Yesterday, 143 years after the birth of Church of God in Christ founder Bishop CH Mason, ReportCOGICAbuse.com was launched (1) in defense and support of victims of COGIC clergy sexual abuse (2) in support of survivors of clergy sexual abuse and (3) to confront ongoing silence and inaction against such abuses.
Its understandable that some COGIC members would take immediate offense (although unwarranted), some will understand, but perhaps remain silent and some will try to sort out what they perceive as legitimate versus nonlegitimate information on the site.
As I’ve said here previously and on the site, this isn’t theory or conjecture on my part, as a survivor of sexual molestation while growing up in COGIC, I speak from painful past experience and intimately know what is like to be the object of someone’s untoward sexual desires.
That being said, I’ve agreed to answer the following questions posed by Julia Thuston who commented she was “very skeptical” of the new site.
There’s no real guarantee that the answers will satisfy her or anyone else, but unlike leaders of the COGIC, I will answer honestly and openly about this site and its intentions.
Thuston: The question would be what happens to the information given to these “watch dog” groups.
First, let’s orient ourselves to proper biblical terminology in regards to this effort. In the Old Testament, the term watchman or “watchman on the wall” was synonymous with a God-ordained position of trust. You can check Is 62:6, Neh 4:9, 2 Sam 18:24, Ezekiel 33:2,3 and more. Please note their specific duties. They had a mission to ensure safety and peace. Jesus commanded us to “watch” as well as pray that we enter not into temptation. In other words, beware lest you be fooled by deceitful people and situations. This is not an indictment on COGIC, but an indictment on sin which needs to be dealt with at the roots. Unfortunately it is our belief that the leadership of COGIC has failed miserably to do so. God commanded the watchman to set on the wall and to declare what he sees (Is 21:6). Not only have we seen it, we’ve shown proof of its existence. We are not “watch dogs” (a pejorative), rather we function as watchmen (an honorable service to the body of Christ).
Information given to ReportCOGICAbuse.com may come from many sources, but until they are vetted, with accompanying evidence, it will not appear on the site. If information is given to us of a current situation, rest assured we will immediately pass on the information to authorities. One of the factors which aid molesters to go undetected for so long is ignorance, whether willful or not. The other factor is opportunity. If we do not shine the light on this issue, it will only grow worse with time. The site is to serve notice to any man or woman stalking a child or another vunerable member of the church, if God so allows to expose you, we will gladly assist. Repent and turn now while God’s mercy allows it.
Thuston: Is this ministry or just slander?
Not one, single person or situation cited on ReportCOGICAbuse.com is remotely slanderous. All have been traced to official legal documents and or verified media reports (which also cite court records) and/or official COGIC documents. In addition, everything can be verified as all are matters of public record.
Slander is legally defined as making of defamatory statements by a transitory (non-fixed) representation, usually an oral (spoken) representation. Libel involves the making of defamatory statements in a printed or fixed medium, such as a magazine or newspaper. Biblically, both would be summarized as lying or bearing false witness.
It is ministry because the fundamental definition of ministry is finding and meeting needs. This is a need that has been rejected by COGIC’s leadership and God has given it to us.
Thuston: When do we actually do Galations 6.
Galatians 6 which states that spiritual members of the Body are to restore a brother who is overtaken in a fault is certainly to be considered in these cases. And no one is beyond forgiveness and restoration. We do need to understand the connotation of “overtaken” as opposed to pursuit and maintenance of a sinful lifestyle. However, sexual crimes pose a legitimate caveat for Gal 6. To wit, a sexual crime and a sexual sin ( or fault) are not automatically interchangeable, thus consequences come to bear. If a brother committed a sexual sin, forgiving and restoring him or her would be the sole jurisdiction of the church or at least those who are spiritual. Galatians 6 is applicable. If a brother committed a sexual crime which is also sin, the church does not hold sole jurisdiction and Galatians 6 is only applicable in part. While such a one can be forgiven, restoration (and restitution) is in the hands of the state. When we unjustly use scripture to protect individuals from facing the consequences of their crime, we become partakers of their sin and instead of facilitating the intent of Gal 6, we thwart it.
Thuston: Are the abused really helped on this sight [sic]?
Yes, they are. The site sends a clear, unwavering message that we do not support those who violate the innocent. Very few persons who are sexually abused jump out in the open and fight their abusers. The reason is because they have been conditioned by the abuser to be quiet and submissive. We stand in the gap and speak up for them. This helps them to gain confidence to go forward towards restoration. Unfortunately, confidence is not all they need. They need justice, they need compassion and they need compensation to handle counseling (and medical) bills in the wake of a plethora of emotional, sexual and relationship deficiencies that result from sexual damage. At the very least, if the guilt of the perpetrator is proven, why isnt grace, compassion and assistance extended by the church to the victims and their families? Are they somehow unworthy of this because they were forced to seek justice outside of the church? We have already cited how COGIC ignored and in some cases chastised the numerous victims and families of Bishop John Husband while they offered the guilty man help and an open door back to his position. Is that justice?
Additionally, we welcome the assistance of COGIC members in the legal, counseling and medical fields to offer their expert services to victims and their families. We need a healing support community to help with the intangible aftermath of sexual abuse. Its my belief that the Women’s Department could very easily absorb this responsibility given its natural function of teaching and raising children and young women. And we must not forget that there are many young men who have been sexually violated that have never spoken up yet they suffer the same.
Thuston: Will there be an actuall [sic] investigation of the situations that are reported on this sight[sic]?
If you take time to actually read each case cited, you will see patterns emerge. If you read the deposition of Enoch Perry (which is posted), you will see that COGIC is either in shambles or someone is clearly lying about the structure and governance of the church. Either one spells serious disservice to victims of clergy sexual abuse. We certainly hope Bishop Blake will direct and organize the appropriate persons within COGIC to deal with the problem. As you can see from the two year old public quotes made by Bishop Blake, he has no intention of doing so. Therefore, ReportCOGICAbuse.com became a necessity.
Thuston: Or will as the person cited every COGIC church and preacher be targeted by the actions of very few?
No, we have not speculated or entertained rumors nor implicated anyone not guilty. But the guilty, proven in a court of law, reflect negatively on the whole church. Its not ethical for the whole church to beam with pride over the positive accomplishments of a few, but divorce themselves from the criminal activity of a few. In most of the cases we cited, these men had been part of COGIC for decades if not more. While I agree that not every person in COGIC is directly responsible for the actions of its members, those who KNOW and remain silent are equally guilty. Furthermore, the scriptures warn us that it only takes a small amount of leaven to affect the whole lump. Incidentally, this warning was given as a result of leaders in the Corinthian church refusing to deal with sexual sin in their midst.
Thuston: Or will this just end up as another “National Enquire” gosip slander site?
No, your fears are completely unfounded. Gossip is sinful and deadly. Gossip is defined as habitually spreading intimate or private rumors or facts. What we have done is to gather already public information, archive it and present it as evidence that the problem is far greater than some believe it to be. Trust that we know much more that we are able to speak about at this time. But let judgment begin at the house of God. His house is to be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a place where sexual thieves find comfort. That is truly an abomination the National Enquirer could never come close to duplicating.
—Thanks for your questions.