"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Friday, April 27, 2012

Brett Shipp and WFAA Expose Abuse at Waco Church - And Watchdog's View of Shipp's Work Versus Ed Young's View

Brett Shipp of WFAA in Dallas has spent months investigating a church compound just outside of Waco, TX, known as "Homestead Heritage". He has documented the physical and sexual abuse of people at the church, including the sexual abuse of children that was not reported to authorities in a timely manner as required by law. Last night the first of a two-part series on Heritage aired on WFAA:


As you watch this video, you will see the common threads that are observed over and over again in abusive Christian environments: authoritarian pastors and church leaders who tell their church members that they are appointed and anointed as messengers from God, church covenants prohibiting believers from having disputes settled outside of the church, labeling of church members who challenge leaders as being bitter, and a failure to adequately protect children and putting the concern of adult male members as being a primary concern.

Readers, as you watch this video, look for similar abusive traits in your own church. Does your church display these traits, or have a history of any of these traits? If they have had abuse problems in the past, have adequate corrective steps been taken AND has the church leadership been open and honest with members about past problems and explained the steps taken to correct it? Or do the current church leaders deny or downplay the severity of the past problems?

An expose like this is not just important in warning others about that particular abusive system in the story. It is important to getting people to awaken to the possibility that they're current church might be capable of the same acts. Brett makes the point early in the video that Homestead Heritage portrays itself as a bastion of old-fashioned, wholesome values, while behind the scenes they are actually worse than the outside world they rail against. Church members beware - especially if you are part of a church system that has had an authoritarian leader in the past and where sexual sins have been covered up in the past yet leaders to this day are still denying or downplaying the severity of past sins.We have several of these kinds of churches right here in Jacksonville, Florida that have been featured on this blog.

Lastly, I want to say a word about Brett Shipp and WFAA. This expose reminds me so much of the work that Jeannie Blaylock of WTLV-Jacksonville did back in 2005 and 2006 in exposing the deeds of Bob Gray and the cover-up at Trinity Baptist Church here in Jacksonville. It takes guts for reporters and news agencies to tear off the pious masks of churches in their own communities and expose the ugliness of churches and pastors that are revered by the faithful. Today it is mostly up to bloggers like the Wartburg Watch and Christa Brown who are shining a bright spotlight on abusive pastors and church systems, but Brett Shipp is one member of the media who is not afraid to do the dirty work in Christianity.

Brett Shipp is the most courageous news reporter I know in this regard. He and WFAA were not afraid of taking on Ed Young and Fellowship Church to expose the lavish spending and fund raising tactics of Ed Young. Brett even dared to do an expose on Ergun Caner last year when Caner moved to Arlington Baptist College from Liberty University. Brett's piece on the "Caner Mystique" as he called it, was absolutely the finest work done by a prominent news outlet in concisely showing the truth about Ergun Caner's decade of deception.

Sadly, while Brett is doing God's work in exposing the ugliness in modern Christianity, there are those people like Ed Young who actually portray WFAA and Brett Shipp as being "haters", as trying to thwart the work of God and being anti-church. In a recent video posted by Ed Young, Young blasted WFAA by saying the following:

"When you're doing great, people hate...there's always some [in the news media] who are negative. And I think about WFAA - a station here in Dallas that CONTINUES to attack the local church, and CONTINUES to be negative...WFAA continues to exaggerate, to falsify, to deal in fiction rather than fact....it's time for the church to stand and say 'you know what, we're not going to take it anymore, you guys aren't telling the truth'.."

Sorry, Ed. You can rail all you want against WFAA, but they are doing God's work in exposing corruption and abuse in the modern church. How ironic that Young claims WFAA deals in "fiction rather than fact" when Young is the one who stands up and misuses scripture to get people to fork over 10% of their income to his church. Shipp deals with facts and eyewitness accounts to warn people of abusive churches - while Young deals with fiction and fairy tales to get people to fork over large sums of money.

Way to go Brett Shipp and WFAA. Keep standing for the truth, keep doing the work of God even in the face of angry, bitter pastors who can't stand to have a light shone on their church and ministries.

"Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another." Eph 4:25

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

As we were watching this story on the news last night (WFAA), we both looked at each other and said, "That sounds like FC." Not the child abuse part, but the authoritarian part. I have lived in the DFW area all of my life and have always watched WFAA. They are a class act. The only station I will watch. Ed loves them when they are promoting him, but hates when they expose him. Which is it Ed, love or hate?

Anonymous said...

"Sadly, while Brett is doing God's work..."

WFAA doing God's work?

Hey Brother, what is God's work?

IT IS PREACHING THE GOSPEL
NOT
HATING THE PREACHERS OF THE GOSPEL.

What heresy you spew on this blog.

God's work is not tv reporting...

Spend more time reading your bible than eating your cheetos and you would figure that out.

Get out of your basement and get in God's word.

Anonymous said...

"Get out of your basement and get in God's word."

