Does Rick Warren’s Church Condone Domestic Violence?
Sheri Ferber is a petite strawberry-blonde with a pretty, round-cheeked face, and a voice that sometimes sounds hesitant. Four years ago, she approached a Saddleback pastor for protection against her husband, who’d violently attacked her while they were driving home from church. Instead of protecting her, Ferber says, the pastor [Tom Holladay] called her husband to warn him that Ferber had been “gossiping about their marriage.”
"It’s not like you can escape the pain,” he said, since the “short-term solution” of divorce leaves the “long-term pain” of a failed marriage. Holladay further qualified that domestic abuse meant regular beatings, not simply a spouse who “grabbed you once.”
For four years, Ferber pled her case with various Saddleback staffers. But “every door that would seem to open would slam shut.”. Eventually, she left Orange County, but hears from former church fellows that her ex-husband is now an official worship leader.
Saddleback is now launching a revamped 30-week domestic violence program for victims. Saddleback’s new policy is to advise unilateral legal separation in any unsafe spousal abuse cases and police intervention, so that, Baker says, “victims [are put] in the position where they have to get help.” Marriage counseling is no longer the first option, and a program for abusers is anticipated by year’s end.