Monday, May 12, 2014

Austin Davis, Covenant Presbyterian, and the Present Day Battle of Nashville, Tennessee

"The reason why offenders get away with what they do is because we have too many cultures of silence. When something does surface, all too often the church leadership quiets it down. Because they’re concerned about reputation: ‘This could harm the name of Jesus, so let’s just take care of it internally.’ Jesus doesn’t need your reputation! When somebody says that, it’s a lie. Keeping things in the dark and allowing souls to be destroyed by abuse, that shames the Gospel. Jesus is all about transparency.” Boz Tchividjian, grandson of Billy Graham and President of G.R.A.C.E.

On a picturesque hill in southern Nashville, Tennessee, a knoll the old-timers named Red Bud Hill, sits a beautiful building called Covenant Presbyterian Church (PCA). On weekends, hundreds of people gather for worship services at this facility, one of the leading PCA churches in the south. Throughout the week, the building is occupied by the staff, faculty, and students of The Covenant School.  The land around the church and school once belonged to the family of Amy Grant (the Burtons), but it is best known as the location where Union forces amassed to stop the advancing Confederate army during the last major Confederate offensive of the Civil War. This December 15-16, 1864 Civil War battle is called by historians The Battle of Nashville.

Today, Red Bud Hill is the location of another battle of Nashville.

The modern skirmish, unlike its predecessor, is being fought in the courtroom and not the countryside. The legal battle is being discussed with hushed tones in the tony parlors of homes in Belle Meade, Brentwood, Franklin, and other Nashville suburbs. The fight has led to verbal sparring in the classrooms and hallways of the prestigious girls school, Harpeth Hall, as well as other private schools in Nashville.  The interesting twist to this particular civil case is the allegation that wealthy and influential Covenant Presbyterian Church leaders "unlawfully intimidated" Austin Davis and his family. Specifically,  the allegation is that in 2008 Covenant Presbyterian church officials sought to intentionally ruin Mr. Davis' good name and reputation by falsely accusing him of being 'mentally unbalanced,' telling civil authorities, members of the congregation, and others that he was "a security concern" and was "threatening to bring harm to the congregation or its members by use of force, including but not limited to guns." This slander, according to the allegation, was designed to discredit Austin Davis and to allow church officials to conceal from public view the  "heinous and repetitive"  sexual molestations of a minor by one of the church's officers (see Complaints 18-24).

Attorney Duncan Cave
This court battle, waged by attorney Duncan Cave, has received very little attention nationally, and, surprisingly, none from the Nashville media as of yet. Some of the same people involved in the investigation and prosecution of the infamous Vanderbilt rape case and the murder investigation of Steve McNair are part of this modern-day battle which has affected the lives of many people, particularly Austin Davis, his wife Catherine, and their two teenage children, Daisy and Drew.  Austin Davis has gone from a deacon and chairman of the Mercy Committee at Covenant Presbyterian Church and the man who designed the Covenant School logo, insisting the Latin phrase Veritas Christo et Ecclesia  ("Truth for Christ and the Church")  be included, to a man now persona-non-grata at Covenant Presbyterian Church, alleged by Covenant Presbyterian Church officers to be 'mentally unstable' and a 'potential shooter,' and talked about by those influential leaders in the church with disgust and disdain.

This is no ordinary church conflict. My purpose in writing is to familiarize the reader with Austin Davis and his family and to encourage people to review the appropriate data and records, and to refrain from making a judgment against Austin Davis or Covenant Presbyterian without performing personal due diligence.

Austin Davis at Covenant (May 2014)
Austin Davis grew up in Natchez, Mississippi, where his grandfather worked as a dairy farmer. "My grandfather was the closet example to Christ I will ever see on this planet," Austin says.  His father, a Korean War veteran, was "the toughest, most fearless man I ever new, but he thought Christians were spineless and too afraid to stand up for what they believed."  Austin's mother taught him the gospel when he was a boy and Austin received Christ as his Savior at a young age. "My dad would often tell me he had been to 'hell and back' and that he could never believe in a God that was so unjust and cruel." However, years later, after intense and often difficult dialogue with his father, Austin would eventually guide his father (age 70) to faith in Christ just a year before his death in 2002.  In 1961 Austin's father was accepted to Vanderbilt University,  earning an Atomic Energy Commission scholarship for his master's in physics. Mr. Davis moved his family from Natchez to Nashville, where Austin spent most of his early school years. After graduation, Austin's father worked for IBM in Nashville. Later, he was transferred to New Orleans and moved his family to the Big Easy for a couple of years. Then IBM transferred Austin's father to Memphis, Tennessee, where Austin attended his senior year of high school at the prestigious all-boys Memphis University School. The instructors and classmates at Memphis University School drilled into Austin the school's legendary 'honor code," reinforcing the principles his own father had taught him over the years at home. Austin graduated from Memphis University School in 1973 and went to play baseball for the University of Mississippi.  However, his dream (Austin would call it his 'impossible dream') of playing baseball for former Yankee player and then current baseball coach at Ole Miss, Jake Gibbs, ended his freshman year with an eye injury while in the batting cage. Austin would go on to graduate from Ole Miss with a degree in business.

After graduation from college, Austin Davis went back to Memphis to work on writing his first novel rather than going to law school.  Austin loved reading and history and wanted to make writing his career. During this time, he met the great Civil War historian Shelby Foote, and the two became lifelong friends. Though Shelby was a declared agnostic, Austin would enter into deep conversations about God with Shelby, especially toward the end of his life. "I was blessed to be his friend and to pray with him all the way to the bitter end, including in the critical care unit, as Shelby laid down his weapons to end his 'war' with God and came to peace with the Almighty." Shelby Foote taught Austin never to throw away any document, letter, or other evidentiary material and to record everything with the meticulous note-keeping and documentation of a historian.  That training would serve Austin Davis well later in life.      

Austin and Catherine Davis, Daisy and Drew (2000)
After writing his first novel, Austin entered the business world and moved in the early 1980's to Nashville, where his father and mother had also relocated. Austin would meet his future wife, Catherine Fleming, while the two were seated near each other on the back row during a Sunday morning worship service. Catherine's father, Dr. James Fleming,  was a well-known plastic surgeon in Nashville. The Flemings were close family friends with the Tennessee Gore family. Al and Tipper Gore would often babysit Catherine when she was a little girl, and Al's very first campaign fundraiser was held in the living room of the Fleming family home in Bell Meade.  Austin Davis and Catherine Fleming would be married in 1992 at Covenant Presbyterian. Austin was 36. Catherine was 30. It was the first marriage for both. The young couple loved Covenant Presbyterian, the pastoral staff, and the ministries of the growing church. It was the practice of Catherine to invite strangers and new acquaintances from all walks of life to church on Sundays, and in many instances, she would pick them up and bring them herself, taking her guests out for lunch after church. On occasion, Catherine would send Austin to pick up former Senator Al Gore, Sr. and his wife Pauline and bring them to Covenant Presbyterian, an act of kindness for a loving relationship for the Gores that had received Secret Service clearance for Austin and his entire family. Austin and Catherine had deep roots in Nashville and throughout the state of Tennessee and a love for people in general.

George Digby, Austin, and the Digby Vols
In 1995 Catherine Davis gave birth to a daughter named Daisy, and a little over three years later she gave birth to a son named Drew. Austin worked hard to provide for his wife and two kids financially, but he was always active and involved in his kids' lives, including coaching his son's all-star summer baseball team, which won the Tennessee state championship in 2011. During a chance meeting in a restaurant in Nashville, Austin met the legendary Boston Red Sox scout George Digby who was in his 90s and living in Nashville. Austin would become a very close friend with George until his death on May 3, 2014.   George Digby was tickled pink when Coach Austin and his son Drew named their team "The Digby Vols" in honor of him. In addition to coaching his son's baseball team, Austin filled in as athletic director for a year at the prestigious Ensworth School when the school's beloved athletic director battled brain cancer.

Pastor Jim Bachmann
The Austin Davis family attended Covenant Presbyterian faithfully during the 1990s and 2000s and participated in all church activities. Austin became close personal friends with Jim Bachmann, the Senior Pastor of Covenant. Jim had moved from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Nashville in order to become the Senior Pastor of Covenant Presbyterian in 1991, the same year Austin began attending the church. Austin and Catherine made many other friends within Covenant during the 1990s and early 2000s.  Austin joined the men's church softball team and Catherine participated in the women's ministries. Austin was elected by the church to serve as an officer of Covenant, becoming a member of the Diaconate. By 2000 the Diaconate had appointed Austin Davis to be Chairman of Covenant's Mercy Committee, bearing the responsibility of helping church members in distress or need. The church continued to grow, and plans were soon made to build a $18 million dollar Gothic sanctuary on top of Red Bud Hill.

In 2002 Austin Davis, as Chairman of Covenant's Mercy Committee and an officer of the church, began to question church leaders as to why The Book of Church Order was not being followed in the discipline of a church member named Greg Lurie. Austin believed that following the church-approved rules and procedures provided checks and balances for church power. Without them, church leaders had the unchecked ability and mean to destroy a person's life, particularly when church leaders desired to protect the reputation of another church leader and/or his family.

Favoritism, Cronyism, and the Book of Church Order

Greg Lurie
Greg Lurie joined Covenant Presbyterian by profession of faith in late 1993. Greg's background was in accounting. He served as the Director of Finance for Belmont University (1999-2002); he later held various positions in the accounting offices of Lipscomb University, Fisk University and served as a consultant to national corporations. After joining Covenant in 1993, Greg married the daughter of a Covenant elder in a ceremony performed by Pastor Jim Bachmann during the September 24, 1995, Sunday morning worship service. It was the second marriage for Greg and his new wife, and they each brought children into the union. Over the next five years, Greg's new wife would give birth to four additional children and experience two miscarriages. After the birth of their fourth child, Greg's wife went to work at Covenant Presbyterian in the early childhood development department. Due to the pressures of a blended family, work, and other personal struggles in both Greg and his wife, conflict began to arise within the Lurie marriage. In the fall of 2000, the Luries reached out to the pastors of Covenant Presbyterian for counseling and support.

On Friday, March 1, 2002, Greg and his wife were involved in a marital dispute in the Bellevue Center Mall parking lot. There is a disagreement between the two parties as to what actually occurred. Still, after the pastoral staff discussed the event with Greg's wife and Greg's father-in-law, Covenant Presbyterian pastors decided to take Greg Lurie's four small children away from him, without his knowledge, and place them in what the pastors told Greg much later was a safe house.' Greg was told that he and his wife needed a cooling-off period on Saturday. Then, on the following Sunday, March 3, 2002, with Greg's two older children from his first marriage sitting with him in their customary spot on the second row of Covenant Presbyterian, communion was not given to Greg, to his 12-year-old son or to his 9-year-old daughter by the elder assigned to his row. The elder happened to be Greg's father-in-law. The refusal to serve communion at Covenant is the consequence of ex-communication from the church. Greg was confused. Was he being excommunicated? Were his kids from his first marriage no longer deemed 'worthy' of communion since they had received it before? Had the church judged him and tried him regarding his marriage and the marital dispute on Friday night without hearing from him?

