Two recent stories highlight the issue of child sexual abuse in religious organizations — this time not the Catholic church — but rather the Mormons and the Southern Baptists.
Unfortunately, organizations that should provide a safe, nurturing environment too often harbor sexual predators. There are three primary reasons for this in my view:
- Organizations that cloak themselves in the mantle of religion tend to remain outside the scope of societal protections against abuse. Particularly in the United States, where the First Amendment has been interpreted over the years to preclude almost all governmental intrusion into their activities.
- These organizations fear negative publicity, so they try to keep their problems internal and because of the lack of oversight, they are able to do so far more easily and effectively than other organizations that are not afforded the protection of the First Amendment.
- Religious organizations position themselves as the trusted authorities on moral issues — many claim to be speaking with the authority of God (or L. Ron Hubbard). Thus they are trusted. And that trust fosters an environment where situations that might otherwise be cause for raising alarms are explained away and brushed off.
Of course, not all members of these organizations are predators or culpable for enabling them. Not by any stretch of the imagination. It is only a TINY percentage. But the problem is still prevalent within religious organizations. And it is an issue which must be addressed with legislation to bring these organizations back under the law.
You can read this lengthy investigation here.
You can read this story here. It is interesting to note that the SBC says they are fully cooperating with this investigation, a rarity in such matters.
And let’s not forget the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Australian inquiry we showed on a special episode of Scientology and The Aftermath
This issue is a big reason why I am on the Board of Child USA.
If you are not familiar with the work we do, please visit the website. Your support, in whatever fashion is important to achieving our mission.
You assumptions are not based on correct data. According to the US Dept. of Ed, public school teachers sexually abuse children at a scale more than 100 times greater than Catholic priests. https://go2tutors.com/teachers-more-likely-abuse-kids/
So gov’t controlled entities are less safe than religious controlled entities for children. The reason for that is probably because of this ancient observation: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes
Mike Rinder says
That article is a classic example of the old maxim that numbers can be manipulated to result in the outcome the writer wants. It is so thin, conflates dissimilar things and omits so much information it is hardly worth giving any credence to. The scare head is like a National Enquirer story — unsupported by the text below it, but designed to attract attention.
Here ya go: https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2020/10/15/sexual-assault-k-12-schools/
Mike Rinder says
True, more factual than the one you cited before, but no indication the incidence of sexual assaults is 100X compared to sexual assaults from clergy. There are no comparable figures of the number of children exposed to teachers vs numbers exposed to priests. And of course the school information includes females, most priest sexual child abuse is with males.
I am NOT arguing that child sexual abuse is not a problem in schools and other institutions — hell, I am on the Board of Child USA and we address these issues every day.
I am responding to your original comment that I was wrong about the problem with religion and sexual abuse.
Com Ev’d says
From being on staff within this decade in a medium sized WUS org, I was privy to PC folder and ethics data.
Alone, I knew of at least 28 heinous sexual crimes against children. None reported to the police.
As many others have said, they were all quietly removed so there wouldn’t be a PR flap.
All details sent anonymously to law enforcement.
None of the people have been registered as sec offenders, so nothing was done.
Haven’t read all the comments yet, so this may be a duplicate. Additional factors include religious privilege often used in conjunction with First Amendment or other protections, as in the USA. The insularity as encoded in dogma makes it impossible for outside authorities to intervene–participation in things such as the “sacrament” of confession in the RCC allows a priest a lot of license to protect predators. And many do. They of course, claim otherwise.
Shaming culture is huge as is purity culture in these groups as well–all boils down to deflection of blame rather like what cos teaches its followers: they somehow brought it on themselves.
These kinds of things enable ongoing harm to survivors, many simply can’t take the emotional risk of coming forward. It’s awful.
There is a rally this Friday, August 19th at 6:30 pm at the State Capitol in Salt Lake City to draw attention to the issue of child sexual abuse and its coverup, particularly within the Mormon Church. If you are in the Salt Lake area, please attend!
I am a member of a Southern Baptist Church. I guess you might say I am somewhat of a leader in my church. I have, in my past, worked with the youth at our church which is pretty large as churches go. I can’t tell you what all churches do but I can tell you how we operate. When I was approached about helping with the youth I was told in no uncertain terms the expectations of that position and that I would have to have a complete background check done every year that I was in that position. Every year.
