Saddleback and its Meulenberg dilemma

It’s always heartbreaking when we hear of Christian leaders being charged with sexual abuse, as in the recent arrest of Saddleback youth worker Ruben Meulenberg. He was charged with 5 felonies:

  • Three felony counts of lewd acts on a child
  • Two felony counts of lewd acts on a child under 14-year-old

We urge our readers to pray for the victims and their families.

Staff worker or volunteer?

Saddleback cautiously put out a statement, and called Meulenberg a “student ministry volunteer.” Here is the full statement.  However, Lighthouse Trails has since learned that Ruben Meulenberg is not merely a volunteer at Saddleback – he is also a staff member. The man and his twin brother serve on staff at Saddleback Church in the technology, communication and marketing ministries, according to sources:

If indeed Ruben Meulenberg is a staff member and one with a significant role in youth ministry at the mega church, then the statement released by Saddleback on May 26th has downplayed or minimized Meulenberg’s role at the church. (source)

The volunteer status is now a part of the official court record. Does it matter if his position is paid or unpaid? Is there a culpability factor? Additional details are here, along with the access Meulenberg had to children in his staff position.

That name…

If the name Meulenberg sounds familiar, it may be because his parents have long been on Saddleback’s payroll as staff members. His father, Abraham Meulenberg, was a pastor heading up Interfaith Outreach. You may remember the news publicity around his involvement with Rick Warren’s efforts to form alliances with the Muslim community in Orange County several years ago (which Saddleback denied).

Later, I was doing some research on the elder Meulenberg, and discovered that he and his wife were actually teaching the false “Kingdom Circles” doctrine at a P.E.A.C.E. Plan seminar in France. The Kingdom Circles teaching states that Muslims do not need to convert to Christianity – that they can remain Muslim – and still be in the Kingdom of God. You can see the K.O.G lesson plan behind Meulenberg in this photo: