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No gloat, no complaint
I just read the article about the looming Protestant sexual abuse crisis. I am very glad that you are not gloating over the Catholic church's crisis, but have exposed what is happening in Protestant churches. With stuff like this happening, and continuing to happen, why are we complaining about the decline of our culture? - Trudy Klassen, Prince George, British Columbia
I salute Lynn Vincent, Marvin Olasky, and those at WORLD for the courageous and loving decision to publish "Clergy sexual abuse: the Protestant problem." I was shocked and angry. After I cooled down I prayed for the victims and victimizers. I am so thankful that the Lord is using you to educate and help churches do the loving thing: to discipline in love. - David W. Locke, Wall Township, N.J.
Although the conduct of those pastors is unconscionable, I was even more disturbed by the condition of our evangelical churches. How effective can a church be when its congregants agree to use pornography in "counseling"? When such pastors are "ministering" in the pulpit? How effective can our evangelical churches be when some of them refuse to take allegations of such blatant sin seriously? It is heartbreaking. Being involved in congregational care ministry, I am well aware that the stories featured in your article are not unique, unfortunately, but all too common. - Lauri Krentz, Williamsburg, Kan.
Thank you so much for your courageous article. It is easy to blame other religions for their shortcomings while ignoring injustices and abuses within our own congregations and denominations. As a church we fail the victim, congregation, and community by not holding the leaders of our flocks accountable for their safety. We fail those who abuse others by not bringing their misdeeds to light. We fail God by "turning the other cheek" because we have a responsibility to stop these crimes. - Jayme Cherry, McKinney, Texas
Ignoring sin in the church doesn't make it go away. Too many of our leaders are overcome with the power, prestige, and position afforded them by complacent congregants. Church leadership is made up of regular men who face everyday temptation. This knowledge should encourage peer accountability and increase fervent prayer. - Tim Leiphart, Red Lion, Pa.
Thank you for this article. Eight months ago, God called me into a prayer ministry in the area of sexual bondage, and I have discovered the hidden presence and paralyzing shame of this in our churches. Exposure is the first step to defeating this enemy and bringing the great healing that is truly available through Christ alone. - Marilyn Amburgy, Duluth, Ga.
"Clergy sexual abuse: the Protestant problem" made for unpleasant reading, and I'm sure the decision to run it was not made lightly. I think it's a topic that needs to be discussed, and the statistics you cited are compelling evidence of this. - David Taylor, Easton, Md.
Your article about clergy sexual abuse was appropriate, and I want to encourage you to continue to tell the truth in love. - Susan Wampler, Austin, Texas
Thank you for the informative article on clergy sexual abuse. It was well done. Next time, however, could you please print such subject matter on the center pages so I can rip it out without damaging the rest of the magazine before handing it over to the kids. - Jean Crocco, Harvard, Ill.
I love WORLD. I frequently urge people to subscribe and I keep copies in the reception room of my dental office. But the March 30 issue goes in the trash. We just don't need to know that much. - Robert E. Carpenter, Kerrville, Texas
The March 30 cover story article was timely and informative, but, in my view, it was too informative. I realize that you placed warnings on the front cover and the start of the article, but why should a Christian magazine have to place that type of warning on their material? We don't need to have our heads in the sand regarding unpleasant issues, but please consider the number of people, men in particular, who are fighting to keep their minds pure. - Elaine Parsley, Arlington, Texas
I applaud you for taking on the tough issue of sexual abuse in the church. I thought you handled the issue with clarity, grace, and truth. The church should not be shocked by such sin, but amazed at the grace of our God. Hopefully, it will cause elder boards and denominational leadership to keep this kind of sin from ruining more local churches. Also, may I recommend that, when you have an issue with questionable content for young readers, you wrap the magazine in paper. My 13-year-old son sometimes gets our mail. I encourage him to read WORLD and we have had many meaningful discussions about articles and columns. This issue is one I am not so sure I want him reading about yet. - Tom McKnight, St. Louis, Mo.
Way over the line
I believe your cover story overstepped the boundary of morality, modesty, and ethics. This issue can and should be addressed, but certainly not with all the sordid, repulsive, and disgusting details of the lifestyles of the perverted. We Christians need not stoop to the cesspools of this world to tell people there is nothing there but filth. - Earl Thompson, Friendship, Md.
