Analysis of Fairfax Community Church’s Second Statement on Eric Nickle Given to Amy Smith of SNAP

Today’s post is an analysis of Fairfax Community Church’s second statement on Eric Nickle. Its an analysis on some spin that has been given amidst the “A Better $tory” campaign. It also examines the following question…has FCC placed pressure on the local media not to report this story, and my question to Rod Stafford and Loretta Cooper is the that how Jesus would operate?


“Time will inevitably uncover dishonesty and lies; history has no place for them.”

Norodom Sihanouk

“Whether people care enough about local news to pay for it is, sadly, an entirely different question than whether our democracy requires a strong watchdog function at the local level to ensure safeguards against abuse, chicanery, and outright dishonesty

Eric Alterman

“There are six things the Lord hates,  seven that are detestable to him:  haughty eyes,  a lying tongue,  hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes,
        feet that are quick to rush into evil,  a false witness who pours out lies  and a person who stirs up conflict in the community

Proverbs 6:16-19 NIV

On Saturday August 1, 2015 SNAP held a protest outside Fairfax Community Church (FCC) and distributed leaflets letting it be known that FCC had employed a violent sex offender in a position of trust as a Care Director. The statement below was given by Loretta Cooper wife of Kyle Cooper who is employed at Fairfax Community Church.  If you want to read more background on the story you can read so here. This is my analysis of the statement below.  I transcribed the statement and will be writing in red to separate what I am going to state vs. what FCC has said. In short order what is written below would be good spin and something I would expect to see more from the Richard Nixon Whitehouse than a church that claims to preach “The Gopsel.” Start of analysis:


August 1, 2015

We believe in Redemption

One thing I find very irritating about this is that FCC is claiming they believe in redemption thus implying other Christians like myself and others do not believe in redemption. I believe in redemption to but sometimes redemption has consequences, and it doesn’t mean forgive and forget. I believe in redemption but to place a known and violent sex offender in a position of trust is not only reckless but its dangerous. I am not saying Eric Nickle doesn’t have a place at FCC I am saying its just not in his current position. If he just worked with men I wouldn’t mind as much but that is not what is occurring here. He has more free reign than what FCC is admitting.

Fairfax Community Church is focused on redemption and restoration both for the abused and the abuser.  The popular narrative of our culture is that one cannot be committed to both. We believe that there are no either/or decisions when it comes to the Gospel and to broken people. Jesus stands with all who are broken. So does Fairfax Community Church.

I believe in redemption and restoration for the abuser as well. The question is how do you define restoration? If a physician loses his medical license for negligence and malpractice does restoration mean he will get his license back? If a drunk driver who killed a family in a mini-van  accident serves his time, does that mean he will get his drivers license back?  Rod Stafford Jesus cares about broken people and he also cares about honesty. The problem is that FCC was caught being dishonest and hiding this information from the congregation. Jesus does stand with the broken but Jesus had far more insight  and knowledge into people than you do Rod Stafford. Jesus was the seminary he knowingly choose the man who betrayed him knowing what was going to transpire.  Rod you are not Jesus and you don’t have that access to knowledge. Again I want to be crystal clear I am not questioning the faith of Eric Nickle I am questioning the wisdom of having him in the position he is in.

Fairfax Community Church has hosted a variety of 12 step support groups including eating disorders, drug and alcohol addiction, pornography and recovery for victims of sexual abuse.

Just off the cuff can I recommend FCC develop a 12 step program for churches addicted to church growth?

We are not naïve. We know recidivism rates among sexual offenders are extraordinarily high. We also know that without recovery programs, options open to men and women are extremely limited: reoffend or commit suicide. We support programs not only because we believe in redemption, but because we care about the victims.

Oh Rod, but you are indeed naïve. I am not opposed to treatment programs for sex offenders what I am questioning is the wisdom of having a person in a position of trust. Also why the black and white thinking….is that part of the problem of dualism, an either or mindset? Why must it be framed as either reoffend or commit suicide? Me and others who are concerned want neither as we don’t want to see a sex offender commit suicide. However we are also concerned that by putting him in a position of trust, and having him greet, and having access to critical information that you are putting him in a situation where you could set him up to re-offend. That’s part of the problem Rod Stafford. Part of this is also love, because if you love Eric you would put him in a situation where he’s not compromised or liable to re-offend. That’s good for FCC, that’s good for you Rod Stafford and that is good for Eric Nickle in the end.

