Skip to main content

In the 1980s the idea emerged that psychological problems are often caused by unremembered sexual abuse, and that healing requires retrieval of memory. While much of main-stream psychology later questioned the validity and/or reliability of such memories, many evangelical therapists and ministry leaders have continued to be “carriers” of recovered memory approaches. Using case study data, Robert Priest and Esther Cordill explore ways in which evangelical ministries and therapies foster “recovered memories,” and examine the implications for the accused. They call for Christian scholars to engage actively the ideas and practices underpinning populist evangelical therapies and ministries featuring recovered memory ideas. Mr. Priest is Professor of Intercultural Studies at Trinity Evangeli-cal Divinity School and Ms. Cordill practices clinical psychology.

In August of 2009, at our invitation, three older men, former missionaries, voluntarily stripped off their shirts and submitted to polygraph tests, in popular parlance, lie-detector tests. The polygraph examiners were the best in their field. One trains polygraph examiners for the FBI, and each had extensive experience testing sex offenders. And that was the charge, which these missionaries denied, that they had sexually abused and raped three missionary children thirty years ago. What motivated our own interest was that the charges apparently emerged out of a process of recovered memory therapy, rather than reflecting memories always consciously available. But before examining these men’s cases, we begin with a brief introduction to the topic of “recovered memories.”

Sexual Abuse and the Challenge of “Recovered Memories”

In her award-winning 1986 book The Secret Trauma,1 sociologist Diana Russell demonstrated that sexual abuse was pervasive, though largely unacknowledged. Subsequent investigations confirmed widespread sexual abuse, not least in reli-gious settings. While public attention focused on Catholic clergy, sexual abuse by Protestant leaders was also documented. In one survey of 608 adult children of missionaries, 6.8% reported having experienced sexual abuse within their “school context” between grades one and six.2 Other investigations have reported the sexual abuse of scores of missionary kids (MKs), often by missionaries.3

Diana Russell’s book not only documented widespread abuse, but also defended a revolutionary new idea articulated in the 1980s by a group of prominent psychiatrists (Judith Herman, Bennett Braun, Christine Courtois, Bessel van der Kolk): the idea that many individuals have psychological problems because of unremembered sexual abuse, unremembered because of “repression” or “dissociation,” and that healing from “sexual abuse trauma requires the retrieval of memory and the working through of associated affect.”4 The new approach was popularized by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis in their enormously influential 1988 The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse. Thousands of therapists began employing recovered memory techniques, gathering clients in survivor groups, and guiding them toward literature designed to help people recover memories. Soon tens of thousands were reporting recovered memories of abuse, memories which increasingly formed the basis of lawsuits and criminal trials. By 1993 a national survey found that 25% of doctoral-level therapists had a sustained focus on memory recovery, with 34% of their female clients recovering memories while in therapy and with 5% of these initiating legal action based on recovered memories.5

But while Diana Russell’s 1986 defense of recovered memories had become foundational to the movement,6 her 1999 edition startlingly concluded that “the majority of retrieved memories are false.”7 Various factors doubtless contributed to her rejection of what she had earlier influentially supported. The 1990s had seen major critiques of recovered memories. The fact that recovered memory therapies were being used to recover memories of being sexually abused in past lives (based on notions of reincarnation), or of being abducted and sexually abused by space aliens, naturally raised questions about the validity of such memories.8 By the late 1980s many recovered memories featured vast conspiracies of multigenerational Satanists practicing human sacrifice, cannibalism, and ritual sexual abuse – memories which FBI investigators and others eventually concluded were iatro-genically induced fantasies.9 Among other things, bodies were not buried where the recovered memories claimed they were. Exposés by scholars and journalists demonstrated the innocence of people convicted on recovered memory testi-mony, and many convictions were overturned. Increasingly, many who recovered memories of abuse later concluded their memories were false, and became “retractors.”10 Leading practitioners of the approach, such as Bennett Braun and Judith Peterson, lost their medical licenses and/or had lawsuits ranging into millions of dollars successfully brought against them for contributing to false memories of purported crimes. Research psychologists like Elizabeth Loftus demonstrated they could induce false memories by using the same suggestive techniques used by recovered memory therapists, and pioneered new understandings of memory which markedly diverged from the assumptions of such therapists.11

But the tipping point for Diana Russell came with a major retrospective study of hundreds of polygraph tests of men claiming to be innocent of charges of sexual abuse. When the charges against them had been based on what were said to be continuous memories, only 22% of men claiming innocence tested as truthful. But when the charges had been based on recovered memories, 96% of the men tested as truthful in their claims to innocence.12 Given an average margin of error for polygraphs of 14%,13 96% scoring as innocent is consistent with the possibility that all were innocent.

But while some supporters of recovered memories subsequently retracted their support, while the numbers of therapists focusing on recovered memories has dropped markedly since 1993, and while a majority of university-based research psychologists focusing on memory now question the validity and/or reliability of “recovered memories,” many therapists continue to defend recovered memory approaches. Disagreements on the subject remain.

“Recovered Memories” in the Christian Community

Although Christians have sometimes resisted new ideas in psychology, many rapidly embraced recovered memory approaches. Leading evangelical psychologists began publishing books for Christian audiences which taught recovered memory approaches.14 Respected Christian therapeutic institutions adopted the approach,15 and, perhaps because of the centrality of Satanic ritual abuse to many recovered memories, leading spiritual warfare writers also endorsed the recovered memory idea.16 Many Christians learned of recovered memories within the framework of Theophostic Ministry,17 Elijah House Ministry, or any of a wide variety of ministries featuring “healing of memories” influenced by people like Karl Lehman,18 David Seamands,19 or Leanne Payne (see below). Recovered memory for many Christians became central to religious spiritualities and ministries, purportedly guided by the Holy Spirit. Religious voices and institutional structures became primary “carriers” of recovered memory approaches.20

Much of the Christian literature on child sexual abuse expresses confidence in recovered memories. For example, Diane Langberg, who chairs the Executive Board of the American Association of Christian Counselors, organizes her book Counseling Survivors of Sexual Abuse around the “true story” of Meeka who grew up in a large, church-going family. Meeka’s grandparents sexually abused her in the basement. Her father abused her sexually from age four, abused her in the church boiler room on Sunday mornings, made her eat excrement, made her pregnant and watched with a “smirk” on his face as her abortion doctor had sex with her, and earned money by letting a group of men have sex with her. Over time Meeka “aborted or birthed and lost four babies.” Only late in the story do we learn that this account is based on repressed and recovered memories, an account Meeka remembered only in adulthood after repeatedly being in therapy. But Langberg assures the reader that “not only is this story completely true, it is only half the story. Some of it is too overwhelming to put into print.”21

