Force Andy Savage to resign from Highpoint Church
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This past week a woman named Jules came forward and told the story of how her then-youth pastor Andy Savage took advantage of her sexually while she was a student in the Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church* youth group in Houston, TX. Andy Savage is now the co-founder and teaching pastor at a Memphis megachurch called Highpoint Church. Savage confirmed that the incidents Jules described took place in his statement.
Unfortunately for Jules, justice was never served. Savage resigned and moved home to Memphis where he was ultimately rewarded with a high-profile, well-paid position in megachurch where he's achieved fame and notoriety. Some even call him the "sex pastor" for his teachings and writing on dating, marriage, and sex. He never answered to the law for his crime. Yes, crime.
Texas Penal Code Chapter 5. (22.011). Title 5. Offenses against the person. Chapter 22. Assaultive Offenses. Sec. 22.011. Sexual assault: "(b) A sexual assault [...] is without the consent of the other person if: [...] 10) the actor is a clergyman who causes the other person to submit or participate by exploiting the other person’s emotional dependency on the clergyman in the clergyman’s professional character as spiritual adviser" and Texas Penal Code 22.011(b)(9): “by exploiting [the patient or former patient's] . . . emotional dependency”; and (b)(10) “by exploiting the other person’s emotional dependency on the clergyman in the clergyman’s professional character as spiritual advisor.”
Andy Savage also played a role in another sexual assault story. In 2016, several victims came forward and shared their abuse at Immanuel Baptist Church in the late 1990s, which was later called The Church at Schilling Farms. Prior to the publication of those stories, Savage went before his Highpoint Church congregation in Collierville to urge them to approve a merger** with The Church at Schilling Farms — going out of his way to say, "there's nothing sinister going on here." But the thing is, Savage knew about the allegations in October 2015 before he and lead pastor Chris Conlee rushed Highpoint into a merger deal with The Church at Schilling Farms. The effect of this was to ensure that the victims of abuse had no path to a civil cause of action against the church for damages. Justice was never served.
Andy Savage committed a crime and has admitted as much publicly. He should be disqualified from ministerial leadership. He must resign from his position at Highpoint Church or be fired by its leadership. If Chris Conlee and his board of directors should fail to ask for Savage's resignation and continue to double down on supporting a sexual predator, they too should be forced to resign.
A theology that teaches a false choice between God's mercy and worldly justice is toxic hot garbage. God may show mercy, but we must seek justice.
*Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church is now known as StoneBridge Church.
**What was originally publicly described as a merger was later described by Highpoint as a "real estate deal" when the sexual assault stories became public.
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