“Look out your window, baby, there’s a scene you’d like to catch
The band is playing “Dixie,” a man got his hand outstretched
Could be the Führer
Could be the local priest
You know sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace” Bob Dylan
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I want to thank Jeffrey Chalmers for directing my attention to this story.
Special thanks to Bob Dylan* for the title of this post.
Harry Thomas, Christian pastor, and Christian famous music festival founder, was also a child molester.
On 12/8/17, Religion News Services posted Founder of nation’s largest Christian music festival charged with child molestation. It was subtitled: Harry Thomas, founder of the Creation Festival, has been ‘indefinitely suspended’ from leadership of the festival and his church after he was arrested Wednesday (Dec. 6) on charges of child molestation.
Harry L. Thomas, 74, was charged Wednesday (Dec. 6) with sexually assaulting four minors “over a lengthy period of time ending two years ago,” according to the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office. The charges include one count of aggravated sexual assault, three counts of sexual assault and four counts of endangering the welfare of children.
Those alleged assaults occurred over a 16-year period between 1999 and 2015 in Medford Township, N.J., where Thomas lives, according to the prosecutor’s office. His church — Come Alive New Testament Church, which has been described as charismatic — also is in Medford Township.
Thomas helped start this festival in 1979 and watched it grow to over 100,000 attendees. It took place outside a park in Lancaster, PA, and was very well known on the eastern seaboard. It featured the well-known CCM performers such as Amy Grant, For King and Country, Casting Crowns, etc.
Thomas invited a number of “notable evangelical speakers” like CJ Mahaney.
The next year, for Creation ’80, Thomas booked Barry McGuire and Phil Keaggy, as well as a line of notable evangelical preachers, including pastor C. J. Mahaney, Eastern University professor Tony Campolo, and “700 Club” cohost Ben Kinchlow.
More than 8,000 people showed up and many teenagers committed their lives to Christ, some getting baptized right there in rural Pennsylvania.
NJ.Com 12/13/17 added more information in What we know about pastor, founder of Christian rock festival accused of sexual assault.
- He pled “not guilty.”
- (The assaults) occurred between 1999 and 2015
- The pastor entered the courtroom with a walker. He was receiving medical treatment prior to the court appearance, with an officer guarding him in a medical facility following his arrest last Wednesday, authorities said. (Dee says this reminds her of a number of folks entering courtrooms like Michael Jackson, Harvey Weinstein, and Mafia kingpins)
- Burlington County Superior Court Judge Thomas Kelly called the situation “complicated,” noting “there’s relationships involved,” and “not just one alleged victim, but a multitude of four” alleging crimes that carry “serious criminal charges.”
According to Come Alive Church/NJ.Com
- The Come Alive Church in Medford was founded in 1983 by Thomas, and held its first services in a local school building.
- The website said Thomas has a masters in divinity from Eastern Seminary. He graduated from Houghton College in New York in 1965, with a bachelor of arts in sociology.
- The church, located on Old Marlton Pike, draws speakers from around the country for various events, including former Cleveland Browns player William Green, who came to the church in July.
The church appeared to be dependent on Thomas’s fame. It has since closed.
In July 2018, The Courier Post wrote Medford pastor gets ‘death sentence’ in child sex assault case. Well, actually, he didn’t, but he got a sentence that would most likely see him dying in prison. During the previous months, Thomas had entered a guilty plea. Then he attempted to withdraw it. But the judge was having none of it.
- received an 18-year prison term for sexual offenses against five young girls. (Ed: Note there was one more child discoverd.)r
- Thomas was 75, meaning he would be 93 when released which means he would most likey die in prison.
The victims and family members were allowed to speak after the sentencing.
“I hate you,” said one victim, who detailed emotional torment in a statement read on her behalf.
And while one victim’s relative quoted Scripture, another called the pastor a “scumbag” and angrily snapped, “Harry Thomas, you surely will rot in hell.”
“This person is a ravenous wolf,” the father of one girl said of Thomas, a silver-haired grandfather who played Santa Claus. “He is one of the greatest hypocrites — a child molester masquerading as a pastor.”
…What fools we all were,” said the aunt of one girl. “You used the fact that these kids loved you. You groomed them all and us, too.
The prosecutors and lawyers for the family agreed.
Assistant Burlington County Prosecutor Stephen Eife said in arguing for a 20-year sentence.
“He’s the devil incarnate,” Eife said.