Langberg believes “memory retrieval is necessary” and is “a search for truth.”22 She says therapists should help victims confront their abusers when the truth “has been credibly demonstrated,”23 but does not spell out what a credible demonstration would involve, or how she is certain Meeka’s story is “completely true.” She does acknowledge that recovered memories are occasionally inaccurate. Of the many parents who had been accused of abuse based on recovered memories and sought help from the False Memory Syndrome Foundation (8,000 per year at its peak in 1993), she concedes the possibility that “a small proportion … have been unjustly accused,” and in her own work involving “hundreds” of such cases, she believes only two of the accused were innocent.24 From the perspective of critics of this approach, this is hardly surprising since elsewhere she says therapists must “be willing to believe the unbelievable,” and should not “play detective” or attempt to cross-check “the truth of a client’s memories,” but should trust that clients’ accounts are true.25 A great deal is at stake in such abuse confrontations, for, as Langberg notes, “to speak the truth of sexual abuse into a family is to blow it up.”26 While sometimes necessary, she warns it must be done with care.

Protestant mission agencies have struggled to deal with reports by adult children of missionaries that they were sexually abused as children. Many of these reports are based on continuous memories. But as agencies attempt to acknowledge the problem, and identify abusers, they also confront the difficult question of whether recovered memories of childhood abuse are a reliable basis for publicly naming specific missionaries as abusers. In June of 2010 one of us listened as Dennis and Sue Jones told how their daughter had been counseled using Dan Allender’s The Wounded Heart (of which more later), and how she re-covered memories that her parents had sexually abused her. Dennis and Sue were members of a missionary agency that has aggressively pursued abuse allegations, and they were placed on administrative leave while their mission investigated. Since their daughter eventually “remembered” numerous missionaries and oth-ers abusing her, the investigation expanded. Dennis and Sue denied the charges, and volunteered to take polygraph tests, which they passed. Because the charges implicated so many missionaries in implausible ways that lacked corroboration and because of questions over the status of recovered memories, their mission cleared them of charges.

In a 1997 “Commission of Inquiry” focused on MKs’ sexual abuse, the com-mission chose not to trust recovered memories as a basis for charging missionaries with abuse, reporting that they “gave no weight to memories that had not con-tinually existed since the incident in question, i.e. memories recovered in therapy or otherwise.”27 By contrast, a 2003 second “Commission of Inquiry” focused on MKs’ sexual abuse, a commission with some of the same members as the 1997 Commission, defended the validity of repressed and recovered memories.28 Since much of the Christian literature on child sexual abuse is supportive of recovered memory ideas, it should not be surprising that many who investigate abuse allegations do choose to trust memories recovered through therapy.

In the following section an extended case study of abuse allegations based on recovered memories is used to focus the issues. Pseudonyms are used for the people, places, and agency involved, although not for book authors.

Abuse Reports at Noni

In 1977, Greg Lang went to Noni, a mission center, to teach high school MKs for two years. Later he became a public school teacher, completed his doctorate, and became a writer. Highlights in his life include being named “teacher of the year” for his metropolitan area by an organization focused on bilingual education, and having Christianity Today select an article he wrote for republication in their “Best in Theology” series.

In September of 2003 Greg received a letter from International Service Mission (ISM) addressed to former Noni residents, indicating that reports of abuse had been received and asking for cooperation in the investigation. Late in 2004, two ISM representatives informed him they had received reports by three people that he had sexually abused them while a teacher at Noni. They said the reports were independent, credible, coincided in the details of what they reported, and that ISM had no reason to doubt the reports. Greg indignantly denied the charges, insisted his accusers were lying and asked who was accusing him, and of what. ISM representatives initially refused to disclose this information. Since ISM representatives had framed themselves as “mediators,” he asked them to “mediate” his request for an apology. In a second meeting ISM provided the name of one accuser, Julie Johnson. Greg said he could not remember Julie. She had not been his student and was not in residence at Noni during most of Greg’s time there.

“How does one defend oneself against named and unnamed accusers,” Greg asked, “when one is given minimal information?” In December of 2005, over a year after the initial accusation, Greg received a “Statement of Findings” from ISM reporting the names of his accusers and the full details of the charges against him, summarizing the evidence ISM used in determining guilt, and indicating that ISM believed him to be guilty of multiple counts of oral rape. A few days later, before Greg could marshal a defense, ISM mailed “Outcome Notices” to scores of Greg’s friends and acquaintances who had been former residents of Noni. These “Outcome Notices” accused, by name, Greg and six other former missionaries, of sexually abusing more than a dozen individuals in various ways, ranging from inappropriate touch to violent acts of rape.

Another ISM missionary also received a “Statement of Findings” letter; but perhaps because he was accused by only a single person, he was not named publicly. However his identity became quickly known since he immediately went public summarizing the allegations, denying them, and denouncing the investigative process. Since the seven men who were formally accused were either deceased or no longer with ISM, none was dismissed from the mission; but reports were filed with authorities, and each was forbidden to set foot on ISM property.

The “Statement of Findings” ISM sent to Greg claimed that ISM had received “separate letters by three victims,” and that “each woman believed she was the only victim. Their reports to ISM occurred independently of each other.” Specifi-cally Julie Johnson, Carrie Johnson, and Abby McGraw accused Greg of “forced oral intercourse, being forced to suck his penis until he ejaculated.” Two of them “reported being told by him that this was to please Christ or contribute to mis-sions.” The abuse of two of the girls was supposed to have occurred between August and December of 1977, and that of the third between January and May of 1978. The incidents (17 altogether) were supposed to have happened in North Hall (“most in his apartment . . . in the upstairs of North Hall” and “one in the laundry room in North Hall”). The “Statement of Findings” stressed how various details about North Hall as the site for abuse confirm their accounts. In short, the “Statement of Findings” emphasized that the three accounts were “independent” accounts which converged in both 1) the nature of abuse (“being forced to suck his penis until he ejaculated”) and 2) its location in North Hall.

