Thursday, October 13, 2005

Scandalous Sexual Misconduct Committed by Protestant Clergy

Collected by Dave Armstrong (10-13-05)

Source: . . . a collection of news reports of ministers sexually abusing children

We would be naïve and dishonest were we to say this is a Roman Catholic problem and has nothing to do with us because we have married and female priests in our church. Sin and abusive behavior know no ecclesial or other boundaries."

Rt. Rev. William Persell, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, Good Friday Sermon, 2002.

Examples among the 838 documented examples given:

1) "Bible / Church (fundamentalist / evangelical) [251 cases listed]

A) An associate pastor of a San Fernando Valley chapel was sentenced to 32 months in prison on Tuesday for failing to register as a sex offender. Ilger, a former second-grade teacher, was convicted in 1988 of molesting four students in his San Luis Obispo classroom. After being released from jail, Ilger and his family moved to Los Angeles, where he took a position with Hope Chapel of the Valley in Canoga Park. "We've lived and learned a painful lesson," the Rev. Jeff Fischer of Hope Chapel said outside court. Fischer has said he and about 30 church elders knew that Ilger had molested young girls before he was hired. Sentencing (Associated Press, April 3, 2003)

B) Dayton, OH. A Trotwood minister, whose lawyer said he has been a "sex addict" since age 10, sought treatment rather than face trial in a Brookville police-run Internet sting that presented a virtual 14-year-old boy in a chat room. But a Montgomery County judge denied his plea for treatment Tuesday. Turner’s attorney, Dwight Brannon, wrote "He had his first sexual experience with another male at the age of 19 while in college. Shortly after he began surfing the Web . . . his addiction slowly began to grow." Turner had been pastor of Anchor Community Church, 38 S. Fairgreen Drive, for seven years when he was arrested last summer. (Dayton Daily News, 01.29.2003) Minister arrested in police-run Internet sting

C) Marty A. Hynes, 33, is charged with eight counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor, three counts of criminal sexual penetration of a minor and one count of attempted criminal sexual contact of a minor. Hynes was a youth pastor at the First Assembly of God church when the alleged incidents occurred, between July and December 2001. (Las Cruces Sun-News, March 24, 2003) Trial of former youth pastor begins

D) Anaheim, CA. Anaheim pastor admitted Monday he fondled two teen-age girls 18 years ago while working as a part-time counselor at a Colorado church a decade before he was assigned to an Orange County church. "I was acting like an irresponsible teen-ager. There's no excuse for what I did," the Rev. Greg Tucker of Anaheim First Church of the Nazarene told The Orange County Register. The church settled lawsuits by two women, who said Tucker, then 22, molested them when they were 16. A Colorado jury sided with the women in a civil trial, ordering Tucker to pay the two $70,000. Tucker said he never told church leaders about the indiscretions before his ordination in Southern California seven years ago. In Colorado, sexual relations with a teen-ager were not considered criminal then, which led the women to sue for civil damages. The former youth pastor is now a senior pastor in a Nazarene Church in Anaheim, CA. The Nazarene General Superintendent's remarks about the case were very telling, i.e. "This happened a long time ago. . .the man has 'grown' since then. . . isn't the Christian faith all about forgiveness. . ."(North County Times, April 17, 2002)

E) Charlotte, NC. A worker at a Charlotte church after school program has pleaded guilty to four counts of taking indecent liberties with a minor. Investigators said Larry McCrae, 38, fondled three boys, 10 to 14 years old during the after school program at the Chapel of Christ the King Church on East 17th Street in Charlotte. (July 2, 2002, NBC6-TV)

F) NEW PORT RICHEY, FL -- The mother of a 5-year-old girl has filed a lawsuit against the Gospel Outreach Church of New Port Richey, alleging that her daughter was molested because church officials failed to screen the background of a church volunteer. Alfonso Morales, 54, pleaded guilty last month to molesting the girl on a church bus in May 2001. He also pleaded guilty to molesting a second 5-year-old girl in the church parking lot in November 2000. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Morales was previously convicted in New York of sexual battery on a child. He was released from prison in 1992 after serving five years. (June 25, 2002, St. Petersburg Times)

G) Lake Wales, FL. William Benjamin Wells, 36, pastor of Christian Harvest Ministries, was arrested on June 6 and charged with two counts of molestation on a victim less than 12 years old, two counts of sexual assault on a victim under 18 years of age, and one count of sexual battery on a victim under 12 years old. (June 20, 2002; Lake Wales News) Paster Wells arrestedNews Report

H) Kansas City, KS. Reginald G. Robinson, 24, a resident of Kansas City, was charged by the Jackson County Prosecutor on Monday, May 20, with one count of statutory rape, three counts of statutory sodomy and one count of child molestation.According to the police report, most of the incidents of molestation occurred in the basement of the Beth Judah Ministries Church of God In Christ. (The Call, June 14, 2002) Church Youth Leader Charged In Molestation Of 13 Year Old

I) Republic, KS. The pastor of a Republic church faces three to 10 years in prison in Kansas on six sexual abuse charges that date back to 1979. Russell Winkler, pastor at Republic’s First Christian Church for the past eight years, pleaded no contest to the charges Friday in an Atchison, Kan., courthouse. The judge found him guilty of six counts of aggravated enticement of a child. The abuse occurred between 1979 and 1981 while Winkler was associate pastor and youth director of the First Christian Church in Atchison. The victims were all boys, ages 12-13. (The Springfield News-Leader, Jan. 1, 2002) Minister pleads no contest to sexual abuse charges that date back to 1979

J) A lifelong member of one of Atlanta's largest and best known churches, the Cathedral at Chapel Hill, filed suit this week charging founding pastor Bishop Earl Paulk with child molestation. The charges are the most serious yet in a string of sexual misconduct allegations against Paulk and several other male members of his family that span decades.

