From the Shadows

From the Shadows November 18, 2011

Is Jerry Sandusky a Christian?

That’s the title of an article over at the Christian Post. According to the CP, Sandusky regularly attended St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. The CP also noted that Sandusky has a bible verse posted on his home’s garage door.  Some of his alleged victims claimed that one of the places Jerry Sandusky would take them is church.

Churches in PA have been holding prayer vigils. I received a tweet from someone this week who was organizing a prayer vigil for Jerry Sandusky and his family.

Meanwhile, more and more victims are stepping forward. Their lawyers are speaking to the press, and in some cases their mothers, albeit, those mothers remain in the shadows, their voices disguised, their faces unrecognizable.

Apparently Sandusky’s interview with Bob Costas ignited a backlash, many of Sandusky’s victims were shocked at his refusal to admit he has a problem.

But that should surprise no one.

I don’t know why we stop and marvel over that. People who do the sort of things to children that Jerry Sandusky is alleged to have done are sick. They are emotionally, mentally and spiritually ill. It’s not like such a person is going to go on national television and announce to the world, “Hey, I have this powerful attraction to children. Somebody please stop me.”

Let’s be real here.

What if Jerry Sandusky were a member of your church? What if he were part of your men’s group? What if he belonged to your care group? What if he were your co-worker?

What exactly would you have done if Jerry Sandusky confessed to you that he had these urges toward children?

What would you say to such a person?

I’ll pray for you.

Would you have asked Sandusky if he had ever acted on those urges?

And if he said yes, then what?

What would you have done about it?

Take it to the pastor? Call the police?

Or would you have continued to meet with Sandusky for prayer? .

Churches are not the safe places they should be.

We get all self-righteous about the failure of the administration at Penn State, and we should be angry about it. But the truth is that most of us God-fearing folks don’t have a plan in place to deal with abusers like Sandusky.

I’ve been in church most of my life and have never once heard a pastor preach on issues like child abuse, or sex abuse. Sure, they will talk about the rape of Tamar but not from her viewpoint. It’s always about Absalom’s avengement.

People wonder why church membership is in decline. Part of the reason is because so many sermons fail to meet us where we live each day. I already know I’m supposed to love my enemy. What I can’t figure out is how I’m supposed to handle the hatred I feel toward men who rape children.

And, I for one, am sick of prayer vigils being held  for Jerry Sandusky.

How about a prayer vigil for the victims?

We tell victims that they should not feel any shame. They were just children, after all. But look at how we treat them. The only place they feel safe speaking out is from the shadows.



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  • I’m sorry to hear that your church experience has been like that, Karen, but mine is different. My pastor has, on two occasions, found out about some illegal activity among someone at church. One of them was a man beating his wife. This man was a good friend of the pastor, but that didn’t sway him. Pastor told the man “you turn yourself into the police today, or I will do it myself.” The man did, and then the pastor proceeded to get help for the man and for his wife.
    On another occasion, he turned someone into the police, but he never said what specific crime was committed.
    Sometimes, doing the right thing is a hard thing, but it’s still the right thing. I am thankful that, although we hear stories of how abuse claims went unheeded, there are plenty of incidents where someone did the right thing.

  • Karen, there have been some prayer vigils for the victims. In NO WAY am I standing up for Sandusky. Just wanted you to be aware there have been support vigils for the victims. Here are a couple links. One actually is tonight!

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Hey Gary, Correct me if I’m wrong but wasn’t that campus prayer vigil called after the students rioted over the “firing” of Paterno, and after they were criticized for not caring about the victims?

  • Cmdaklein

    Jesus addressed the subject of how to deal with child abusers, especially child seducers… it had to do with millstones & deep water. And this is one area where I would take Him quite literally. God heal & avenge the little ones.

  • Your post was the first time I ever heard of anyone holding a prayer vigil for Sandusky. I’m in PA, south of State College. The attitude … and prayers … here are overwhelmingly for the victims.

  • Yeah. Shadows. Sad. Exhausted, in fact. ***sigh***

    • P.S. And that part you wrote about Tamar’s point of view . . . yeah, I think you know why I wrote that novel. 🙂 Maybe someday someone will publish it!

  • Steve T.

    Karen, the UMC has a requirement that all congregations put in place a Safe Sancturaries program to protect children while on church property or when engaged in church activities. Clergy are required to attend training and anyone working directly with children. Further, congregations should make such protection and education a priority for every member. This is “acted out love.” We do not practice the love of Christ when we neglect the most vulnerable.

    That being said, we should also care for and practice compassion for the Jerry Sanduskys of the world. His acts are monstrous yet Jesus gives us little wiggle room here. Love your enemy, he says and he says it during a time when his enemy is stringing crosses across the countryside and brutally crushing the people in all the ways that violence is used as a tool for repression. Of course that also means we separate them from children and hold them accountable for henious acts, always responding from the point of Christ. Such love is the only possibility to transform the world.

  • Anonymous

    No question. I’d turn him in. Couldn’t do it fast enough.

    I don’t even get why that would be a thing to deliberate over.

  • Bhansbrough

    It is so easy to say what we would do. The reality is much different. Jerry Sandusky is a child of God and somehow we must create a means of protecting other children of God from his ways of being both sexual and powerful. How do we do that without declaring him a monster, declaring our own certainty of what we would do. (I guarantee most would act more like the young graduate student coach tha. Superman). Sarah Palin would bring the rope to hang him from the highest tree. Talk show after talk show has voices of vengeance against someone…. Students riot because their world has been overturned and Heads roll at Penn State in an effort to show that they take this seriously. I wonder if many of those of us who declare what should be done have encountered one of those little victims in life. They tend to be silent or angry. They don’t trust easily and are confused by the hurt that has come their way. I would hope we would care for and love both the victims and the victimizer.

  • BikerXtrash

    “What I can’t figure out is how I’m supposed to handle the hatred I feel toward men who rape children.”

    With a baseball bat.