According to Karen Spears Zacharias, a blogger who focuses on issues related to Christian spirituality, she was alerted recently that an active member of the community within her own blog is not the Christian pastor he claims to be, but is instead a registered sex offender with a clear agenda “grooming” women online for possible exploitation.
Here’s Zacharias’s blog post from yesterday in which she lets other community members know what’s going on. Needless to say, she’s obviously disturbed and concerned, writing:
My own research reveals that this particular “minister” was arrested last year while serving as a pastor of media and technology at a church. He held a minister’s license by the denomination he was serving. He was arrested for failing to register as a sex offender.
The lead pastor at the church said that they were aware of this man’s past and that he “had accepted Christ as his savior and is a changed man … In this church, we really want to be redemptive to people, not condemn them for the past.”
About the man’s failure to register as a sex offender — an offense that landed him back in jail with a $10,000 bail — the lead pastor said: “He is someone who has paid his debt to society and has been living an upright life. But obviously he made a mistake, he should have registered.”
Here is the warning, in part, that I received and I’m putting out there for others to consider:
– He uses flattery to establish an emotional connection with women online (classic grooming)
– He acts as an advocate for women’s issues
– He offers prayers for the slightest thing
– He acts like a huge fan
– He speaks the language of the Church community
– His Twitter account states: I work in Christian recovery and ex-offender re-entry and re-integration. Sometimes I get to preach at my church.
-He is targeting Christian women bloggers
I think that this blogger has done exactly the right thing by making sure that her own community knows what’s going on, but as she points out, she’s lucky that SHE knows what’s going on (she received a tip from another community member) because the anonymity of online community makes it pretty darn easy for creepy or even dangerous people to assume other identities and interact with bloggers and their readers.
We moms take a lot of care to warn our children and teenagers about staying safe online, but sometimes we forget that adults can be deceived as well.
If you are a blogger yourself or if you participate in any sort of online community/conversation, have you ever had an experience in which someone with whom you were engaging online turned out to be someone entirely different than they claimed? How did that make you feel? And what steps have you taken or do you recommend that other women participating in social media take to protect themselves from this kind of potentially dangerous situation? Please share your experiences, thoughts and safety tips in the comments below.
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