Jessica Battle, daughter and granddaughter of prominent members of Paulk's staff, said in her suit that from the time she was 7 until she was about 11 years old, Paulk "engaged in a pattern of conduct . . . that included caressing her, fondling her sexual organs, performing oral sex on her and having sexual intercourse with her." She also charged that five years ago, when she was 17, Paulk had forcible intercourse with her. Some of the acts occurred on church property or during church-sponsored events, according to the suit, filed Wednesday in DeKalb County State Court. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Apr. 14, 2001)

K) SAMPSON Lloyd Luciano, 47 WA Pentecostal born again Christian and New Apostolic Church minister. Receives 10 year jail sentence in WA court after being convicted on 15 child sex charges, including 5 counts of committing unlawful sexual intercourse and 3 of indecent dealing, against 3 sisters, aged under 15, in WA. Offences surface after youngest girl complained minister was hurting her and wanted to commit suicide. Court hears minister married with 2 children. (Western Australia, Australia, 2000).

L) HAMILTON, OH. - A Pentecostal minister convicted of repeatedly raping his daughter has been sentenced to 17-50 years in prison and fined $7,500. Yet the judge declined to classify Rev. Darrell Bell, 50, as a sexual predator, based on court-ordered psychological exams that concluded he has a low probability of repeating the offense. Bell has been ruled a sexually-oriented offender, which means he will have to notify local authorities where he is living and check in with them.

His daughter, Dawn Bell, asked to be publicly identified as she helped prosecute her father, including testifying against him at trail. She said her abuse began at age 10 and continued until she was 18 and moved away. She later confronted her father and went to prosecutors after he refused to get counseling. AP 6/12/99 Jury gets minister's abuse case

M) SEATTLE - Rev. Jeff Smith, 59, better known to his PBS cooking show fans as "The Frugal Gourmet" has agreed to settle sexual abuse lawsuits with 7 men before the cases could go to trial. The lawsuits accused the chef of using alcohol, intimidation, and force to obtain sex from the mid 1970s until 1992. All the men are former employees of a restaurant Smith once ran.

No new Frugal Gourmet shows have been broadcast since the accusations surfaced in 1996. (7/5 USA Today)

N) LIVERPOOL, England - A vicar who sexually assaulted boys during holidays with a church youth group has been convicted to three years in jail. Fr. David McIntosh, 52, pleaded guilty to seven indecent assault charges. (12/13/97) style='font-style: normal'>

2) Baptist [147 cases listed]

A) NEWARK, N.J. A convicted sex offender who was named pastor of a city church several weeks ago has been removed from the post. Shiloh Baptist Church leaders had hired the Rev. Chavalis T. Williams in mid-March, even though they knew he had pleaded guilty in Florida to charges of child abuse and using children in a sexual performance. (Newsday, May 7, 2003) Convicted sex offender removed as pastor of Newark church

B) TEMECULA, CA. Six years ago, Becky J.'s life revolved around Temecula Valley Baptist Church. She worshipped there, went to school there, and even worked after hours two days a week at the school to earn pocket money. That's where she met 40-year-old Pastor Kerry Clyde Martin. But at 14, Becky didn't understand the concept of street smarts, she said. She didn't know when the man befriended her what the future held. "He listened to my problems and would tell me how right I was if I had a fight with my parents," she said. "I always thought he meant it in a pastor way, or like a father." Little did Becky know that as a cleric at two previous churches -- one in Maryland and one in Orange County -- Martin had already been accused of sexually molesting at least three other girls, all 14. Little did she know the friendly, charismatic minister was taking the first steps that would culminate in his repeatedly raping the girl over the next two years. (The Californian, Dec. 8, 2002) Child sex abuse reaches far beyond Catholic Church, experts say.

C) A survey of SBC pastors published in the Winter, 1993 edition of The Journal of Pastoral Care, done by Jeff Seats, an SBC pastoral counselor, revealed that 14.1% of ministers surveyed admitted to "engagement in sexual behavior which was judged by the individual pastors to be inappropriate for a minister."

D) GREENWOOD, SC. - A minister and former school library aide has been charged with 16 more counts of sexually molesting children after police identified more victims from homemade videotapes.

Fernando Garcia - held on a $4 million bond - is now charged with a total of 44 counts of sexual misconduct with at least 15 victims, police say. “Investigators probably still have several weeks of work left to do - more charges are likely,” said the police chief. Garcia was charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct with a minor and 14 counts of lewd acts on a minor. The latest charges accuse him of fondling children at an elementary school, where he worked for two years, and at the Abbeville Baptist Association, where he was pioneering a Hispanic ministry. The Chihuahua, Mexico-native is a husband and father of two teen-age children.AP 6/28/2000 Tales of horror: Sex crimes victimizing children rock community's foundations

E) AIKEN. SC. - A former youth minister who admitted to molesting church members on camping trips and manipulating neighborhood boys with money and gifts during 3 decades has received a 30-year prison sentence.

Robert Dorsett, 65, pleaded guilty to 15 sex crimes involving children during an emotional hearing in which the offenses were read in detail to a hushed courtroom. Some of Dorsett's victims - who range in age now from 9 to 43 - attended the hearing and asked the judge to keep Dorsett from abusing more children. Friends and family members of Dorsett attended the hearing, lining up to speak on his behalf. Many were neighbors or co-workers who called him a father figure and hard worker.

Dorsett met many of his victims while he was a training director at First Baptist Church in Aug.a years ago. During trips in a church program, he would organize shaving cream fights and have the youths shower together, police said. He encouraged them to go streaking. During a search of Dorsett's home, sheriff's officers found a brown suitcase containing X-rated videotapes and magazines along with candy, cookies and other items he gave the children, police said.