The Facts about Eric Nickle

  • Eric began attending a men’s support group at Fairfax Community Church in 2003 immediately after being released from the Fairfax County Detention Center.
  • Eric completed the terms of his probation in January 2011 and remains in full compliance with state and county requirements for ex offenders.
  • At no time in the past 15 years has Eric reoffended.
  • Eric’s responsibilities at the church are limited to computer support, providing logistical support for the food pantry and overseeing adult’s men’s recovery programs.
  • At the time of Eric’s employment we mutually established a series of limitations on Eric’s physical boundaries in our facility. At no time does he have access to children or to children’s classrooms.

Wow…I am disappointed that there is so much spin here. I have one question Rod or Loretta…how do you know for absolute certainty that Eric Nickle has not re-offended? Sometimes it takes years, and years before the truth gets to the surface. Victims are intimidated, threatened or bullied and live in fear.  From my understanding the victim usually knows the abuser and that makes it harder for that person to speak out. What troubles me is the absolute certainty that is exhibited here. I would love to know why FCC can claim with such certainty that Eric Nickle has not re-offended. For his sake, and others I honestly hope that is the case but how can that be said with such certainty?  What makes me wonder about the first part is the last bullet which I know from my own personal involvement in FCC to be an outright lie. Eric walked around freely.  He greeted at the door,  he gave out assignments at Group Link,  he prayed with people near the base of the cross with families nearby in the dark.  And as for access to the children’s classroom the sex addiction program has met there a few times. Yes it was after hours, yes there were no children around. I didn’t think anything of it until I learned the information that I did. For a person who can be sexually attracted to children is that a way to entertain fantasy? Kind of like in a similar manner for a guy focused on purity who says they are not reading Playboy, Hustler, etc… but instead reading Maxim? Did the sexual addiction group meet in the children’s classroom for that reason? When I read this I was so disappointed in my former church. Honestly I had hoped you guys would be better than what I read here.

Eric’s history has never been a ‘secret’. Our staff and lay leadership and those directly interacting with Eric and have always been aware of his history. The success of the 12 step programs is rooted in the ability of all participants to work out their challenges in anonymity.

If Eric’s story is not a secret than why has it been hidden for years? Why has FCC scrubbed and tried to hide information on the internet? I know what I saw, and I ran it by Dee Parsons who confirmed the information in 2013 or so. Then I noticed it was gone and I ran it again by Dee Parsons who noticed it was gone also. Why the lack of transparency? Is that how Jesus would operate? Why are people behind the scenes who volunteered leaving a comment here and there saying,  “I was never told…” Here’s what happened I would suggest.  FCC gave Eric Nickle more leeway than not and  probably thinking this would not be an issue. Then it erupted in the early stages of a $16 million dollar expansion called “A Better $tory” and this information threatened the church growth plan. After all what can you do when people bolt who have committed money to the project?  So FCC was caught with its pants down, and now its doing some “Gospel Centered Dishonesty.” I just want to shake my head in shame and disgust  to think this was the church I got baptized in. What a crying shame….

We support the goals of advocacy groups that seek to protect our children and provide safe places to worship. We feel confident we have acted in accordance with demands of the law, common sense and the Gospel.

I think I explained myself clearly.

Is Fairfax Community Church Trying to Pressure the DC Media to not Report the Story?

There is something very interesting about shady and corrupt churches and its this issue. They place pressure and try and intimidate behind the scenes. Here’s how its played out in the past in a couple of other situations. In Raleigh, North Carolina one of the main Baptist Churches Providence Baptist covered up a sex abuse situation. The Raleigh News and Observer was supposed to do a story on the situation. In time the story was dropped and what happened is that outside pressure by advertisers on the News and Observer killed the story.  Then a couple of months ago there was a budding story in Dallas involving Matt Chandler’s The Village Church. The Dallas Morning News was going to break the story on Karen Hinkley. It was to be on the front page of the Sunday morning paper. Karen was disciplined by The Village Church for annulling her marriage to her husband who was sexually attracted to children and addicted to child pornography. The Dallas Morning news was scheduled to break it, then it contacted The Village Church for a statement and the story suddenly went cold. Probably what happened is that pressure was placed on the Dallas Morning News and they caved. That led Amy Smith to break the story instead, and Dee Parsons to write the heck out of it.

