Most Holy and Merciful God, Abba Father, please give me the grace to write this with love, truth, compassion and with the purpose of honoring You as I wish to honor your dear children.
I knew this post was coming somewhere deep in me. But I dreaded it. Oh God, help me. My conscience will no longer allow me to dismiss this, belittle this problem or leave it for someone else to write.
There is rampant sexual abuse in the Seventh-day Adventist church. If only a small percentage of the cases I personally have been told are true, then this is a problem of such serious and prevailing nature as to demand attention.
For years, these are the things that have gone through my mind:
1. These Adventists and former Adventists are just lying for attention or they are grossly exaggerating the problem. They are bitter against the church and want to hurt the Adventists.
2. There is something mentally wrong with these people--emotional instability.
3. If I say something publicly, it could cause so many people to be badly hurt and some people falsely accused. The last thing I would ever want to put on someone is a false accusation of sexual abuse. People lose children, marriages, careers, are ostracized and live in deep depression after being falsely accused. God in heaven, please, I beg of you pour out your grace of truth on this subject so no innocent person will be ever accused of this.
4. There is no--or little--way to prove any of the cases I have heard. The victims themselves admit that it is a he said/ she said situation. Many were children when it happened and have zero interest in revisiting the memory or the person. So, to write about something you can't prove is something I try very hard to avoid. However, the anecdotes are becoming so numerous as to demand a voice. I am sure I have heard more than a hundred cases, ... I haven't kept count. But a large number....
Once, while still an Adventist, I called a SDA televangelist and expressed my concern about this subject and asked him what we, as a church, can do. He admitted the problem was grave, and yet offered no solution. He left the conversation saying something to the effect that what they need is to focus on forgiveness.
Well, yes.... of course. I agree. Forgiveness is an important step in a victim of sexual abuse. But what about the perpetrator? Should we not expose him or her and put them in jail? I honestly don't think the leadership of the Adventist church have any idea how severe this problem is. I think they imagine it is about an inappropriate touch, or an inappropriate remark. I can tell you, very few stories approach innocuousness. We are talking about systematic incestuous rape, violent rape or sodomy by SDA pastors, principals, teachers, Sabbath school leaders, Pathfinder leaders, etc and SDA fathers and even mothers....
Frequently, these girls have had to go to the emergency room, at times they are taken by the perpetrator or another SDA leader because of physical damage. I have heard numerous stories from girls who were secretly taken to get abortions by SDA Bible teachers, or church leaders to prevent the story from becoming public.
Lest any of you think I am drudging this up to hurt the SDA church as a former, stories began while I was in an SDA boarding academy. Most of these girls did not blame the church itself, but properly blamed the perpetrator and are loyal Adventists today. So this isn't about bitterness or attention for them. Nevertheless, at some point, you have to ask if there isn't an intrinsic problem with the church who considers themselves the sole remnant that covers this up to prevent scandal.
I am aware this happens in other churches--after all, I'm Catholic! The fact that this happens in other churches in no way minimizes the responsibility for Adventists to deal with this most heinous problem among their own children. Learn from the Catholic scandal and root out this problem and deal with it. You can see from the Catholic Church, we survived! It is possible to survive such a terrible blow. (I can't be as optimistic about the victims though.)
Think of the words of Our Lord, Jesus Christ when He said, "In as much as ye did it to one of the least of these, ye did it to me."
Let us Christians not turn a blind eye to our children. This abuse ruins their lives and often leads to drug addictions and sexual immorality. It can lead to serious mental problems and abuse. Often, victims attempt suicide! Some of these Adventist victims are today in jail, in psychiatric units, on the streets, isolated, alone and internally screaming with pain. Many others are walking in SDA churches as emotional corpses who cannot deal with reality, whose marriages are wrecks and the victim's spouse is taking the hit for the perpetrator's actions.
The multitude of stories I am privately told, if--as I wrote--if even a small percentage are true, it should awaken the greatest horror in Adventists. They should demand a church wide investigation into this and see how extensive and damaging it is.
My heart continues to break for these women. Please, Christians out there, daily pray for these wounded souls, their families and their perpetrators.
God, have mercy on us all.