Investigators found notebooks where Dorsett kept track of neighborhood boys and their telephone numbers. Publicity about his arrest last year led to new allegations by victims who had tried to forget the abuse, police said. Augusta Chronicle, 11/30/99 Molester pleads guilty

3) Lutheran [38 cases listed]

A) MARSHALL. TX. (AP) - A civil lawsuit claims a former Lutheran minister molested eight boys over several years and that his actions should have been halted by church leaders. The lawsuit, filed Feb. 12 in state district court, names former Evangelical Lutheran minister Gerald Patrick Thomas Jr., the Chicago-based Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and several other church-related organizations as defendants. Thomas, who resigned from the denomination's clergy roster about a year ago, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. A spokesman for the ELCA said the church will present its case in court, not in the media. (AP, March 20, 2002) Lutheran church officials, ex-pastor named in suit ( by Clergy Is Not Just a Catholic Problem

B) ROCKFORD, IL. - Roald Hasley, a retired bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, has resigned from the clergy a week after he was stripped of his duties amid allegations of sexual misconduct. 4 women claimed he engaged in improper sexual conduct while he was a bishop, church officials said. Daily Herald, 5/29/99

C) Menomenee Falls, WI. An instructor at Pembine Bible camp and Grace Evangelical Lutheran church in Menomenee Falls, Fritz A. Callies, 61, has been sentenced to 8 years in prison for sexually assaulting 2 girls, ages 9 and 10. Over a dozen women have come forward saying Callies abused them as girls. He was investigated in 1978 for sex crimes, but was not charged. Source: Kenosha News, 7/17/94

D) Lutheran Minister ACCUSES 13-YEAR-OLD BOY OF "SEDUCTION". A jury found in favor of plaintiff David Samarzia, 40, who filed a lawsuit against Rev. Daniel Reeb, 58, for sexually abusing him from 1965-68. Also named was the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod. Although Reeb admitted the abuse to an attorney, other defendants in the case denied any abuse and claimed that if it had occurred, it was Samarzia's fault. Reeb claimed the sexual relations were not molestation and that Samarzia, then 13, seduced him, then 32. Other testimony accused Reeb of masturbating in front of a confirmation class. The jury ruled that the church was partially responsible for Reeb's misconduct and must pay $643,800 to Samarzia. Three other men have filed suit against Reeb for sexual abuse spanning 11 of Reeb's 18 years at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Duluth. Sources: _Duluth News-Tribune_ 3/29/94, 4/10,13,14/94; AP/_Leader-Telegram_ 4/13/94.

E) LUTHERAN LEADER ADMITS CHARGES. Lutheran pastor David L. Anderson admitted having sexual relations with a number of boys and young men while pastor of a leading Lutheran congregation in Moorehead, Minn. He resigned from the clergy of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and as vice president for college relations in St. Olaf College in April, admitting sexual misconduct with minors, college students, and male parishioners from 1973-1985. He confessed only after a parishioner approached a staff member at the 4,000 member church with allegations in March. Source: _Star Tribune_ 4/20/92.

4) Methodist [46 cases listed]

A) LAWRENCE, KS. A Tonganoxie church youth group leader has pleaded guilty to charges of molesting four teen-age boys who were members of his church. Daniel Walter Peterson, 33, of Lawrence, was a youth group leader at the Tonganoxie United Methodist Church. He pleaded guilty Friday in Douglas County District Court to committing criminal sodomy and three counts of indecent liberties with a child. Authorities said the boys were from 13 to 15 years old at the time of the incidents, which occurred between 1997 and 2000. (Salina Journal, April 5, 2001) Youth leader faces molestation charge

B) A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit in which two women had charged that United Methodist Church officials in Fort Worth, Texas, ignored their complaints about a pastor's sexual misconduct. The settlement comes only days before the June 29 trial date set by Judge Jeff Walker in the 96th State District Court. Gail Cooke and Dorayne Levin, who were members of First United Methodist Church in Fort Worth, had sued First Church, the United Methodist Church's Central Texas Conference, Fort Worth Area Bishop Joe Wilson, and three First Church officials, the Revs. William Longsworth, Weldon Hayes and Kay Johnson. The two women had charged that officials were negligent in dealing with alleged sexual misconduct on the part of former First Church pastor Barry Bailey. (United Methodist News Service, 6/26/98)

C) Natick, MA. After being molested by a former United Methodist pastor for three years in her teens, Rebecca Nault of Canton, Mass., finally got what she wanted: her day in court. Nault testified that in the late 1970s, Earl Haywood, then pastor of Fisk Memorial United Methodist Church, Natick, Mass., molested her repeatedly beginning when she was 12. She sued Haywood last year, settling out of court for an undisclosed amount of money. Then she took her legal actions further, suing retired Bishop Edward G. Carroll and the New England Conference. She claimed the bishop knew of earlier sexual molestations by Haywood and failed to remove him from ministry.

Parents of a previous victim testified that Haywood molested their child at a family wedding in 1976. They said they reported the incident to the bishop. They also testified that Haywood, brought into the meeting, admitted molesting the child. The parents said they left the meeting with Carroll believing that Haywood would be removed from access to children. The bishop reportedly sent Haywood to counseling, but allowed him to continue as pastor in Natick. That allowed him to molest Nault, her lawyer asserted. (Sept. 17, 1996;UNITED METHODIST DAILY NEWS)

D) PROMINENT METHODIST PASTOR WITH AIDS EXPLOITED PARISH? Following the death on July 4 of Rev. William O. Walker, a prominent Eugene pastor at First United Methodist Church, it was discovered he not only died of AIDS but had used his ministerial position to make sexual advances to at least 12 men, including 6 ministers. Walker infected his wife Carol with AIDS; she died in 1990. In November a church superintendent told parishioners that Walker had been accused of making sexual advances to 2 male teenagers at a Methodist church camp 17 years earlier. Source: _Register-Guard_ 12/6/92.

E) METHODIST LEADER ADMITS IMPROPER RELATIONS. Newly retired Rev. Edward W. Bauman, once named one of the country's top preachers by _Time_ Magazine, admitted in a September letter to the Foundry United Methodist Church in D.C. to "relationships of a sexual nature ... with several women in the congregation". Bauman, 65, has a TV show, "Bauman _Bible_ Telecast", airing worldwide. The admission came only have 2 women filed grievances with Bishop Joseph Yeakel; one had sought counseling from Bauman. Bauman agreed to seek counseling at Johns Hopkins Hospital & to retire. After a 3rd woman came forward. Bauman agreed to write a letter to the congregation & make financial restitution to 2 women. Bauman insists the relationships were "fully consenting" & "could not be interpreted as harassment". Among Bauman's congregants were Sen. Bob Dole & Elizabeth Dole, & former Sen. George McGovern. According to the national United Methodist newsletter, 13% of pastors in 5 Protestant denominations acknowledged having intercourse with parishioners. Source: _Washington Post_ 9/18/92.