…An attorney representing the victims, Craig Hubert of Lawrenceville, described Thomas’ actions as “a horrific tragedy” that will persist through the victims’ lives.
Thomas tried to get out of his guilty plea, and his reasoning nauseated me.
I went back to see why Thomas tried to withdraw his guilty plea. What I found made me sick. I found this article in The Courier Post. Harry Thomas, former Medford pastor, loses bid to withdraw guilty plea.
But in arguments before an appeals court, Thomas contended his plea was invalid because his testimony had not established an adequate factual basis for four charges against him.
For instance, the ruling noted, the pastor had admitted at his plea hearing to “committing an act of digital penetration” against a 9-year-old girl, identified as K.V., in August 2014.
…But Thomas argued on appeal that his testimony “did not reflect where on the victim’s body he digitally penetrated her,” it said.
…He asserted on appeal, however, that his plea hearing had not established he touched the girls “for the purpose of degrading or humiliating his victims or for his sexual arousal or gratification.”
Thankfully, his appeal to withdraw his plea was denied. This action led me to believe that Thomas was not at all repentant for his actions. For some reason, it reminded me of Ravi Zacharias at the end of his life, still contacting women on his phone.
Thomas died in prison in June 2022.
Christianity Today posted Died: Harry Thomas, Cofounder of Creation Festival and Child Rapist
Another, looking across a New Jersey courtroom at the pastor and one-time Christian radio DJ, said, “Harry Thomas, you will surely rot in hell.”
Thomas wept as he was sentenced to 18 years in prison and said he was sorry for the pain he’d caused.
“I agree with the Scriptures,” he said. “It would be better for a millstone to be hung around my neck and be cast into the sea. That’s what I deserve.”
Before his arrest, Thomas was an ordained Baptist pastor with charismatic leanings and the man behind one of the largest evangelical youth gatherings in the country. It started, as he regularly the story, with a vision he had in 1971.
However, there were some questions about his festival.
The festival wasn’t all emotional connections to God and river baptisms, of course. Visiting reporters were fond of taking note of the undecipherable lyrics of some of the songs and the too-decipherable slogans on some of the merchandise, with T-shirts that said things like “My friends went to Hell and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.”
…The journalist John Jeremiah Sullivan wrote a long first-person account for GQ in 2004. He drove to the festival in a 29-foot RV, fell in with a bunch of young Pentecostals and one Baptist who were volunteering at Creation, and before long started to revisit his own history of belief and how he’d drifted away.
“One has doubts about one’s doubts,” Sullivan wrote.
He couldn’t stand most of the music—though he thought Pedro the Lion was alright—and the adults at the festival come across in the article as shouting, sweaty monstrosities. But Sullivan was nonetheless moved by the teenagers.
It appears Thomas also had a history of controversy beyond his molestation of children.
Thomas was criticized previously at a 2014 congressional hearing for his advocacy on behalf of a couple from his church who were accused of starving four foster children, according to New Jersey’s Courier Post.
Did he fail his God?
“Harry Thomas failed,” said Craig Hubert, an attorney for one of the victims, at the time of sentencing. “He failed himself, he failed his family, he failed his community, which includes his church … and he failed his God.”
I don’t know. Did he really care about God in the first place? Was his faith merely a passport to getting close to well-known people and little children? I would tend to lean in this direction. He knew how to quote Scripture, but so did Satan. But who really knows what goes on in a man’s soul but God?
To the victims and their families:
Our hearts go out to those children and their families who Thomas victimized. He was a skilled predator who used the church and CCM to get close to his prey. I believe that it is likely he could have molested more children who did not come forward. I stopped and prayed for them to find the peace that passes all understanding. Thomas, by now, has stood before the Ultimate Judge. Jesus gave us a clue about how that might go. Perhaps Thomas had an inkling of his future since he quoted this at the trial. Mark 9:42 NIV
If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.
* Man of Peace\The Official Bob Dylan Site link
Here are the first three verses.
Look out your window, baby, there’s a scene you’d like to catch
The band is playing “Dixie,” a man got his hand outstretched
Could be the Führer
Could be the local priest
You know sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace
He got a sweet gift of gab, he got a harmonious tongue
He knows every song of love that ever has been sung
Good intentions can be evil
Both hands can be full of grease
You know that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace
Well, first he’s in the background, then he’s in the front
Both eyes are looking like they’re on a rabbit hunt
Nobody can see through him
No, not even the Chief of Police
You know that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace.