Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Child Sexual Abuse in the Churches of God

With sickening frequency, former church members share stories on various private ex-COG Facebook pages about being victims of sexual abuse in the church over the past decades.  From being abused as small children or as teenagers, the stories are horrific.

Adding to the filth are the things that the ministry did to cover up the abuse. They regularly dismissed the stories of the children and teenagers and embraced the abusers as the victims.  Some even made the children and teenagers apologize to the abuser because he was a prominent member or was the child of an elder or the minister himself.  One minister had the abuser write a letter to the parents of the girl he abused apologizing for the them for the abuse and never said anything to the child.  The parents, stupidly like expected, did nothing.  Members were not to sue members or turn them in to the police.

There have been a few instances over the years when ministers and members of the Church of God have been sent to prison.  Those stories have been covered here in the past, though they are minuscule compared to the number of people sexually abused.

There has never been any accountability in the church to its members for abuse that has taken place, not then and certainly not now, as it is STILL going on in the Churches of God. The excuse some make is to let God take care of it in his own time. Others are afraid of being kicked out of the church and losing their salvation.

Why has the Church of God, who claims 1st century true Christianity, cared so little about is children and members?


Anonymous said...

"Me Too" for the church???? It is a well-known fact that children lie. Why should children be believed and adults have to suffer?

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:34 comments are prime example of everything that is wrong.

nck said...

Just going by statistics these things must have happened. On this topic definitions of abuse vary. In the 19th century looking at ankles might have been regarded perverse. I have difficulty judging older generations like Genghis Khan, Southern Farmers before the Civil War and Romans, by todays standards. Although I have an opinion on the problems in the Catholic Church since events there staggers statisticical models.

Having said that about the past.

If anyone has a hunch or hint about these things today they should immediately confront or report and if not dealt with according to the law, report it at the legal authorities.

I think today both youth and adult parents are more aware of what should be dealt with by "worldly authorities" and what by the "club board."

When I hear of cases at the local swimming pool and its teacher I sometimes ask myself "do parents actually talk with their younger children or notice sudden mood changes, are they aware who the teachers are in their respective chess or sports clubs, summer camps?" But hey I'm at risk of blaming parents here while I'm just propagating awareness.


Anonymous said...

Excellent post NO2HWA. Excellent question. Why does the church of God care so little about it's children and members ?
Your question cuts to the heart of the problem for the future, of any Church of God group, big or small.

Do Church of God congregations big or small embrace or merely tolerate children ?

If Church of God congregations merely tolerate children then that will be a weakness for predator behaviour to occur.

Miller Jones said...

Gary, Why has the Church of God cared so little about its children and members? - an excellent question. I believe the answer has something to do with the attitude of the founder (Herbert Armstrong) toward children and lay members. He abused his own daughter and believed that the only legitimate function of lay members was to support him!

Tonto said...

Sadly, the first two women I ever dated in the COG had both been molested as teens, by their very legalistic, self righteous and domineering fathers. This was very disturbing to me to say the least!

Anonymous said...

Tonto I thought you were female.

Tonto said...

ANON @ 1:06

Obviously, Im a male, and Tonto is a Commanche MALE Native American!

Anonymous said...

Pedophiles were protected in the church and they knew it. With the culture being power and authority by the males and silent subservience by the females, it’s no wonder. And then they wonder why the kids left as soon as they could.

When I finally was able to tell the ministry about my father, the blame was put on me for not stopping it. “I” should have known better. And THEN I was told not to tell anyone, to keep it quiet. Something I’d been hearing all my life. Of course my father denied it, and of course they believed him.

He’s dead now. Been dead for almost 30 years. He died a very long and painful death, without repenting. The ministry sent me to “reconcile” with him before he died, but he still denied everything.

I feel bad for him for a number of reasons.

Anonymous said...

It is a well known fact that adults who say children lie to make adults suffer are hiding something. Huh???

the Ocelot said...

You tell ,em kee
You tell ,em Kemo Sabe

Anonymous said...

