I’ve been following the case of ARBCA leader and pastor Tom Chantry for a little over two years. (ARBCA is the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches in America. It is a hub of NeoCalvinism, and Tom Chantry has been a mover and shaker in those ranks. Many ARBCA leaders are either family or friends of Chantry.)
Chantry was on trial for multiple counts of abuse, to include child molestation. Last year, he was convicted on two counts of aggravated assault, while the jury deadlocked on a child molestation charge. This year, he was retried, charged with four counts of child molestation.
Yesterday, the jury found him guilty on all four charges.
The jury also determined that there indeed were “aggravating circumstances”, so Chantry will be facing a hard sentence on July 19.
(HT to Todd Wilhelm of Thou Art The Man, who attended the trial and provided down-to-the-minute reporting via Twitter.)
Two years ago, as Chantry awaited trial, I wrote the following:
The case of Tom Chantry, a Reformed Baptist leader who has been indicted on multiple criminal charges, including child molestation and aggravated assault, is not simply about Tom Chantry.
If the evidence supports the charges against Chantry–which are damning–then Chantry is far from the only culpable party here.
That is because, if Chantry is guilty, then his abuses were enabled by a culture that, in spite of ostensible proclamation of Scripture regarding sexual matters, knowingly coddled leaders who were sexually licentious and who abused children.
And if that is true, then every one of those leaders would be better off taking a long swim with a millstone around his neck.
In Chantry’s previous trial last year, the judge–weighing in–noted the damnable evidence that implicated ARBCA leaders in covering up abuse. He said that, if ARBCA were on trial, that they would likely be convicted.
ARBCA leaders should be very nervous right now, as Chantry–a leader whom they have defended and covered for years–now has SIX felony child abuse convictions, with the “aggravating circumstances” tag to boot. And he still faces an additional nine charges later this year.
The larger issue is the rampant abuse and coverup culture in the Church, which encompasses both Catholic and Protestant/Evangelical ranks.
Big Evangelical has been rocked badly, as major leaders–Mark Driscoll, Tullian Tchividjian, C.J. Mahaney, Joshua Harris, Bill Hybels, James MacDonald, Perry Noble, Paige Patterson, Andy Savage, and Ravi Zacharias–have either been nailed for (a) heavyhanded, malevolent leadership, (b) gross financial malfeasance, (c) sexual abuse, (d) coverup of abuse, or (e) some combination of all the above.*
Even worse, entire denominations–from ARBCA to the Independent Fundamental Baptists to the Southern Baptist Convention–have aided and abetted this culture.
To some of us, this is no surprise. While this culture is not restricted to Church circles, the fact that it is pervasive in Church circles ought to be alarming as, among all institutions in the world, the Church ought to be setting the example and leading the fight against this culture.
The silver lining in this: this immolation in Big Evangelical is a good thing, as this should force Christians to rethink their entire Church paradigm that recruits, rewards, and promotes leaders who are narcissistic, Machiavellian, sociopathic wolves with the best-looking sheepskins.
We are in need of a Great Awakening, and this can be the foundation for it.
May we not squander this opportunity.
*And those are just some of the “high profile” names. The ranks of abusers in the lower-tier clergy are voluminous.