Thursday, April 7, 2011

ABC's 20/20 will spotlight the Tina Anderson story

“Try to imagine the pain and humiliation of a teenage girl, just 15 years old, who says she was forced to stand in front of a New Hampshire church congregation and confess her ‘sin’ of being pregnant. She says not only was she forced to confess her pregnancy, but also to ask for their forgiveness – with no mention of the man she says sexually abused her.”

That’s the story of Tina Anderson, taken from ABC’s 20/20 press release. 20/20 will spotlight Tina's story this Friday, April 8, at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time and 9:00 p.m. Central Time. Check your local listings.
Meanwhile, you can read more about Tina’s story in my prior blog posts: “Alleged rape cover-up implicates multiple pastors, multiple churches;” “Police say girl raped, then relocated;” and "Stay away." This is a story that implicates Baptist officials and Baptist congregations in New Hampshire, Colorado, Indiana and Wisconsin.

If you’d like to better understand how abuse gets covered-up in Independent Fundamentalist Baptist churches, I suggest Jeri Massi’s book, Schizophrenic Christianity.

The patterns of abuse in IFB churches are quite similar to what we see in Southern Baptist churches. Both types of Baptists claim that every local church is autonomous, and both types use that doctrine as a rationalization to avoid any oversight from outsiders or even from denominational entities.

For both types of Baptists, a central root of the problem is the absence of effective accountability systems for Baptist clergy.


Anonymous said...

The IFB people are circling their wagons --

I hope you will have time to look into the abuses at IFB churches, where pastors are their own accountability system. The whole mess swirls around Bob Jones University (BJU), the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International (FBFI), and the churches, mission boards, schools, and camps that associate with them. It's easy to track down, because everyone serves on everyone else's board - just look at the BJU and FBFI board and officers, and you'll have the names of the lords who rule this subculture.

Just a "for instance" of how everyone is connected -- Dave Canedy, Bob Jones grad and former pastor at Marquette Manor Baptist Church (where Rachel Griffith was raped), now serves as the Deputation Director/US Field Administrator for Baptist World Mission (BWM). His Executive Director is Bud Steadman, who sits on the board of BJU with Chuck Phelps. Chuck Phelps was pastor of Trinity Baptist in Concord, NH (where Tina Anderson was raped). Chuck Phelps is an officer of the Fundamentalist Baptist Fellowship International (FBFI), which is the nerve center of the BJU/IFB circuit.

It's inbred and defensive, just like every other situation you have encountered in the SBC. And again, I hope you'll have an opportunity to do us the good service of looking deeper.


Christa Brown said...

Here's a link to the story about Marquette Manor Baptist Church in Downers Grove, Illinois, whose former youth pastor pled guilty to sexually abusing a young church girl.

Note the last paragraph of the article, pointing out that, during a 5-year period, the same church had two other church officials who were charged with sexual assaults.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I know. It's a mess - and those are just the ones who were exposed. Coverups galore, in God's name . . . It's so sad.


Christa Brown said...

"... and those are just the ones who were exposed. Coverups galore."

Yes. The cockroach analogy is what comes to my mind. If you see a few in the open, you can be sure that there are many, many more hidden in the walls. It's like that with clergy abuse cover-ups. Most of the time, the cover-ups are successful and the abuse stays hidden. The few cases that see the light of day are simply an indication of a much, much bigger infestation.

Unknown said...

I belong to an IFB church, and let me tell you, DONT GROUP US ALL TOGETHER!!! We are INDEPENDENT for a reason! Did this happen to her, im sure it did, but that does not label ALL IFB as this! Grow up!

Phyllis Gregory said...

Dear "Grow Up!", You all are about as INDEPENDENT as Southern Baptists are AUTONOMOUS! You have a central mission board, you have certain schools of higher learning that you all are connected to -- you really aren't Independent.

The 20/20 program was very informative. We all know those girls could have come from SBC backgrounds as well. We have all heard and/or been a part of that very behaviour exhibited by that preacher -- making the victim the bad one and letting the perpetrator continue his life as though nothing ever happened.

Hopefully this opened the eyes of some people who still think churches and church people are perfect.

Anonymous said...


I am a recovering IFB'er who goes to a church that was IFB in the past and I studied theology at two of their schools - This comment of yours is I think, key: "For both types of Baptists, a central root of the problem is the absence of effective accountability systems for Baptist clergy."

Unfortunately I don't know that it is a solvable 'problem' Since they can point out that groups with more accountability still have issues, and being 'autonomous' is considered integral to their theology.

What do you think?

Tom Parker said...


You said:"We are INDEPENDENT for a reason!"

Would you please elaborate on that statement?

Christa Brown said...

"...'autonomous' is considered integral to their theology."

