Left Behind: When will Baptists catch up with #MeToo?

Left Behind: When will Baptists catch up with #MeToo?

Andy Savage (Credit: Christian Today)


At a Southern Baptist mega-church in Memphis, pastor Andy Savage admitted to having a “sexual incident” with a 17-year-old girl twenty years earlier. The congregation’s response? Silence? Boos? No, a standing ovation.

The admission came after the now-grown woman, Jules Woodson, posted a January 5 #MeToo account on social media, describing conduct constituting sexual assault. Woodson said Savage offered to take her home after a church event and instead drove her down a dark dirt road to an isolated area where he had her perform oral sex on him. Savage was then a youth pastor at the Houston-area Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church.

Woodson wrote that she was motivated to come forward after seeing Savage’s social media posts in which he decried Matt Lauer and other men accused of sexual assault and misconduct. Soon after the post was published, Woodson painfully recounted her story for a local Memphis TV station.

Shortly after the alleged assault, Woodson reported Savage’s conduct to associate pastor Larry Cotton, but like so many other victims of clergy-perpetrated abuse, the teen received little support. “He said something to the effect of, ‘So you’re telling me you participated?'” Woodson told the Austin American-Statesman. “This wave of shame came over me, greater than I had ever felt before.” Read More »

The Cardinal Pell Case: A Turning Point for the Catholic Church?

Cases of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church are so prevalent, we tend not to pay much attention to them. But child advocates are keeping a close eye on one case that could mark a new beginning in how the church and outside authorities hold high-ranking church officials accused of sexual abuse accountable.

Cardinal George Pell, a top advisor to Pope Francis, has been charged with multiple child sexual offenses in Australia. A the age of 76, Pell is the highest-ranking Vatican official to be formally charged for sexual offenses. While details of the charges have not been made public, they are said to be “historical,” meaning that the alleged crimes occurred long ago and involve multiple accusers. Read More »

Faith Communities Meet the Needs of Abused Children and Adult Survivors

Faith Communities Meet the Needs of Abused Children and Adult Survivors

Meet Peter Singer and David Pittman, two advocates who are serving the needs of child victims of maltreatment and survivors of sexual abuse. The Child-Friendly Faith Project is honored to have each give an important presentation at this year’s conference on Dec. 4th and 5th in Austin, Texas.

Peter will talk about how to engage faith communities in providing needed services to children and families impacted by maltreatment. David will explain how faith communities can help provide mental health services to survivors of child sexual abuse.

Through their nonprofit organizations, both men have found ways to guide faith communities so they can improve the lives of those who have been harmed by child abuse and neglect. Read More »

What does a victim of child sexual abuse look like? Don’t ask Christianity Today.

What does a victim of child sexual abuse look like? Don’t ask Christianity Today.

girl with red veil shutterstock_reducedAn embarrassing apology published by Christianity Today shows that leaders in the faith community still have a lot to learn about child sexual abuse.

The readers of Christianity Today have taught the magazine a lesson—they know more about child sexual abuse then its editors do.

Last Monday, CT published an article on its Leadership Journal website written by an unnamed pastor who is serving time in prison on sexual abuse charges. The article, entitled “From Youth Minister to Felon: My spiral of sin destroyed my life and ministry,” was intended to prevent abuse. Instead, however, it showed that CT editors can be just as insensitive to victims of abuse as many religious leaders have been. Read More »

Sex abusers use religion to control their victims

This article originally appeared in LaCrosseTribune.com.

Child sexual abuse takes an often-unrecognized spiritual toll because many predators use religion to hush their victims, says Victor Vieth.

Churches and children’s advocates need to acknowledge that influence to thwart abuse and help victims heal, said Vieth, executive director of the National Child Protection Training Center in Winona, Minn. Read more