1) I believe that the Bible teaches that women have an inferior status to men. In the OT, women were seen as the property of either their husband or their father. I have two posts on the OT God condoning rape (see here and here).
2) I believe that fundamentalist evangelicals, people who believe the Bible is inspired and inerrant, still cling to this idea of women being inferior in status to men. I realize that they would vehemently deny this to be the case but I think it is evident in many of their teachings such as the notion that women are to be submissive to their husbands, women are not to have leadership positions in the church, and so on. And I think that the way the victim was treated in this particular case also illustrates my point.
3) I am particularly interested in this case because it involves persons and institutions that were part of my orbit when I was a believer.
4) I would like to see justice done and the victim's honor restored. I think she is owed an apology by several of the players in this tragic incident.
So, I will continue to report on this case until it is resolved.
It appears that the Pastor of the Church, Chuck Phelps (later the President of Maranatha Baptist College) and Matt Olson (now the President of Northland Baptist College) conspired together to ship the girl from New Hampshire to Colorado. Phelps claims that the police never asked him where the girl was and thus charges were never brought against the rapist, Ernie Willis. Willis continued on in the Trinity Baptist Church for years after this crime. Phelps and Olson claim they did nothing wrong. I think they were negligent in not seeing to it that Willis was prosecuted. This was not just a "church matter," it was a crime. While Phelps and Olson probably did nothing legally wrong; I fail to see how one can conclude that they didn't do something that was morally wrong. Phelps had the victim stand up in front of the church and apologize for her action. Once the victim was moved to Colorado, Olson had the victim write a letter to the rapist's wife apologizing for "violating her trust." Neither man saw to it that Willis was prosecuted.
The current pastor of the church in Colorado where the victim was sent, Tri-City Baptist Church in Westminster, Will Senn (I am not making his name up), has issued a letter trying to clear the name of his church in this fiasco. You can read it here. Here are the comments that one blogger made about Pastor Senn's letter:
1) He never says that Willis raped Tina. A reading of this letter would cause the reader to assume, which is also what Phelps engineered the church at that time to assume, that 15 year old Tina had engaged in consensual sex.
2) He never allows that Tina had no say in giving up her baby. She was allowed to select which of the final three candidate couples should have her baby, but there was no other decision given to her.
3) He declares that Tina was not being hidden in Colorado, yet Tina and her brother both say that she was being hidden.
4) He directly says, ” Dr. Chuck Phelps does not believe that Tina was responsible for being allegedly raped.” But the Concord Monitor says, “Phelps said he told her to “be responsible, don’t allow yourself to be around a person you know to be dangerous. She knew this person was dangerous after the first time, but she continued to be around him….She needed to be responsible.”
5) He directly says, “In addition, Dr. Chuck Phelps urged Tina and her mother to talk with the police, but they would not.” Tina was actually instructed to never tell anybody about what happened. And if Phelps was so determined that they should talk to the police, why did he not wield the sword of church discipline at them? After all, he had already made Tina take responsibility for being raped. Surely he could have made her responsible to go to the police.
6) He refers to the “media attack on Dr. Chuck Phelps, Dr. Matt Olson or Tri-City Baptist Church.” Actually, the news media is reporting the story, and Phelps has been given ample opportunity to give his side. The fact that he just keeps digging himself deeper every time he talks is not an attack from the media.
The current Pastor of the Trinity Baptist Church in Concord, NH, Brian Fuller, is to be commended for now taking a different approach on this matter.
Fuller's 38-minute sermon is devoted mostly to explaining the need for the church to face the harsh criticism from this scandal without lashing back, take a hard look at themselves and what was done in 1997 and what it says about them now, and see what restitution needs to be made and what change needs to occur at their church.(source)A statement on the Trinity Baptist church's website says the following:
In reviewing the events of October 1997, the present leadership is seeking answers for the victim, our congregation, as well as our entire Concord community. The prayers of our entire church are for justice to be served to the alleged perpetrator, and that mercy and care will be extended to the victim.
Below is a video clip from "The Young Turks" on the situation:
HT: Jeri Massi