In August of 2017, Cedarville University, a fundamentalist Christian school near Dayton, Ohio, hired Dr. Anthony Moore as a student recruiter. His job was to convince high school students to come to the university. He was later given additional roles as a theology professor, basketball coach, and special advisor on diversity.
What students and faculty members were not told was that Moore was fired from his last job — lead pastor at The Village Church in Fort Worth, Texas — because he had secretly taped a male youth pastor in the shower at his home. Multiple times.
Moore kept his phone hidden inside of a towel above a shower well “with the camera lens sticking out.” According to journalist Julie Roys, who spoke with the youth pastor, he noticed the phone and then found four additional videos of him in the shower, which he sent to himself (as evidence).
The victim never pressed charges. (That in itself is not unusual and could occur for a variety of reasons.) Needless to say, that invasion of privacy and lack of consent by Moore amounted to sexual abuse. Had he been convicted of a felony, Moore could have been sentenced to two years in prison on top of a hefty fine.
Moore was fired from The Village Church in January of 2017. Pastor Matt Chandler, who has his own history of botching sexual abuse cases, told the congregation Moore had been fired over a “sin issue.” Chandler said Moore was “unfit for ministry” but didn’t go into details.
So Moore was fired in January of 2017 for reasons the general public never knew about… and he found a new job at Cedarville in August. Over the past few years, Moore has chaperoned students on an out-of-state trip and (oh, the irony) taught a class called “Counseling and Mentoring Men.” The alleged sexual predator was given access to students.
Now here’s the bombshell: Cedarville President Dr. Thomas White was apparently aware of everything when he hired Moore. He brought him to campus despite knowing his history.
It’s only now, after all of this has gone public, that White has finally fired Moore.
Over the past week, White has been trying to explain his rationale to any Christian media outlet that will listen, claiming he was trying to help Moore get back on his feet as part of a five-year “restoration” plan. The faculty was merely told that Moore had struggled with same-sex attraction and made a “mistake” regarding technology — which could easily have been construed as, Oh, this guy was fired from his church because he was watching gay porn. They were not told what he actually did.
In an attempt to deflect responsibility, White explained how he only thought there were only a couple of hidden-camera videos… as if that makes anything better.
On April 22, 2020, I learned that I did not have all the information about the original incident. Instead of at most two videos, I heard there were at least five videos. Instead of this being over a short period of time, I heard that these were taken over a period of at least five months. I also heard details of an unhealthy friendship. I confirmed that the two people who counseled with Anthony at Cedarville did not know this information either. If I had known these items at the beginning, I would not have attempted the plan for restoration. After verifying this new information with the victim, I took the action that I had to take and ended Anthony Moore’s employment at Cedarville University on April 23.
How does that help?! It’s one thing to offer forgiveness, but this was covering up a sex crime. As if Moore would’ve been okay until he reached a three-hidden-video threshold.
Christianity Today spoke with a Cedarville professor who confirms how little the faculty was told about this:
“At no point was I given enough information by Moore to assume sexual abuse or manipulation was involved, and I believe this to be true of my colleagues,” said one faculty member, who spoke under a condition of anonymity because he remains employed at the school.
For what it’s worth, leaders at The Village Church told Julie Roys that they “thoroughly informed” White about what Moore did before he was hired. If that’s true, then White ignored them. He chose to put students at risk instead of allowing them to make an informed decision.
We often condemn the Catholic Church for its habit of moving predatory priests from one place to another, but that’s what Southern Baptists did here. Hell, one of Cedarville’s trustees when Moore was hired was former Southern Baptist Convention leader Paige Patterson, now better known as the guy who told an alleged rape victim to avoid the police and forgive the rapist.
In other words, this wasn’t some one-off mistake. This was the direct result of Southern Baptists downplaying the seriousness of sexual abuse. When you treat it as a “sin” and not a crime, there’s an assumption that forgiveness is both necessary and sufficient. (Meanwhile, the victims’ concerns rarely seem to matter.)
It’s not like Moore had time to reflect, repent, and show that he was a changed man. He was just transferred with the tacit hope that whatever happened in Texas would stay in Texas.
Even under Christian terms, this was a disaster, as explained by Russell L. Meek, writing at Religion News Service:
… the restrictions [placed by White] raise other questions: 1) If strict boundaries are needed to protect students, then why allow that person to be around students; and 2) If the students needed to be protected, then don’t they have a right to know?
The necessity of such a [restoration] plan indicates that a college was not the right place for Moore’s restoration. The restoration plan didn’t leave the 99 sheep to go after the one, as Jesus taught. No, their plan abandoned the 99 by welcoming into the fold the one, and it abandoned the one by welcoming him into the exact sort of environment that facilitated his previous crime. That’s not love, either for Moore or for the student body.
The message is clear: Cedarville will bend over backwards to accommodate an alleged sex predator. If that puts students in harm’s way, so what? Just keep everything under the radar. Those students don’t matter to the Christians in charge.
(Screenshot via YouTube)