This story is everywhere...
Then, he swept it under the rug and went on with his life until she spilled the beans this week - 20 years later.
Here's the victim in her own words...
** WARNING - GRAPHIC CONTENT **
“We were stopped, and he turned the headlights off. Suddenly, Andy unzipped his jeans and pulled out his penis. He asked me to suck it. I was scared and embarrassed, but I did it. I remember feeling that this must mean that Andy loved me. He then asked me to unbutton my shirt. I did. He started touching me over my bra and then lifted my bra up and began touching my breasts.”
That’s just a snippet, there’s more. This story involves cover-up, gaslighting, and now it’s out in the light for the world to see.
And for Pastor Andy Savage to see. Because he got caught, he’s forced to talk about it in a PR statement his church released that sanitizes what he did, and seems to treat it lightly by calling it a “sexual incident.”
This coming from a man who kids are supposed to emulate as a “spiritual example.”
This is where the #MeToo movement actually makes sense, but this is even worse than just sexual abuse because it’s coupled with spiritual abuse.
The girl (at the time) was a minor who looked up to her youth pastor.
So, what did he do? He abused her sexually and spiritually. Then, he SAT ON IT for 20 years; and when he got exposed his posture was basically like - I thought we were cool, I apologized, I work at a circus/megachurch now, everyone just calm down.
Sure, forgiveness is available. But forgiveness SHOULD NOT be solicited from your church staff and the congregants who attend his prefabricated experiences every Sunday (a.k.a. services).
He should go to HER - the child he molested. She's the only person who can forgive him. Then, he should crawl on his knees and go face her family in person. They’ve been the ones who’ve been dealing with the mess he made in 1998. Not his church fans.
Here's the video of Savage's speech (notice zero tears running down his face):
Speaking of his church - getting a standing ovation from them doesn't count. That’s sick in its own way and deserving of an entirely separate blog post. All that does is just drive the dagger deeper into his victim. The church congregants have nothing to do with it. Their applause can’t absolve his sin.
In fact - all their applause does is make me throw up in my mouth a little.
This isn't the time for a PR stunt or big public show.
This is the time for Pastor Andy Savage to go away.
He didn't handle what he did properly. Heck, he even ignored the email she sent him about it! Straight up ignored it. He didn't “fix this” any more than Ted Haggard fixed his drug and homosexual prostitute problem with a few months of counseling, or, more than Harvey Weinstein will fix his issues at his magic sex rehab camp in Arizona.
This happens in the church WAY too often.
Spiritual abuse comes in many forms.
And a few weeks or months of counseling won't make it right. The demon is in too deep. These are long-abiding and deeply rooted issues that take years and years to sort through (if ever).
So, no - this is NOT okay because Andy Savage is a Christian. And just because he said he's sorry, doesn't mean he gets to move on consequence-free.
The insta-forgiveness movement has been used and abused by pastors and priests for way too long. Christians still need to face the music and reap what they sow.
Just like the rest of the world.
If Andy Savage wants to be a real man - he should quit his job in church ministry forever. Then, he should beg God for mercy and forgiveness. I mean, he wrecked a child’s life.
But he apologized, so he's cool right?
Sitting on sexual abuse of a child for 20 years doesn’t get magically flushed away because you said sorry after you got exposed. This is the same line of reasoning toddlers use: “But...I already said I’m sorry, why do I still have to get a consequence?!”
Because saying sorry doesn't "unrape" someone. That's why.
Actions have consequences.
I can only imagine the ruin and devastation he put on this girl. Here are some words from her account of what happened:
"This was no bad dream, this was a living nightmare. The secret quickly began to eat away at my soul. I couldn’t concentrate at school. I couldn’t think about anything else. The fear, shame, anger and hurt consumed me."
And being a pastor doesn’t make it better either. It actually makes it worse. Not to mention the cover-up and victim-shaming that his fellow pastors helped him carry out afterward. I'm convinced that church leaders are supposed to protect their flocks (if you subscribe to that model).
But in THIS CASE and thousands of others all over the world (I've seen stuff like this personally - it happens OFTEN), the church leaders protected the abuser - not the victim.
Getting on stage and receiving back pats and amens from his church members is no better than Oprah getting a standing ovation from the sexual predators and Hollywood enablers at the Golden Globes.
Same issue, different context.
Think about this: a pastor forced a child to perform oral sex on him, fondled her, and tried to make the whole incident disappear. And other pastors helped him cover it up, while his congregation stood and clapped for him.
Welcome to 21st Century Evangelicalism. As a former pastor myself, this story just makes me sick. If feminists want a real issue to rally around (sexual/spiritual abuse in the churches)...
...I’ve never seen a more important one.