A church in Jacksonville, Florida is coming under fire for its controversial decision to ban children from its church services.
According to a local Jacksonville news affilate, Christ Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church has banned children from attending Sunday services because their new pastor, Darrell Gilyard, is a registered sex offender and cannot have contact with children.
In 2009 Gilyard plead guilty to lewd conduct and lewd molestation of two underage girls. While he was the pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church Gilyard molested a 15-year-old girl and sent a lewd text message to another. Under the conditions of his plea agreement, Gilyard cannot have “unsupervised contact with children under 18 years old,” and his new church has taken extraordinary steps to help Gilyard stick to the terms of his deal.
Despite the seriousness of his offense, Gilyard’s return to the pulpit was swift. After being released from jail on December 28, he resumed preaching in January, and told reporters he hopes he can move past this incident and continue with his work.
“Somehow I will prove that life isn’t over when one has committed a crime for which he receives this heinous label,” Gilyard told a reporter, ironically through text message. “You don’t have to languish on the fringes of society.”
While I believe in forgiveness, banning children from church in order to welcome a pedofile into the fold is not only creepy, but it’s downright shameful.
What do you think? What kind of message is Gilyard’s church sending to its youth?