Mega Church Preacher Bill Hybels in Trouble Again For More Sexual Harassment (2018)
I don’t think I ever blogged about this Hybels guy before.
He was first in the news many months ago for sexually harassing several different women in his church years before, who had worked as church staff.
His church first denied that this was true, and they attempted to say the women who stepped forward to discuss their harassment or abuse by this guy were lying.
There are so many of these pervy pastors it’s hard to keep up with them all. If all I ever did was blogged about perverted pastors, it would be a full time job, and I’d never have a break from this blog!
I’m pretty sure that Hybels is a married guy, too. Christians keep teaching that marriage is necessary to make a person a godly, responsible adult, and to keep them out of sexual sin, but as we see (yet once again!) marriage does not necessarily instill character into anyone, nor does it keep anyone from sexual sin or from sexually abusing others.
Let this story also go to show that a person does NOT have to become perfect, godly, or sinless to “earn” a spouse from God.
Yes, there are some Christians out there who teach that if you are single and want to get married, God will with-hold your spouse from you unless you become more godly, mature, or whatever quality. As you can see from news reports such as this one, that is total bunk.
God did not withhold a spouse from Hybels (again, I’m fairly certain he has a wife), even though God had to know what a pervert the man is.
Bill Hybels built an iconic evangelical church outside Chicago. A former assistant says that in the 1980s, he sexually harassed her.
SOUTH BARRINGTON, Ill. — After the pain of watching her marriage fall apart, Pat Baranowski felt that God was suddenly showering her with blessings.
She had a new job at her Chicago-area megachurch, led by a dynamic young pastor named the Rev. Bill Hybels, who in the 1980s was becoming one of the most influential evangelical leaders in the country.
The pay at Willow Creek Community Church was much lower than at her old job, but Ms. Baranowski, then 32, admired Mr. Hybels and the church’s mission so much that it seemed worth it. She felt even more blessed when in 1985 Mr. Hybels and his wife invited her to move into their home, where she shared family dinners and vacations.
Once, while Mr. Hybels’s wife, Lynne, and their children were away, the pastor took Ms. Baranowski out for dinner. When they got home, Mr. Hybels offered her a back rub in front of the fireplace and told her to lie face down.
Stunned, she remembered feeling unable to say no to her boss and pastor as he straddled her, unhooked her bra and touched her near her breasts. She remembered feeling his hands shake.
That first back rub in 1986 led to multiple occasions over nearly two years in which he fondled her breasts and rubbed against her. The incidents later escalated to one occasion of oral sex. Ms. Baranowski said she was mortified and determined to stay silent.
“I really did not want to hurt the church,” said Ms. Baranowski, who is now 65, speaking publicly for the first time.
…Mr. Hybels denied her allegations about her time working and living with him. “I never had an inappropriate physical or emotional relationship with her before that time, during that time or after that time,” he said in an email.
Since the #MeToo movement emerged last year, evangelical churches have been grappling with allegations of sexual abuse by their pastors. A wave of accusations has begun to hit evangelical institutions, bringing down figures like the Rev. Andy Savage, at Highpoint Church in Memphis, and the Rev. Harry L. Thomas, the founder of the Creation Festival, a Christian music event.
Ms. Baranowski is not the first to accuse Mr. Hybels of wrongdoing, though her charges are more serious than what has been reported before.
In March, (Link): The Chicago Tribune and (Link): Christianity Today reported that Mr. Hybels had been accused by several other women, including co-workers and a congregant, of inappropriate behavior that dated back decades. The allegations included lingering hugs, invitations to hotel rooms, comments about looks and an unwanted kiss.
The accusations did not immediately result in consequences for Mr. Hybels. At a churchwide meeting where Mr. Hybels denied the allegations, he received a standing ovation from the congregation.
…But the most significant reason sexual harassment can go unchecked is that victims do not want to hurt the mission of their churches.
…Ms. Baranowski kept handwritten notes she received from Mr. Hybels. In one, Mr. Hybels praised her work and said, “I am praying that your new small group” at church “will be a source of much happiness and strength in your life.” Then he added, “P.S. Plus, you are a knockout!”
…Ms. Beach recalled that Mr. Hybels was an exacting boss who got angry if the sound system was fuzzy or if a Christmas drama wasn’t performed smoothly. And he didn’t tolerate personal misconduct.
After one staff member had an affair and another was discovered with pornography, she said, “They had to speak publicly to everyone affected. They lost their jobs.”
Ms. Beach is among the women who have recently come forward in articles accusing Mr. Hybels of harassment. She said that on a work trip to Spain in 1999, he invited her to his hotel room and gave her a long hug that made her feel uncomfortable.
She didn’t speak up until recently, when she heard there were other women with similar experiences.
“That’s what makes some of this so confusing, because he has been a champion for women,” said Ms. Beach, who has since left Willow but still preaches widely.
…‘Humiliated, Guilty and Ashamed’
In the late 1980s, crusading against pornography was a top priority for evangelicals. Mr. Hybels told Ms. Baranowski that he had been told to educate himself on the issue by James Dobson, founder of the ministry Focus on the Family, who had been appointed by President Ronald Reagan to an anti-pornography commission.
Calling it research, Mr. Hybels once instructed Ms. Baranowski to go out and rent several pornographic videos, she said, to her great embarrassment. He insisted on watching them with her, she said, while he was dressed in a bathrobe.
…Ms. Baranowski said that during the years of harassment, Mr. Hybels never kissed her, and they never had intercourse. She was particularly ashamed about the oral sex. She grew increasingly wracked by guilt and tried to talk with him. One day in his office, she told him that it was unfair to his wife, that it was sin, and that she felt humiliated.
That night she recorded in her journal what he had said in response: “It’s not a big deal. Why can’t you just get over it? You didn’t tell anyone, did you?”
His attitude toward her slowly began to change, she said. She moved out of the house after two years. In the office, he began to suggest she was incompetent and unstable. He berated her work in front of others. She grew depressed and poured out her feelings to God, filling 20 spiral-bound journals.
…Mr. Hybels went on to expand Willow to eight sites with 25,000 worshipers. He published more than 50 books, many on ethics, like “Who Are You When No One’s Looking.”
He was a spiritual adviser to President Bill Clinton and stuck with him through his impeachment.
Yeah, I’m having a difficult time seeing how being married instilled any sort of character in Hybels.
And look at how churches horribly handle sexual harassment and abuse in their midst – they blame the victims and cover up for the abuser. They go into denial mode.
And why was this lady living with him and his wife for two years? That seems a little strange.
These are not safe people to (Link): take marriage or dating advice from, not at all.
August 7, 2018 updates.
The plot sickens.
Months after Bill Hybels stepped down in disgrace from Willow Creek Community Church, his successor has resigned.