Once Greg understood the charges, he marshaled evidence he mistakenly thought would lead ISM to exonerate him. Specifically he raised questions about the very points at which the testimony of his accusers converged. The following are the two most salient points. As a child, Greg underwent a surgical procedure (a Y-V plasty of the bladder neck) to correct a lower urinary tract obstruction. Un-fortunately, this operation was later discovered to disrupt the ability of patients to ejaculate. Normally during sexual climax the bladder neck closes tightly, allowing the prostate to force semen in a forward direction. But after this operation, semen goes backward into the bladder (called “retrograded ejaculation”). Because of Greg’s inability to eject sperm, he was treated in the 1980s by a medical doctor who attempted unsuccessfully “to recover sperm from his bladder to be used for artificial insemination.” Thus, reports of him ejaculating do not fit medical evi-dence provided by his doctors or by a 1987 medical report supporting his petition to adopt a child because of inability to ejaculate.

Furthermore, during Greg’s first year at Noni, during which time the abuses allegedly took place, he lived with a roommate in the basement of a home a quarter mile from North Hall. He did not move into the second-floor apartment of North Hall until late August of 1978, which is confirmed by letters from his roommate at the time and by the school principal. Greg did not live in North Hall at the time when abuse is alleged to have occurred there. Furthermore, two of his three accusers left Noni eight months before Greg moved there.29 The assertion that Greg abused them in North Hall while living there cannot be true. They were not at Noni at any time while he lived in that building.

And yet, ISM refused to acknowledge they had been wrong. Doubtless many elements were involved,30 not least the fact that a reversal in Greg’s case would cast doubt on other cases. The three women accusing Greg were central witnesses against others; in fact, these three were the only accusers in cases against four other men. For example, Julie and Abby accused Andy Snow, a long-term missionary, of raping them “in the jungle,” in an “outhouse,” and on his screened-in “porch.” Julie Johnson alone accused seven former residents of Noni. She contends that when she was seven years old, four married missionaries raped her vaginally and/or anally in outhouses, jungle footpath, hut, and screened-in porch. Her allega-tions amount to the claim that 15% of married missionary men at Noni violently raped her when she was seven. ISM used her testimony as the basis for many of its findings. If her memories of one abuser, as well as the memories of her sister and friend who also accuse Greg, are admitted to be false, this naturally raises credibility questions about their other memories.

Greg and others initially assumed that there were only two possibilities: either the allegations were true or these women were lying. And indeed, this is how ISM framed the issue. But there is a third option. These women might honestly believe their own accounts to be true, but their accounts might nonetheless be false. A small clue to this possibility was provided in each “Statement of Find-ings” where it was reported that their therapists denied these women had “false memory syndrome” – a possibility normally considered only where memories have not always been present. That is, each report hinted at, but avoided explicitly acknowledging, what became clear on other grounds: that these “memories” had only recently emerged as conscious memories.

At this point we leave Greg’s case, and explore the larger process. While three accused men (Greg Lang, Andy Snow, and Tim Wilson) have given permission to explore their cases in print, this case study necessarily involves some discussion of other parties. However, we use pseudonyms for ISM and for all Noni-related individuals. In the interests of confidentiality, we also change location names. While our scholarly instincts would encourage full discussion of our research access and relationship to this situation, a relationship which began before abuse allegations were made, such a full discussion is not possible without compromis-ing the anonymity of others. Suffice it to say that we are confident of being able to demonstrate the facts as reported, and that, as far as we can determine, no one violated confidentiality agreements in sharing information with us. We have worked to protect the identity of all, and have attempted to restrict information provided to that which is directly relevant to an understanding of recovered memory dynamics of the process. Nothing described here is understood as morally discreditable for those who have reported abuse. While we raise questions about the validity and reliability of recovered memories, we respect the moral sincerity of those with “recovered memories,” and do not question their integrity. These are painful issues to discuss, but enough is at stake for us to believe these issues merit public consideration.

Noni MKs and Recovered Memories

On September 11, 2001, Emily Reed, a middle-aged Noni MK, began to experi-ence what became on-going panic attacks and nightmares. Her therapist indicated these were signs of sexual abuse. Emily had no clear memory of abuse, but nonethe-less felt the diagnosis was correct. Emily invited her childhood friend Mia Darms for a visit to talk things over. Although prior to this time neither remembered the abuse they would later report,both became convinced they had been abused.31 The plausibility of the sexual abuse diagnosis was doubtless enhanced by the fact that both were aware that a former schoolteacher at Noni, Len Ridge, had abused a number of boys and been dismissed from the field for this.32

Over the next months Mia and Emily discussed abuse and possible abusers with other Noni MKs. In addition to men who had been abused as boys by Len Ridge, some MKs remembered abuse in other times and places (not at Noni and not by ISM missionaries), and apparently some female MKs immediately recalled inappropriate touch by an adult missionary at Noni. That is, some women appar-ently had continuous memories of inappropriate sexual contact at Noni – includ-ing memories of inappropriate sexual contact by two now-deceased missionaries (Carl Swift and Hank Porter). In a later written report, Emily Reed indicated that by early in 2002 an “internet support group for Noni abuse victims” had formed, which she described as a “lifeline of support” involving “email contact with a growing group of fellow MK survivors.”

It was also in early 2002 that one MK prepared a Noni Web site with old letters and yearbook pictures, and in July of 2002 began a listserv for all Noni MKs. The listserv was a huge success, with MKs sharing memories, including memories of sexual abuse and of MK childhood sexual play. This sexual play was discussed and debated as possible evidence of prior abuse. Emily Reed described a recent report about MK abuse[efn_nots]H. Beardsley, L. Edmund, J. Evinger, N. Poling, and G. Stearns, Final Report of The Indepen-dent Commission of Inquiry, Presbyterian Church U.S.A., 95.[/efn_note] on the listserv, and summarized the report’s defense of the validity of repressed and recovered memories.

In addition to Noni MKs who always remembered abuse, Mia Darms eventually “remembered” that Hank Porter had raped her when she was four. Emily Reed “remembered” that Carl Swift raped her when she was eight. And two sisters (Julie and Carrie Johnson) and their friend Abby McGraw eventually “remembered” a total of six missionaries and one MK who raped or otherwise abused them. Three of the accused missionaries were long-since deceased, so it would fall to their widows, children, and grandchildren to process the charges.