We did, unfortunately, have a happening while I was doing this with another person. It was concerning him taking pictures of one of the young ladies without her knowledge. The Lead Pastor and the other volunteers (one who was a local policeman) took the evidence we had found and the young lady and her parents all went to the police. It was reported immediately. Of course, the person was removed from their position with the youth until an investigation could be completed. The Police Chief came back to us and said while what he had done was inappropriate it was not illegal. They could not charge this guy with a crime. Didn’t matter to us, he was gone. End of discussion, he was gone. Of course the guy got all indignant and left the church. Oh, well, his choice. Our Lead Pastor, who has two daughters of his own, contacted every pastor he knew in the area and made sure they knew, as much as he legally could say. There is a limit but it can be done. That way this person doesn’t go to another church and repeat the cycle.
maria mc says
Good for you and the members of your church for protecting the most vulnerable amongst you. The 99.9% of the world that has so much good to offer must never stop fighting against the .1% of poison
I hate these self-righteous, sanctimonious, Sunday Christians who behind the cloak of some church and the First Amendment and their frantic protestations of love for God and Jesus, do sexually exploit and damage the minds, emotions and bodies of innocent, trusting children.
Such creatures are lower than the most loathsome and overtly dangerous laymen street criminals.
In fact, being a loathsome ordinary laymen street criminal would be a big step up in ethics and as such good goal for psalm singing donkeys like these.
That’s all. Thank you.
PS: Reading this over I feel I should apologize and I will.
To donkeys everywhere; I apologize.
Karen de la Carriere says
I had no idea my son, 12 or 13 years old at the time, was having sexual intercourse with 40 year old Marie Warren in Clearwater, til I announced I was out of the cult of SCN.
Here is how I discovered it EMAIL from Mat Pesch.
Hello Marty and Karen,
This is Mat Pesch, husband of Amy
Scobee. I have some additional information on the transfer of Alexander from
Clearwater to L.A. Karen mentioned on your blog the slave labor of Alexander
Jentzsch when he cleaned the Fort Harrison toilets and lobby with no schooling
when he was 11 and 12 years old for well over a year.
While Alexander was a minor living at
the QI (Quality Inn – where the S.O. children lived) he was the victim of what
is termed statutory rape, legally. A woman named Marie Warren who was about 40
years old and who worked as a Dept 5 FSO Letter Registrar took Alexander, still
a child and had sexual intercourse in the bathroom of her QI dorm while her 2
roommates were asleep. His mother Karen was in Los Angeles. Heber was up lines
at Int base. This was 1996.
The authorities were not informed and
both parties were immediately gotten out of the state of
Mary was sent to the RPF in Los
Angeles and was subsequently found unfit for the Sea Org and dismissed.
Alexander was transferred to California to work for the church
The reason I know this is because I
was the Treasury Secretary of the Flag Service Org (FSO) at the time. As such, I
was briefed on the situation and asked to immediately provide the funding needed
for the airfare to get Heber’s son out of town because a rape has occurred. He
has to quickly be gotten out of the jurisdiction where the felony (statutory
rape) occurred. I talked to Tom DeVocht yesterday (who was the CO CMO CW at that
time) and he also recalls the incident and corroborates this
The OSA drill for this sort of thing
goes something like this:1. Convince both parties that they are
responsible and grossly out ethics, they have put the church at risk and they
need to withhold what happened. “For the great good…cover up anything that
might not be good “PR” for the Church”2. Get both parties immediately
out of the state, in this case Florida.3. Follow up to keep the “flap”
secret and/or make it go away.Marie Warren went to the PAC RPF and after
things settled down she was Fitness Boarded out of the Sea Org.
The above gives additional data on why Alexander was moved to L.A.. There are many reasons
why OSA is currently showing Alexander such “love” per Karen’s post on
Marty’s web site: He is the son of Heber, he experienced child labor law
violations, he experienced the “abortion drill” and he experienced the “OSA
drill” for children that are sexually abused. All of these abuses have recently
been being exposed by Marty, Mike and others.
