December 16, 2006
How Churches, Police, Grand Juries, and Judges can work together.
The mistake they (Jehovahâ€™s Witnesses) made was when they began tohandle child abuse as an ordinary infraction in the congregation ratherthan [calling the police] - Barbara Anderson, a former top Watchtowerpublications researcher and writer
Early last September a Hunterdon County (NJ) Grand Jury did theirjob. They indicted a former Pastor of what the Express-Times called â€œaclose-knit congregation of about 630 families.â€ The sub-humanâ€™s name isâ€œthe Reverend.â€ John Banko. He is already in the middle of a 15-yearsentence for plugging an Alter boy in â€™93. According to the Express:â€œAbout a year before the new accusations claim, he sexually assaulted a2nd child,â€ whom attended his church. This charge is for the sexualassault of an 11-year-old who was a member of the lopsided named St.Edward the Confessor Roman Catholic Church. How about renaming it St.Edward the Molester Roman Catholic Church? Oh never mind. Some faithsurge their followers to be silent, so they can handle this internally.Here are 3 simple rules to go by if your church is confronted with sucha problem:
1-Donâ€™t let anyone tell you that this is only a â€œChurch matter,â€ aâ€œcongregational matter,â€ a â€œClergy,â€ â€œElder,â€ or doctrinal matter: YourChurch heads are as qualified to handle criminal offenses as yourcable-guy is qualified to run a nuclear power plant. I hate to soundcrude, but it is what it is. Simply contact your local law enforcementagency; police dept. Sheriffâ€™s dept. FBI etc. This is not rocketscience. Yes God is merciful, but God isnâ€™t stupid, he does not wantscum representing him. Police Forensic Experts can determine thevalidity of any accusation. If confirmed as true, he is to be promptlyremoved from his position (thatâ€™s right, leave him hanging) and left tothe judgment of the only organization he now belongs to, the state orfederal judicial system, and the tattooed muscle-bound Aryan Nationsbrotherhood in San Quentin, Attica, or hopefully Ft. Leavenworth, whoawait him with open arms.
2-Donâ€™t be afraid of suggestions or threats of ouster or banishment:Who wants fellowship with a bunch of people who feign to not understanda crime worse than terrorism itself? Thereâ€™s a whole wonderful world ofsupport and friends waiting for you to look after you if you or afamily member are victimized in such a way. Your Ministers, Pastorsetc., do have an important job, and that is to teach the scriptures andprotect the congregation and not run the congregation like a lodge,Elks, or big-boys club. If a fellow Minister or member is accused ofmolestation, then in this case the Bible passage that urges subjectionto the â€œSuperior authoritiesâ€ (i.e. law enforcement) supercedes anysupplemental doctrine made up exclusively through any respectivechurch. Any scripture urging a need of two or more witnesses onlyapplies to that particular time period (ancient times), and even thenit wasnâ€™t to be used for the purpose of protecting the rights of thoseaccused of sexual abuse, especially involving children. Developing amindset of protecting the rights and identity of the victim should bethe main priority of Clergy, as this protects the name of the church.
3-When it comes to the media all bets are off: It would seem to methat church leaders should contact the authorities even before thevictimâ€™s family, in exposing a clergy or laity member as having beenarrested for pedophilia or rape of an adult female, in fact itâ€™s theirjob to urge the family to do so. After handing him over to theauthorities he is to be relieved of his duties until proven innocent.If there is physical proof before a trial, feel free to implement yourchurchâ€™s ex-communication rules (on the suspect dummy). If provenguilty then you donâ€™t want your members to be associated with thatperson until he serves out his sentence. While he has the right toreturn to a congregation, he should be barred from church leadershippermanently. Churches would make it easier on themselves if theyacknowledge that they attract all sorts of people and some are subjectto criminal activity just as the general population is. There can be nohint that the one in question is being enabled. Enabling leads to whatI coin RSM; religiously sanctioned molestation.
Any Pastor, Reverend, Elder, Bishop, etc., who needs a how-to onhandling child molesters within their congregations should know thatthis is not a time to remind your member to â€œwait on the Lordâ€ to takecare of it. This is a callous and unbiblical cop-out that has beenconveniently used to discourage exposure of â€œdirty laundry.â€ Pedophiliais not dirty laundry, embezzlement or adultery is dirty laundry.Pedophilia is an outright abomination, and on this the Lord is waitingon you.
Stevenson is a columnist for the Buffalo Criterion, Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
for a listing of alternate locations.