I received an email from Cedarville University’s board of trustees in late June. It was addressed to Cedarville students, announcing that the board would allow Dr. Thomas White to remain president of the university after they discovered he’d hired an alleged sex offender.
I cried when I read that email.
And earlier this month, as an incoming senior, I disenrolled from Cedarville. I’m leaving behind deep friendships and professors who are competent, devoted and kind.
I attended Cedarville because it’s a Christian university, and I’m a Christian. I expected the board to uphold Scripture, but by allowing White to stay, they’ve done the opposite.
White hired Dr. Anthony Moore, former pastor at The Village Church in Fort Worth, Texas, in summer 2017. The previous January, the church fired Moore after it was alleged he had secretly recorded a colleague on two occasions. White said in a blog post in April that he later found out Moore had made five videos over several months and fired Moore upon this discovery.
This was seemingly confirmed, according to investigative reporter Julie Roys, who said in an April article that Moore emailed “While I never had, or even attempted to have, any inappropriate physical contact with anyone, I did use technology in a grievously wrong way.”
After blogger Todd Wilhelm published Moore’s history this April, Cedarville’s board sanctioned a Husch Blackwell LLP independent investigation into the hiring.
The investigation found that White’s communication about Moore’s history was deceitful, according to the trustees’ email. No one at Cedarville, or very few people, knew full details because White misled the board and faculty.
White didn’t just practice deceit. He also seemed to ignore both what the Bible says about sexual abuse and what research says about its effects on victims.
The Bible condemns sexual abuse. The New Testament warns against lust, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 urges readers to control their bodies and Deuteronomy 22:25-26 likens rape to murder and makes it punishable by death.
Like all sin, sexual abuse wounds people.
According to an article published in 2017 by Time Magazine, victims of sexual abuse (even if it isn’t physical, as in Moore’s case) can experience increased depression, anxiety and poor body image and self-esteem.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, victims of sexual violence can experience flashbacks and develop post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Bible mandates that Christians prevent sexual abuse and care for its victims.
In Psalm 82:2-3, God says, “How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.”
Isaiah and Proverbs are among other Scriptures that echo these verses.
Cedarville’s board of trustees comprises pastors, a chaplain and leaders at Christian institutions. They know what Scripture says about defending the defenseless. How could they have accepted White’s actions so silently? (Not all did: two trustees, Daniel Akin and Mark Vroegop, resigned over this decision.)
The investigation found Moore had not acted inappropriately at Cedarville. The board reasoned that White had performed well during his seven-year presidency, cooperated with the investigation, and expressed remorse in hiring Moore, and they chose to keep him as president.
According to his blog post, White did develop a plan to keep Moore accountable and protect students. It included monitoring of Moore’s phone and Wi-Fi usage and mandated that he only meet with students in groups or in public.
But White gave him access to students in similar ages and positions to his previous victim: Moore allegedly abused a younger colleague with whom he worked closely at the Village Church. According the article by Roys, Moore was a recruiter, basketball coach, field trip chaperone and professor of theology at Cedarville.
In allowing White to remain, the board failed to treat sexual abuse with the same gravity that Scripture does.
If they had sought Scripture, they would have fired White for his poor judgement. They would have communicated that White’s actions were inexcusable and that they were committed to protecting victims.
I don’t pretend to be a perfect Christian. I fail daily. But I know Scripture demands I protect those who cannot protect themselves.
That’s why I left Cedarville: I cannot support a Christian institution whose president and board are ignoring the Scriptures they profess to obey.