But how exactly did recovered memory processes work for these MKs? Each had therapists who supported the recovered memory paradigm and who stated to ISM their belief that these memories were true and “not” the result of “false memory syndrome.”33 Three other therapists, each on record positively affirming recovered memory publications, also played advisory roles with these MKs. These MKs were involved in a Noni MK survivor group for three years prior to recovering the memories they would later report. While the full nature of interactions with these advisors and therapists is unknown, information that is known gives some clue as to the process.

For example, one Noni parent’s letter told how her daughter had asked God to “help her discover any childhood trauma [that] might be hindering her” and had traveled with other Noni MKs to Wheaton for a one-week seminar with Leanne Payne, a known expert on repressed and recovered memories. While no information on this seminar is available, Payne’s writings clearly indicate her ap-proach. In one book Payne tells of guiding a woman in prayer to “go back in time through her memories to the moment of conception” in order to find memories that would explain her current struggles. The “first five years of life were blanked out from memory,” but Payne claims to have known “by the Spirit of God” that “the key or root memory was locked up in the repressed memory bank of her first five years.” Through Payne’s ministrations this woman was led to recall sexual abuse by her father at the age of three, and that her mother threw her across the room when she found out. Payne assures us that Jesus helped her retrieve this memory. Payne helps people retrieve memories of traumatic experiences in the womb, and claims to have memories of her ancestors’ experiences, the memories transmitted genetically.34

After Emily Reed was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), she read, under her therapist’s direction, Dan Allender’s book (and workbook) on abuse, “The Wounded Heart,” a book which has sold over a quarter million copies. She praised this book to other Noni MKs and later wrote that it was while working through Allender’s workbook that she experienced “pictures and impressions of my rape.” Eventually she reported a clear memory of Carl Swift taking her to a “secluded wooded area” and raping her, threatening to kill her if she told anyone.

The Production of False Memories?

The research literature critical of recovered memory approaches discusses how therapy sometimes fosters false memories, memories of things that did not happen. The following patterns are said to contribute to false memories.

Constructing an Abuse Schema

First the therapist and accompanying literature must construct a schema in which abuse is felt to be a pervasive reality, and the absence of memory irrelevant to whether the abuse occurred.35 Thus Allender begins chapter one, “At times, I wonder if every person in the world, male and female, young and old, has been sexually abused,” and explains that many normal people do not disclose their abuse and that many others do not consciously recall their abuse. He says he went through his case files for a year and “what I found staggered me.” Eighteen women had come to him for therapy without any memory of sexual abuse or even any thought that their problems were related to abuse, but by the end of a year of therapy with Allender, fourteen of the eighteen had recovered memories of sexual abuse which they now understood as the explanation of their current problems. In short, women going to Allender for counseling with no memories of abuse had a 78% probability of ending up with a memory that their father or some close relative sexually abused them. Allender writes, “a counselor, pastor, or close friend can usually assume that abuse may be a factor behind the internal and external struggles in a person’s life, even if it is not initially reported, nor remembered.”36

The Problematic Use of Symptom Lists

Second, recovered memory therapists construct elaborate descriptions of symptoms which are supposed to provide evidence of abuse – symptoms that research scholars maintain are not distinctive of abuse – but which function sug-gestively to encourage abuse interpretations.37 Allender indicates that “signs of abuse” include “depression, sexual dysfunction or addiction, compulsive disorders, physical complaints, low self-esteem, and particular styles of relating”38which he elaborates in terms of his typology of attributes of the Good Girl, the Party Girl, and the Tough Girl – with every negative trait for each explained as resulting from sexual abuse. It is hard to think of any negative symptom that Al-lender and similar authors do not associate with abuse. His workbook, which is designed to help those who “suspect that they may have been abused,”39 encourages people to “read the clues” of repressed memories of abuse, which he tells us may include everything from fatigue, depression, over- or under-sleeping, not much interest in sex, too much interest in sex, or fantasizing about being with other sexual partners, to over-eating, over-exercising, feeling uncomfortable with compliments, not having many memories of childhood, or having painful memories of childhood. He suggests that “chronic” physical afflictions like “ulcers, intestinal problems, lower backaches, stiff neck, tight jaw and chronic headaches . . . should be considered and treated from the perspective of probable past abusive trauma,”40 and in the accompanying workbook asks readers to list such physical afflictions.41 Emily herself had many such afflictions and would later explain that “(my) abuser’s crime cost me” by taking its “toll on my health as I have experienced ongoing chronic health problems.” That is, she learned to interpret her health problems as evidence of abuse.

Allender appeals to no research showing that such symptoms are distinctive to sexual abuse, and indeed no such research exists. Medical doctors routinely state, “When you hear hoof beats, think ‘horses,’ not ‘zebras.’” To take symptoms commonly associated with a wide variety of life challenges and suggest they point to unremembered abuse is to think “zebras” when one should be thinking “horses,” at least according to critics of this approach.

The children of missionaries have enough straightforward reasons to struggle with self-esteem or anxiety disorders without hypothesizing they are due to unremembered abuse by missionaries.42 In addition to such straightforward reasons, several of the Noni MK “survivors” had suffered unusually traumatic events in their past – painful personal tragedies.

It was after many years of painful personal tragedies that Emily had an unusually close personal encounter with the violence of September 11, 2001 (the details of which are not essential to this account). She immediately had an emotional crisis, and subsequently struggled with anxiety, nightmares, and panic attacks. Research suggests that her response was not an unusual or isolated case. One study found that in the weeks after September 11, 7.5% of New York City residents developed PTSD.43 But when Emily’s therapist informed her she had PTSD, the 9/11 triggering event was not the focus. And the known tragedies of her prior life were not the focus either, tragedies with remarkable parallels to the 9/11 experience. Instead the therapist endorsed the idea that Emily’s symptoms were due to repressed and not-yet-remembered childhood sexual abuse. That is, on one view, the therapist ignored thundering horses in Emily’s life and sent her on a quest for zebras.

