Christian music festival leader charged with child abuse

Christian music festival leader charged with child abuse December 8, 2017

Harry L Thomas, who launched America’s largest and longest-running Christian music festival, has been “indefinitely suspended” from the ministry and his church following his arrest Wednesday on charges of child molestation.
According to this report, Thomas, 74, who is senior pastor of Come Alive New Testament Church in Medford, New Jersey, has been accused of sexually assaulting four children over a 16-year period between 1999 and 2015.
The church stated that the alleged misconduct was “unrelated” to his leadership.
Thomas has been charged with one count of aggravated sexual assault, three counts of sexual assault, and four counts of endangering the welfare of children, according to the prosecutor’s office in Burlington County, New Jersey, where Thomas lives and where his church is located.
Authorities have refrained from releasing further details in order to protect the identity of the victims.
The prosecutor’s office said:

All persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. It noted that Thomas was “being treated at a medical facility” while a case was prepared for “possible indictment” by a grand jury.

The ministry said in a statement to media yesterday (Friday):

It is with deep regret and saddened hearts that the Elders and Trustees of Come Alive New Testament Church have indefinitely suspended Pastor Harry Thomas from all leadership positions with the church, festival, and all associated ministries.
While the allegations are unrelated to his roles in these ministries, leadership has determined this to be the proper course of action at this time until there can be a full investigation. It is requested that all pray for the parties involved and refrain from speculation regarding the circumstances.

Following the arrest, the staff and history pages of Come Alive’s website, which chronicled Thomas’s involvement in the church since its founding in 1983, were no longer accesssible.
Thomas once advocated for a couple in his church who were accused of starving four foster kids in their care in 2003 and were sentenced to prison for:

Endangering the welfare of the children.

Thomas’s Come Alive Ministries puts on the Creation Festivals, a pair of multi-day Christian music events in Pennsylvania and Washington state, that draw up to 100,000 attendees a year.
Known as the “grandfather of Christian music festivals”, its lineups read like a who’s who in popular Christian music and include an annual message from Thomas. Since its founding in 1979, Creation has acquired other major events including the Ichthus Music Festival and the Sonshine festival.

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  • Broga

    “he church stated that the alleged misconduct was “unrelated” to his leadership.”
    But perhaps not unrelated to his religious beliefs and his opportunity to practice them.

  • StephenJP

    “Deep regret and saddened hearts”. Yeah, right. Deep regret that he’s been found out, more like.

  • DOM

    Seems like there is a pattern forming here…

  • Robster

    Clergies, children, Christian music, ministry=Alarm bells.

  • sowa

    If you wrote songs about child abuse at the hands of clergy, you could easily fill annual multi-day music event. There’s more than enough existing material and I’m sure more will come soon, sadly.

  • Duuuhhhuuhuhhh

    Do child rapists gravititate towards positions of authority in religious institutions for easy access to their prey, and by institution I mean anything from some pick nose small town evangelical sect right through to a global entity such as the RCC, or do such institutions provide the catalyst to mutate ordinary mundane men into paedophile clerics?
    Does the church befoul the man or the man befoul the church?
    Or is it that the power, authority and cover provided by the church only turns those with an innate propensity or desire to rape children into full blown paedophiles?
    Either way anyone who leaves their child in the care of a ‘cleric’ is guilty of is not fit to be a parent.

  • barriejohn

    I just HAD to look up the Creation music festival in Pennsylvania, “or as folks in the area like to call it, God’s Country”. Here’s a so-called “documentary” about the event. It’s as bad as Jesus Camp. Are these adults? It’s enough to make you weep!

  • John the Drunkard

    Apparently, not having celibate clergy doesn’t do anything to lessen the scale of abuse. There is something about the unearned trust given to clergy that makes the profession a magnet for sociopaths.
    But the corruption of sex by power and greed sweeps across all venues.

  • sowa

    Imagine going from Gregorian chant to tacky songs about how much Jesus Creep loves you (whether you like it or not). It’s not enough for Christians to be a moral failure. They also have to fail at aesthetics.

  • barriejohn

    @sowa: Spot on!