The Daily Record this week is airing the dirty laundry of Rev. Mike McCurry at Mosspark Baptist Church. Now, the story itself is hardly the stuff of legend. Older married minister of a church and respected member of the community has an affair with a 21-year-old female parishioner, Victoria. When caught, he denies the affair existed, claiming the girl stalked him and made up false allegations. She, on the other hand, has numerous witnesses and ‘text-ual’ evidence to support her claims, showing McCurry to be a liar. Now, the rights and wrongs of their affair hold little interest for me. But, what struck me when reading this tale was the anti-women attitude taken by the Church in this case.
The Church leadership, not McCurry, told Victoria that McCurry no longer wanted to see her. When she showed up at church to confront him, having never been told by McCurry that he wanted the relationship finished, the Church leadership would not let her talk to him, essentially treating her as the wrong-doer. The scandal caused her so much heartbreak that she left her job and family to move to England. She only returned to testify at the Church hearing after McCurry claimed that she was a stalker and her mother, a member of the Church, challenged his lies. McCurry has subsequently been allowed to continue in his post as minister, but he and Victoria are not allowed any further contact. Now this seems to me, the equivalent of ejecting Victoria from her church and ‘community’. How can a church member have communion within a church where she is not allowed to interact with the minister?
I would not like to paint Victoria as victim with no agency. At 21, she made a choice. But, it isn’t too hard to see that McCurry is significantly more culpable in this affair. He was the leader in the Church, holding a position of authority over Victoria, who was half his age. He was the person betraying his wife and congregation (and presumably God) through rejecting his vows of fidelity to his wife and faithfulness to the tenets of his religion. So why is it that Victoria is effectively removed from the congregation and forced to leave her community, and he remains?
I don’t necessarily think McCurry should lose his job- this is a decision for the Church. But, I do think that the Church has to consider that they have a responsibility to more than McCurry; that they should have taken action to protect Victoria, to listen to her side of the story, and to ensure that she remained welcome in her community. It seems to me that if the Church wants to continue to have a place in modern society then it needs to treat women with considerably more respect. It also seems to me that if I were a member of such a Church, I wouldn’t want to be led by a man who happily lies to save his own back at the expense of another.