In this day when there are few secrets, and what secrets there may be are only one social media post away from the light of day, it’s time for Christians, churches, and Christian organizations to get their act together.
Forget the mostly bogus complaints about “persecution” and loss of “religious freedom.” Can we once practice a bit of humility and admit that we’ve done as much or more to drive people away by our own misbehavior?
It has gotten to a point where we are not talking about any duties that are specifically “Christian.” We are simply calling for human decency, honesty, maturity, and transparency.
Here are some recent examples of the circus stories prominent in the church today.
From Australia, Michael Frost, in an article called Paying for the Sins of Our Fathers, writes about how “the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle is going broke paying compensation to the victims of child sexual assault by their priests.” “If the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle goes broke and closes down it will be their own fault, not the prevailing headwinds of secularization and the ‘left-leaning mainstream media.’ We are all now paying for the sins of our fathers, men who betrayed their calling to serve the church, who inflicted dreadful suffering on their victims and whose crimes will be paid for by congregations like those at St James, Bungwahl for years to come.”
Dee at Wartburg Watch writes about Francis Chan and others who are warning church members about criticizing church leaders, as if what we should be doing is doubling down on the untouchability of our “anointed.” “We live in a time when people are quick to criticize church and leadership, with this assumption that they know better. It’s just a very, very difficult time for Christian leaders to lead,” he said. Seriously? This is the move to make right now in the current climate? Apparently “accountability” is for disciples not disciplers.
John Ortberg responds to the Bill Hybels controversy at Willow Creek. “I was approached over four years ago with disturbing information that I did not seek out. Along with others who received this information, I directed it to the elders of Willow Creek. The process that followed was, in my view, poorly designed and likely to expose any woman who came forward to grave risks….Anyone who may have been victimized by people in power needs to know that the church of Jesus is their refuge and champion. In this case, the tremendous courage of several women has been met with an inadequate process that has left them without a refuge and with no way to be assured of a fair hearing.” Meanwhile, Hybels, a Christian leader I’ve respected a great deal, sounds more like a certain politician in Washington than a pastor, claiming that the whole thing is “flat out lies.”
Meanwhile, speaking of said politician, “Nearly 8 in 10 white evangelicals approve of Trump’s job performance, compared with 39 per cent of all Americans, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.”
And yet another evangelical leader steps down because of an “inappropriate relationship.”
The Buffalo diocese of the Roman Catholic Church released the names of 42 priests accused of abusing minors. 27 of them are new names, not released previously.
Also, it’s been revealed that two Christian humanitarian charities have been involved in sexual misconduct allegations.
The Mormons are not exempt from all of this either.
Let’s not forget financial fraud.
Speaking of which, this Greek Orthodox Church allegedly mishandled millions of dollars in an “$80 million boondoggle” involving St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine, a rebuilding project undertaken after the 2001 terror attacks in New York City.
In an interview with Christianity Today, Rachael Denhollander, an evangelical Reformed Baptist and one of the victims of the USA Gymnastics scandal, has had a lot to say about the problems with regard to the abuse problems that have beset Sovereign Grace Ministries. “Church is one of the least safe places to acknowledge abuse because the way it is counseled is, more often than not, damaging to the victim. There is an abhorrent lack of knowledge for the damage and devastation that sexual assault brings. It is with deep regret that I say the church is one of the worst places to go for help. That’s a hard thing to say, because I am a very conservative evangelical, but that is the truth. There are very, very few who have ever found true help in the church.”
And the circus goes on. Deeds done in darkness are being brought to light. There’s no place to hide.
Meanwhile, this is some people’s idea of what we need to make us “strong” in these tumultuous days.
Michael is rolling over in his grave right now.