I wish I could say it was my pleasure, but it isn't. The going to court part is good, but the sickening abuse that is the reason for the court cases far outweighs anything else.
Rolling Stone picked up the story first:
Not Your ‘Church Next Door’: ‘Cult’ Ignored Abuse, Ran ‘Pyramid Scheme,’ Lawsuit Claims (Rolling Stone)
Five women sue Christian organizations - the International Churches of Christ - for 'covering up child sexual abuse and exerting financial pressure on member to the extent that some killed themselves' (Daily Mail UK)
Basically, in a pattern described previously in this blog, both ICOC and ICC leadership is accused of not turning over pedophiles to the authorities. In multiple instances outlined in the suits, adults in leadership capacity roles in Kip McKean's ministries raped or otherwise sexually assaulted teens and children as young as three years old. (I currently have a three-year-old and my stomach is sick as I write this.) Then, when these abuses were made known to other church leaders, the church chose to protect the abusers rather than report them to the police as the law and common decency required.
And to add insult to injury, church leaders victim-shamed underage victims of statutory rape, treating them as the guilty party instead of as victims. In one case leaders repeatedly called the girl a "slut". (So much for Kip's teaching that "sin is sin" and all equally bad in the eyes of God.)
We know that these several persons who have come forward are a tiny, tiny fraction of the total number of victims.
If you were in the ICOC years ago, you might remember the claims that the church made frequently as one of it's great selling points: While other churches and organizations have had sexual scandals, we were told, the ICOC has remained completely devoid of any such issues. Well, now it is being made publicly known that this claim was false. There WERE sexual abuse scandals. What's more, the scandals have been there since the very beginning of the Boston Movement and then forever since.
However, in a Machiavellian turn, church leaders chose to handle them "internally." This meant trying to keep anyone from knowing what happened, even if it meant protecting the abuser and preventing the abuser from having legal consequences.
As a result of these policies, and yes, at this point we can clearly call them policies, at least one perpetrator of abuse went on to continue sexually abusing children and is now in prison for raping another child later on. Plus how many other children did that one person mortally damage for life, who we might never even know about?
The saddest part of this is that hiding sexual abuse seems to have been planned from the start. There was sexual abuse and cover-up even in the earliest days of the church group that later led to the ICOC and the ICC.
The first big scandal was from Chuck Lucas, the leader of the campus ministry where Kip McKean was converted to his toxic version of Christianity. Chuck had sex with multiple campus students. (Whispered and unverified rumors suggest that many years later, Kip McKean publicly confessed to have been one of those students.) That scandal broke open and Chuck had to resign from the ministry. This was devastating for the group and certainly hindered their efforts to win new converts. Many people have heard about that scandal, inside and outside of the group.
Kip and his associates apparently learned from that experience - that sexual scandal can quickly make them famous in the worst way.
The next time there was a big sexual scandal they made sure that it was kept quiet. This time, it was another big leader who was caught having sex with multiple members of the congregation. However, it was in the teen ministry. The adult male leader had sex with multiple underage teen girls. He committed statutory rape with multiple victims. In some circles, that would brand him a serial rapist. He might go to court, go to jail, and be placed on a list so that he would have to forever register his whereabouts for the protection of the most vulnerable around him.
However, in the circles of Kip McKean's ministries, that man did not go to court. He did not go to jail. He did not get placed on any sex offender lists.
Kip and other ministry leadership decided to try to keep that scandal as quiet as possible. They did not turn the leader over to the police. They did not even force him to resign from leadership.
What they did do was pay money to the victims on the condition that they sign a non-disclosure agreement. That means they are bound to not disclose what had happened.
And that leader?
Kip later promoted that rapist up to the highest levels of church leadership, even World Sector Leader (WSL)!
World Sector Leaders were the highest level of leadership in the ICOC below Kip himself. The WSLs were presented as paragons of virtue in ICOC propaganda videos (Kingdom News Network) and in other ICOC materials.
The rapist, who shall remain nameless for reasons that will soon become clear, has continued to enjoy a high level of protection from consequences for his past deeds. A few years ago, I published an article naming names. At that time, a few Google searches could lead any interested party to publicly available Internet discussions where multiple people discussed what happened and the person in question.
However, that person, in his position of well-paid church leadership and notoriety, had the resources to have a fancy big law firm send me a sufficiently threatening letter to my home address. Being a person of more modest means and not in a position to undergo a legal battle with high-powered lawyers, I took the article down.
