Monday, February 22, 2016

Ron Carpenter

Here's a predator preacher: husband of Hope Carpenter

Monday, November 13, 2006

Behind the Pulpit

A Lecherous Man?

We've all read news stories about the predator priests. But what about predator preachers? I grew up under such a man in the pulpit and served in a church with such a man as a young adult. In still another instance a Bible camp missionary speaker, whose influence on me was very significant, was found to have been molesting little girls in a boarding school in Africa. So I know this phenomenon through personal experience. But I also know about it as a historian.

I have written books that relate to ministers--most notably Private Lives of Pastors' Wives and Left Behind in a Megachurch World. But I've never before written specifically on predator preachers.


Is Mr. Haggard one more example of a predatory preacher? Some would let him off the hook because they say his sins involved a consenting adult. That may be in the case of Mr. Jones, but I doubt this is the only extra-marital relationship that Mr. Haggard was involved in. If history shows us anything, he will be involved in ministry again--sooner than later. One after another, these ministers have been brought back to the pulpit. My advice: Watch out for him. And watch out for any minister who looks slick and puts on a "godly" aura.


There's more than one way to be a predator. The news of August 25, 2007 (google: "Fallen pastor seeks financial support"), is that Ted Haggard is emailing former church members asking them for support while he and his wife go on for more education (to become counselors, no less)---despite the fact that he received a large severance package and has a home valued at more than $700,000. He's preying on dupes who will probably send him their hard-earned money.

Preacher vs. Priest

I found it very interesting that when I googled "predator preachers" on November 13, 2006, it showed only 15 citations. But when I googled "predator priests" there were 27,700. Is that because priests are so much more likely to be predators than preachers? I doubt it. I think Catholics who have been abused are much better organized than are Protestants. Many Protestant evangelical churches are independent, and it's much easier in such cases for predator preachers to continue on in the ministry.

Predator Priests Hide in Plain Sight

Living secret lives in our communities

By CASEY ROSS - The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, MA)
May 22, 2004

Law enforcement officials say priests accused of sexual abuse constitute the largest group of unregistered sex offenders in the nation, and some are warning that they have no way to prevent more children from being abused.

‘‘We ask where they are now, and (church leaders) say, ‘We don't know where they go after they've been removed from ministry,''' Bristol County District Attorney Paul Walsh said this week. ‘‘It's as if they're saying, ‘they're your problem now, not ours.'''

Two years after prosecutors began reviewing lists of priests accused of sexual abuse, only a handful of those priests have been criminally charged, and dozens more are living in Massachusetts communities without the knowledge of neighbors or police.

Blaming Women for the Sexually Abusive Male Pastor
by Ann-Janine Morey

Many women don’t speak out about sexual abuse by pastors because, along with enduring terrible damage to their own self-esteem and relentless public shredding of their reputations, they will suffer the loss of personal and community relationships -- what may amount to a devastating social and spiritual exile. The time-honored response to such situations is to blame women -- the "other woman" or the pastor’s wife -- for the sexual transgressions of a male minister.

Typical of recent treatments of the topic is "The Sexual Hazards of Pastoral Care" (Christianity Today, November 8, 1985) , by Dean Merrill, which describes the minister as an attractive target for "the Enemy," or a "sitting duck for the romantically starved." The pastor’s work "allows for a flexible schedule with little accountability"; he is "attuned to the aesthetic, emotional and interpersonal side of life" -- all reasons why "moral failure in the ministry is more often the result of inattention than intent." These excuses portray him as a misguided but innocent victim of circumstances -- he was manipulated by a predatory female; he suffered from flextime confusion.

Predator Preacher in Fiction
by Ann-Janine Morey

If anything, 20th-century writers are more hostile toward women than were 19th-century novelists. A number of parsonage romances produced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries use theological/social drama as a vehicle for the romances. Writers such as Jane Ludlow Drake Abbot (1888-1962) , Elsie Marion Oakes Barber (1914-?) , Ruth Lininger Dobson (dates unknown) , Louis Platt Hauck (1883-1943) , Agnes Sligh Turnbull (1888-1982) and Nelia Gardner White (1894-1957) give the reader the impression that falling in love with one’s minister has something to do with restoring a purer gospel and a better world.

In such novels the minister is always boyish and innocent of the darker designs of natural life, yet possessed of an irresistible virility. While fending off pathetic spinsters, he courts/converts a rebellious but ultimately tractable young woman, while on a third front he just barely evades the clutches of the attractive but unscrupulous divorcée. Because of the divorcée’s malice he is accused of sexual improprieties, but is always proven innocent in the end. At the same time that he wins the girl he defeats the local captain of industry.

