May 172018

Michigan State University settled it’s sexual abuse scandal for 500 million dollars.

While we rejoice at the fact that an institution has been held accountable, we also need to look at the implications for other institutions.

My Twitter feed was full of folks warning the Protestant churches that they were “next”…after the Roman Catholic church has already made many similar, large, settlements.

What will happen in reality is a lot different…let me explain.

The people most impressed with the size of this settlement are lawyers, as they stand to be the ones who will profit the most from the misery of others.

The only churches they will attempt to “hold accountable” are ones that can line their pockets.

That means large churches or entire denominations.

Small churches simply aren’t worth their brand of justice or accountability.

The end result will be that in the broader evangelical community there will actually be less accountability.

Let me give you an example.

When Chuck Smith was still alive and in charge of Calvary Chapels, he had a disciplinary arm of the non denominational denomination call the Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowship, or “CCOF” for short.

Ostensibly the office that did affiliations, it also served as the doctrinal and moral police agency for the movement, working out of the Costa Mesa church.

The existence of that office and the fact that they enforced “discipline” in the field made Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa legally liable for the misdeeds of all the affiliates.

They paid for a bunch of them…Costa Mesa had really deep pockets.

A few years ago, Smith wearied of paying for the sins of people he didn’t know and disbanded CCOF in an attempt to cut that tie between the affiliates and the mothership.

Henceforth, Costa Mesa would only pay for their own issues.

When his brother Paul (who was running CCOF) continued to enforce (mainly doctrinal) rules, he fired his brother.

Today, neither side of the CC split will exercise any control over the affiliates other than adding or removing their names from a database.

It’s all about liability.

If there is no accountability at the local church level there will be none above it either.

Most churches in this country have shallow pockets and aren’t worth the attention of the tort vultures.

Those that do have resources…might want to make sure they have air tight child protection and hiring standards in place.

It’s all about liability…


  16 Responses to “What the Michigan State Settlement Means for Churches”

  1. 17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.”

    The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Re 19:17–18.

  2. Yeah, you are right.

  3. As a reality check, as of the end of 2015, the cost to the Roman Catholic Church was at the $4 billion mark, not counting lost revenue.

  4. Wow.

  5. so, is the feeding frenzy of ‘tort vultures’ a legitimate form of accountability or some malformed version of it?

  6. Fil,

    It can serve a holy purpose.

    On the other hand, I have friends with small to medium size businesses who are constantly a target of the vultures…and they’ve robbed the kingdom of a lot of resources.

  7. I think what’s unfortunate is that these institutions — whether university, church or other
    entity — won’t have to worry about actually changing their cultures for the better. Sadly,
    like Michael said so well, it’s all coming down to $$. Period.

  8. sad but true.
    sad that churches need lawyers.
    sad that lawyers get so much of any settlement.

  9. I wonder how many of these institutions carry insurance to cover such lawsuits….

    For the churches, the monetary punishment doesnt begin to match the condemnation for not fulfilling their obligation to God to police their houses well… we have no fear of a righteous God and no courage of conviction… those 7 letters of Revelation make the standard crystal clear…

    or so it seems to me… 😐

  10. In the land of justice for all we have a longstanding habit of using justice to create new injustice. Litigation is functionally the terrorism of civilized people.

  11. #10 – Well! I am going to sue BD for calling our judicial system a terrorist organization ! ! !
    Actually, he is correct… Our government of, by and for the people has gone strange. Pray for those in authority over us. Pray harder

  12. “Pray for those in authority over us. Pray harder.”

    Here’s something to do while making all those prayers.

    Let us, hold those whom we elected to serve us We, The People completely accountable TO US. Mobilize and vote them out, establish term limits and work locally to get out the vote.

  13. Litigation is functionally the terrorism of civilized people.

    I call BS.

    This kind of inverted thinking is what’s led to Trump.

    You’re advocating lawlessness. Very bad according to Scripture.

  14. I cant speak for Pastor Dread, but i didnt read that declaration to advocate a lawless society…

    Why we never vote out a do nothing, or worse, congress person doesnt speak very highly of us, does it? I’d like to think the candidate was better qualified (education, brains and integrity) than myself, but from what i hear you cant even get on the ballot, if you buck the powers that work behind the scenes – the real lawmakers… or lawbreakers… Doesnt that mean that if you’re on the ballot, you’re probably a quintessential yes man to begin with? sigh
    Still, Trump did the trick and nobody likes him… around here at least…

    I wish we had more coverage of the volcanic activity on Hawaii… The locals are leaving offerings for Pele…. Wrong God, but im not sure the real One is looking for fruits and flowers on the sidewalk….
    Just sayin… again. 😇

  15. Yet the Bible advises Christians not to sue one another. There was a paraplegic lawyer in Nor-California who made a living for many years going around making nit pick measurements of handicapped access at small businesses. He sued under the ADA and he bankrupted many.

  16. New Victor, does that reference apply only to Believers suing each other?

    The lawyers can make a good living off of the tac payer as we fund civil liberty suits, i think…

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