IS YOUR CHURCH SAFE?
Did you know that your pastor may be a sexual predator who was recirculated into the ministry by the Assemblies of God?
Should there be a distinction between whether a person should be forgiven by God and/or people, and whether a person meets the qualifications laid out in the scriptures to be a leader in the church? You might be surprised that your Assemblies of God church does not think so.
The Assemblies of God claims to believe in the verbal plenary inspiration of the scriptures (i.e., that it is the actual word of God, literally, and must be followed at all costs). However, when it comes to the scriptural mandates for church leadership (1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9), the Assemblies of God throws the scriptures under the bus. The Assemblies of God has a "rehabilitation" program that recirculates sexual offenders back into the ministry under an Assemblies of God credential. And, after they place these offenders back into the ministry, they leave the parishioners in the dark about it. It is difficult to comprehend why anyone, let alone a church, would take on such a legal liability without any apparent benefit in return. It is also difficult to comprehend the hypocrisy. This practice is not only negligent, it is morally reprehensible. It you are also troubled, read on.
What is "IsMyChurchSafe.com" all about?
IsMyChurchSafe.com is about educating people about the inherent risks of entrusting their families to priests, pastor, ministers, and other church leaders who have been recirculated into the ministry after having engaged in serious misconduct. The church organizations who are doing this are negligent and legally culpable for knowingly recirculating these people back into the ministry and then keeping the parishioners in the dark about the risk.
IsMyChurchSafe.com is a forum to shine the light on the truth and expose church organizations who knowingly put people in harm's way.
IsMyChurchSafe.com will be a venue to find counsel so that you may pursue a legal claim against the offending church organizations.
Case in point - The largest conservative, Pentecostal denominations in the world - The Assemblies of God.
Click here for the Assemblies of God website.
Recently, I contacted the Assemblies of God when I learned that they had recirculated into the ministry a man who had previously been terminated by the Assemblies of God because he has sexually abused two girls in his youth group, even plotting the murder of his own wife with one of the girls in order to persuade her to continue in the sexual relationship. Although we were never certain whether the plot of murder was real or intended to manipulate the girl into thinking he was actually serious about a relationship, it is despicable and just as frightening either way. I learned that William Leach was the District Superintendent for the Assemblies of God District who placed this man back into the ministry.
When I asked Mr. Leach how this happened, he said (and I quote): "it was consensual sex, it was only two girls, and this man is now 'rehabilitated'." He then proceeded to talk about "forgiveness", suggesting that forgiveness requires us to look the other way when it comes to evaluating a man's fitness to be a pastor if he has repented or has been deemed as "rehabilitated" after sexually abusing several girls in his youth group.
Are you kidding me? Is there a hidden camera somewhere? Who put this incompetent boob in charge? Really Bill? It was only two girls? How many girls must a pastor sexually abuse before it disqualifies him from the ministry on a permanent basis? It was consensual? When a pastor abuses his authority to sexually abuse anyone in the church, regardless of age, do you really think it should be deemed as "consensual." "Consensual" has a legal meaning, of course, and it is generally 18 years of age, depending on the state. However, the church must be head and shoulders above what is deemed as consensual by civil law. Whenever a pastor has sexual relations with a parishioner with whom he is not married, it must never be deemed as "consensual." This is particularly true in light of the unique relationship between the pastor and parishioner. The parishioner submits to the pastor's authority in the highest regard, relying upon the pastor for confession and spiritual guidance. To abuse that authority and enter into sexual relations with the parishioner is a serious offense which must preclude any further leadership role in the ministry. This is not an opinion, it is what the scriptures mandate under 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9.
Doesn't this guys casual attitude toward recirculating a pastor who sexually abused girls in his youth group call into question this man's fitness to pastor, let alone be a Superintendent of a District?
I decided to contact Richard Hammer, the attorney for the Assemblies of God. Ironically, Richard Hammer is the author of "Reducing the Risk" a comprehensive guide for keeping children safe from sexual abuse in church.
At first, Attorney Hammer seemed to defend the practice of discarding the scriptural requirements for church leadership, even citing the dispute between the apostle Paul and Barnabas, who parted ways, arguing that Barnabas was later restored to the ministry. This argument seem tenuous at best, and disingenuous, at worst. There is a big difference between having a dispute and sexually abusing girls in the church.
Attorney Hammer later backpedaled, agreeing that there is really no scriptural basis "rehabilitating" ministers who have been disqualified by misconduct. He also admitted that it was a bad practice from a legal perspective, at the very least. It should be noted that Attorney Hammer is stuck between a rock and a hard place. He is counsel for the AG. He has produced a spectrum of resources on the subject of sexual abuse in churches and is widely viewed as the foremost expert on the topic. Yet, his employer, the AG, utilizes practices that clearly contradict his counsel, creating legal liability and exposing unsuspecting parishioners to extraordinary risk.
Attorney Hammer went on to indicate that although he provides legal counsel to the Assemblies of God, he cannot guarantee that they will follow it.
When an organization espouses bad practices, the person at the top is responsible. The person at the top for the Assemblies of God is George Wood. George Wood is the General Superintendent for the Assemblies of God. He is also a licensed attorney and member of the California State Bar.
I wonder if George Wood realizes that the California State Bar (CSB) has set higher moral, ethical, and legal standards than the Assemblies of God?
The California Bar Journal is littered with public disclosure of bar suspensions and disciplinary actions against attorneys every month. Any significant offense is listed right at the State Bar website next to the attorney's profile. The CSB does not give some limited disclosure only upon request from a prospective client (which is what the AG supposedly has agreed to do).
Unlike the Assemblies of God, the CSB is transparent and has a strong interest in protecting the public. It should be the other way around. There is no transparency with the AG. This raises serious moral and ethical concerns, not to mention the legal ramifications of leading people to believe the AG is following scriptural mandates for qualifying church leaders, when they are instead ignoring them and putting people in harm's way without disclosing it.
I would like to hear what George has to say about this, wouldn't you? Well, he is now retired. You'll have to speak with Doug Clay, the new General Superintendent (sounds like a very important title). Click here to read about Doug Clay.
Coincidentally, I found an undated article posted at the Assemblies of God website entitled "Churches Act Preemptively To Reduce Risk Of Abuse." In this article, the AG describes how they are acting "preemptively" to reduce the risk of sexual abuse in the church. Really? Remember what Bill Leach said about putting a sexual predator back into the ministry ("it was consensual sex, it was only two girls, and this man is now 'rehabilitated'.")? The AG is tooting their own horn about acting preemptively. However, how can they be acting "preemptively" to reduce the risk of sexual abuse while at the same time recirculating sexual predators back into the ministry? Even worse, they do not tell the unsuspecting parishioners!
Maybe we should put a picture of Pinocchio next to this article. I don't have a picture of Pinocchio, but I do have a scripture: "If anyone causes one of these little ones--those who believe in me--to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." Matthew 18:6
Take a look at the article here, before it disappears: Click here to see the article at the Assemblies of God website.
Here is some interesting data. According to StopBaptistPredators, complaints of sex abuse by Protestant clergy in the United States is prevalent and they document that insurance companies have confirmed with the Associated Press that the Assemblies of God is at the top when it comes to insurance against sexual abuse within the church.
Stay tuned. There is much more to come. We will be exposing fraud in the church to protect unsuspecting parishioners.
IS YOUR CHURCH SAFE?
If you are a victim in need of a referral to a law firm who can file a lawsuit against the Assemblies of God, or any other church that has turned a blind eye toward pastors who are sexual predators, please contact us at email@example.com.