Written by Naomi
Today, the Loudoun Times-Mirror published an article detailing sexual abuse at Calvary Temple in Sterling, Virginia.
An excerpt from the article reads,
“Now 26, the Maryland woman, along with one other victim, have come forward, alleging rampant sexual assault within the church among members of its leadership, teachers and teacher’s aides.
The women paint a disturbing picture of an atmosphere where physical and sexual abuse were not only tolerated and encouraged, but “taken care of” within the church should a victim come forward.
But Thompson and the other woman, whose name is being withheld by the Times-Mirror because she fears for her safety, say they can’t stay silent anymore.”
Horrified. It is the only word that portrays my feelings with accuracy. I am horrified at the stories, horrified at the circumstances detailed in the article, horrified at the extent of Calvary Temple’s inability to act like a real Christian church, horrified that children endured these atrocities, horrified that any human being would respond in the way CT did, horrified that there are still several hundred followers there, horrified that some choose silence over warning, horrified that Calvary Temple exists and cloaks itself in the guise of spirituality.
Horrified. Filled with horror, to shock greatly. To make my blood run cold. To make my hair stand on end. To scare the living daylights out of me.
In 2012, my little hometown was engulfed in one of the greatest sexual abuse scandals in the nation. Penn State University’s former football assistant coach and defensive coordinator was accused of multiple years of sexually abusing young boys from a charity that he founded. I was surrounded by people of all walks of life with same normal human response to this scandal: they were horrified. They were not horrified because of the publicity or because of PSU football or anything like that. Over and over, people expressed their horror for the abuse that those poor boys endured. In my workplace, folks talked of little else. They shook their heads in shock. Grown men were grieving. Women who never met the victims cried tears of empathy. And when Jerry Sandusky was pronounced guilty by a jury of his peers, our tiny town erupted with rejoicing for justice that had been done.
It is normal as a human to empathize with the innocents. To be angry at injustice. To be horrified by evil. To fail at this normal human response is to become a monster.
As I write these words, my four month old son sleeps peacefully on my shoulder. Before he was born, I thought I understood what love was. Now I know without a doubt the intense love of a parent for their child. My actions are driven by the God-given responsibility of parenthood. My child is small, defenseless, innocent. Far be it from me to ever put him in danger or to stand silent while he was harmed.
As a parent, I am horrified at the stories of things happening at CT’s church and school. I am horrified that people would question a sexual abuse victim in front of her abuser. I could not raise my child at Calvary Temple. I could not allow him in a place where multiple accusations of sexual abuse have been raised. I could not entrust him to a church-esque community that has shown themself to be unworthy of trust. As a parent, I would run far, far away.
In a passage of Scripture so important that three of the four gospels repeat it nearly verbatim, it says,
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.”
Mark 9:42 NASB
The God that we serve hates those who hurt children. In the same way, we Christians (followers of Christ) are compelled to stand against such things. The oddity in this situation is that Calvary Temple routinely hurts children, by turning their parents against them, by counseling (i.e. forcing) them to abandon their children, to shun them, to ignore them for daily church events, to give them to the care of a school that has no oversight with teachers that are not certified and inept and according to the article, willing to overlook abuse.
The straw that breaks the camel’s back? Star R. Scott and his taped confession of sexually abusing minors. Calvary Temple’s revered leader, senior pastor and self-professed Apostle-Prophet-Pastor-Teacher who is accountable to no one, admitted that what he formerly stated was adultery and a one-time-thing, was actually sexual abuse. Of course, he offers spiritual-sounding excuses and justifications to disguise the truth, but they matter little. Star R. Scott ought to be behind bars, not leading a church. Forgiveness is not a get-out-of-jail-free card, and his repentance, if it were real, would have led to justice.
Star Scott’s actions make him unfit for ministry.
“Namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled,”
Titus 1:6-8 NASB (underline added)
Star Scott deserves reproach by law enforcement, normal people, churches, Christians and the universal Church. He does not deserve respect or a position of church authority. When the email detailing those accusations against him was released in 2008, his response was essentially “it’s not true.” People believed him, but even loyal followers said to themselves, “if it is true, we would leave.” Fast-forward to seven years later and he admits the truth. What will the response be now?
It is possible for those at Calvary Temple to become immediately defensive at the Loudoun Times-Mirror article, but I strongly caution against the reaction to denigrate the victims brave enough to tell their stories (and those additional victims not featured in the article). It is extremely rare for a childhood sexual abuse victim to lie about what they have suffered. It often takes the courage that comes with adulthood for them to tell their stories. You may read more about childhood sexual abuse here to give understanding about the normalcy of their responses and the mountain of issues that they bravely work through to come to a point of sharing their stories publicly. Their stories are not to be taken lightly.
As a human, as a parent and as a Christian, I am horrified at these things, at Calvary Temple. If God had not already rescued my husband from their clutches four and a half years ago, I might be tempted to stage a hostage rescue attempt. Unfortunately, you cannot rescue those who do not wish to be rescued. So today, I make my appeal.
Dear CT congregants, please leave. Please, please leave. Before the horror escapes your heart and you become immune to evil, please leave.