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Another church rocked by a sex abuse scandal

I’m starting to lose count of these horrid cases. At least this time we can’t blame it on the water in Colorado; the fallen religious leader of the day is Memphis’s Paul Williams, who is director of prayer programs and special projects at the 28,000-member Bellevue Baptist Church. He’s in hot water over charges that he molested a family member 17 years ago.

The current pastor, Dr. Steven Gaines, has been accused of trying to sweep the matter under the rug — he has know about the allegations since June and took no action. (PageOneQ):

While explaining that he thought the issue had been resolved, Gaines said he kept the information private because “the event occurred many years ago.”

This past week, Gaines told his congregation that it was necessary to address the church’s lack of policies in such situations, so they may “have some guidance in these areas should they occur in the future.”

AgapePress has more on this wretched mess, and it’s clear that cases of molesting religious leaders in this church are handled as deftly as it is at the Vatican. Look at Gaines’s lame defense:

I acted out of a heartfelt concern and compassion for this minister because the event occurred many years ago,” he said, adding that he was concerned about confidentiality while Williams was receiving professional counseling. “In light of the events that have unfolded,” he continued, “I realize now that I should have discussed it further with this minister and brought it to the attention of our church leadership immediately.”

…But Dr. Michael Spradlin, president of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary — located across the street from Bellevue on property donated by the church — says that is not good enough. In today’s (Wednesday, Dec. 20) Commercial Appeal (Memphis) newspaper, he has called for Gaines to step down. Spradlin says if Gaines did indeed know about this months ago and did nothing, then he should resign immediately.

We cannot take chances with other people’s children,” the seminary president told the Commercial Appeal. “If he knew about this and kept quiet, then he’s put Bellevue in a very dangerous position and possibly put children and the emotionally vulnerable at risk.”

It’s mind-blowing to read story after story about people purporting to be moral and spiritual leaders, covering up the filth within and pretending that all is well as long as the flock keeps passing and filling the plate, sitting in their Sunday finest, all believing that everyone is either chaste or making babies in the bonds of holy matrimony. It’s nice to see it all unraveling. Jerry agrees:

Of course, at this time we don’t know the specifics of the allegation, and details of the “coverup,” but the “holier than thou,” unctuous, sanctimonious rhetoric that assaults our nostrils and psyches is, again, shown to be the poison that it is; many people’s attitudes toward Christianity is further jaded, not merely by one or more sexual escapades of some clergy, but by the hypocrisy that is rife when the false gospel of legalism, perfectionism, and exclusion is propounded as “Christianity.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding