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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.”

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“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.”

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.

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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.

“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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2020 Election

A historian of Nazi Germany explains why the divided opposition to Trump should terrify you

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As we witnessed in the third Democratic primary debate last week, Democratic presidential candidates are struggling to distinguish themselves from their party rivals and competing for endorsements. Their horizontal vision in these disagreements diverts their gaze from the peril we face as Donald Trump dismantles the norms that have guided our political life since 1776.

Whatever their differences, Democratic candidates must agree to broad principles related to key issues, for example, immigration, health care, and the growing wealth gap. A general consensus would leave plenty of room for healthy debates about implementation, but failure to emphasize shared ideals in relationship to two or three major questions will blunt Democrats’ offensive against a candidate whose campaign is based on slander and fear.

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2020 Election

Trump’s longshot bid to win New Mexico has political leaders baffled: ‘He’s a batsh*t racist’

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Despite losing New Mexico by eight points in the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump and his campaign manager Brad Pascale are making big plans to win the state in 2020 -- and that has political observers baffled.

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Why won’t the Democrats talk openly about impeachment?

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The ABC/Univision Democratic debate last week ran a bit more smoothly than the previous two, even managing to squeeze in a decent discussion on climate change and Afghanistan policy. These events are always more theater than substance, particularly with so many people on the stage. But early debates in the primary season are where engaged partisan voters outside the early states get a chance to see the larger field of candidates and develop a sense of where the party's center of gravity is in the current election cycle.

This article was originally published at Salon

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