This is pretty telling to see that no one comments on sexual abuse in the church but they will fight tooth and nail over sabbath and unclean meats and over other topics here.

Really sad that no one cares.

Anonymous said...

Those comments are obviously sarcastic.

Anonymous said...

Lol whatever. You went by a girls name before and had two different women's photos. We all know this.

Anonymous said...

Question for the group... I was abused in WCG. Parents beat me mild sexual abuse (compared to many) What do I say to the local minister about this?

I can't see how he could do anything about it. But what do I know. Ive gotten over the harsh side of it and life is still hard every day and I am late middle aged.

Seems like the time for recompense is long past and it's between my parents and I ... While I know they were psychotic because of the teachings of HWA what would a minister do about that?

No justification for the church at all they are terrible. But unless something happens on their watch what is the recourse whether it was last year or 30 years ago?

Anonymous said...

9:52pm Maybe because it's obvious that sexual abuse is wrong, so what more is there to say? Your imputing motives is a more obvious fault, a judgmentalism that excelled in the WCG and is most prevalent among the acog haters today.

Anonymous said...

10.34 PM is a church worshipper. People like that would pronounce the word church in reverential tones. The church by defending predators, was home sweet home to these folks. 10.34 PM is probably a minister or former minister.

Anonymous said...

@9:52AM, when your entire religion is based on the idea that an eternally old Spirit raped a teenage girl who was already betrothed to her future husband, and when your particular denomination was founded by a man who raped his own daughter for a decade while "restoring the truth" to the church, and when your church's model of minister/member relations is "the minister must always be obeyed" and your response to abuse must be "Thank you sir, may I have some more?" is it any surprise that you will be afraid to comment about sexual abuse? I think not.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:52,

I assume this is because there is nothing to debate. Such abuse is obviously evil and so often covered up. It's hard to add much if you don't know a situation personally. There is the issue of not exposing it due to concerns of the ministry that people might see the church as obviously flawed. But, it is hard to show that the issue was much worse than in other organizations.

Byker Bob said...

In a culture that deliberately teaches the usage of extreme pain compliance on its young, it is hardly a surprise that the contempt inherent in that would also give rise to additional and even worse forms of abuse. It has been well-known for decades amongst behavioral scientists that disproportionate punishment produces more criminals than does laxness in punishment. For some reason or other, that fact seems counterinruitive to the practitioners of Armstrongism, and I blame the programming initiated by a man whose views of his own children was horribly perverted.

They say that a beaten dog never forgets. Humans do have the capacity to forgive, but there are some things that cannot be forgotten, or restored to a condition similar to their never having occurred in the first place.

Attention: Armstrong extremists! There are parts of your programming that it is best to resist, and refuse to accept! At least retain your innate sense of humanity with regard to your young.


Anonymous said...

Even if the situation was known personally, 6:26 AM, nothing was done but blame the victim. When evangelists are pedophiles and/or sex-abusers, of course they’re going to blame the victim. Cover up after cover up. A haven for crime. Why, oh why, would anyone think that organization is of God? The fruits show differently. Wise up, people.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:03,

That is true.

Anonymous said...

Anon Nov 6 @11:20
I am a former minister of WCG. I never did condone sexual molestation. I pastored a church where there was 2 cases of molestation. The police were notified in both cases. In one case the father went to jail. Second case a grandfather type in the community fled to another state. Not enough evidence to extradite him. In the first case I personally took the wife and her children to a motel and checked them in under an anonymous name. I feared the husband would be out on bond and come after his family. A real threat of violence existed.

I live by a code of three rules concerning families.
1. If there is violence of any kind leave. For a wife go to a women’s shelter. Call the police. Get it on record. I am talking a body harm. If a person is bruised, has swollen arms, legs or face leave. Don’t go to a relatives house or a close friend. The perpetrator usually knows the same paces you do.
2. If there is a history of alcohol or drug abuse leave. Same advice as above about where to go.
3. If there is mental illness of a type that you suspect can or could cause injury or violent behavior leave.

