Friday, March 08, 2013

"Prestonwood Baptist Church doesn't seem to understand the power of social media yet."

That title is a timely quote by Chris Tynes, a 14-year member of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. It seems Tynes recently learned about Prestonwood's 20-plus-year cover-up of John Langworthy's abuse of young boys while Langworthy was in their employ. Tynes, to say the least, is not happy.

His Twitter feed gives an account of the events of this week which followed after he was denied the opportunity to meet with one of Prestonwood's ministers, Mike Buster, to ask some questions about the church's handling of the Langworthy situation. These are the same questions others have been asking for almost two years and have not received any answers, so Tynes is not alone. The "biblical church model" for dealing with anything distasteful in many of today's churches, particularly the big businesses aka megachurches, is to sweep it under the rug. Ignore it. Hope it goes away. And if anyone dares ask questions, he becomes the problem. Image and power trump the safety of children or doing the right (and lawful) thing.

This blog was the first to expose John Langworthy after an "anonymous" comment by an author I verified and found to be credible. Thus Amy Smith was thrust into the spotlight along with Sherry LeFils, two tenacious women who saw to it that the sins of John Langworthy did not continue to be swept "under the blood." The original article appeared here.

Langworthy's current church, Morrison Heights Baptist in Clinton, Mississippi, inadvertently helped eventually convict him when they allowed him to address the congregation to "confess" on August 7, 2011 and an alert congregant recorded it on video. The video and transcript are at the end of this post.

Subsequent articles (here, here, here, here, here, and here) were posted during the second half of 2011 with an update in January.

I was disappointed to learn Langworthy managed to cut a plea deal with the state, even after the state had said the deadline for any plea agreement had passed and that he would have to face trial, but at least Langworthy is permanently listed on the national sex offender registry and will be on probation for a few years. I think questions need to be asked about how that happened after the deadline passed for a plea deal. Did Langworthy and/or MHBC have one or more friends in high places who pulled strings?

Of course, that plea covered only the victims named in the case. Other victims could still come forward, and there are victims in Texas, at least one of whom I'm told has recently contacted the police there. This thing may be far from over.

Questions remain about the role of people at Prestonwood Baptist who became aware of John Langworthy's abuse of boys and simply let him move on to another church without warning anyone. They allegedly even tried to silence some of the victims and did not notify their parents of the abuse. Questions need to be asked, and the people responsible need to be held accountable.

Chris Tynes is on the warpath. When he went to the church this week and peacefully waited in the parking lot to try to ask Mike Buster why he was refusing to meet with him (since Buster would not talk with him by phone or make an appointment), he was approached by security guards and told to leave. Subsequently a police report was filed by the church in which Tynes was described as "a suspicious and possibly violent person." The message was relayed to Tynes from Mike Buster via the police detective (who was reportedly shocked at such a frivolous report)... "I don't ever want to speak to Chris and we don't ever want him back at church." Wow. Is anyone reminded of Tom Rich's experiences at FBC Jacksonville? It's déjà vu all over again!

Is it not ironic that Prestonwood "leaders" would let a known pedophile walk free but call the police when a longtime member, who has not, in spite of the church's claims to the contrary, exhibited any "suspicious or potentially violent" behavior, simply tries to ask questions?

Articles on Tom's case were here, here, here, and here. And of course, there's his blog.

Chris Tynes has now started a Facebook page to air his grievances. Prestonwood "leaders," you had the opportunity to do the right thing over 20 years ago. You failed, and because you failed there are heaven only knows how many more victims of this predator. Does that bother any of you in the least?  Apparently not.  You have an opportunity to try to do the right thing now, but apparently you're going to fight to keep a lid on this thing and demonize a church member whose only "sin" is trying to ask some questions. (I do NOT want to hear "Matthew 18" trotted out and misapplied here.  Tynes DID try to meet with Prestonwood leadership privately, and they refused.)

Jack Graham and Mike Buster and all the rest of you Prestonwood "men" should be ashamed of yourselves for the way you've handled this, and members of Prestonwood should walk out in droves. But they won't. Some will, but we'll see the same old tired "but that was so long ago" and "those boys should have spoken up then" excuses. Jack Graham will continue to appear on TV every week, command the accolades of the blind sheep who follow him, and revel in the "attaboys" of his good-old-boy network of rich and powerful preachers and "tweet" about great barbecue and what a "master communicator" T.D. Jakes is (seriously). And he and his minions will do everything in their power to marginalize and destroy Chris Tynes and anyone else who threatens them with the truth.  Because that is a threat to the flow of the one thing they love and understand best... money.  As the subtitle of this blog says, "Follow the money."

Better buckle up, Chris. It's going to be a bumpy ride.  You're about to find out who your real friends are, and I think you're going to be very surprised.

Oh, and to the great "leaders" of Prestonwood, you will someday understand the power of social media.  And bloggers.  Those evil bloggers!