ABWE Scandal: Commentary on Dr. David Bennet’s “Remember Paterno’s Statue”
Dr. Bennet’s essay will be copied on this post with permission immediately after my commentary on it. I received an email on this same subtopic roughly two weeks ago; namely, the outrage over those who covered up the Donn Ketcham scandal being honored with high profile jobs and multimillion dollar projects named after them. One Christian college, apparently hell-bent on paying homage to one of these cowards, forged ahead with such a project while laying off employees of the college.
Thank God for those who are outraged by this and refuse to shut up until something is done about it. Others are so perplexed by the indifference accompanied by tone deafness regarding justice that they ignore the situation all together. Their minds can’t grasp it, and therefore assume what is happening couldn’t really be happening.
Then there are others like myself that wonder how this comes about, and endeavor to find out. And I think I have found answers to that question. Let’s start with the obvious. First, the victims are expendable. Second: GARB parishioners in general have no sense of justice. That’s why Susan and I, while recently being on the verge of joining a GARB church, declined in doing so. No, we won’t worship with those who have no righteous indignation—we can’t respect that. Thirdly, the secular world now has more righteous indignation than the church. That fact is further agitating the few in GARB circles that care. The grand comparison that makes the case is the Penn State /Jerry Sandusky affair. The Penn State icon Joe Paterno looked the other way, and Penn State disposed of his legacy with the morning trash. Not only will Penn State not be honoring him in the future, they are removing any honor that has been paid to him in the past, and sports commentators will be just as likely to mention OJ Simpson’s name when discussing sports folklore.
However, these realities in today’s church don’t happen by accident—there are specific reasons. And I think the crux of the cause was the major theme of our 2012 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny. The brand of gospel preached in the American church for the past 62 years has landed us where we are today and breeds the aforementioned results. Fix the false gospel, and you begin to fix the problem. And, I am concerned that some who claim to be in the process of resolving the ABWE sandal are in fact proponents of that gospel. That is why I am skeptical.
But without further commentary, Dr, Bennet’s essay:
REMEMBER PATERNO’S STATUE!
Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches…”
Almost anyone who follows American football or surfs the internet knows the name Joe Paterno. Paterno, now deceased, was accused of burying child sex abuse allegations against the retired assistant coach , Jerry Sandusky. It is unthinkable the sexual abuse Sandusky committed against at least ten young boys over fifteen years .
According to one report at least two times Sandusky was seen by others; once having anal sex with a young boy and another time he was seen performing oral sex on another young boy. Both of these instances were reported but nothing happened. That is where Paterno comes in; there was a cover-up!
In spite of the evidence against him Paterno does have his supporters who say “He was a good man. It wasn’t that he was an evil person. He made a mistake.” This is the Balance Theory which says if a person’s good deeds outweighs their bad deeds (or mistakes) then forget the bad no matter who was hurt.
However, in spite of his great sporting legacy and some continued support Paterno’s statue has been removed from the Penn State football stadium. This may only be a save face act for Penn State but at least they are aware others are looking on.
So what can Christian organizations learn from the Paterno affair and the removal of Paterno’s statute? The first is, in spite of the evidence some Christians whose sins are found out will still have their supporters. These supporters generally work on the Balance Theory. The second thing Christian organizations can learn is not to build statues or name buildings after anyone within the organization who has been involved in the cover-up of a pedophile. Of whom may this be referring to, Wendell Kempton of course. REMEMBER PATERNO’S STATUE.
Wendell Kempton was the president of the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE) during the time missionary doctor Donn Ketcham was having adulterous relationships with nurses and then turned his eye to a twelve year old girl. Did the churches know any of this? Ketcham’s pedophilia was his demise for it wasn’t an adult who reported Ketcham’s sin but the girl herself. REMEMBER PATERNO’S STATUE!
Let it be known that nothing occurred in ABWE land without Wendell Kempton’s knowledge or approval and Donn Ketcham’s adultery, pedophilia and cover-up was no exception! Wendell Kempton had to know! Nevertheless, in spite of this cover-up during Kempton’s presidency, ABWE is asking for funds (5.5 million) to build the Wendell Kempton Medical and Ministry Center. Now, this is not to say a medical center is not needed but it is to say it should not bear the name of a man who was complicit in the cover-up of a pedophile under his leadership. There should be a name change in this medical center! REMEMBER PATERNO’S STATUE!
The honoring of Wendell Kempton with concrete memorials doesn’t stop with ABWE. Wendell Kempton was involved for many many years with Baptist Bible College (BBC) of Pennsylvania. Kempton was an “alumnus, athletic director, administrator and trustee” of BBC. He graduated from BBC in 1957 and returned in 1961 where he continued until 1971 when he accepted the presidency of ABWE.
However, he may have left BBC but he was not forgotten and in 1976 he was elected as a trustee. It was during Kempton’s time as president of ABWE (1971 – 2001) and that as a BBC trustee that ABWE missionary Donn Ketcham had several adulterous relationships with nurses. For one of these he was sent home for counseling and for the other he was moved temporarily to another location in Bangladesh. Did any of the churches know about this? STOP AND THINK, ALL of this occurred under the leadership or lack of leadership of Wendell Kempton.
Undoubtedly Wendell Kempton and BBC had a long amicable history and therefore it is not a strange thing that BBC would name a new structure, “Kempton Athletic Center” in his honor. As the web site for the Kempton Athletic Center says BBC believes Wendell Kempton left “…a legacy of service and leadership” . But did he? Did he leave a fine legacy of leadership? Do those in the high places of BBC really believe this or will Wendell Kempton’s name bring in the money? REMEMBER PATERNO’S STATUE.
Surely those in high places at BBC would know of the Donn Ketcham pedophilia affair by now! Those in leadership at BBC are not so cloistered they have not read or heard somewhere concerning this terrible travesty. Wendell Kempton was the Boss over Russ Ebersole and it was Ebersole who with counselor Russ Lloyd who physically so mishandled the sad saga of Donn Ketcham’s pedophilia. In fact it would have been Russ Ebersole along with Wendell Kempton’s advice or knowledge that allowed Ketcham to have at least two adulterous relationships while on the mission field and continue as a missionary before his pedophilia! Remember we are talking about a Christian organization here. REMEMBER PATERNO’S STATUE!
It was Ebersole who was the field administrator over Bangladesh but he was always answerable to Kempton. There was a chain of command in ABWE and Kempton was at the top. One would have to be very very naïve to think Ebersole was dealing with a pedophile incident in Bangladesh and Kempton not know it!!
What kind of leadership covers up a missionary having at least two adulterous relationships with missionary nurses? What kind of leadership covers up a fifty some year old man having sex with a twelve year old girl? What kind of leadership allows a fifty some year old man to sexually abuse a twelve year old and then allows him to return back to the states to begin a new medical career? How many others may have been abused by this man after his departure from Bangladesh because of the lack of Christian honesty, character and leadership in ABWE under Kempton! REMEMBER PATERNO’S STATUE!
It should go without question that those in authority at BBC and ABWE must recognize they are a Christian institution whereas Penn State is not and doesn’t claim to be. THEREFORE THE BBC AND ABWE LEADERSHIP MUST REMEMBER PATERNO’S STATUE and do the Christian thing!