But the point here is not that single perpetrator. The point here is the system of abuse. The system puts the rights, needs, and wants of church leadership over and above those of church members, in the grossest of terms.
This was a dynamic that I saw first-hand as a member of the ICOC and later, the ICC. "Rank-and-file" members were held to one standard, while leadership enjoyed an entirely different one. There was always a power dynamic at play. There was no servant leadership - the members were there to serve the leaders.
Kip loves appearances. Anything he touches has an element of show. Now it is finally becoming public knowledge that this extends to the pretense of moral superiority that he wrapped himself and his organizations in. If you can't be moral, then by God, you better appear to be moral. And when the two are in conflict, it is much better to appear moral rather than be moral. So naturally he and the organizations he ran protected abusers rather than turn them in.
What was a failure for truth and justice was a win for Kip. Anyone who was guilty of such widely condemnable acts and who remained under Kip's direction became indebted to Kip for their continued position. Everyone in the ICOC/ICC knew the "drips" of negative information of anyone who left the church suffered. Church leaders waste no time in publicly slandering anyone who has left the organization, often with a mixture of truth and lies. I saw it a hundred times and then suffered it myself when I left. Anything I had ever done wrong plus a list of things that were a figment of someone's malicious imagination. If that WSL had a differing opinion than Kip's, better keep it quiet rather than be very publicly exposed.
I also witnessed firsthand that Kip utterly does not care about the righteousness of people working for him. When I had complaints against a paid staff member who was a pathological liar and who I had allowed to become indebted to me for a few thousand dollars, I met with Kip and the leader to iron it out. It was more than abundantly clear that Kip's one and only priority was to find the leader faultless and to quell discontent in the "disgruntled member." And no, Kip did not do anything whatsoever to get the leader to repay me, or have the church step into the gap. Which in hindsight makes sense, because the church is always interested in parting its members from their money as a primary aim.
Kip literally did not care if I got screwed over by the leader who was working for him. He just wanted me to not be too upset about it.
Kip and those under his leadership continue to follow the same pattern: right no wrongs done by leaders. Protect the leaders, as long as they continue to do whatever Kip orders them to do. Place the needs of church leaders completely above those of church members and the public. Throw away the victims of the church's abuses like crumpled up wads of paper trash, and then talk about them like trash to their faces and to their backs as soon as they leave.
Hopefully these lawsuits will be the first of many more to come. And more importantly, hopefully these lawsuits will somehow help prevent other kids from being abused.
I've read the 52 page suit. I'm not convinced the evidence exists to convict anyone but if so, God is just. I do not look to minimize anyone's honest experience with abuse. Sin is sin, no matter the assailant. I can't help but wonder how much of these stories are half-truths sensationalized to hope for a MONITARY return. I wonder how many writers of these accounts would be satisfied with mere jail time & not money. Time will tell.ReplyDelete
There are two issues. The first is the abuse. The second is the church's actions in response to the abuse. The church behaved terribly. It worked to cover up the abuse, attack the abused, and protect the abusers. That is what the lawsuit is aboutDelete
That's fair. Lock up the guilty. I'm curious what "evidence" actually exists besides here-say because it's been a long time. Sin happens, but pinning it in people will be tough. It just seems oddly money- based vs truly seeking justice when I read individual accounts.Delete
I knew of an incident with a man being sexually abused by another man. I told the abused to call the police and file a report. He chose not to. The church didn't do much but silently "restored" the abuser... whatever that meant... all the while he continued to lead.Delete
It's a civil suit. There would be no convictions.ReplyDelete
So, this is all about money in exchange for previous abuse. I guess we'll just have to wait & see. I have no doubt that things occurred because people "sin" (religious or not) but how could this abuse be measured? Proven? And lastly, differentiated from someone embellishing the truth in order to attain a payout (or greater one)? I don't know judicial protocol much, but I lack confidence this will result in anything except deter future abuse. (That makes it worthwhile)Delete
definitely agree that if it deters future abuse it is worthwhile! also if it makes the church turn abusers into the authorities as required by law so they can prevent them from abusing againDelete
Where can we find out about this or these church leaders that are sexually abusing members?ReplyDelete
this website is currently hosting all of the lawsuit documents:Delete
they have all the names of the people currently being sued as well as some of the names of people suing them (some are anonymous "Jane Roe" with a number)