Cheap Grace

Wendy Lawton

Blogger: Wendy Lawton

I’ve been back and forth more times than the airport shuttle on whether I should comment on this topic. We, as Christians and especially as women, are taught to forgive and smooth things over, especially things that make us deeply uncomfortable. I’ve come to the conclusion that to keep quiet is akin to being complicit. So here goes. . . hopefully short and anything but sweet.

What am I talking about? Christian publishing’s own version of Me Too. #metoo.

You may have seen the article in Publishers Weekly or the one in World magazine. The articles were carefully written, uncovering a troubling situation that had been going on for years in our writers conferences. Ever since word came out, naming four serial offenders, there’s been silence among industry professionals. I spoke to one person involved in a large writers conference, and she said they had known for a long time and handled the situation quietly but swiftly. I kept thinking about that. Isn’t that what many in the Catholic churches did– handled each situation quietly? Isn’t that cheap grace?

By cheap grace I’m referring to the huge cost of sin. After all, my own sin caused a man’s death on a cross– the most costly death known. I know that same man spoke the words, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Perhaps we are all thinking of our own sins and feeling like we have no business casting stones, let alone pebbles. But I’ve read some of the posts and read comments that broke my heart. So I’m going to cast some stones with all my sins flapping in the breeze. Here are the problems I see unresolved:

  • There are women, mostly very young women, who have largely been ignored in this frenzy of forgiveness. I know for a fact there are those who felt called to a writing career who have left, feeling disillusioned and defeated. Others are still moving forward, but it has been years since they felt comfortable gathering with other writers. One of those men accused of multiple inappropriate acts said he “took the high road” and quit before being fired from his position. The high road? That is cheap grace. Women have had their lives changed forever. That is not hyperbole.
  • The comments made to these articles and to several of the blogs or Facebook posts have been unbelievable. One said that women shouldn’t dress so seductively. Really? In 2018 someone blamed the women for their serial abusers’ behavior?
  • Another commenter stressed that the women are equally at fault. It takes two, was the gist of her post. That denies the research done in the field of abuse. Didn’t we learn anything from the Clinton scandal? When someone in power abuses those under him, whether it is teacher/student, literary agent/writer hopeful, it is misuse of power. It’s about power, people– not “mutual” liaisons.
  • Speaking of research, the comments ignore the issue of “grooming.” Serial abusers are experts at this. It is done so delicately that many times the victim is facing an impossible, embarrassing moment without knowing how in the world they got there. We’ve heard of children being groomed by pedophiles but there is no age limit on this kind of surreptitious maneuver.
  • Some of those named were johnny-on-the-spot to come out and ask forgiveness as soon as they heard that articles were in the works. Many of these men had been quietly banned from writers conferences for years– why didn’t they come out then and confess and ask forgiveness? Or even before? One wise commenter hit the nail on the head when he called it “preemptive confession.” Writers by the hundreds came gushing onto those blogs posted on Facebook to tell the abuser how much they admired him for his courage. Seriously? All the while the victims are being traumatized over and over by those very comments. I cringe to read them.
  • When well-known pastors have had what is euphemistically called “moral failure,” they are usually required to leave their positions and seek years of counseling. There is no cheap grace in those instances. Why do we rush to offer such cheap grace here?

I’m hurting for the victims. Be careful what you say. It is read by those who are suffering. Many of those victims look just like our daughters or our friends.

Feel free to comment. If I am wrong, I invite you to engage. Just be careful not to victimize the victims all over again.

175 Responses

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  1. Well, golly. I’ve stood knee-deep in a mass grave, and hunted down the perpetrators.
    * I can only say this: a Ka-Bar castration does wonders, and I don’t do subtle.

  2. Susy Flory says:

    Thank you for speaking out for the victims, Wendy. What’s your take on why industry professionals are not yet joining the public discussion?

    • Editor says:

      Because many of these companies are run by complicit individuals. Just like in our churches, this pattern of harassment goes to the top. People who speak out jeopardize their jobs.

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      Susy Flory– The reason the industry is largely silent on this issue is complicated. In the first place, employees are generally not allowed to speak on controversial topics because they may be seen as representing the entire company. I had our company president read over this before I posted it. Second reason: Few in the industry have a vehicle in which to speak, like we do with our blog. Third reason: When it comes to publishers, at least one of those accused may represent writers they would like to someday publish. It’s a power of a different sort. Fourth reason: when something is ugly, most of us would prefer to steer clear.

  3. A delicate topic for sure… I guess more like taboo, even in today’s society. Such a shame that open discussions turn to the blame-game of victims. Men—and yes, even women—who sexually harass others are skilled at what they do. Like you said, they groom and make it where the victim is backed into a corner before they know they are there and then are left too ashamed and broken to admit to others what happened. The backlash always comes at them, and it is a significant reason why sexual harassment and rape go unreported. Although I have thankfully never experienced it, I have stood by friends who had to suffer degradation for standing up to their perpetrator and it makes me sick and angry.

    Even if the perpetrator is truly repentant, repentance doesn’t allow one to escape the consequences of sin. “Preemptive confession” isn’t a pass on what they did or an automatic ticket to forgiveness. Forgiveness can only be given by the One who sees the heart and those who have suffered at the hand of the sinner. And forgiveness isn’t saying what they did was okay or that the fault lay with someone else, it is saying I will no longer hold this against you for my sake. It takes time, healing, and the pure power of God to cross that bridge and no one but the victim and God have a right to offer that forgiveness.

    I pray the victims are able to find that healing and power for their sakes alone, and that they are surrounded by a cloud of supporters who offer a listening ear, encouraging words, and hope for a better future. And while we do not favor praying for those who have hurt us and broken our trust (for they have done that even if not a victim), I pray the offenders will truly repent, seek forgiveness from our Lord, and amend their ways. My heart grieves for them as much as the victims, for they are truly broken and in need of saving.

    Thank you, Wendy, for not being silent.

    • Thank you, Wendy, for stepping into a discussion we wish we didn’t need. In the aftermath of Me Too, I spoke honestly with my adult sons. I explained the work climate when I was a young working woman–the assumption that men would “hit on” female employees and the realization that I was responsible for my response. My mother told how she thwarted undesired advances from a company salesman. My sons were stunned.
      * Lesson learned? Let’s not hide the history. Let’s teach our sons and daughters appropriate boundaries and give them the vocabulary to address it. I had the advantage of an aunt who provided empowering words–a smiled whisper, “Get your hands off me or I’ll make a scene that will embarrass the both of us.” Let’s explain the temptations that cloud judgment on both sides: the desire to be noticed, conversations moved from public to private space (physically and emotionally), the influence of flattery and the power to open doors. And most of all, let’s teach our children to listen for the Spirit’s guidance in all situations.

      • Ronna Snyder says:

        Oh, Shirlee Abbott, you captured the “stuff” behind the “stuff” for women “of a certain age”. You turned back the clock, when you explained to your sons, on what it was like to be a young woman in a male-dominated industry back in a certain, ahem, time period. Your words captured the conundrum: “The temptations that cloud judgement on both sides: the desire to be noticed, influence of flattery, etc.” To which I’ll also add: “naivete on the part of the younger woman in the presence of male power”, (and back then) “the lack of a public conversation on what this REALLY was”, plus the silence of voice and vocabulary to express it in an era which largely ignored such things. Many perpetrators were a product of that era. Sometimes, so were their victims. Thanks for reminding some of us where we came from. And teaching the younger ones to never go there again.

      • Thank you, Shirlee. One thing that has dismayed me is that when someone says women can be discerning and can do something to shut down predators, their comments are considered “victim shaming.” How are we to have a conversation that will help young women if we can’t say anything about what they should do in response or as a precaution or to enhance discernment?

        And I have another question. Each of the men mentioned in the PW article were somewhat considered as celebrities at the conferences I attended. They had people flock to eat meals with them, to spend time with them during free hours. That sense of the “superstar presenter” seems like an unhealthy one. Is that something that happens organically, is cultivated by the “star,” can be discouraged by conference leadership? What I’m thinking here is that this kind of status seems to give these individuals more power. They already have power because of their position, but I know of other men who have those same positions and never came close to having a fandom develop around them at a conference.

        Thanks for confronting this topic, Wendy.

      • Mirtika says:

        To Rebecca: (Hi!)
        The time to tell women how to protect themselves is not when we are discussing predators. It makes it seem as if we’re shifting blame. That comes during other discussions, not during the focus on predators.

        It’s like when someone’s kid dies drunk driving. You don’t start lecturing on how bad it is to drink and drive to the grievers. You grieve with them and comfort them. Later, another time, another forum, you can be active in speaking against intoxicated operation of vehicles and heavy machinery.

        But when women are talking about their pain and abuse is not the time to say, “Well, don’t stand so close, don’t be alone in their room or in an elevator, don’t sit next to them at a table if you know they tell racy jokes or touch a lot, don’t smile when you feel uncomfortable, speak up, etc.”

        It’s what the Japanese call behaving sensitively and appropriately according to TPO: time, place, occasion.

        I really understand folks mean well and want to address various aspects, but when I see a comment, “Well, the women should…” when the focus is on what MEN SHOULD NOT…because they have in those situations the power and the disposition to sin…I get a little ticked. (And I may even have broken the TPO thing myself, and still think it’s right to stop and say, “another time.”)

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’ve known one of these men for over 15 years and considered him my mentor and my friend. Although I was not one of his victims, I still feel betrayed. Bottom line for me is my friend is not who he said he was. My friend was a liar. And although, as you said, we all sin and fall short of the glory of God, this incident has caused me to go deep inside myself and question every friendship I’ve had. Am I a terrible judge of character? Do I fool myself as much as he fooled me? I know I must forgive, but for right now, all I can say is I will try. Eventually.

    • You are not. Know that. And to Wendy, we’ll said.

    • I can imagine your shock, your feeling of betrayal. Please don’t let the enemy turn this sad circumstance into a tool for more damage. This is one relationship, and you never crossed the line–sounds to me like your judgment was on track. Don’t second guess every other friendship. And your former mentor’s bad behavior doesn’t mean that the all knowledge he shared with you was bad.
      ** O Lord God, help our friend here to sort through her memories, to examine the insights gained from this relationship in the light of your truth, to let go what is faulty in your eyes and to hold on–without guilt–to wisdom that honors you.

