Take South Carolina, which generally is considered the most conservative state in the country, both in terms of politics and religion. It and Mississippi might be the only two states that make my home base, Alabama, look progressive by comparison.
But religious leaders in South Carolina seem to have developed an alarming "affection" for boys.
First we had William Ralph Wilson III, a youth minister at Chapel of Redemption Church in West Columbia, South Carolina. It seems the Rev. Wilson was a little too close to some of his youth.
Wilson was arrested recently for molesting and showing pornography to three teenage boys. The reverend was charged with three counts each of a lewd act upon a child under 16 and disseminating harmful material to minors.
A South Carolina newspaper reported that more victims might surface. How did Wilson "minister" to the boys?
One alleged victim told someone at Bible study that Wilson “fondled him” and showed him pornography over a period of two years, the report says.
The boy said Wilson would encourage him and other boys to perform sex acts on themselves at Wilson’s home, the report says.
Wilson also allegedly fondled the boy as he let the youth drive his car without a license, the report says.
A troubling story about another South Carolina minister broke yesterday, this time in Charleston. Ronald Jones, a 53-year-old pastor from Wadmalaw Island, is charged with second degree sexual conduct with a minor.
The trend of "Ministers Gone Wild" has become so strong that one newspaper featured the headline: "Another Pastor Faces Sex Crime Accusation."
Another? Jeepers, how many have there been? Turns out there have been three cases in the past two weeks--in the Charleston area alone!
The victim in the Jones case was a 15-year-old boy. Here's how news accounts describe the situation:
The teen told authorities the assault happened at a baby shower at Jones' home last year. A police report states the teen said Jones invited him into his room to watch television, then asked the boy to perform a sexual act on him.
The Jones story broke on the same day that Pastor Tyrone Moore, of Full Word Ministries in North Charleston, was convicted on two counts of committing a lewd act upon a minor. Moore, who has a long history of sexual misconduct, was sentenced to back-to-back 15-year prison terms.
Assistant Solicitor Debbie Herring-Lash said a jury found Moore guilty of fondling two boys, ages 12 and 13, multiple times between 2004 and 2006 at his home in Berkeley County.
"The victims, now 16 and 14, had to go into the details of these assaults," Herring-Lash said. "One of the young victims lamented that he no longer wanted to attend church as a result of the assaults."Gee, I can't imagine why.
Turns out a whole bunch of youngsters might not want to attend church in the future.
According to a post titled "This Week in Holy Crimes" at Open Salon, this summer has been a busy one behind the pulpit--and beyond. During one seven-day period in late June, ministers in Texas, Missouri, Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York were connected to sex crimes.
Not to be outdone, Alabama has its own wayward pastor in the news. His victim was a 14-year-old girl. William David Webb, former youth minister and executive pastor at Word of Life Christian Center in Birmingham, was sentenced yesterday to five years in prison after pleading guilty to transporting a minor girl across state lines for sex.
It's enough to make you wonder if atheists are onto something.