So here we are and FCC was caught with its hand in the cookie jar. Word behind the scenes is that as the television media got wind of the situation they wanted to report it. Word from Amy Smith is that one of the television reporters for a local station allegedly claimed that he has never been in a situation where he was placed under intense pressure to not to go ahead with this story by FCC. So my question is this…is that how Jesus would act? Is that part of the Gospel Loretta Cooper? Is that ethical Rod Stafford? When Jesus gave his Sermon on the Mount did Jesus, say “If you have any questions deal with my press spokesman Loretta…” Is that part of the Gospel Rod? I must have missed it if I did. Oh by the way Loretta Cooper when you see Kyle Cooper you need to tell Kyle to respond to his email from the congregation. I emailed him  when I was deeply involved and he wouldn’t respond. That is not how a pastor should interact with the sheep. If FCC is not going to be a church and  instead a business well it’s not good customer service to ignore the client. I could never have done that in the business realm. My client would have been upset if I ignored their emails or contacts. So that’s something that needs to be addressed.

Wow…well I was so dismayed when I read this letter that Loretta Cooper gave to Amy Smith. The spin reflects someone who is  a master of spin. Someone has spent time working on Capital Hill, and I see a statement more reflective of that than anything else. All I wanted from my former church is honesty. Honesty, honesty, honesty…why is honesty such a lonely word? Why is honesty so hard to find? So with that I will let Billy Joel sing my lament about the lack of honesty in this letter.



8 thoughts on “Analysis of Fairfax Community Church’s Second Statement on Eric Nickle Given to Amy Smith of SNAP

  1. Wow. Author would have likely stoned Mary Magdelene. You read this, and you can see how the Salem witch trials started. There is no showing that anyone has been harmed because of the Pastor’s actions. It is all slippery slope, guilt by hypothetical “what if” nonsense sprinkled with scriptures to try show there is some higher justification for it.


    • Ron, thanks for the comment. No this is based upon being in several churches that struggled with this issue or had a problem child sex abuse. Like I said if Eric Nickle just was involved in Men’s Ministry and didn’t have access to other areas of the church I wouldn’t have pushed the alarm. Child sex abuse is a major problem in evangelical Christianity, when are Christians going to wake up and realize and admit it. Also in regards to the comment about Mary Magdalene are you implying that prostitution is the same thing as child sex abuse? In most cases Prostitution is more of an act between two adults. In the case of child sex abuse the child is abused against his/her will.


  2. Mr. Wonder,

    If you are going to accuse the pastor (or anyone for that matter), you should, at a minimum, base your accusation on facts about harm to others caused by the pastor. Sorry, I just do not see facts here. Again, just Salem witch trial stuff. No kidding child sex abuse is a problem in churches. Just because that is true does not mean that this pastor’s actions have or will cause child harm by the hand of Eric Nickle. And yes, prostitution is different from child abuse — what is the point? That comment serves more to distract from the discussion / derail it than add any value.

    According to the account above, Erik Nickle has been involved with Fairfax Community Church for about 12 years. 12 YEARS!! There is 12 years of opportunity for you to find something. You have found nothing showing that this pastor’s actions have or will cause child harm by the hand of Eric Nickle. You have found nothing more than “others have done x” and a bunch of “what if” scenarios. Bottom line is when I sift through all the noise of your post I come up with more concern about you and what you are doing. I find the Salem witch trial nature of your post to be magnitudes more disturbing than anything you “think” the pastor may or may not be doing.


    • Ron, how was FCC this morning? You must go there or be close to someone involved. Your comment is deflecting and common in these situations. I wrote what I wrote based on experience and knowledge. Child sex abuse situations take years to come to the surface. Often many people are intimidated, bullied or threatened. Its harder to come forward when you know the victim.