"Clergy sexual abuse: the Protestant problem" was not news, and I personally would have liked to have spent my time reading something else. I dumped my subscription to local newspapers to avoid reading this kind of muck. I am not certain exposing the problems in other churches will do much to fix the problem, and I think your graphic descriptions of the incidents were a bit much. - Alecia Everett, Lewisville, Texas
After asserting that WORLD is "purposely leaving out of this story gross specific detail" on page 20, on the next page you describe Mr. Cross's sexual abuse of Mrs. Scott in gross specific detail ("Why do we cover this?" March 30). By not only reporting, but describing, that sexual abuse, you adopt the tabloid mentality you have decried. We hope that this does not represent a trend in WORLD. - Robert & Clelia Callihan, Potlatch, Idaho
My stomach was sickened as I read "Clergy sexual abuse: the Protestant problem." I had to stop reading, and I can not bear to think of the homes with small children and teenagers that have received this magazine. I never want to read such examples and descriptions of impure, immoral actions ever again. - Marianna Winkler, Bryan, Texas
I am extremely disappointed in the way you wrote the article on clergy abuse. I am from one of those towns that you wrote about, and I did not need to know all those details. I believe that you have sensationalized the issue of clergy abuse. Members of this congregation are trying to heal from this tragic event, and by seeing the whole thing in print again, the wound has been reopened. My husband and I will not renew our subscription due to your insensitivity. - Becky S. Weers, Fergus Falls, Minn.
I loved not WORLD, neither the things that were in WORLD, for all that was in WORLD's March 30 cover story was not from the Father. Therefore, WORLD is passing away from my home. Please cancel my subscription at once. - Don Mathis, LaGrange, Wyo.
Your coverage of clergy sexual abuse was excellent; you were caring, concerned, and factual. You addressed the issue while being sensitive to the offensiveness of the subject matter. - Jacqueline Ellers, Carol Stream, Ill.
I commend you for the courageous coverage of a subject most of us would just as soon keep hidden. You have done a major favor for the women and couples whose lives have been turned upside-down by the evil of clergy sexually abusing women under their care, and have put abusers on notice that the evangelical church is no longer a safe place to hide. - Rodney Veldhuizen, Yankton, S.D.
"Clergy sexual abuse: the Protestant problem" was unsettling. I'm included in the count of those who have been "touched" by a pastor or church leader. Sometimes I can look back on the past and firmly understand what was my responsibility and feel confident that I've done what I could to forgive those who offended me. Other times, such as now, there is a sense of lostness as though my family and I just didn't matter. It hurts thinking, "Why didn't the church and the board handle things differently? Would things then have been any easier for me and my family?" It seems that some of those who are in authority in our churches truly don't realize the power they possess. - Pat McCartney, East Lansing, Mich.
By the manual
By the manualI am a member of the Church of the Nazarene in Minnesota and also have a District Minister's License. I was not aware of some of the details regarding Mervin Kelley and find that the knowledge hits hard, both because of the victim's suffering and, I would admit, the "guilt by association" factor. However, you did not report that the District Superintendent and the District Advisory Board quickly and decisively acted when supplied information about what was happening. Mervin Kelly had to immediately surrender his ministerial credentials and was removed from the pulpit according to the rules in our Church Manual. I am very grieved that this happened but very proud of my leadership's reaction to it. - Dean Potts, Maple Grove, Minn.
Breaking the silence
Congratulations to WORLD for breaking the silence about clergy sexual abuse, a problem that has been shrouded in secrecy in our evangelical churches for years. I would add that those who "call out" and avoid sexual advances may be just as victimized by disbelieving church members as those who succumb. As coordinators of faith-based resources for CSA victims, we hear often from evangelical women who report sexual advances, only to be forced out of the church by those who insist the parishioner must be "overly sensitive," "nonforgiving," or trying to destroy Rev. Abuser. Unfortunately, many women feel the only way to safely respond to sexual advances in evangelical churches is to stay silent. While that allows them and their families to remain in their beloved congregations, it puts other vulnerable parishioners at risk. - Wayne & Gerri Stowman, Fergus Falls, Minn.
