We Have a Problem

Last month four young men accused Atlanta bishop Eddie Long of sexual abuse. The sworn statements given by these boys of Bishop Long's insistence that they call him "daddy" while using them for sex, is so disturbing. If he is guilty of what they are charging, then he needs to spend many years in jail.

There is a problem in the American church that has gotten worse and yet is still not addressed effectively by the church, that problem is preachers having sex with boys. Protestants, especially Evangelicals, love to talk about the Catholic priest who molest kids, but three major insurance companies for Protestant Churches in America say they typically receive 260 reports each year of minors being sexually abused by Protestant clergy, staff, or other church-related relationships. While researching for this blog post I found this list of protestant ministers arrested for sexual crimes, over half of them were with boys and Wikipedia's list of Evangelical church scandals, contains several high profile evangelicals who have been accused of sexual relationships with boys or other men. Most of these men also contend that they are not gay, they have wives and even after being caught or after a victim passes a polygraph test, they still maintain that they are heterosexual.

The Boys of Plank Road.

The first time I saw the boys, dressed as women, standing on a few corners on Plank road, I was shocked. I had been doing the street outreach to prostitutes and pimps for a couple years and had never seen the "Hollywood" street walker scene. You know, the prostitutes decked out in heavy make up, sexy clothes, high heals, leaning into a car window talking to a potential Jon. That wasn't how it was here in south Louisiana. Prostitutes walked alone, never wore heels, and they looked like anyone else walking on the street, except usually thinner and more drugged out looking. So seeing these boys in full drag, decked out in heels, spandex, wigs, bathing suites, full make up, standing in groups of three to five on several corners, that was shocking. Of course as we approached them we had no idea that they were all men. Some of them you could tell, but most you couldn't. We handed them a Hygiene bag and they took it very suspiciously. Over the last year we have had many different reactions from them, some will say they are coming to church, I make sure they know they can come just as they are. Others are cold toward us, many of them ask for condoms. One night their madam (yes, a lady is over them and she looks like a mom next door, not like a madam) got upset with us because we didn't have condoms. She wouldn't even let us approach the boys.

Through working in the neighborhoods around where the boys prostitute, I have found out where they live and how old they are. Most of them are between 15 and 17 years old. We have gone by their house several times during the day with snacks, drinks and invites to the free cafe.

These boys are out every night of the week. I have seen them on a Tuesday night at 1am out working the corner, I've watched as older men in nice vehicles have picked up one of these boys for sex. When the corners are empty or just a few are out it's because the others are off in a car servicing a man. These boys stay busy. Who is it that keeps them so busy every night of the week? Who are the john's that are purchasing sex from these boys?

But lets be real, cute little girls that are being sexually abused break our hearts, delicate teenage girls or young women who are being abused by ministers cause us to get angry and do something,  as we should, but a six foot tall black teenage boy dressed as women doesn't exactly make you feels sorry for them. Even Eddy Longs accusers are being treated like they are just trying to extort money from this "man of God'. That is one reason why this continues in our churches. Male teenage victims of sexual abuse are shunned rather then helped because the church doesn't know how to deal with this. And preachers who are involved in same sex relationships or encounters know they can not say they struggle with a same sex attraction or temptation, they certainly can't confess to having engaged in a same sex encounter because they know they would lose everything and be labeled as homosexual, so they just keep on having sexual encounters with boys and men in secret, the allegations continue to surface,  more lives are destroyed and the church shoves their head deeper into the sand.

I think it is time that we take a hard look at what is needed to address this issue effectively within the church, because we have a problem, a serious problem.

Comments

Unknown said…
The best thing you could have said is come as you are. It bothers me when congregations don't open their doors to the people that need them the most. If you are gay/lesbian, a prostitute, living "common law", or an addict you need the church the most. Now on the other note. When you are 17 or so and up you know what you are doing...as to the Eddie Long situation. Forty years ago maybe young people did not know as much as they do now. By the age of 16 or 17 these young men know what they are doing. Even if they did not come from Christian homes...they know! Not saying that you can't get caught up and end up in a hole you have a hard time getting out of. Some know full well what they are in for and even though they are young the mighty dollar kicks in and leads them to the situations they are in. I still believe you and the night out reach are doing a amazing job. Keep it up!