Greg Lurie Appeals to the Nashville Presbytery

That afternoon, Sunday, March 3, 2002, Greg Lurie emailed the Presbyterian Church of America requesting their denominational help. Greg felt that Covenant Presbyterian's pastoral staff and elders were making unilateral decisions about him without hearing from him. These decisions were based on erroneous information and false assumptions given to them by his wife and her father. Because Greg's father-in-law was an elder and friends with the other men in the Session, Greg felt that his side was not even being heard. Unbeknown to Greg at the time, that Sunday morning in church, church leaders came to Catherine Davis's classroom where she taught the five-year-old Sunday School class and told Catherine that if Greg Lurie came to pick up his daughter, Catherine was not to give the child to her father under any circumstances. "I was a little shaken by what I heard," said Catherine. "I went home and asked Austin, 'What has Greg Lurie done?'" Austin felt it was his responsibility, as Chairman of the Mercy Committee, to find out what was going on within the Greg Lurie family. It would be more than a week later before he had a chance to talk to Greg.

By that time, Greg was not in the mood to visit with anyone from Covenant. From Friday, March 1, 2002 to Friday, March 8, 2002, Covenant Presbyterian pastors and elders, according to Greg Lurie, "had steamrolled me." When Austin entered the picture in the middle of March 2002 to try to help Greg restore his marriage, he went to Greg and later to his wife as an officer of Covenant, fulfilling his role and responsibility as Chairman of the Mercy Committee and deacon of Covenant Presbyterian.
"At the time I didn't know much of what was going on." says Austin, "I wasn't sure whether or not to believe what the pastoral staff and elders were saying about Greg. Greg definitely was not sure whether or not he could trust me, because I was an official from the church. However, after visiting and helping Greg over the course of several months, I developed two serious concerns with our church pastors and Session over how Greg's situation had been handled: (1). First, the Book of Church Order had not been followed. Why was process not given to Greg, a member of Covenant? (2). Second, Greg's own children were taken from him without his direct knowledge as to where they were or how long they would be away. It was sometime later when Greg was finally told they had been taken to "a safe house," the home of another officer of Covenant.  How could pastors have this kind of 'authority' over a man's family?  I was concerned for this man's young children. I wanted some answers. When I first began to ask questions, I was told by one of the elders and a pastor of the church, 'Austin, don't stick your nose in this business unless you've been called to it.' That made me think through my calling. I had been called. It was my responsibility to 'care for the flock" as a deacon. I learned as a boy that honor was more important than reputation. The honorable thing to do was to ask the questions that needed asking, regardless of the rich and powerful people who wanted me to shut up. For the next four years I kept asking the questions that nobody seemed to want to answer."
Greg Lurie's marriage was never able to be reconciled, and the divorce was finalized on March 31, 2004. Austin Davis continued to ask his questions, moving from asking them verbally during private committee meetings to placing his concerns in writing to other officers of the church. To get a sense of the humble and respectful spirit Austin Davis displayed as he voiced his questions and concerns about process in dealing with members to the Covenant Presbyterian's pastors and elders, you can read Austin's December 3, 2003 letter to them. Less than a month later, on December 31, 2003, Austin writes a detailed and well-reasoned letter appealing to Covenant Presbyterian's Session to follow the Book of Church Order. Through Austin Davis's encouragement, Greg Lurie continued to attend Covenant Presbyterian throughout 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006. When Austin Davis heard that Covenant was possibly removing Greg from the church rolls on December 31, 2004, for alleged non-attendance, Austin wrote another letter dated December 3, 2004, asking Covenant's church officers to again to follow the Book of Church Order and not play favorites with members.

Austin Davis' Continuing Concerns with Covenant Presbyterian

In 2005, Austin exchanged letters with the Covenant pastor who had counseled Greg Lurie and his wife, attempting to express his concerns that the emphasis of Covenant's pastoral counsel with couples facing marital difficulty should be restoration, not divorce.  Because the Lurie divorce had been finalized by 2005, Austin's letters expressed his general concerns with the number of divorces at Covenant and the pastoral response to them, and the letters were written by hand, sent to one pastor only. In response, the Covenant pastor gave Austin's letters to the Session (pg. 3) and then wrote Austin saying, "Your problem Austin is not with me. It is with the entire session and pastoral staff. We stand united..."

Austin felt that his only chance of correcting the problem of Covenant Presbyterian skirting the Book of Church Order in Greg Lurie's case, not to mention future cases leading to the Session showing favoritism to certain members, was for Austin to address the entire church body regarding his concerns. For nearly four years, Austin had written only to the Covenant Presbyterian officers and pastors in his role as a fellow officer of the church, but by 2005/2006, he determined the church needed to hear from him directly regarding the issues. Not surprisingly, his requests to personally speak to the congregation were refused. After again reading the Book of Church Order, Austin had an idea. He offered his resignation as a deacon of Covenant Presbyterian in May of 2006, believing that the Book of Church Order gave a resigning officer the right to address the church regarding the reasons for his resignation. However, after offering to resign his position as a Covenant officer, his request to address the church was still denied. Finding all avenues closed to resolve what Austin believed to be a serious matter within his church, Austin wrote a letter dated  June 9, 2006, to the Nashville Presbytery, requesting that they "investigate serious offenses of the pastors and Session ... of the church I dearly love." The following Sunday, the Covenant pastor involved with the Greg Lurie counseling "aggressively engaged" Austin Davis and his family in response to Austin's letter to the Presbytery. Just a few days later a church 'court' determined that Austin needed to repent for causing "considerable pain and the congregation of Covenant."

Austin, Drew, Catherine and Daisy Davis (May 2014)
Finally, after four years of attempting to get the Covenant Presbyterian pastors and Session to follow the Book of Church Order and to avoid favoritism, cronyism and partiality among its members, the Austin Davis family resigned from membership at Covenant in a letter dated July 26, 2006, and Austin resigned as an officer of the church. Austin Davis and his family were leaving the church they loved. They kept the details of their concerns regarding Covenant Presbyterian discreet and would leave the church without making those details known to everybody. Ironically, just days after he resigned, Austin heard that the Session had been deliberating formal 'discipline charges'  against him for 'sowing discord.'  In response, Austin wrote a letter to the Session in September 2006 requesting reinstatement to the church, believing that the implementation of 'process' (formal discipline charges) against him would allow him to finally voice his concerns regarding the leadership of Covenant in a public forum. Austin's request for reinstatement was denied.

For several months the Davis family did not attend Covenant Presbyterian. Then, a few Covenant friends and an Ethiopian evangelical minister began to encourage the Davis family to reconcile with the leadership of Covenant. Close friends knew there were problems with the leadership, but they didn't know all the specifics. All they did know was the Davis family was being missed at church. They urged true Christian reconciliation. With so many friends at Covenant and with no desire to be in leadership again, Austin Davis followed the advice and encouragement of his friends and wrote an 'apology' to the Session. Austin wrote it in March of 2007 and sometime during the summer of 2007, Austin and his family began attending Covenant again.  In August 2007, the Covenant pastor who had been most intimately involved in the Greg Lurie divorce took a new position in a PCA church in Chicago. (Note: This former Covenant Presbyterian pastor had a relationship with a woman that was not his wife while in Chicago and is no longer with the church).  After the pastor left Covenant, and after the Davis family had been faithfully attending for several months, Austin requested readmission to membership for himself and his family in a letter dated November 27, 2007. The Session denied Austin's request in a response that is dated November 29, 2007, a letter signed by the clerk of Covenant Presbyterian's Session and containing the following statement to Austin:
"We encourage you to pursue membership in a church whose leadership you can trust and follow."
However, Austin Davis and his family continued to attend Covenant as they had done since 1992, the year of their marriage. A Covenant friend of Austin reached out again to the Session of Covenant Presbyterian in January of 2008, proposing a resolution whereby the women of the Davis family could be readmitted to Covenant Presbyterian as members provided Austin would agree to the following statement:
"Membership is reinstated if I do not pursue this matter (an investigation of Covenant leadership) with the Presbytery, and once membership is granted I will not challenge, fight or dissent with leadership again."
Austin Davis AGREED to those terms.  That shows Austin had no vendetta and just wanted to get back to worshipping at the church where he had been a member for over 15 years. However, a wise Covenant pastor who himself later left Covenant Presbyterian over disputes with leadership refused to allow Austin to sign the agreement because of the phrase the Session insisted Austin sign- "Once membership is granted I will not challenge...or dissent with leadership again." That pastor wisely felt that Austin to agree to such a statement would be foolish. The pastor told Austin, "You can't sign this because no Christian should bind his conscience."

A Dark Secret at Covenant Presbyterian

In the summer of 2007, a youth worker at Covenant Presbyterian was told by a high school junior-to-be that she had been repeatedly sexually molested by her adopted father when she was a young girl. This youth worker reported the allegations of abuse to a pastor at Covenant Presbyterian and confirms that pastoral staff at Covenant knew of the abuse allegations in 2007. For several months the adopted father of the girl, a man who happened to be a church officer at Covenant and the owner of 'the safe house' where the pastors placed the four children of Greg Lurie in the spring of 2002 without Greg Lurie's knowledge, repeatedly denied that he had sexually molested his minor adopted daughter.

However, at some point in early 2008, around the time Austin Davis was willing 'for the sake of peace' to sign a statement that he would "never challenge ... or dissent with (Covenant Presbyterian) leadership again," the father of the girl 'confessed' to church officers his acts of child molestation. The confessed child molester was assisted by Covenant leadership to enter a sexual treatment clinic. Upon returning home from treatment, the wife of the confessed child molester filed for separation. Nearly a year later, on March 13, 2009, the wife of the confessed  child abuser filed for divorce, giving one of the reasons for the filing as:
"The past acts of abuse and molestation of the parties' minor child."  (Allegation #8)
Ironically, in the summer of 2007, when Covenant leadership became aware of the allegations of molestation against one of their church officers, I stepped to the microphone at the Southern Baptist Convention and made a motion that ...
"A database be developed containing the names of all Southern Baptist ministers who have been credibly accused of, personally confessed to, or legally been convicted of sexual harassment or abuse, and that such a database be accessible to Southern Baptist churches."
Though I am not a Presbyterian, my motion was rooted in the knowledge that there is a tendency within religious denominations to 'conceal and cover' sexual abuse by church officers and ministers out of concern for the "reputation" of the church. TIME Magazine declared that the failure of my motion was 'one of the Top 10 most underreported stories in the nation that year.'

When the church officer at Covenant Presbyterian 'confessed' to his molestations in the spring of 2008, there seems to have been no effort by Covenant Presbyterian leadership to 'make known' or 'reveal' the sins of their church officer. There is no police report. There is no public record. There are no discovered church court minutes recording his sins. The Tennessee  Department of Child Services, the Davidson County District Attorney's Office, the Tennessee Attorney General's Office, and other civil authorities can produce no record that they were ever notified by the Covenant Session in 2007, 2008, 2009, or 2010 of the child molestations.

 In addition, the child molester continued to attend Covenant Presbyterian without notification of the church body of his confessed actions, meaning there were no boundaries in place to protect children.

What does happen at Covenant Presbyterian Church after the confession of the child molester from April 2008 to July 2008 seems shocking, and it forms the basis for the lawsuit by Austin Davis against Covenant Presbyterian, the Nashville Presbytery, and the National PCA.

The Person Exposing the Problem Becomes the Problem
Austin Davis gives up on becoming a member of Covenant Presbyterian. However, because his kids attend school with many young people in the church, and because his wife and mother-in-law (Nancy Fleming) have so many connections in the church, Austin gives his blessing to the women in his family without him, going through membership classes and he will just sit on the sidelines and attend Covenant without being a member.
However, on March 26, 2008, after completing the required membership classes, Nancy Fleming and Catherine Davis were denied membership by three members of the Session. The reasons given were "the lack of trustworthiness and Christian character" of Austin Davis. Nancy and Catherine were shocked. They were hurt. No, they were very hurt.
One of the Session members in that March 26, 2008 meeting later 'denied' the men refused membership to Catherine and Nancy, but Catherine says, "He's flat out lying. In fact, after we were denied membership, I called the church office the next morning to confirm and I was told, "Pastor Jim Bachmann will not allow you two to become members."
After six years of attempting to reason with the Session, after fighting off repeated attempts to stop him from asking questions about the lack of due process for Greg Lurie (and others), not to mention being stiffed when asking questions about the safety and welfare of Greg's kids, and now hearing an emotional wife and mother-in-law tell him that they were denied membership at Covenant Presbyterian because he could not be trusted and lacked Christian character, Austin Davis made a decision.
For the first time ever, Austin decides to make known his concerns about church leadership to a broader audience, approximately 100 members of the church. Austin breaks his silence on May 29, 2008. Austin attaches three letters to his "Commonwealth" letter and sent packages to members of Covenant Presbyterian: He attached his April 19, 2008 letter to the clerk of the Covenant Session where he questions why his wife and mother-in-law are denied membership; he attached the April 24 letter from Session members, a letter where Austin is said to write continuing 'errors, inaccuracies, and distortions (and by even sending this letter to Covenant members, Austin shows he is never afraid of the truth), and; Austin attaches his May 15, 2008 letter to the new members of the Session, recounting the last six years for them (since they presumably are in the dark about past problems).
Remember, this is the FIRST time Austin writes to members at large of Covenant Presbyterian Church. You can sense his hurt (over the rejection of his family), but you still can hear his concern that Covenant Presbyterian Church does the right thing. Austin is not afraid to expose problems at the church because he believes the church of Jesus Christ should always do the right thing.
For the next month (June 2008), Covenant leadership has to put out fires from members asking questions. Austin's letters make sense. People who have been previously in the dark begin to ask questions. Covenant leadership takes the standard approach, "Austin Davis is not trustworthy. You can't believe what he says. He's been a problem for years. He's a troublemaker." In dysfunctional systems, the person exposing the problems becomes the problem.
After waiting nearly a month, Austin responds to the charges that he is untrustworthy by writing a June 25, 2008 letter to Covenant Presbyterian members that says:
 "If the facts and evidence supporting my letters are uprightly determined to be untrue by the leadership of Covenant, I call for Pastor Jim Bachmann to publicly declare the letters to be a lie to safeguard the Lord's Commonwealth which he has vowed to shepherd and protect.
 If the facts and evidence supporting my letters are uprightly determined to be true by the leadership of Covenant, I call for immediate public repentance, restitution, and reconciliation to the glory of Christ and His Church.
 This next Sunday would be an appropriate time for six years of lies and slander to come to an end."
At last! The church would be able to publicly address all the issues Austin Davis has sought to address for the past six years! After six long years, approximately 100 members of Covenant Presbyterian are now aware of the issues! Why was there a lack of due process for Greg Lurie and others in the church who are opposed by people of 'power and influence' within the church? What is the reason for children being taken from their fathers and placed in a church-designated 'safe house' without their fathers' knowledge? Why so many marriages at Covenant Presbyterian end in divorce after counseling with the pastoral staff? Why is Covenant Presbyterian's Session and pastoral staff not following the Book of Church Order?
The issues would be publicly discussed Sunday, thought Austin! It was not to be.
There Is the Possibility of a Shooter, A Mentally Unstable Person in Our Midst
The last sentence of Austin's June 25, 2006 letter to the church - "This next Sunday would be an appropriate time for six years of lies and slander to come to an end" - was a sentence taken and twisted by the leadership at Covenant Presbyterian.
They began to tell people Austin was 'obsessed,' "mentally unstable," a "possible shooter," and a threat to the congregation and the pastors. The pastoral staff was instructed by Jim Bachmann to wear bulletproof vests. A "security team" was hired and established a perimeter around the church. A picture of Austin Davis was distributed to key personnel. Pastor Jim Bachmann and a handful of others in leadership at Covenant Presbyterian began to act as if Austin Davis was a modern John Dillinger.
The clerk of the Session of Covenant Presbyterian sent a threatening letter on Friday, June 27, 2008, to Austin Davis, telling him if he came to church, he would be 'trespassing' and he should refrain from 'further harassment.' There are, however, no minutes of the Session meeting to authorize such a powerful injunction against a man and his family who had been attending church at Covenant for nearly two decades.
Austin was taken aback by the letter, and he was not going to go to church, but his 13-year-old daughter at the time, Daisy, reminded him that 'church is for everyone,' and he shouldn't let somebody threatening him keep him from attending God's house. On Sunday, June 29, 2008, after praying in the parking lot with his wife, son, and daughter, Austin Davis walked into Covenant Presbyterian as he had done for over 18 years, accompanied by his family. He was accosted by men with guns, separated from his wife and children, and threatened to be thrown in jail if he ever set foot on the property again, even though the Nashville police were never called to the church property. The actions were taken by a 'private' security team. The entire experience was humiliating, and it is best described by Austin's mother-in-law, who recounted the incident as well as other intimidation tactics against her granddaughter Daisy in this letter.
The Police Come to Austin's Home to Check His "Mental Condition"
Three nights later, on Wednesday, July 2, 2008, a detective and a sergeant for the Metro Nashville Police Department arrive on the front porch of Austin Davis' house at 8:05 pm to "check on his mental condition." The police stay for two hours; according to the Davis family, it is the "most traumatic, terrifying event in our family's history." The intimidation was real; the fear was palpable. Covenant leadership, according to what Davis' felt that night, was out to ruin Austin Davis' character and reputation, manipulating civil authorities into believing he was a "mentally unbalanced" stalker personality.
After almost 15 months of continual fear that somehow, someway, church officials would find a way to take Austin's children away from him and to imprison him for 'harassment,' Austin was able to communicate with a very helpful FBI agent who encouraged him to speak out on the intimidation he experienced. Austin wrote an excellent letter on July 31, 2011 to the clerk of the Covenant Session, requesting an explanation for the intimidation tactics Covenant used against him during the events of June/July 2008.
Austin's investigation into the events of June/July 2008 have turned up some interesting and strange facts that seem to indicate collusion between powerful church officials and civil authorities in Nashville, Tennessee. Those strange facts include odd police reports with no originating calls, connections between the investigating officer and the man (a lawyer in the church) who confronted Austin and threatened him with arrest on Sunday, June 29, 2008, and some very strange police behavior on Wednesday, July 2, 2008, the day the police showed up at his house, In short, Austin is alleging that the church manipulated the police through false statements to unlawfully silence a man who was asking questions that could wind up embarrassing the church.
If Austin's allegations are true, then the church's actions are 'unlawful.' Thus, the court battle was waged by Duncan Cave. The circumstances regarding police involvement in attempting to 'silence and intimidate' Austin Davis are documented in a host of files dated from 2008 to 2014. The reader can judge for himself the validity of Austin's claims.
 The Child Molester Goes Free
Interestingly, on the night of July 14, 2008, two weeks after Austin Davis was accosted and threatened with arrest as he walked into the church, the Session of Covenant Presbyterian was updated on the "Austin Davis security concern" by Pastor Jim Bachmann, the police officer who checked on 'the mental condition' of Austin on Wednesday night, July 2, 2008, and a powerful attorney within the church. The entire Session and Diaconate were provided 'background on Austin Davis.'
 'Background on Austin Davis.' It makes you wonder what was said about Austin Davis that night. I would propose that this post provides 'background on Austin Davis.'
At that same Session meeting, the 'resignation of a man from the Diaconate was 'accepted.'
That man is the one who confessed to child sexual molestation. The minutes of the Session record no background being given on that man.
For two additional years (2008 - 2010), that confessed child molester is allowed to walk freely through the buildings, halls, and classrooms of Covenant Presbyterian Church and The Covenant School.
For those same two years (2008 -2010) Austin Davis is under perpetual 'threat of arrest' for harassment of the leaders of Covenant Presbyterian Church.
Finally, in June 2010, Covenant Presbyterian Church "excommunicates" the confessed child molester. The 'ex-communication' occurs during the same summer Austin Davis, after 15 months of silence due to intimidation from church officials, and with the encouragement of a helpful FBI agent, begins to again ask questions of the Session. When the child molester is excommunicated from the church, the official stated reason is that he has been:
"...committing a heinous and repetitive sin against his family and has not shown evidence of repentance."
An Update on the Austin Davis Family
Austin Davis has lost his job because of the controversy. Austin has no money anymore to his name. He's going before bankruptcy court this week. He needs $3,000 to protect his house, and he doesn't have it. Austin is low-key about money, only talking about it with close friends and family. Somehow, in some way, God intervenes. Austin Davis has lost his reputation because of the allegations against him. Austin's not lost his reputation with those who really know him. I've received several phone calls from friends of Austin who have known him since his Memphis University School days and Ole Miss days, and everyone, to a man, tells me, "I've never known a more principled, honest man than Austin Davis."
Austin's not perfect. He's gritty. He's hard-headed and stubborn. He can say "damn" or "hell" occasionally, but Austin Davis loves Jesus. He's real. He's got a soul. He fights for what is right. He's an anti-religious, non-pretentious Christian. He's my follower of Jesus. Someone told his mother-in-law that her son 'was the most hated man in Nashville." Maybe so. But God loves Austin Davis because Austin Davis loves His Son.
Some Christians will gripe and complain about Austin Davis filing suit against Covenant Presbyterian Church. When a church falsely alleges one of its own is a potential 'shooter' and a 'crazy nut,' that church ought to thank that person for taking them to court -- it's far better than their stated expectations.
In closing, I would encourage the reader to peruse the appropriate documents and do your due diligence before you choose a side in this present-day battle of Nashville. As you read through the relevant and pertinent documents, ask yourself three important questions:
(1). Does a church have a responsibility to make known the identity of a known 'child molester'' to its congregation and community for the protection of children, or is it appropriate to cover and conceal the identity of a child molester for the protection of the church's and/or molester's reputation?
(2). Is it possible for an institutional church to use its power and influence to destroy the character and reputation of a person with little influence in the church, and if so, what 'checks and balances' are in place to prevent the subtle but powerful effects of spiritual and religious abuse, and why should Christians fight to ensure these checks and balances are in place?
(3). If you've been moved by Austin's story, would you consider how the Spirit of God might lead you to help the Austin Davis family?
In His Grace,
Wade Burleson


Rex Ray said...


