Last week I was contacted by a mother. She wanted to know if I would help publicize their story.
It’s about her daughter who had been raped by her biological father since she was a very young girl. The girl confided in her church leaders at the McMinnville Church of the Nazarene. The church claims they mistakenly thought she was talking about her stepfather, who worked for the church, and couldn’t believe he would do such a thing.
So they failed to report it. This violates Oregon law as well as very explicit church directives.
Eventually, the girl told her mother and stepfather. They have since filed a lawsuit. The girl is now just 12 years old.
The point of the cartoon is clear: the church is not safe for children. We should know this by now.
This is not to say the church can not be safe for children. The point of the cartoon is that we should not assume it is! It may not be safe precisely because it claims to be safe and is presumed to be safe. But that claim and that presumption is exactly what should make us investigate if it is really safe or not.
This reminds me of how diligent I need to be, as well as all the members, with how safe The Lasting Supper is as an online community. We can’t presume it is. We have to all be diligent to make it and keep it so.
There are so many warnings and so many laws and so many policies because the church has proven that it can’t be trusted with children.
We post warning signs because the threat is real, not because it is imaginary or unlikely.
But, obviously, the warnings, the laws, and the policies are not enough. Even with all these in place, the church leaders, we can safely assume, chose to not report it in order to protect itself and its friends.
As a result, it’s made it worse for everybody involved, not least of which is the girl.
What can we do? I’m not saying the church needs to be abolished or that kids shouldn’t attend. But even greater measures must be taken to protect our children, including digging to the insidious roots of the problem of sexual abuse, the abuse of the children, and the abuse of power by the church.