When marriage rather than courtship receives fictional scrutiny, the heroic and boyish young minister patiently trains an unsuitable wife for her role or he becomes a martyr to her unworthiness. He bravely renounces his attraction to another woman, whom he may kiss once but will never marry. Wives in such novels are overbearing and selfish; in one temperance tract novel the minister’s wife is a morphine addict and drunkard who inadvertently kills her children (Annette L. Noble, The Parsonage Secret, 1898).


Here is a testimonial I found on the web:

I was sexually molested by a PREDATOR PREACHER, while Dad was studying in Lee College; this PREDATOR was attending the same college. I have never spoken of this matter to a soul until now. . . . Dad has gone on to glory and never knew a friend of his was guilty of molesting me. . . . I have been too embarrassed and ashamed to reveal this dark secret I have harbored for all these years. Unless you have been a victim, you just cannot imagine what goes on in your mind and how the Devil plays with your mind. He tells you that you are worthless and your heart just about bursts for fear of that event being revealed. This happened to me in 1949 and I still want to vomit when I think about it. . . . I do not think I will ever stop being ashamed, and I think these Predators should have a special place set aside for them in hell. I fight bitterness and hate all the time. . . .

Henry Ward Beecher

Beecher (1813-1887) , known for preaching of God’s comforting love, was the pastor of the powerful and wealthy Plymouth Church in Brooklyn Heights, New York. Elizabeth Tilton was a parishioner married to Beecher’ s friend Theodore. Beecher became intimate with Elizabeth sometime in 1868, opportunity having been afforded by pastoral visits to console her for the death of her infant child. Henry advised Elizabeth that the world would not understand their love, and so they must practice "nest-hiding." But despite such pastoral counsel the emotionally vulnerable Elizabeth confessed to her husband that Henry had justified their union by an appeal to "pure affection and a high religious love."

Rumors of the affair went beyond the Tilton household in 1872. The pressure of the scandal was varied but ultimately unrelenting, and in 1875 Theodore Tilton sued Beecher in the first of several ecclesiastical and legal actions. Despite "almost irrefutable evidence," the congregational investigating committee "issued a report completely exonerating Beecher." In fact, Beecher’s suffering provoked it to express "sympathy more tender and a trust more unbounded" than ever before. Because its confidence in Beecher’s integrity was incompatible with the evidence, it considered the evidence false.

This congregational charity was not extended to Elizabeth, who along with all the others who testified against Beecher was finally, excommunicated in 1878. Unlike Beecher, Elizabeth had no office to protect her, and even less cultural or religious power. "Ostracized by Plymouth Church, Elizabeth Tilton died in 1897, lonely and blind, at the home of her daughter in Brooklyn," Altina Wailer reports in Reverend Beecher and Mrs. Tilton (University of Massachusetts Press, 1982). Beecher’s wife’s fate and feelings are also missing from the historical record.

Beecher was not hurt in the end by this scandal. Indeed, his popularity rated him a grand statue--standing proud today for all the world to see.


Here is a fascinating court case relating to the death by hanging of Massachusetts mill worker Sarah Maria Cornell in 1832 and the subsequent acquittal of Methodist minister Ephraim Avery. See American

Predator Priest Makes a Return

Baptism by Defrocked Cleric Renews Calls for Database

By Jeff Diamant
The Star-Ledger [New Jersey]
October 23, 2005

Amid all the disturbing tales of priests being charged with sexually abusing minors, stories about Nicholas Cudemo stand out.

When a grand jury released its report last month on clergy sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, it revealed Cudemo had been accused of abusing 16 minors, raping an 11-year-old and helping her get an abortion.

He was laicized -- formally dismissed from the clergy -- in June after four decades as a priest in eastern Pennsylvania.

Despite that Vatican action, which was publicized, Cudemo presided in July at a baptism at Christ the King Church in Haddonfield, Camden County, where the resident priest did not know his status.

This disclosure, made in the church last week by the Rev. Joseph Wallace of Christ the King, has spurred renewed calls from victims' advocates to develop a national database of abusers.

"Time and time again, proven abusive priests have resurfaced in coaching, in teaching jobs ... in positions of access to kids," said David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, a victims group. "Prospective employers, police, concerned parents need to have a centralized reliable place they can turn to check the history of a retired priest who moved next door or offered to tutor in their school."

A national database of clergy abusers has been a frequent demand of victims groups since revelations in 2002 that many bishops shielded abusive priests from prosecutors and let them minister in new parishes without alerting churchgoers to their deeds.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has examined the possibility, but has so far hasn't acted.