    • Susan Sage says:

      I’m so sorry. This made me cry. May God’s arms of healing and mercy wrap around you.

    • Anonymous II says:

      Anonymous, This is exactly how I’ve felt. It’s been over 20 years for me. Is it like I suddenly am pariah for having even voiced my connections with them for years? And I’m suspicious of all the compliments on my writing I was given by these men.

      I’m still processing and trying to form the words.

  5. Lynn Horton says:

    Well done, Wendy.

    (Even though I’ve taken my writing career to general market, I’ve been watching this story unfold after hearing stories for quite a while about one of the accused. I’m proud to see someone at Books & Such taking the time—and having the courage—to address the predator mentality that stems from our faith’s current patristic orientation, which is not at all consistent with Scripture.)

  6. I was not surprised by these stories that have come out, but I am always saddened when I see such things. Especially amongst those who profess Christ, because it really blackens all of us. We know that all sin and fall short of the glory of God. We are all tempted in our own way. No matter what ‘Christian’ group it comes from, unbelievers see it as all Christians are hypocrites. Even though all Christians are fallible, that doesn’t mean they are excused.

  7. Mary DeMuth says:

    Thank you, Wendy. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I wrote about this yesterday, as I have been very grieved by the responses as well. We forget to climb into the shoes of those abused and instead rush to praise the serial predator. It’s a strange part of human nature I still don’t understand.

  8. Bravo, Wendy. Too many keeping quiet on this!

  9. John says:

    Well said Wendy!

  10. Annie Jones says:

    Thank you for speaking out about the total lack of speaking up from Christian professionals. It has me baffled, especially as I think back over the years of spirited debates about secular/political/writing theory and practice discussions about how to handle the reality of sin among our own circles.

    I also want to reiterate that this is not just about the outright sexual harassment but about the covering up and creation of a culture where women learned that their voices and experiences could be so easily dismissed.

  11. Amber says:

    Couldn’t agree more, Wendy. Thank you for writing this article!

  12. Rachelle Gardner says:

    Yes, yes, yes. Thank you Wendy.

  13. Until recently I had no idea this sort of thing was going on in the Christian publishing industry. It’s not only horrible for the victims, it makes Christianity look bad to everyone else. I wish there were some way we could solve the problem but have no idea what that might be, other than to keep praying.

  14. Ashley Mays says:

    Thank you, Wendy. Truly.

  15. Why are these people not removed/limited from their place of power? At minimum they should be banned from all conferences. If some of these perpetrators were reported early but continued to be allowed at writers conferences, were the conference staff also somewhat culpable for not assuring that followers of these people be protected or at least warned?

  16. Ann Byle says:

    Wendy, thank you so much for these wise and pointed words. I’ve been both appalled and thankful at the many responses. Some were wise and thoughtful, others were obtuse, unkind, and unbelievable. I love your points on “preemptive confession” and the idea of cheap grace for the offenders who blithely go on with life while victims deal with the aftermath for years. As the writer, I was hamstrung by those who chose not to be named because of PW’s stance on using anonymous sources. I fully understand, yet I encourage women to be brave and come forth, name the offense and the offender. I encourage those in the close-knit Christian writing community to stop worrying so much about how you might be perceived and stand up and stand strong. Support those who are doing so and consider that this isn’t about you or your conference or your contract; it’s about helping those who have been hurt. All the talk of forgiveness is fine and dandy; but talk also about the consequences of years, sometimes decades, of bad behavior/abuse/harassment. Let us not offer cheap, easy grace and a quick “get over it.” Let us offer consequences for those who offend, support and love for those who have been offended, and a long, hard look at the future in this industry that can and has helped so many. Now is the time.

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      Ann, when I saw this article and the byline, I thought again, what a true journalist you are. In everything you write you are always fair but tough. I’m proud to call you friend.

      • Ann Byle says:

        And I’m proud to call you friend, Wendy. And proud that you wrote this blog that has revealed so many truths about abuse, victims, and perpetrators. Thank you all for commenting and sharing truth.

    • Deb Gruelle says:

      Thank you for writing the article, Ann.

    • Ann, I’m so glad you wrote that article. I was disheartened over the last ten years to see the low standards of behavior required or expected of professionals at writing conferences. It was an eye opener. When it seemed fairly epidemic I left ACFW and stopped going to conferences. I can meet with editors privately and I can meet my agent outside the conference. To go there and see the behaviors growing worse over time, flirting, partying, off to bars and having no one listen to authors’ concerns was disconcerting. Thank you for taking this on and your excellent reporting. Women need a voice and we need this to stop. Professionals should always act like professionals and respect for women shouldn’t have to be lectured to Christian men. But obviously that’s not always the case… When I work with newbies and aspiring authors I remind them that the term Christian can be a total misnomer and to trust their instincts.

      Wendy, thank you for penning this. You rocked it.

      • Wendy Lawton says:

        You know why I’m glad I posted this? It became a safe place to for conversation to take place. I’m praying this has been a healing place– or at least a tiny step in that direction.

    • Brenda says:

      I’ve told you before, Ann Byle, thank you; but I’ll say it again. Thank you. By shedding light into a dark corner people have been veering away from for years, people can now know the truth. Some don’t like it, true. But truth sets the victims free. Thanks.

  17. Thank you, Wendy. The news devastated me, and then the comments even more so. I very much appreciate your take on the situation. And now a decision: What do I do with my membership?

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      Meghan, I’m wondering what membership you are referring to. Hopefully not the human race. 🙂 If you’re talking about ACFW, as I did some digging I found out that they took action at the first complaint. They did not engage with those giving reports because that has been their way, but it seems as if they acted swiftly. So before you give up membership, ask the principals about this.

      • First, kudos to you for taking this on. If we women don’t stand strong and look out for one another, oh my stars… who will?

        But on this point (as much as I love Wendy) I would disagree. As a Seeker who used to gather in the lobby each evening of conference to meet with new authors and aspiring authors, there was plenty to see in the behaviors around us. I left in 2012 and it was still very evident then. And I’m pretty sure that in those earlier years (pre-2009) there were people of prominence hanging out and leaving with the party crowds… And we wallflowers kind of sat there, eyes wide, thinking “Is this normal?” I’m not saying that people can’t go out and have a drink if that’s your thing, but if you’re running a conference, or a presenter or a mentor, that responsibility and honor should come with a code of conduct that really shouldn’t have to be explained. Not to true professionals and not to Christians. That doesn’t mean I think everyone should quit the organization. No, there is a lot of good that is done there. But… and this is a big “but”… A conference or any official gathering does bear a degree of responsibility for the public behaviors of its staff. Not the private ones… No one can see behind closed doors. But there was way more than enough public behavior to have raised eyebrows many years ago.

      • Wendy Lawton says:

        Ruthie, I hear you and I’m thinking this is a good time to mention this as we leave for ACFW, but some of what looks like cool kids getting together and shutting out others isn’t what it seems. In our free times we take meetings with our colleagues or with editors. We are working. Pitching projects, presenting clients, and listening to the needs of publishers. We often do this in a bar because that’s the place that is comfortable and open late at night. Several might be having a glass of wine but if you checked out our drinks you’d find a preponderance of sparking water or club soda. (Our conferences make the bartenders crazy– that’s why we have to tip well.)
        I do know we’ve had issues with some “professionals” with drinking problems but i believe the ones who’ve been way out there are no longer in the industry.
        It is a sobering reminder however that we are all representatives of the Kingdom. Just know that when we have heads huddled together, we are doing Kingdom work.

      • Ruthy says:

        Wendy, sorry, that’s not what I meant… we would gather with newbies in bar areas sometimes, too, depending on the hotel/lobby layout. Of course agents and editors gather in quiet places with authors, I love those meetings. 🙂

        No, this was groups of faculty leaving for the bars away from the hotel (it was impossible not to notice because they weren’t exactly being quiet or slipping through the lobby…) and that’s why I’m bringing it up. Those groups included Chip (usually) and a whole bunch of other people to go drinking… and then you’d hear allusions to that the next day.

        When you’re new and unknown, people say amazingly open things around you because you’re kind of invisible to them… but it was clear that folks were leaving the hotel to go have a real good time.

        I know it’s “their” time. I know we’re all free to leave the hotel. But this created an atmosphere of assent, as if married men and women going out drinking at a Christian conference without spouses was all right… except then we leave the door wide open for things to go further.

        I hope you have great client meetings this week! No matter where you hold them… 🙂

        But I believe that to change things up, behaviors and expectations of behavior have to change at the top of the organization and then follow through… Maybe that’s happened already? But maybe not.

  18. Thank you, dear Wendy, for wading into these deep waters. Thank you because you’ve waded in on behalf of those deeply hurt by predators.

    Those who have been victimized need all of us to stand on their side. Yes, forgiveness is a good choice. Kissing our safety and our brains goodbye is never wise. The more we help the hurt, the more people will feel safe and free to speak up so others won’t fall prey to the same perpetrators.

    My heart pounds as I pound these keys because of my own history of being harmed by those who will probably never get called to account on this side of eternity.

    Blessings ~ Wendy Mac

  19. Carrie says:

    I worked with one of these men. Even though nothing ever happened, I always felt a flirty vibe. He seemed nice, but my gut told me to hold him at arm’s length. Your words hold weight, Wendy. Thanks for being brave enough to write and publish truth.

  20. Thank you for this post. Before commenting here, I read through both articles. I first learned about the Publishers Weekly article on a blog post written by Rebecca Davis. I appreciate Rebecca Davis and Jeff Crippen. On their blogs they write about abuse in the Christian community. He has written books on the subject and has a series of sermons about how abuse thrives in the church setting. More often than not, it is the victim who ends up not being believed because of the charm of their abuser. I’m glad this is being addressed but sad this has been going on for so long without being taken as serious. Those whom I personally know, who were victimized by someone in the Christian community, carry deep injury in the silent places. It grieves me. I pray for their restoration and healing. Thank you for being brave in sharing this, Wendy. Lord have mercy.

