up being about the autonomy of a pastor and his cronies rather than the congregation.

You're absolutely right, Alisha. The congregants had a right to know. They had both a moral right and a right under a basic Baptist doctrine.

John said...

It sounds a lot like "pre-jailhouse religion"!

Anonymous said...

If the pastors wanted to help the predator, could they not have met with him at his house regularly? Why did he have to be in a church service?

If a pastor did get up there and speak of all the harm done to a victim and sympathize with the victim, I think he'd be seen as a traitor by the other pastors. It just seems like it's about protecting the boys group more than anything else. Just like in any organization.

They don't want people to see the harm done in churches, because then the blinders might start falling from the congregation's eyes-wouldn't want that!

Anonymous said...

This is usually spun with wrong teaching on forgiveness. As if forgiveness means no consequences. And the blind sheep go to sleep thinking how forgiving and loving they are.

Nevermind the victims

Ellen said...

I find it very interesting that it was all men who signed the letter. I bet the mothers in the congregation would have a different view if given the opportunity. Thank-you Christa for offering this blog and shedding the true light on the situation. I have known the victim through all this and am very proud of her faith and courage to battle this. Keep prayers flowing for the victims's family and for the families at Calvary Baptist Church. Predators so often hide successfully behind their "kindness" and positions in the world to go lightly punished for their misgivings. I am grateful the judge has seen this as a case that needs to have sound consequences.

David Montoya said...


Ed Pettibone doesn't like me either. Right now he is defending a Baptist leader (former?) who struck a female worker and is using his power and position to cover this act up.

Keep the heat on, sister, this thing can be changed!

Anonymous said...

I think each of you should be ashamed of your response- seems that you have made a lot of assumptions with no foundation- as I read the letter nowhere do I see where the church excused or condoned the behavior of the former pastor- it reads that they stand ready to help restore him to a right relationship with the Lord- EVERYONE- even YOU makes mistakes and the Lord stands ready to forgive and restore you- not throw you away and leave you to find your own way- SHAME ON YOU for trying to twist and turn words to suit your every need and to stir up strife where you have no business!

john said...

MR/Mrs/MISS/ Ms Annon,

Are you familiar with the command to "mark those who walk unruly among you" and then we are instructed to not have fellowship with them. The concern here is that this man was allowed into the fellowship where more victims were made available to him. My suggestion for people in this type of siuation is to follow the Lord's example as He prepared for His call to go to the desert and be alone with God. Most people will not do this out of fear, lack of concern, or just do not believe the Lord will communicate.
This evil behavior must be called out and everyone given the opportunity to deal with it based on their circumstances.
I had a man who had advanced aids but would kiss all of the little old ladies on the front of their cheek every sunday. Being more concerned with TB than AIDS I told him if he continued to do so I would identify him publically. I felt that these 70 80 years old women didn't need to have to worry about his disease.They had earned the right to live better than that.

Christa Brown said...

Anon 5:51 - I'm guessing that you might be one of those many church people who were in the courtroom today to show support for this child-molesting minister. Or many you're one of the many other members of New Whiteland Baptist Church who were so willing to "throw away" this girl and her family after they reported your pastor to police and who never even bothered to call to see how they were doing.

Here's today's article - Daniel Moore was sentenced to 10 years in a courtroom packed with his supporters.

And as for shame . . . I'll tell you where I think the real shame belongs. I believe that almost every Southern Baptist in this country ought to feel shame for having failed as a denomination to implement effective measures to rid the ranks of clergy predators, for having failed to insist that your denominational leaders implement the sorts of accountability measures and safeguards that other major faith groups already have, and for having failed as a denomination to make protection of the young a priority.

Anonymous said...

Whenever a church institution 'feels' threatened, they will group together to self-protect themselves. Institutions are institution centered, and not individual focussed. The institution is always more concerned with the integrity of the institution, at the cost of the abused individual - that is where their care and love lies. As with any cult if you raise an issue, you personally very quickly become the issue. Sad but true. I note that Jesus was nearly thrown off a cliff and he left the institution and as far as I can see never went back to one, except to warn them. What was their response? They had him killed by the Romans.