I applaud the editorial team’s response, particularly this portion:
There is no way to remove the piece altogether from the Internet, and we do not want to make it seem that we are trying to make it disappear. That is not journalistically honest. The fact that we published it; its deficiencies; and the way its deficiencies illuminate our own lack of insight and foresight, is a matter of record at The Internet Archive (https://web.archive.org/web/20140613190102/http://christianitytoday.com/le/2014/june-online-only/my-easy-trip-from-youth-minister-to-felon.html).
Any advertising revenues derived from hits to this post will be donated to Christian organizations that work with survivors of sexual abuse. We will be working to regain our readers’ trust and to give greater voice to victims of abuse.
It’s unusual for a Christian organization to even consider journalistic integrity in their actions, and to try to make amends with those they’ve hurt by allocating revenue to appropriate charity groups — see, for example, the World Vision gay employee policy reversal fiasco earlier this year, which left approximately 2,000 kids without sponsors. So I’m excited that they’re not completely trying to whitewash this.
But it’s not good enough. This is not restitution, this is a bare-minimum sort of response. (And as an aside: what charities are they giving to? Can we see numbers on this?)
I think they should have left the post up, because while the Internet is forever, the post is representative of their bad decision, and it is only right that you should own your words and your mistakes on the Internet. Taking it down was, I know, something a lot of my peers in the blogging world begged for, but that’s not a real solution.
A better solution would be this: run a full issue dedicated to telling the stories of victims of pastoral abuse, in their own words. Include articles from Elizabeth Esther, G.R.A.C.E. staff members, Recovering Grace representatives, Kathryn Joyce, and lawyers involved in representing victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests. You want a cautionary tale for pastors? Don’t go to a man who ended up in jail for raping a minor in his youth group. The way to go about it is to talk to those involved in seeking justice for the victims of sexually predatory spiritual leaders.
#TakeDownThatPost is a short-term, band-aid fix. If Christianity Today and Leadership Journal are truly invested in helping raise awareness about the problem of sexual predators and the abuse of power in the American evangelical church, then they will have to go farther than just hitting “delete.”
Delete doesn’t fix anything.