Church camp defends sexual abuse of minors as “horseplay”.

(This post contains descriptions of sexual assault.  You’ve been warned)

Well…this is awkward.  A counselor at a church camp in Tennessee has been accused of…well…read the excerpt (if you have a strong stomach and don’t mind the word “penis”):

The Chattanooga Times Freepress reported that Vineyard Community Church Camp Counselor, Zachary Anderle, was charged with simple battery, two counts of third-degree cruelty to children and sexual assault, following an incident in which he climbed, naked, on top of a 13-year-old boy. Anderle placed his penis on top of the boy’s crotch, while a group of other boys were watching. He also slapped the boy in the face. Vineyard Community Church is located in Chattanooga, TN. The incident between Anderle and the boy took place at the Church’s Camp site, which it was hosting in Temple, GA.

As if the actions of Anderle were not bad enough, the church committee which has been appointed to investigate the event has stated that it believes the incident was simply a matter of “horseplay gone wrong.”

That’s horseplay?  I swung by the camp’s website to see what they were all about and found this bit:

Not content to do just another week-long church camp for 6th-12th graders, we set out to combine camp craziness (like Giant Multi-Ball Soccer and Humans vs. Zombies) with uniquely Vineyard values.

From the outset, Camp Vineyard has had at its heart the idea that teenagers have the ability to get involved in ministry now, and not just some time in the undefined future.  We believe that the future of the Vineyard movement rests on these teenagers who will become our church planters, ministers, and volunteers.

I couldn’t find what those uniquely Vineyard values were…but I wonder if thinking marriage between two consenting gay adults is an abomination is among them.  If so, it may very well short-circuit a fair-minded person’s brain to consider how anybody could think of gay marriage as an abomination, but for a camp counselor to climb on top of a child naked, rubbing his crotch into the child’s, and to slap the child in the face as horseplay.

The statement of the attorney is just sickening.

Anderle’s attorney, Alan Trapp, explained that the act was just an attempt to discipline a 13-year-old boy at camp. According to the Chattanooga Freepress report, Trapp said:

“This boy was using a lot of unsavory, sexually charged language. Zach told him to stop repeatedly. When he wouldn’t, Zach told him, ‘If you do not stop, I will come down there and sleep with you naked,” Trapp also told reporters “and he actually jumped on him and all the other boys laughed and thought it was funny.”

The boy’s mother went to the police.  Good for her.  Let’s make her pope.

Once a person (or a group) becomes so enamored with “their side” that they will lie to defend it, or that they will turn a blind eye to suffering as if that group’s survival is more important than compassion, they have become an alien to a harmonious society.

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.