Because he was the son of the President, Church of Scientology International and had just been raped by a 40 year old, I was asked to come up with the money for plane fare IMMEDIATELY to
get him out of Florida, and out of the jurisdiction of the crime.The
above also might be an additional aspect to Heber and Alexander being kept apart
for 6 years.
Corroborated and attested as true by the then CO CMO CW Tom
Commanding Officer TOM Devocht
A forty year old woman…coming on to a 12 year old boy…if that had been my son, I don’t think I would have been able to stop myself from killing her. I’m so sorry, Karen. This reptile was found to be “not fit for the Sea Org”, eh? She should be rotting in jail. “Not fit for the human race” would be more accurate. What scum. No really, there are no words. She was FORTY…he was twelve – TWELVE! how freaking perverted and exploitive could anyone be? I’d kill her, literally. I swear I would.
Karen de la Carriere says
Marie Warren of Clearwater is now an OSA volunteer and has been working for them, evidence posted on Facebook repeatedy !
Thanks for telling me her name. I still have no words. All I can think of is “I am so sorry. I am so sorry”. For the exploitation of your lovely little boy, may he RIP, and that you his mother, still loving him, still missing him and living that pain, you who will never stop loving him and missing him, must also live with the knowledge that a sick, selfish psychotic passing in society for a normal female walks free. She’s an OSA “volunteer” huh? Of her own free will? Right! Volunteer my @ss. Miscavige OWNS her. She has likely been his cringing bought off subject and OSA’s creature for some time now.
maria mc says
OMG Karen, Im so sorry for you and your son! Was this ever reported to clearwater PD? or is that a stupid ass question
How is that animal allowed to roam the streets with no concequence!
Karen de la Carriere says
Thank you Marla MC.
Yes, even though it was very belatedly and after the fact, I wanted it on record to show the PATTERN of conduct.
My write up was sent along with all the 5 people who wrote up their reports on it.
Maria mc says
Good for you, I’m sure that was hard knowing the outcome would be little. Much love x
Your son was being raped.
After hearing your story on Remini’s Aftermath, I remember saying that and talking with professional peers about the programming that exists for years afterward, so that people keep unwittingly endorsing rape culture by using euphemisms when the law is clear–a child cannot consent. It’s on the adult.
This is one reason among many why it’s important to call it what it is, and call out those who endorse or create the conditions that make it possible. And, for the record, I’m very sorry that you lost him and were prevented from saying “goodbye”.
This “church” really should have been held accountable years ago, Hubbard’s writings are incredible red flags. It’s abhorrent that this crap persists as it does.
I Yawnalot says
I can’t comment my true feelings on this matter. I know what to do with people who abuse children and those that cover up the abuses. In part, it’s called the law… You know that law that’s dealt out to lower, less influential people who get caught raping children, mentally abusing or imprisoning them etc?
The tiered level of applied justice that money & power provides is a serious blight on humanity. The legal & policing systems in most countries is anything but legal in the eyes of God or equal justice for all. Hey Andrew?
Lily R says
I’m just so glad that on top of exposing Scientology, you are on the board of ChildUSA. Way to go Mike.
chuck beatty ex Sea Org 75 to 03 says
Great work Mike, becoming a Board Member, hope you bring something to the table that helps.
This is all way above my pay grade, the other members of the Board are lawyers and people with decades of experience righting child abuse.
I wish possibly Aftermath funds with Grants, for some ex Scientologists to get college educated, get higher degrees, get law degrees, those that have the desire and smarts to do so.
Great on being in a legit Board doing good.
To wholesale put a dent in Scientology’s abuses, takes smart lawyers, maybe some ex Scientologists young enough, smart enough, take up that challenge.
I wonder what became of the young woman who was a Scientologist, still in Scientology, planning to go to Georgetown Univ law school, whom Janet Reitman in her book, gave that young woman the last word to speak her ideas about the future of Scientology. If that young woman has moved out of Scientology, but someone qualified to get into Georgetown law school if that young woman had a change of heart, and took up the challenge.
It seems inconceivable, but in another “cult”, the Moonies, Ford Greene himself got his law degree, and he’d been an ex Moonie, taking up the good fight legally.
