August 1, 2020

Johnny Ortberg public comments on Instagram (Aug 1-2)

A Menlo Church congregant, Tiger Bachler, had posted on Instagram a screenshot of a Huffington Post article in which she had been quoted.

Johnny Ortberg commented on the post:

Your sons been good friends with me for 16 years now. Did you even bother to ask him if any of this is true about me? You don’t even know me and you think you can label me a threat.

Tiger responded:

Hi Johnny. First, I want you to know that I have a great deal of compassion for you. You bring up my son whom I have a very close relationship with and yes, we have spoken about this. This is not an easy situation to navigate but regardless, I have felt compelled to speak up because I truly believe that your dad made choices that were not in the best interest of the flock he was supposed to be shepherding. I’ve based my comments and my opinions on the facts as they have been presented by Menlo Church’s and/or your Dad’s statements. I truly hope that no children have been harmed in any way and I’m inclined to believe that they haven’t been. But your admission to your dad (as revealed in Menlo statements) should have immediately resulted in your dad taking action and ensuring you did not volunteer with youth any longer as well as notifying the Church. Whether he believed you hadn’t acted on your professed attraction or not is irrelevant to his responsibility to his congregation. The church and it’s pastors should ALWAYS err on the side of caution and being overly protective of the children in their care. Your dad chose not to do that for 16 months until your brother went to the church. None of the facts I’m basing my opinion on are in dispute. Removing you from volunteering immediately would have been the right thing to do because it not only protects the children it protects you. Telling the church so that they could confirm no children were harmed was your Dad’s duty to the congregation. I do hope you get the help you need and I look forward to hearing a statement soon declaring that no children have been harmed and welcoming an investigation whose results can set minds at ease. Please know that I am not judging you or your character. I am seeking to hold a powerful leader accountable and ensure Menlo Church always seeks to protect children to the highest degree.

Johnny replied:

first of all, plenty of the facts you’re basing your opinion on are in dispute. The elders statement about what I spoke to my dad about was intentionally harsh and inaccurate because they were operating out of fear of what Danny would do if they weren’t harsh enough (obviously backfired). What I spoke with my dad about is private and will remain that way. Second, even if that was the “condition” I struggled with, your assumption that being attracted to someone makes you a risk to harm them is wildly naive and inaccurate. Saying you’re not judging my character while also insinuating I might harm a child if I was allowed to volunteer is one of the most contradictory statements I’ve had someone say about me. It is remarkably dehumanizing. In any case, the entire argument that my dad failed to protect children relies on me being a potential harm to children, so don’t pretend like the way you’ve spoken up on this issue isn’t a direct attack on me. I’ve grown to expect it from complete strangers who only know the fictional version of me created on twitter, but to see it from one of best and longest friends mom who actually has the ability ask around and see who I really am before treating me as a subhuman creature in desperate need of help is incredibly hurtful.

Johnny also responded to Tiger’s daughter, who had commented:

Even I, as a 17 year old, can understand that this isn’t about Johnny’s character but the responsibility of his father, the supposed leader of the church. It doesn’t matter if Johnny is a wonderful person with good intentions. That is IRRELEVANT.

Johnny’s reply was:

elaborate.

Grace Lavery also responded to Johnny:

I’m sorry you feel attacked and misrepresented. Danny and I have tracked everything that has been said on this subject and put it up at menlo-church.com, and I’ve also made it quite clear that we are ready to defend in a courtroom each and every public statement we’ve made. Whether or not you feel like suing us (which, if you feel you have been misrepresented, you should), you should seek legal counsel immediately. I’m not sure whether your parents know that you are on Instagram saying that you should be allowed around children, but you are not receiving good advice. I wish you all the best as you move forward from this moment.

Bachler responded to Johnny:

Johnny, I really cannot comprehend how difficult this situation is for you. There are a lot of people concerned for you – even those speaking out about your Dad’s choices and the subsequent response by him and the church. I’m not sure how you can dispute the facts as I’ve mentioned I have based my actions and opinions on what the church and your dad have publicly said. If you are disputing the conversation about being child attracted, then you are calling Menlo Church and specifically the Elders liars. Judging from the close and loving relationship they seem to have with your Dad (as evidenced by today’s online service), I cannot fathom they would put out a public statement that is fabricated. Further, if you didn’t have that conversation there would be no reason for an investigation and a resignation.

You called my assertion that someone attracted to children should not be allowed to volunteer with them “wildly naive and inaccurate”. I wholeheartedly disagree and I doubt there are many parents who would willingly allow their child to be in the care of someone who has professed such an attraction. The risk is too great regardless of the character of the person. And any parent who would allow it would be negligent. The fact that you are arguing to the contrary is disturbing and irresponsible. Do you honestly believe that people who are attracted to children should work with them? Johnny, I really do wish you well, am praying for you and urge you to seek (or continue) counseling.

(end of correspondence as of Aug 5)