      The other problem is with what you said about Mary Magdalene. You are equalizing and leveling sin. Jesus was strict about the least of these, and a victim of child sex abuse qualifies. You are also attached to the situation otherwise you would not attack like you have. Is this part of the Gospel Ron? You think I am being tough on Rod…how would Nero and Roman authorities have come down on him and other Christians. If Eric Nickle is a story of grace why hide it for years? FCC concealed the story for years! If its a story of grace then for God’s sake celebrate it! But is hiding and concealing it celebrating it? FCC is playing CYA amidst a $16 million dollar expansion campaign. Its arrogance to think Rod Stafford knows better than the criminal justice system, psychologists, etc….in handling it. Jesus was the seminary as he was God. But Rod is not and can’t ascertain Eric Nickle. In the end I don’t think Rod understands sin. If he knew what people are capable of he would handle this diferently. Have a good day Ron.


  3. Ron
    It is obvious to me that you have not carefully looked at the issue of pedophilia. The issue of prostitution is far different than the issue of pedophilia when it comes to life time consequences. Children who are molested often grow up to have serious mental health problems, become substance abusers, and even, very sadly, can go on to molest children themselves. A child is hurt for a lifetime by being molested. Do some reading to confirm what I am saying.

    Being sexually attracted to kids does not disappear when you become a Christian or even serve the Lord. The attraction to children is just like (I’m making an assumption here) your attraction to women. That attraction will stay with you for your life just like a pedophile’s attraction to children often will trouble him for his life. Those feelings are often kept deep inside because the expression of them is quite dangerous to the pedophile. Take a look at Jared Fogle’s (the Subway guy) conviction. He was found out by first expressing to a stranger that eh thought was on his side, saying “Middle school girls are hot.)

    Did you know that pedophiles have often molested over 100 times before they are caught in the offense? They are experts of concealing their activities. Remember, sex is usually done in private and that is the same for pedophiles. They can also access internet child sex abuse (commonly known as child porn) without anyone ever knowing they are doing so. So, your comment about not discovering something for 12 years shows that you don’t understand the larger issue of dealing with pedophiles.They are smart and secretive.

    Your comment on Mary Magdalene also shows how you misunderstand those of us who are concerned for both victims of pedophilia and victims of prostitution. Just like many children are sold into sexual slavery in order to fulfill the needs of millions of pedophiles around the world, women are sold into prostitution through human trafficking. Did you know that there are more slaves now, most of them sexual slaves, then there were when slavery of African Americans was legal?

    I know that the heart of Eagle goes out to those women who are sold into sexual slavery, often seriously abused, kept high on drugs and sickly as they contract one STD after another. And, if they become too sick, they are thrown out on the streets with no means to receive help. Eagle cares for them as do I. Jesus got it as well.

    I had to smile when you used the Salem Witch Trials as an example. I grew up in Salem and lived there until my early 20s. Did you know there was a monetary reason behind those trials? Many women owned important pieces of land. If they were accused of being a witch, they were thrown into jail to languish. Men were as well. Only 20 died (all were hung except for one who was pressed to death.) Approximately 175 were jailed and their land was taken from them and somehow made it’s way into the hands of opportunists who proclaimed their love of God. It is interesting that after the trials died down and the Commonwealth repented of their sins, few pieces of land were returned to those unjustly accused of witchcraft. I could go on and on….

    So, the witches in the Salem were not witches after all. They were abused unjustly. However, Eric is an admitted molester of a child (I believe she was his daughter.) That means you are back to the issues of pedophilia and the need to gain some wisdom in this area. Eric may never molest again. If he does, we may never know about it. But, there are life time consequences of heinous actions. He may be forgiven pf those actions but but he should not be able to assume positions of trust, especially around families with children, ever again. It is my hope the FCC and Eric will learn this very hard lesson.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dee,

    I do not agree with all that you or Wonder assert, but I am well aware that pedophilia issues are serious and ongoing throughout one’s life as a victim and perpetrator. To your point, “He may be forgiven of those actions but he should not be able to assume positions of trust, especially around families with children, ever again. It is my hope the FCC and Eric will learn this very hard lesson.” I largely agree with this statement and believe FCC and Eric have largely learned this lesson and deal with it every day. Thus, FCC’s initial vetting of Eric, the heavy restrictions on Eric’s activities, FCC’s announcements to the staff about the situation and the constant supervision of Eric while working at the church — away from children. The pastor even made all of this known to the congregation recently. But the question remains, “Is what the pastor doing appropriate and adequate?” The present, strong restrictions and a 12 year record of no confirmed reports does suggest that it is. Note that this is not evidence of “forgive and forget” as suggested by Wonder. While Eric may be forgiven, he has been punished by the state, wears the scarlet letter of being on the sex abuse database, and is closely being watched by FCC and the state.

