As much as mega church pastors want blogs like this one and New BBC Open Forum and Wartburg Watch - blogs run by lowly lay folk - to stop analyzing and criticizing and discussing abusive mega churches and their pastors, events of the last few days show once again why these blogs are so darned necessary.
Just as bloggers last summer were instrumental in finally getting Liberty University to investigate the deceptions of Ergun Caner, so now a blogger played an instrumental role in a church sex abuse scandal.
I'm sure the Watchdog readers have been reading about John Langworthy, the music minister in Clinton, MS that confessed to "sexual indiscretions with younger males" (most people call them "sex crimes") when he was a youth music minister some 20 years prior at the super mega church Prestonwood Baptist Church. If you haven't read about it yet, see Brett Shipp's report here, and read Bob Allen's story here. Bottom line: Langworthy for 22 years has served as a music minister and public school teacher while the parents of children at his church and in his community had absolutely no idea of his "indiscretions" (sex crimes) back at Prestonwood.
With the help of the New BBC Open Forum blog recently, former Prestonwood Baptist staffer Amy Smith was able to get the attention of folks in Langworthy's new church and community. Finally as word spread among the people at Langworthy's church, and they did Internet searches that landed them on the New BBC Open Forum post here, they realized they may have a pedophile in their midst. Their church leadership began an investigation, and then Brett Shipp became involved. Brett covered the story because of the connection of Langworthy to Prestonwood, and their apparent failure to report Langworthy's crimes to the police back in 1989 and instead let him slip away to another church.
Prestonwood Pastor Jack Graham and his church are in hot water - they need to answer questions like:
- why did Prestonwood not report Langworthy's "indiscretions" to the police so they could investigate? Why did they do their own investigation?
- why did Prestonwood not alert Langworthy's new church so they could act to protect the children of that church from a suspected pedophile?
- why did Jack Graham in 2008 tell the Southern Baptist Convention that in 40 years of his ministry “never have I had one moral problem with a staff member, until now.” Not true. He was pastor at Prestonwood when Langworthy was sent packing. Bob Allen does a great job covering this angle of the Langworthy/Prestonwood story.
- what will Prestonwood leadership do if it is found that Langworthy has more victims over the past 20 years? Will they accept any responsibility for this in not warning the folks of Clinton, Mississippi?
From Jack Graham's tweets the morning after Shipp's story aired on TV, it seems he doesn't get it. Like Ergun Caner last summer who instead of talking to reporters and answering the allegations and chose instead to make himself the victim of Lucifer and liars, Jack Graham appears to be taking the same tack. After Brett Shipp's story broke, early the next morning Graham posted the following Tweets:
There are MANY victims in this story: the kids Langworthy victimized at Graham's church, the parents in Clinton, MS who were not warned about the risk Langworthy posed to their kids, and possibly more abuse victims there. But I can tell who is NOT a victim - it is not Graham, and it is not Prestonwood Baptist Church as Graham's Tweet's seem to imply. Jack, if you've been falsely accused and lied about in this story - then talk to the reporters. Tell your side of the story completely.
So thanks to Amy Smith for doing the hard work, and thanks to the help of New BBC Open Forum, the truth didn't stay buried, and Langworthy couldn't operate undetected any longer.
Oh, one more thing: maybe Prestonwood is a victim of sorts on another matter. As I blogged last year, they were the victims of perhaps Ergun Caner's all-time biggest fibs back in 2001 right after 9/11 when he preached at Prestonwood that English was not his first language, that he wore a "turbin", and that he was "not proud of the fact that I am part of, was part of, Islamic Jihad".
Thank God for bloggers.