Guidepost Sex Abuse Registry’s Unbiblical ‘Credible Accusation’ Definition Sets the Stage For SBC Equivalent of Salem Witch Trials
In reflection on the spectacle of the Salem Witch Trials, secular-leftist historians often use the trials as a tool to mock the Puritans. Secularists blame the Salem Witch Trials on the Puritans’ fundamentalist beliefs, casting blame for the show trials on belief in the Bible as the standard for law. Contrary to the typical caricature of what took place in 17th century Massachusetts, the primary reason for the evil in Salem was not adherence to scriptural standards but rather the adoption of extrabiblical ideologies and anti-biblical standards for justice.
In the years leading up to the Salem Witch Trials, through his work Against Modern Sadducism, Joseph Glanvill popularized the idea that ghosts, witches, and evil spirits commonly used the power of Satan to seduce willing participants to torment innocent victims. Consequently, evil spiritual entities became the obsession of many in Salem. Puritan people who were once focused on the providence and power of the Sovereign God became fearfully fixated on the power and influence of Satan. In a community filled with family rivalries, envy, and interpersonal disputes, the environment was ripe for the spectacle that would ensue.
The Salem Witch Trials began with the unexplained hysterical fits of several pre-teen girls, whose conditions were blamed on unpopular scapegoats within the community who were portrayed as willing pawns of the devil. The trials relied heavily on spectral evidence, unprovable personal testimony in which an ‘afflicted’ individuals claimed that they saw a vision of the shape of the accused afflicting them through the power of the devil. Other evidence deemed admissible in court was the presence of birthmarks or moles on the bodies of the accused.
The logic of witch trials based on spectral evidence and physical anomalies was comparable to the logic portrayed in the witch trials of Monty Python. Once several members of the community were accused, tried, and executed on this unbiblical basis, new accusations and trials of individuals accused of witchcraft became a nearly monthly occurrence. The hysteria spread and pragmatic community members saw it as an opportunity to gain the upper hand over those they despised. Instead of settling personal or property disputes biblically, witch trial, accusations became the trump card of Salem. The end result was 200 accusations and 20 executions of alleged witches from February 1692 to May 1693. Another 100 were awaiting execution when Governor William Phips halted the trials and executions.
In the wake of the Salem Witch trials, influential Quaker author Thomas Maule criticized the unbiblical nature of spectral evidence in his 1695 work Truth Held Forth and Maintained. Maule famously stated, “For it were better that one hundred Witches should live, than that one person be put to death for a Witch, which is not a Witch.” Maule believed in the existence of witches, but he believed that God would one day punish the prosecutors of the Salem Witch Trials for their miscarriage of justice and failure to conduct trials on the basis of Biblical standards. For his criticisms, Maule would be arrested by the local Puritan government 3 times, fined 3 times, jailed for a year, and finally acquitted by a jury who defied the tyranny of local Puritan judges who demanded that the jury find him guilty.
The standard for guilt and innocence found in the law of God clearly shows that God intends for the burden of proof to be placed upon the accuser or prosecution in a case. Those who make a false accusation should also bear the punishment that would have been received by those whom they falsely accused.
“A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established. If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing, then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days. The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil[c] from your midst. And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you.” Deuteronomy 19:15-20
The burden of proof principle found in the law of the Old Testament was reiterated by the Apostles to the Church as a standard to determine whether an accusation should be considered or disregarded.
Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 1 Timothy 5:19
The general equity of these Biblical principles and the legal miscarriages of incidents like the Salem Witch Trial were at the forefront of the minds of the framers of the United States’ Bill of Rights when they crafted the 5th amendment. These protections were further extended in the 14th amendment to extend protections against miscarriages of justice to the state level and further establish a “Burden of Proof” standard for convictions.
