Maybe they should post the 10 Commandments in mega-churches?

Maybe they should post the 10 Commandments in mega-churches? June 20, 2024

Some new news on a couple of recent(-ish) posts here.

First, Texas mega-church founder and senior pastor Robert Morris has resigned from Gateway Church once church elders realized that public perception of his sexual abuse of a minor was not something that could be dismissed as easily as they thought.

Here’s CNN’s report: “Texas megachurch accepts senior pastor’s resignation after allegations of ‘inappropriate relationship’ with a minor.”

A Dallas-area megachurch accepted the resignation of senior pastor Robert Morris on Tuesday after allegations of a past inappropriate relationship with a 12-year-old surfaced last week.

The Board of Elders of Gateway Church said in a statement Tuesday that prior to June 14, they didn’t have all the facts of the abuse.

“The elders’ prior understanding was that Morris’s extramarital relationship, which he discussed many times throughout his ministry, was with ‘a young lady’ and not abuse of a 12-year-old child,” the statement reads.

“Even though it occurred many years before Gateway was established, as leaders of the church, we regret that we did not have the information that we now have.”

That’s some desperate and misleading spin according to Leonardo Blair’s latest follow-up with Morris’ first known victim, “Robert Morris’ accuser says Gateway Church knew of his crime, questions planned investigation“:

Hours after Gateway Church officials in Texas announced the resignation of founder Robert Morris Tuesday and said it did not know all the facts after Cindy Clemishire accused him of sexually abusing her over multiple years in the 1980s beginning when she was 12, the 54-year-old grandmother claims the church is not being truthful and wants Morris’ entire time at the megachurch to be scoured for more victims.

“The leadership at Gateway received actual notice of this crime in 2005 when I sent an email directly to Robert Morris’ Gateway email address. Former Gateway elder, Tom Lane, received and responded to my email, acknowledging that the sexual abuse began on December 25, 1982, when I was 12 years old,” Clemishire said in a statement released Tuesday night by her attorney Boz Tchividjian.

“Again in 2007, my then attorney Gentner Drummond (the current Attorney General of Oklahoma) sent a letter to Robert Morris with the hope that he would help reimburse me for the thousands of dollars I had expended in counseling as a result of this abuse. His attorney acknowledged the dates as well and then attempted to blame me for the abuse,” she insisted. “At the very least, both the Gateway pastor and at least one elder had specific notice that I was sexually abused beginning when I was 12 years old. Gateway had the information but intentionally decided to embrace the false narrative Robert Morris wanted to believe.”

So the church leadership has known about this for almost 20 years.

Clemishire and Blair both note that Gateway Church’s response doesn’t bear the hallmarks of a legitimate “investigation”:

In the announcement of Morris’ resignation, Gateway Church elders said they have retained the law firm of Haynes & Boone, LLP, to “conduct an independent, thorough, and professional review of the report of past abuse to ensure we have a complete understanding of the events from 1982-1987.”

The firm has expertise in more than 40 major legal practice areas, according to its website, including crisis management.

Clemishire highlighted the firm’s expertise in helping their clients with “immediate and long-term strategies necessary to mitigate financial and reputational loss and stabilize in a crisis situation.”

“Crisis management.” They hired a fixer. That’s not what you do when you’re trying to reform or restore or repent. It’s what you do when you’re trying to whitewash, to evade, and to obfuscate, and to do whatever else you might need to do to defend your institution’s reputation, image, and bottom line.

I’m not sure what even the slickest or sleaziest “crisis management” firm can accomplish here. I suppose they’ll be busy bullying, burying, or buying off any other victims who might come forward. And since they work for Gateway, not for Morris, I’m sure they’ll work to make this all about him and not about the institution that enabled and covered for him all these years. That might be tricky, though, since Gateway has never had, until yesterday, any identity distinct from Morris.

The Watchkeep blog, the first place to listen to and report on Clemishire’s testimony, is looking more closely at Gateway Church now: “Gateway Church: what happened to pastor David Smith?

And Leonardo Blair is staying on the story: “Robert Morris nixed from Trump’s Evangelical advisory board as Texas pols condemn abuse.”

Amanda Marcotte notes that this is hardly the first such scandal involving MAGA white evangelical Trump boosters. And it likely won’t be the last.

Maybe states should require that copies of the 10 Commandments be posted in every room of every church? That’s what conservative white-/Christian-nationalist MAGA evangelicals seem to favor as the solution to moral failures anywhere else in society.

We discussed that last month here involving a Louisiana bill designed to teach schoolchildren morality and remind them all that they’re living in godblessamerica: “Louisiana Will Post The Twelve Commandments In Schools.”

That bill was signed into law yesterday: “New law requires all Louisiana public school classrooms to display the Ten Commandments”:

Louisiana has become the first state to require that the Ten Commandments be displayed in every public school classroom, the latest move from a GOP-dominated Legislature pushing a conservative agenda under a new governor.

The legislation that Republican Gov. Jeff Landry signed into law on Wednesday requires a poster-sized display of the Ten Commandments in “large, easily readable font” in all public classrooms, from kindergarten to state-funded universities.

“If you want to respect the rule of law, you’ve got to start from the original lawgiver, which was Moses” who got the commandments from God, Landry said.

Landry’s version doesn’t come from either Moses or God. It comes from the Fraternal Order of Eagles and Cecil B. DeMille.

Really. The official text required to be posted on all of those posters is a KJV-pastiche abridged, adapted, and edited by a Minnesota juvenile judge back in the 1950s and later promoted by DeMille to help hype his Ten Commandments movie.

It ain’t from the Torah. It’s from the Eagles.

Louisiana is, of course, going to get sued over this flagrant First Amendment violation. That’s the goal here. They’re hoping the Roberts Court will use this as an excuse to further erode that constitutional bar to Christian nationalism or, at least, to use their loss in the courts as the pretext for the fundraising and demagoguery that fuels their money-making and power-grabbing machinery as supposedly “persecuted” hegemons.

Anyway, given that only the DeMille/FOE re-write of the Bible is permitted on the walls of every classroom, and that the actual words of the actual Bible would violate that law, it’d be nice if the lawsuits over this nonsense weren’t just from the usual suspects — the ACLU and the merry pranksters of the Satanic Temple — but also from Christian and Jewish groups that don’t want to see the words of their sacred scriptures twisted by people who don’t begin to understand them.

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