“His church should have more say in any restoration. More so, the victim needs to be taken into account and be ministered to and cared for as a top priority,” Thigpen said. “Hunt’s survivor wasn’t even mentioned during the pastors’ talk of Hunt’s restoration.”
“Hunt didn’t only sin when he attacked her but he’d already preyed on her sinfully in his mind,” Thigpen recalled from the Guidepost report. “He then admitted, scoffed, and stated it was a good thing he didn’t go through with it to which he later retracted and then downplayed.”
Thigpen explained that the most telling aspect of Hunt’s side of the story was when he “lied vehemently” and “denied the claims publicly.” His display was the picture of a “man who wasn’t broken and humbled by his depravity.” Hunt didn’t voluntarily confess, “he was caught and exposed and then lied.”
Galatians doesn’t state to “always restore a pastor. In fact, I’d say there’s far more scripture stating the qualifications” of a pastor than restoring one, Thigpen said. “A man walking so separately from God that doesn’t correct his path but plans it out so he can get alone with a victim, is a man who needs to be ministered to and counseled in his personal life, not restored to teach others.”
“These four men have done him a disservice and have harmed their own witness,” Thigpen stated. They didn’t heed the Apostle Paul’s warning in Galatians “of not becoming complicit yourself in the process of helping him—a travesty for the victim, her family, the church, Johnny’s family.”
Thigpen expressed her appreciation for Barber’s statement, wherein he took a strong stance against Hunt’s restoration. Barber shared that if he had the authority to do so, he would permanently “defrock” Johnny Hunt. Nevertheless, he does not possess that authority, “because the SBC is a fellowship of autonomous churches.”
Restoration to a ministry position after a sexual assault sin “shouldn’t be debated or an option,” Thigpen said.
“Qualifications and expectations for ministers should be hard and fast,” she said. They can still be ministered to, helped, loved, cared for and the most loving thing to do is hold them accountable to God’s standards, in love.”
Thigpen warned that if the church doesn’t do this, “then we will be right back to all of this in 30 years just as the reckoning that has happened with the Patterson, Vines, Pressler, Hunt, Zacharias, etc., and the corrupt power structures that allowed no accountability.”
“We cannot allow predators to hold power and influence in our churches. We must hold fast to the display they give us not in words but also in actions. That is how we discern,” Thigpen concluded.