Righting America

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Unrest and Status Quo at Cedarville | Righting America

by William Trollinger

Photo of graffiti painted in big white letters on a rock painted blue that says "Dr. White Hypocrite you're here!" with a thumb's up on the side.
“Dr. White Hypocrite” painted on a rock outside of Stevens Student Center on Cedarville University’s Campus.

The Cedarville mess just gets worse. And the folks in charge apparently do nothing. But, remarkably, there are folks on the outside who are trying to help victims of the scandal.

Before we get to that, here is an extraordinarily abbreviated summary of the ongoing scandal. 

In 2017, Paige Patterson-protégé Thomas White – who apparently participated in Patterson’s effort to cover up a rape at Southeastern Seminary in 2003 – hired Anthony Moore with the full knowledge that Moore had just been fired from his position at a Fort Worth TX megachurch for repeatedly filming the male youth pastor taking showers. White knew, Jason Lee (Cedarville’s Dean of Theology) knew, and the pastor of a local church (whom White asked to serve as Moore’s mentor) knew . . .  and it appears very likely that a number of other Cedarville administrators and trustees also knew. But White and his collaborators failed to inform faculty, staff, and students about Moore’s (very recent) past. 

Moore moved up the ladder at Cedarville, to the point of being appointed as special advisor to the president. Then, this April the story broke. Moore was fired, and the local pastor resigned. More than this, stories began coming out about how – under White’s leadership – the tenure process was undermined, Title IX mandates were ignored or circumvented, and (in Cedarville’s culture of toxic masculinity) female students who had been raped and sexually harassed were denied care and justice. 

(If you would like the full story in all its sordid details, see (and these are in chronological order): here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here).

At a normal university, the Board of Trustees would have immediately relieved White and his collaborators of their jobs. But Cedarville is not a normal university. It is a fundamentalist institution that operates according to its own peculiar and perverse logic. And the school’s trustees – most of them at least – seem remarkably unconcerned with all of the above. 

As one Cedarville person has observed, “White and other administrators have always gaslighted us employees, but the trustees have taken that to a whole new level!” 

So it is status quo at Cedarville, and White and company remain on the job.

Just to be clear: the local pastor has resigned for doing what the Cedarville president asked him to do, but that president – and his collaborators – remain safely ensconced in their posts.

Of course, one could imagine that an honorable person would have voluntarily resigned their position. But it is way too late for Thomas White to do the honorable thing. Is it simply that he can’t give up the 9000 square foot house (!) that the Board of Trustees is building for him and his family?

It is important to note that, in contrast with White and his collaborators, two trustees did act honorably. In response to their colleagues’ decision to retain White, they resigned from the Board.

More than this, a person with long-standing and very deep ties to Cedarville has very recently issued a public letter, in which he observes that 

Even our declining culture takes such abusive leadership and the mishandling of sexual offenses more seriously than the Trustees of Cedarville University. I never would have thought we would see such a day in my lifetime. Wonderful. We are now left with an institution whose standards are lower than the culture around it . . . 

As an alumnus, as the son of the first campus pastor and Vice President for Christian Ministries (’70-’95), and as the pastor of the church that gave birth to Cedarville Baptist School in 1953, regrettably, I can no longer endorse the school. If it were possible, I would ask for the return of the motto that our church gave to the school, “For the Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus Christ.”

The president frequently concludes his letters, videos, and social media statements with the line, “God is faithful. You can trust Him.” That is so true. And in that we all can rest. Unfortunately, the same can no longer be said about the governing body and the executive officer of Cedarville University.

On Cedarville’s campus, and as seen in the photo accompanying the post, someone (apparently a student) painted “Dr. White Hypocrite” on a rock outside the Stevens Student Center. Not surprisingly, by morning it had been painted over (presumably by campus security). 

But there are signs that there will be unrest among students and faculty when school starts again. And as noted before, formal complaints have been filed with the Higher Learning Commission, responsible for accrediting Cedarville. 

Who knows where this story will end. In the meantime, there are students and faculty – particularly, but not only, women students, faculty, and staff members – who are forced to deal with ongoing abuse at a university that does nothing to protect them, and that actually discourages them from seeking help outside the Cedarville bubble.

In response to this appalling situation, and in dramatic contrast with the Board of Trustees, a source (who remains anonymous because of her connections with folks at the university) has very generously provided a list of resources for those who have been harassed and/or abused, and whose emotional and mental challenges have been dismissed by authorities at the university: 

As a graduate of Cedarville, and as a Licensed Professional Counselor, I want to reach out to current or past students, faculty or staff in the Cedarville area who may be looking for counseling from a Christian perspective that is also guided by the rules, ethics, and standards of the State of Ohio. Counseling that offers acceptance, confidentiality, grace, and will affirm your perspective on medication to treat any mental health issues.

One major hurdle in therapy that I come across is spiritual guilt over mental health issues – as though anxiety, depression, bipolar, etc. are somehow marks of a “less-than” Christian and present a barrier in our relationship with God. We are ALL broken due to sin, and struggling with these issues is part of living in a fallen world. In fact, I believe scripture shows us that God CHOOSES to use people who don’t have it all together, and is in fact very present for the broken-hearted. God wants us to come and lay out our mess so He can do the cleaning….not for us to tidy up before we come to Him.

  • Citi Lookout,CitiLookout.org,
    • Counseling Center & Trauma Recovery Center
    • Telecounseling & In-person Appointments
    • Springfield, Ohio
    • Individual Counseling, Trauma Recovery, Journey to Freedom
    • Phone Number:  937-322-6532
    • Sliding Scale (based on need)
  • New Creation Counseling Center
    • newcreationcounselingcenter.org
    • Telecounseling & In-person Appointments
    • Locations in Centerville, Tipp City, and Dayton, Ohio
    • Psychiatry Services, Individual Counseling
    • Intake Number:  937-506-0674
    • Accepts Insurance & Sliding Fee Scale (based on need)

One would think that such information for abused and troubled members of the university community would come from the school itself. 

But that’s not Cedarville.