“Lavery was also concerned that Johnny invoked the phrase “virtuous pedophile” to describe himself — a term used by an online support group of people attracted to children who never act on that attraction and who maintain that abuse is wrong. Some group members believe it is safe, even healing, for people with this attraction to work with children.”
(Bob Smietana – RNS) In the summer of 2018, a volunteer at Menlo Church came to the Rev. John Ortberg seeking help.
The congregation member, who volunteered with youth and children at the Bay area megachurch and in the community, had been experiencing “an unwanted thought pattern of attraction to minors” and needed the pastor’s support.
After hearing this admission, Ortberg asked if the volunteer had ever acted on that attraction.
The volunteer said no.
Once Ortberg was convinced the volunteer was telling the truth and was not a danger to others, he prayed for the person and offered a referral for counseling and then allowed the volunteer to continue working with children.
In what Menlo Church’s elders would later call “poor judgment” and a betrayal of trust, the megachurch pastor did not notify the church’s staff of the volunteer’s admitted attraction to minors.
He did not notify the church’s elder board.
He did not suggest the volunteer stop working with children – in fact, the pastor and his family encouraged the volunteer in his work as a coach of an Ultimate Frisbee team for high school students.
Instead, Ortberg, the lead pastor of Menlo, kept what he had learned about the volunteer secret from his congregation.
Especially the volunteer’s name: John “Johnny” Ortberg III, the pastor’s youngest son.
This news story is posted for informational and research purposes and is not in any way intended as an endorsement of Religion News Service.
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