While we’re most aware of the Catholic sex abuse cases, this sort of thing is not limited to Catholic religious leaders. There was of course the Ted Haggard scandal: Ted Haggard, then president of the National Association of Evangelicals, a rabid homophobe and anti-gay activist Ted Haggard had been seeing a gay prostitute for years. Then there is Bill Gothard, who has apparently sexually harassed dozens of girls and women ages 15 to 24 for decades even as he ran, and continues to run, the Institute for Basic Life Principles, which promises to create strong values and emphasizes the value of “sexual purity.”
And then there’s this just out: VOM’s executive director for the past twenty-five years, Tom White, has committed suicide. Why? Because he was in the middle of being investigated for sexually abusing a ten-year-old girl. The VOM statement on his death states “none of those in leadership at VOM, including our Board of Directors, were aware of these allegations at the time of Tom’s death.” No apology, just “not us!”
I grew up in a home where The Voice of the Martyrs was always prominently displayed for bathroom reading, and sometimes read aloud over breakfast. For a long time I wore VOM’s “BASIC” bracelet (Brothers And Sisters In Christ). I looked up to the organization, thought it was godly, thought it had good intentions and did good work. And then this. I’m feeling a bit disenchanted at the moment.
Now of course, this sort of thing is absolutely not limited to religious leaders or religious individuals. But these sorts of cases contain something more because of their blatant hypocrisy. Catholic priests sexually abuse children…while claiming to be God’s mediators on earth. Ted Haggard preached against gay rights and condemning homosexuality from his influential evangelical pulpit…while seeing a gay prostitute. Bill Gothard runs a ministry dedicated to raising “virtuous” and “pure” young people…while sexually harassing his own students in that ministry. Tom White ran a ministry dedicated to Christians persecuted for their faith across the world…while sexually abusing a ten-year-old girl. The hypocrisy burns.