5) Anglican [140 cases listed]

A) South Austrailia, AUS. A South Australian police task force into child sex abuse within the Anglican Church had identified 217 victims and 48 possible offenders, police said today. However the number of victims could rise to more than 400 as investigations continued, Police Commissioner Mal Hyde said. Mr Hyde today likened the scale of police investigations into child sex abuse to those for the infamous Snowtown bodies-in-the-barrels murders in 1999. (The Age, July 16 2003) Major sex abuse uncovered in Anglican Church

B) DENVER -- A former Denver school teacher and Episcopal priest accused of sexually assaulting at least two boys in his Denver home was sentenced Thursday morning to 24 years in prison. Donald Shissler, 68, pleaded guilty to the charges in August as part of a plea bargain. He was originally charged with two counts of sexual assault on a child, two counts of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, one count of sexual assault on a child -- pattern of abuse, and one count of sexual exploitation of children. Based upon evidence found in his home earlier this summer, there may be as many as 20 additional victims, detectives said. Police said they seized hundreds of pornographic pictures and videos from Shissler's house when he was arrested. Rappaport concluded in her sentencing remarks that Shissler is a sexual predator who clearly committed crimes against young boys for almost 18 years, including sexually assaulting a boy he adopted. Prosecutor Kerri Lombari called Shissler's case "the most disturbing case I have ever worked as a prosecutor." (October 17, 2002)

C) ELLIOTT Reverend John Litton, 69 Brisbane Anglican priest, rector and former Church of England Boys Society (CEBS) chief commissioner. Receives maximum 7 year and 6 month jail sentence in Brisbane District Court after pleading guilty to 28 sex charges, including 10 counts of sodomy and 18 of indecent dealing, involving 5 boys, aged 10 to 13, in early 1970s at Wide Bay, QLD. Court hears Elliott, who set up Wide Bay Anglican youth group, encouraged "corrupting" behaviour including skinny-dipping and playing strip poker and that offences occurred at local church and in priest's own bed. Investigations reveal Elliott ordained in 1986, after offences occurred, and ministered at Bundaberg, Nanango and Dalby parishes. AUS Governor-General and former Brisbane Anglican archbishop Peter HOLLINGWORTH comes under fire after reports reveal he appointed Elliott rector of Nanango in 1990 and Dalby in 1991 while archbishop between 1989 and 1991. (Queensland, Australia, 2002).

D) HOLLINGWORTH Dr Peter John, 67 AUS Governor-General (2001+), former Brisbane Anglican archbishop (1989-2001), 1992 Australian of Year, Kids First Foundation member and patron of Plan Australia, Barnardo's, Open Plan and National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, aka Father Hollywood. Sacked from aforementioned child group committees, banned by Australian teacher's union from visiting public schools, and pressured publicly and politically to resign as GG, "Australia's highest office", over his handling of at least 6 separate sex abuse cases while archbishop of Brisbane Anglican Church. Allegations include Hollingworth, of Yarralumla, Canberra: 1: appointed convicted QLD pedophile priest Reverend John ELLIOTT as rector of 2 Brisbane parishes; 2: failed to act on child sex abuse allegations against Toowoomba Anglican preparatory school boarding master, Kevin GUY; 3: authorised secret cash settlements to hush up sex abuse evidence against Brisbane Anglican school counsellor, Kevi n LYNCH; 4: appointed Brisbane senior priest Canon Ross McAULEY, himself the subject of abuse allegations, to QLD Church Sexual Abuse Committee; 5: failed to act on child sex abuse allegations against former Rockhampton Anglican bishop, Donald SHEARMAN; 6: failed to act on child sex abuse allegations against Churchie East Brisbane Anglican Grammar school gymnastics coach, William WHITELOCK. (For other accused or convicted Churchie offenders, see and Reverend Robert SHARWOOD.) Hollingworth, who earns $310,000 pa as GG, criticised for being "unlike Jesus ... on side of lawyers and insurers instead of on side of victims". Hollingworth also slammed for implying on national television that schoolgirl victim, aged 14, seduced priest and not other way around. Report notes one of Hollingworth's most openly supportive senior Anglican figures, Bishop George BROWNING, was embroiled in controversy over sexual misconduct with parishioner. (Queensland, Australia, 2002).

E) BROWN Stephen John, 49 Sydney Anglican Boys Society camp caretaker and youth group leader. Found hanged in cell at Silverwater Remand Centre 2 days before facing Sydney Local Court over 170 child sex offences, including committing unlawful sexual intercourse and aggravated indecent assault, against 27 boys, aged 11 to 17, between 1979 and 1998 at 18 locations across NSW. Court hears Brown, of Blackheath, committed many offences while caretaker with Church of England Boys' Society at Loftus, south of Sydney, and while leading skiing, canoeing, camping and shooting trips across country NSW. Police claim Brown's victims highest ever attributed to single alleged sex offender in NSW. (New South Wales, Australia, 1999).

6) Presbyterian ministers [19 cases cited]

A) CHURCH SUED FOR NEGLIGENCE. One of several girls who said Alva minister Rev. Robert Bruce Brigden molested her is suing the First Presbyterian Church for failing to check his background before hiring him. Allegations of sexual crimes were made at his former position in Kansas. Charges allege that he molested Alva church girls, ages 4 to 14. The church posted his bond. (Tulsa Tribune)

Alva, OK. MOLESTING MINISTER STABBED TO DEATH BY INMATES. Robert Bruce Brigden, former pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Alva, was stabbed to death by 2 fellow inmates of the Oklahoma State Reformatory while serving a 40-year prison sentence. He was convicted of rape by instrument, lewd molestation, and fondling of 11 girls, aged 4 to 14. (Dallas Morning News 6/14/94) Former Minister Fatally Stabbed in Prison Cell

B) PRESBYTERIAN REFORM URGED. The Presbyterian General Assembly, meeting in Baltimore in June, voted 446-78 to recommend abolishing the statute of limitations for reporting sexual misconduct by clergy. The church, citing critical proportions, has a 3-year time limit for reporting sexual misconduct by church officials. The vote must be ratified by 2/3 of the church's 171 regional presbyteries. It also voted 491-26 to establish a policy on sexual misconduct, advising local churches to set up "sexual misconduct response teams" & notify secular authorities "when appropriate". The adopted policy said there is evidence that "10-23 percent of clergy nationwide have engaged in sexualized behavior or sexual contact with parishioners, clients, employees, etc., within a professional relationship". Source: AP 6/12/92.