As President of AdvocateWeb, a resource for those sexually abused by authority figures, I encounter many people who have been deeply harmed by clergy abuse. I commend WORLD for covering this important topic. This problem has not only led laity to lose faith in the church and its leaders, it has also led many to lose faith in God. It is time for the church to repent and turn away from this terrible sin, and do whatever it can to help victims and their families find healing and support. - Kevin Gourley, Austin, Texas
As a clinical psychologist, I feel that the article on clergy abuse was first rate. It was the most thorough piece of research I've seen. I wish the "mainstream press" would emulate the style and quality of this work. - Gary Schoener, Minneapolis, Minn.
As a pastor and as a licensed professional counselor who counsels convicted adult male sex offenders, I congratulate you for publishing this article. The irony is that pastors, counselors, and other professionals who sexually abuse counselees are almost always much more highly aware of the evil they are perpetrating than the men in my groups, some of whom are certified mentally retarded, and others who are high-school drop-outs. I agree that such deeds must be exposed. The Protestant churches and parachurch ministries are demonstrating a lack of honesty and integrity equalling that being trumpeted by the press right now in Roman Catholicism, and your article didn't even mention married Protestant ministers who are assaulting children. - Marshall Pierson, Bellefontaine, Ohio
Women have a role
Having spent the last 10 years in a ministry which often calls for one-on-one counseling, I have a very simple rule that makes even the appearance of clergy sexual abuse virtually impossible: I am never alone in a closed room with a member of the opposite sex. If such meetings are necessary, either my wife, who has experience similar to mine, or another woman similarly trained is always there. This may appear too cumbersome to many, but the added prayer power and frequent additional insights more than make up for it. Most importantly, however, nothing untoward ever happens. I would add that if a male minister feels he doesn't need such arrangements, his counselees should wonder why he can't or won't accommodate them. In this day and age, females seeking counsel from males, alone in a room wherever it is, need to be especially wary. - James D. Kohlmann, Apopka, Fla.
I was deeply distressed and grieved after reading "Clergy sexual abuse: the Protestant problem." What a blight on the kingdom of God. In my opinion, there is never any good reason why a male member of the ministry should be counseling a female concerning personal sexual matters. If there is a problem in that area, it should be dealt with by another female, preferably an older woman who has the wisdom of God. I challenge the women of God to rise up and assume the role that God has given us, that of teaching, guiding, and nurturing the younger women in the body of Christ. By eliminating opposite-sex counseling sessions, the church can stop much of this sinful behavior before it has a chance to get started. - Beverly Daffron, Rochester, Minn.
As executive director of Sunshine Gospel Ministries and one who is grateful for the evangelistic and other aspects of Campus Crusade for Christ, I am deeply troubled that the same ministry that promotes the "Why wait?" campaign of Josh McDowell would continue a relationship with a confessed abuser of rape and incest victims. Mr. Cross's name no longer appears on the Student Venture schedule for this summer, but I hope that the ministry will be more forthright in renouncing its endorsement of such a man. - Joel Hamernick, Chicago, Ill.
I found the pastors' behavior sickening, and I grieved for all those who were involved. But what I found more disturbing and incredible was the lack of any discipline for Mr. Cross. The fact that Mr. Cross countersued-the fact that he thinks he is owed anything for his "shame"-suggests to me that he does not have a repentant heart. He should not be in the pulpit, and he certainly has no place speaking to thousands of youths at Campus Crusade for Christ rallies. And where was Mr. Alexander, the rest of their family, and the Rosedale deacon board? They ignored, if not encouraged his "unfruitful works of darkness." - Brent & Megan Tompkins, Midland, Mich.
Thanks for taking on this issue. If there is a safe place on earth, it should be the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
But I would point out the other side of this issue: intentional assaults and false accusations against pastors by female church members. I know a pastor who has refused repeated seduction, calls, and gestures from a female member of his church who later fabricated stories intended to destroy his character, reputation, and ministry. After the church leaders' intensive investigation and the voluntary withdrawal of the female member, the matter ceased to be a topic of gossip. But the reputation of this pastor suffered irreversible damages. - Kenny Yau, Cordova, Tenn.
I was blessed and saddened by Andree Seu's "Alone in the tunnel" (March 30). Blessed because its message encouraged me to continue following Jesus through the tunnel of temptation. Saddened because it reminded me of the temptations my sister Katrina (age 19) faced as she struggled with an eating disorder for two years. Last fall, Katrina believed she couldn't make it to the other end of the tunnel. On Oct. 19, weary of battling the vicious cycle of temptation, she went Home early. My family and I are discovering that there are many other young women like our Katrina, who desperately need someone to come alongside and help them "pursue courage ... by His grace." - Heidi Wahl, 18, Cut Bank, Mont.
