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Somerset County minister forced to face family sexual abuse by his minister father

… child sexual abuse “stealing away the souls of our youth”

Child sexual abuse is rampant in America, and it has been for more than a half-century. Also rampant is the coverup that religious organizations have undertaken to avoid the embarrassment of their leaders engaging in such criminal behavior.

This has devastated the Catholic Church in the United States. Just watch the Academy-Award winning movie “Spotlight” about the abuse in Boston.

Now, however, the coverup in the Protestant ranks has been unraveling. A Somerset County native who resisted becoming a minister, only to eventually do so, was forced to accept the fact that his father, a minister and his “hero,” had abused his sister.

Here is a little of his story.

Jimmy Hinton

Rev. Jimmy Hinton is the pastor of the Church of Christ in Somerset County, and he was devastated by what he learned from his sister about their father’s criminal behavior in Shanksville, Pa., close to where the plane crashed on 9/11,

In July of 2011, just two years into my new role as minister, one of my sisters disclosed to me that she had been sexually abused by my father, the former preacher at my congregation. Within seconds, my life began to unravel. My childhood hero was now a villain who had dozens of victims–all of whom were humiliated and violated in the worst possible way. My mother and I reported my father to the police and he is currently serving a 30-60 year prison sentence for sex crimes against children.

I had to learn how to lead a church through the carnage of abuse when my own family was living in the aftermath of my father’s sins. It’s one thing to walk a church through this valley. It’s quite another when the abuser was your own father. There were no resources for this kind of church problem, and still it’s one of the most common and tragic things that’s stealing away the souls of our youth.

Southern Baptists hit hard with revelations

The most compelling situation in recent years for Protestants was a video posted on Facebook by a woman who confronted her pastor at a Christian church because he had sexually abused her as a youth,

A withering report on sexual abuse and cover-up in the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S.

A viral video in which a woman confronts her pastor at an independent Christian for sexually preying on her when she was a teen.

A TV documentary exposing sex abuse of children in Amish and Mennonite communities.

You might call it #ChurchToo 2.0.

Survivors of sexual assault in church settings and their advocates have been calling on churches for years to admit the extent of abuse in their midst and to implement reforms. In 2017 that movement acquired the hashtag #ChurchToo, derived from the wider #MeToo movement, which called out sexual predators in many sectors of society.

In recent weeks #ChurchToo has seen an especially intense set of revelations across denominations and ministries, reaching vast audiences in headlines and on screen with a message that activists have long struggled to get across.

Peter Smith and Holly Meyer, “#ChurchToo revelations growing, years

after movement began,” Associated Press, June 12, 2022

Indiana church facing its own reckoning

The video of the confrontation between the abused woman and the pastor has been unbelievable,

The May 22 report came out the same day an independent church in Indiana was facing its own reckoning.

Moments after its pastor, John B. Lowe II, confessed to years of “adultery,” longtime member Bobi Gephart took the microphone to tell the rest of the story: She was just 16 when it started, she said.

The video of the confrontation has drawn nearly 1 million views on Facebook. Lowe subsequently resigned from New Life Christian Church & World Outreach in Warsaw.

In an interview, Gephart said she's not surprised that so many cases are now coming out. She has received words of encouragement from all over the world, with people sharing their own “heartbreaking” stories of abuse.

“Things are shaking loose,” Gephart said. “I really feel like God is trying to make things right.”

Peter Smith and Holly Meyer, Associated Press, June 12, 2022

Abuse is not “adultery.” Pedophilia is not “homosexuality.” Those are smokescreens behind which abusers and their enablers hide.

Hinton fighting abuse

After learning about his father’s abuse, Jimmy Hinton, now a father of three children, became an advocate for all of them. He created a website so that he could communicate his grief and suffering to others and help to prevent it and to help recover from it: <>;

Grief and tragedy are no strangers to my family. Then again, they are no strangers to most of us. I’ve worked tirelessly to understand the mind and specific techniques of pedophiles so that we can better protect our children from them. This site is dedicated to my musings on abuse, God, and the journey of healing for survivors.

Hitting mainstream Protestants: The infamous “purity culture”

This is not a result of extremists in the church. It is hitting all elements of the Protestant culture,

many recent reckonings are occurring in conservative Protestant settings where a “purity culture” has been prominent in recent decades — emphasizing male authority and female modesty and discouraging dating in favor of traditional courtship leading to marriage.

On May 25 reality TV personality Josh Duggar was sentenced in Arkansas to more than 12 years in prison for receiving child pornography. Duggar was a former lobbyist for a conservative Christian organization and appeared on TLC’s since-canceled “19 Kids and Counting,” featuring a homeschooling family that stressed chastity and traditional courtship. Prosecutors said Duggar had a “deep-seated, pervasive and violent sexual interest in children."

On May 26 the Springfield (Missouri) News-Leader reported on a spate of sex abuse cases involving workers at Kanakuk Kamps, a large evangelical camp ministry.

Emily Joy Allison, whose abuse story launched the #ChurchToo movement, said the sexual ethic preached in many conservative churches — and the shame and silence it breeds — are part of the problem. She argues that in her book, “#ChurchToo: How Purity Culture Upholds Abuse and How to Find Healing.”

Allison told The Associated Press that addressing abuse requires both a change in church policy and theology. But she knows the latter is unlikely in the SBC.

“They need to undergo a transformation so radical they would be unrecognizable at the end. And that will not happen,” Allison said. Reform work focused on “harm reduction” is a more realistic approach, she said.

Peter Smith and Holly Meyer, AP, June 12, 2022

The abuse scandals in the Catholic Church have brought it to its knees, with the young people in particular avoiding it almost entirely. The church has paid out billions as a result, and the clergy and hierarchy in America have been scarred for all time.

Will the same thing happen with Protestants?

Time will tell.

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