The TROLL is up early this morning "doing God's work" leaving simple-minded one sentence ALL CAPS comments on a blog that he HATES!!!

You are a JOKE - TROLL!!!

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Brett Shipp is doing God's work. "Preaching the gospel" is not the only work to be done.

Building mega temples of entertainment with dog and pony shows (literally) is not doing God's work.

And I didn't have to use all caps to get my point across.

:)

Anonymous said...

The gig's up, TROLL!

Thy Peace said...

Speaking The TRUTH, Truth and truth is doing God's work.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Beware the authoritarian style anywhere. It can be found in other places besides religion, but at church people are put off their guard. They think everybody there's a wonderful Christian, full of goodness and light. People think the church is about protecting the innocent. And if they find out that a church is really about protecting itself, and that the victim is considered the threat-well, these victims could become bitter (the ultimate sin.)

Mark said...

I tuned into a live broadcast of Fellowship Church a couple of weeks ago and barely could get past their music "worship." I guess they have it to put people in some transcendental state to be ready to absorb whatever BS Ed Young comes up with. I guess in this case it was CS (With the C being Camel)

Anonymous said...

Sadly, Brett interviewed people who left the church who have a grudge against Homestead. There are many who have lef the church who have had a positive experience with Homestead. Did he interview them!! NOOOO that would ruin the point he was making. If there was abuse adn it was not reported that is wrong adn should be taken care of. I hav family in Homestead adn I have nothing but positive thigs to say.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Gee, that seems like such a common theme that comes from modern Christian organizations who come under fire. "The accusers are jealous. They're just bitter. They're just disgruntled. They're just haters."

If I had been abused by a religious organization, I might be "bitter", I would certainly be "disgruntled", and that would not take away from my claims, and it would not be a just defense for the religious organization, and it would not mean that the one reporting them has a grudge or is unfair.

But it gives the pious ones and their followers something to swallow.

Anonymous said...

Not sure how to parse Anon 3:16's comment - there are so many typos it's hard to tell if it's a legit post.

However if many who left HH had a positive experience, why'd they leave?

And comments made by people on the inside are certainly going to be the party line.

Amy said...

Brett Shipp and WFAA are doing important work of shining the light of truth and exposing abuse, which will hopefully protect other kids, and help those abused heal. The same cannot be said of mega-church pastors like Jack Graham who have failed to report child sexual abuse by former Prestonwood ministers, John Langworthy being one of them, whom Brett Shipp helped expose. Thanks to the story he did, airing my interview and the statements from victims, several more victims in MS came forward. Langworthy's criminal trial is set for July 30 for 8 counts/5 victims of felony gratification of lust, boys between the ages of 8-12.

Jack Graham and Prestonwood have still not reported the crimes that Langworthy confessed from the pulpit last August in Clinton, MS. This confession stated molestation that occurred at Prestonwood. No effort has been made to reach out to the victims, known and unknown, to come forward, go to the police, report the abuse, get help, start healing and help others. *Crickets*

I know of 3 other men from Prestownood, 2 former ministers from the 1980s-90s and one volunteer who were credibly accused of child sexual abuse. I have heard from and about victims of all of these. One of these former ministers made inappropriate comments/advances to me when I was in high school and attending Prestonwood. I have made a report and hope it helps shine the light of truth. Church staff has also heard directly from these victims about this abuse, but never reported it to the police.

This horrible story of secrecy and abuse at Homestead tragically mirrors the dangerous and disturbing pattern of other churches, large and small, that handle reports of abuse internally and don't obey the law of mandated reporting to law enforcement of any knowledge or suspicion of abuse of kids. This pattern endangers kids and enables predators.

SNAP urges investigation of commune

Former Second Baptist Houston music minister Eddie Struble and accusations of sexual abuse of minors- police report contains concerns of stalking

Christianity Today- The 'Monsters' Among Us: Child Sex Abusers in Our Midst

Amy Smith
Houston leader
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests

David A said...

As a journalist, and as someone who has spent time at Homestead Heritage over many years (though not in any way a subscriber to their beliefs) I'm appalled by the shoddy and one-sided journalism of Brett Shipp's report, and i hope those who buy into it see the HH rebuttal which completely exposes his numerous sensationalistic lapses in fair reporting. From the first words -- referring to it as a "locked gate commune" that doesn't allow the public in--two lies in one sentence-- he reveals his lack of professionalism and his willingness to slant everything to suit his agenda. Im sure there's plenty of sinners using religion as a cover but he chose the wrong example in HH. These are good people who did nothing wrong, did NOT cover up the crimes-- in fact reported them-- and he owes them an apology for the damage he has done.

Anonymous said...

You must see HH's rebuttal. Although I have no official connection with them, their video fairly represents their reputation within the Waco community among those who know them. Unfortunately Brett Shipp's story is pretty typical of the shoddy and prejudicial reporting in the Dallas television market.