C) TASKER Donald Gilbert, 61 Melbourne trainee Presbyterian minister and school teacher. Receives 6 year jail sentence in Melbourne County Court after being convicted on 29 child sex charges, including 12 counts of indecent assault, 5 of attempting indecent assault, 7 of gross indecency with aggravating circumstances and 5 of committing unlawful sexual intercourse with aggravating circumstances, against 4 boys, aged 5 to 11, between 1986 and 1991 at Melbourne home and suburban swimming pool. Court hears Tasker, of Croydon, abused his victims after volunteering to become surrogate parent with Melbourne community welfare agency. (Victoria, Australia, 1992).

D) LOS ANGELES - Ronald Reagan's former pastor returned to active ministry two years after he was disciplined for sexual misconduct with 5 women. Presbyterian minister Rev. Donn Moomaw,66, accepted an interim position in a San Diego church after the presbytery had determined he had fulfilled all the requirements, including signs of full repentance. (7/27/97)

E) PRESBYTERY REMOVES PASTOR. The Pittsburgh Presbytery removed the associate pastor of the prominent East Liberty Presbyterian Church on charges of sexual misconduct. Rev. Howard Eybers, 43, is accused by 3 women of making sexual overtures. Source: _Pittsburgh Post- Gazette_ 3/7/92.

Related Articles

Protecting the Church from the Legal liabilites of Ministers

The Christian Science Monitor - Sex abuse spans spectrum of churches

San Fransisco Chronicle - Sex scandals also affect Protestant clergy

Los Angeles Times - Sex Abuse by Clerics, A Crisis of Many Faiths

CNN - Abuse 'not simply a church problem'

Catholic News Service - Catholic Church not only religion facing problems

Nando Times - Bashing the Catholic Church

Dee Miller, Victim Advocate - Collusion Act of the Southern Baptist Convention

Pastors: Sexual abuse by clergy hurts all of Christianity

Speakers at Southern Baptist Convention sympathize with Roman Catholics


Clergy Sexual Misconduct: Just a Catholic Problem?

Clergy Abuse Scandals

Child Sexual Molestation by Various Protestant Clergy

Clergy Child Molesters

Clergy abuse problem plaguing many denominations: Victims can't forget: Issue not confined to Catholic Church


Christianity Today (an evangelical Protestant magazine) noted that there were “70 child abuse allegations reported against American Protestant churches each week during the last ten years,” a quarter of which were against pastors. (“Go Figure” May 21, 2002)

In a 1983 doctoral thesis by Richard Blackmon, 12% of the 300 Protestant clergy surveyed admitted to sexual intercourse with a parishioner. See: Clergy Sexual Abuse.

17 percent of laywomen said that their own pastor had harassed them.... 10% of Protestant pastors had been sexually active with an adult parishioner... only 6.1 percent of Southern Baptist pastors admitted to having sexual contact with a parishioner. See: Denominations Sexual Abuse.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Has Martin Luther's "Snow-Covered Dunghill" Mystery-Legend Been Solved?!

By Dave Armstrong (10-5-05)

[Martin Luther's words will be in green]

[warning: contains some language regarding dung and related notions in just one portion, that may be offensive to some readers: from a biography of Luther: citing his own words. You (i.e., those who are or may be offended in this way) have been forewarned. Continue at your peril, and don't blame me for the way Luther talked]

Many of us who have engaged in Catholic-Protestant debate have heard of the famous "saying" allegedly from Martin Luther, about justified man being a "snow-covered dunghill" (I certainly have). Strangely enough, however, the actual location of the saying (if, in fact, it is authentic) seems to be difficult to find. How is it, then, that a saying so mysterious has become almost commonplace as a sort of piece of "Luther folklore"? Even those familiar with Lutheran theology profess to be befuddled by this. Thus, Walt Tappert asked on a Lutheran discussion forum (June 13, 2003) :

A number of posters on a Catholic Discussion Board have been claiming that Martin Luther used a "snow-covered dunghill" as an ogy for justification. Some have claimed Luther made the ogy in his Table Talk.

When challenged to provide a reference, others reduced the claim to say "it is a part of the Lutheran tradition, and is an accepted as such by Lutherans, who believe that it is an apt ogy for explaining their concept of justification."

A search of the CD-ROM of the American Edition of Luther's Works returned no hits for "snow-covered dunghill."

I have three questions:

1. Does anyone have any idea where Luther himself may have used "snow-covered dunghill" as an ogy for justification?

2. Can anyone cite prominent and respected Lutheran theologians who have used the phrase "snow-covered dunghill" as an ogy for justification?

3. In the event of negative responses for questions 1 and 2, can anyone cite prominent and respected non-Lutheran theologians who have embraced a "snow-covered" dunghill" as an apt ogy for justification?

I must confess that I've not heard the ogy used by Lutheran theologians or in Lutheran churches. I am really quite curious as to how this particular ogy became attached to Martin Luther.

Likewise, a Q & A page for WELS (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod) provides this exchange:

Q: I was reading the writings of Martin Luther and one time I came across a passage that read basically that our sins would be 'covered over 'like snow over a dunghill. ... I have never been able to find this piece since I first read it. Can you tell me where the passage can be located and what writings this could be taken from?

A: With regard to the Luther quotation, a check in the indexes of four major editions of Luther's works does not reveal whether or where Luther might have said or written that. It is certainly in keeping with his understanding of the gospel, although he did have many ways of saying it better.

