I don’t usually make it a point to discuss issues of pastors being arrested on my blog. But in this case, I’m going to make an exception. Why? Because this guy lives in the town I live in, and I know people who are close to him. This is something that is deeply hurting people in our community.
The long and short of the story is, [All alleged by the police]Sammy Nuckolls was preaching at a revival in Gosnell, Arkansas just a week ago. He was staying in the home of a couple in the church he was preaching at. When the woman of the house went to use her shower, she noticed Sammy’s items on the sink, and one of the items was a large pen that was sticking out of his toiletries bag, that looked suspicious to her. She examined the pen, and discovered that it contained a USB port, and appeared to have a camera inside of it. She apparently then knocked the pen into the sink, and continued with her shower. After she got out of the shower, Nuckolls then entered the bathroom, collected his items, and went back into the room where he was staying. After Sammy left(presumably to go to the church), the woman and her husband searched Sammy’s belongings to find the pen, and then contacted the police. The police took Sammy in for questioning, and say that he admitted to purposely videotaping the woman, as well as two other women in my town. The police went through his laptop, and discovered several videos that appeared to have been taken of various women undressing(presumably in a bathroom, or bedroom) surreptitiously. Nuckolls was then placed under arrest, and posted $50,000 bond the next day. The Gosnell police department contacted the two women in our town who had been videotaped, and let them know of what had transpired. The Olive Branch police were then notified, and they began an investigation, and have apparently uncovered more videos going back years, all on Sammy’s computers. Victims are being identified, and there is at least one other town in Arkansas that is investigating the possibility of charges against Sammy Nuckolls as well.
Accused Voyeur Evangelist Faces Judge In Olive Branch
More Victims Of Peeping Preacher Surface
Traveling Evangelist Charged With Video Voyeurism
Police Report On The Arrest
Link to a Blog Post with considerably more links.
Sammy was a camp pastor for Lifeway’s Fuge camps. As of his arrest, Lifeway has scrubbed his profile from their site, and has explained their actions saying “In light of the legal allegations and evidence of moral failure, the desire of FUGE camps is to clearly communicate the immediate termination of Nuckolls and LifeWay’s zero tolerance acceptance.”
Now, many people that I have read after on Facebook, Twitter, various news sites, might prefer to stay silent mostly on this at this time. I think that’s the wrong approach to take now, especially as more and more details are coming out and more victims are being identified. Sammy Nuckolls has been conducting Bible studies in his home with young people, ranging from underage to 18 and up. It is important to note that the police have found NO videos with underage girls on them. Incredibly important to note that, because at least at this point, it says that Sammy had not fallen that deep. Not that this isn’t deep enough already, but let’s face it, we all would think of that as being significantly worse than simply videotaping adult women. But, people do need to be notified, and pastors need to tell their people “hey, this is what the police say he has done, because of this we recommend that the young people from our church do not go to his home for Bible studies.” I don’t expect that at this time Sammy is holding any Bible studies at his home, but if he continued to do so, it would be tragic if pastors failed to warn their flock of a man who is alleged to be preying upon women.
If the allegations against Sammy are true, that he admitted to the police that he videotaped women secretly while they were undressing, that he kept videos on his computers dating back years, then this is a very serious issue. It is gravely important, because this is a man who used a church office to prey upon women. He’s more than a porn addict, he’s a man who makes his own pornography by secretly videotaping women, while they think they are alone. These are women who place a certain amount of trust in him, because he holds a title that is deserving of respect. The churches who have used Sammy at their services, who have allowed their young people to go to his home for Bible studies, have a responsibility to their people to discuss this openly and honestly. They also need to be the first to step in and come alongside Sammy, to pray for him, to help his wife and child, and to also come alongside his victims and help them heal. We do not and should not abandon those who have been caught in sin who name the name of Christ. We should be praying earnestly for them, that the Gospel will be present in their life, and that by looking to Christ they will conquer their sins. But we shouldn’t stay silent on the matter and avoid discussing it. God’s glory is not made manifest in staying silent on the sin here. God’s glory is concealed and made less in the eyes of others by keeping quiet and discussing it only in backrooms. We must glorify God by showing a proper response to sin, by loving and caring for the victims, including Sammy’s wife, and by seeking to see Sammy restored. And if Sammy is unrepentant, he should be placed under church discipline by his church, and witnessed to by those who know him.
I have seen a number of responses to this already, on news sites, on Facebook, on Twitter. Many of the responses have been of the sort that say “he who is without sin can cast the first stone”, and “God sees all sin the same”. These responses are unhelpful at best, and a bit unbiblical as well. Yes, all sin is sin to God, it is an act of cosmic treason. But first and foremost, let’s recall that those who are teachers within the church must face harsher judgment before God(James 3), and they are to be rebuked before all(1 Timothy 5). Not all sins are totally equal in God’s eyes, except that all sin makes one worthy of eternal damnation. But God does indeed view some sins as more grievous. Only one sin is unforgivable however, and that is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. As for the statement “let him without sin cast the first stone”, that passage is not saying that we cannot judge the sins of others. We can. We are supposed to do so, according to Scripture. Not judging those without the church, but those within(1 Corinthians 5). The “we all sin, and all sin is the same” is simply an attempt to excuse sin. It goes to the “well, he’s no worse than you or me”, but that’s not the point that should be made on this. The point that SHOULD be made is “this is a grievous sin. We are all sinners, we have all offended God, and we are all accountable for our sin. None of us are innocent before God, but we can be made innocent through Jesus Christ if we repent and put our trust in Him alone for our salvation. Sammy is a sinner in need of the Gospel, and we must condemn his sin, but we should also pray for him that he will repent. And the same is true of you, you must also repent or perish.” The other response has been to say “well, let’s just not talk about it, let’s just pray.” This response has been not just unhelpful, but results in the unsaved wondering why Christians are inconsistent. After all, we talk quite often about how homosexuality is wrong, about how living together outside of marriage is wrong, about how adultery is wrong, and yet when it comes to ministers like Sammy Nuckolls being arrested, we want to stay quiet and tell people to just keep quiet about it and that we can’t judge or cast stones.
Churches must find a way to deal with this in a mature, responsible, Biblical manner. Staying quiet and not addressing the issue will not make it go away. I don’t know how all the churches in this area who use Sammy Nuckolls have responded to this, but the silence so far has been deafening. Get it out in the opening, and shout it from the rooftops.