Jonathan Falwell is now adviser to the board of the Richmond Outreach Center. This is predictable behavior on his part and nothing to rejoice about. Thomas Road Baptist Church, under which Liberty University falls as ‘a ministry’, has a history of helping troubled ministries (especially when it benefits them).
I have already written about the interesting associations of Jerry Falwell. About how Falwell helped Trinity Baptist in Jacksonville during their bankruptcy days and thus established a North Florida portal for the Moral Majority.
Jerry Falwell also swooped down to help PTL, a pentecostal ministry, in order to acquire a TV network.
William Menge, an associate of Jerry Falwell, once threatened to go to the media and expose some dirty dealings of Falwell, but whatever those were is now a mystery ever since he was found mutilated on his farm.
And let’s not forget Jerry’s words of encouragement to those at Trinity Baptist Church after Bob Gray, their former pastor, was arrested on multiple accounts of child molestation. He called the whole thing, “A bump in the road.”
Things have not really changed since Jerry Falwell’s death. Prior to Pastor G’s arrest, Jonathan Falwell visited the ROC and gave a shout out to both Pastor G and his father, Phil Aguilar. In fact, he offered encouragement that SET FREE in California, known for numerous complaints of abuse and violence, would rise again! Prior to the arrest of Pastor G, victims of the ROC had attempted to contact both Falwell and a professor of Liberty Law, Boz Tchividjian of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE, an organization allegedly designed to help churches deal with abuse), about the dirty deeds of Pastor G. They were never contacted in private nor ever acknowledged in public.
Jonathan did appear at the ROC and told them God wanted the ROC to prosper!
Chip Wilson, the late Dean of Men from Trinity Christian Academy (founded by Bob Gray), impressed me with a post where he argued Christ does not tell us to rally and preserve institutions. This was in response to all the people who accused victims of being malcontents who wanted to destroy the institution responsible for their abuse. Wilson’s viewpoint was, “Let it fall!” If it were truly ‘of God’ it would survive. If it was just to keep men happy in their jobs and power trips, it would meet its just ends.
Although I am an Atheist, I accept the basic spirit of his opinion. In fact, I’m noticing an attempt with ROC victims which is similar to opinions I’m reading from Bob Jones University alumni who want accountability at BJU. They’re trying to preserve an institution thinking that somehow it is separate from the corrupt motivation of the founders.
The main reason Falwell, or anyone, would want to ‘save’ the ROC is really to save their own reputations. Now that Pastor G is out of the way, and trials (civil, fed, or state) are coming, those who have turned a blind eye toward victims and enabled corrupt leadership, do not want their relationships with G exposed in a trial. Consequently, anything that will save anyone else, besides Pastor G, from going to court is now a top priority. It’s more about saving the skin of leadership and political/religious enablers than ‘doing right’ by the victims.
Here’s something that could happen: Falwell convinces the ROC to hire GRACE to investigate. Of course, from my way of thinking it’s Liberty that needs the investigations! Their fingers have been in so many dirty ministries, I want to know more about the connection Pastor G has had with Jonathan Falwell and TRBC. How long did Jonathan Falwell know about Pastor G? What did he do about it? Why has he still not commented in public about the victims yet still praises the ministry in public?
GRACE cannot investigate Liberty according to their own posts:
If you are a member of the ROC, and this scenario (GRACE investigating the ROC) happens, ask yourself (and those representing you), “Who made this decision?”
Have there been changes in the bylaws that actually allow church members a say in their own affairs? While I haven’t read the bylaws of the ROC, I’m going to guess they’re no different than bylaws in most fundamentalist churches. The decision making power is up to the Pastor. The board acts in an advisory position. And the congregation? They just have to take it! If they question or doubt, that’s their sin!
It’s my concern, and contention, that the true motivation of Falwell and any organization he calls on to help with the ROC, is to keep the system that enabled the abuses of Pastor G in tact. Yes, get him in jail (at least, so they can say ‘he did his time’, even if it is only a few weeks or months) but preserve the system of absolute authority!
Don’t go along with it! Some institutions should fall. If the ROC is preserved, under the guidance of Falwell, don’t kid yourself looking for real change. The only real change will be greater sophistication with covering up the crimes of the clergy.