After you leave talk to a counselor. If there is physical abuse or molestation file a report with the police. After you have left, talk with the abuser and see if he/she will get help in a bonafide rehabilitation clinic. You can talk with your minister— if he sides with the abuser walk away. Even if you talk with your minister do all of the above. The abuser needs to be in rehabilitation. The person abused needs to talk with the clinic. Once the rehab counselors feel the person has made sufficient progress then and only then should the person consider going back!
I am not suggesting that the abuser be discarded. But the abuser has to show that the problem is under control. That takes time. Often after rehab the person will go right back to the former behavior in that case leave.

Anonymous said...

The comments about abuse and what to do are by Jim-AZ
Now anon 11:20
If I were adding you I would suggest going to a women’s abuse center and talking with a counselor. I am not sure filing a report with the police after many years would do any good. You didn’t say if you were still going to a COG church. If it were me, I would talk with a minister. I would be very guarded. If he expresses concern for you then I would be inclined to consider and I said consider his council. However I would still go to a professional in the field of abuse. Most ministers are not equipped to counsel child abuse.
If you as a child has been molested, by anyone you need professional counsel. It is not a case of you said they said. It is not up to your minister to decide if any action needs to take place.

You need to take action! I am assuming the person that molested you does not still go to your church. If they don’t there is not much a current minister can do. BUT if that minister does not show concern for you I would walk away and not look back. You still need a professional counselor to talk to...

For a child who has been molested or is being molested. First I would recommend calling the police. Second I would highly recommend talking to a school counselor or/and the principal. The child has to be protected. I know that in some cases the wife will side with the husband. Sometimes it’s a grandfather or uncle. It doesn’t matter who the abuser is. In some cases it is that child’s church officials that is doing the molestation. I know of one case where a 30 something male molested 2, maybe more, teenage girls. This was WCG. The minister did nothing. I found out about this long after I had left WCG. I knew both of the girls and it made me sick to my stomach. I talked to one of the fathers. This was after the 1995 disaster. All the people involved had gone their separate ways. No one wanted to file charges. The man doing the molesting gave sermonettes and song leading

I feel so sorry for the person who wrote anon 11:20

Anonymous said...

I was in UCG in the W VA area and we had an older man who would deliberately hug young women tight and touch them inappropriately. The ministers were told over and over about this and they defended the man. It was just "grandfatherly hugs" and to get over it. He was a disgusting man. We had other issues of abuse in the church and the ministers did absolutely nothing.

Anonymous said...

The minister in WV UCG at the time was John Foster! He's now with COGWA

For the record I'm not 10:21am, I'm just someone who knows of the situation. One of the young ladies is related to D. Pack.

Anonymous said...


Normal people might call it “sexual abuse.”

The UCG calls it “showing grandfatherly affection.”

The PCG calls it “doing so much for someone and trying so hard to help them.”

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 10:21 AM said...“We had other issues of abuse in the church and the ministers did absolutely nothing.”

The ministers did “absolutely nothing”? Really? Consider yourself lucky!

Standard procedure in the UCG is to kick out the victim, and possibly the victims family too, as well as anyone else who says anything about what is going on. The victim will be accused of “not showing any love” to anyone and will be informed that “the UCG meets in peace.”

Obviously, the ministers in your area were not following standard church protocol. It sounds like you were really blessed to have some at least half-decent ministers in your area, and that you did not even realize it.

Anonymous said...

Does Tonto know the Ocelot ?

Anonymous said...

No their no their not 11:12. Their written to protect predators.

Anonymous said...

I can vouch that Anon 10:21 comments are true. You point out unwarranted sexual behaviour and UCG defend and protect the perpetrator and turn on the victims.
By their fruits you do know them.

Anonymous said...

What???we're yooa member?If you were, you wouldn't find this do far fetched. IgrewI up in the church,and I Believe it!Broken but not weak.

Anonymous said...