If a bright ex Scientologist who qualifies to get into law school, needs financial help, we’d all applaud the Aftermath Fdn’s granting some funds to help such a person.
I would add one other factor with respect to religion and child abuse. Before it even gets to a point of religious leaders being involved, there’s a locked-in mentality that their faith is the one with the correct morality, knowledge of good and bad. That biases even the rank and file to believe those who share their faith are more good, more moral, than others. Evil deeds are an other thing, those non-believers, those outside the group, not something their fellows would do.
Growing up a JW, where I saw this a lot was large conventions and a naïve belief that the only attendees were JWs, things could be safely left sitting around and all these god-fearing people would all be equally moral and not steal. Never worked out well, but who was going to report a theft to the real authorities and bring negative attention on the gathering, potentially leading to persecution?
When evil does rear its head, even the religious leaders have built in biases that those who profess belief must share the same idealized morality. They so want to see it as a lapse in judgement, the sinful nature of man, anything but to accept that a person who professed to the same beliefs has so grotesquely violated their morality.
(Of course, Scn and Hubs hold a special places in the grotesque realm, since their morality is terrifyingly skewed away from what even an atheist knows is right and wrong.)
Same deal in the Roman Catholic Church, as well as other denominations.
My letter to Sen. Nic Xenophon back in 2009 (?) detailed what I knew then of the kult’s cover-ups. Subsequently quite a few people told me of additional cases in the Sydney kult.
This became the reason I continued to be active in exposing $cientology. Not just the sexual abuse but also the physical,mental and emotional abuse inflicted on kids, particularly those of Sea Org members.
What you are doing is vital, Mike. For too long children have been collateral damage in cults, not just $cientology. The long-term damage done is costing us all a huge amount. Read “The Body keeps the Score” as an example of what this does to a person, especially a kid. I could go on a rant further about this but I have to go to work.
Fred G. Haseney says
Thank you very much for recommending “The Body Keeps the Score.” The book helped me post this comment by giving me support.
I got into Scientology in 1977 at the age 21. Before that, I had had no exposure to it.
Beatings and molestation were the norm in my developmental years, but in particular, from 6 years to about 10 years.
It took me four decades to realize that the abuse had occured. After that, I managed to get a hold of Dave Pelzer’s trilogy that begins with “A Boy Called ‘It.'” I benefited enormously from that series of books, to say the least.
So, I opened “The Body Keeps the Score” to the section, “Hating Your Home,” and found, right away, statements to explore:
“Children have no choice who their parents are…”
“Children are also programmed to be fundamentally loyal to their caretakers, even if they are abused by them.”
This is food for thought, something that I will discuss with my counselor.
I guess it is extremely difficult to rescue a child from abuse. None of this ever came up in any scientology auditing session.
It’s never too late to start picking up the pieces.
I’m so glad you are on the path to healing. Thanks for the shout-out – I’m just pleased that it’s helped. All the best with your journey and I’ll be cheering from the sidelines for you.
Fred Haseney says
Thanks very much, Paul.
Jere Lull says
Of course the worst abuser in scientology, hubbard, explained his motivation by declaring children merely to be satans (remember the lisp) in small bodies. Did the guy really think he was moving amongst the “wogs” incognito as a fat old guy surrounded by a gaggle of fawning female teens waiting upon his every need? And don’t tell me he didn’t get a bit of a (sexual) thrill seeing all of them in hot pants and crop tops.
I have nothing to say here.
Mark Kamran says
How do you trap someone to a Cult ? by telling you they are “ exception” , different from rest of the world.
They they claim themselves “ exception “ as they know the truth which rest of the world unaware of.
Followers are promised of “ exceptional abilities , they are warn of “ exceptional events like Doomsday conspiracy in next few years.
If one follow norm then he seek help from Doctors , Psychiatrist when in need. Get himself educated at School , College and Universities.
Cults cannot abuse ( physically, mentally, emotionally) unless the followers accepted their teachings as exceptional.
Parents of those kids got trapped and they are mentally blocked to think about normal wat of living , family unit and child psychology.
Great efforts from Social Activists and Mental Health Professionals in rescuing those kids.