What is the address to mail a check?

Anonymous said...

The article said:
"Covenant Presbyterian pastors decided to take Greg Lurie's four small children away from him, without his knowledge, and place them in what the pastors told Greg was 'a safe house.'"
WHAT THE ----! Where I come from we call that kidnapping.

Wade Burleson said...


I asked Austin where to send a check, and he said, "I'm not really comfortable with people sending money. This isn't about that. God will provide. He always does. I don't want money to be the focus."

He thanks you Rex, for your kindness and for your generosity, but Austin just asks that you pray for him and his family.

That's enough.


Rex Ray said...


I don’t think you understand. If you accepted the check, it would help my feelings more than yours.

You see, years ago, my brother-in-law and three others were kicked from a church they’d been members thirty years. The church didn’t have a part in it because new bylaws gave complete control to the new pastor and his leadership board.

Before a telegram removed them, I visited their church for the first and last time. I gave the pastor this note:

1. Leadership Board dissolved the Colleyville Senior Adult Bible Explorers Class on 11-6-05.
2. The teacher was fired because he would not promise to always support the Senior Pastor.
3. However, about 50 long time members have continued to meet with their fired teacher.
4. Consequently, they have been denied Sunday school literature and a Christmas party.
5. If the Board rules their disobedience is “disruption”, they may be ejected from the church.
6. Is it sad the new bylaws prevent anyone standing for them? Outsider, Rex Ray 11-27-05.

(Earlier in the year, the pastor and I had tangled when he preached at our association meeting.) He told one of his board members next to him, “I know this man. He is evil!”

I was escorted past a policeman to my car and told it would be impounded if I ever came back.

Not long afterwards, the church was to vote whether to sell their church and relocate 20 miles away. The four that were kicked out was told to stop giving out ‘reasons not to relocate. One was a widow that was a trustee of the church and a trustee at Dallas Baptist University. She had given most of the land their church was located on.

About a year later, my brother-in-law was selected as the town’s ‘citizen of the year’ and the pastor was fired.

So Austin, I would consider it a privilege if you would receive money to help stamp out evil that takes place in churches by those who would rule.

Wade Burleson said...


Your story is pretty powerful.

I understand why you have such compassion. If you mail a check for Austin to me and make it out to the Austin Davis Family, I will insure they get it.

Thank you, again, for your kindness.


Anonymous said...

Sadly, the experience of Austin has been that of many other people as well. Jesus and the Apostles too, had to deal with authoritarian, praise and power loving leaders who had lost the plot. Christian followers still share in this aspect of the sufferings of Christ.

It may help someone to repeat the prayer of Francis of Assisi, who said this prayer : "Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference".


Rex Ray said...


The check’s not on its way yet but it’s in the mailbox. :)

Austin statement, “God will provide” made me smile as I thought of the joke about the man complaining to God why He let him drown. God told him He sent a boat, helicopter, etc. but the man told them to help someone else because God would take care of him.

Yesterday, I believe a man was found guilty when he is innocent.

Sam Wyly’s actions were always on the advice of his lawyers in taking advantage of ‘loopholes’ to save money. Both ‘sides’ agreed the loopholes were legal, but the government said he had taken too many.

Sam’s brother died several years ago. They had given millions to the Republican Party. I wonder if they’d been sued if they’d given to Democrats. The ‘fight’ has been going on many years.

Sam’s lawyers were given immunity for their ‘cooperation’.

Sam married a girl that played volleyball in high school and college with my daughter. They consider themselves almost as sisters.

Anonymous said...

I’m truly appalled at the reading of the issues at the Convent Church. I am very close to Austin as he has taught me many examples of the bible. Austin is an honest man and I have the most respect for him. He is a true Christian man. He lives and walks in the site of the Lord. I feel sorry for the people at the church as I visited the church were Austin taught Sunday school class. He has been a wonderful Christian influence in my life. My prayers are for the church. But most importantly for Austin and his family, who do not deserve this type of treatment.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for bringing the truth of this to light. Austin isn't the only casualty of the faulty leadership of this church, especially not of the pastor who moved to Chicago.

Anonymous said...

I have been following this story - Catherine Fleming is an old childhood friend and a cherished friend - and I grieve for her and her family's persecution. Actions like these, those of powerful wealthy people who begin to believe that somehow they got where they are solely by their own actions or by the power of their personality... ha! - the actions of people like this are what keep many from any kind of organized religion. The trust is simply not there... and perhaps, justly so. I personally do not think Jesus or God cares a hoot about organized religion but only about love and loving and accepting love. I love you Cat! (becky)

Anonymous said...

I hope this poor man sues those who have persecuted him, because from the looks of it, that may be the ONLY thing that can reach them and stop them.

Folks who set out to destroy others in the end destroy themselves,
but before they arrive at that point, many innocent people suffer at their hands.

They need to be sued. Openly in court. Let it all come out in court publicly, and in the press.

Anonymous said...

I guess you don't post any negative comments? Because there are ALWAYS two sides to every story...

Anonymous said...

Since you claim there are two sides to the story,then let's hear your side.

Wade Burleson said...

Anonymous May 13, 07:38 PM,

Anybody can comment. It's open. I don't moderate comments.

Anonymous said...

Bizarre, infuriating story. Churches are way overstepping their authority. No wonder people aren't interested in attending church anymore. Who wants to be a part of this type of tyranny?

Chris Gilliam said...

Wade, Thank you for posting. I'd like to talk to you in a week or two about a similar experience in my life. We are 4 years removed from that day, have forgiven and are healed and walk with limps. Christ is faithful and there are many who get strips for doing right. My prayers with the Saints.

Debbie Kaufman said...

I wonder when all this began in churches. I have heard many stories of this caliber in the past 6 years.It's so wrong and I can't figure out why families turn their backs on loved ones who don't "tow the line." Why churches are so full of hate which is the opposite of anything in scripture or Christ's ministry. How can they justify this type of behavior and sleep at night? I don't get it and I guess I should be grateful I don't. It hurts so many people and destroys lives. Why can't those who call themselves Christians see this is hate filled? Have they gotten so far away from scripture that they can't see this?

Wade Burleson said...


Would be very interested in hearing your story.

Debbie Kaufman, the person who wrote underneath your comment, is very familiar with bullies - but does a darn good job of standing up to them.

A sad, sad day when the institutional church harms its own members.

Wade Burleson said...

Anonymous, 08:15 AM May 14,

Not all churches are infatuated with power, authority and control.

I belong to a pretty neat, gracious group of Christ followers who give of themselves in extraordinary ways to others and serve others rather than use and abuse others.

Anonymous said...

To those considering this article, it’s worth noting that even the documents provided show that Mr. Davis has indeed brought his case before the courts, and at multiple levels, both ecclesiastical and civil. Those courts, privy to the documents provided here, but also to other information not presented in this article, have not concurred with Mr. Davis’s position. After sending hundreds of unsolicited e-mails, even seeking out members of the church who joined over a decade after the initial case, this article simply represents a continued effort to move to the court of public opinion and rank gossip. The information presented is at its best one-sided, and at its worst represents gross distortions through the careful conflation of unrelated cases. Checks and balances are indeed incredibly important in a fallen world, and with each of us who are a part of a church being a sinner. Review carefully the documents provided, and ask yourself whether no checks and balances exist (Presbytery, General Assembly, the police, civil trial courts, civil appeal courts), or whether the consistent result is one that doesn’t support Mr. Davis’s allegations. After a decade or more of discontent, letters, e-mails, lawsuits, and appeals, I pray that Mr. Davis and his family find a place of peace and contentment, and a place to worship the Almighty together with those they are able to trust.

Wade Burleson said...


I learned a long time ago that the greater the anonymity, the lesser the credibility.

You may not agree with what I've written, the court documents, or the information you have received.

What you must agree with is that there is a signature to what I write and a name that people can check out behind that signature.

That doesn't prove my credibility, but it possibly strengthens an argument that I might have some.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Burleson-
You needn’t worry about my credibility, because I’m more than content for your readers to simply review the links to the information that you’ve provided. I’m just pointing out the source materials were apparently provided by one viewpoint in your article, and encouraging your readers to keep that in mind. However, amidst their pages, even if your article doesn’t highlight them, are a number of important pieces of information (for instance, the civil authorities required jail time of one of the parties in the original Lurie case, lawsuits against the church by Mr. Davis have been dismissed by a trial court, etc..). Your core question involved checks and balances – I agree they are important, and am pointing out where they may have been present in this case and not highlighted within your article. (I notice none of the previous eight anonymous posts above were called down for their anonymity, which might imply that offering counterpoints was a greater offence than the lack of signature). For what it’s worth, I am someone who has any knowledge of any of these events ONLY because of Mr. Davis’s repeated efforts to add people to his e-mail distribution lists, not because of any direct knowledge or involvement in any of the cases on either the ecclesiastical or civil side.

Rex Ray said...


The pastor I referred to got his Dr. Degree in the shortest time at Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth. These are some of the new church bylaws he got his First Baptist Church to approve.

Page 11 of 20 The highest ecclesiastical tribunal of the Church shall be the Leadership Board. The Leadership Board shall be the express and final arbiter of ecclesiastical polity, Christian doctrine, membership discipline, questions of Church property, and shall make the final decision with respect to any other matter that shall arise concerning the Church, its internal workings, and its governance in every respect.

Page 13 The Senior Pastor shall be leader of the Leadership Board, the Church congregation, the Church staff, all Church organizations, all Church ministries, and all Church Advisory Committees.

The Senior Pastor shall be President of the Corporation and shall be in charge of all ministries of the Church. The Senior Pastor shall be responsible for hiring a staff and determine their salary and benefits. (Page 14) The Senior Pastor shall be vested with authority…to terminate any staff member with or without cause.

Page 7 & 8 Leadership Board shall have the power to buy, sell, and mortgage…any church property…

Page 4 Upon liquidation…of the Church, the Leadership Board shall…distribute all Church assets to any organization designated by the Leadership Board which is of like faith.

Page 1 The Leadership Board of the Church shall have full power and authority to change any office from one location to another, either in Texas or elsewhere.

Page 5 Any person desiring to join the Church should notify the Senior Pastor.

Page 12 Any person deemed by the Leadership Board to…be causing, about to cause, or capable of causing disruption, may be ejected summarily.

Page 6 Regular Church membership meetings shall be held annually.

I think revenge was why the pastor had the Leadership Board remove them because they helped influence the church NOT to sell the church. The reason the Board gave the church: “Too embarrassing to tell.” (One widow and three men…go figure)

Anonymous said...

You state the source of the documents were provided from one viewpoint, but you fail to address the credibility of the documents, show us how they are distorted, or provide any of your own. Furthermore, you provide us with unsubstantiated information or facts (oddly enough, from your vantage point only ) that only tend to show that Austin's story appears even more credible. For instance, you say someone in the Lurie situation was put in jail, but you fail to explain the circumstances because it is obvious you have some information to hide (possible collusion with civil authorities).
Regarding the judge who heard the case (who I looked up), you fail to mention she lost her election because the community lost faith in her and she was broadly considered a nutcase, which appears to back the story that the church was colluding with civil authorities and that any judgment that came out of it was questionable at best.