  21. Lorna Seilstad says:

    Thank you, Wendy, for your wise and thought-producing words. This is a much needed conversation, and the victims deserve our love, support, and prayers for healing. Any time someone has power over the chance for another person to reach his or her dreams, they can use or abuse that power. We need to pray for the Christian book industry, too. We need people who are courageous enough to speak up. We need to be aware that Satan does not want this industry to succeed, and we need to keep one another accountable.

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      We do need that in our industry but even more we need the agency to receive those concerns. There is no association like AMA or the Bar Association to police agents. Or publishers. At one point we contacted ECPA to see if we could get help with a publisher who would not pay money contractually owed to our client. Crickets.

  22. Thank you, Wendy, for your courage and honesty in writing about this. I know all 4 men mentioned (2 only by attending writers conferences and meeting them briefly; the other 2 because of more personal contact with them.) Thankfully, I wasn’t one affected by their sickening acts, but still. I’m angry for those women who came to writers conferences, vulnerable and maybe needing help and encouragement– and bam! Their lives were changed forever. Oh, I’m praying for their healing now, even as I’m crying angry tears on their behalf.

  23. Thanks to both Janet Grant and Wendy Lawton for not being silent. I have been victimized many, many times. Definitely a power trip on their end. Everyone thinks being pretty is such a plus, but I think you’d change your mind if you say down and listened to my stories. I was talking before this even started, and praying God would use what I have been through to help others. All you have to do is visit my website at

    READ my speaking topics, and about how I have chronic, complex PTSD because of all that has happened to me. It’s only because of trusting God, and very, very hard work, and prayer to get over the multiple molestations, harassment, stalking, and rapes that O function and have the joy I have. It is why I currently help others as God brings them to me. I’m trusted because I know what it’s like, AND because I don’t look at them like a deer in the headlights, as I have been looked at in the past by sharing with others, even Christian women, who I thought for sure would be supportive.

    Wendy, the proposal I sent last year, Losing My Mind, Finding God’s, has much to do with the after affects of abuse. There was a letter later I sent explaining why I was so happy to find Books and Such. It was because you are all women. I have had so many men hit on me especially when I was single, and especially as a student nurse and nurse from doctors AND patients. One mental health patient stalked me for 8 months after he initially assaulted me ending up in MH lock up. I was 19. I had to move to another state to get away. These are just some of the things. I learned from the Lord to hold my head up because I chose none of it. I was a child, a teen, a young woman, pushed on, pressed down, overwhelmed and at during one assault at the end of a 9mm gun with a silencer in a hospital parking lot. Thank God I got away, as the officer said, because I probably would have never been returned. I was victimized so many times, but I learned how to defend myself, and even took and Israeli martial arts class at the age of 50. I was the only female in the class of about 7 men. By the end I was able to take down one of the biggest men when he dressed in the blue protective suit. My husband and I have rules so I’m not alone with men just to be on the safe side. I ALWAYS carry spray with an emergency whistle attached, and I know how I would bring . God has been so gracious in his healing and teaching of me. I am a woman of courage who has been to help and back multiple times, most of the time it has been just me and God. I celebrate my 25th wedding anniversary to my sweetheart Ron. I was married at 35, but only because of healing God did. I was terrified of men, and of love. Those who know me can attest to this, and most people would never know I had been through these things. I have cried because I have to carry a PTSD diagnosis, but I thank God that not only have I survived all these things, but I have thrived in spite of them. Now, as 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4.

    I am Elizabeth Jean Bohan. I refuse to be locked up in the shame of what others have done to me. God does not take lightly to any sin but especially these sexual sins of betrayal and power. Neither should the church or Christian Publishing.

    I am pleased to be part of a blog family that speaks up for those who are unable to speak for themselves. Proverbs 31:8-9

    • Please forgive my multiple typos, my husband and sister were sending me various texts and interrupting my train of thought. Plus, as I’ve mentioned before on this blog, when I use my cell phone responding, it is harder for me to see, and catch the errors in the box before the words roll off the screen.

  24. “Thank you” first to Ann Byle who wrote the PW article and then to Wendy Lawton for standing alongside those of us who named and unnamed in the piece. While I would have preferred to find my name in PW for a witty smash hit that has everyone talking, it’s heartwarming, however, to see that the predatory sexual seduction and assault has been noted and some things are changing. I am hopeful for new accountability in Christian publishing because now we work in the light and not the dark.

    • Thank-you Brenda for coming forward. This is a smash hit, just in a different way. If I came forward for every man it would take years and probably destroy what is left of me. Back then the bigger, stronger, more educated, more successful, more credentialed, could hire the best of the best defense attorneys. All you have to do is go against that kind of treatment once and it is totally horrendous. You barely make it out emotionally and mentally after they begin to go to work destroying you and your story. I thank God that at least that is changing. But, I sure know what it is like to suffer in silence because of being “less than.”

      Dennis Hensley can wish all he wants for the stories about his actions to “die it’s own death.” But that’s a futile wish. It’s written in God’s book, and on the hearts and in the minds of every woman he violated, “pretty dress” or not.

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      Brenda, we were applauding your strength and sense of justice. You have the prayers of many.

      • Brenda Wilbee says:

        Merci beaucoup, Wendy. Now, moving on, I believe my manuscript is someone’s slush pile… Down but not beaten and writing still.

    • I am so very glad you had the guts to do this. God bless you and all of you women who took a stand. We stand with you.

  25. Don Otis says:

    “Preemptive confession” is a good term. There is no way to know if a person has changed unless they are in the same situation again (and that would be a mistake in these cases). I lost my job in Christian ministry for blowing the whistle on the founder because he was harassing two women. We were all let go. One woman was paid off by the board. The board chair, then a keynote speaker at Promisekeepers, saw me as the problem. So after seventeen years I was out of a job. I was never bitter, just incredibly disappointed. Sin disrupts. Leaders must be accountable and that means dispensing with the so-called “blue code of silence” within the church that covers up for leaders. We also must be careful not to categorize all men and all leadership as suspect until proven worthy. Without trust we lose our capacity for meaningful social engagement. Some men need to be uncovered for what they are; predators. And is the case with several of the men in these articles, the chief problem is pride which leads to a sense of self-importance and control over women (or men).

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      Don, You are right– preemptive confession is a brilliant term. That’s because I stole it from you. 😉 When I read your comment on that offending blog, I not only agreed with every subtle word, I meant to get your book that addresses this very subject. Can you tell us the title again?

  26. Thank you, Wendy. As someone who works at a Bible camp I hear the heartbreaking stories of young women so so often. I truly appreciate you standing up for those who feel trapped and forced into silence. It was a shock to realize that I have met all four of those men at writer’s conferences. I have chatted with them and pitched to them, been complimented by them, published by them, and in one case, been quietly warned by another woman to be cautious around one of them. It was all hearsay, but as a woman, we take such warnings to heart. I can’t believe that her warnings were true … and yet, yes, I believe it. Power corrupts. Sovereign God, please give us the strength to be better than this.

  27. For what it may be worth, I’ll offer a male perspective.
    * The culture of predation comes from a pernicious and deeply-rooted sense of entitlement, often passed on from father to son. It’s a cultural thing, and flies in the face of Christianity; no, maybe more a profane hand gesture offered to Christ.
    * Its doppelganger is the cultural belief that Christians are supposed to be tolerant, and non-judgmental, and this is Scripturally flat-out wrong. We’re supposed to call out evil,and not accept it on the grounds of “Well, I’m a sinner too, so judging isn’t my job.”
    * We’re supposed to follow Christ, and He was uncompromising in the face of evil. He didn’t give anyone a pass. We can’t, either.
    * Forgiveness is not absolution. We’re compelled to the former, but only God can give the latter, and it’s only given in return for full repentance. It clears the soul of sin, but it’s NOT a shield against consequence in this life.

  28. Cathy Gohlke says:

    Thank you, Wendy, for speaking out in a forum that reaches the very writers affected by the actions of these men.
    As Christians and writers we all suffer when someone in positions of power and authority within the church or in Christian publishing abuses another. We suffer reputation with unbelievers and uncertainty among ourselves, but the victims of the perpetrators suffer in ways far beyond that.
    I have wondered, as I’ve read the PW article and various responses, where are the serious consequences for the actions of these men? How is that they are still working in the industry in any way?
    Many years ago, as a young woman in an abusive marriage I sought Christian counseling. While the church wanted to sweep the abuse under the rug for fear of “hanging out our dirty laundry before the world,” and told me that if I had the love of God I would forgive my abuser and give him chance after chance–up to 70 times 7, the counselor I met with opened his Bible and pointed to Matthew 18:5&6–“And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that we were drowned in the depth of the sea.” –words of Jesus. The counselor said that I was as that little child, and that my abusive husband was causing me to fear, to be “offended”–which means so much more than that work implies in today’s culture. He convinced me that if I continued to stay and allow the abuse, I was putting my husband at risk for eternal damage. It was the only thing that got through to me at the time–that by leaving and not allowing him to continue the abuse, I was helping not only myself, but me. I say this to point out that those who are abused cannot always see a situation in all its horror, especially if the perpetrator is a person you believe you should trust, should be able to trust, convinces you that they are doing the will of God and that you should listen to them. They don’t expect people to hurt them and often end up believing that if something bad happens to them they deserved it–as in the case of men who blame their advances on the way a woman dresses or walks or sits. And then, just as many have said, things can happen quickly–things you “never saw coming” and have no ready protective response to.
    I believe in forgiveness and I’m not advocating violence, but I’m pointing out that there are consequences to all our actions.
    When we read of abuses by priests and clergy we’re quick to say they should be held accountable by law and “defrocked,” not allowed to continue in their position of trust, that no one should ever again have to find themselves under their influence.
    I don’t understand why perpetrators in our own industry are held any less accountable.
    Thank you, Wendy, for speaking out.
    Thank you to all who have bravely come forward and shared the painful and hard truths of experiences you should never have been subjected to. Know that you are in my prayers and that my heart goes out to you. Healing is a long road, but worth every painful step. God bless you!

    • Cathy, sometimes violence does work. Quite well. Permanent solutions can be instructive, pour l’encouragement les autres.

