I have met several of the people who regularly visit this blog. I value your input and insights. For the most part, I’m a pretty trusting soul — once you get past the skeptic in me. I like to consider that what draws people to this blog is our shared interests in faith, family, politics and social justice.
Tonight I received a disturbing email from a blog visitor that has stopped me in my tracks. This reader was writing to advise me that one of the people in this blog community is a registered sex offender. As proof they sent me the link to the registration.
All this just makes me sick to my stomach. It makes me want to shut down this blog and all my other online activity and tell you all that if you want to read my writings, then buy my books. Hopefully you are doing that already anyway.
I make no bones about having a love-hate relationship with all things media.
It’s like a former editor of mine once said, “Your weakness is just your strength cranked up a notch too high.”
That’s not just the truth about us individually — it’s the truth about us collectively. The strength of who we are as a country is our willingness to embrace anyone. Our Ellis Island, our Statue of Liberty. But it’s also our weakness. It’s how the terrorists of 9-11 were able to do the evil that they did.
Some of you know I was sexually abused a young girl. I don’t write much about it because as my friend Destre says about his father’s death in Iraq — it hurts me to talk about all that.
You understand that, I’m sure.
You probably understand, then, how upset I am to get an email from a reader telling me that a registered sex offender has been lurking on the other side of this screen, and posting comments deceptively, as if he is a pastor. (Don’t bother looking back through the comments to try and puzzle over who it might be. I’ve deleted his posts already.) His own blog site refers to his credentials as a minister.
My own research reveals that this particular “minister” was arrested last year while serving as a pastor of media and technology at a church. He held a minister’s license by the denomination he was serving. He was arrested for failing to register as a sex offender.
The lead pastor at the church said that they were aware of this man’s past and that he “had accepted Christ as his savior and is a changed man … In this church, we really want to be redemptive to people, not condemn them for the past.”
About the man’s failure to register as a sex offender — an offense that landed him back in jail with a $10,000 bail — the lead pastor said: “He is someone who has paid his debt to society and has been living an upright life. But obviously he made a mistake, he should have registered.”
Here is the warning, in part, that I received and I’m putting out there for others to consider:
- He uses flattery to establish an emotional connection with women online (classic grooming)
- He acts as an advocate for women’s issues
- He offers prayers for the slightest thing
- He acts like a huge fan
- He speaks the language of the Church community
- His Twitter account states: I work in Christian recovery and ex-offender re-entry and re-integration. Sometimes I get to preach at my church.
-He is targeting Christian women bloggers
Christians have long been susceptible to this sort of abuser because the minute we take a stance that says a person of this nature can’t be trusted, we deny the redemptive power of Christ, right?
So, tell me, what’s a woman blogger to do when she receives a warning like I have?
And what about within the church community? How should we deal with sex abusers within the faith community? Should a pastor alert his/her congregation when a registered sex offender is in their midst? And what about my obligation here? If the person is a registered sex offender, do I have an obligation to let you all know who this person is? Or should I keep his identity private?
What would you do?