The dire consequences of ignoring reality
A few years ago, when the news about the Ravi Zacharias scandals broke out shortly after his death, reactions were extremely mixed. As expected, some remained in denial as they could not imagine their spiritual hero doing the things that were eventually confirmed through a third- party investigation. One YouTuber had an explanation about how there was “smoke before there was fire”. His version of “smoke” was something to the effect that Ravi was a bit too comfortable with Catholics and Mormons, so that should have been a warning sign. I’m not sure what this had to do with his sex life. I can’t help wondering how many victims could have been spared if the realities had not been ignored and appropriate interventions put in place in a timely fashion.
Signs of the times?
Another writer stated that the “fall” of Ravi Zacharias and the Covid 19 pandemic were signs of the end times, but again, what would be the basis for such claims? There were plagues in the Old Testament, so a pandemic is hardly a “sign of the times”, in my humble opinion. Unfortunately, since the Ravi Zacharias story became public, countless accounts of sexual abuse have been exposed within evangelical circles. It honestly seems like there is an epidemic of sexual abuse (and possibly addiction) within conservative Christian churches and ministries. And this has nothing to do with denomination. The same pattern of abuse, cover ups, and moving perpetrators to new locations that was seen in the Catholic church has been seen repeatedly in several other denominations and “non-denominational” groups.
“I have access to many women!” – says the priest
I recently heard a story about a woman who had been invited by a Catholic priest to spend the weekend with him. As the story goes, this woman was separated from her husband and after initially considering it, decided to turn down the invitation. The priest’s response? He proceeded to put her down and made it sound like he was doing her a favor by even inviting her, since he had so many other women at his disposal!
“Don’t tempt the priest!” – says the mother of a teenager
A teenager was bothered by the fact that a priest had been making advances towards her. She told her mother, hoping to get some support from the adult in her life whose responsibility it was to protect her from predators. Her mother’s response (paraphrased)?
“Shut up! You need to pray for the priest! Your blouse must have been too tight! You need to stop tempting him! He’s only human!”
Well, this mother was right in saying that the priest was only human, but everything else about her response was wrong. As a mother, she should have protected her daughter from the predatory priest instead of victim blaming, a practice that is all too common.
International House of Pancakes (IHOP)
You are right to question what pancakes have to do with this topic. I don’t want to mention specific names but suffice it to say that the ministry involved in the latest scandal shares an acronym with the House of Pancakes. I didn’t know about this ministry or its leadership till I started hearing stories about yet another scandal. What is striking is not so much the fact that another scandal has been exposed, but the amount of backlash that people are receiving for calling out the alleged perpetrator.
I have recently been listening to a Christian woman who goes by “Gina” and runs the YouTube channel Where the Wild Bee Wings. Her videos include commentaries on a variety of topics, including stories of “true crime” and abuse within religious circles.
After posting a video in which she gave a rather objective review of the situation, basically sharing what had been reported, a commentator told her she needed to take the video down. In another video, Gina shares how a pastor tells people to delete comments they have made on the IHOP story, because, according to him, they are doing “the devil’s work”.
Pastors are human, too
The elevation of pastors and other spiritual leaders to some sort of divine status is not only unhelpful, but also very dangerous. When a person is seen as being larger than life, it becomes difficult to acknowledge that they are prone to temptation like everyone else. The elevation of people like Ravi Zacharias and so many others like him has contributed immensely to the perpetration of abuse. Pastors are not God – they are human like the rest of us. I am not suggesting that we disrespect those in authority, but we need to recognize that they are not infallible and need to be held accountable for their actions. If we treated them like the fallible humans that they are, maybe they would be more willing to acknowledge their own shortcomings and seek professional help when they need it.
If you are a victim of abuse, help is available! Feel free to check out the resources below. Be well and stay safe!
https://www.rainn.org/ (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)