A bishop in Utah is using his pulpit to speak out against his own church’s past behavior, as he defends a leader who was convicted of sexual abuse and other crimes.
Grace Lutheran Church in the Uintah County has been the subject of widespread criticism over the years, with critics saying the church abused its position as a religious leader.
Griffith L. Luthard resigned as pastor in 2013 and led a retreat for members.
During that retreat, Luthards wife was raped and sexually abused by a member, according to the church’s own internal investigation.
Lutz later told investigators that he had never told his wife to stop reporting the abuse.
The church has long denied Luthands wife’s allegations, but the Salt Lake Tribune reports that church leaders did not tell the church that it was possible that Luthand was a rapist.
The church also claimed that Lutz had told the woman to stop trying to help the church because it was against church teachings to have sexual relations with children.
In a statement to the Tribune, Grace Lutheran Church said it “does not tolerate the inappropriate sexual conduct of any member, nor does it tolerate sexual abuse of any child.”
The church also defended Luthans actions.
“Grace’s leadership has been exemplary in this matter,” the church said in a statement.
“We are committed to protecting all children, and as such, the church does not tolerate sexual misconduct of any sort, whether it be against a child or a member.”