Even with their professed belief in local church autonomy, Baptists manage to cooperate on all sorts of endeavors, including providing better mechanisms for clergy retirements than most churches could do single-handedly. If Baptists wanted to cooperate to promote clergy accountability systems and better protection for kids, they would find a way to do so. The problem is a lack of will. Southern Baptists, in particular, are one of the most well-funded, corporatized, denominational behemoths in the country. They have been very successful at creating a broad sense of denominational identity among Southern Baptists, and that shared faith-group identity should also yield a shared responsibility. I recognize that IFBs are not exactly the same, but they too have the ability to undertake cooperative endeavors. And, if nothing else, IFB churches could engage outside review on a contractor basis, sort of like what this independent mission-sending agency did here:

Here are a few other links to some of my writings that may give you a better idea of what I think on this:
1) "Autonomy: It's a bogus excuse"
2) FAQs about the request for an independent review board:
3) "Good Samaritan holds lesson for treatment of clergy abuse victims"
4) "Baptists must face fear and prioritize risks"

Debbie Kaufman said...

donna aka grow up. I grew up IFBC and you are indeed connected to a network of small IFB churches who are like minded. Independant simply means you are not a Convention like the SBC nor do you have a hierarchy like Methodist, Lutherns or RCC but you are well connected to like minded churches and to colleges such as Bob Jones or Pensicola.

Jeri said...

Thank you for recommending my book. If you missed this previously, Jason Janz, pastor of Providence Bible Church (IFB, nonetheless) has confessed to having molested his sisters and has acknowledged trying to discredit Jocelyn for the past five years. Melissa, Jocelyn's sister, has posted about it on the FFF at this URL: (I will post in a couple different formats, as I am not sure which works in this reader)

John Doe said...

I just finished watching this episode of 20/20 on my DVR. I can say, during the entire episode, I could feel my blood boiling at the audacity, and arrogance, of the IFB churches and their brand of "leadership" and "church discipline."

I found it especially telling when IFB Pastor Chuck Phelps, now pastoring in Indianapolis, was confronted by 20/20 cameras in the parking lot of his new church. Pastor Phelps stated the following to 20/20 as a response to defending keeping an adult rapist of a 15-year-old girl in the church:

"First, I didn't know that he had impregnated a 15-year-old girl.

(This is a lie as earlier in the episode it was noted that the rapist had "taken responsibility" for the baby).

"Remember, it was an accusation made. An accusation is not a conviction."

(True, yet Pastor Phelps also, and on the same Sunday night, had both rapist and victim stand before the congregation to force repentance and instill "discipline" of the victim only even though it was conveniently presented to the congregation as two separate, and unrelated, incidents. It was later independently verified by unrelated church members, and straight out of the pastor's wife's mouth, that the rapist of the girl had been the person to get her pregnant not to mention that Pastor Phelps encouraged no criminal charges, or statement to the police, be filed by the victim). Apparently, there are no mandated reporter laws in New Hampshire which require clergy to report any type of sexual activity between adults and children.

And, lastly, and most offensive to any victim of church abuse, Pastor Phelps states this:

"It's not the responsibility of the church to close the doors to people who have real problems and issues, no matter how heinous and so I think you'll find the community (of IBF churches), historically, has always allowed heinous people, under careful guidelines, to be part of churches."

This one gets me worse than all the other deceit this story portrays. For the IBF church, at the direction of Pastor Phelps, allowed an admitted rapist (even if the rapist and pastor claimed it was consensual sex between an adult and 15-year-old - the law calls it rape) to remain as a regular participant in the church while shunning the victim by placing her on an airplane to a location half-way across the country.

Once the victim has the baby and gives it up for adoption, she comes back to her old New Hampshire church and they promptly excommunicate her for "having a baby" and "being a bad influence." I can only guess that the victim in this case was far worse than even the most "heinous" person - a child rapist, or culpable pastor, per se - and Pastor Phelp's IBF church had to make her disappear from the pews.

Early on, I had the innate sense that this was, indeed, a cult. Only later in the program did we see the other victim who started her "IBF Cult" page on Facebook. All power to her and those who WILL speak out against abuse in these cults.

It is totally disgusting what adults do to children in our society. I pray these predators pay dearly.

KOsment said...

I understand the focus on the perpetrator in this forum. HOWEVER, understanding the true nature of abuse and what this does to a person's body, mind and spirit is HUGE! The use of scripture to teach modesty (and in these churches that is huge) and sexual purity which is then overridden by the violation creates a situation where not only was this person "excommunicated" they literally have to override their own body to enter into any trusting intimate relationship. I lack the words to adequately describe the trauma to the psyche of (myself) these "victims" ( and "victim" is a word that inadequately identifies the impact of this kind of abuse against our bodies)

Christa Brown said...

KOSment: I agree. This sort of abuse has a huge, long-lasting and very destructive impact on a person's mind, body and spirit. The devastation can be so great that some call it "soul murder." Here are just a few places where I have written and posted additional links about this:

For you and all abuse survivors, I hope you may find some place of peace within yourself.