Tom Randall is a Christian pastor from Ohio who is also a documented liar.
He lied about getting drafted in the NBA.
He lied about how he became a Christian.
And, most importantly, there’s a lot of evidence that he lied about his involvement in a child sex scandal at a Philippine orphanage that he founded. While he didn’t personally abuse anyone, his colleagues apparently did, but he’s obstructed the truth from even his own congregation at Christ Community Chapel in the city of Hudson.
Making matters worse, the lead pastor at that church, Joe Coffey, has helped with the cover-up, suggesting that the whole abuse scandal was created out of thin air by a “rival missionary.”
Oh. And the “independent” investigator doing an “internal review” of the scandal for the church… happens to be a church member who runs a non-profit group that’s also funded by the church.
Those are some of the major plot points of an incredible story in the Cleveland Scene by Sam Allard. It’s not just the details of the alleged abuse that stand out, but the details about how the church leaders have effectively tried to hide the truth from their own members.
The full story of what Tom Randall has done, what happened at Sankey [the orphanage], and how Christ Community Chapel has distorted the story has not been widely disseminated. Scene conducted more than a dozen interviews over the past three months, reviewed hundreds of pages of court filings, emails and media reports and revisited audio files of our reporting in 2014, along with recorded conversations between Tom Randall, CCC personnel and the local Justice for Sankey advocates, in order to assemble a record of the complicated case.
Current members of CCC spoke to Scene on condition of anonymity, fearing backlash and citing church “covenants” they signed — membership agreements, basically — which are legally binding.
“The bottom line is that among the church leadership, there’s total trust in Tom Randall and his account,” one current member said, “so truth — quote unquote — is being filtered through Tom’s perspective, which we’ve come to see as being incredibly warped.“
Maybe the saddest thing about the story is that it’s not even unusual anymore. Yes, we know about the Catholic Church’s scandal, and we know about the Southern Baptist Convention’s problems, but even evangelical megachurches (hi, Willow Creek) aren’t immune to similar stories of abuse and cover-up from damn near everyone in a position of authority. These churches would rather sweep everything under a rug than hold one of their own accountable for their actions. And because of all the secrecy, and the ease with which members of the congregations go along with the churches’ narratives, stories like this don’t get told nearly as often as they need to be.
So read this one. It’s appalling. And the ending still hasn’t been written.
(Screenshot via YouTube)