Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Rape is a small matter when a Christian broadcast empire is at stake

TBN is a huge Christian organization ostensibly dedicated to spreading the Good Word, but actually focused on enriching its founders Paul and Jan Crouch. The Crouch's were so focused on the reputation of their broadcasting empire, that they failed to report an allegation of rape involving their granddaughter.

The Trinity Broadcasting Network has withstood a lot of blows over the years--in no small part because of its close ties to the religious right. However, a recently-filed lawsuit could potentially bring this evil empire down for good. Carra Crouch, the granddaughter of TBN founders Paul and Jan Crouch, is suing her grandparents and TBN for sweeping a horrific allegation of child abuse under the rug.
Carra claims that back in 2006, when she was only 13 years old, she was raped by then-TBN employee Stephen L. Smith in an Atlanta hotel room. Carra was in town for TBN's spring telethon.
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In my experience, writing about thousands of cases of clergy sexual abuse and Christian hypocrisy, I’ve found two distinct reasons why a Christian organization will not report an allegation of rape or abuse. The first is a desire to protect the church and its members from public ridicule. The second reason is financial. I call this the megachurch excuse, because we often see large Christian organizations tying to hide allegations of abuse in order to protect its membership and by extension, donations and membership tithes. 

I’ve recently found another example. When a church acts to protect its pastor because he is a man of God. This situation is common to independent Baptist churches and deeply troubling. Members do not care about the victim. In fact, they are often shunned, fired or bought off. In these cases the prevailing logic is that the pastor can do no wrong. This is not the case at TBN. It looks purely financial. 

If the allegations are true, the Crouches acted with a purely financial motive, which is not surprising. However, the approach they used to contain the matter with their own granddaughter looks like classic example of a type of bullying behavior called blaming the victim. 

Distraught over the incident, Carra Crouch was advised by her mother to inform Jan Crouch and Trinity attorney John Casoria, who also is an ordained minister and a nephew of Paul and Jan. 

A meeting took place at the Crouch family mansion in Newport Beach, where, according to the lawsuit, Jan "became furious and began screaming at Ms. Crouch," and began telling her "it is your fault." 

Carra Crouch alleges that after the screaming fit thrown by Jan, she approached Casoria, who allegedly became agitated with the 13-year-old, said he didn't believe her, and suggested that she was already sexually active "so it did not really matter," and she "may have propositioned him." 

Again, if this is true, the Crouch’s are horrible people, yet millions of Christians watch their insipid broadcast every day. It makes you wonder. What does it really mean to be a Christian? Does behavior matter? Or, it is simply a declaration of faith and subsequent forgiveness for all matter of transgressions?