Warren Throckmorton

Sex abuse in Protestant life: Is Rachael Denhollander the tip of a newsworthy iceberg?

Sex abuse in Protestant life: Is Rachael Denhollander the tip of a newsworthy iceberg?

When former gymnast Rachael Denhollander stood up in court at the end of January and stunned the country with her speech to her abuser, Larry Nasser, she was a media star. Here she was the first woman to publicly accuse Nasser and the last -- after a long string of some of America’s best-known gymnasts -- to tell him what she thought of his years of criminal sexual contact.

As my GetReligion colleague Bobby Ross reported, her speech was notable for many reasons. She talked about God’s forgiveness, tossed in a C.S. Lewis quote near the end, then added that she lost her church over the matter.

That's news. Only Christianity Today really went after what happened and named the organization: Sovereign Grace Ministries, whose flagship church -– Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Md. –- got hit with a sexual abuse lawsuit. Sovereign Grace Ministries issued a rebuttal on Feb. 13. 

Sadly, no reporters are pursuing what Denhollander is alleging: That Sovereign Grace Ministries is really the tip of the iceberg and that sexual abuse of the young in Protestant churches may dwarf the horrors exposed, starting 16 years ago, in the U.S. Catholic Church.

Blogger Warren Throckmorton is going after the story and has posted more from Denhollander’s Facebook page about the issue. And I want to cut and paste a few of her remarks, because it speaks to what reporters are not getting about this issue. She says.

This call does not rise from a sort of Javert-like obsession with SGC, but from the knowledge that evangelical churches are plagued with serious problems related to how we respond to and counsel victims of sexual assault. In fact, experts have stated that both the amount of abuse, and the failure to report it, is likely worse than in the Roman Catholic Church – a religious organization often used by evangelicals as a byword for sexual assault scandals.

The italics are mine. For those of you who’ve read any religion reporting in the past decade and one-half, including many posts on the blog, the story of sex abuse in the Catholic Church has gone on for many years and still continues. So, how does one process the claim that what has happened among Protestants may have been worse?

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Trump and the evangelicals: Is a counselors’ association becoming too politicized?

Trump and the evangelicals: Is a counselors’ association becoming too politicized?

The ongoing entanglement of an important segment of U.S. evangelical Protestantism with the Donald Trump phenomenon keeps taking new and newsworthy turns.

The latest is a small but intriguing ruckus about, of all things, the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC). Objections are being raised about political moves by the group’s president, Timothy Clinton (no relation to President Trump’s 2016 opponent).

The journalistic potential here is shown in an August 4 item about Aaron New of Central Baptist College in Arkansas and why he quit AACC. New is leading an online protest campaign to have the AACC and Clinton shun political activities. The effort claims not to be anti-Trump, but rather pro-political neutrality, and New identifies himself as a “conservative.”

However, New’s words about President Trump are pointed. He says Clinton has “gone out of his way to publicly confirm and praise” Trump while never offering any public criticism, especially regarding his bragging about sexual groping in the infamous “Access Hollywood” video. New thinks that silence was “unconscionable” for the leader of what he considers “the flagship Christian counseling organization.”

He continues, noting that Trump’s “character and behaviors are the kind that cause wounds and trauma to the very people that end up needing the care of Christian counselors.” He says fellow professionals work "with our clients every day" to counteract the psychological harm from such behavior.   

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Media treatment of Mikey Weinstein under scrutiny

Earlier today I mentioned some questions I have about this crazy “court-martial” story that blew up this week. The post is headlined “I share, you evangelize, they proselytize,” in reference to GetReligion reader Will Linden’s saying about how the same action can be described in different ways.

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