The Illinois megachurch Harvest Bible Chapel has strict bylaws that say: “marriage involves the sacred joining together of one man and one woman in faithful, permanent union” and say that homosexuality and bisexuality are sexual sins. The church doesn’t stop there – women are also not allowed in church positions where “they exercise authority over men.”
Despite their freakish bylaws, they employed 24-year-old Paxton Singer – who was recently arrested for sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy. Singer allegedly told the boy that the two should spend a weekend alone together, asked him invasive questions about his sexual habits and requested nude photos.
At some point in 2018, the Harvest Bible Chapel fired Singer. But the megachurch declined to report Singer so that he could be investigated and stopped from abusing more children.
Leaders at the Harvest Bible Chapel claimed that they told the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) the day their found out what happened and fired Singer, but a DCFS official told the Chicago Tribune that the charges actually stem from a call made to their hotline months later.
But the 16-year-old boy that he was arrested for was likely not the only one. Singer worked at a separate Harvest Bible Chapel location in Illinois where it’s alleged that he behaved inappropriately toward three other male teens there.
The judge in Singer’s case ruled on Friday that one of the other three teens sexually harassed by Singer can testify about inappropriate text and Snapchat messages that Singer sent him.
A third teen will not be allowed to testify because he was 17 at the time – the age of consent in Illinois.
This isn’t the first time that Harvest Bible Chapel has been embroiled in scandal. The leader and founder of the megachurch, James MacDonald, was fired in the spring as police investigated him for murder for hire allegations and comments he made on a radio program about planting child pornography on Christianity Today CEO’s Harold Smith’s computer.