Encouragement to “Try and Remember”

Third, recovered memory therapists invite individuals to become actively involved in trying to remember. This quest requires “openness,” exemplified ac-cording to Allender in the Psalm 139 prayer “Search me and know my heart.” (A passage where God is asked to reveal one’s own sin does seem a rather unusual passage to quote in justification of a quest to remember some third party’s sin.) This quest also requires intentionality, which Allender describes in terms of “prim-ing the pump.” He explains, “old pumps had to be primed to draw water from the well. The process of priming the pump is active and purposeful. Water does not pour forth unless effort is exerted.” He suggests priming the memory pump through prayer, fasting, meditation, pondering old photo albums, talking to others from your childhood, journaling. He tells readers that “not every victim who is . . . devoted to reclaiming memories will be ‘rewarded’ with graphic recollections of past events . . . . But more often than not, choosing to open oneself to memories will, over time, draw them to the surface.” How long should one continue retriev-ing memories of abuse? Allender thinks memory retrieval should continue in a progression that is “often toward what I’ve called the ‘ace in the hole.’ The ace-in-the-hole memory is often the experience that involved soul-shattering violence.” He proceeds to describe a woman who progressively recovered memories until finally breaking through to an ace-in-the-hole memory of a “ghastly experience of barbaric abuse involving rape, bestiality, and torture.”44

The Noni “survivors” group was actively involved in memory retrieval, in perusing photographs, reviewing old letters for clues, sharing with each other memories and suspicions, and actively “trying to remember” which adult from their childhood had abused them, and how. Emily Reed eventually recovered a ghastly experience of a bloody and barbaric rape by a missionary. Julie Johnson similarly recovered a memory of “soul-shattering violence,” where a missionary took her to a hut and violently raped her anally, orally, and vaginally and choked her till she went into convulsions and had an out-of-body experience – although in Julie’s case, she reported several such violent experiences by a variety of missionaries.

Suggestive Techniques

Fourth, recovered memory therapists encourage suggestive techniques which research has shown can be used to lead many ordinary people into arriving at false memories.45 Allender’s workbook tells even readers with no memory of abuse to “write down … every problem in your life that you think points towards sexual abuse.”46 Of course this is after he has coached the reader to believe that everything from over-eating to having a stiff neck is due to unremembered abuse. That is, he has suggestively provided the ideas for people themselves to verbalize as evidence of abuse. His workbook guides readers through memory retrieval exercises, artwork, making collages, and writing exercises. Collages featuring victimhood, shame, pain, and anger appear throughout the workbook, along with accounts of people recovering memories. When readers cannot remember abuse, they are encouraged to write out their feelings about the experience, “even if you have no precise memories of the experience.”47 That is, readers are invited to adopt for themselves imaginatively the subjective experience of “abuse victim,” and the identity of “survivor,” even before the memory emerges. Memory researchers have demonstrated that the sheer act of asking people to imagine an event in detail, even if the event is not true, increases the likelihood that they will report it as an actual memory at a later time.48 Imagination, especially while primed with ideas and stories of abuse, with pictures of adults one grew up with and the idea that one of them must have abused you, is able easily to construct abuse scenarios – scenarios which, once imagined, develop a familiarity that comes to feel like a memory. That is, these exercises provide building blocks for plausible memories, and increase subjective confidence in them. One does not focus continually on such a quest without soon having dreams about one’s childhood and about abuse. Recovered memory authors encourage the “survivor” then to interpret those dreams which they have helped produce as memories or “memory fragments.” Just as Pooh and Piglet walked through the snow in circles, finding every time round more and more tracks, which they interpreted and followed as evidence of more and more Woozles, unaware that they themselves were producing those very tracks, so recovered memory therapists foster the very phenomena which can then be pointed to as evidence of abuse. Again and again Allender warns readers not to “slip back into denial” and frames any doubt about any image or memory that emerges as “denial” or as “spitting” on a God-given image.49

ISM Investigation

In 2003 Emily Reed approached Dave Banks, the personnel director of ISM with the concerns of the Noni “survivors.” In September of 2003 Dave Banks sent letters to all former residents of Noni reporting that allegations of abuse had been received. It announced the formation of a “cooperative working group” which would collect information on abuse at Noni. Noni abuse victim representatives would serve on this “cooperative working group,” with all information kept “strictly confidential within this cooperative working group.” Banks’ letter in April of 2004 indicated that the investigation was over and that former Noni residents should expect to hear nothing else. Then a follow-up letter in November said that after a retreat with the “survivors” it was determined that “much work remains.” Following the retreat, ISM received formal letters from MKs stating specific allegations, and throughout 2005 the number of accused “abusers” grew. ISM representatives met with individuals who had been accused and with the widows whose deceased husbands had been charged, pressing them to endorse the charges.

Andy Snow was a former missionary whose ministry to high school MKs had led them to dedicate the Noni yearbook to him and his wife. He was charged by two women of molesting and raping them between the ages of 3 and 7 – raping them in an outhouse and in his small screened-in back porch during a sleepover, a few feet from his sleeping wife and children. In response to Andy’s insistence on innocence, ISM investigators stressed they had no reason to doubt these reports and that “girls don’t make up such stories.”

Tim Wilson, a pioneer missionary to an unreached monolingual group, was among the last to be approached. A whole team from ISM was present, including Julie Johnson and her therapist, where Julie delivered her charges that he had taken her to a hut and violently raped her. Tim denied the charges. But again he was told the mission had no reason to doubt the charges.

In December of 2005 each accused individual (or their widow and children) received letters naming each person who testified to abuse, providing finally a written report on the exact nature of the charges, and concluding that ISM found these reports credible and would treat them as true. The one exception was Tim Wilson, whose letter followed the format of claiming corroboration, but ended by saying the mission could not affirm that this met their standard of certitude. This may have been because there was but a single accuser. But it may also be relevant that Tim had a lawyer present, was clearly prepared to fight the charge, and was the only living accused missionary who was still a member of the mission with a right of appeal. A few days later ISM mailed letters to former residents of Noni, listing by name those they considered guilty of sexual crimes (includ-ing three deceased individuals), and announced that former residents of Noni, excluding the accused and their families, were invited to two different meetings for debriefing. The meetings were well attended and Emily Reed publicly told her story of abuse, which she also posted online. Attendees expressed dismay and shock, and there was a deep sense of interpersonal disarray between people who had formerly been close.

