Sometimes I get so many stories, I just have to put them all together. Considering I just counted my backlog of unwritten Horror Show Sunday stories and I have 47 still to be written, this is one of those times. So off to the races with a couple of stories of preachers who can’t keep their hands to themselves.
In Fort Wayne, Indiana, a jury has convicted James Burton, pastor of the Greater Faith Baptist Church, on two counts of molesting a 9-year old girl that was living in his home. According to authorities, the now 10-year old said she liked living with Burton, but he kept touching her private parts and asking her to take her clothes off. Of course, his followers and others in the Christian community leapt to his defense, a man of God couldn’t possibly do a thing like that! Luckily, the jury wasn’t so sympathetic and sentenced James Burton to 40 years in prison.
Want more? How about a former youth pastor at the Heritage Assembly of God in Des Moines, Iowa that pled guilty to molesting two young girls in his church? 27-year-old Ryan McKelvey has pleaded guilty to charges of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation by a member of the clergy. At least there are actual laws against this now. Parishioners in his church say they feel deceived by McKelvey, but shouldn’t they feel even more deceived by their religious beliefs, the beliefs that push them to think better of their clergy than they have any right thinking? While McKelvey pled down his sentence, he was convicted of third-degree sexual abuse and two counts of sexual exploitation by clergy and sentenced to 20 years. He’s also a permanent resident of the Iowa Sex Offender Registry.
Another one? I can oblige. Jeffrey Strait, 47, of the First Baptist Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois is accused of molesting young boys in his tenure as youth pastor for the church. He’s been specifically charged with four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse with a victim over 13, but under the age of 17. He was later hit with an additional five charges for sexual abuse from an additional five adult men who accuse Strait of molesting them as children. It is reported that Strait came into contact with the boys as part of his work with Christian youth groups and while the actual abuse didn’t take place at the church, it is likely that the church was Strait’s place to hunt for victims.
You know, I could go on and on, there isn’t any shortage of these stories, but why bother? The church is a haven for sexual predators and parents are only too happy to leave their kids with anyone in a clerical collar because they’ve traditionally felt safe doing that. What a bad idea that was!
Maybe the saying ought to be “God doesn’t hurt people, people who believe in God hurt people.” Until next week, keep your kids away from the church, it’s only putting them in danger.