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      Cathy, I love the way your counselor saw Christ’s heart toward you in that scripture. One of our friends, counselor Leslie Vernick, has devoted her whole practice to dealing with this.

      • Cathy Gohlke says:

        Yes, Wendy, that counselor was truly insightful. He was able to see that at that time I wouldn’t/couldn’t stand up for myself, but I would act out of concern for the eternal welfare of my abuser. Like Jesus, great counselors find a way to reach us “where we are.” The healing journey forward after any kind of abuse takes a long time, and as so many here have attested, it is not a quick or one shot fix.
        I know Leslie Vernick–she provides such a valuable ministry/practice.
        Thank you again for addressing this! Especially with the ACFW conference about to take place it needed to be brought forward for further discussion. God bless!

    • Andi says:

      Cathy, I love how your counselor used that verse. I wish it had been pointed out to me that way. I may not have stayed 23 years. What a beautiful blessing.

  29. Carrie Padgett says:

    Thank you, Wendy, for this courageous post. I also saw the comment about women’s seductive dress and was grieved that so many don’t get it. I agree about easy and cheap grace. There are no easy answers or giant bandaids that can heal all the wounds.

    • I can attest to the fact that although seductive dress can be a temptation and allurement to men, but they can choose to be like Job and turn their eyes and mind away or not. Since I became a Christian at 17, I have not be one to dress seductively because unfortunately I already knew what men could do. When I was treated less than what God intended I was wearing a variety of outfits from student nursing uniforms to jeans, sweaters, and boots. It is a heart issue and a strong hold of the mind. It is nothing short of sinful betrayal first to God and then to the woman ( or man, or boy, girl, adult or child) being attacked. And it is an attack no matter if it is by vile words, or unwanted touch, grab, or worse. People want love and respect, not lewdness and unwanted, unexpected physical boundar breaking. I have forgiven all my offenders, truly, long ago….but

      • Betsy, in my experience, a predator doesn’t look at dress…only vulnerability in eyes and manner. And yeah, we dealt with some of those, summarily and harshly.

      • Carrie Padgett says:

        Exactly. No matter the dress (or lack of it) the response is the offender’s choice. Sending you hugs…

      • Brenda says:

        Dennis Hensley told me it was my fault he tried to first seduce me, failing that accosting me, failing that violently assaulting me. “It’s your fault. You wore that pretty white dress.”

        I can assure you, there was nothing seductive about that dress. It was a standard white, summer dress. But this is the defense of every predator on the planet–their misbehavior is always the fault of their victims.

        But it’s not about dress and never has been.

        It’s about power.

      • Andi says:

        I posted an apology on my blog today and said I don’t care if the woman was walking down the hall naked there is NOTHING that makes harassment and assault okay. I know it’s extreme but there is no justification!

  30. This issue makes me mad enough to spit. And frankly, mad enough to stand up and say something.
    I had the motive and opportunity to punch Chip MacGregor’s lights out in a small gathering at ACFW 2015, and I will forever regret not removing his smug grin, one that found itself aimed south of my collarbone more that once. Why? I don’t appreciate public humiliation, “Wow, Jennifer I did not know you could actually dress up and (almost) look good.” Etc, etc. The ONLY reason I didn’t deck him was that I had a measure of public conduct to uphold, and my agent would’ve tasered me. But because my encounters with him did not constitute anything truly egregious or illegal, I had to content myself with the idea that our next run-in might be the last time he messed with me. Do I regret these feelings? Nope. Will I stand up for anyone caught in the crossfire of a situation like this? Absolutely. Should he be worried about me, or anyone like me? Yes, because predators need to fear those who aren’t afraid of them. Blessings on Anne and her crew for doing such a great job. And I pity those who seem to think an apology is sufficient, because the reach of justice is long. I’ve refrained from giving my opinion on social media because, well, I’ve seen the love-fest and fawning over those 4 men and their “bravery”, and while I want to say something, I dislike the potential bully-ish responses.
    I DO know what I’m talking about when it comes to this kind of behaviour. I DO know what it’s like to hold a victim together. And in a good world, a woman should be safe walking the halls of any environment in a bikini and not be blamed if SHE caused her own assault. Is that a smart idea? No. But that’s not the point. The point is she *should* be safe.
    So, to those who applaud a pre-emptive apology, I heartily disagree. To those who lay awake a night after one or more of these encounters, wondering how they were going to face the next day, I hear you. And to those who have never experienced this? Be grateful, and carry tissues. Some of us need them.

  31. Like many here, I’d like to thank you for speaking up. I’ve been waiting…googling…hoping for a response by industry leaders. So far all I’ve heard is crickets. The asking and giving of forgiveness is essential to our Christian faith, but as an industry or professionals we must address misdeeds and we must hold people accountable. It would help if industry leaders would outline what steps are being taken to insure that such things are handled swiftly and decisively in the future. Every man and woman needs to feel confident that no harassment will be tolerated and that it will be swept under the proverbial rug again. Sounds as if there’s enough dirt under there already.

  32. I think maybe Neil Young got it exactly right, in “Let’s Roll”:

    No one has the answer,
    But one thing is true,
    You’ve got to turn on evil,
    When it’s coming after you,
    You’ve gotta face it down,
    And when it tries to hide,
    You’ve gotta go in after it,
    And never be denied,
    Time is runnin’ out,
    Let’s roll.

    Let’s roll for freedom,
    Let’s roll for love,
    We’re going after Satan,
    On the wings of a dove,
    Let’s roll for justice,
    Let’s roll for truth,
    Let’s not let our children,
    Grow up fearful in their youth.

    Time is runnin’ out
    Let’s roll.

  33. Barbara Beyer says:

    Thank you for expressing your convictions. I certainly respect that.

  34. Angela Mills says:

    Thank you so much for speaking publicly on this! I am sure it was not without risk. I’m proud to be part of this agency!

  35. Another thought…
    * Why are we surprised to find these…well, I hesitate to use the word ‘people’…in Christian publishing, and in the Christian world, in general?
    * Predators are cowards; they seek a venue that will allow them full scope for their evil, with minimal risk. They KNOW that Christians will generally hang back from harsh response, on principle. The predators want to get away with it, among easier prey.
    * I have had the opportunity to stand with some of the most violent men on the planet, and please know this; sexual predators would have had the life expectancy of a moth in an oxy-acetylene in their company. These guys were driven by a code of ethics that most would have found disconcerting, to say the least, but it was rooted in an old-school view of Christianity that I think we’ve set aside…to our great loss, and to the damage of many of those whose protection we owe.
    * Predators don’t seek out the sheepdog. Time to unleash the Hounds of Heaven, and give these monsters the surprise of their pathetic lives.
    * And the pre-emptive apology? Reminds me of how Odysseus treated a chap who, on Odysseus’ return home to a ravaged kingdom, said, “I tried to stop the others.” The man’s head was left rolling in the dirt even as he spoke.

  36. Jane Baker says:

    You are not wrong.

  37. Peggy Booher says:

    Wendy and Books and Such,
    I haven’t commented on Books and Such for quite awhile, but after reading the post and the two articles mentioned, I thought I would.
    *Thanks for having the courage to post this. I’m just sorry it was necessary to do so–and it was necessary.
    *I didn’t know anything like this was going on at writing conferences, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Wherever there is power, ego and an authority figure, there is the possibility of abuse. I am hurting for the victims, not only for whatever the abuse but for the cover-ups that followed. A person loses dignity by the original abuse, and then by the unwillingness of those in authority to expose it and deal with it. Then the victim must deal with the aftershocks every day.
    *I’ve never been to any conferences, but was familiar with three of the men’s names. I was appalled by the response of one of the men–“just call it quits and let this thing die its own death.” My response: Really? Do you dismiss something so reprehensible? By your actions, you violated your integrity and Christian witness. You hurt someone made in the image of God. By extension, because of your well-known name and influence, you hurt the Body of Christ. Is that so small a deal to you?
    *This is also a reminder to me, that I need to watch my thoughts, my words, my behavior; I need to ask God daily for help with temptation. While I don’t have a well-known name and influence, I can hurt myself, God, and someone else by not heeding appropriate boundaries.

  38. Rebecca says:

    You can’t mention Clinton without mentioning Trump, as well. Christians lose all sense of moral high ground when they hold others to a higher standard than their own. This isn’t the other guy’s problem. Until Christians hold themselves and their leaders..whether political or the standard they espouse to others, nothing will change.

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      Goodness, Rebecca, I think you misunderstood my use of that example. I chose it, not because I was putting down a political party, but because we lived through it and understood it to be about power– a president and an intern.
      I do agree with all you said, however. Maybe I should have picked a less “political” example.
      On this blog I am apolitical. 100% of the time.

  39. The victims look just like our friends–absolutely!!
    Thank you for your courage to address this incredibly hurtful and damaging subject in a fair way that does not further victimize the victims, Wendy.

  40. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. When people are treated like they’re wonderful, they can be led to believe they are above all the rules everyone else must follow. I believe in turning the other cheek, but this kind of slap in the face requires action to prevent it from happening to others.

  41. I know one of the accused, who also posted a preemptive apology on fb. Many years ago, I introduced him to one of my editorial clients, and he took her on for representation. They were an eyelash from signing a contract and she disappeard. Two years later I was speaking at a literary conference and she was there. And told me what happened . . . Needless to say I was horrified. She swore me to silence or God knows I’da had lots to ask forgiveness for. But it ruined her for writing, and she just quit. Nothing I’ve been able to say since has assuaged her pain.
    This horror is real and pervasive.
    Thank you, Wendy, for speaking about it. I’ll direct her to this post.

    • Poppy Smith says:

      Susan, I stopped writing for 10 years after my third book. My well known editor simply refused to respond to my requests for input. It wasn’t sexual abuse but his abuse of power affected me for years.

      • I am so sorry to hear that, Poppy. It’s SO easy to crush a writer’s spirit. And there is a lot of abuse of power in this business.
        But there are also a lot of great people. Write! The world needs your voice.

  42. Mrs. Pastor says:

    I’m so grateful for people such as yourself. It’s women—and men—who are willing to stand in the gap and give voice to the voiceless that will move us forward in this and other issues and compel genuine and godly repentance and change.