Collectively, you also seem to rely on the civil authorities (that you present as making mistake free decisions) to deal with church problems when in fact it should be the other way around. If you can't resolve problems in your church between yourselves (without involving civil authorities), then perhaps you should reevaluate yourself or question the church authorities who should be dealing with the matters rather than relying on civil authorities. As is, it appears the church in the article is incompetent at dealing with their affairs.

Anonymous said...

I would love to know your association/involvement with this case Mr. Burleson. As one who has been watching and involved (not from a church leadership position but ax a friend, member etc..), I beg to differ with what you have presented in this article. Never would I say that church leaders are without fault. Your association with Southern Baptist church and other churches has shown you I'm sure that leaders(bc they're human) are sinful and certainly make mistakes. I have witnessed this in many churches in our community and others with pastors that i know and love. That being said, the fact that church leaders are sinful does not mean that they necessarily mishandled a particular situation. This is an advantage of a church with a form of government like the PCA has over others. It is less likely for too much craziness because of the system of checks and balances. I have been deeply involved in this church for 24 years and certainly have witnessed ways in which people have been hurt (in the same way that I have hurt others). This does not mean that this situation that Austin has been harassing people about for years is one of them. There are many parts of these cases that I personally witnessed that he has completely misrepresented. This makes me seriously question the few things I've not seen as well. You are not fully informed about the molestation case and all the facts. The accused was excommunicated from the church for 'the heinous acts' committed by this man and since the statute of limitations had passed, it was completely up to the girl as to whether she would report or not. How can he claim this man was 'roaming the halls for 2 years after" when the man was excommunicated? The details about the part "the church taking Mr Lurie's 4 children without his consent" is also bogus. In the incident mentioned in the article, the father was arrested for abuse towards the mother. Any mother in her right mind would shield her children from this. Mr.Burleson, you make it sound as though the pastor kidnapped 4 the children. This is almost laughable bc it's so far from the truth.

Someone commented about why Austin doesn't sue, that this needs to be handled in court and the press. The crazy thing is that it has. He has sued, he is constantly contacting the authorities and media. The problem is, his "case" has proven to have little credibility and is being written off because of this fact. It has shown to be purely an attack in the leadership at Covenant. The issues have changed over the years from one thing to another. He needs to give it a rest. It is not Austin's job to "cleanse the church" as he has stated. These accusations have been evaluated so many times by denomination officials, political officials, law enforcement as well as the media and have come up lacking. There are definitely 2 sides . Again, I'm not condoning all actions of any pastor anywhere. The pastor that moved to Chicago that was mentioned did sin against his family. Does that prove anything with regard to this issue and the fact the entire pastoral staff, elders, deacons etc.. have been accused of so much?

I would encourage everyone reading this blog or any other blog to consider the fact that most blogs are one sided.

Austin forwarded this blog to many thanking you Mr Burleson for going to Nashville to interview he, Mr Lurie and the man accused of the molestation. If these are the only people you interviewed, I would strongly encourage you to speak to others besides those 3 bc clearly they are all on the same side. This article is full of slander and saddens me that a man of man of your influence would post it!

Anonymous said...

I do appreciate the post above. The ease with which the conversation jumped from “please review the documents provided by Mr. Davis” and pointing out facts available within those very documents to my “collusion with civil authorities” more than adequately demonstrates the tenor of the accusations made to date.

Again, I wish Mr. Davis and his family peace and growth in Christ. If his accusations are false, then I hope both the family and the church are able to move on and are able to reconciled within the Lord’s time, even if it is not until all are perfected and reconciled in his presence. If his former church is the den of vipers that he accuses it of, then I hope he is able to shake the dust off his feet and find a new church family that he trusts and is able to worship faithfully alongside. Either way, I hope that the burden of these issues on his family is lifted.

Anonymous said...

I just posted and it came up as anonymous. (The first 2:07:00 Pm comment) and I'm not the same as the person before. Just thought you should know that there is more than one person speaking out

Wade Burleson said...

Anonymous May 14, 01:39,

I am familiar with the details you mention, and you are correct, the issue I have is 'process.'

I also agree there are two sides to every story.

I, too, would encourage everyone to read all the documents, and draw their own conclusions.

I think, bottom line, is the problem that a cadre of rich, powerful men can make unilateral decisions that destroy peoples' lives, and when the Book of Church Order is not followed because either (1). Judgments and decisions have been made, or (2). Process could potentially alter an outcome desired...

Then you have a problem that needs correcting.

Thanks for your comment, and I was not so much questioning your credibility as I was expressing frustration over the need to remain 'behind the scenes' and anonymous in Nashville.

It's a culture with which I am unfamiliar, and it is one which, according to Jesus, should not characterize His church.

Anonymous said...

I think anonymity is desirable not because of the culture of Nashville, and more because any named correspondence with Mr. Davis, even to the extent of asking not to be included in his e-mail campaigns, can make one part of subsequent distributions to hundreds of others (perhaps with accusations of colluding with the civil authorities?). Review the files provided via your links, you’ll see examples.

Wade Burleson said...

Anonymous, May 14, 02:37 pm

Having experience with people who've been scarred by the actions of others, as well as knowing first-hand the tendency toward self-absorption when the pain is intense and few seem willing or able to understand the issues, I probably give more grace than you would to Austin for his mailings and emailings.

I think you will find the more people begin listening, the less people will receive via email.


Wade Burleson said...


The bylaws you reference sure seem to put the 'power' and 'control' of the non-profit squarely in the hands of one man - the Senior Pastor.

Anonymous said...

After reading the blog, documents, and responses, I conclude that it is obvious that even now (in the responses) that the corrupted church in the blog is still trying to cover-up the story by making unsupported allegations in the responses and even engaging in desperate attacks of Wade who simply reported the story. At least the child-molester had the balls to confess his sins, which is something the church leadership is obviously incapable of doing. Pride cometh before the fall.

Anonymous said...

As Mr. Davis mails and sues on the basis of pain that he has experienced, I think he would be surprised by the depth of pain he’s caused and causing in those mailings and suits. There are a LOT of folks out there being accused of complicity, collusion, and cover-up. Others are concerned from the tone and content of correspondence addressed to them by someone they’re never met or heard of. Still others were injured parties in unrelated cases which Mr. Davis has brought into his correspondence, and would like to move on without being the unwilling subjects of parts of his letters.

Anonymous said...

The blame starts at the top. The church is obviously dysfunctional. I have seen power churches like this implode. It is clear that Satan is running crazy between the walls there. It looks like Wade would be a good candidate to replace Jim Bachmann. There needs to be real leadership. The job is not getting done. There needs to by a coup de tat and get rid of the Pastor. I've seen this type of stuff before.

Anonymous said...

Mr Burleson,
You posted a response to me and then somehow it disappeared. You mentioned that the purpose of you blog was uncover a molestation cover up. That is certainly something in light of the times we live is so important! However, the molestation part of the blog is just that. A part. It seems the thing you are concerned with in your blog is not all about concern of the poor girl who was at the heart of the molestation case, but is concerned with how Austin has been treated in light of his trying to shed light on the molestation case. Truth is, his letter writing campaign (harassment) began way before the molestation accusation ever this came to light and had nothing to do originally with molestation but having a disagreement (years before)that he just could not get over so he took it upon himself to harass (which he has been very successful at I might add).

He was attempting to 'cleanse the church' way before this. Maybe that fact needs to be considered. How can the church be held responsible when a deacon's family housed a family in need and then 6 yrs later (the man) was found to have molested his daughter. Now, if this man had found guilty of abuse and then someone stayed with him-that's a totally different thing. But that is not the case.

If your only purpose is to uncover a supposed "cover up" why make the entire article about Austin Davis and close your blog by asking "if you've been moved by Austin's story, would you consider how the Spirit of God might be leading you to help the Austin Davis family?"

Have you interviewed the abused girl, her therapist, her mother etc?? You are spreading slander about things that have happened over the past 15+ years and assume its gospel truth and then make the jump that the molestation portion is all true based on the other past lies that Austin has told.

You mentioned in your response to my question "what is your connection to Austin" that you have none but are only out to make sure sexual abuse is not being covered up. You do need to consider who information is coming from and the fact that his agenda is so much greater than sexual abuse. It seems to me you've acted hastily and inappropriately.

"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." James 1:19


Wade Burleson said...


I don't like anonymous comments, and was trying to change the Blogger settings (unsuccessfully) to have people 'sign in' to comment on this post. My comment was accidentally deleted. It's a pain to 'repost,' but in respect for you I will try to recreate what I wrote. I answered the two questions you asked earlier:

(1). I would love to know your association/involvement with this case Mr. Burleson.

In the comment that got expunged into cyber hades, I responded along these lines.

"I am advocate for tracking sexual predators in churches and have been for years, not to mention a concerned person for children who've been sexually abused.

In addition, my blog is well known for resisting systems of religious power that abuse men and women in churches and other religious organizations 'in the name of God.'

This particular case involves both. My only association is that I was contacted by someone who know of Austin Davis and what he was facing. I met Austin and Catherine for the first time a year ago. I have followed and read Austin's writings, and last week I came to Nashville and personally visited with as many people as possible involved in this case."

(2). How can he claim this man was 'roaming the halls for 2 years after" when the man was excommunicated?

I responded, "Church leaders were told of the molestation by the victim in 2007. The molester confessed in 2008. He was allowed to 'resign' in July 2008 from his office with no statement regarding his sins. That same 'Session' meeting, the Session was given background on Austin Davis and explained why Austin was a security threat.

The molester was not 'excommunicated' until June 2010. That's 2 YEARS after the molestations were confessed to by the perpetrator.

The difference between the treatment of the two men (Austin and the molester) by the church is a point of grave concern for me, and SHOULD be for you."

Finally, in your last comment (see immediately above), you continue to make Austin Davis the problem and seem to wish to cover for a man who confessed to molesting a minor child - a crime.

I would ask that until you acknowledge that you see the difference in treatment between Austin Davis and the man whom church authorities knew molested a child, a difference in treatment that can be easily seen in the July 2008 Session minutes (i.e. the molester was allowed to 'resign' and was NOT "excommunicated" as you say, and Austin Davis had the police called on him because he was a 'security threat'), then I would suggest you refrain from continuing to ask me questions.

Wade Burleson said...


In the post, I encouraged people to read the public documents (court filings, Session minutes, police records, etc...) for themselves and neither make judgments for or against Austin Davis or the church until they do their own due diligence.

If you are, as you say, 'not' involved in leadership but are just a 'member,' then let me encourage you to read the documents carefully. I am a person who has been around the block a few times. One of the books I've written, "Hardball Religion" deals with systems of religious authority that abuse people spiritually and emotionally in the name of God for the advancement of their non-profit or corporation. I do my own due diligence before I write.

I stand by the fact my post is based on public documents, and a number of conversations with people in leadership, either presently or in the past, of the church involved.

The reason I've written is because I see church authorities treating a man who asks questions of them in a far harsher manner (the allegation of Austin Davis' in his lawsuit is 'an unlawful manner') than a man who confessed to molesting a minor repeatedly and heinously.