Note how it is granted that such a saying (real or not) would be "in keeping" with Luther's soteriology. Another WELS page provided more information; even approximating the "saying":

CSC: WELS Topical Q&A: Doctrine: Justification/Salvation: Snow-covered dung

Q: I often have heard the quote by Luther that we are like snow-covered dung inasmuch as we are not actually justified in Christ but our sins are simply not imputed to us. I would like to use this in a paper, but I cannot find its source. My professor has also heard it, but does not know the citation. If you are aware of a citation for this line or if you believe that it is spurious, could you please inform me?

A: I am not familiar with the supposed Luther quote you mention. Others with whom I consulted have heard something similar to your quotation, but likewise have no reference to which they can point. Luther said and wrote much. Therefore he is often credited with saying things that he never said. It has also happened that Luther was paraphrased and the words were later accepted as direct quotations.

I searched the American edition of Luther’s Works and was not able to find a match. Granted, this is only a portion of the material that we have from Luther, but I am unable to electronically search the Weimar edition which is all encompassing.

Your quotation is especially interesting because the picture it presents sounds so much like Luther. We are, after all, rotten to the core, and yet the Lord Jesus has covered us with his righteousness so that we look as pure as snow in God’s eyes.

In his “Disputation Concerning Justification” (1536) Luther states:

I said before that our righteousness is dung in the sight of God. Now if God chooses to adorn dung, he can do so (Luther's Works, Vol. 34, page 184).

In that same document Luther adds:

All the justified could glory in their works, if they would attribute glory to God with respect to themselves. In this manner they would not be dung, but ornaments (Luther's Works, Vol. 34, page 178).

The picture is similar to your quotation but not an exact match. Although I cannot say with certainty that Luther spoke the words you quote, I can suggest that they do catch the sentiment Luther frequently proclaimed.
One can find many instances (contrary to Tappert's impression) of Protestants themselves using the phrase and attributing it to Luther (alas, usually in undocumented fashion). A Google search of "Luther dunghill" or "snow-covered dunghill" or some such selection of words will quickly confirm this.

William Cork provided a tantalizing, but ultimately frustrating article on the subject:

Both Reformed and Catholics have accepted a caricature of Luther that Lutherans would not recognize. The caricature is best summed up by a rather unpleasant image that is often used by non-Lutherans (but which few Lutherans have ever heard of). In this metaphor for the Christian life, justification is compared to a sprinkling of snow on a pile of dung. We are the dung—horrible, smelly, corrupt, with no redeeming qualities. A light dusting of snow (the imputed righteousness of Christ) makes us appear to be something we are not. But the snow cannot change the dung.

(Justification by Faith: Can Catholics and Lutherans Agree? Internet Archives cache-version of 6-17-04)

Cork also wrote in the current version of his paper:

Funny thing about that quote—despite years of Lutheran seminary education, and experience as a pastor, and the reading of umpteen volumes of Luther's Works, I have never come across that quote in print, nor have I ever heard it from the mouth of a Lutheran. Yet it is a favorite of Luther's critics. I asked renowned Luther scholar Eric Gritsch about this, and he replied that it does exist somewhere in one of the "Table Talks" (after dinner ramblings written down by Luther's students—not reliable sources for Luther's thought), but even he couldn't give me a reference.
Gritsch is a major Lutheran scholar, and one of the translators in the 55-volume English collection Luther's Works, so his report is important. I searched through one online version of Table-Talk and couldn't find the quote, but there are different versions, and German versions, etc., so that is not conclusive. If Gritsch really said that it existed, then it probably does. We just don't know exactly where yet.

Now, is it plausible that at least some of Luther's thoughts or clusters of ideas could reasonably be construed as amounting to the same thing as what this "quote" suggests? Perhaps. I have a theory, though I didn't succeed in proving it and can only present it in relatively vague, speculative fashion.

The late Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., who happened to have been a mentor of mine (he wrote the Foreword of my book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism, received me into the Church, and baptized my first two children), provided one such example of a citation that might have something to do with the origin of the "legend". He cites Luther:

Conceived in sorrow and corruption, the child sins in his mother’s womb. As he grows older, the innate element of corruption develops. Man has said to sin: ‘Thou art my father’—and every act he performs is an offense against God; and to the worms: ‘You are my brothers’—and he crawls like them in mire and corruption. He is a bad tree and cannot produce good fruit; a dunghill, and can only exhale foul odors. He is so thoroughly corrupted that it is absolutely impossible for him to produce good actions. Sin is his nature; he cannot help committing it. Man may do his best to be good, still his every action is unavoidably bad; he commits a sin as often as he draws his breath.
(St. Peter Canisius on Christmas Joy, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, Vol. 48 - #3, December 1947, pp. 167-172)

Fr. Hardon provides the following source in his footnote #8: “Werke (Wittenberg Edition), Vol. III, p. 518." This refers to the edition of Luther's works, published in Wittenberg: 12 volumes in German (1539-1559) and seven volumes in Latin (1545-1558). But what is this particular writing? I was unable to definitively identify it in a more specific fashion.

I thought that there might possibly be some connection to Psalm 51, which mentions being "whiter than snow" (51:7; RSV). Luther wrote a commentary on Psalm 51, which is included in the 55-volume English edition of Luther's Works, known as "LW" (edited by Jaroslav Pelikan et al; Pelikan also translates this piece): Volume 12: 303-410.

Luther provides the analogy of man as a "dunghill" (assuming the authenticity of the above citation) and Scripture gives us the metaphor of snow washing away our sins. If we put the two together, we can arrive at the same idea as the folkloric "saying," by simple logical extension or deduction. It would then be a combination of an actual word used by Luther and the application of another word from Scripture, which Luther commented upon. If this is a correct description of what happened, the "saying" would be not so much an inaccuracy or falsehood, as a legitimate, accurate paraphrase of his thought at this point. Psalm 51 was King David's impassioned plea of repentance, after the prophet Nathan told him that he knew of his sins of adultery and murder. He writes in 51:5:

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. (RSV)

This is a prime proof text for original sin. The metaphor of snow comes from 51:7:

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Hence, man the "dunghill" (Luther's excessive extrapolation) can be covered in "snow" (inspired Scripture) after repentance and achieve justification (according to Protestant theology). According to Luther and classic Protestant soteriology of imputed, extrinsic justification, he remains this dunghill and is merely covered up by God's declaratory justification. He can (gradually, slowly, and imperfectly) become more righteous subsequent to justification, however, through the process of sanctification. Catholicism does not make this formal separation.

