Summary: What About Hypocrisy and Abuse? Series: The Deconstruction Zone: Navigating Doubts and Difficulties Brad Bailey – July 9, 2023

What About Hypocrisy and Abuse?

Series: The Deconstruction Zone: Navigating Doubts and Difficulties

Brad Bailey – July 9, 2023

Summary: Engaging the issue of hypocrisy and abuse by Christian leaders which effects the decision of many to leave church or their faith. What do we do when those trusted…especially as leaders of Christian ministry… violate that trust?

Note: I do not read or memorize notes in full but rather use as a reference. The following notes are more extensive than time allowed but they, and the many footnotes that follow, should provide a good reference for those engaging this topic or using as source to develop their own message.


Only a few here may be familiar with the name Bruxy Cavey. He’s a true hippie in style and heart … bright and fresh in vision… he took a small church in Canada which grew to serving over 6,000 lives across 19 campuses. It was advertised as a church for people who weren’t into church…and many found the fresh voice they needed.

Then, in December of 2021, a former member alleged that Cavey had carried on a sexual relationship with her for several years… which began with inappropriate texts…and manipulation… that was bound in his pastoral position.

Two more women would eventually come forward…and on May 31, 2022, the police arrested Cavey and subsequently charged him with sexual assault. [1]

The impact… has been crushing. One young married woman described how she had become deeply disturbed amidst the pandemic related conflicts in her own church and she turned to this new church for escape from the conflict and verbal abuse. When the news came out about the accusations of sexual abuse against Cavey and his own (qualified) confession of guilt, she sobbed as she reported these tragic twists in her spiritual journey…saying…

“So the safe place to land became unsafe. Its still confusing… because a lot of my theology is stuff I learned from him and I don’t know what you do with that, if the person has been lying for years and years.” – Member of The Meeting House

The tragic truth is that…

When leaders go off the rails…they take with them a whole trainload of unsuspecting people who trusted them.

Such an experience can bring deep confusion that can take years …to overcome. And today…we are going to talk about this challenge.

And the hard truth is that it’s become part of the cultural story within our own lifetimes….especially in America.

For those old enough to remember… there was a drmatic reckoning across many of the early televangelists starting in the 1980s…including Jimmy Swaggart… Jim and Tammi Baker.

Then came the years of uncovering abuse within the Catholic Church.

And in the more recent years… there have been examples across the spectrum of churches. (Following list best just noting names)

Ted Haggard was the former pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs and president of the National Association of Evangelicals…until 2006 when a male prostitute reported that he had been used by Haggard for sex and buying methamphetamines.

Bill Hybels, the founder of the massively influential Chicago-based megachurch Willow Creek, retired amid allegations that he’d sexually harassed former staff, claims deemed credible by a third-party investigation;

Carl Lentz, a Hillsong pastor who once counted Justin Bieber among his parishioners, stepped down after revelations of marital being exposed widely in two different documentaries… that have recently come out.

And at the same time …the toxic nature of a parenting ministry developed by Bill Gothard is being exposed in Prime Video's limited docuseries, Shiny Happy People.

and an investigation uncovered that the late evangelical speaker and author Ravi Zacharias had sexually abused women, including employees at massage parlours he co-owned.

…and yes … even some leaders who have violated the trust of others within our own wider Vineyard movement of churches. (Some of whom I have known.)

In many ways, it’s an old story. From King David to every current example, we see leaders rise in prominence and power and then an opportunity that taps into their weakness…remains hidden for a while…then ultimately implodes. [3] And often there are enablers, fixers, and others who chose to ignore it.

And by way of today’s vast media…some of us have found our news feeds too often are bringing stories about, the moral failings of church leaders, toxic church cultures, systemic patterns of covering up child abuse or sexual abuse, the misuse of power or authority, greed and financial scandal, entrenched racism, churches becoming defined by political loyalties…and on and on it goes.

And while this may sound like just more abuse of power…like political leaders and Hollywood moguls …there is something different …because these are those who are connected to our spiritual beliefs and trust. There is a violation of trust that claims to represent God. [4]

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