"Alone in the tunnel" was insightful and encouraging. Lately I have come to realize how often I don't even make it "into the cave." Yet my hope is that greater joy awaits me if I venture into that awful labyrinth. My prayer the last two years has been, "Lord, help me store up treasure in heaven." I only recently have begun to realize what the Scripture means when it says that a crown is awaiting those who overcome. - Jack Heald, London, England
I just started receiving WORLD with the March 23 issue and have so far found Andree Seu to be the best reading in the magazine. Her March 30 column was one of the very best things I have ever read. - Nathan Vieth, Martell, Neb.
The UN's decision to "summarily dismiss without benefits" UN aid workers and peacekeepers linked to sexual abuse in refugee camps is atrociously weak and unjust ("Policing or protecting?" March 30). These thieves, rapists, and conscienceless exploiters of helpless children need to be vigorously prosecuted. - William J. Kist, Barrington, Ill.
I am pleased to see WORLD run a cover story on Christianity and pop culture ("Foot in the door," March 23). Let us not support movies, books, bands, and the like only because they are conservative or Christian. Instead, we should support excellence. If you want to change the world through culture, you have to be likeable by the masses, not just the Christian masses. For too long the Christian music scene has catered to the Christian audience, producing mostly bad music with cheesy lyrics. We should strive for excellence and hold other Christians to higher standards. Then maybe our culture will listen. - Philip Roan, Berkeley, Calif.
Your cover story on Christianity and culture was important and timely, but I have some reservations. I am a middle-school pastor and feel somewhat informed about the music kids are listening to. In today's postmodern culture, I would be hesitant to call bands that are on the edge "Christian." Even if they say they are Christian, we must be careful to understand what they mean by that term. For example, although Creed's lead singer Scott Stapp grew up in a Christian home, he is not a professing Christian. Band members, as you say, "seem" to accept the Christian Creed, but do they? Or are they on a journey to find what they believe? Too many parents will rely on your article as proof there's nothing wrong with these bands, but there is always something wrong with blind consumerism and parenting. Parents talking with and listening to music with their kids is always the best model for determining which bands make up the "oases" you describe. - Alan Mercer, Leawood, Kan.
I found "Foot in the door" and "Working from within" (March 23) very interesting and encouraging on several levels. Christians need to encourage and support those in the media and entertainment fields. Successful films bring home a point and hopefully some moral values while entertaining, leading to more soul searching among the audience. Preachy films only see the light of a Christian bookstore's shelves; they never make it into the darkness of the world. - Kris Fair, Wichita, Kan.
We, the monster
"Impotent condescension," while describing Europe's fear and envy of American power, also exposes some things about the United States (March 30). Without a national leadership with a clear moral purpose and a real Christian restraint of power, we, too, could become the monster we now condemn. This power could just as easily be used for self-serving, evil purposes, like we have seen in the past, as it could be used for the good of ourselves and the rest of the world. - Johnny Babb, McDonough, Ga.
Regarding "Impotent condescension": Right on. - Anders J. Rasmussen, Weston, Wis.
Special thanks to Gene Edward Veith for his excellent column, "Impotent condescension." It clears up some questions I have had about how Europeans currently see America and its role in the world as a "hyper-power." With Christian churches "mostly empty," it is no wonder that for many people "the concept of 'good and evil' no longer exists in Europe." We have only to look to European countries to see what happens when secularism and moral relativism run rampant. - Robert Oberst, Syracuse, N.Y.
Kudos to Joel Belz for his insightful piece comparing the two major political parties' philosophies ("A dime's difference," March 30). He says that the difference between them is profound: "The one acknowledges a standard for society, while trying casually to slip or slide around it. The other does away with the standard itself." Hopefully, his forthright discussion of standards will raise our level of awareness when we decide which candidates to support. Apparently it boils down to choosing the lesser evil. - Marlys Wickstrom, Isanti, Minn.
Franz Werfel wrote The Song of Bernadette after spending five weeks at Lourdes in 1940 and becoming familiar with the story of Bernadette Soubirous, who died in 1879 (March 2, p. 55).
Across the Centuries, a textbook controversial in California for its treatment of Islam, covers the centuries between the Middle Ages and the Enlightenment (April 6, p. 24).