This post is a follow up to this one. Ernest Willis was found guilty of four counts of rape. Chuck Phelps’ testimony on the stand did nothing to dissuade me from the idea that he obstructed justice and further victimized Tina Anderson.
WHAT WAS SAID . . .
I’d like to discuss the IFB rhetoric generated by this case. For a sample, go over to Sharper Iron here and here and you will see that the majority of posts regarding this case say one of two things:
1. We don’t know all the facts. We shouldn’t be talking about this. We shouldn’t be making any judgments until all the facts come out. We need to wait and see what comes out in the trial. If you are talking about this issue you should shut up because this is malicious gossip that is damaging a good pastor’s reputation.
2. We don’t know all the facts, but we should acknowledge that statutory rape is not in the Bible. A teen can engage in sex with an adult and Biblically it can be consensual even if legally it cannot. Our churches should be prepared to deal with a teen’s sin of fornication even if his/her partner is convicted of statutory rape by our legal system.
Get your jaw up off the floor.
WHAT IFs . . .
Tina Anderson’s story has revealed that in the IFB no one is allowed to question a well-known pastor’s actions even when an undeniable criminal act has been committed and covered up. Given this, can you imagine any victim being willing to go to trial if everything rested solely on her testimony that she had not consented to having sex?
The above two reactions shocked me to the core. And now that we have a conviction, I can’t help but wonder:
What if these crimes had happened 6 months later and there was no legal argument for statutory rape? What then? The legal category of statutory rape was the only thing that gave concerned Christians any traction in discussing this case in IFB circles. What if a criminal act had NOT been undeniable (as it was given Anderson’s age)? What would the rhetoric have sounded like then? I honestly shudder to think of it. If the above two responses were the loudest statements when a crime had UNDENIABLY been committed, what would have been said if this were truly a “he said-she said” case?
God help us all.
(But mostly, God help the victims within the IFB.)
If the victim had been older, I predict the two responses from those within the IFB would have looked like this:
1. We don’t know all the facts. We shouldn’t be talking about this. We shouldn’t be making any judgments until all the facts come out. We need to wait and see what comes out in the trial. (Oh, wait, there won’t be a trial because the victim is aware that her burden of proof is too big. She knows that her mother, her rapist, and her pastor-at-the-time all considered this a consensual RELATIONSHIP.) If you are talking about this issue you should shut up because the “victim” isn’t even pressing charges and you are spreading malicious gossip that is damaging a good pastor’s reputation.
2. We don’t know all the facts, but we should acknowledge that statutory rape is not in the Bible. A teen can engage in sex with an adult and Biblically it can be consensual even if legally it cannot. Our churches should be prepared to deal with a teen’s sin of fornication even if his/her partner is convicted of statutory rape by our legal system. Everyone except the teen in this case is saying that this was consensual. This pastor, this respected man of God, is saying that there was an on-going dating relationship. The pastor has much more information than we ever will about this case, and I know him and trust him. The “victim’s” unwillingness to take this to trial indicates that she’s just having regrets about this consensual relationship. Even her OWN MOTHER is saying it was consensual. End of story. All of you who keep bringing this up are harming the name of Christ and attempting to destroy a good pastor’s name.
WHY WE MUST SPEAK
Ernest Willis was convicted despite his, Anderson’s mother’s, and Phelps’ claims that it was consensual sex. Would the jury have returned the same guilty verdict if Anderson had been just 6 months older at the time of the rapes? This seems likely since the sexual assault designation of which Willis was convicted is not tied to the victim’s age. (At least as far as I can tell. I’m not a lawyer. )
And yet, if Anderson had been six months older when these crimes were committed, this case would probably have never even been tried in court . . .
. . . though the injustice would have been no less. Anderson’s pain would have been no less. Willis’ crime would have been no less. Phelps’ protection of a criminal and persecution of an innocent would have been no less. All of this evil would not have been challenged because the screams of “Shut up! You cannot talk about this! You are spreading malicious rumors!” would have been deafening and the victim may not have had enough support to endure a trial.
There are reasons that covering-up sexual abuse within the IFB has been so successful. Cover-ups work if there is no oversight and if people can be coerced into shutting up. This is why the internet is so valuable in fighting this evil: a measure of oversight can be created even without the cooperation of the pastors and churches involved, and there is no way to make us all shut up.
Speak out. Speak out for the weak and the fatherless.