Fear To Victory, Overcoming COGIC Clergy Sexual Abuse Pt. 3
For The First Time Hear SURVIVORS of COGIC Clergy Sexual Abuse Tell Their Own Story
For The First Time Hear SURVIVORS of COGIC Clergy Sexual Abuse Tell Their Own Story
Since 2007 this ministry has worked hard to fight for and give voice to the victims of sexual abuse and clergy sexual sins within the Church Of God In Christ. In 2011 Elder D.L. Foster of ReportCOGICAbuse.com and myself conducted a 2 part interview ( COGIC Issues Pt. 1, COGIC Issues Pt. 2) regarding the level and depth of victimization that had taken place within our church. One of the areas that was addressed was the church's failure to acknowledge those who have been victimized by the ungodly actions of certain individuals who simply lived contrary to their faith by failing to understand the standard of responsibility that they were supposed to have maintained by shepherding the flock of God and protecting those members of it at all times.
1 Pet. 5:2-3 ~ "2-Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3-Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock."
Although we are are glad that the church has taken steps to assure that leaders are properly screened and vetted before becoming COGIC pastors and representative leaders, and for what is called a "zero-tolerance policy" against sexual harassment and abuse, we are yet saddened because of the continued culture of silence that exists as it pertains to how the abused are treated, and the overall official church response to such issues of vital importance. Plainly speaking, it seems that the church feels, that it is better to avoid the victims all together, saying nothing to them or their families in any official capacity and, on occasion, writing a check to make victims go away, rather than pouring the healing salve of Jesus.
Over 20 Years In The Making
Needless to say, being unresponsive to victims that have endured hardships and pains, much of which may never fully be told, is a second victimization of those that have been damaged by clergy sexual sins. This victimization is a deafening silence in response to accusations, and failure to act swiftly in the removal of those who have engaged in criminal activity.
|Bishop Charles Brown|
One such failure to minister to the victims and act decisively, can be found in the case of Bishop Charles Brown Prelate of Greater New Orleans Jurisdiction COGIC, Louisiana. Though Bishop Brown's criminal case was initially dismissed on the technicality of a statute of limitations issue in Louisiana, which was under review of appeal, once allegations were made by three survivors who were 17, 12, and 12 at the time that the crimes took place, COGIC only temporarily removed the Bishop, and quickly reinstated him after the dismissal of the case on the technicality.
In other words, the church NEVER acted to investigate the legitimacy of the claims against this Bishop, but simply remained silent. How do I know? When the allegations were made by these survivors at a younger age, they were simply disregarded as we will note below. In fact one of the survivors states that until the interviews, which can be heard above, only ONE other person in the church has ever made contact with any of them. That was the Bishop Charles E. Blake, who spoke to one of the victims, as he knew them very well for a number of years. Unfortunately, that conversation was over some 15 years ago before Bishop Blake became Presiding Bishop.
In this case, when the young ladies made a clear and open accusation against Brown and his actions, they found themselves placed on the alter for "deliverance", told that they were the one's who needed "help and forgiveness", and they were summarily rejected, by the church and church leadership, and looked at as simply being trouble makers.
Addressing The COGIC Culture
Merriam Webster Online defines the word "culture" as follows under definition 5:
a : the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generationsb : the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also : the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life} shared by people in a place or time
Certainly COGIC has adopted a culture of not addressing victims. this may be for fear of reprisal or for some other reason yet undetermined. The culture of COGIC silence as it pertains to these issues must cease. There is a singular chord common to every case that I have researched the issue since 2007, COGIC was and is absurdly silent and unresponsive to the needs of the victims and their families. In other words, not speaking, ministering to or otherwise seeking to help the victims heal has become apropos behavior in response to these crimes and to what can otherwise be deemed as criminal activities.
The result of this is that perpetrators of the crimes are considered to be "the anointed" which shouldn't be "touched" or "spoken against" while the victims are placed on the altar and told that they need to repent and relive themselves of unforgiveness. In other words, there is a transfer of guilt and psychological manipulation through silence and inaction that further victimizes those who have been wronged.
However, it should be known that SILENCE ISN'T GOLDEN. The administration of Penn State University proved that. Silence is a dagger whereby victims are made worse off and further exposed by those who have been charged to protect and nurture the spiritual growth and development of those entrusted to their care.
The COGIC CULTURE of silence must be fundamentally changed and uprooted. Silence in vindication of righteous acts is a virtue, however, silence in the face of criminal activity and toward those who have been damaged and had their lives uprooted is an ungodly and unbiblical construct.
Surviving Sexual Abuse
These ladies SURVIVED sexual abuse in spite of the church, not because of it. They further minister to those who are in similar situations or those who have also been wronged by leaders who have betrayed trust. These SURVIVORS reveal that overcoming this type of abuse is a lifelong proposition and one that only the grace of God can carry one through.
For those who have been abused:
- HOLD ON, know that this is NOT the end of your life, neither is it the end of your story. It could be the beginning of a greater purpose that could pay countless dividends of rewards to you, your family, your community, your church and this nation. DON'T YOU DARE GIVE UP NOW!
- SPEAK UP and OUT!...Let the perpetrator of the crimes know that he or SHE hasn't stopped you and does not have the ability to control you from reaching your God given purpose and destiny in this life.
- CONNECT with individuals who have overcome. There are those out here that are ready and waiting to minister to you and help you come to peace and rest in your soul and spirit. God has not allowed anything to occur, for which there is no help in place to assist you in your survival. YOU can make it.
- BREATHE and LIVE...Do not allow criminals to make you hold your breath in fear. Fear to speak and engage the issue is a tool of the devil himself. One shouldn't be embarrassed by what one didn't do themselves. Enjoy the life that God has given you and the REAL relationships that he has placed in your life and path.
- CONTINUE TO SERVE THE LORD! Most importantly serve the Lord and realize that he has meant for your good. That is why you have survived. Therefore it is time to live in a greater reality than ever before in life.
- DON'T BELIEVE THE LIE. Don't buy into the lie that you were somehow at fault for your situation or what happened to you. Only the criminal and those that stand silent are guilty of these sort of sins and crimes. It is them that will face the judgement of God for allowing such sins to go without speaking out and up for those who cannot speak out for themselves.
Some have wondered my motivation in bringing these issues to light. For starters I need no motivation other than the WORD of God:
Lk. 4:18 ~ "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,"
For one to conclude that one needs a "special" motivation when such an injustice survives among us is an encroachment upon rational thought and an embarrassing indication of a sinful spiritual condition, in my opinion. I am yet a member of the Church Of God In Christ, gladly and proudly following the heritage of great men and godly leaders. I serve in IL. 3rd Jurisdiction attended by the Bishop Robert R. Sanders of Chicago Heights, IL. I am a "small stone", but most critics know exactly who I am. There is no honor to receive in this, but there is great joy and satisfaction of doing what God has called me to do by standing for those who can't stand for themselves and healing the hurting.
Church as usual??? NO WAY! We are called to a much deeper purpose than merely seeking a blessing, shouting and dancing and all the other things that come along with our spiritual heritage. Let us not forget that it was God, through HOLINESS (Heb. 12:14), that brought this church to where it is today. That is the ONLY foundation that it really knows. All of the other things mean nothing if we cannot minister to and reach souls in our midst that need our help, love and concern.
To the General Board Candidates who are seeking to election to the top ministerial positions of our church, whether elected or not, what will you do in response to the cry that has been made? Will it be business as usual and more silence towards victims, or will there be real and substantive change?
The answer to that question remains to be seen. We will certainly continue to ask.