Megachurch pastor Andy Savage

Memphis megachurch pastor Andy Savage pictured with his wife in a recent photo. Savage has admitted to the incident and asked for forgiveness.


The well-known megachurch pastor Andy Savage stood before his congregation last week and admitted to a “sexual incident” between himself and a 17-year-old girl back when Savage was a youth pastor. Apparently overwhelmed by his honesty, churchgoers gave the faith leader a standing ovation.

The Memphis-area pastor and father of five was forced to address the incident after a public accusation from the alleged victim, Jules Woodson. She describes asking Savage for a ride home one evening in 1998. He obliged, but before stopping at her house, Savage pulled down a dark country road, parked the car, and coerced her into performing oral sex on him. Afterward, she says, he dropped to his knees and asked God for forgiveness. Savage also sought to keep Jules quiet, telling her: “You have to take this to the grave with you.”

Holy Hypocrisy

Jules explains that she decided to finally come forward with her story after seeing the now-famous megachurch pastor tweet about sexual assault allegations against Matt Lauer late last year:

A tweet from megachurch pastor Andy Savage

Knowing what he had done to her, the hypocrisy of Savage’s “holier than thou” attitude toward the #metoo movement was especially infuriating. She realized she could no longer stay silent. Jules wrote to him, asking him to address the incident:

An email sent to Andy Savage by accuser Jules Woodson

She received no response.

#JusticeForJules

Although Savage’s followers appear to be standing by their pastor, reactions to the news outside the confines of his church haven’t been nearly as positive. Critics have taken to social media to slam Savage for abusing his position of power and attempting to cover up the incident. There is even an online petition circulating that calls for his resignation with an associated hashtag, #JusticeforJules.

As the backlash continues to mount, things aren’t looking good for Savage’s career. In addition to demands that he step down, an upcoming book deal has been cancelled, announced the publisher.

Change Must Come

Although Jules filed a police report, it’s unclear whether Savage will face any criminal charges. But that’s OK, she says. The goal was never to exact personal revenge, it was to shed light on the power imbalances that exist in the church and help prevent future cases of abuse, she explains:

“My hope in finally coming forward with my story is not only that I can begin to get closure and healing for all that has happened to me, but more so, that my story might have a positive impact on others and effect positive change in how these types of situations are handled within the church.

To anyone who has suffered from sexual abuse in the church and the subsequent cover up and pressure to remain silent, I want you to know that it is not your fault. Most importantly, I want you to know that you are not alone.”

Challenging Pastoral Power

Obviously, pastors exploiting their positions of power is far from a new phenomenon. To this day, victims of abuse in the Catholic Church continue to come forward about incidents that occurred decades ago. But with the rise of the #metoo movement, there is a new dynamic at work, one that empowers victims to speak up and confront their abusers – no matter how powerful or famous they might be.

 

12 comments

  1. eric karr says:

    he should remove himself from the pulpit , plain and simple

  2. Linda says:

    I agree that he should not be allowed to deal with youth or vulnerable people in a position of any authority.
    I wonder, though, when people do admit to, or are found guilty of sexual assault, or impropriety, it seems like we think they should they simply end their lives then and there. They are immediately deprived of their jobs and reputation before they even go through due process. Is there no way at all we feel that these people can heal? If there is no way for them to carry on in life, how hopeless. People can change and learn better. There are those that can’t, whose true sickness prevents help. I think though, that we have to know that many abuses were abused themselves. Do we just throw all these people away? I know they may serve as a prohibitive example for others, but sexual impropriety will still happen. Do we encourage these people to get help, and learn a new way, and become members of the community again, or do we leave them no option but to live in infamy?

    1. T'Keren Valmaz says:

      No I say we exile all of them to an island, ideally one that also becomes the global dumping ground for toxic waste which is itself less toxic then the behavior of sexual abusers.

      There is no way for the victims to ever have justice as long as their abusers walk free among the masses. Exile and banishment are the least of what they deserve. Personally I think 3 days on a cross would be to kind a fate for these vile monsters wearing the form of humans. They are not human the moment they cross that line.

      Id personally condone impalement Prince Vlad style. That is what predators of the young deserve frankly.

  3. Barry says:

    Did it once,will more than likely do it again.
    Time to change careers

  4. Wendy says:

    One of the more disturbing aspects of this wan’t mentioned in this particular story. His congregation gave him a standing ovation when he admitted it! How…HOW…is that a sane response to finding out that your pastor is a rapist? HOW? http://www.ksdk.com/article/news/nation-now/tenn-pastor-admits-to-sexual-incident-with-teen-receives-standing-ovation-from-congregation/63-506753192

  5. thomas says:

    NO PASTORS IN PUBLIC BATHROOMS!!!! THEY MOLEST SO MANY KIDS! AAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH

  6. James Pace says:

    Funny how he only addressed it and asked forgiveness AFTER she made it public…..

  7. drrgrivera says:

    WHAT THESE 2 IDIOTS AND MANY MORE LIKE THEM, NEED TO DO IS
    WEAR THEMSELVES OUT ON THEIR WIVES OR GIRL FRIEND, 365 DAYS IN A YEAR AND
    REST ONE DAY ON LEAP YEAR….[THEY’LL NEED TO]
    TO AVOID THE IDIOTIC TROUBLE, THEY CAUSE FOR THEMSELVES.

    ANYWAY THAT’S THE HUMAN CONDITION.
    IT’S WHY WE’VE BEEN ISOLATED ON EARTH
    SO THAT WE DON’T GO “”BLEEP!!!!!!!” UP, ANY WHERE
    BUT ON EARTH.

    1. JOHN MAHER says:

      THESE OCCURRENCES are MENTAL PROBLEMS ASSUREDLY BUTT THEN LOOK @ DOTAR ORANGUtRUMP and HIS CONCUBINE IVANKA, I WONDER if THEY MENAGE ET TROIS with whats HIS NAME ???

  8. T'Keren Valmaz says:

    It is indeed the height of typical radical christian depravity when a group of people applaud and thereby condone such a vile and loathsome act. I personally feel sexual assault should be treated as attempted murder since many who are victims of such go on to self destruct one way or another. It causes trauma that will persist for the rest of their life. It can cause PTSD and make having happy healthy sexual relationships difficult to say the least.

    So yes in my humble view this man should be treated as an amoral villain unfit for anywhere but isolation along with other such unforgivable monsters.

  9. rabbi jim says:

    Greetings all! The pastor should be condemned as a criminal, subject to all punishment under the law. Sexual assault is a crime and disgrace to humanity. He, of all people, should know the value of love and respect to humanity. He should be stripped of his robes and sentenced to a long prison term without reprieve. Shalom, and have a wonderful and joyous new year!

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