Kevin’s Conversations: How They Get Away With It…

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18 Responses

  1. bob1 says:

    Good thoughts, Kevin!

    I tend to think that the “parachurch” groups might be more susceptible to this kind of thing. Many (not all) are personality-led.

    At least traditionally, the local church for the large part wasn’t that focused on the pastor/leader. Sure, if you have a lousy preacher, you might complain and switch churches, I suppose.

    Of course in the end, it boils down more than anything to individual behavior. But the environments we find ouselves in play a role, too.

    If you surround yourself with synchophants, guess what is likely to happen?

    I do believe that accountability is utterly crucial. What also helps is if someone on a board has the courage to point out when the leader has gone astray. That’s not easy.

  2. Kevin H says:

    Thanks, bob1.

  3. The New Victor says:

    This is sadly endemic of family systems. The members shift and adjust to preserve the system. DV and sexual abuse is hidden or denied by families, and members of alcoholic families adjust likewise. From the RCC, to the secular BSA. I would argue that public schools enable bullying by punishing victims.

  4. Muff Potter says:

    They get away with it because we let them.
    There’s big money in the CIC (christian industrial complex).

  5. Pineapple Head says:

    They usually leave us clues. Little red flags. We just miss them or ignore them.

  6. JD says:

    A quick quote from Oswald Chambers – November 9th
    My Utmost for His Highest

    “What a wonderful personality! What a fascinating man! Such marvelous insight! What chance has the Gospel of God through all that? It cannot get through, because the line of attraction is always the line of appeal. If a man attracts by his personality, his appeal is along that line; if he is identified with his Lord’s personality, then the appeal is along the line of what Jesus Christ can do. The danger is to glory in men; Jesus says we are to lift Him up”

  7. jtk says:

    I haven’t heard anyone defending Ravi, have you?

    This should be encouraging along the lines of this post.

    Is that because Ravi died? Because the evidence was so clear and voluminous?

  8. Kevin H says:

    jtk,

    I haven’t heard anyone defending him, so on one hand that is encouraging, but on the other hand, I believe it would be a very different story if he were still alive.

    If he were still alive, I believe it is likely he still would be deflecting and manipulating and using his power to protect himself and it would have been mostly status quo of those around him to keep supporting him. The evidence became so clear and voluminous once the investigators were able to get a hold of some (not even all) of his electronic devices. When Ravi was alive, there was little to no effort to take or audit his electronic devices and I believe that would have continued if he were still alive.

    Additionally, the spa allegations were spurred by his funeral when one of the spa workers who had been abused by Ravi had trouble handling his funeral seeing all the praise and adoration of the man when she had experienced his very dark side. This prompted her to share her story and started to open the floodgates. Without the funeral, all the spa and massage therapist abuse may still be tightly under wraps.

  9. Tim says:

    JTK, the broad strokes of what has been coming out about Ravi have been circulating for years, and very little of it connected until after he died.

    You aren’t hearing people defending him now because there is nothing to be gained from it, but there absolutely were efforts to downplay and deny the allegations that were swirling around him over the last 4 or 5 years.

  10. Kevin H says:

    jtk,

    After reading Tim’s comment, I should clarify my statement that I haven’t heard anyone defending Ravi. That is only since the devastating report that was released a week or two ago. Before that, yes, I saw plenty of people defending Ravi, even as the evidence and allegations grew greater and greater.

  11. Linn says:

    As long as Christians are into celebrities, we will continue to see scandal, unless ministries continue to put strong Scriptural and ethical guidelines around the leadership. When you have someone whose board is stacked with family members and friends who see no wrong, when the “brand” becomes more important than truth about sin, when people are not answerable for their actions (traveling masseuse? apartments in Bangkok? massage parlors? 4 cell phones?), when followers refuse to believe that the leader may not be above reproach (you haven’t read Rom 3:23?), these situations will continue to happen.

    And yet, the majority of the pastors and other Christian leaders I have sat under have been humble folk who serve their flocks well, often denying themselves in the process. That gives me hope, but they are also not part of the cult of Christian celebrity. We need to to leave the cult of Christian celebrity behind.

  12. jtk says:

    So it’s not the volume of evidence, it’s what certain organizations do, how they respond, that perpetuates abuse?

    Once again, I ask, who repents and apologizes for past mistakes?

  13. jtk says:

    “once again” because I’ve asked previous times.

    I can’t think of any on a large scale.

  14. Jennifer Johnson says:

    sadly, this article is written from the same vantage point and appears to have the same agenda of those who you are accusing. As someone who is one of those “left a wake of countless broken and victimized souls in their self-indulgent trails”, I read this article to be some source of encouragement. Instead I was given a ‘to-do’ list, and told how to think….very cultish, just like those you accuse. The church has done nothing for me or others who got caught up in the ‘culture of christianity’. No healing has been offered, no deprogramming…..I have only had to do that myself. That is quite sad. And seriously…did you have to through politics in this article?!?!

  15. David Connon says:

    Hi, Kevin. I appreciate your thoughtful article. You stated: “The boards acquiesce to their [the fallen pastor’s] words and continue on with business as usual and concurrently accuse any accusers of being liars and troublemakers. ” I have found that elder boards typically and reflexively “circle the wagons” around the pastor whenever someone criticizes the pastor or the church. To the extent that this is true, then the structure of elder boards impedes open conversation and positive change in churches.

  16. Kevin H says:

    Thanks, David.

    There is no structure we can put in place that would guarantee that elder boards won’t fall to unduly supporting or protecting their pastor. But at the very least, if we avoid allowing the pastor to hand pick their board, then that would at least reduce the chances of this happening.

  17. Kevin H says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    I just now saw your comment so this reply is very late and I would think likely you’ll never see it, but I’ll leave it anyway.

    First, I am truly sorry for whatever situation you have gone through that made you feel like one of the “broken or victimized souls”.  I hope that you have been able to somehow or somewhere experience some manner or measure of healing.

    As for my article, the intent was to exhort the church to not keep supporting and accepting Christian leaders who are abusive or who commit disqualifying behavior so that there would be a lessening of future victims like yourself.  It was not meant to tell people how to think or to be a “to-do” list of a bunch of actions they must take, but simply a call for Christians to just do what is right.  Another portion of doing what is right would be reaching out and supporting those who have been victimized and provide some manner of support and hopefully healing.  For this particular article, my focus was on how to deal with the abusers, and as my writings often get too long to begin with, covering even just one main aspect gets long enough that to try to cover more could make reading my writing unwieldy.  I assure you I had no agenda other than to call Christians to act more Christ-like.

    As for the drawing in of politics, much of the popular Christian culture that unduly supports Christian celebrities, has also very much entwined themselves in politics and act in very similar manners in that arena, too.  It was a quick aside to point out that Christians often act similarly in the political arena and it is not a good thing there either.  It broadens people’s understanding to see that such behavior goes beyond just one category of life and may help them to see that it could be a wider overall perspective and attitude problem that needs to be dealt with rather than just having a “to-do” of fixing how they behave in relation to supporting unfit Christian leaders.
    But I am truly sorry that you were hurt in the first place and then the church failed you in providing any support or healing.  We Christians can talk a good game, but often aren’t so good when it comes to actually playing it. 

  18. David Connon says:

    Hi, Kevin.
    Thanks for your thoughtful comment. The problem of “elders as a Praetorian Guard” is especially acute when a pastor founds a church. In other words, the pastor essentially hand picks the original board of elders. The original board can then perpetuate its attitudes and practices in the way they select and groom future elders.

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