In subsequent months the accused, or their family members, provided evi-dence to ISM that at least some allegations could not have happened as reported. They asked how so many reportedly bloody and violent rapes of young girls (between the ages of 4 and 8) could have occurred without their mothers or others noting any medical effects at the time. They pointed to evidence that recovered memories underpinned the allegations which were being contested – and that, in these cases, a several-year process of close interactions between the accusers preceded their actual written reports of abuse. When ISM wrote Greg Lang, for example, that they received “separate letters by three victims,” and asserted that “each woman believed she was the only victim” and that “their reports to ISM occurred independently of each other,” this ignored the fact that two of the women are sisters, and all three close childhood friends. Furthermore they had long been part of a Noni “survivor group” discussing abuse with each other, and had even participated jointly in an ISM sponsored retreat, prior to writing the letters subsequently framed as independent.

Convergent testimony, especially when grounded in recovered memory pro-cesses involving dense patterns of communication between women remembering abuse, does not have the evidentiary value that it would if there had been no prior communications between these women. And while the ISM Statements of Find-ings repeatedly framed the issue as one of whether these women were honest, the issue Noni critics of the process focused on was the problematic nature and centrality of recovered memories to the process.

ISM representatives who had led in the investigation reportedly considered all evidence brought to them, but would not change their findings. ISM administrators refused to allow any appeal process that would involve anyone other than those who originally established the findings of guilt. This was apparently because of confidentiality agreements made to “victims.”

Condemning the Innocent

The Bible tells us: “Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent – the Lord detests them both” (Prov. 17: 15). Sexual abuse is a great evil, sometimes pres-ent even among missionaries. And it must be addressed as a great evil! Nothing in this article should be understood as questioning that. But it is possible to try and confront one great evil sincerely, but to do it in such a way as to perpetrate another great evil. The one thing that approaches the evil of sexual abuse is the evil of being falsely named a sexual abuser of children. The consequences to those so accused based on “recovered memories,” and to their spouses and children, have been horrific. Positive community relations among former Noni residents have been seriously harmed.

We are personally convinced the Noni abuse investigation was mishandled, that memories retrieved through recovered memory therapy are likely to be confabulations,50 and that people’s lives were horribly damaged by false charges. There is good evidence that Greg Lang is innocent of the charges as described. But for the others, how does one prove a negative, that abuse did not occur?

And yet, it seems to us that the issues need to be brought into public discus-sion. In the last few years, some of the people leading the Noni investigation have played leadership roles in advising other mission agencies on how to handle abuse reports. We have noted the centrality of recovered memory publications in CSA bibliographies being circulated to mission agencies.We have listened to many other stories of recovered memories, such as the account of Dennis and Sue Jones referenced earlier. As Christian scholars we have been increasingly concerned that Christians have not generated a public conversation about the validity of approaches which are centrally affirmed in much of the Christian sexual abuse literature.

One Final Test

Before choosing to pursue publication of this account, we decided on one final test involving polygraphy. A major National Research Council review of the scientific evidence on the reliability of polygraph testing in settings where specific alleged incidents are in view reported an average reliability rate for polygraphs of 86%.51 This means there is a 14% chance that a polygraph test will give wrong results. But if three men accused by the same individuals were to take the polygraph, and all three test as honest in their claim of innocence, the probabilities become especially compelling. The probability of one guilty person testing as innocent is under 20%. But the probability of two guilty persons testing as innocent is less than 4%, and the probability of three guilty persons testing as innocent shrinks to under 1%. Or to reverse the logic: if two sisters and a friend accuse three men of rape, and all three men pass a polygraph test, there is a high probability that the men are telling the truth when they deny the charges.

And so we asked the three accused men who had publicly contested the charges against themselves (Tim Wilson, Greg Lang, and Andy Snow) if they would submit to a polygraph.52 Without hesitation each said yes. We selected top polygraph examiners. One trains polygraph examiners for the FBI, and each had extensive experience testing sex offenders. And according to the polygraph exam-iners, all three men’s claims to innocence were supported (they passed the test).


It is possible for therapeutic ideas to be wrong in ways that do not adversely affect others. For example, those who recover false memories of being abused in prior lives or by space aliens do not adversely affect those they accuse. It is altogether different when people recover false memories that people close to them sexually abused them. And of course, the therapies of evangelical Christians have not been oriented toward recovering memories of prior lives, or recovering memories of space alien abductions. But many evangelical therapists and prayer ministers have become centrally focused on recovering memories of sexual abuse. And since research cited earlier suggests that a third of female clients being counseled with recovered memory approaches do recover new memories while in therapy, with Allender reporting that an astonishing 78% of his female clients recovered memories of sexual abuse under his care, clearly an enormous amount is at stake in whether or not such memories are true or false. If indeed the men discussed in this article were wrongly accused, then it is likely that they represent but the tip of an iceberg, largely invisible, of countless people suffering quietly under the burden of wrongly being named child abusers.

And if indeed these men were innocent of charges, as we suggest, it is difficult to assign blame for this miscarriage of justice. Should Dave Banks and his investigative team be blamed? Or the therapists working with these women? But since the therapeutic ideas and practices fostering such memories have been widely integrated into evangelical spiritualities and therapies – into ministries featuring spiritual warfare, prayer ministries, women’s ministries, Theophostic Ministry, and “healing of memories,” as well as conveyed through evangelical psychologists and counselors writing about sexual abuse, and marketed by Christian publishers – perhaps culpability is distributed more widely.

Clearly a great deal is at stake in whether or not such ministries and thera-pies are helping uncover historical truth. And yet evangelical engagement with recovered memory approaches has been largely instrumental, applied, and market oriented. Evangelical scholars have not systematically studied and reported on the extent to which such approaches are institutionalized in religious settings. They have not surveyed Christian therapists to identify the prevalence of various ideas and practices related to this topic. They have not systematically surveyed religious communities to determine how many people have been directly affected by recovered memory accusations. They have not been at the cutting edge of academic research on memory, helping religious communities understand what this research suggests. In short, evangelical scholars have failed to exercise scholarship in relationship to this arena in ways that foster public peer-reviewed scholarly assessment of the issues involved. If indeed there was a miscarriage of justice in the case of the men reported on here, then evangelical scholarship bears much of the blame for failing to exercise its God-given role adequately.

