The Epidemic of Denial: Sexual Abuse in Church

Christian Pastors, clergy involved in sexual abuse spikes in the last decade

The list of Christian pastors accused of sex abuse gets longer, and it’s disheartening. For example, Southern Baptist churches in the USA found 380 clergies and leaders accused of sexual misconduct, with over 700 victims, according to Houston Chronicles.

In 2017, at least seven Christian pastors were accused of sexual misconduct in the United States alone.

  • Chris Hill, a pastor associated with Bishop T. D. Jakes resigned in 2017 over alleged adultery with a member, who he officiated.
  • Senior pastor Mitch Olson accused of sexually assaulting a member in 2017, during an “anointing session” to cleanse her of sexual sins.
  • The list goes on with Ralph Stair, Eddie Hilburn for prostitution, Paul Burress, Terry Knighten, Garry Evans, all accused of sexual misconduct in 2017.

The epidemic of denial continues, until they were exposed

  • In 2018, Willow Creek senior pastor Bill Hybels was forced to face sex abuse allegations which he consistently denied.
  • In 2019, pastor Anthony Haynes, with other church accomplices, was finally convicted of engaging in sex trafficking of a minor and child exploitation.
  • In 2020, Hybels’ mentor, Gilbert Bilezikian had also engaged in “inappropriate behavior.” The church had known about the allegations since 2010 but failed to act.
  • A few months after his death, Ravi Zacharias’ a formal investigation confirmed what he had been denying for years.

Ravi Zacharias for the win

In 2020. Ravi Zacharias‘ double life was exposed after years of investigation. Despite Ravi’s brilliant approach to apologetics, he could be in hell if he never repented. Many called him a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Ministry leaders rushed to empathize with Ravi instead of the victims, according to Kyle Howard. These churches justify his sin with a flawed view of sanctification.

If Ravi’s victims did not persist, his sins would not have been exposed. The Washington Post calls all these “The epidemic of denial about sexual abuse.”

Bill Hybels, Gilbert Bilezeikian lionized by Willow Creek

During Willow Creek’s 2021 core meeting, its lead pastors lionized him. One member commented, “Nothing has changed at Willow. Still not honoring the victims, still not calling out the perpetrator. Instead, laughing about it and praising him.

In the same year, Hybel’s daughter Shauna Niequist broke her silence about his dad. She said, “I apologize for my silence,” but nothing about his father’s sin and how they intend to rectify it. 

Tom Randall’s church fudging the real story

In the Philippines, missionary Tom Randall who started Sankey Samaritan children’s orphanage, was accused of sexual abuse by orphans and staff.

Joe Mauk exposed the alleged huge cover-up. He rebuked Randall and his church, the Christ Community Chapel in Ohio.

DISTURBING: Gilbert Bilezekian dubbed a “legend” by Hybels, was introduced like a “rock star” at Willow Creek’s 40th Anniversary in 2015. The problem here is not just Bilezekian’s misconduct, but how some churches have literary turned dark and glorified men.

How does a Christian respond to pastors who abused grace and sexually assaulted members

The simplest answer is in the parable of the prodigal son. If these church leaders repent and return to the fold, we must forgive and welcome them back.

It’s that simple, but who said it was easy?

These preachers have shamed the body and trampled the blood of Jesus. They may not even be of Christ (Hebrews 6:4-6). No wonder Jesus will say plainly, “I never knew you…” (Matthew 7:23)

A genuine Christ-follower crucified the flesh with its passion and desire (Galatians 5:24).

Why Pastors must preach repentance.
The rise of pop Christianity.


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