Convicted Child Molester Bill Bjorkman Should Not Be a Pastor: Protest
Join us in July 2021 (date TBD) to protest convicted child molester Bill Bjorkman at Calvary Chapel Mountain View!
The Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Mountain View, Bill Bjorkman, is a convicted child molester. He was arrested in 1998 after molesting two children at the San Jose Children’s Musical Theater where he worked. Bjorkman started molesting both children when they were 13 years old. He did so repeatedly over at least four years, according to the San Francisco Gate, “abusing the boys outside of the theater, sometimes at Bjorkman’s home” from 1989 to 1993. He did not leave the theater until 1998 and only admitted to the crimes after his victims stepped forward.
Bjorkman was convicted of child molestation in 1999. He served time in Folsom Prison for a mere 18 months and was released in 2000. Only a year and a half after being released from prison, Bjorkman had worked his way into the Calvary Chapel network, becoming a pastor at Calvary Chapel Santa Cruz.
It was not until 2005, during a sermon by Santa Cruz Senior Pastor Dave Johnston, that congregants at Calvary Chapel Santa Cruz were officially notified of Bjorkman’s history of child molestation. According to the San Jose Mercury News, Johnston only mentioned it after concerned congregants and other community members saw Bjorkman on the newly-launched Megan’s Law registry of sex offenders. Disturbingly, after Johnston told congregants about Bjorkman’s molesting of children, everyone “broke into applause” and “several men…[told] Bjorkman they felt they had been carrying around their own dark secrets for far too long.” Another congregant dismissed the concerns, saying, “I would trust Bill…with my children as I would trust my mother.”
Now, years later, Bjorkman is the Senior Pastor and oversees all ministries at Calvary Chapel Mountain View, including the children’s ministry (which is run by his wife). Unsurprisingly, the church does not have even the most basic of child protection policies.
Calvary Chapel Mountain View is part of the larger Calvary Chapel movement, a network of nearly 1,800 non-denominational evangelical churches in both the U.S. and abroad. Founded by pastor Chuck Smith in 1965 in Southern California, Calvary Chapel grew out of the larger Jesus Movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Calvary Chapel grew in popularity in large part thanks to the young charismatic preacher Lonnie Frisbee. Sadly, Frisbee, who lived much of his life as a closeted gay man and later died of AIDS in 1993, has been largely written out of Calvary Chapel history.
Today, the vast majority of Calvary Chapels are far-right, authoritarian, evangelical churches that embrace white supremacist thinking, Christian Nationalism, queerphobia, and male supremacy. Most Calvary Chapel pastors are also Christian Zionists who believe that Israel must be restored to the Jewish people in order for the so-called Second Coming of Christ to occur.
Operating under what pastor Chuck Smith termed the “Moses Model,” whereby a church is governed by one senior led pastor, Calvary Chapel pastors have almost entirely free reign to lead their church with virtually no oversight or consequences for toxic behavior. Not surprisingly, churches within the Calvary Chapel network have been mired in abuse scandals. Bob Coy of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale was charged with child molestation in 2017 and Pastor Bret Allen Welty of Calvary Chapel Boise was also accused of child sexual abuse in 2019. Calvary Chapel San Jose pastor Mike McClure has openly bragged about helping an allegedly reformed child molester become a missionary.
Calvary Chapel Mountain View is not the first Calvary Chapel to come under fire for questionable or extreme actions, whether it’s hiring a convicted child molester or hosting the leaders of hate groups. Earlier this month, Calvary Chapel Watch protested Calvary Chapel San Jose while they hosted Tony Perkins, president of the national hate group Family Research Council. And last summer, during their annual men’s retreat, at which San Jose pastor Mike McClure was a speaker, Calvary Chapel Sonora was met with protest when they hosted Family Research Council Vice-President Jerry Boykin.
As residents of the Bay Area, we believe Bill Bjorkman should not be around children and therefore should not be Senior Pastor at any church. Furthermore, we request that Calvary Chapel Mountain View creates a child protection policy and hires an outside organization such as GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment) to review its current culture and procedures regarding children and abuse prevention.
Bill’s devastating crimes further highlight the glaring inconsistencies and contradictions of a church network that relentlessly attacks LGBTQIA people while remaining noticeably silent when it comes to crimes committed by their own pastors. Instead of hosting anti-LGBTQIA hate groups, like the Family Research Council who perpetuate the false claim that gay people are more likely to be child molesters, we urge Calvary Chapel members to hold their church leadership accountable. Furthermore, if Calvary Chapels continue to bar LGBTQIA people and women from leadership positions while at the same time allow child molesters to be senior pastors, the network might consider whether holiness and biblical principles are truly its priorities.
If you are a journalist interested in covering the upcoming protest, please email either Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org or Carly at email@example.com. To learn more about the growing extremism at Calvary Chapel churches, follow Calvary Chapel Watch on Instagram, on Twitter, and on Facebook.
For more general information on Calvary Chapel, follow Calvary Chapel Watch on Instagram.
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