As a related aside, Scripture (KJV) does use the word dung some 28 or so times, but never, as far as I can tell from scanning a concordance, as a description of man. St. Paul, for example, writes in Philippians 3:8, in that same version:

. . . I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.
Possessions are dung compared to the riches of Christ Jesus: a far different statement from calling man himself "dung." Man is made in God's image, and though he is fallen, he is not worthless excrement. This was one of the novel, peculiar contributions of the so-called "Reformation," to introduce this non-biblical motif into Christian theology (sadly one of several such unbiblical themes). Luther himself picked up on this passage in his Lectures on Galatians, from 1535:

And with Paul let us confess that all our works and righteousness . . . are nothing but loss and refuse (Phil. 3:8). And let us tread underfoot and utterly abhor, as a polluted garment (Is. 64:6) and the deadly poison of the devil, all the power of free will, all the wisdom and righteousness of the world, all religious orders, all Masses, ceremonies, vows, fasts, hair shirts, and the like.

(LW, vol. 26, p. 41; translated by Jaroslav Pelikan)

Thinking that I might have been onto something in connecting Luther's commentary on Psalm 51 (written in 1538) with this famous reputed "saying" of his, I read the entirety of that piece today. I didn't find anything which could be identified with the "saying," but I do think that all the notions which make up the "snow-covered dung" image can be found here. First I looked up all instances of "dung" as listed in the index of the 55 volumes. None of them directly applied to this issue (though some came close).

The only time it appeared in this commentary (which the index missed) was on page 327 of volume 12. Luther is commenting upon Psalm 51:2: "Wash me more abundantly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin" (Pelikan's rendering):

It is not enough that this sin is forgiven through grace, for through our infirmity we fall right back into sin . . . the thing itself, which is truly sin and is remitted and forgiven by God, still remains in the flesh and is not completely dead . . . in the justified there are still remnants of sin, like lust and other vices. These the prophet sees in himself as dung or seed plots . . .

. . . God wants to wipe out the sins as far as the forgiveness of their guilt and their power are concerned, but not as far as the thing itself or the nature of the sin is concerned . . . Therefore, both statements are true: "No Christian has sin"; and "Every Christian has sin."

. . . He is righteous and holy by an alien or foreign holiness - I call it this for the sake of instruction - that is, he is righteous by the mercy and grace of God.

(pp. 327-328)
Apart from this, Luther makes several statements about the entire, total corruption of man's nature. Such utter corruption and evil might also (especially in Luther's own colorful vocabulary) be referred to as worthless "dung":

. . . it is great wisdom to know that we are nothing but sin . . . From such a root nothing good before God can come forth . . the whole nature corrupted by sin . . . 
(p. 307; Althaus - see source below - renders this as "there is simply nothing in us that is not sinful" - p. 153)

We say that the natural powers are corrupt in the extreme. (p. 308)

. . . it is a fictitious expression to speak of a "holy man," just as it is a fictitious expression to speak of God's falling into sin; for by the nature of things, this cannot be.

For this reason we must reject those very ancient and deep-rooted errors by which in monastic fashion we speak of Jerome or Paul as "holy." In themselves they are sinners, and only God is holy, as the church sings. Those whom we call "holy" are made holy by an alien holiness, through Christ, by the holiness of free mercy. In this holiness the whole church of the faithful is the same, there is no difference . . . It does not matter that Peter and Paul did greater things than you or I . . . So you see nothing holy, nothing good in man, as the psalm says (Ps. 53:2,3), "God looks down from heaven upon the sons of men . . . There is none that does good, no, not one." . . . Therefore let us keep quiet about holiness and holy people . . . everything that is ours is evil before God . . . 
(p. 325)

. . . it is clear how we become righteous, namely, by the mere imputation of righteousness . . .
(p. 326)

. . . neither the tree nor the fruit of human nature is good, but that everything has been so deformed and destroyed by sin that there is nothing sound left in all of human nature.
[expanding upon David's statement of 51:4] ". . . I am completely evil. Before Thee this is my name, that I do evil, that I have sinned, that I am sinning, that I shall sin forever." (p. 337)

This glory of righteousness must be left to God alone. (p. 338)

. . . that constant and innate sin in which we live and die. (p. 339)

He is talking [in 51:5] about the unformed seed itself and declaring that it is full of sin and a mass of perdition. (p. 348)

[Luther thinks that procreation is intrinsically sinful (apparently because of universal lust): ". . . the sin there is in procreation . . . in this respect how is our nature better than that of the beasts? In this action there is no knowledge of God and no faith . . . God puts up with this sinful begetting for the sake of His creation . . . the procreation of children . . . cannot be without sin . . ." - p. 349 This makes sense within his framework, since he thinks everything we do is tainted by sin]

. . . we acknowledge that we are completely sinful, indeed that it was sin even when we were conceived and formed in our mother's womb. (p. 352)

Luther scholar Paul Althaus (The Theology of Martin Luther, translated by Robert C. Schultz, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966), provides more examples of similar sentiments from Luther:

No one can be certain that he is not continually committing mortal sin, because of the most secret vice of pride. (p. 149)

[Althaus writes: "The pope condemned this statement in his bull excommunicating Luther, and Luther states it even more sharply in his defense in 1521"]

I say now that no one should doubt that all our good works are mortal sins, if they are judged according to God's judgment and severity and not accepted as good by grace alone. (p. 149; LW 32, 91)

[Althaus: "This is due not to the character of good works as specific individual acts but to man's pride which stains them all."]

