May 15, 2007

Know Them By Their Deeds: Pastor Accused of Rape

According to The Dallas Morning News, a woman's lawsuit against a Fort Worth pastor has led 8 other women to come forward with disturbing allegations. Rev. Allen of the Shiloh Institutional Church of God in Christ has been accused of "paddling and raping women under the guise of scriptural teaching." Worse, it sounds like his church received multiple complaints and ignored them until attorneys got involved.

According to the lawsuit, the 34 year-old plaintiff sought "spiritual counseling" from Rev. Allen, during which he assigned her various biblical passages about spanking. If she did not read them, she was punished...with a wooden paddle. Paddling would eventually progress to sexual assault. It also appears that these recent accusations are not the first faced by Rev. Allen. He faced sexual assault charges in the 1980s, which were later dismissed.

The obvious question is why these women would have went along with this depravity, and yet, the plaintiff's answer should not be particularly surprising:
"I looked at him as a man of God, my pastor," she said. "I just revered him. I always thought he was hearing from God."
Another example of the high costs of religion. Sexual assault is going to happen with or without religion, but it is hard to argue that religion warrants some blame in this particular case. I've addressed this before, and something tells me that I will continue to have occasion to do so.

Fortunately, the national body of the Church of God in Christ has suspended Allen, even if this action took three months after the recent accusations of rape surfaced. Still, it is nice to see that the national body is taking the accusations seriously.
"The Church of God in Christ does not condone inappropriate behavior from any of its representatives and does not comment on pending litigation," it said. "Until then, Pastor Sherman Allen has been suspended from all national and local pastoral roles and activities."
Good for them. Unfortunately, the attorney representing the women says that their allegations "span a 25-year period" and that 3-4 of the women previously complained to the church. So it sounds like we have yet another case of a church looking the other way to protect a deranged pastor.

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