When you call yourself a Minister, you can get away with almost anything… unless your victims speak up.
That’s what Linda Erickson is doing in Illinois. She is coming forward with news that Philip Livingston, who “broke away from South Barrington-based Willow Creek Community Church to start his own Life of the World Ministries” held improper “religious therapy sessions” that involved her having to get naked to receive healing:
Livingston would hold “light therapy” sessions where he and other church members would remove their clothes and touch each other. He claimed it helped cure everything from drug addictions to yeast infections.
He said it was done only with consenting adults who were members of his donor-funded Light of the World Ministries. But one participant testified in Kane County Circuit Court that a teenage girl was involved, too.
Erickson says in the video that she was told to place her hands on his private parts and pray… and that Livingston would have her lay on her back so she could “absorb God’s fatherly love” for her through him.
The Chicago Tribune goes into much more detail about what happened:
Then Livingston increasingly went in alone with each participant. Both got naked. Livingston touched her private parts, even inserted his fingers into them. The women touched his penis while they prayed, according to testimony.
Livingston said the ritual wasn’t sexual. He said he was never aroused, something Ericksen disputed.
[Erickson] also made a bombshell allegation in an affidavit filed in Kane County: As part of the ritual, Livingston had induced a follower’s then 13- and 10-year-old daughters to stroll naked with him in his home, and about once a week he took the older girl into a room used for the ritual.
Livingston and the girls’ mother insist the girls were always clothed and not involved in the ritual. Their attorneys claim Ericksen lied to better her chance of winning custody of her baby.
Spare us all the comments about how anyone could “fall for something like this.” It’s irrelevant. This guy used his position as a religious leader to sexually abuse people. Who knows how many victims he had who haven’t come forward yet…
This isn’t a diatribe against religion. As far as we know, these are the actions of one person who runs a fringe church. It’s not like any church (including Willow Creek) is trying to defend him.
Let’s hope that, if and when he’s convicted, no one gives him any benefit of the doubt just because he has a religious title affixed to his name.
(Thanks to CarrieBeth for the link)