    I was sexually abused at a time when it not only wasn’t talked about, we didn’t recognize it as abuse. It was a pastor’s son, and happened over 40 years ago, but I’ve never forgotten and when I think or talk about it all the emotions from that 11 year old girl come flooding back, and I just want to hold her.

  43. Teresa Haugh says:

    One of these men was extremely rude to me at an ACFW conference I attended many years ago. He presumed I sat at his dinner table to curry favor from him. I didn’t have a clue who he was. He told me to leave because he only wanted to sit with his clients. I went back to my room and cried instead of eating. I would have left the conference it I hadn’t traveled 3,000 miles to get there. Fortunately, God ministered to my heart and gave me the courage to go on and enjoy the rest of the weekend. I can see how such an experience could turn a new Christian away from the industry on a permanent basis. When I saw his name mentioned in the article I wasn’t surprised. It’s all about holding power over someone in a weaker position.

  44. Wendy, thank you for addressing this topic. I have found myself speechless since reading the PW article. Almost literally speechless. I’ve wondered what’s wrong with me. Why can’t I, a woman who has written and spoken about sexual abuse, address this issue? I am a survivor and advocate, and yet… It occurred to me this afternoon as I read Mary DeMuth’s wise post addressing this issue, and then yours, that Ann’s very necessary article triggered my own pain and shame.
    The sad irony is that women who’ve experienced sexual abuse and harassment often feel shamed by a sin they did not commit. A sin committed against them. And shame is the great silencer.
    I’ve spent over two decades working through the abuse I experienced first as a child, and later through many years of marriage. I’ve done hard, grueling work. I’ve fought for emotional health and fought to find my voice when what I wanted to do was curl up and hide. But even now, after so much work, for a few days after reading of these abuses, I lost my voice again.
    This is what happens to those who are victimized. This is why it’s often difficult for a woman to speak up, to speak truth. Shame only deepens when a survivor dares to speak and then isn’t believed, or worse when she is blamed. When an abuser is defended by others, the woman he victimized is wounded all over again.
    Healing for a survivor begins when others come alongside her, believe her, and help her speak her truth. Ann’s article, your post today, Wendy, and other posts I’ve read on Facebook, the first from Susy Flory and another from Kathi Lipp, are a gift to the women wounded by these predators. As leaders in the Christian writing community, your words are a balm for aching souls. I pray for each of the women impacted by these circumstances—may they know the Truth who longs to set them free.

    • Jeanette Hanscome says:

      Ginny, I really appreciate you sharing how all of this has affected you, and how that reflects what women who’ve been abused go through. It has brought stuff up for me too. After initially having the courage to join the discussion and speak from experience (for the first time, actually), I found myself back in a place of feeling fearful and exposed, as if I’d done something wrong by “talking”–about a situation that happened years ago in a completely different setting–because at one time I’d been told not to by someone who isn’t even in my life anymore. Like you, I’ve done a lot of hard work to let go of shame and guilt that wasn’t mine and find my voice. But wow! This is such a reminder of how cruel all forms of abuse are, and how important it is to support women as they share their stories. They are doing not only a courageous thing but a scary thing.

      You are so right that

    • Dee says:

      Well said, Ginny.

  45. Wendy, thank you so much for having the courage to write this. My prayer is that seeing industry professionals speak up will give even more women the courage to share the truth about what happened to them, knowing they will be heard and believed.

    Since all of this came to light, I have been identifying with the women who are struggling to heal from these traumatic experiences, feeling silenced, and seeing the men who hurt them receive cheap grace. I know first-hand that being on the receive end of abuse leaves lasting scars, so predators must face consequences no matter how repentant they are, and those who have been wounded and are finally finding their voice are the ones who should be applauded.

    God put something on my heart today—As we pray for this entire situation, maybe we can also remember the families of the men who have been exposed as predators (their wives, kids, friends…). My heart is really hurting for them all of a sudden, because they are not the ones who did the awful things but they will still be affected. If we want to extend grace to someone, let’s extend it to them.

    Thank you again to Books & Such for speaking up for truth.

  46. Wendy, thank you for standing with me and others named and not named in the PW story. I’ve had wonderful support, mostly, but I’ve also been accused of “dragging these guys through the mud” and “character assassination.” Your words here bolster and hearten me. You, like Ann Byle and others, are warriors for all of us.

    • Lorilee, those who accuse you of “dragging these guys through the mud” and “character assasination” need to first sit and listen to someone who works with those abused explain why the term, “soul murder” is used in many secular abuse victims adovocate groups for what abusers, predators, power hungry people do to their victims. When someone does this once to another it is bad enough, BUT when it is a repeated pattern of behavior with no sense of concern for the moral instructions of God and sinning against Jesus, OR the people, women, and others it is criminal in every sense no matter the reason behind or the motivation for the behavior. In the Bible, God warns those who intentionally do evil to fear because that is part of the reason God sets rules and those who administer justice in place.

      Lorilee, they made the choices that led to the character flaws and behavior they exhibit. They made their own pig pens to wallow in. You and others were pulled into the mud with them.
      When someone escapes the mud they were pulled into by another you are courageous. Those who accuse you walk a dangerous path in which they may fall themselves. Stand tall.

    • Jeanette Hanscome says:

      You are a warrior too, Lorilee! You took the risk of not only coming forward but allowing your name to be out there, knowing some people would hurt you more than you’d been hurt already. You are an incredible woman. Thank you for speaking up so steps could be taken to protect others. I pray that the Lord will continue to heal your heart.

    • Truth is shedding light into what once was dark. Consequently, those of us who’ve been hurt in the dark are now burdened by shadows of criticism. But we can each can stand tall, because its the light of truth in which we stand. Let the shadows fall where they may. The light brings new friends. Lorilee, named and unnamed we have new opportunity to support each other in this aftermath.

  47. Wendy, thank you for this post. I have so much respect for you and all of Books & Such. I know this is a difficult topic and I’m glad you addressed it. I agree wholeheartedly with your words.

  48. Lindsay says:

    Thank you, Wendy.

  49. Deb Gruelle says:

    Thank you, Wendy. All writing conferences, and especially Christian writing conferences, need to be safe places for all. Cheap grace does not resemble God’s grace.

  50. Amen and thank you, Wendy.

  51. Well done and well said, Wendy. I think one reason Christians rush to offer cheap grace and gush over abusers is a deep aversion to (and lack of training in handling) conflict, even necessary conflict. The abuser’s “preemptive confession” allows someone to quickly “make it all nice” so all their uncomfortable feelings, which were stirred up when they heard of the abuse, go away. Then they don’t have to do anything or confront anyone because it feels like all was made well and the scales were evened when the abuser confessed. This is magical thinking.

  52. Bless you for speaking my every thought aloud.

  53. Mary says:

    Thank you. Seeing the “bravo, you’re awesome” posts, plus the victim shaming has saddened
    and angered me in a way that’s difficult to describe.

    And as a faithful, practicing, active Catholic, you are exactly right to see the comparison. The talk about ‘extending grace, not condemning, offering love and support instead of judgement” is nearly word for word what enablers say when sheltering a predatory priest.

    I’m not saying everyone in that thread is knowingly enabling the abuser, but they are absolutely enabling him whether they understand the impact of the actions or not.

  54. This is a shining example of how everyone in the industry should be taking on this issue.

    This is also where the rubber meets the road for Christian publishing. I see a lot of silence and what that says to me is that the money is more important than the survivors.

    Every nook and cranny of this publishing “casting couch” needs to be examined.

    One of my biggest questions relates to the morality clause many Christian publishers require their authors to sign. Are these clauses signed by women whom the abusive agents have represented?

    Maybe more people cannot speak up because their mouths are sewn shut by publishers?

    How many morality clauses we’re signed under the represestation of agents and mentors being immoral?

    Is the leadership in conferences being turned over? Where are the statements of protection from the major conferences? Are their harrassment policies public and do they stand by them absolutely?

  55. Thank so you much, Wendy, for your courage in posting this and speaking the truth in love. Once again I am so grateful for Books & Such and the example you set in this industry and the world of truly following Christ and standing for what is right.
    Grieving for those who have been hurt…Father, help us all.

  56. Thanks for your thoughtful post, Wendy. You’ve always exuded such grace and truth. A rare combination.

    To clarify one point on the PW article. I was only one of three who brought these accusations to Taylor, and we did not act on “behalf” of Taylor. Ann was gracious in rewriting the paragraph, but PW refused to change it. Sigh.

    The task is not done. There are other predators I’m aware of, and Christian writers’ conference directors are now sharing info to protect all at conferences.

    • Thank you, Jim. Jesus protected women, and you have followed his example. THAT put tears in my eyes.

      • Jennifer Zarifeh Major says:

        Thank you, Jim.

      • Thanks Jennifer and Janet. I needed to hear that. One of the comments on the now infamous PW article read:

        “Et Tu Brutus?”

        I am deeply disturbed by that comment! Everyone knows it’s “Et tu, Brute.” Sheesh!

        Seriously, though, I’ve already struggled with that classic line from Julius Caesar, but would not have done Hensley’s victims—or him—any service by ignoring these sins and felonies.

        So thanks so much for the affirmation.

    • Jim, I saw that butchering of Latin, and it’s bad enough, but to actually mean it? Wow.
      You’re a man of honour. Take comfort in that. Now, people know you’re a safe harbour in case of a storm.
      And in case people don’t understand, willfully ignoring criminal activity is a crime in and of itself. You did the right thing.

      • When a woman at a conference came to me saying that Hensley had grabbed her breasts and forcibly kissed her, I urged her to call the police as that–at least in Indiana–is a Class C felony punishable by up to eight years in jail. She refused. If she had been a minor, yes, I’d have been obligated to report. I did convince to talk the director, but the director dismissed her. I so wish she would have allowed me to call the police!

    • I’m sure some things were either left out or were considered too inflammatory, but James, thank you for posting this… because I’m pretty sure I can think of one man who wasn’t named and yet he’s got a wandering eye… 🙁 Honestly, if insiders talk and then act, a lot could be avoided. Not as a witch hunt, but if so much was apparent to me for years as a newbie, I can’t buy into the idea that people in authority didn’t know/realize what was going on.

