Putting the Stop to RSM: (Religiously Sanctioned Molestation)

By Chris Stevenson
American Chronicle
December 16, 2006

How Churches, Police, Grand Juries, and Judges can work together.

The mistake they (Jehovah's Witnesses) made was when they began to handle child abuse as an ordinary infraction in the congregation rather than [calling the police] - Barbara Anderson, a former top Watchtower publications researcher and writer

Early last September a Hunterdon County (NJ) Grand Jury did their job. They indicted a former Pastor of what the Express-Times called "a close-knit congregation of about 630 families." The sub-human's name is "the Reverend." John Banko. He is already in the middle of a 15-year sentence for plugging an Alter boy in '93. According to the Express: "About a year before the new accusations claim, he sexually assaulted a 2nd child," whom attended his church. This charge is for the sexual assault of an 11-year-old who was a member of the lopsided named St. Edward the Confessor Roman Catholic Church. How about renaming it St. Edward the Molester Roman Catholic Church? Oh never mind. Some faiths urge their followers to be silent, so they can handle this internally. Here are 3 simple rules to go by if your church is confronted with such a problem:

1-Don't let anyone tell you that this is only a "Church matter," a "congregational matter," a "Clergy," "Elder," or doctrinal matter: Your Church heads are as qualified to handle criminal offenses as your cable-guy is qualified to run a nuclear power plant. I hate to sound crude, but it is what it is. Simply contact your local law enforcement agency; police dept. Sheriff's dept. FBI etc. This is not rocket science. Yes God is merciful, but God isn't stupid, he does not want scum representing him. Police Forensic Experts can determine the validity of any accusation. If confirmed as true, he is to be promptly removed from his position (that's right, leave him hanging) and left to the judgment of the only organization he now belongs to, the state or federal judicial system, and the tattooed muscle-bound Aryan Nations brotherhood in San Quentin, Attica, or hopefully Ft. Leavenworth, who await him with open arms.

2-Don't be afraid of suggestions or threats of ouster or banishment: Who wants fellowship with a bunch of people who feign to not understand a crime worse than terrorism itself? There's a whole wonderful world of support and friends waiting for you to look after you if you or a family member are victimized in such a way. Your Ministers, Pastors etc., do have an important job, and that is to teach the scriptures and protect the congregation and not run the congregation like a lodge, Elks, or big-boys club. If a fellow Minister or member is accused of molestation, then in this case the Bible passage that urges subjection to the "Superior authorities" (i.e. law enforcement) supercedes any supplemental doctrine made up exclusively through any respective church. Any scripture urging a need of two or more witnesses only applies to that particular time period (ancient times), and even then it wasn't to be used for the purpose of protecting the rights of those accused of sexual abuse, especially involving children. Developing a mindset of protecting the rights and identity of the victim should be the main priority of Clergy, as this protects the name of the church.

3-When it comes to the media all bets are off: It would seem to me that church leaders should contact the authorities even before the victim's family, in exposing a clergy or laity member as having been arrested for pedophilia or rape of an adult female, in fact it's their job to urge the family to do so. After handing him over to the authorities he is to be relieved of his duties until proven innocent. If there is physical proof before a trial, feel free to implement your church's ex-communication rules (on the suspect dummy). If proven guilty then you don't want your members to be associated with that person until he serves out his sentence. While he has the right to return to a congregation, he should be barred from church leadership permanently. Churches would make it easier on themselves if they acknowledge that they attract all sorts of people and some are subject to criminal activity just as the general population is. There can be no hint that the one in question is being enabled. Enabling leads to what I coin RSM; religiously sanctioned molestation.

Any Pastor, Reverend, Elder, Bishop, etc., who needs a how-to on handling child molesters within their congregations should know that this is not a time to remind your member to "wait on the Lord" to take care of it. This is a callous and unbiblical cop-out that has been conveniently used to discourage exposure of "dirty laundry." Pedophilia is not dirty laundry, embezzlement or adultery is dirty laundry. Pedophilia is an outright abomination, and on this the Lord is waiting on you.

Stevenson is a columnist for the Buffalo Criterion, Contact him at


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