Days after Fairview Baptist Church youth pastor Cory Wall handed out “I ❤️ hot youth pastors” stickers to kids, the Greer, South Carolina church says he’s been “placed on administrative leave.” However, their statement is hardly an apology and fails to acknowledge why so many people in the community are upset.
As I recently posted, after the sticker began making the rounds on social media, Wall himself admitted he handed them out in an email, claiming he was just trying to poke fun at what he called the “I Love Hot Mom” culture. He added that the “joke” was a “mistake” and in “poor taste.”
The church’s leadership only said (in another private email) it had discussed the matter with Wall and that “he understands this should not have been shared with the students.”
The increased backlash, however, may have pressured them to issue another, more public, response. They did that this afternoon:
From the Fairview Personnel Team and Deacon Officers:
Our student pastor, Cory Wall, acknowledges that he made a poor decision and a mistake by making a sticker available that was offensive to some.
Cory has been placed on administrative leave and will not be involved in student leadership responsibilities while this situation is being investigated. There will be a thorough and comprehensive investigation. We take this matter very seriously and want to be proactive as we move forward. Our main goal is to always make our campus a safe place for anyone who attends.
This decision was made by our deacon officers and personnel team in keeping with our by-laws and personnel procedures. If questions, please contact them.
We will keep you updated as the process moves forward.
It’s a weak statement, to say the least.
Maybe the most egregious problem is that it claims the stickers were merely “offensive to some,” as if the only problem with it was that it upset a few people, not that it suggested a completely inappropriate relationship with “hot youth pastors” and completely ignored the very real sexual abuse crisis in the Southern Baptist Convention (to which Fairview Greer belongs). It also suggests the church leaders were not offended by it.
Placing Cory Wall on temporary leave is fine, but what is there to investigate? He already admitted doing it. There’s no mystery here. This case doesn’t need to be cracked. What is the punishment, really, other than keeping him away from kids for a few weeks? How will he prove to anyone that he deserves to be a youth pastor and that he’s safe for kids to be around? How many “strikes” does he get?
Does the church consider this “grooming” or harmless? And what do they think about gay teachers who have pictures of their partners on their desks?
Can Cory Wall or anyone else at this church explain the “joke”? Seriously. Since they don’t seem to think it’s a big deal, then put in writing what we’re all supposed to take away from it. I would love to read that.
What is the church going to do to make sure this doesn’t happen again—with any staffer?
Who are church leaders talking to in order to educate themselves about how to interact with children since it seems like no one there knows how to do it?
What exactly do their “by-laws and personnel procedures” say about situations like these? How specific do they get? Are changes being made? What changes? Why aren’t they transparent about it?
And, once again, will anyone at this church dare to admit that its own staff imperils more children than a drag queen at a library ever did?
I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for the answers. But the people in this community shouldn’t let up until they have them, and they sure as hell shouldn’t trust their kids to be around the adults at this church since no one there seems to be treating this matter with the seriousness it deserves.