Last week, countless secular and Christian media sources reported that highly popular Christian stand-up comedian John Crist has sexually victimized numerous women” over the course of several years. A Charisma Magazine* expose on the news story, stated:
According to multiple sources, Crist has exploited his Christian reputation and platform to harass, manipulate and exploit young women over the last seven years. The allegations include, but are not limited to, individually sexting multiple women during the same time period, initiating sexual relationships with married women and women in committed relationships, offering show tickets in exchange for sexual favors and repeatedly calling these women late at night while drunk.
Over the last 24 hours, Charisma contacted Crist about these allegations to get his comment. In response, he emailed Charisma the following statement [see article for statement]. . . . In the statement, he admits to “destructive and sinful” behavior, apologized to his fans and announced he would cancel all future tour dates this year to focus on getting healthy. . . .
In 2019, few Christians seem better known and more influential than Crist. To those unfamiliar with him, that may be surprising; after all, Crist is not a pastor, ministry leader or worship leader. But Crist has risen to fame precisely because he’s what many young believers want to be: funny, smart, cool, relatable and vocal about his faith.
The reason Lighthouse Trails is posting this information is because according to the Charisma article, some Christian leaders have known that Crist is a sexual predator yet allowed unexpecting women to continue to be victimized.
Multiple sources noted to Charisma that Crist has previously said he is receiving counseling and treatment for this behavior—as early as 2014—yet continued to hurt others in the process. . . . some evidence suggests certain Christian leaders have been aware of Crist’s behavior and—through inaction—let it continue unchecked. This is why Charisma believed it necessary to warn the body of Christ about what Crist has been doing behind the scenes. . . .
“The church should not be looking the other way when a Christian leader is preying on women” . . . “When Jesus talked about wolves in sheep’s clothing, I’m sure He included sexual predators in that metaphor. This guy may be a comedian, but sexual harassment isn’t funny. This behavior needs to be challenged, and the victims need counseling and support.” . . .
Over the years, Crist’s behavior has gradually become a kind of open secret among certain Christian circles. Some individuals contacted for the investigation expressed surprise that the general public was not already aware of Crist’s behavior. . . .
Three sources told Charisma they had contacted WaterBrook & Multnomah [Crist’s publisher] with stories about Crist’s misdeeds. Two received no reply, while one received a response—saying the recipient would share that information with leadership—but did not hear anything more.
After reading the Charisma article in full along with other articles, it seems clear that Crist’s long-time ongoing abuse and misuse of young women was known by others and basically kept under the rug. Lighthouse Trails has always said that the power of sexual abuse lies in its secrecy. Predators continue in power and abuse as long as they can keep the victims quiet and keep those who know about their predatory behavior from exposing them. We have addressed this type of scenario over and over since we began Lighthouse Trails. And, of course, stories in the public arena (such as the Catholic priests) substantiate our concerns that sexual abuse is kept quiet and sexual predators are protected. Crist’s abuse is an example of how Christian leadership is playing its part in allowing sexual abuse to continue.
Those of you who have been Lighthouse Trails readers for some time may remember other stories regarding sexual abuse we have covered. One of the first books we ever published is Laughter Calls Me, the true story of a mother who learned her four children had become victims of a child pornography ring. In 2011, we wrote “Child Sex Abuse – Can We Ignore It?.” In 2012, we wrote “’Heartfelt’ Letter from Voice of the Martyrs Neglects Concern for 10-Year-Old Molested Child.” In that same year, we published and released Seducers Among Our Children by Patrick Crough. Sergeant Crough spent over 20 years catching sexual predators in the state of New York. Today, he heads up a team in Florida fighting against human trafficking. In 2013, we released The Color of Pain by Gregory Reid, a tribute to men who were sexually abused as boys. In 2014, Jan Markell interviewed Patrick Crough on protecting children from Internet predators. And also in 2014, we wrote “Bill Gothard Resigns from Institute in Basic Life Principles Under Allegations of Sexual Abuse.” In 2015, we posted “’Obama Administration Enables ‘Boy Play’” – Child Molestation Overlooked by U.S. Government.” In 2017, we wrote “Saddleback Church Statement Appears to Downplay Role of Alleged Molester Ruben Meulenberg.” In 2019, we wrote “Child Sexual Abuse Scandal at Matt Chandler’s Popular Village Church Raises Concerns Over How Churches Handle Abuse.” And there are many other articles we have written or posted on this issue of sexual abuse and its cover up.
We have given a bit of a recap of our reporting over the years on sexual abuse because often when we post an article about sexual abuse, someone comes forth and challenges us asking why we are reporting on something that is not within the parameters of deception in the church (New Age, contemplative, etc.). It may be that those people are not aware of the Lighthouse Trails motto: “Bringing Light to Areas of Darkness.” Another criticism we have received when bringing to light sexual abuse in the church is that we shouldn’t voice such concerns for the world to see. That’s an invalid criticism because the secular news outlets report on these stories as much or more than the church does. In other words, the world is watching, and they already know about it long before Lighthouse Trails writes about it.
In some Christian coverage of John Crist, his actions are being described as a “sexual sin” that Crist has committed against God. While this is true, we must not minimize the horrific damage that a sexual predator causes to his victims. Already, it is reported that two of Crist’s victims have left the Christian faith feeling very betrayed by a man they highly esteemed because he proclaims to be a Christian. Crist used his Christian claim, his power, his charisma, and his celebrity status to lure in his victims.
If you are in church leadership and know of abuse taking place, you have a responsibility to the victims, to the law of the land, to the church, and to God to do all within your power to make sure it is exposed and stopped.
If you are a member of a church, make sure your church leadership is held accountable and make sure all church members, volunteers, and paid staff are educated properly in how to protect children, teens, and young adults from sexual predators.
Churches and Christian groups are perhaps the main target for sexual predators because of the loving and trusting nature of Christians. And when the sexual predator claims to be one of us, the risk is all that much higher.
by Catherine Brown
May kids be brave enough to tell
Parents be strong enough to believe
The Church, Christ-like enough to support
America, wise enough to judge
May offenders be sorry enough to stop
*Our referencing Charisma Magazine is not meant to be an endorsement of the magazine. However, in the case of John Crist, Charisma did a very thorough and documented report on this story, and we felt it gave more of the facts than other sources.
“John Crist’s Misconduct: It’s NOT ‘Sexual Sin’ – Words Matter” (an insightful commentary)
“Former pastor of Baltimore-area church charged with child sex abuse; police say there may be other victims” (about Stacey Shifflet story)
“John Crist’s Netflix special, book on hold amid sexual harassment allegations” (Religion News Service)