Cedarville University President Dr. Thomas White says he hired Dr. Anthony Moore in 2017 with the full knowledge and approval of Cedarville’s board of trustees. However, an email Dr. White sent to the trustees in July 2017, which I obtained yesterday, indicates otherwise.
Instead of telling the trustees that Moore had been fired from The Village Church for secretly making multiple videos of a youth pastor taking showers, White said Moore “acted in perversion technologically with another person.”
White also said in a recent blog post that according to the five-year restoration plan Cedarville gave Moore, Moore would not teach students during his first year at Cedarville. Yet that’s not what White communicated in the 2017 email to trustees.
Instead, White wrote that Moore would begin teaching online classes during his second semester and “perhaps co-teaching with Jason Lee,” dean of the School of Biblical and Theological Studies.
According to a current Cedarville student, Moore actually substitute taught a class during his first semester at Cedarville (fall 2017). And according to Associate Professor of Applied Theology and Apologetics Dr. Daniel DeWitt, Moore taught an online class the spring of 2018, and also substitute taught a class for DeWitt the same semester.
DeWitt, however, says he didn’t know the details of Moore’s past.
In addition, a Bible professor told me that White’s assertion that Moore “told his story to the entire faculty in the School of Biblical and Theological Studies during a meeting and entertained questions” is not accurate. The professor said Moore merely disclosed to the Bible faculty that he had a moral failure but offered no specifics.
“Acted in Perversion Technologically”
The email Dr. White sent to the entire trustee board on July 3, 2017, specifically asks for their response to White’s plan to hire Dr. Anthony Moore, but never tells them specifically what Moore did.
White describes Moore in the email as a friend both he and Dr. Lee know “well” from their time at Southwestern Seminary. White served as vice president of communications and student life at Southwestern from 2006—2013 and Lee served as chair of the church history department. Moore got his PhD from Southwestern and Lee was Moore’s PhD supervisor.
White adds that Moore “is a conservative, evangelical African-American, with a winsome and charismatic personality, who has a PhD in theology.”
White mentions that Moore had a “moral failure” while serving as pastor at the Fort Worth campus of The Village Church, which caused Moore to step down. Yet, when describing that moral failure, White does not mention that Moore made multiple secret videos of his former youth pastor taking showers at Moore’s home—a fact that White told me last week he knew before hiring Moore. Instead, White writes:
His failure in general resulted from being sexually abused from the age of 4 to 8/9 which caused him to struggle with same-sex attraction. While he has a strong marriage and three kids, the scars of his past were never dealt with. During a dark moment of questions, temptation, and curiosity, he acted in perversion technologically with another person. There was never any physical contact, but these actions were wrong and caused him to step down.
White adds that Moore has since “engaged in numerous hours of counseling” and “obeyed all the instructions” for church discipline outlined by The Village Church. White says he has talked on the phone with the elders of The Village Church Fort Worth and expects a “letter of recommendation” from the main campus of The Village Church by Friday.
Both White and The Village Church have confirmed that The Village Church sent White a letter prior to Cedarville hiring Moore, but neither have been willing to release that letter.
However, the elders at The Village Church Fort Worth last week told me that they “thoroughly informed Dr. White and Cedarville University about the details of Anthony’s dismissal and our belief that Anthony was not fit for ministry of any kind.”
White also says in his email that he has “letters of support from two different counselors and from Sam Allberry who has worked with (Moore) from a distance.”
Allberry is the author of several books, including “Is God anti-gay?” He’s also an editor for The Gospel Coalition, global speaker for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, and a former visiting professor at Cedarville.
I contacted Allberry for comment and he responded via email, stating:
My understanding at the time of the letter was that Anthony Moore had developed an unhealthy friendship and that he was now deeply repentant. I thought that a clerical role at Cedarville would provide the accountability, supervision, and support to help him walk through that repentance. I was not aware at the time of the extent of his actions or any pattern of abusive behaviour, and would not have supported his move to Cedarville had I been so.
In White’s 2017 email, he also says he discussed his plan to hire Moore with the chairman and vice-chairman of the trustee board, as well as Dr. Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Don Lough Jr., executive director of Word of Life Fellowship, and Dr. Paige Patterson, then the president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
I reached out to Dr. Akin,Dr. Lough, and Dr. Patterson for comment. Only Akin responded, saying that the trustees have elected to allow Cedarville’s chairman to speak for the entire board. The current chairman is Chip Bernhard, senior pastor of Spring Creek Church in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. I reached out to Bernhard for comment, but he did not respond.
Moore Taught His First Year at Cedarville, Despite White’s Claims He Didn’t
According to White’s recent blog post, Cedarville’s five-year plan of restoration for Moore called for him to work his first year as a multicultural recruiter and biblical research fellow. “Anthony would be a staff member performing administrative responsibilities and doing whatever was needed to allow for more time between his sinful action and meaningful ministry,” White wrote.
White further stated that a letter he sent Moore “laid out the following expectations: year one, focus on getting Anthony healthy; year two, Anthony could begin some teaching.”
Yet this doesn’t match the expectations White communicated in his email to trustees in 2017. It said:
I have put together a 5 year plan that would begin with him working in a staff position this fall. We would use him in some online classes or perhaps co-teaching with Jason Lee in the Spring. The online classes monitor and record all communication so this would be a very safe format and co-teaching would allow further close interaction. In the fall of 2018 assuming the entire year of service, accountability, counseling, and mentorship on campus goes well, we would begin using him in a faculty position for strategically chosen classes.
The plan outlined in White’s blog also doesn’t match what actually occurred during Moore’s first year at Cedarville.
A current student, who did not want her name published for fear of retribution, said Moore substitute taught a class of hers in the fall 2017. (The student gave me her name and I independently verified that she is enrolled at Cedarville.)
The student said Assistant Professor of Biblical Theology Dr. J. Michael McKay was the regular instructor for the class and Moore’s substitution seemed premeditated. She said McKay informed the class in advance that Moore would be a one-time substitute.
I reached out to Dr. McKay to confirm, but he did not respond.
The student added that she is a rape victim and feels Cedarville’s decision to hire Moore “on the grounds of ‘restoration’ . . . invalidates and belittles his victim’s claims and his pain.
“It hurts me and others like me who have also been victims of sexual crime. We already have to sit by and watch our own abusers escape punishment. But to subject us to sit under one in class? Without our knowledge or consent? That hits a little too close to home.”
Another former Cedarville student, now a graduate, Deborah Longenecker, told me that Moore substitute taught her theology course during the spring 2018 semester.
In an email, she wrote, “I don’t remember what we were told about who Moore was, but I do remember being impressed by his teaching and refreshed by his perspective as a black man. I remember thinking how lucky his students would be to have him as a theology prof, if he ever taught a course by himself. How eerie, sickening, and confusing, looking back.”
The professor for Longenecker’s class was Dr. Daniel DeWitt, an associate professor and director of the Center for Biblical Apologetics & Public Christianity. I contacted DeWitt and he confirmed that Moore substituted for his Theology One course the spring of 2018. He added that Moore was teaching the same course online, so “it didn’t seem strange to me to ask him to give a guest lecture.”
DeWitt added that he also had Moore share his testimony of coming to faith with DeWitt’s evangelism class in the fall semester of 2017.
However, DeWitt said he knew only that Moore “had some sort of moral failure that resulted in him stepping down from ministry.” DeWitt said he and Moore “never discussed the details surrounding his moral failure.” And DeWitt said he trusted that “those details were considered and worked through by administration and trustees.”