I am asking you a simple question: In reading the public documents, do you see a difference in the manner in which church leaders "gave background" to the church and civil authorities regarding the molester on Sunday, July 14, 2008 and the manner in which church leaders "gave background" to the church and civil authorities regarding Austin Davis on that same Sunday, July 14, 2008?

A simple question.

Debbie Kaufman said...

LD: And if Austin is "harassing through emails, good for him. Our job I think is to cleanse the church, the church is obviously not cleansing itself and as Christians we are to be salt and light, a balm to soothe and heal for the weak, not a enabler to a church organized power machine that destroys those who bring things to light like Austin has in my view. We need more Austins to help those who have been victims of molestation and hurt by the church like having their children taken from them without warning.

The Bible says that there will be those who call wrong right and right wrong. Unfortunately as in this story it is the leadership (if you can call them that) in this church who have got it backwards. I admire Austin, who after I read all the documents, is a hero to continue fighting against this at a great expense to himself and his family.

Anonymous said...

Hey so this might be a dumb question but just bare with me because I just got out of high school. If the guy is harassing the church then why don't they just have him arrested and put in jail for good? Why did they only threaten him if they wanted him to stop? I'm not trying to pick a side, I just don't really understand. If he's dangerous like they said he is then aren't their church members at risk? I had a friend who had a stalker ex-boyfriend and her parents got a restraining order immediately and then he got put in jail.

Anonymous said...

It's time for Mr. Davis to forgive the church and move on. Perhaps if he put as much time and effort into his occupation as he has this campaign of false accusations, then he wouldn't be sitting in a bankruptcy hearing.

Anonymous said...

I am a former member of Covenant Presbyterian Church and I’m a little concerned to speak out because of what I have seen with the church and police. On Sundays last spring, the front door of Covenant was guarded by police officers, and soon after that we stopped attending services and began going with friends to another church. I personally know Austin and his family; and before all of this corruption, they were steadfast, true living examples of Christ, and always spread love and laughter. I've seen him going through this horrible strife, and can attest that he and his wife and children did not change one bit from the faithful, Christian loving people they have always been, despite unbearable pain and frustration.
I am a woman who attended Covenant for the past 10 years and my husband also attended with me. We are so ashamed that the congregation heard and immediately accepted only one side of this deception from the entire pastoral staff. We were fearful to even ask questions and encouraged to pay no attention to anything we heard from Austin Davis, who we knew had been a Deacon of Covenant, and who was once a very respected leader in the church. As far as I know, Jim Bachman never made a public reference directly about this corruption or acknowledged anything other than in a June 24, 2013 newsletter sent to the congregation that strongly implied that the church was the victim. When we received the email and asked our friends in church what was going on, we were told that Austin was just "mentally ill," and told to ignore his pleas for us to hear the truth. At least 4 ministers have left the staff during this timeframe, and the replacement ministers have been coached how to address this issue by telling recipients of any emails to alert someone that they are being harassed. If people think that Austin’s emails to inform them about events of this church are “harassing,” then they can call the police like was done in 2008.
When we run into him, it is so hard to hear about Austin’s struggle to be heard and expose the truth; but it has also been so incredibly inspirational to see him never waiver in his strong faith or lose his amazing sense of humor.
Wade, I am so grateful that you took the time to listen and hear – no doubt from the Holy Spirit – the entire truth about what happened at Covenant. You’ve written it out so well, and we know you’re a true man of God. Facts are facts, and the facts are exposed now. People can and will believe what they want, but it kills us to hear anyone speak badly about this man who just wants the truth to be known. That in itself is why we are no longer members at this church. We want our congregation and its leaders to love, support, protect and enlighten us on God’s word – and not be a place where people are saying such cruel things about a former member, or anyone! Covenant grew from a worship place (in a fellowship hall) where we felt God’s presence, to an $18M palace where we couldn’t trust anyone. Please continue to pray for the entire Davis family. They are so incredibly loved.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I know this is probably the red neck oil field mentality in me, but why on earth did this man and his family strive so long to stay part of this church?

Why not worship elsewhere?

I do not understand why one human being will allow another human being to usurp authority over him or herself.


Wade Burleson said...


You know that I have said for years that the greatest problem in evangelical churches is the "infatuation with authority."

There are a few people in this world--only a few--who would rather confront authority and power when something is perceived as wrong rather than flee from such authority and power.

Austin is one of those people.

Anonymous said...

Confront, yes, but after a point perhaps the best defense is a good offense.

I'm thinking in specifics of a time when faced with an authoritarian church that wouldn't back down, the town found itself with two Baptist churches.

I didn't mean to leave quietly, tail between the legs. Just that no way would I put my family through years of such troubles after a public, vocal confrontation.

Told ya my redneck was showing.


Debbie Kaufman said...

Linda: I think it's all in how the Spirit leads a person to do. Those who fight back, not giving in to power are few,the price can be high and because in some areas the church has power outside the church too as this church does. Sometimes it's time to leave, but for some they know this church will do it to someone else, and that is not something they are willing to allow to happen. I admire such people, because they do sacrifice a lot.

Make no mistake such people, like Austin, make a difference I think or the church's authorities would not be taking the erroneous actions they have taken. Sometimes it is not until looking back way in the future that men such as Austin are seen as the brave people they are. It may be awhile, but I think Austin's actions will incur changes to be made. They are just too prideful to admit it now.

Anonymous said...

Just don't join a church and you won't have to worry. Today's churches are a sick joke and everyone knows it. Its also hard to believe that you took this much time to write this blog post. Kind of a waste of time and effort.

Anonymous said...

Don't join a church? Clearly, the enemy is seeking to influence some. He doesn't want you to join a church.

Anonymous said...

I am going to comment about some of the topics raised in the comments here.

1. The Court has not decided weather the church handled the molester properly. The Court has only said that the law doesn't get into ecclesiastical matters, and that there is a statute of limitations here. So to people who want to hide behind the Court decision, that does nothing to address the molester and the church's refusal to report and deal with him vs. the heavy handed approach it has taken toward Austin.

2. Writing emails is legal. Austin Davis has tried to get people's attention writing emails. My understanding is that he removes people from the list when asked. It is sad to see people complain so much about emails they don't like, and do nothing to address why a molester went unreported and was allowed to come to the church and school for 2 years before they decided to kick him out of the church (they still did not report him to the authorities.

3. I wish one of these people writing would pick up the phone and call the pastor and ask why the molester wasn't reported immediately in 2008. The pastor will either lie or fudge. It is interesting to note that the Church has never said that it reported the molester in 2008. If that were the case, a report would solve everything and answer all of the questions.


Wade Burleson said...



Anonymous said...

Somehow, Louis, I don't think that assuming your questions haven't been asked, and then going on to assume that if asked the pastor will lie represents the questions of someone very interested in a real discussion or answers.

Anonymous said...

I'm really concerned about what is going on. What do we (current members) need to do to get the real story out/push for the truth to be spoken from the pulpit?

Anonymous said...


Fair enough. I have assumed questions haven't been asked because I have friends who attend Covenant, and they have heard nothing of this - the molester part. They have heard all about Austin Davis.

So, if I am mistaken, please let me know. Has the church explained to the members that there was a child molester who was a member of the church in good standing from 2008 to 2010?

If so, how did this occur? I have seen statements on the church website about Austin Davis' lawsuit, so I know people are aware of this.

The reason I assume that the pastor will lie or fudge is that I assume the people who attend Covenant would be livid if the true facts of this came out.

There is no way that the pastor can say "No, we did not report this, and that was our fault." The congregation would be (I hope) in an uproar.

If the pastor says "Yes, we did report it." Then produce the report. The time, the date, to whom the report was made etc." There is no way the pastor can say that. The molester would have been arrested immediately, and convicted, and not living on Belle Meade Boulevard (so I understand.) If the pastor says the matter was reported, I would strongly suspect that to be untrue.

So, the other alternative is for the pastor to fudge a bit. I don't know how he would do that effectively, but there are so many angles he could take.

And then that begs the question of why the molester was not kicked out until 2010. Why did it take 2 years?

My understanding is that the reason it took 2 years was that the girl who was molested confided in Austin Davis and his wife. Austin was complaining about the "Safe House" years earlier, as was Greg Lurie and the Lurie children. It turns out that the Safe House wasn't safe.

I understand that when Austin discovered these facts, he went to a newer elder on the Elder Board and asked why a man like the molester was able to remain a member in good standing in light of that. And it was then that the notice went out that the man was kicked out of the church.

Now, maybe the church had some kind of plan that hasn't been disclosed where all of these details can be pieced together so that they make some sense.

If you have those details, I would be glad to hear them.

The church made Austin Davis the subject of a joint meeting of the Elders and Deacons. They had a police officer there to address the Austin Davis matter (but not the molester, who resigned as a Deacon that night).

The church has had other meetings about Austin Davis.

To my knowledge, the church has not had 1 meeting about the molester.

And the church fudged the truth when it complained to the police and got them to visit Austin's house. Bullet proof vests? Come on.

Also, I have been in many evangelical churches in Nashville over the last 40 years. I have never seen a church kick so many people out over basically nothing (Austin Davis, Catherine Davis, Daisy Davis, Mrs. Fleming), and then leave a molester in good standing.

If you have facts that have not previously been disclosed, please disclose them here. I would sincerely be interested in knowing them.

Covenant seems to act as though it owes no accounting to its members or the public about what happened here.

Covenant only seems to care that a person perceived as a trouble maker is silenced.

Covenant is a GREAT church. I would have considered it if I were not very pleased where I am.

But after learning of these facts, I could not join there. I love many of the people there, including many Elders. I recently attended Dr. Thomas' funeral, whom I have known my entire life.

But the leadership at Covenant has not served its people well in this case.

I would truly be interested in some facts. If you have them, please share them.

But if it is just faith in the leadership because they have done a good job in other areas (which they have) then say that, as well.



Wade Burleson said...


Many wish you were a member of Covenant, including me. I think the matters that need to be addressed would be addressed.

I am not sure the reasons for WHY excommunication took place in 2010 instead of 2007 when the abuse was first reported to Covenant pastors. That is a question that must be answered.

What is known is that on July 14, 2008, leaders of the church 'received' the resignation of a confessed molester without 'reporting' to the church background, and another officer of the church (Austin Davis) was turned over to 'civil authorities' for harassment while his family was not allowed to be 'members' after 17 years of membership for the Davis family.

You have asked the million dollar question and should get the golden egg laid by the goose. You ask:

"If the child molestation was known by pastoral staff in the summer of 2007 did you report to authorities? If so, produce the report (time, date, officer, etc...) If not, just say, 'We did not report it' and then give an explanation why you excommunicated the molester "for heinous and repeated sins against his family" in 2010 - at least three years after it was reported to church officials (the testimony of several), at least two years after the molester confessed (the testimony, both oral and written, of several) and nearly two years after the molester was allowed to 'resign' from office without reporting his sins to the church but at the same time (July 2 and July 14, 2008) Austin Davis was made a spectacle and turned over to civil authorities for 'harassment'?"

I think you have wrong the timing of when the victim spoke to Austin Davis, for as soon as Austin Davis heard, he reported it to civil authorities (what seems, as far as the official record is concerned, the first actual report).