A righteous man sins in all his good works. (p. 149; LW 32,83)

A good work, even though well performed is a venial sin according to God's merciful judgment, and a mortal sin according to God's strict judgment. (p. 149; LW 32,86)

Every good work is a sin unless it is forgiven by mercy. (p. 149; LW 32,209)

. . . he never does good without its being corrupted . . . we always sin even when we do what is right; sometimes we sin more and sometimes we sin less, depending on how much our flesh assails us with its impure desires. (p. 152; LW 31,61)

[Althaus writes on the same page: "This is true not only of man without Christ but also of the Christian man. For, although he has received the Spirit of God, he still remains 'flesh' which resists God's will. For this reason he still sins even when he does what is right."]

[possibly offensive language warning]

Moreover, Luther called himself "dung":

Luther frequently called himself a piece of shit and in a part of his table talk of 1542-43 that fascinated Erickson, he said, "I am the ripe shit; so also is the world a wide asshole; then shall we soon part."

(in Richard Marius, Martin Luther: The Christian Between God and Death, Harvard University Press, 2000, p. 20; primary source, TR 5, no. 5537 -- footnote on p. 491. Elsewhere I found further documentation: TR 5:222.14-15.19-20. LW 54:448. See Erickson's alternate rendering, on p. 206 of his famous work, Young Man Luther)

Keeping all this in mind, as Luther's conception of the total depravity of man and how he "frequently" described himself, let's now look at how he comments upon Psalm 51:7, which refers to snow cleansing our sins:

How can we become "purer than snow" even though the remnants of sin always cling to us? I answer: I have always said that man is divided into spirit and flesh. Therefore, as far as the total man is concerned, there remains remnants of sin or, as Paul calls them (2 Cor. 7:1), "defilements of body and spirit." . . . Still we have obtained Baptism, which is most pure; we have obtained the Word, which is most pure; and in the Word and Baptism we have by faith obtained the blood of Christ, which is surely most pure. According to this purity, which in spirit and faith we have from Christ and from the Sacraments that He instituted, the Christian is rightly said to be purer than snow . . . even though the defilements of spirit and flesh cling to him. These are concealed and covered by the cleanness and purity of Christ . . .

. . . if you look at a Christian without the righteousness and purity of Christ, as he is in himself, even though he be most holy, you will find not only no cleanness, but what I might call diabolical blackness. . . . Therefore if they ask: "Sin always clings to man; how, then, can he be washed so as to make him whiter than snow?" you reply: "We should look at a man, not as he is in himself, but as he is in Christ. (pp. 366-367)

Thus we virtually have all the elements of the alleged "saying": "snow-covered dunghill" in this one work alone: the commentary on Psalms 51. This is all the more so if we realize that Luther often equates "the flesh" with fallen man in and of himself (as Althaus elaborates at length, on pp. 153-155). On p. 327 Luther refers to "remnants of sin" in the flesh as "dung." His treatment of man's nature generally lends itself to the description of dung, as it is worthless, totally corrupt, and evil. Luther also pits man's uncleanness and "diabolical blackness" over against the "cleanness" of baptism and justification; impurity to purity (with perhaps the Old Testament ritual cleanliness concerning dirt, dead bodies, menstruation, etc. in the back of his mind). This readily lends itself to the same interpretation. His comments on "snow" immediately above clearly fulfill the second component of the "saying".

If we also add the direct reference to man as a "dunghill" (which I documented from Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.), then we have the entire conception, directly expressed in one place or another, if not one concise instance of a saying which encapsulates the thought.

As a clarification, to be fair to Luther (who is often pilloried, slandered, and misrepresented by Catholics, especially non-scholars on the Internet), and to accurately present his entire teaching, it is to be emphasized that, despite all this bad theology above (according to Catholic orthodoxy), Luther does accept the notion of progressive sanctification. He is not an antinomian; he does not condone or sanction sin on the grounds that it is absolutely unavoidable, or rendered ineffectual due to justification, or some sort of bogus "eternal security" based on a one-time justification. He only denies that such works play any role in justification or salvation, or that they can remove all sin before death. He denies entire sanctification. But then so do Catholics, in most cases (which is precisely why we believe in purgatory). Hence Luther wrote, in the same commentary:

Let us take care to be washed daily, to become purer day by day, so that daily the new man may arise and the old man may be crushed, not only for his death but also for our sanctification. (p. 330)

. . . as long as we live, we all ask to be washed thoroughly.

These are the two parts of justification . . . the second part is the conferring of the Holy Spirit with His gifts, who enlightens us against the defilements of spirit and flesh (2 Cor. 7:1) . . . Thus the true knowledge of God grows daily, together with other gifts. like chastity, obedience, and patience. Thus our body and its lusts are broken so that we do not obey them. Those who do not have this gift or do not use it this way, but fall into the uncleanness of either the flesh or the spirit, so that they approve of all doctrines without discrimination - they are dominated by the flesh, and they do not know the bath of the Holy Spirit for which David is asking here. (p. 331)

In true theology, therefore, this is the first concern, that a man become good through the regeneration of the Spirit . . . Then it comes to pass that, as from a good tree, good fruits are also born . . . his own works, which ought to follow in regeneration.

. . . These are the main works which testify that a tree has been changed from a barren tree to a fruitful one . . . (p. 385)

For related aspects in Luther's thought and theology, see my paper: "Martin Luther's Doctrine Concerning Good Works."

Interestingly enough, I even managed to come across a "snow over refuse" analogy by Luther which has more to do with his belief in sanctification, than his Lutheran imputed justification doctrine:

We see grain sowed in the ground. Reason now asks: What happens to the grain in winter that has been sowed in the ground? Is it not a dead, moldy, decayed thing, covered with frost and snow? But in its own time it grows from that dead, moldy, decayed grain into a beautiful green stalk, which flourishes like a forest and produces a full, fat ear on which there are 20, 30, 40 kernels, and thereby finds life where only death existed earlier. Thus God has done with heaven, earth, sun and moon, and does every year with the grain in the field. He calls to that which is nothing that it should become something and does this contrary to all reason. Can He not also do something which serves to glorify the children of God, even though it is contrary to all reason?

(Sermon on Our Blessed Hope, St. Louis Edition of Luther's writings, IX: 930-957)