• Woodrow Wagaman

The Meeting with Bishop Dunlop

On September 4th, 2018, I had a meeting with Bishop James Dunlop of the Lower Susquehanna Synod. I shall show the conversations as my points, and his counterpoints concluding with his emotional appeal. This should not be mistaken fro a literal dialogue OR direct quotes. It is merely a summary of the most relevant parts of the conversation. The Counterpoints are ideas after the fact, and Bishop Dunlop was not informed of these counterpoints.

Point 1: Background Checks for All

Make Congregations Safe: Background Checks should be mandated for all volunteers in a church, not just those who work with children.

Bishop James Dunlop: Background checks are a complicated issue. Right now many people are suspicious of the government and may resist such a measure. This could damage our volunteer numbers.

Woodrow's Counterpoint: Seriously? Do you really want people frightened of the government decided how church money is to be spent? This response cannot be taken seriously. "Let's not do something because the conspiracy theorists might object." Uhh, ok.

Point 2: The Synodical constitution could be changed

Bishop James Dunlop: This would take a lot of effort and time.

Woodrow's Counterpoint: Then why wasn't this process started years ago?

Point 3: If mandated background checks were real, Joseph Thornton would not have been able to corral all of the boy participants at a confirmation retreat into the kitchen together.

Bishop James Dunlop: Not necessarily, pastoral experience shows that congregants will take it upon themselves to corral people inappropriately. Joseph Thornton could have still shown up at Camp Nawakwa even if he did have a background check.

Woodrow's Counterpoint: So what you are claiming is that Camp Nawakwa is not secure for children. It is a huge problem if a youth retreat camp is not secure from outsiders who may not have been checked for prior child abuse. That is a disaster waiting to happen.

Finally, after this back and forth, Bishop James Dunlop claimed that I am the only abuse victim in the 30 year history of the synod. He claims to understand that I am passionate about this issue, but the time and energy is not worth exercising on something that is not high priority.

This leads me to believe that it would take more than one ruined life for James Dunlop to do something to close the Child Abuse Loophole. My pain and suffering is not enough to motivate the Lutheran Church to fix an issue, and this sank me into the depths of despair. I was willing to sacrifice myself to protect other children, could they not sacrifice some time to keep it from happening again.

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