You can read Kevin’s statement here.
It’s odd to me that the statement has been released in this way. I would have expected it to be put up on the Illawarra Community Baptist Church website. Or released to the press. Instead, a buddy in the movement puts it on facebook. I get the sense that this is not a statement for Australia, but a statement for the insiders. The IBs. You know, the ones who don’t act like a cult at all…
My response to Charlie’s statement
First, I unequivocally condemn any hint of violence against Kevin or anyone else. Such violence would itself be evil, criminal, and reprehensible. That is not how we handle disagreement in Australia.
Now, Charlie says “’60 Minutes’ have lied and deceived their audience.” Bashing the press is a pretty popular game, so that statement will go down nicely. Along with the Kool-Aid. But here’s the thing. If you’ll have a look over at The Files, Kevin’s views are crystal clear.
And if there’s still doubt, there’s this:
It’s all right there at The Files.
Kevin’s position, as documented there at The Files is that the matter will be handled through church discipline. If the church discipline process results in repentance, the crimes will be forgiven and not reported. He will only report to the police if there is no repentance. His views are crystal clear. If they have changed since 17 March this year at 2.45pm when he wrote this to his Mum, he needs to publicly admit that and repudiate his former views instead of calling us liars.
My response to Kevin’s statement
Kevin is playing nicely diced word games. It’s the sort of thing the Pharisees used to be so good at. And just as wicked. Let me give an example. In his statement, Kevin says “To suggest that we teach that women must submit to their husband’s every whim is incorrect. I have never heard a Baptist suggest that.” That’s relieving. Until you realise that what he really means by his statement is that if a husband tells his wife to disobey God, that’s an exception. Otherwise, yes, it’s pretty much every whim. Here is how Kevin put it recently in an email to his Mum: “You were created to be Dad’s helper. Whatever he wanted to do, you were there to help him… If the general says to march for 8 hours, you must do it.” Still relieved?
Or another example. Kevin says “We do NOT believe submission to one’s husband entitles him to force his wife into some kind of sexual slavery.” Again, that is so relieving to hear. Here’s what he said to his Mum in an email recently: “Let me be clear – sex is not a gift you give to your spouse. It is his right (like a landlord). It is your duty (like a tenant).” So much for relief.
Or another example. Kevin says “I have always believed that rape and child abuse are crimes.” Simple. So what was so hard about the question the reporter asked him? Well, to Kevin, rape in marriage is an impossibility. His words to his Mum are “marital rape… is foreign to Scripture.”
The unfairness of the generalisation
Many have chosen to focus on how unfair it is to make comments about the broader IB movement based on one pastor. Oh, wait. Two. So I had a look to see who is on the speaking roster at the National Baptist Fellowship, the premier annual IB event. Look who’s speaking…
That’s right. Kevin Harris’ name is right up there next to Chris Hustler, Tim Bunch, Bobby Buhren, Sydley Valeran, Ross Oliver, Charlie Haddad, Charlie Williams, Trevor Ringwaldt, Jon Hall, Larry Nelson, Brenton Honeychurch, Brad Williamson, Mario Schiavone, James O’Sullivan, and Christopher Eckels. A veritable who’s who of IB pastors.
And this is not surprising. Kevin preached at the NBF last year too.
So here’s my concern. Have these men taken a stand against Kevin’s twisted views? Why is Kevin still slated to speak at this national event? Is he mainstream IB or not? Clearly Charlie and he believe he is mainstream. Clearly the host pastor of the NBF, Sam Joukhadar, thinks so too… or did when the speakers were chosen.
The benefit of the doubt
It seems Kevin is being given the benefit of the doubt. And that’s wicked.
Let me paint this picture for you. Here’s my Mum. She’s endured 39 years of abuse. She has six children who are willing to testify to the horrors she and they endured in the home. There are dozens of others who can testify to some of the terrible things she went through. The rapes are not merely alleged. Larry Harris has been convicted of multiple counts of rapes in the State of Queensland. There is no reasonable doubt that this happened. Further, her claims about Kevin have been documented in disturbing detail in his own words at The Files.
And we’re giving the benefit of the doubt to Kevin. Not Mum. Not the victim. No, the abuser. The guy who can’t say it simply and outright: “Non-consensual sex is evil and criminal. Always.” That’s wicked.
There IS a problem
In the last 36 hours, I’ve watched IBs blame my Mum for being raped. In the last 36 hours, hundreds of IB and ex-IBs have contacted Mum and I with words of love and support. But IB pastors? I can’t think of one. Not one. I’ve seen a number of pastors comment. One was even almost… ok, well I was going to say supportive, but he wasn’t… he was guardedly positive toward Mum. But that is it. Quite willing to withhold judgement against Kevin. Quite willing to sit back and see how it turns out. But not quick to stand next to the victim and offer wholehearted, unequivocal support. To help take the brunt. Not a chance.
The response from the IB movement so far has demonstrated that those who view the IB movement as cult-like are dead right. It’s not good enough, friends. You’ve got to do better. By all that is good and holy—by God himself—I beg you. Turn from this perverse thinking. Examine yourselves. Humble yourselves. Listen. Listen to God. Listen to the victims. Long and hard.
Don’t teach. You aren’t the experts anymore. The average sixteen-year-old at the park has a more just and righteous view on this matter than you do. So stop talking and listen. In doing so, you may just save your own souls. Because I’m telling you, God hates oppression. Do not think that God will be mocked in this.
Grace to you.