When police asked church officials about the molestations, it seems church leaders responded, "Well, when we found out about it we excommunicated the guy!" - that's according to the police.

Well, if somebody had the guts and the courage to ask the right questions, they would soon discover the point of my post - the WRONG man was turned over to civil authorities in July 2008 because church officials knew THEN about the abuse and refrained from reporting it to either the church or civil officials.

If the argument is - but the victim turned 18 and was AN ADULT in the summer of 2007 - then the questions that need to be asked are these:

(1). Why did the victim wait until she turned 18 to report it? Was she thinking she would not be believed because she was adopted from a foreign country?

(2). Can it be proven she WAS eighteen when pastoral leadership first heard about the child molestations? If so, what is the LAW in Tennessee about STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS for the reporting of child abuse to civil authorities in terms of the age of the victim? One year past 18? 21? Who will answer?

(3). Assuming church leaders did due diligence on their research here are the appropriate questions - Why was there not a full report and briefing to the Session and church in July 2008 regarding the molester? Why were civil authorities not informed? Why was Austin Davis treated in the manner he was and the molester allowed to resign quietly?

Wendi C. said...

One of the anonymous commenters claims: "The accused was excommunicated from the church for 'the heinous acts' committed by this man and since the statute of limitations had passed, it was completely up to the girl as to whether she would report or not."

That makes no sense on several levels. Pastors are mandatory child abuse reporters. The minute they heard the allegation they had the legal as well as moral obligation to report to the police about this horrible crime against one of God's precious lambs. It's up to the police to determine if there is a legal case or not, not church officials.
Also, if the statute of limitations had passed, then it was passed, and the victim would get no better results from the police than church officials. Or are you actually making the sickening argument that because it happened a few years before, the leadership had no *legal* obligation to report, so they did nothing wrong? If so, I am disgusted. They had a moral obligation even if they were relieved in a Pharisaical sense of a legal obligation.

It's deeply morally wrong for them not to have reported this to the authorities as well as to their congregation- there's almost never an adult child molester who has only molested one child in his life. Whether the statute of limitations had passed for this particular victim or not, or for reporting this crime or not, there are likely several other children who have been molested by this monster. Letting the church know what sort of predator had been in their midst would give parents information they needed to talk to their children and find out if they had been victimized as well so that they could get the help they needed.

By refusing to let the congregation know that they had a child molester in their midst, the leadership showed more care and concern for themselves than for the littlest and most vulnerable in their midst. It was and is despicable and indefensible.

Headmistress, zookeeper said...

One of the anonymous commenters claims: "The accused was excommunicated from the church for 'the heinous acts' committed by this man and since the statute of limitations had passed, it was completely up to the girl as to whether she would report or not."

That makes no sense on several levels. Pastors are mandatory child abuse reporters. The minute they heard the allegation they had the legal as well as moral obligation to report to the police about this horrible crime against one of God's precious lambs. It's up to the police to determine if there is a legal case or not, not church officials.
Also, if the statute of limitations had passed, then it was passed, and the victim would get no better results from the police than church officials. Or are you actually making the sickening argument that because it happened a few years before, the leadership had no *legal* obligation to report, so they did nothing wrong? If so, I am disgusted. They had a moral obligation even if they were relieved in a Pharisaical sense of a legal obligation.

It's deeply morally wrong for them not to have reported this to the authorities as well as to their congregation- there's almost never an adult child molester who has only molested one child in his life. Whether the statute of limitations had passed for this particular victim or not, or for reporting this crime or not, there are likely several other children who have been molested by this monster. Letting the church know what sort of predator had been in their midst would give parents information they needed to talk to their children and find out if they had been victimized as well so that they could get the help they needed.

By refusing to let the congregation know that they had a child molester in their midst, the leadership showed more care and concern for themselves than for the littlest and most vulnerable in their midst. It was and is despicable and indefensible.

Anonymous said...

Hello Pastor Wade,
I want to purchase few copies of Austin's novel. Could you get me the title and the publisher, please? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I would say that Austin will probably have a novel to write about now. By the way, I want to see a copy of the Proclamation where Jim "Jones" Bachmann is made King of Nashville. The numb nuts sitting on the board at the church and in the congregation have to be zombies. Everybody in Nashville is laughing at what a joke Covenant is now. Sitting up on the hill and everyone is leaving because they are scared of their own reputation. They should hold services down in South America at Jonestown or maybe over in Waco, TX at the Branch Davidean Compound.

Barbara Roberts said...

Thank you Wade. Excellent and incredibly well documented report. I am going to use your format as a model for a post we are preparing for A Cry For Justice about another case of church leadership abuse/ corruption/ siding with an abuser.

Barbara Roberts said...

"there are ALWAYS two sides to every story..."

Yes. But in many cases, one side is all lies and one side is all truth.

That 'two sides to every story' line has been used to unfairly suppress and discredit victims of domestic abuse for years.

Do we apply that priniciple to wars? Hmm. Let me think. In the Second World War, do we look back and say "Well there were two sides to it: Hitler had some reasonable gripes, and the Allies had some as well. And both were partly to blame."


We don't say that about Stalin's megalomanic tyranny in Russia, Pol Pot's genocide of his people in Cambodia. . . So why do we say it about smaller matters like this case of Austin and that PCA church in Nashville? Or a case of domestic abuse?

People need to get those silly aphorisms out of their heads and start thinking intelligently instead of just repeating the party line they have heard.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Wade,
I have not received any info on Austin's book title and publisher. I checked on eBay and with no success. Could you help me get in touch with Austin? God bless. Barbara.

ps: I liked your post on SWBTS. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

“It is folly to be singular, except when to be singular is to be right! And to be eccentric is not commendable, unless the eccentricity consists in not being concentric with any kind of evil way! In spite of all the apostate crowds, these brave men would not yield—not they! Though millions bowed, what had that to do with them? My dear Hearers, I ask you to cultivate a brave personality. In the service of God, things cannot go by the counting of heads. You must follow the Lord’s will wherever it leads you, whether you go alone or not.”— Charles Spurgeon 1891, Sermon #2217

God bless the Davis family for their love of Christ in action and continued courage in the face of this evil that seeks to quiet the voices of those who have been wounded physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I pray the Holy Spirit comfort and keep the Davis' and all that are suffering. I pray their church be healed and all that have lost be restored abundantly. In Jesus' name.

Robert Avant said...

I came across this post becuase Austin Davis has been linking this posted on many different websites. The biggest issue I see here is that it only tells one side of the story. In regards to the first issue regarding Greg Lurie Austin was a deacon. It was outside his authority to get involved in pastoral care.
But this is definetely a situation of a story with 2 sides and here only one side is told.
Unlike the SBC there is an appeals process to the presbytery and then to the General Assembly(or the Stated Judicial Court). I see no evidence here of that any of those options have been followed. Also on some of the links it's evident that Austin has pursued this in the secular courts. Buts its very telling that the courts have found no merit in his case. From what I can tell this whole post is just malicious gossip without telling both sides of the story.

Anonymous said...

Robert -

Multiple appeals to all levels of the Presbyterian system (Session, Presbytery, GA), both by formal complaint and by repeated correspondence with individual members of those bodies, have been made by Mr. Davis for over a decade without reaching a resolution that he is able to accept. Despite the impression conveyed by the narrative presented above, at this point complaints have been dismissed by the Session, the Presbytery, the GA, the police, the DA, the trial courts, and then Tennessee Supreme Court. Mr. Davis is an attorney by training, and certainly persistent, so no doubt there are continuing claims being presented and adjudicated. I think that the readers of this thread may be well assured that there are no options in either the ecclesiastical or secular court systems that haven't been or aren't being pursued in order to reach a decision in keeping with Mr. Davis's expectations. The problem with those expectations, and with some of the comments above, is that any result contrary to Mr. Davis's expectations is interpreted as a conspiracy, not as the result of a more complete picture of events as available to those courts.

Robert Avant said...

Thanks anonymous, at first glance this post seems to reveal a great injustice but when you consider that this has gone on for 10 years, all the courts of the PCA have found no merit in Austin's case and the civil courts also find no merit it seems that this post is at best one sided and at worst malicious gossip.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous and Robert Avant -

Could someone elaborate on these phrases: "a resolution that [Mr. Davis] is able to accept;" "a decision in keeping with Mr. Davis's expectations;" "contrary to Mr. Davis's expectations." It sounded too personal to me.

Anon. also wrote "Mr. Davis is an attorney by training"; the bio above says he graduated "from Ole Miss with a degree in business."

I don't know whether Anon. realizes he/she is misinforming the reader or why.

Anonymous said...

My interaction with Mr. Davis has been limited to unsolicited e-mails sent to me (I have no idea how he acquired my address), and review of this information he has posted on sites such as this, so I do not have direct knowledge of his background. I apologize for misreading the bio above which indicates he worked on a novel instead of going to law school, as opposed to while he went to law school.

Anonymous said... for the meaning of the rest, such as "a resolution he is able to accept", I would encourage you to read Mr. Davis's own postings, subsequent to this article being published. For instance, regarding his action against a church member for assault... by the information provided in his own filings you may see where both the police and the DA have advised him that the occurrence was not by their evaluation an assault. This is not an acceptable result, so he has moved to civil action. Should the result of the civil action not be consistent with his belief, I'm sure that a civil conspiracy will be blamed next. Mr. Davis is only interested in investigations that yield results consistent with his expectations - there is no possibility that the parties he accuses are actually innocent of the accusations. Not sure how else to elaborate on that. Again, please feel free to read the contents of civil actions (helpfully named 4th lawsuit) on his file sharing site, don't take make my word for it.

Robert Avant said...

Thanks. I looked over the documents. Looking at the documents along with what I know about the accountability/appeal process and the fact that Mr. Davis is continually rebuffed by the secular courts just shows that his case has no merit. I think in fairness Rev. Burleson should consider removing this one sided post.

Wade Burleson said...

Mr. Avant,

On the contrary, I think this post presents both sides and is balanced.

We can just agree to disagree on that issue. I am always of the view that it is much better to give all the information and let people make up their own minds.

Appreciate your suggestion. Respectfully decline.

Anonymous said...

I was a new member of Covenant when I began to receive unsolicited and unwanted emails from Austin Davis. It was very clear to me that he was slandering Covenant and Pastor Bachman out of sheer hatred. His attitude was unChristian and smacked of obsessive/compulsive disorder. Your article, Wade, is biased and unbalanced. You owe Covenant an apology for not interviewing them for your article.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a post-script to your article, linking to Mr. Davis's subsequent documents sharing the TN Court of Appeals decision, the "4th lawsuit" filed against the church, the rather marked tone of his attorney's response to the motion to the Llewellyn complaint, or a mention of the lawsuit against his daughter's school, or the comment in Mr. Davis's own filings (posted since this article, but available on his site) that metro police actually told him that Covenant acted appropriately? Would any of that be helpful to the "balance"? How about going beyond documents Mr. Davis provided you and sharing any of the hundreds of rambling e-mails sent to congregants, many of rather different tone that those shared in this article, and many sent before Mr. Davis had any knowledge of the Perry case? Just suggestions to help with "balance".

