“Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” – Matthew 18:6 (KJV)
I’m a long-time fan of Prestonwood Baptist Church (Plano, Texas), pastored by Dr. Jack Graham. The choir’s orchestrated renditions of songs like “Fill this Temple,” “This Blood,” and “You are Worthy” are majestic. No one else can lead me into worshipful awe. So when I learned yesterday about a sex scandal at the church, I was floored.
In 1989, John Langworthy, a youth music minister at Prestonwood, was fired “due to an allegation of impropriety” with teenage boys. But instead of reporting Langworthy to the police, Prestonwood conducted its own private investigation with victims, which is illegal. Why? Texas state law (1971-now) “require[s] professionals – including clergy – to report suspected child abuse to authorities.” Not only did Prestonwood refuse to tell its members why Langworthy had been fired, the church also put in danger members of Morrison Heights Baptist Church in Clinton, Missippissi, where Langworthy was a youth music minister until 2011. He received a 50-year suspended sentence after being convicted of five felony counts of child molestation, but he avoided prison time.
None of this information appears on Prestonwood’s Wikipedia page, but a 2008 scandal involving Joe Barron does. Two days after the 50-year-old staff member was arrested in a sting operation for soliciting sex from someone he thought was a 13-year-old girl, Dr. Graham addressed the event from his pulpit and said that Barron was asked to resign. Would Graham have made this public statement if Barron hadn’t been arrested? Probably not. It’s ironic that the church was founded by a man who later confessed to adultery and stepped down.
What makes Prestonwood any better than the Duggars and the Vatican? These men knowingly broke the law by taking the law into their own hands. Yet Paul is clear that those who name the name of Jesus Christ must “depart from iniquity,” including lawlessness (2 Timothy 2:19). Three years ago, Prestonwood members called the police to investigate another member asking questions about the Langworthy cover-up. Dr. Graham then told members to shun church critics, especially “bloggers and watchdoggers.” The resulting atmosphere is that of a cult.
As an act of solidarity with Langworthy’s victims, I’ve stopped following Prestonwood on social media and removed all mention of them from my blogs. I’ve also removed their music from my YouTube playlists and hard drive. [I handled Duggar revelations in the same manner.] I have no theological issues with Prestonwood’s choir and few with the church itself, but justice trumps music. Until Prestonwood publicly (1) addresses the issue of pedophiles, (2) consents to creating a denomination-wide sex offender database, (3) apologizes to victims and their families, and (4) offers them Christian counseling, I have no alternative. Time Magazine said that the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) refusal to create a sex offender database was the most under-reported story of 2008. I agree.
Paul told the Corinthian church “not to keep company” with those who call themselves Christians but are “fornicator[s]” (1 Corinthians 5:11). Instead, they must “judge them that are within” by “put[ting] away … wicked” people (5:12-13). Prestonwood’s firing Langworthy may appear to obey this passage, but it wasn’t enough. Because they didn’t report him to the police or warn other churches, this unrepentant psychopath abused dozens of victims. Prestonwood didn’t want a scandal of bad press when they handled Langworthy in this unbiblical, unethical, and illegal manner. However, their refusal to take the moral high road has created an even bigger scandal by smearing the name of Christ among victims of sex offenders. Therefore, any finger-pointing at the Vatican or the Duggars is hypocrisy. If more Christians – individuals, churches, and denominations – shunned and shamed Prestonwood by refusing to attend their church and conferences they host or participate in, as well as boycott their music, then it might send the leadership of Prestonwood a clear message that handling sin in secret is wrong.
Readers who want more information on pedophile ministers in the SBC can visit Stop Baptist Predators (which has a database), SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), and New BBC Open Forum (Bellevue Baptist Church – Cordova, TN). If the Freemasonry-saturated SBC doesn’t handle this situation in a biblical and legal manner, then this spiritual house built on sand will crumble (Matthew 7:26-27).
 All Scripture references use the King James Version (KJV), unless otherwise noted.
 Go to The Wartburg Watch, Baptist News, and People Against Prestonwood’s Silence on Allegations of Sexual Abuse (Facebook page) for complete coverage of this story.