This article makes an initial effort to begin this research-based and peer-review process, but calls on other scholars to engage critically both the issues raised by our own paper and the wider issues involved through research and writing intended to help Christian communities engage these matters appropriately. It is hard to imagine an arena where good Christian scholarship might make a greater difference to people’s lives.53

Cite this article
Robert J. Priest and Esther Cordill, “Christian Communities and “Recovered Memories” of Abuse”, Christian Scholar’s Review, 41:4 , 381-400


  1. Dianna Russell, The Secret Trauma: Incest in the Lives of Girls and Women (New York: Basic Books, 1986).
  2. Jan. 1, 2010 email from Dr. David Wickstrom, based on his AMK survey. For a smaller survey (N = 101) but with somewhat higher rates of reported abuse, see Robert Priest, “Etiology of Adult Missionary Kid Life-Struggles,” Missiology: An International Review 31 (2003): 171-19
  3. See Scott Ross’s video, Abuse: The Hidden Secret (New Tribes Mission, 2003); G. Stearns, P. Dunn, M. Earle, L. Edmund, and C. Knudsen, Final Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry to the Board of Managers of the Christian and Missionary Alliance (, 1997); H. Beardsley, L. Edmund, J. Evinger, N. Poling, and G.Stearns, Final Report of The Independent Commission of Inquiry, Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (, 2002); M. Meadors, E. Fresh, J. Evinger, and L. Bracey, Final Report of The Independent Panel for the Review of Child Abuse in Mission Settings, General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, (, 2009); GRACE (Basyle Tchividjian, Victor Vieth, Diane Langberg, Janet Brown, Duncan Rankin), Amended Final Report for the Investigatory Review of Child Abuse at New Tribes Fanda Missionary School, August 28, 2010 (, 2010); and J. Evinger, C. Whitfield, J. Wiley, Final Report of the Independent Abuse Review Panel Presbyterian Church U.S.A., October 2010 (, 2010).
  4. Christine Courtois, “The Memory Retrieval Process in Incest Survivor Therapy,” Journal of Child Sexual Abuse 1 (1992): 15.

  5. D. A. Poole, D. S. Lindsay, A. Memon, R. Bull, “Psychotherapy and the Recovery of Childhood Sexual Abuse,” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 63.3 (1995): 431, 432, 434.
  6. See Jennifer Freyd, Betrayal Trauma: The Logic of Forgetting Childhood Abuse (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996), 34-36; and Mark Pendergrast, Victims of Memory (Hinesburg, VT: Upper Access, Inc., 1996),36-37.
  7. Diana Russell, The Secret Trauma, 2nd edition (New York: Basic Books, 1999), xxvi.

  8. See Cynthia Meyersburg, R. Bogdan, D. Gallo, and R. McNally. “False Memory Propensity in People Reporting Recovered Memories of Past Lives,” Journal of Abnormal Psychology 118.2 (2009): 399-404; John Mack, Abduction: Human Encounters With Aliens (New York: Scribner, 2007); and Susan Clancy, Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005).
  9. See Pendergrast, Victims of Memory,188-196; Richard Ofshe and Ethan Watters, Making Monsters: False Memories, Psychotherapy, and Sexual Hysteria (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1996); and J. S. La Fontaine, Speak of the Devil: Tales of Satanic Abuse in Contemporary England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).
  10. See for example, Pendergrast, Victims of Memory, 321-360; Reinder Van Til, Lost Daughters: Recovered Memory and the People It Hurts (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997), 206-218; and Meredith Maran, My Lie: A True Story of a False Memory (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2010).
  11. Asher Koriat, M. Goldsmith, and A. Pansky, “Toward a Psychology of Memory Accuracy,” Annual Review of Psychology 51 (2000): 481-537; E. Loftus, “The Reality of Repressed Memo-ries,” American Psychologist 48 (1993): 518-537; E. Loftus and D. Davis, “Recovered Memo-ries,” Annual Review of Clinical Psychology 2 (2006): 469-498; E. Loftus and K. Ketcham, The Myth of Repressed Memory: False Memories and the Allegations of Sexual Abuse (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin); R. J. McNally, Remembering Trauma (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005); P. R. McHugh, Try to Remember: Psychiatry’s Clash Over Meaning, Memory, and Mind (Washington DC: Dana Press, 2008); K. Sabbagh, Remembering Our Childhood: How Memory Betrays Us (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009); N. Spanos, Multiple Identities and False Memories: A Sociocognitive Perspective (Washington DC: American Psychological Association,1996); and Michael Yapko, Suggestions of Abuse: True and False Memories of Childhood Sexual Trauma (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994).

