a wolf in the sheep pen

I am beginning to think that this forgiveness thing has gone a little bit too far.  At least its definition has been stretched to the lunacy stage.  As Christians, we are commanded to “love your enemies, do good to them that hate you,” but I don’t think a church in Florida has it quite right.

The elders at Christ Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida, have invited the newly released convicted child molester and rapist, Darrell Gilyard, to preach at their Sunday morning services.  This is the man who served three years in prison for admitting that, for over three decades, he sexually abused trusting women and girls under his ‘protection’ as pastor/shepherd in the churches he served, and who fathered a child with one of his rape victims.

At least there are glimmers of sanity in the community.   A Duval court has decided that all children shall be barred from attending his services – at least until the end of the month – as “the Department of Corrections has confirmed that Gilyard is in compliance with the rules of his probation as long as minors are not present when he’s in the pulpit. Gilyard also is refraining from performing any pastoral duties, such as counseling.”

So he’s not allowed to counsel any more.   Well, duh!

Apparently having a convicted rapist as a pastor is good press.  In recent weeks this little church, formerly having 10 members, has swelled to over 300.  Without kids of course …

There are reports circulating that he is allowed to preach as his sermons are amazing, that he has such a way with words, eloquently quoting Scripture.  Apparently he has sweet talked his way back into a place of authority as well.   Sounds an awfully lot like a wolf in the sheep pen, a classic narcissist who only uses remorse when he has been caught, who can turn on the charm like a tap and who thinks he is above the law.

Forgiveness does not mean that trust is automatically restored.  Forgiveness does not mean there will be no consequences, but even when prison time has been served, if trust is not present, then there can be no restoration of relationship.   I can choose to forgive the person who stalked me for three years, but I would never want to sit at a table and break bread with this person.  I can forgive someone for stealing from my home, but I would not trust them with my housekeys.

Relationship is a privilege that Darrell Gilyard has not had restored.   None of us is blameless and it seems right that we should all be given second chances, but there are crimes whose consequences can never be overlooked.   This man has lost the right to preach, unless it is to a congregation of sexual addicts and convicted offenders.   He stole the innocence of girls and young women who trusted him.  Their lives are forever changed.  He should never be exposed to another one of these lambs again.

Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/news/crime/2012-02-10/story/duval-court-hearing-no-kids-now-church-where-sex-offender-preaches#ixzz1n6pV7Fp7

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17 thoughts on “a wolf in the sheep pen

  1. This is how churches have historically supported the abuser while punishing the victim only on a much grander scale. Amazing! They’ve just revictimized every one of the women and girls he abused over three decades.

    Unbelievable.

  2. In agreement with Ida Mae–This “preacher” (I shiver with the thought of that title being given to someone who has molested girls and women over 30! years) not only revictimized those he actually abused, but also has retraumatized all of the other women in that congregation who have been victimized by others!

    The power that the leaders of the congregation has given this man is unreal, and I hope and pray that they are held responsible for it.

  3. Wow. This brings so many thoughts and emotions to mind that it’s hard to decide what I actually feel.

    First, outrage. Definite outrage. After having served as a children’s pastor for a few years if anyone ever hurt my little ones I would never let them back in the church again. All 5′ of me would personally kick their tush out the door anytime I saw them and would work tirelessly to bring justice for my little angels. Fortunately, that’s not an issue I came across.

    But then, I think of a training I recently went to from an organization called Stop It Now!, a fantastic group working to prevent child sexual abuse by training and preparing adults to take responsibility. One of the services they offer is a hotline parents can call to see if they should be worried about a situation. This same hotline also gets many calls from people who are afraid of the feelings they are having towards children and need someone to talk to so they can learn how to handle the temptations and hopefully never act on the impulses. Maybe having a pastor who was a child molester who claims rehabilitation would be a great way to encourage others to seek help. Especially seeing that children are not allowed in the services. Wouldn’t it be crazy if the 300 people who have recently starting going to the church were people who just wanted to make sure they didn’t hurt anyone? In that respect, I feel like it’s a great outreach for the church, but a very pigeonholed ministry they better be ready to commit too.

    Lastly, I’m grateful they are not trying to hide this. Publicity is always a double-edged sword but I’m glad they were willing to take the heat rather than keep the man’s past hush hush and put other children in potential danger as some faith communities have been known to do in the past. Being in the spotlight a bit may also help make sure he doesn’t fall off the wagon, so to speak. I most definitely hope it doesn’t go to his head instead and exacerbate the issue.

