Friday, August 05, 2005

Lutheran pastor targeted in sex dispute

Shrimp here: I'm no muck-raker, but we're posting the follwoing story. Why? We don't know if any more than a half-dozen people read these messages in a bottle, but we hope that the ones who do are the ones God wants to see them. We think what is going to happen next week in Orlando is part of the history of God's faithful dealings wiht humans. God is merciful and allows much to go on and graciously, patiently awaits for us to do the right thing.

The point is that James Childs should have been relieved of his duties when it was found out that he had all kinds of, well what do th elawyers call it, conflict of interests"?

You can look in the early archives for a piece I wrote. Here is something just to remind you.

Lutheran pastor targeted in sex dispute

The Lincoln Courier

CHICAGO — An advocacy group known mainly for its criticism of the Roman Catholic church’s handling of sex abuse by clergy members has turned its attention to the Evangelical Lutheran Church and called for the removal of a sexuality task force director.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests wrote to the Chicago-based Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Wednesday seeking the removal of Rev. James Childs Jr. from a task force studying such issues as human sexuality, homosexuality in the church and child sex abuse.

The group accuses Childs of helping cover up accusations of inappropriate behavior with boys against a seminary student who was later convicted on sexual assault charges involving a child, among other charges.

"It’s very distressing," SNAP Executive Director David Clohessy said of Childs’ appointment to the sexuality policy task force. "It can only hurt the credibility and the effectiveness of the task force and can only add to the hurt that not just this abuser’s victims but that anyone abused by a Lutheran clergyman would feel."

Childs denies there was a coverup and said he will not resign from the task force because that would give credence to false accusations against him.

Childs was dean at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, when student Gerald Patrick Thomas Jr. was ordained. Thomas became a minister in Marshall, Texas, where last winter he was convicted of sexual assault and indecency with a child. He already was imprisoned on child pornography charges after admitting in federal court that he allowed two teenage boys at his home to photograph themselves engaging in sex acts.

Clohessy said Childs knew of questions about Thomas’ behavior with boys but did not bring it up during the ordination process. On Wednesday, a lawyer representing parents of Texas victims in a civil lawsuit against the church gave The Associated Press a copy of a court deposition that quotes Childs as saying he received memos raising questions about Thomas when he was at the seminary in 1997, but that there was not enough information to justify alerting an ordination candidacy committee.

Attorney Ed Hohn said the victims’ families reacted to Childs’ appointment to the church sexuality task force with "utter shock and amazement." He said they support SNAP’s call for a resignation.

Childs, now a part-time professor at Trinity, said he did not cover up any known abuses. He said he could not comment in detail because of the ongoing litigation.

"All I can really say is the manner in which that was portrayed is false," Childs said.

The task force is studying potential church policies concerning issues including the blessing of homosexual unions and ordination of gay ministers, Childs said. A church news release this month said task force members also have raised the need to address child sexual abuse.

An Evangelical Lutheran Church spokesman at church headquarters in Chicago said Childs would remain on the task force and that SNAP had been "misinformed" about the pending Texas lawsuit.

"The circumstances of Rev. Childs’ involvement in that matter are not accurately portrayed and do not call into question his fine leadership of the ELCA studies on sexuality," spokesman John Brooks said.

Brooks said the church had no further comment because of the pending court case.

Clohessy said about 10 percent of SNAP’s members come from non-Catholic denominations despite the word "Priests" in the title.

"There’s no denying that abusers seek positions of influence and power over kids, and they certainly know no denominational boundaries," he said.

Clohessy said he is pleased that many religious denominations appear to be working to prevent abuse and a repeat of last year’s Catholic scandals. But he said he believes the Evangelical Lutheran Church failed members in the Thomas case and is doing so again with Childs’ appointment.

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