      Thank you, again.

      And now if we could fix the Catholic Church, I’d be a happy person.

  57. Sharyn Kopf says:

    Thank you, Wendy. As others have said, this needed to be brought out into the light. The attempts to keep it hidden not only go against Scripture but give sin a chance to ferment in the darkness.

    My initial reaction came from shock. I had some knowledge of the perpetrators &, in fact, have met most of them. That said, I’m not going to start “now-that-you-mention”-ing when it comes to their actions & comments during any previous interactions I’ve had with these men. I might have noticed a bit of a superiority complex from some, but, by God’s grace, no one has acted inappropriately toward me.

    So yes, I “knew” the accused but not the accusers &, as a result, my first response was to think it couldn’t be true. Or, at least, to not want to believe it. The thought that it could be made me physically ill. Maybe all that happened in the movie industry last year should have prepared me. Maybe I’m too naive.

    Still, it didn’t take long to see that there is far too much corroboration, far too many women coming forward, for me to continue in denial. And to think victims are being hurt more by some of the responses is heartbreaking. I’m praying for them & their families, for the conference organizers who stand for the victims, & for anyone in our legal system who’s involved in these cases.

  58. Ginny Jaques says:

    I’ve had only a very brief exposure to this kind of abuse in a church setting, but from what I’ve seen, there appears to be a very strange kind of blindness on the part of the perpetrator to what he has done. The “abuse” looks totally innocent to him. There is an element of fantasy involved. I’m sure we can all succumb to that blindness to rescue us from feelings of guilt for all kinds of sins. And Christians are especially vulnerable to whitewashing things because we know what sin is and we don’t like it. But there has to be some deep deception going on that originates in the Pit. God protect us all from that kind of “sinner’s block.”

  59. I wonder if many victims keep quiet, not only because of the shame, but because they’re trying to “turn the other cheek.” But Jesus certainly came out against evil, especially by people like the Pharisees who were supposed to be representing what God wants. I think this sort of thing happening in the Christian publishing industry and churches is worse than when it happens elsewhere because we’re supposed to represent Christ.

    • Let me tell you what keeps abused women from speaking: intense shame and fear. It is like a nightmare you never wanted. You feel like you are living in a surreal world because your mind is in shock and disbelief at what someone meant to protect you, or someone meant to teach you, or work with you does something totally unexpected and shocking. They are bigger, stronger, more powerful. If they didn’t care that they hurt you then, do you think they will let ” little you” ruin their careers. No, go up just once against the type of defense attorneys they hire. I guarantee if you think your shocked and hurt now, well wait until they do what they are paid to do. We all need to be praying and supporting these women.

      Also, you talk about the victim shaming. It is a very real thing. I have experienced it thankfully it was long ago, BUT I have never forgotten it. You hear stories, read stories about this, and when it comes from within the church it is beyond hurtful and shocking. It is a betrayal like no other. It is anathema to God

      This absolutely sickens me, but we are in a war against evil. Let me encourage those who have been abused. There is hope and healing. I have excepted the fact that I will always carry scares and traumatic memories until heaven when He wipes away my tears. AND THIS I KNOW, because no sorrow. no wound, no abuse– of any kind, and I have experienced all types–is beyond His touch. My life is marked by forgiveness, love, laughter, and a Living Hope, my Beloved Jesus. Where sin abounds, His grace abounds more. I am holding all these women up in prayer because it is like going to hell when you have to go through it all. Remember, although you may feel shame, that shame belongs on the act or words done to you because God has set within us that feeling as a warning when boundaries have been crossed. It also belongs on the perpetrator, bot you my dear sisters. I cannot imagine the breaking of God’s heart over this and the righteous anger because of this sin in His body.

  60. Tessa Afshar says:

    Thank you, Wendy. So grateful for your words. Cheap grace never healed anybody. Not those men who abused their position, nor the women who were harmed by them. Repentance requires deep soul change and the hard work of self-awareness that goes with it. A few cheap words don’t make the heart right.
    There are good men, honorable men in our industry and our lives. I hope they will not feel besmirched by the sins of the few. I hope they will not be afraid to show appropriate fatherly or pure brotherly affirmation and love. By not speaking up, we have made it hard for everyone. This was a powerful post, Wendy. Thank you.

    • Carol Ashby says:

      Tessa, you make an excellent point about how good, honorable men will be affected by the fallout of this tragedy. In my old scitech day job, doors of opportunity opened when a respected person (male or female) decided to mentor a newbie. Whenever I mentored someone, that always grew into a friendship. As a happily married woman known to be a Christian, I could mentor both women and men without triggering destructive gossip.
      *Some of the men mentored young men and young women very differently or didn’t mentor women at all to avoid possible problems, and that did affect the careers of the women. Were it not for the mentoring and friendship of honorable men, I doubt I would have had the same level of success.
      *I had some colleagues who cheated on their wives when they traveled, but the company rules were part of annual training. Inappropriate behavior with co-workers would have triggered discipline up to firing, so potential predators knew the risks outweighed the “rewards.”
      *But the Christian writing community doesn’t have a central authority that can enforce proper behavior. So what can be done to make it possible for good mentoring to happen for both women and men while preventing the abuses?

    • Mary Kay Moody says:

      Tessa, you say this so well: “Cheap grace never healed anybody.” Yes! And “By not speaking up, we have made it hard for everyone.” Sad truth.

      I hadn’t thought how the good, honorable men might become leery of mentoring, meeting with, guiding a newbie female writer lest they be suspected. We need to know their are standards, behavioral expectations, and that if they’re violated, we can speak up. At least the conversation has begun.

  61. Josh Kelley says:

    Does anyone know if Jerry Jenkins has published a statement about Doc. Hensley, given that he has spoken so highly of him in the past?

    Do you all think he is obligated to?

    • Ann Byle says:

      I’ve communicated with Jerry and his comments on the issue will appear in a followup article for PW.

      • Josh Kelley says:

        Thank you so much. I’m sure this is very upsetting for him personally. Would you be able to post a link to it here when it comes out?

      • Jerry was in on the discussions between Eva Marie and I as we progressed in bringing our corroborated stories to Taylor and to the Christian writers’ community. He was such a source of strength. I’ll save his reactions to our good friend’s sexual harassment and felonious assaults. But for now, “Thanks, Jerry, for your compassion and integrity.”

  62. Praying for a mastermind group to form among CBA, agencies, writers’ conference directors, and publishers to address and respond to these issues. Seeing good result from personal pain can be healing. Certainly, Christians must understand that while grace and forgiveness are essentials of Christianity, consequences for sin still should fall.

    • The “masterminds” at the private Facebook group of writers’ conference directors are collecting and corroborating stories of abuse and sharing with each other. The intent was NOT to make this public, but work behind the scenes to make sure these predators could not use conferences as hunting grounds. Because Hensley had a powerful influence on young women while teaching at Taylor, we made the decision to contact the university. Since conferences tend to be “ground zero” for these predators, I’m not sure the information needs a wider audience than conference directors. I, personally, have only revealed names of abusers within the FB group. When others ask for names, I simply say, “We’re taking care of it.” What I do not want is a witch hunt! It’s complicated!

      • Thank you, Jim.

      • Jim, you and I go way, way back. What I just cannot wrap my head around is why you would want to keep the list of predators only to conference directors.
        Why would you not give out a name if someone asks?

        Would you accuse Paul of starting a witch hunt when he publicly named names in Acts 13?

        I’m sorry, I’m not throwing stones, just baffled that you would have this attitude, as if ONLY those who go to conferences deserve to be protected?

        Help me out here, I. Just. Don’t. Get. It.

      • Katy McKenna says:

        James, I think there are more than a few conference attendees who wish they were able to give direct input at this point to the conference directors on the private Facebook page where they are “taking care of it.” Today it occurred to me that the directors might want to discuss agreeing to allocate part of their annual conference budget to the hiring of security guards/off-duty police officers to be on the premises of every Christian conference 24/7, from here until Jesus comes back. All conferees would be given information indicating that the conference they’re signing up for will have protection on site and that upon arriving at the conference they will be supplied with direct contact information for the guards on duty. If any attendee is treated inappropriately, she would NOT have to report it first to the director of the conference. She instead could immediately contact the guard/office on duty at that moment and file her complaint. If the complaint rises to the level of pressing charges against the abuser, an on-duty police officer would be called to the scene to arrest the attacker. Since conference directors do by their very nature have some conflicts of interest in play (they want to continue to have viable and financially successful conferences far into the future, and therefore want to attract the most popular speakers/teachers/mentors they can), it only makes sense to farm out the necessary duties of adequately overseeing the safety of the women in attendance. Please let me know if you pass along my idea to the FB group of conference directors. For them to join in solidarity in a show of good faith like this would mean a lot to those who have been abused and to those who may fear potential of future harm. Thank you!!

      • Anonymous says:

        I understand their decision. The accused might be guilty as sin, but the accuser might have misunderstood the intention of the accused or been deliberately lying for some reason known only to them and God. I’ve seen all three. It can be very difficult to find where the truth really lies, and the premature mention of a name can spread like wildfire and destroy that person and those associated with them, whether they are guilty or not. The seriousness of the charge matters as well. A flirtatious comment or lewd remark is a far cry from threatening another with harm if they don’t yield or a physical assault, and the severity of the penalty should reflect that. But those distinctions usually vanish once names enter the open rumor mill, even when those first revealing the names provided qualifying details and only want to protect other people from possible harm.
        I’m very glad I’m not in the position of investigating and deciding what to do when an accusation is made. The conference directors have taken on a horrible task, and I’m glad they are taking wise steps to address the problem.

      • Victim Finding Her Voice says:


        I think you mean well, but please understand that some of these men’s acts are not limited to writers’ conference settings. The internet is their playground. The lion’s share of the grossly inappropriate contact I experienced was online.

        Keeping people safe at conferences is a very good first step. But if names are not named in public, everyone who could have internet contact with them is at risk. Which means everyone is at risk. They have been confronted privately many times. Now we’re taking it to the body because it’s time the body knew that all is not well (Matthew 18).

  63. Mary Foster says:

    I think you hit the nail on the head. How horrible. This evil is infecting every area of life. Please, Lord, bring healing to the broken.