  12. Stan Abrams, “False Memory Syndrome vs. Total Repression,” The Journal of Psychiatry and Law 23 (1995): 283-293.
  13. A National Research Council review of the fifty best scientific studies of polygraph testing reported an average reliability rate for polygraphs of 86% in settings where specific alleged incidents are in view. SeeCommittee to Review the Scientific Evidence on the Polygraph, National Research Council, The Polygraph and Lie Detection (Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2003), 122.
  14. Dan Allender, The Wounded Heart: Hope for Adult Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse (Colo-rado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1990); James Friesen, Uncovering the Mystery of MPD (San Bernardino, CA: Here’s Life Publishers, 1991); J. Friesen, More Than Survivors (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1992); J. Friesen, The Truth About False Memory Syndrome (Lafayette, LA: Huntington House Publishers, 1996); Frank Minirth, The Power of Memories (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995); Diane Langberg, Counseling Survivors of Sexual Abuse (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1997); and D. Langberg, On the Threshold of Hope(Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999).
  15. See Pendergrast, Victims of Memory, 472-477.
  16. Neil Anderson, The Bondage Breaker (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1990); Neil Anderson, Victory Over the Darkness (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1990); and Charles Kraft, Deep Wounds, Deep Healing (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1993).
  17. Jan Fletcher, Lying Spirits: A Christian Journalist’s Report on Theophostic Ministry (Columbia, KY: Jan Fletcher, 2005).
  18. To review Lehman’s writings related to repressed memories, see [accessed April 19, 2011].
  19. See, for example, David Seamands, Healing for Damaged Emotions Workbook (David C. Cook, 2002).
  20. endergrast, Victims of Memory, 24, 201, 465. As an example of this, Robert Priest’s wife recently pointed out that the women’s bathroom of their church is always stocked with the brochure “AVA Shines the Light on Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse” (published by the Women’s Ministries of the Evangelical Covenant Church), a brochure which recom-mends five books for further reading, all of which espouse a recovered memory approach to abuse (including The Courage to Heal by Bass and Davis and The Wounded Heart by Allender). Again, bibliographies circulated within missionary communities sometimes also prominently feature recovered memory publications. See for example John and Becky Leverington, “Child Sexual Abuse Bibliography” (Wycliffe International Counseling Ministries, 2006)., retrieved May 4, 2012.
  21. Langberg, Counseling Survivors of Sexual Abuse, 11, 20, 21.
  22. Diane Langberg, “Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse,” in Caring for People God’s Way, eds. Archibald Hart and George Ohlschlager (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2005), 426, 425.
  23. Langberg, Counseling Survivors of Sexual Abuse, 159.
  24. Langberg, “Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse,” 441.
  25. Langberg, On the Threshold of Hope, 200; Langberg, Counseling Survivors of Sexual Abuse, 274, 158; and Langberg, “Adult Survivors of Sexual Abuse,” 441.
  26. Langberg, Counseling Survivors of Sexual Abuse, 159.
  27. G. Stearns, P. Dunn, M. Earle, L. Edmund, and C. Knudsen, Final Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry to the Board of Managers of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, 25.
  28. H. Beardsley, L. Edmund, J. Evinger, N. Poling, and G. Stearns, Final Report of The Independent Commission of Inquiry, Presbyterian Church U.S.A., 95.
  29. As indicated by the school yearbook, a letter from the principal, and by dates given in the “Statement of Findings.”
  30. For an analysis of why it is so difficult to recognize one has been wrong in these sorts of situations, see Carol Tavris and Elliott Aronson, Mistakes Were Made, But Not By Me (New York: Harcourt, Inc., 2007).
  31. A wide variety of sources confirm this. For example, Mia Darms directly reported this to an author of this paper. Close friends and supporters of Emily Reed indicated in writing that she had told them her memories had been repressed and recently recovered. Since Emily was an active participant on the listserv where this information was shared, her failure to object to this information would naturally seem to count as confirmatory. At later points when ISM leaders were confronted with the role of recovered memories in these accounts, ISM leaders in both written and unwritten forms defended the validity of recovered memories, and did not deny that these accounts were based on recovered memories.
  32. Ridge was later convicted of molesting boys and is currently listed on-line on a state registry of sex offenders.
  33. As described in the ISM Statements of “Findings” sent to each accused individual.

  34. Leanne Payne, The Broken Image (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1995), 19ff; and Leanne Payne, Restoring the Christian Soul (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996), 74-75.

  35. William Follette and Deborah Davis, “Clinical Practice and the Issue of Repressed Memo-ries,” in Handbook of Contemporary Psychotherapy, eds. William O’Donahue and Steven Graybar (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2009), 47-73; Asher Koriat, Morris Goldsmith, and Ainat Pansky, “Toward a Psychology of Memory Accuracy,” 481-537.

  36. Allender, The Wounded Heart, 25, 144, 145.
  37. Elizabeth Loftus and Katherine Ketcham, The Myth of Repressed Memory (New York: St Martin’s Griffin, 1994), 152 ff.
  38. Allender, The Wounded Heart, 145.
  39. Dan Allender, The Wounded Heart: A Companion Workbook for Personal and Group Use (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1995), 11.

  40. Allender, The Wounded Heart,151.
  41. Allender, The Wounded Heart: A Companion Workbook, 29.
  42. For research on cultural and relational factors contributing to MK struggles with self-esteem and anxiety, see Robert Priest, “Etiology of Adult Missionary Kid Life-Struggles,” 171-191.
  43. Sandro Galea, J. Ahern, H. Resnick, D. Kilpatrick, M. Bucuvalas, J. Gold, and D. Vlahov. “Psychological Sequelae of the September 11 Terrorist Attacks,” New England Journal of Medicine 346 (2002): 982-987.
  44. Allender, The Wounded Heart, 187, 193, 185, 187.
  45. For reviews of this literature, see E. Loftus and D. Davis, “Recovered Memories,” 469-498; William Follette and Deborah Davis, “Clinical Practice and the Issue of Repressed Memories,” in Handbook of Contemporary Psychotherapy, eds. William O’Donahue and Steven Graybar (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2009), 47-73; and R. McNally, Remembering Trauma.
  46. Allender, The Wounded Heart: A Companion Workbook, 33.
  47. Ibid., 49.
  48. A. Koriat, M. Goldsmith, and A. Pansky, “Toward a Psychology of Memory Accuracy,” 506; and Maryanne Garry, Charles Manning, Elizabeth Loftus, and Steven Sherman, “Imagination Inflation: Imagining a Childhood Event Inflates Confidence That it Occurred,” Psychonomic Bulletin and Review 3 (1996): 208-214.
  49. Our references to Allender are from his 1995 workbook and from his 1990 first edition of The Wounded Heart, since this is the edition ISM had in its library and recommended to others. Allender’s 1995 second edition does include a new preface acknowledging the possibility of false memories. But the body of the book was virtually unchanged, with only one of our citations above not appearing in both editions.
  50. We do not mean to imply that all recently remembered memories, particularly those re-called without the suspect methods described here, are false. See, for example, Elke Geraerts, Linsey Raymaekers, and Harald Merckelbach, “Recovered Memories of Childhood Sexual Abuse: Current Findings and Their Legal Implications,” Legal and Criminological Psychology13 (2008): 165-176.
  51. Committee to Review the Scientific Evidence on the Polygraph, National Research Council, The Polygraph and Lie Detection, 122.
  52. The written agreement, signed by all parties, specified that the polygraph examiners would give the results only to those being tested and to Robert Priest. Robert Priest agreed in writ-ing that he would only report on the results anonymously in the context of this paper, and then only if all three of the accused tested as honest in their claims to innocence. That is, these men were protected against self-incrimination.
  53. We wish to thank the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding for research-related funds for this project. Thanks also to the many who read and provided helpful feedback on earlier versions of this paper, including Dwight Baker, Don Carson, Douglas Hayward, Stanton Jones, John Kilner, Scott Moreau, Raymond Phinney, Miriam Parent, Douglas Pennoyer, Kersten Priest, Paul Simpson, John Wilson, Edwin Zehner, the Deerfield Dialogue Group (comprised of faculty members from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), and two anonymous CSR reviewers. Any flaws that remain are clearly our own.

Robert J. Priest

Taylor University
Robert J. Priest is Professor of Anthropology at Taylor University.

Esther Cordill

Esther Cordill practices clinical psychology.