Survivor Joyce Meyer, Dr. Ben Carson withdraw from Gateway Church series after child sex abuse allegations against Robert Morris

Televangelist Joyce Meyer speaks at Gateway Church in May 2024.
Televangelist Joyce Meyer speaks at Gateway Church in May 2024. | YouTube/Gateway Church

Childhood sex abuse survivor and televangelist Joyce Meyer, along with renowned neurosurgeon and former Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Ben Carson, have both pulled out of a line-up of speakers scheduled for Gateway Church’s “Let’s Dive In! Summer Series” in the wake of child sex abuse allegations against founder Robert Morris.

Meyer, who has talked publicly about the childhood sexual abuse she experienced at the hands of her father, has been a regular speaker at Gateway Church over multiple years. She most recently spoke at the megachurch in May. She was scheduled to speak there again for the summer series on July 20-21, but a person close to Joyce Meyer Ministries, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Christian Post late Monday that the televangelist has decided to stop teaching at Gateway Church in light of the allegations against Morris.

“I can confirm that Joyce Meyer has decided to withdraw from teaching at Gateway Church. The ministry has not made any public statements about this matter. But there are many examples readily available of Joyce Meyer strongly condemning all types of abuse and her compassion for survivors,” the spokesperson told CP.

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In 2016, Meyer revealed that her father must have raped her at least 200 times while she was a minor until she became 18, and the devil convinced her it was her own fault.

"He didn't force me physically, but through lies, and manipulation, and fears, and threats, I was still forced," she recalled.

"Literally, what he did was rape me, every week, at least once a week, until the time I was 18. My father, who I was supposed to be able to trust, who was supposed to keep me safe, raped me a minimum of 200 times.”

The 81-year-old televangelist said dealing with the internalized guilt from the abuse was the most difficult stage of her healing and she struggled with it for most of her life.

“Well, I had a record playing in my head for most of my life 'What's wrong with me?' And I think it's so amazing [that] the first thing Jesus wants to give us is something right,” she said.

Neurosurgeon and former Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson speaking at Gateway Church on April 3, 2022.
Neurosurgeon and former Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson speaking at Gateway Church on April 3, 2022. | YouTube/ Gateway Church

In a statement to CP on Monday, a spokesperson from Dr. Carson’s conservative think-tank, American Cornerstone Institute, said the retired neurosurgeon was asked to cancel his July 6-7 engagement at the church.

“Given the circumstances, the church asked us to cancel our earlier commitment in order to allow for the healing process to take place. We are praying for their community during this difficult time,” the ACI spokesperson told CP.

Carson and Meyer were among several regular high-profile speakers scheduled to speak during Gateway Church’s summer series. Other speakers include the embattled megachurch Pastor Tony Evans.

Evans leads Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship church in Dallas, Texas. He recently stepped away from his pastoral duties for a season of restoration due to sin that was undisclosed by his church on June 9. He was scheduled to speak at Gateway Church June 10-11 and there is no evidence that he fulfilled that engagement online. He is also scheduled to speak at Gateway Church July 13 -14.  It remains unclear whether that engagement will continue as planned.

Gateway Church did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CP on Monday.

Though he also previously featured prominently in former President Donald Trump’s Evangelical Executive Advisory Board, shortly after he resigned in the wake of the child sex abuse allegations last month, a spokesperson for Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign said he no longer had a role on the board.

While Morris hosted Trump at Gateway Church in June 2020 when Trump referred to him and fellow Pastor Steve Dulin as “great people with a great reputation,” campaign spokesman Steven Cheung told The New York Times that he was not included this year.

“President Trump’s broad appeal among faith communities across the country is a testament to his unwavering commitment to upholding faith and the protection of religious liberties,” Cheung said.

Morris resigned from the megachurch on June 18, after Cindy Clemishire, 54, reported that he began sexually abusing her on Dec. 25, 1982, when she was just 12 years old. She says the abuse continued for four-and-a-half years before he was found out. But he was later allowed to return to ministry.

Neurosurgeon and former Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson was scheduled to speak at Gateway Church July 6-7, 2024.
Neurosurgeon and former Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson was scheduled to speak at Gateway Church July 6-7, 2024. | Screenshot/Twitter/@sgvd37

When questioned about the allegations by CP, Morris initially confessed to being involved in “inappropriate sexual behavior with a young lady” more than 35 years ago, and said he repented and was restored to ministry.

Clemishire insisted to CP, however, that she was no young lady when Morris abused her.

“I was 12 years old. I was a little girl. A very innocent little girl. And he was brought into our home. He and his wife, Debbie, and their little boy, Josh, trusted and preached at the church that my dad helped start and then began grooming all of us to do this, which took me decades to wrap my brain around as an adult,” she said.

“It went on for many years. He says there was no sexual intercourse, but he did touch every part of my body and inserted his fingers into me, which I understand now is considered a form of rape by instrumentation. I was an innocent 12-year-old little girl who knew nothing about sexual behavior.”

Gateway Church initially defended Morris when the abuse allegations were first made and stated that Morris, who was a married and a traveling evangelist at the time of the alleged abuse, had repented.

Gateway elders would later revise their public statement on the allegations in an announcement of Morris' resignation on June 18, saying they were not aware Morris had sexually abused a child.

"Regretfully, prior to Friday, June 14, the elders did not have all the facts of the inappropriate relationship between Morris and the victim, including her age at the time and the length of the abuse. The elders' prior understanding was that Morris' extramarital relationship, which he had discussed many times throughout his ministry, was with 'a young lady' and not abuse of a 12-year-old child," the elders explained.

"Even though it occurred many years before Gateway was established, as leaders of the church, we regret that we did not have the information that we now have. We are heartbroken and appalled by what has come to light over the past few days, and we express our deep sympathy to the victim and her family," the elders added.

The elders further stated that they retained the law firm of Haynes & Boone, LLP to "conduct an independent, thorough, and professional review of the report of past abuse to ensure we have a complete understanding of the events from 1982-1987."

Clemishire has disputed the claim by Gateway Church that the elders had no knowledge that she was a child.

"The leadership at Gateway received actual notice of this crime in 2005 when I sent an email directly to Robert Morris' Gateway email address. Former Gateway elder, Tom Lane, received and responded to my email, acknowledging that the sexual abuse began on December 25, 1982, when I was 12 years old," Clemishire said in a statement released by her attorney Boz Tchividjian.

"Again in 2007, my then attorney Gentner Drummond (the current Attorney General of Oklahoma) sent a letter to Robert Morris with the hope that he would help reimburse me for the thousands of dollars I had expended in counseling as a result of this abuse. His attorney acknowledged the dates as well and then attempted to blame me for the abuse," she insisted. "At the very least, both the Gateway pastor and at least one elder had specific notice that I was sexually abused beginning when I was 12 years old. Gateway had the information but intentionally decided to embrace the false narrative Robert Morris wanted to believe."

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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