    Now granted, there may be more that could be done beyond this to include stoning, tar and feathering, castration, etc. But would it be a balanced, Godly approach? While just about anything can be improved, I think intelligent, moral people could logically conclude that children can and are being protected at FCC, while at the same time, Eric is helping the congregation with sexual addiction issues and the church is helping Eric.

    Now do not get me wrong. This is not to say that the pastor or congregation should let their guard down. Nor is this to say that scrutiny of the pastor should ever be relaxed. Both the pastor’s oversight of Eric Nickle and Eric Nickle must constantly be watched so as to continue FCC’s practice of keeping Eric away from children’s areas while children are present.

    What Eric did was wrong — pedophilia is disgusting and harmful to others for a lifetime. He has an ongoing child sex problem and should be prevented from being around children. He has and continues to pay a price for doing what he did. He is a child of God, though, and does have a purpose — away from children. If kept away from children, FCC can help him and he can and is helping adult male members of the congregation. Note too that FCC does help those who have also been abused by pedophiles — the victims voice is also heard and addressed at FCC.

    This said, I think it is right to bring to the attention of FCC that there is a pedophile working at FCC in a similar way the nation does with the Sex Offender registry. But, Wonder has gone way beyond this and has gone down a very scary path. And while you may have lived in Salem previously, that in no way changes the Salem Witch Trial tone of his “what if’s” and “x did this which means y is doing this” etc. Yes, victims rights need to be addressed and steps should be taken to prevent future victims. But factual analysis should not be thrown out in the process.

    And before I get accused of it, no one has asked me to write this and to my knowledge, no one at FCC knows that I have written this. And no, I am not a pedophile or member of Eric’s classes. In fact, I have never met Eric. I wrote this because it just screamed of injustice and a very scary time in religious history where innocent people were unjustly treated. It’s amazing that in today’s day in age such discussions are going on. I shared this stuff with my not so Christian friend and she laughs at me for being a Christian. In her mind and mine, the pastor seems to be doing the balanced, responsible thing here — addressing victims concerns, working to prevent further victims and perpetrators, and helping perpetrator’s reform. And he is getting slammed for trying. As a Christian, this is embarrassing.


  5. Ron
    Thank you for your measured response. I make no assumptions about anyone that I talk with on the Internet. As far as I am concerned, you could be Kelly Clarkson or Bill Clinton. I believe in the anonymity of the internet as a blessing from God. It allows us to have real conversations with one another.

    I believe that there is no injustice in this situation. Both sides have their points that are true. Interestingly, it is only in the last decade or so that churches are being confronted with the problem of pedophilia. First, it was disclosed in the Roman Catholic church. Then, more recently in the evangelical church. Boz Tchividjian of G.R.A.C.E., and expert and leader in this area, has said that the evangelical church has a problem that could well eclipse that of the RCC in terms on percentages. I thank God we are talking about it in this day and age. As we confront these issues, we are educating people about the serious nature of the crime.

    This is quite different than the Salem Witch trials. I grew up learning about the history and visiting each site where the trials and hanging occurred. I even had the opportunity to see the original trial records which are on display at The Witch House in Salem. The Witch trials made accusations against innocent people who did not commit any crime or practice witchcraft. They were unjustly accused and unjustly killed. Behind the scenes were people who wanted land and they got it.

    In this particular instance, Eric did something illegal, criminal and despicable. Some believe the church should alert all newcomers to the presence of a convicted pedophile.This is a reasonable expectation. We gain nothing from this whatsoever. Neither Eagle, nor I at TWW take any money for our blogs. We do not allow advertisement. We do not articulate in the Amazon kickback program. We do this so that no one can accuse us of trying to make money from our writing.

    Frankly, I could be living a quiet life since I do not need to work. When I started writing, I did not know anyone would read the ramblings of a middle aged woman. I wanted to discuss my thoughts and feeling on many issues. The question you need to ask yourself is this. Why in the world is Dee blogging and opening herself up to criticism when she is not getting any sort of money for what she does?

    I would like to know why you said “As a Christian, this is embarrassing.” I want to be sure I understand what you means when you say this before I respond. I’ll start off with a cryptic response. I am never embarrassed by the actions of professed Christians.


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