  64. Theresa Lode says:

    Wendy, I read this piece yesterday and it lingered in my thoughts. I was one of those offering “good for your bravery to speak out” in reply to a FB written by one of the named offenders. It was written before the PW report came out. (Or at least before Athena posted about it.) If I could take my comments back, I would do so in a heart beat. Not because I want to “rescind grace” as it were, but out of respect for the victims, as you have mentioned. Being an assault survivor myself, I know firsthand how the odds are stacked against women who report.
    My head is spinning over this. It is all so very heart breaking. Thank you for writing this.

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      Theresa, please DON’T think, for a moment, that I am criticizing those who rushed to give balm to a “hurting brother.” We are women. That is what we do. If you didn’t understand some of the background, it was easy to admire repentance and transformation. One of the writing friends I greatly admire messaged me to say she felt horrible about her comments– awful that she may have hurt the hurting. It was just that the man had been her agent and she. . . well, you know.

    • Anonymous says:

      You can always return to the Post and edit your comment. Or, remove.

    • Andi says:

      Theresa I did the exact same thing and I am so sorry I didn’t wait before saying anything.

  65. Mary Kay Moody says:

    Wendy, thank you for being courageous enough (and outraged enough) to bring this up. I’m one of those blithely ignorant. Hearing that such behavior is/was going on saddens me beyond words. I’ve worked with SA victims for years and know the scars can be life-long and debilitating.

    The line that separates gossip from information that needs to be shared with others is probably less foggy than we think. The problem is likely more with motivation of the speaker. But in such a situation as you’ve described~where there is no governing board, no policing body to enforce prohibitions and consequences~handling “an issue” quietly and discretely may be, as you say, becoming complicit. It certainly allows many to be vulnerable rather than warned. For that reason, I’m glad Ann wrote the article, and that you wrote this post. I hate that it’s needed, but grateful you wrote it.

    I’d not had the experience. I’d not even heard that others were being sexually harassed. So when I came across a post somewhere confessing and asking forgiveness, I took it as authentic. I pray my comments did not further traumatize any victims. After reading Ann’s article, I’m hurting for the victims, angry at the abusers, and hoping we will all do a better job of responding in the future.

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      Mary Kay, please see my post above. We’re not allowed to beat ourselves up. This is a complicated issue and there are so many nuances here. In a perfect world we’d not have to deal with this stuff. As my friend, Robin Gunn always says with a flick of her hands, “Shame off you!”

  66. David Todd says:

    I’ve been under a rock for a few weeks, especially for the last ten days; Sunday visiting family out of town and yesterday driving home all day, and just now saw this. This is a shocking thing to read. I had time during my work day to only skim the linked articles. Will have to read them closely later, then possibly come back with additional comments. Several commenters have mentioned a blog (not this one, I assume) with comments. Is that one of the two articles? I didn’t see any comments on one and only a handful on the other.

  67. I debated for along time whether to add this; since the conversation’s probably done, for the most part, and, well, why not. Because there is another side.
    * I used to teach at a college, and there came a time when a female research temp was placed in the office next to mine. I didn’t work with her, didn’t know her name, but felt that courtesy demanded that I be pleasant, say ‘Hello’ in the morning, ‘Goodbye’ at the end of the day, and make an occasional observation on the weather. I never entered the lady’s office, and was never within ten feet of her.
    * She accused me of sexual harassment. The case was decided on her accusation; I was guilty, period. It went into my record, and I had to make a public apology. All ranks closed against me.
    * Well, OK. I changed, and from then on treated everyone, male and female, with cold disdain. I made it clear that if they collapsed in front of the coffee machine, I’d step over their twitching bodies to get my cup.
    * You may say, reading this, “He’s hiding something; there MUST be more.” And you’re free to do that. But I’m also free to say, “Hey, my reputation’s something that can’t be fixed; it can only be preserved, and I’ll never entrust anyone, male or female, to have the slightest influence on it.” My personal interactions will be public, and formal. (Just as well, perhaps, that there won’t BE any public interaction in this life, for me.)
    * Being male, I’m suspect; I get that. But I’ll never wear a target on my back.

    • Wendy Lawton says:

      And that’s the flip side of this. We all know someone who’s been falsely accused. It’s one of the things we’ve talked about with some of our male colleagues. When does someone misinterpret a warm hug between long friends as something else? I hope we don’t go the way many schools have gone where primary teachers are told to be careful for touching kids, no hugs, etc. One of my teacher friends said it broke her heart when some of the neediest little ones would hug on her leg needing some affirmative touch. She often broke the rules and got down on their level and held both hands in hers to show them they were special. Crazy town for sure.

    • Carol Ashby says:

      I’ve seen what Andrew described. In my corporate training, we were told that if someone considered a comment harassment (sexual, racial, or otherwise), regardless of the intent of the speaker, it was only the interpretation of the listener that determined whether it was harassment. The unintentional “harasser” would be given one warning, and it better never happen again with anyone. You can imagine the chilling effect that had among those who knew both people well enough to recognize the misunderstanding. Scientists and engineers aren’t prone to regularly exchanging Christian hugs between brothers and sisters in the workplace, but it did occasionally happen. You can see how that could be interpreted wrongly by any observer and reported as a problem.
      *When the problem is real, it must be stopped, but there should always be impartial investigation and a fair chance for both to be heard. I hate the rush to judgement in either direction, either to excuse the guilty or blame the innocent.

      • Dawn Turner says:

        Totally agree, Carol. Impartial, careful investigation is crucial to sort the truth from the lies and protect the innocent, whoever that might be.

    • Thank you, Andrew, for adding this balance to the discussion. A child I knew made a false claim against a teacher in elementary school, stating that the teacher had caused his self-inflicted injury. The gaps in his story were obvious to all, and he admitted he’d made it up because he was angry over a bad grade. I was horrified to learn that the accusation would forever be attached to the teacher’s record. I was told at the time, “children don’t lie about this type of thing.” Guilty by accusation, no investigation required. That opens the door to a whole new avenue of abuse.

      • Dawn Turner says:

        Shirlee, I was told the same thing once by a police detective – “children don’t lie about this sort of thing”. I told him bluntly, “they do when it’s in their best self-interest, like when they’re trying to protect themselves from backlash from a parent”. In that particular case, the person the child had accused was innocent (and had a witness able to verify it), but the mom’s boyfriend sure wasn’t. The child had feared being honest about WHO did whatever, so she blamed an innocent man and could’ve destroyed his life. Certainly scarred him emotionally for a LONG time. He never trusted kids again, especially girls. (Like Andrew no longer trusting co-workers. I don’t blame him. Hard, harsh lesson in the untrustworthiness of human beings.)

        It’s sad that the concept of a thorough investigation seems to get thrown to the wind so often. The mere accusation can destroy a man’s life, even if the woman or child recants or is proven at some point to have lied. An employer I once had had a policy of “if you’re accused of sexual harassment, you’re guilty and terminated”. Period. No investigation. Oh, and that rule only applied to men. A woman who sexually harassed a male co-worker, in front of several witnesses (thankfully, for the man’s sake), was ordered into counseling (which she found amusing). A man falsely accused of the same thing was terminated without hesitation (despite the fact he had multiple witnesses to his innocence). Even after he was eventually vindicated by the accuser’s own behavior (she ended up having some SERIOUS emotional issues), his record wasn’t cleared by that employer. To this day, I don’t know if his accuser has ever gotten the help she needed, though I know she ended up getting fired from two successive jobs due to sexual misconduct in the work place.

        On the flip side are the employers and organizations who brush off victims who speak out. Someone should at least document what’s being reported. Ideally, the accusations should be investigated fully and carefully right then. If an issue arises later on down the road, those earlier reports/investigations can help build a fuller picture of what’s happened.

        There are so many sides to this issue, and it’s so complex. Snap judgments only hurt everyone involved.

    • Dawn Turner says:

      Sadly, I’ve dealt with multiple men who were accused as you were, Andrew. In most of those cases, the women (or girl, in one case) finally admitted to lying through their teeth, but there was no accountability. The consequences to the men were horrible, even AFTER the lies were revealed (because people would rather believe the worst of the men). Example, the one involving the girl – a 15 yo who falsely accused a teacher of propositioning her. She finally admitted that she’d lied to get even with him for not giving her the grade she wanted. Unfortunately, a lot of people chose to believe he’d been guilty, regardless of her eventual admission.

      Women who lie like that, and that fact can be proven, need to be horsewhipped, imo. They sure make life harder on the REAL victims of harassment and assault, and they sure make life harder for innocent men. Makes life easier for the real predators, too, since the real victims so often suffer in silence. Is it any wonder such predators tend to be serial in nature?

      Sad world we live in, in so many ways.

  68. Vicki Caruana says:

    Thank you Wendy and all of you at Books and Such for your support and sustaining words. As a “survivor” I want to echo that this dynamic is not only at conferences. But I have avoided conferences since 2006 as a result. I am praying for lasting healing and not just a bandaid here.

    • Actually, things need to be set for safety even at the level of local chapters. At our Christmas party about four years ago a man showed up that none of us really knew. Our president knew a little about him, and that he was kind of odd. Long story short, he talked with everyone and then came up to me to discuss his book in his hand that he had self published. He seemed genuinely nice, and asked if I would mind being a reader and give my opinion. Always ready to help and some what flattered that he asked me I agreed and took the book. We exchanged numbers and emails. He also said he was looking for opinions from women, so what he generally did was have the woman read it, then meet for lunch to discuss it. THAT is when I became uncomfortable but I still took the book as I didn’t want to appear rude. All the way home I chided and kicked myself for agreeing. I already told myself that I WAS NOT going to be meeting him for lunch without my husband present. That week that book just seemed to have something unsettling about it. I called my local chapter president and told her what this guy did, and that I was now scared, and felt he was up to no good. She immediately supported me, agreed to take the book from me and talk to that man. She did, and he has never turned up again. BUT, I pray he hasn’t lured anyone else in. He never actually did anything to me, but our chapter president had noticed him from before at somewhere and felt something strange about him. I thank God my husband and I have discussed these potential incidents, and have laid rules. I should have never gave him my number either. He did call once, but I refused to read his book or meet him.