I am anon 11:20

Thanks for everyone who provided support and advice. I appreciate this. My father was a minister so no I couldn't really go to the ministry. And my abuse was often hidden so it was hard to see from the outside. Everyone respected my parents no one believed me until I was an adult that anything had even happened. But so much abuse happened that I don't feel it's extraordinary.

I did go to therapy and the therapists were often gay with their own lives a total mess. They were not helpful.

My question really was about today. The past is over and I can't do anything about my childhood. But there are still ministers here that were running the church. Is there really any use in approaching them? It seems like a pointless effort.

Anonymous said...

11:20/7:55: My situation was different from yours to an extent, because I was only physically abused, and not sexually. In my case, HWA killed off a formerly loving family, first by teaching us to separate ourselves from unconverted relatives who were always an influence for good in our lives, and then killed off any possible family relationship with "converted" parents through his zero tolerance childrearing principles, enforced with extreme brutality. That really destroys any sort of normal emotional bond between parents and children. It leads children to avoid their parents and to use deceit to avoid the constant pain. So, many of us were left to fend for ourselves without the normal family support group which HWA had destroyed. This lasts for a lifetime. It also becomes very difficult in adult life to root out all of the deceptiveness we learned to use in childhood purely to survive. That deceptiveness must be dealt with in order to have honest and successful relationships in adult life with coworkers, spouses, and friends, and family members. This is difficult when one's religion has taught one conditional love, contempt for outsiders, and immunity to the pain which is supposed to be regularly inflicted to induce obedience. Obedience isn't worth a damn if your only reason for obeying is the avoidance of pain. If that is our only motivation for doing right and good things, we are in deep trouble, indeed.

So, how do I deal now, later in life? First, I recognize that all the people around me are equally valuable. I strive to treat all fairly, and respectfully. When I wake up with my mind in the wrong place, I give myself a little pep talk. Whatever else has happened, I have an opportunity right now to be a blessing to others. If nothing else, I can make things a little less bad for them, because reality is, some of them endured much greater evil than I. The times that are worse for me are the times during which there is nobody else around, and I have time to dwell on myself and my memories. It's so much better when I can say to myself, "Man! This guy or gal in front of me has really gone through the ringer! How can I lift them up?" Somehow, they actually end up lifting me up. That's the value of being able to have other people around you.

People can often guilt trip an abuse victim by insisting that they forget the abuse, and attempt to normalize a relationship with their abuser. Of course, it would be good if we could do that, but often it brings back the poison, the anger, and hatred that you'd really need transformation from God to make go away. Trying to do what others tell you is the right thing can actually reintroduce the contamination you experienced while you were being abused. It brings past pain back into the present. Like a drunk needs to avoid alcohol, it's better to avoid poisoned relationships from the past. Because either can derail you.

Hope there's at least one useable nugget in there for you. It's not ever easy, but the pain can be diminished so that energy can be focussed on helping those around us, and being a positive influence.

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate that anon 12:16. I don't mean to make a big deal as I am in a similar boat as you. So many other people had it far worse than I did. I find that both a relief and solace because it helps me not wallow. As an adult I am nearly ok now. I have worked hard to get here and have a normal life.

But there's just times where life is just abnormally difficult and I've learned to try new things to get stuff straightened out. Just thought maybe a new thing would be to go to a minister and see if there is any healing to be done from that.

But considering how far I've gotten without having to go that route maybe its best left alone.

Thanks for taking the time to write all that. It was comforting and you helped me just a little bit more in life with your time and efforts. God bless you.

Phinnpoy said...

John Foster was a ministerial trainee assigned to the Peoria, Il WCG congregation in the early 70's. He didn't impress me as a bad person, but interestingly enough, after he left tje Peoria area, his marriage broke up. He came back to Peoria for a visit, and he went on a tirade about how his wife couldn't stand the church anymore. And of course, he screamed how hurt he was. At the time, I was too brainwashed to understand the abusive culture that existed in the church. But now I see Foster eas doing a McNair to cover his own inadequacies as a husband.