This is about as disgusting a church as you’ll find.
Trinity Baptist Church in Concord, New Hampshire tried to cover up their shady past. But that’s only the beginning.
In 1997, Ernest Willis, a man in his late thirties, raped and impregnated 15-year-old Tina Anderson.
Both belonged to the same church and pastor Chuck Phelps was informed of what had happened.
So what did he do?
He made her apologize.
The victim said Phelps told her she would be put up for “church discipline,” where parishioners go before the congregation to apologize for their sins.
She asked why. “Pastor Phelps then said that (Willis) may have been 99 percent responsible, but I needed to confess my 1 percent guilt in the situation,” the victim told the police.
“He told me that I should be happy that I didn’t live in Old Testament times because I would have been stoned.”
And then, with the church’s help, she was moved to Colorado, so that no charges could really be filed against the rapist.
Anderson is now 28 and she’s telling her story.
“They told me that to be a good Christian, I need to forgive, forget and move on in my life,” she said. “And they told me that a good Christian doesn’t press charges on another good Christian.”
[During a church service] Phelps read a single-page letter written for Anderson apologizing for allowing herself to get in a compromising situation and getting pregnant. Church members were then asked to come forward to offer their forgiveness, Anderson said. Willis also had to apologize for cheating on his wife. “They said, ‘We forgive you for getting pregnant,’ ” she said. “It felt stupid, it just felt wrong.”
Anderson said that after she moved to Colorado, a minister there asked her to write a letter to Willis’s wife, apologizing for abusing her trust by having sex with her husband. Church members there monitored her phone calls and didn’t allow her to be with people her own age, she said.
Charges are finally being filed against the rapist.
Obviously, I can’t think of any Christian (well, outside this church, anyway) who would condone these actions.
But don’t let Christians ever tell you that their faith makes them any more moral than you or me.
Instead of helping her and kicking the rapist out of the church, Pastor Phelps humiliated her and did nothing to truly rebuke Willis’ actions.
At Anderson’s time of need, Phelps made her suffer even more.
Anna North at Jezebel summarizes one takeaway message from all this:
The idea that rape victims bear some responsibility for their rapes — and that it’s important, in the aftermath of the crime, to publicly assign them blame — is a major factor keeping women like Anderson from coming forward, and keeping rapists safe from prosecution. While no woman should be forced to emulate her, Anderson’s decision to use her real name is powerful. She’s rejecting the “1% guilt” placed on her years ago, and standing before the whole country with the opposite message: her church owes her an apology.
Kudos to reporter Trent Spiner for bringing this story to light.
(Thanks to Greta Christina for the link)