There are many similarities between the Salem Witch Trials and the SBC Sex Abuse Controversy. The Salem Witch Trials began with the hysteria of pre-teen girls, and the SBC Sex Abuse Controversy began with the hysteria of Russell Moore, who responded to the valid criticism from the executive committee of the SBC like a pre-teen girl.
As a result of less-than-conservative stances by Moore while at the helm of the ERLC, many churches reduced their giving to the SBC. When surveys of churches revealed this reality, the executive committee called Moore to account. As a parting shot in opposition to the conservative-lead committee, Moore made the outlandish accusation that the SBC executive committee was harboring sex-abuse in the convention by maintaining an extensive list of sexual abusers that went unpunished. In reality, this list was little more than a compilation of publicly available information on sexual abuse in general, the equivalent of a curated google newsfeed that targeted the keywords “Church Sex Abuse”.
In the Salem Witch Trials, theologically adrift Puritans adopted extrabiblical standards for guilt and innocence that allowed for the admissibility of spectral evidence. In the SBC, theologically adrift egalitarians and spineless evangellyfish leaders at the helm of ARITF (Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force) have jettisoned the biblical standards for guilt and innocence, allowing for Guidepost Solutions, a secularist organization that promotes sexual deviancy, to create a standard of guilt for the upcoming convention Sex Abuse Database.
The standard of guilt implemented in the database would be “credible accusation”, meaning that anyone who is accused could be evaluated by an “approved” third party research firm and then deemed to be more likely guilty than not guilty on the basis of potentially anonymous accusations. There is no reason to believe that after hiring Guidepost Solutions to create the misleading sex abuse report and the sex abuse database, that ARITF would not place Guidepost Solutions at the top of a short list of approved firms who would determine the credibility of accusations. The “Credible accusation” standard of ARITF is the modern equivalent of the Spectral evidence used in the Salem Witch Trials.
The dissenters of the Salem Witch Trials stood against the tyranny of the theologically adrift Puritan-led government. Just as Thomas Maule stood against the tyranny of spectral evidence, a number of conservatives have sounded the alarm against the ARITF idea of guilt on the basis of “credible accusation”.
The question is whether the SBC will bow to the pressures of the #metoo and #churchtoo movements by adopting the spurious standard of “credible accusation”, or take a stand on Biblical truth. In the spirit of Thomas Maule, It would be better for 100 abusers to remain in the church than for 1 innocent servant of God to be falsely listed in a public registry of abusers and have his life destroyed and ministry ended on the basis of a “credible accusation” determined by an unaccountable firm of Pagan bureaucrats who make determinations on the basis of an anti-Christian pro-LGBTQ worldview.
God makes clear that not a single sinner can hide from his sight. Not a single sexual abuser in the SBC will be able to obscure his sin from the just judge. All will be held accountable. Does the SBC trust itself to the just judge, or will it whore itself out to pagan organizations like Guidepost for the world’s version of justice.
And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13
1 thought on “Guidepost Sex Abuse Registry’s Unbiblical ‘Credible Accusation’ Definition Sets the Stage For SBC Equivalent of Salem Witch Trials”
While I agree with the sentiment of the article (exception- it would NOT be better for 100 abusers to remain in church rather than have one falsely accused. Witchcraft hurts the person worshipping Satan. Sexual abuse creates an external victim. False equivalency. ) The modern church is failing to protect its members from predators within in astounding numbers. Actually, the modern church is failing to do much of anything other than making major issues out of secondary or even non-issues (like birth control) and swinging open its doors to every bit of leaven on feet for the sake of inclusion. This may not be the answer, but neither is simply going on with the status quo. There are many wolves in leadership, and people are foolish to leave their children with them unattended or without video cameras.
(Note: Some pedophiles/abusers have natural children- born to them. “All will be accountable…” in eternity will be too late for the innocent that had their childhoods and any sense of normalcy violated. The healing doesn’t come for everyone. Where are the men stepping up to do something? Just squawking and throwing platitudes when they’re able to give practical help.)