Some of you may recall that we have spent some time here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home covering the ongoing drama at Cedarville University, a conservative Christian college in Cedarville, Ohio. Most of our posts here have linked to the writings of University of Dayton historian Bill Trollinger, who has been covering the scandal at his Righting America blog. I encourage you to get up to speed here. Or, if you prefer, you can read our coverage here.
The bottom line is this: In 2017, Cedarville president Thomas White hired Anthony Moore to serve as a “Multicultural Recruiter” and “Biblical Research Fellow.” In a little over a year’s time, the Cedarville Board of Trustees gave Moore a faculty position in the school’s Biblical and Theological Studies Department and, in January 2019, White gave him the title “Special Advisor to the President for Kingdom Diversity.”
But, as Trollinger writes, “there was a problem.”
In his previous stint as an associate pastor at The Village Church in Fort Worth, Texas, Moore had secretly videotaped, on multiple occasions, a male youth pastor showering in Moore’s home. Trollinger adds: “More than this, Moore emotionally, verbally, and spiritually abused the victim for almost a decade. While videotaping could have brought a two-year jail sentence in Texas, the victim chose not to press charges.”
In January, 2017, The Village Church fired Moore. Matt Chandler, the lead pastor of the Fort Worth congregation, said that Moore was released for “grievous immoral actions against another adult member that disqualify him as an elder and staff member.”
A few months later, White hired Moore at Cedarville, despite the fact that the leadership of The Village Church had informed him of the reason behind Moore’s firing.
After more than three years at Cedarville, Moore was fired on April 22, 2020. Why? Because White learned that he did not have all the information about Moore’s behavior at The Village Church. “Instead of at most two videos,” White said in a statement, “I heard that there were at least five videos. Instead of this being over a short period of time, I heard that these were taken over a period of at least five months. I also heard details of an unhealthy friendship.”
So let’s try to get this logic straight. When a person secretly records TWO videos of a man in the shower it is fine. But FIVE videos? Now that is downright over the line.
Last month, the university trustees placed White on administrative leave, retained the Husch Blackwell law firm to investigate White’s role in Moore’s hiring, and signed-on with an evangelical public relations firm to handle damage control. It looks like the public relations firm is going to have its hands full during the next several weeks and beyond.
Today, the board of trustees of Cedarville (you can read their names here) reinstated White as president. Blogger Julie Roys is reporting that two of the members of the board resigned in protest. I guess the hiring of a sexual predator was the last straw. One of them was Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary:
My Letter of Resignation from the Board of Trustees of Cedarville University pic.twitter.com/eoPgT76FPo
— Daniel Akin (@DannyAkin) June 26, 2020
Here is the Cedarville press release:
WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees of Cedarville University was made aware of additional information related to Dr. Anthony Moore’s past that led to the termination of his employment by President Thomas White on April 23, 2020; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees considered this matter at the spring meeting of the Board and ordered three courses of action on May 1, 2020:
- To hire an independent firm to conduct an internal investigation to ensure nothing inappropriate involving Dr. Moore took place on our campus or with any of our students elsewhere. This firm will report to the Board, and the Board will then report the findings to the Cedarville University community at-large.
- To retain an independent firm to conduct an audit of the entire process surrounding the hiring of Dr. Moore. This will include a thorough review of all relevant communication involving Dr. White and Dr. Moore, the Trustees, The Village Church, employment references, etc. The firm will report its findings to the Board.
- To place Dr. White on administrative leave during these investigations and appointed Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Loren Reno as acting president of Cedarville University; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees asked Husch Blackwell LLP to conduct an investigation using its independent professional judgment and to present its findings to the Board; and
WHEREAS, Husch Blackwell LLP found no evidence that Dr. Moore engaged in any conduct of a sexual nature on campus or with any University student or employee elsewhere; and
WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees asked Husch Blackwell LLP to conduct an audit of the process surrounding the hiring of Dr. Moore using its independent professional judgment and to present its findings to the Board independent of any outside influence; and
WHEREAS, Husch Blackwell LLP found that:
- There is no reason to question President White’s benevolent motivation with respect to the overall enterprise of hiring Dr. Moore.
- It is reasonable to infer from the evidence available that President White took steps that he knew, or should have known, clouded the specific nature of Dr. Moore’s misconduct.
- It is reasonable to infer that President White subsequently failed to notify the Board of the specific nature of Dr. Moore’s misconduct; and
WHEREAS, President White has apologized for these mistakes, acknowledged his errors in judgment and oversight, and has expressed remorse for hiring Dr. Moore; and
WHEREAS, President White took action when he learned the full extent of Dr. Moore’s past; and
WHEREAS, President White has seven years of excellent service, and during his administrative leave he has continued to express remorse for his mistakes and has voluntarily cooperated with the internal investigation; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the Board of Trustees of Cedarville University reinstates President White from administrative leave; and be it
RESOLVED, that the Board of Trustees of Cedarville University is requiring Dr. White:
- To complete courses on victim prevention and victim advocacy
- To lead Cedarville University to emphasize victim prevention, awareness, advocacy, and other related areas; and be it
RESOLVED, that the Board of Trustees of Cedarville University commits to moving forward with humility, grace, mercy, integrity, civility, and respect and prays that God will be honored by these actions.
I know that many Cedarville alums were hoping that this scandal would lead the school in a new direction. Trollinger has been publishing testimonials of former students who have suffered under White’s leadership.
White has brought Cedarville into the national spotlight, but for all the wrong reasons. Here are just a few of our posts about his administration:
April 24, 2014: “What is Going on at Cedarville University?” (A story about an underground student newspaper that was squashed by the administration).
April 26, 2017: “What is Going on at Cedarville University?” (A story about Cedarville’s new “Philippians 4:8 curriculum reforms).
April 29, 2017: “Cedarville University President Responds” (backlash related to the Philippians 4:8 curriculum).
May 1, 2017: “Cedarville University Proposes Concealed Carry Policy.”
November 28, 2017: “More Thoughts on Cedarville’s ‘Biblically Consistent Curriculum”
Do you sense a pattern here?
So expect it to be business as usual, at least for the near future, at Cedarville University.
And let’s always remember, not all Christian colleges are the same.