Isn’t it always this way?

Guy rides to the top on little more than his charisma and confidence, and what happens? All his unpleasantness bubbles to the top.

The pastor of one of the country’s largest churches—and who Donald Trump once named as a spiritual adviser—has admitted to “inappropriate sexual behavior” with a woman who says he sexually abused her when she was just 12 years old.

On Friday, Cindy Clemishire told The Wartburg Watch, a religious watchdog blog, that Robert Morris, the pastor of Texas’ Gateway Church, asked her to come into his room when he stayed with her family for Christmas in 1982. She was 12 and he was 20 at the time. She said Morris molested her and then ordered her not to say anything about his behavior “because it will ruin everything.” The abuse continued for years before Clemishire confided in a close friend, prompting Morris’ wife to find out and Morris to step down from the ministry, according to the report.

When he made the standard tearful confession of guilt to his congregation, begging for forgiveness for this poor sinner, he admitted that he was guilty of “inappropriate sexual behavior,” he didn’t mention that his victim was 12 years old.

Elders at Gateway Church also told The Christian Post that Morris disclosed a “moral failure” and had since been absolved. He has not been criminally charged, but Texas’ statute of limitations does not cover sexual offenses committed against a child.

“Pastor Robert has been open and forthright about a moral failure he had over 35 years ago when he was in his twenties and prior to him starting Gateway Church. He has shared publicly from the pulpit the proper biblical steps he took in his lengthy restoration process,” they said, according to the Post.

“moral failure”. She was 12 years old. Jesus, these people. But he’s been absolved.

Atheists have their own examples of “moral failure” — Dave Silverman comes to mind — but at least we don’t pretend to “absolve” them.


  1. Reginald Selkirk says

    and who Donald Trump once named as a spiritual adviser

    OK, that part is totally believable and makes sense.

  2. Akira MacKenzie says

    Atheists have their own examples of “moral failure” — Dave Silverman comes to mind — but at least we don’t pretend to “absolve” them.

    Yeah, yet despite their uncountable outrages and abuses across history, society stills reveres and privileges Christianity and it followers.

    Meanwhile, moral failure from an atheist are just used against us and seen as “proof” of our depravity.

  3. lotharloo says

    Also, as much as I dislike Dave Silverman, he was not involved with a minor and a 12 years old at that. EEK.

  4. robro says

    So the elders at Gateway have absolved him for his “inappropriate sexual behavior” and “moral failure”. I wonder what that says about their moral failures…beyond excusing child rape. Are there other women in the wings?

    It’s none of our business, of course, but hopefully there was no issue from this inappropriate sexual behavior resulting in a child needing an abortion.

    Now then, the Texas DA should prosecute him. And Ms. Clemishire should sue him. I think legal and monetary redress would do a lot more absolving than prayers.

  5. StevoR says

    @ ^ robro : Agreed -and indeed are there more abused molested children in the wings? Almost ceratinly I’d reckon..

  6. birgerjohansson says

    Other ogres: The Catholic Church, the imams who say it was OK to marry the pre-pubescent Aisha when she was still playing with dolls…
    Maybe we should just release the virus from 28 Days Later and burn it all down.

  7. says

    “Moral failure”…like, he was TRYING to do something at the time, and it didn’t work out as intended? The obfuscation and minimizing language is strong with this lot…

    “Pastor Robert has been open and forthright about a moral failure he had over 35 years ago [after being not at all open or forthright for 35 years] when he was in his twenties [just a kid, we can’t expect him to be fully responsible at that age, can we?] and prior to him starting Gateway Church [so the church had nothing to do with it]. He has shared publicly from the pulpit [a narrow private forum which he pretty much owns] the proper [unspecified] biblical steps he took in his lengthy restoration process [and it’s a ‘process,’ so we don’t have to show any actual result or improvement] ,” they said, according to the Post.

  8. Walter Solomon says


    At least the guy with the comet suicide cult had himself castrated.

    Marshall Applewhite.

    I recently discovered he and Jim Jones were born in the same month and year only four days apart. Unlike Applewhite, Jones wasn’t castrated or celibate.

  9. awomanofnoimportance says

    I subscribe to a religious news service and the lion’s share of the stories involve sexual abuse or financial shenanigans. Which then leads to the obvious question: How many of these clergycritters actually believe in God, and for how many is it just a scam? Because if you take seriously the idea that God exists and there will be a final day of reckoning, I don’t see how you then proceed to spend your career fleecing the flock.

  10. JM says

    @10 awomanofnoimportance: In a lot of cases it works the other way around. People that constantly feel tempted and believe in god go into the church because they think their problems will go away if they repress and/or pray hard enough. This rarely works and they discover being a priest just gives them more opportunities to give in to temptation.

  11. tacitus says

    If you want a peek at the state of the evangelical church in America, you could do worse that go to Julie Roys’ website.

    There’s no fewer that six different reports about some kind of misconduct (mostly sexual) within the church, so she doesn’t pull any punches. There’s also an article about how far right radicals are weaponizing the homeschool movement and how one prominent evangelical was ghosted for telling the truth about Trump.

    She’s a conservative evangelical herself, but has absolutely no tolerance for the abusive practices and messages of many of their pastors and other leaders, which is rather refreshing to see.

    I’m pretty sure she gets more hate mail than most atheist bloggers for exposing the soft underbelly of the American evangelical church.

  12. tacitus says

    Oh, and at least half the comments on Roy’s site are a shitshow, but it does show that she is reaching the audience who most needs to hear about this stuff, even if most of them are undeterred so far.

  13. robro says

    tacitus @ #12 & #13 — If exposing the crass hypocrisy of evangelicals would change them, you might think it would have started back in 1927 when Sinclair Lewis published Elmer Gantry. But this is what he got then (per Wikipedia):

    On publication in 1927, Elmer Gantry created a public furor. The book was banned in Boston and other cities and denounced from pulpits across the United States.[4] One cleric suggested that Lewis should be imprisoned for five years, and there were also threats of physical violence against the author. Evangelist Billy Sunday called Lewis “Satan’s cohort”.

    I wouldn’t expect anyone to get different treatment today.

  14. imthegenieicandoanything says

    “He has not been criminally charged, but Texas’ statute of limitations does not cover sexual offenses committed against a child.”

    Despite there being a huge number of decent people there – many of them even Christians – THIS sort of thing reminds us that Texas is still best described as Hell, lacking any decency at all.

  15. eastexsteve says

    He could be charged in Texas because there’s no statue of limitations on the crime. Will they? Who knows.

  16. laurian says

    Why? Why? Why do adults rape children? I suspect it has to do a lot with being the victim of a Christian church that preaches the unworthiness of its congregants. This is not to excuse the rapists, just a guess at how they became so wrong.

  17. robro says

    nondeplume @ #18 — Trump has had lots of spiritual advisors all of the same sleazy quality. There’s several photos of a bunch. of them in the Oval Office laying their hands on him and praying of course.

  18. tacitus says

    @20: The reason why so many fundamentalist and evangelical churches issues with child sexual abuse is the amount of power and trust invested in church pastors and elders combined with easy access to trusting children of trusting parents.

    Kids can be easily intimidated into keeping quiet and adults are unwilling to believe that a man of God could possibly sexually assault a child.

    I don’t believe there’s any evidence to suggest that churches create child abusers at a greater rate than the general public, but the more authoritarian style conservative churches may be less likely to implement the safeguards against abuse that other religious and non-religious institutions utilize, and that might result in a greater amount of abuse.

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