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After getting caught having sex with former congregants, Franklin Graham’s nephew launches new church based on ‘redemption’

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Tullian Tchividjian insists that when he had extra-marital affairs with congregants at his former church, they were “consensual” and not an abuse of power. Nevertheless, he’s getting a second shot with the upcoming launch of his new church in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, The Christian Post reports.

“I don’t care what role a person has, a consensual relationship between two adults is not abuse. And some of these people will try to make the case that, ‘Well, because you’re in a position of authority, it is abuse,’” Tchividjian, who is the nephew of evangelical figurehead Franklin Graham and the grandson of famed evangelist Billy Graham, told the Palm Beach Post this weekend. “And I’ll go, ‘OK I can see how that has been and can be used by people in those positions.’ … [But] that just was not true for me. I was not abusing my authoritative role to try and find women.”

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The opening of the new church, named The Sanctuary, will mark the first time Tchividjian returns to the pulpit after he resigned in June 2015 as senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in northern Fort Lauderdale.

From the Palm Beach Post:

Tchividjian was forced to resign because he violated a morality contract by having an extramarital affair, according to a filing in his divorce case. But the woman who said she was involved in the affair … call it pastoral abuse and sexual misconduct.

Tchividjian is marketing his new church as a “safe place for broken people to break down and for fallen people to fall down.”

“The church ought to be a sanctuary,” he said. “It ought to be a place of refuge and safety. It ought to be a place where people come and feel freedom to tell the truth about themselves without fear of rejection.”

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The former congregant who accused Tchividjian of sexual abuse, Rachel Steele, said that while Tchividjian has been allowed to move on and reinvent himself, she’s been having difficulty putting her life back together after being ostracized.

“The loss of my faith hurts and you can’t get that back,” she said, adding that she’s sickened at the thought of him leading another church.

Speaking to the Palm Beach Post, Tchividjian said that he’s well aware that some people might not like the idea of him returning to preaching.

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“Some people think that I should just shut up and crawl in a cave and never come out because I’m not qualified to be leading spiritually in any way because of everything that I went through and everything that I did,” he said. “Other people champion it because they go, ‘It’s about time that churches are led by people who know what it feels like to, you know, fall on their face and be in the gutter.’”

Meanwhile, Steele is still waiting for an apology.

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“Repentance, the biblical word, means to turn around, to change direction,” she said. “He’s been going in one direction.”


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Carl Bernstein: There are 7-9 ‘wobbly’ Republicans who want witnesses but Mitch McConnell is trying to block them

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In a CNN panel discussion Wednesday, notorious Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein revealed that there are seven to nine Republican senators who are wavering after the compelling argument that the House has provided for the impeachment. The problem, however, is that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is refusing to allow any break from the party line.

"I think this is a hugely damaging narrative that was laid out today, and that Mitch McConnell understands, and has understood for a while that this hugely damaging narrative was going to affect his members," said Bernstein. "And that his strategy -- I've talked to some Republicans about this -- #MidnightMitch is to wear out his own members so that they don't vote for more witnesses because there are six, seven, eight, nine wobbly Republicans."

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Republican Kevin McCarthy gets taken down by former top GOP colleague

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Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was attacked by a former Republican colleague who alleged McCarthy and his fellow members of Congress have allowed the House GOP to become the official shill for the White House.

In a profile for the New York Times, former Oversight Committee Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) shamed the GOP House for the way that a once-respectable institution has fallen.

“Congress no longer operates as an independent branch of government, but as an appendage of the executive branch,” said Davis. “He is made for that role.”

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Former senator reveals to Maddow how one brave Democrat can reveal key document in impeachment trial

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Near the end of Wednesday's impeachment trial, Chief Justice John Roberts announced that an agreement had been made to allow senators to read supplemental testimony from Vice President Mike Pence aide Jennifer Williams.

The document will remain classified, despite claims that there is no classified material in the document, only evidence that is damning to the president.

"In terms of this document potentially being improperly classified, which is something that has been raised in writing by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and raised on the floor of the Senate tonight by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)," MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow noted. "Obviously, it was the vice president's office that said it was classified, they are getting publicly criticized for that. If it has been improperly classified and it should be something that the public can see, who adjudicates that?"

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