American Protestant congregations are notorious for holding their “pastors”- sometimes just referred to as “Pastor” -in a liking that is unhealthy. This can happen with any religious denomination, and while it is good to respect religious authority figures, it can lead to creating a cult of personality or to ignore aspects of a man that are not good. In some cases, people may come to the defense of criminal behavior in the name of “helping” their supposed leader.
Such as a recent case at a “church” in Florida, where a “Pastor” turned himself into the police after raping two pre-teen girls and then having them watch each others rapes, at which time when calls from the media came to the “church”, the person who answered the phone said that “Pastor” did nothing wrong and hung up:
A Miami preacher was arrested Friday after police said he repeatedly raped two young girls in his bedroom and forced them to witness each other’s assault.
Yunior Beltres, a 54-year-old citizen of the Dominican Republic, was charged with two counts of sexual battery on a minor, police said. The alleged victims are 9 and 10 years old.
The girls, whose relationship to Beltres was not disclosed, reported the abuse to police in July. They said the assaults occurred in May and June at his home in the 300 block of Northeast 118th Terrace in Miami.
Beltres, a preacher at Evangelistic Ministry of Columns of Fire, lists his home as the mailing address of his congregation, according to records filed with Florida’s Division of Corporations.
The congregation, also known as Ministerio Evangelistico Columnas de Fuego, is located on the second floor at 2052 NW 22nd Ct. in Miami, according to state records. Beltres has been affiliated with the organization since at least 1996, according to the records.
A woman who answered the phone number listed for the religious organization on Friday said that Beltres was a pastor at the congregation and that the accusations against him were false. She did not provide her name and hung up on a reporter.
In the voice greeting for the phone number, Beltres identifies himself as a pastor and wishes blessings on his callers.
Videos posted to Facebook by members of the congregation show Beltres delivering impassioned and booming sermons in Spanish.
In one video, posted Aug. 15, Beltres preaches about responding to critics of his faith. He comments on the “lost souls” of society.
“Even if they reject you a thousand times or spit in your face — even if they call you a crazy fanatic,” he said, yelling. “Yes, I’m a crazy person of the third heaven.
“There are a thousand lost souls out there, but you all are pleased that you are saved,” he added.
Who this woman is one does not know. But if the statement is true from her, what is to be said about the girls that he is accused of assaulting? It is true that some women will lie about such things, either as a direct lie or to cover for consentual sex, but what is to be said about them? It is that they are ‘liars,’ or that one would rather defend “Pastor” at all costs?
Such things have been seen in the Catholic Church before, such as with the sexual abuse scandals of years past, where parents did not believe when their children said that a priest abused him. While children cannot be just believed without investigation, a serious accusation merits an equally thorough inquiry, and if it is found to be true, what else is there other to do other that see that the perpetrator is made to face his crimes?
The problem is found in all religions, but thankfully for the Church, this problem was forced to the surface by the sodomite abuse crisis, and this is a great blessing, as it forces evil to be exposed. Unfortunately, in the case of many of such smaller “churches”, while many may attack the Catholic or other churches, they tend to be rife with sexual abuse, usually heterosexual but sometimes involving children, and it is seldom discussed.
It is not that the problems are new or unique, but that they change forms and vary in intensity, and the sexual scandals that define much of American Evangelicalism are well-known to many but simply not talked about, and when discussed, often quietly, as the victims or those who saw such things happen and reported them but to no avail left a long time ago.