      Every level needs security, because there unfortunately are foxes looking to get in the hen house.

      At this point, I thank God that I have never been able to afford to go to the ACFW National Conference because I would have hated to have had anything happen to me. I came out of a life of abuse at 17 when I found Christ. I have also been abused and date raped by Christian men and harassed by and molested by nonbelievers. It’s like Satan marks you for distruction. YET, through God I have prevailed so that life and those situations seem long ago. Yet, I have PTSD as a result. I just thank God through hard work and counseling I can manage my triggers, unless it mirrors any of my attacks too closely. Yet, I have joy because He has rescued me from all this.

      My heart breaks for the heart of God, my beloved Jesus, and the Holy Spirit who must be deeply grieved. I have wept over this. I feel for all those abused and mistreated. I am in prayer and fasting for this. I am glad I will not be at ACFW this year. When you have been through this type of thing, all the stories, etc can be difficult to take in. May God strengthen those who have come forward and those who stand with them. Again, thank you Janet and Wendy for bringing further light to this egregious situation.

  69. Andi says:

    Thank you! I wrote a blog post and have since removed it because I believe it promoted cheap grace when that wasn’t my point.
    I have spoken with one of the men named in the article and I am feeling more and more that he apologized because he got caught. That makes me sick. The entire thing just breaks my heart. I’ve been blogging and reviewing for twelve years and just to think that any of the beautiful women I’ve had the immense pleasure to review for could have experienced this horror tears me up.
    I hope the conversation continues so that women feel safe to attend a conference and the men who could make or break a career are stopped!

    • Andi,
      I am one of the named sources in the PW story. I want to thank you for rethinking this matter and taking down your blog. Thank you for your humility and compassion!

      • Andi says:

        Oh my heart! You are so incredibly brave for coming forward! I know this horror first hand. I was 17 and we’d just moved from California to Florida. He was a guy in our church who helped with the teens. I in turn married an abuser. At first I was wanting to kill the men named and I was told it was a witch hunt. I should’ve listened to my heart and gut because it was right. Thank you for understanding and compassion as well. I am praying for everyone involved.

      • Andi says:

        I just have a general question. What’s the plan now? Meaning what is ACFW going to do about this? I’ve always wanted to go to the National conference and am sad I couldn’t go this time yet given the recent news I’m
        glad I couldn’t afford to go.

  70. I agree that the apostle Paul named names, but only those guilty of heresy. He did not identify the son and mother involved in incest. And the gospel writers don’t identify the woman caught in the act of adultery. Yes, publicly call out those guilty of unbiblical teaching, but we are on shaky ground when we demand the names of those accused of moral failure. As a young youth pastor, a 16-year-old girl accused me of raping her after I took her home from a youth event. Fortunately, I could remind her that my mother was sitting between us in the car the whole time. My Christian writing career could have been over before it began if she had gone public—and if I had not vowed to never be alone with any female other than family. I honestly fear we are in danger of another Salem witch trial, Joseph McCarthy’s Communist hunt, or—happening right now—the he said/she said controversy over Judge Kavanaugh. It’s complicated and exhausting! After five months of being involved in this issue, I’m taking October off from writing and social media. So, in the words of Forrest Gump, “And that’s all I have to say about that.”

    • Mary DeMuth says:

      Jim, he did very specifically refer to the man who had his father’s wife (slept with his stepmother) in Corinthians. No doubt he is referring to a specific man with a specific, egregious (most likely sexually predatory) sin.

      “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? 3 For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. 4 So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh,[a][b] so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.” (1 Cor 5: 1-5).

      This is strong, public sharing, and the man’s religious views are not mentioned (in other words, not heretical).

      Names are named for this end: to protect further victimization. But they’re also named because we serve a God who loves to reconcile his people to Himself. Jesus was love personified, but he called the Pharisees out. Why? Because ultimately he wanted to protect those they were harming, and He wanted them to see their sin. Not to shame them, but to see them come to Him. And eventually, a few Pharisees did. Reconciliation is the end, but it can only come through truth.

      If we truly practice the law of love, we will do the same. We will call people to account, not to shame, but to redeem. To give them the gift of seeing the harm they’ve enacted, and the detriment they’ve created to the body of Christ. Paul’s ultimate hope for the man having relations with his father’s wife was restoration IN LIGHT OF TRUTH. Not, sweep it under the rug, hush hush, but in the full light of day. And in this case, the beautiful redemption did occur.

      “5 If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. 6 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. 7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. 9 Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” (2 Cor 2:5-11).

      Now this is an amazing picture of redemption. Paul spoke the truth starkly, referred to the man specifically, the church confronted obediently, and the man repented eventually. And now they’re all in the process of restoration. In short, naming names is not wrong. It’s loving, particularly when you have dozens, possibly hundreds, of victims in the wake of devastation who are still left with the aftermath of a few men’s predation.

      • Susy Flory says:

        I agree with Mary here. Early house churches were typically 25-30 people so I doubt there were many secrets, esp if Paul had been asked to weigh in on something. The men named in the PW articles are not victims of a single, tenuous accusation without proof. Instead, they are repeat offenders with a number of allegations, and there is proof and similarities in the evidence from multiple credible sources. This is women saying enough is enough. This needs to stop, now and in the future. Using demeaning labels as you have is disrespectful to the dignity, courage, and worth of these victims and that grieves me.

      • Yes!

    • Jim, I am one of the women named in the PW story. Please be very careful in your wording. Your use of the term “witch hunt” is hurtful and offensive to those of us who have already been hurt, offended, and shut down. Unlike the Salem trials or the McCarthy era, we are not wildly accusing people of sexual misconduct, in a spiteful, heedless willy nilly fashion. These hurts have been deliberated and prayed over for many years now, ie, much, much longer than five months.

    • Dawn Turner says:

      James, I’m so sorry for what you went through, but SO glad you had a witness there that could verify the accusation was a lie. My previous pastor had the same rule you have. He said it wasn’t worth the risk to EVER be alone with any female other than his wife. (Of course, I’m sure you saw how Pence was mocked over having that same rule.) People are too quick to make false accusations these days, whether directly like the girl you dealt with or indirectly like the gossip-mongers who see two people walk out of an office door together and assume the worst without having the foggiest clue what’s really going on. My pastor clung to the Scripture about never even giving the “appearance of evil” and tried to be mindful of how any situation could possibly look to or be twisted by those with reprobate minds.

  71. David Todd says:

    Wendy: I’ve now had more time to review all this. Your original post confused me at first, since I was in the dark about the whole problem you reference. Now I’ve read the two linked articles, and found one of the FB posts (at least I think I did) and read a fair number of the comments. Alas, I still find your original post confusing. You seem to be saying: the men brought out as sexual predators are seeking cheap grace in confessing to the little too late while perhaps hoping the lot won’t be discovered; and those expressing forgiveness are offering the cheap grace they sought. Do I have that correct?
    My confusion comes from this. The sexual predation happened. Finally, after much too long, it has come out. Women who were victims can finally come out and seek justice and healing, and the perps can somehow be punished. But my question to you is: What would you like to see happen? You say the grace is cheap. What more-costly grace, or perhaps better said more-appropriate grace are you seeking? Should every conference organizer who knew about these men yet continued to ask them to be on faculty resign? If the conferences were sponsored by an organization, should organization staff or officers resign? What is the more appropriate grace?
    One thing I must add: The women who were victims of this abuse are not one iota at fault. The fault lies fully with the despicable predators who re-victimize by trying to blame their victims.

  72. Pat Iacuzzi says:

    Lost my niece/Godchild about five yrs. ago. She was raped and murdered. Case is still unsolved.
    I somehow can’t understand anyone who suddenly brings this up 40 yrs. later to “reveal” it at this “crucial” period, OR more likely, involves people’s reputations (for both men or women). And that includes male victims who have been assaulted. Most know it’s not healthy to remain the victim, but to move on.
    This information is also best dealt with privately between victim, perpetrator, and the Law–and God.
    “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.” Phillipians 3:13

    • Let me say this you may have suffered and probably still do suffer from your Godchild’s rape and murder, but by what you wrote you don’t understand trauma and victimization. My own son suffered abuse and almost took his own life from the pain of it at age 12 by hanging himself in the shower. I had already been physically abused between the ages of 6 and 16 by my social worker father. Because my boundaries were so broken, I suffered multiple abuses and trauma at the hands of other men. I worked YEARS for healing. It did come, but when we found out about my son’s five years if sexual abuse my PTSD was reactivated and returned in overwhelming grief for my son. All I had learned to help myself I had to apply to my son. ( He is now 23 and has given me permission to share this. In fact he wants to write his own book, The Boy Without A Childhood.” I was the mom that watched her son suffer for years, and I see how he still triggers at certain things that come as result of the abuse and three years in criminal and civil proceedings. You have no idea of what abuse, especially sexual sin does, and the lasting effects. You have no compassion or empathy when you write such things.

  73. A further comment on blaming victims: when you blame a victim in ANY WAY it is like watching one person knife another person in your home and then blaming the victim for bleeding all over your carpet and floor.DO NOT blame the victim.

    Jesus has compassion on the broken hearted and wounded. He is our example. He say says,

    English Standard Version
    a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; Matt 12;20.

    You have NO IDEA of what it’s like unless you have been where the victims have been. I suggest these 3 things:

    1. Understand the nature and special separation God gives to sexual sin and why.

    2. You may not have walked in the shoes of those assaulted–and it is assault– but you can still support them with prayer, and if you say anything just say, you’re there for them. You don’t know what it’s like but you’re sorry they ever had to experience this, and that you will be praying for them and the situation.

    If you hear someone blaming the victims in any way, stop them. We ALL have to account for the everything we say and do before the Father. Let your words bring life not death.

  74. Dani says:


    As an abuse survivor (not related to this situation), I know the pain and lingering trauma it causes. My heart breaks for all the victims. I’m glad these men are finally being called out. I’m saddened by many of the comments that have been made.

    Thank you for speaking for up!

  75. Rebecca Florence Miller says:

    Wendy, I’m just now seeing this, but it is such an encouraging response and step of leadership. Thanks for your prophetic challenge.