    It’s terrifying. It’s sickening. And yet, it’s hopeful. I will be watching to see how it works out for them.

    • I believe if he’s going to minister to those with problems like his own, it should be clearly stated somewhere. That doesn’t seem to be the case in any of the articles so far. There are plenty of ways to minister to that group of people without getting back in the pulpit– writing, website, etc.

      Being in the pulpit implies an authority inherent with the position– something this man took advantage of in the past to molest others. I just can’t see how this will turn out well.

      • I have to believe that at least some people who have inappropriate impulses or feelings towards children want to seek help. For my own mental well being, I have to believe that if there was a system available to help them understand what is going on and how they can control it, they would seek out the assistance. Saying he can ONLY preach to sex offenders, etc., means that those who are struggling but haven’t yet acted out or those unable to seek help elsewhere will not use the outlet because they will feel unwelcome, even though the opportune time to receive such help is BEFORE ever offending. The hotline that I mentioned receives so many calls because people do not have to give any personal information, they are just able to get help.

        I 100% absolutely agree he should not be a head pastor in that position of authority. I also agree with you that there are different ways to reach out, but at least this way there can be other people looking over his shoulder and keeping an eye on him instead of a self-guided venture that could easily turn into a negative influence on others. Multiple studies have shown that the more involved an offender is able to become in the community, the less likely he is to re-offend.

        My heart breaks for those who were hurt by this man. But I would like to see him attempt to reach out to heal what he tarnished. Somehow. As you stated, being accepted back as a faith leader seems extreme. I just have to keep the naive belief that deep down all people have goodness in them.

      • I agree. When there is genuine remorse. From what I have read, including a blog written by one of his victims, there has never been any, remorse that is. Those who truly want help, who are honestly repentant and who communicate this to their victims, apparently are light years different from this man. For their victims, and for them, reconciliation might actually happen. It’s all very sad

        Sent from my iPhone

  4. I can’t think any good of the situation, no matter how I turn and twist it. As some people have commented above, by simply being in the pulpit this guy is most likely re-traumatising every person he abused, and every abuse victim who hears about this fiasco regardless of *who* their abuser was. I cannot believe this man has truly made reparation and humbly and patiently found restoration of relationship with each and every one of his victims. Therefore, he should not be preaching. It only promotes false repentance and phoney forgiveness and all the baloney that the evangelical church is soaked in.

    And as for him preaching to a congregation of convicted sexual offenders and sex addicts, I can’t even endorse that, because what would his sermon be about? Probably he’d be insinuating that church is a great place for these guys to go once they get out of jail, because they’ll find gullible Christians who will fall for their charm and be easily manipulated, giving the crims a happy hunting ground in which to find new victims. No way! This should not be! Reminds me of Paul excoriating the Galatians. Brothers and sisters, this SHOULD NOT BE!

  5. This pathetic situation has already been clearly condemned by Christ. It happened before –

    1 Corinthians 5:1-5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. (2) And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. (3) For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. (4) When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, (5) you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

    Genuine naivete on the part of Christians is bad enough, but perhaps for a short time excusable. What this church is doing is not naivete, but willful and arrogant self-promotion. It evidences a concept of sin and evil that really sees no problem with it. Sadly, when this whole “Jesus-loves-us-all-no-matter-what” idiocy plays itself out, it won’t be the adults in the church who pay the price.

  6. Shame, shame, shame on the people who.are attending this excuse for a church. Shame on the authorities for allowing it to happen. This would be the first time I would subscribe to good old American vigilante-ism.

  7. Pingback: Morven Baker reports on being asked to preach at a local church « Katie and Martin's Blog on the Lutheran Church in Australia

  8. We would like to share another angle on this situation.
    In Australia there are examples of men who have been convicted of domestic violence, and, after receiving various forms of help, including group therapy, some of these men have gone public with their new awareness of their own violence. These men very openly critique their own violence, with no excuses. We believe that men (not ignoring the statistical fact that some women are perpetrators of domestic violence) can turn their violence around, but it involves a significant process, and must be witnessed to in a public way. Perpetrators of violence cannot be trusted until they can openly and publicly name their own violence, describe the patterns of behaviour they indulged in and describe the effect it had/has on others. These same men are ‘evangelical’ about reducing violence in community and openly talk to community groups about the issues and their own participation in violent/abusive behaviour. This seems to us to be the only convincing evidence of a repentance or turning away from old patterns.
    If the man in question has not started on that road, perhaps it is, “Parishioner beware”.

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