Robert Avant said...

Rev. Burleson, where do you explain the appeals process in the PCA? Where do you show any discussion of this case at the presbytery level? Where do you interview the other side? Where do you explain the appeals process at the presbytery level or General Assembly level in the Greg Lurie case?

There seems little understanding of Presbyterianism and the PCA in this post. I see little effort to interview anyone at Covenant.

frankly I don't see why this is your business. Austin has exhausted the appeals process on the denominational level as well as the secular courts. No one has found any merit in his case. If there was any merit here then no one would be able to cover up that much corruption.

Anonymous said...


Alas, the civic appeals are not yet complete. Much has been tossed out, but with at least 6 complaints filed, there's still stuff winding through the courts. Wonder if anything will be added to this article if even more is thrown out?

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that Covenant and its members retain concern over the article and continue to post. The guilty usually return to the scene of the crime. While they may have an interest in protecting their rep in their small community of small-minded people there is such a concept of accountability, which Covenant never seems to own up to under its so called leadership which governs by fear, threats, social pressures, and psychological warfare. The Nazis and Jim Jones were successful utilizing the same concepts.

But don't take my word for it, just go read Austin's documents he posted on his website and you will understand the animal he is dealing with. Even small lies are lies.

Anonymous said...

Have you tried to throw money at him? I'm sure the PCA has quite a bit. That's usually a good start when you screw a guy over using relational restoration. Too much pride going on here for the wrong reasons, no one man is worth keeping around so he can feast on power. The Lord gives us brains so use them.

Robert Avant said...

I'm not from Nashville and have no other connection to Covenant other than the fact that they are PCA. I've taken the time to look at Mr. Davis' document and find them completely unconvincing. If anything you see a church driven by Mr. Davis' paranoia. It's also telling by what's not included in the documents. What about presbytery records? Unlike Baptist congregational ism there is an appeal process beyond the local church. Why is there no mention of it in this post? Surely Rev. Burleson has some understanding of the process in Presbyterianism. Why no effort by Rev. Burleson to talk to others who may be familiar with the case at a presbytery level? Rev. Burleson if you can take the time to write a lengthy post then surely you can take the time to talk to others. This is why I advised Rev. Burleson in fairness to take this post down. But if you are unwilling to do that then at least talk to others who may know why this case failed at a presbytery and General Assembly level. As it stands now this post is gossip.

Anonymous said...

Harpeth Hall covered up enough rapes already. I'm not hearing anything about those anymore. It looks like Harpeth and Covenant are cut from the same mold. Both should be shut down and turned into drive-thru McDonalds because they are apparently all ran by the same promoters of the homosexual supporting agenda. Both are incredibly liberal, The Lord is a side show, and money is their God. Recipe for destruction. Learn a lesson from the Romans.

Robert Avant said...

I'm amazed that libelous comments like the one above is allowed to remain from the Anonymous commentor. I'm sure Rev. Burleson is familiar with most PCA churches and know that they are not "incredibly liberal" nor are they "promoters of the homosexual supporting agenda." The problem is that this whole post is full of libel, slander and hearsay. It should be taken down.

Anonymous said...

Hey Robert,
Taking the post down could mean admitting error by Rev. Burleson. Now that takes a lot of courage.

Anonymous said...

The questions to be answered are: (1) Why is the PCA and Covenant covering up child sex abuse? (2) Why is Harpeth Hall supporting that cover-up?

It appears that the PCA and Covenant have labeled women as sub-human beings and that Harpeth Hall agrees. On top of all that the Nashville Government (who failed to do anything about it) seemingly supports the cover-up.

I've seen Austin's documents and it is a cover-up by the courts, the churches, and the school. Hopefully, the Supreme Court is not corrupt.

Anonymous said...

I visited this blog after first commenting several months ago, and am surprised to find that there are people defending Covenant's actions because of the rulings in Mr. Davis' lawsuit.

If you read the motions to dismiss and the court's opinions, they do not address whether Mr. Perry confessed child abuse to the church staff which the church failed to report to the police, and which the church did not get around to acting on until 2010, some 2 or 3 years later.

That is the central issue in this saga.

Austin Davis is clearly upset by the facts recorded in minutes of the July 8 combined elders and deacons meeting, which has a police officer attending. That meeting shows that the church leaders are all upset about a guy (Davis) who is writing a bunch of bothersome emails. But the minutes show that the church is not at all concerned with the illegal behavior of Mr. Perry. If they had been, the minutes would record that the actions of Mr. Perry were a top concern and that the Metro officer was advised, or something along that line.

I have invited those who disagree with my observations to present some facts here that would correct the record. They have not. I have friends who are members at Covenant. They knew nothing of Perry in the 2007-2010 time frame. They received notice in 2010 that he was being kicked out for "heinous and repetitive sins" against his family, but they did not understand that at the time.

It is abundantly clear from the record that for some reason Covenant did not act on Perry (a real threat and criminal) and put all this attention on Davis, whom as best I can tell is merely an email writing pest that the people at Covenant discount anyway.

Again, I am open to some explanation. But to date, none is being offered.

The fact that the lawsuit was filed too late (statute of limitations) or that Mr. Davis' lawyer did not artfully put enough facts in the Complaint to state a claim is not an exoneration on the facts surrounding these matters.

The court has never reached the central topic of this post - Covenant's failure to report child sexual abuse and allowing an unreported sexual predator on the church campus for 2 to 3 years.

The court's decisions, whatever they may be, regarding whether Austin Davis can recover money from the church for wrongdoing done toward him, is the not dispositive issue.

If anyone on here can shed some light on this and correct the record, I would very much appreciate that.

But to claim that the post is slander and all, without offering any explanation as to why, is not a very good defense.

And I believe that Wade contacted the church and asked to meet with the pastor before this post was put up to give him an opportunity to respond and provide information.

My understanding is that the pastor declined that opportunity.

My belief is because the pastor has no facts that will rebut the fact that the church failed to report a child sexual predator, that they allowed the predator to roam the halls of the church for 2-3 years and only kicked him out after Austin discovered what had happened and told a new elder, and that the church focused all of its attention on Austin Davis because he was a loud, brash and insistent trouble maker.

If someone has facts to the contrary, PLEASE present them.


Resha said...

I somehow found this blog and read this post about Covenant. It is strange as about 2 weeks ago I mentioned to my husband that a family at Covenant had been brought to my mind. We haven't attended Covenant since 2000. We only attended there for 1 yr. Our daughter was 4-5 at the time.

I couldn't remember their names but could see their daughter's face and remembered how nice they were. Then we were watching some old VHS tapes of ours and on one was my daughter's 5th bday and there at the party was Daisy and her mother. I told my husband "look there's Daisy. Remember her now?" and once he saw the video he did.

I commented to him about how from all of the people we met/knew at Covenant Presbyterian, that family was the only family that I remember. They were so nice to us. Nice to my daughter; nice to me. They both were Godly, sweet, honest, salt of the earth people.

Then I came across this blog and as I read I couldn't help but be sad as I read it.

A very similar thing happened to us in a PCA church in Mid TN after we left Covenant and attended a church closer to our home. The details are different but the reaction from the paster and elders at the church we were at were the same. The difference in our situation was that we completely left that church and never looked back. (there are many other details very similar that I won't go into here).

I don't know why exactly this family was put on my mind 2-3 weeks ago and then I find this blog, but I believe that God led me here,and the He put them on my mind for a reason if for no other reason than to pray for them. I am not in touch with them at all and they may not even remember my family and my daughter Corinne, but if you are in touch with them, please let them know that God has put them on my mind and that I am praying for them and I believe God has not turned his back on them.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Goodness Gracious. This story is terrible.

And fwiw, I think Pastor Burleson has been fair and balanced in his presentation of what's happened.

Anonymous said...

There's two sides to the story. Austin Davis obtained my email address illegally and began his assault on my privacy over this story. Clearly the man is suffering from a mental illness as the church has done every thing right and Davis will not let it go. Now he is attacking the courts for banning him from the Vanderbilt Rape trial. Austin Davis is a paranoid delusional fraud.

Anonymous said...

Can you say gas lighting? The corruption from the church and local government has made Nashville a laughing stock.

Anonymous said...

If what Austin's actions have no credibility and should be blown off in your opinion, then it is interesting that you are still posting on here over a year later. So, what is your concern other than fear of truth?

Anonymous said...

You all seem not to have addressed the most critical element of this entire situation:

"In the summer of 2007, a youth worker at Covenant Presbyterian was told by a high school junior-to-be that she had been repeatedly sexually molested by her adopted father when she was a young girl. This youth worker reported the allegations of abuse to a pastor at Covenant Presbyterian and confirms that pastoral staff at Covenant knew of the abuse allegations in 2007. For several months the adopted father of the girl, a man who happened to be a church officer at Covenant and the owner of 'the safe house' where the pastors placed the four children of Greg Lurie in the spring of 2002 without Greg Lurie's knowledge, repeatedly denied that he had sexually molested his minor adopted daughter."

"However, at some point in early 2008, around the time Austin Davis was willing 'for the sake of peace' to sign a statement that he would "never challenge ... or dissent with (Covenant Presbyterian) leadership again," the father of the girl 'confessed' to church officers his acts of child molestation. The confessed child molester was assisted by Covenant leadership to enter a sexual treatment clinic."

Due to arrogance and heavy handedness of the church leadership, four young children were kidnapped and placed IN THE HOME OF A CHILD MOLESTER, who later confessed to molesting his own daughter. If this doesn't tell you that there are problems in the church leadership, I don't know what would. Yes, yes, I know that the molestation allegations were in the future, but who would even think to do such a thing?

Anonymous said...

The man who admitted to molestation and was kicked out of the church in 2010 has been publicly identified. He is an author and ghost writer named John Perry. He's ghosted and or co-authored for people like Mike Huckabee, John MacArthur, Richard Land, Roy Moore etc.

On Buzzfeed, Perry responded to their query about the alleged child molestation and slammed Austin Davis.

"Thank you for getting in touch. I haven’t read the article but have heard about it.
I don’t have anything to say for the record, but will tell you that the person behind it has been pursuing a vendetta against his former church for years and this story is one of the means he has used. Having failed there, he has evidently turned his attention elsewhere.
I will also tell you that whatever private difficulties there may have been, the parties involved were reconciled and restored years ago, for which I thank God every day."

Anonymous said...

Robert (and a few others) don't seem to know the definition of libel and asked Wade to take down this post. I found Robert's request curious, since he claimed no affiliation with the Presbyterians. Why did Robert end up at this blog when there are plenty of others he could be reading?

Here is the definition of libel from The Wartburg Watch, and Dee and Deb, to keep in mind since Robert got it all legally wrong.

"In order to be guilty of libel in the US, 2 criteria need to be fulfilled. 1. The person making the comment must know that they are lying. Then, 2. They must be lying for the sake of causing harm to another person. Also, if someone is a public figure, the bar raises even higher.

From this point forward, if someone wishes to say that the Deebs can be sued for what they said or that one or more of our readers can be sued for what they said, the commenter must prove that the person who is making the comment is lying and that they know they are lying and that they are doing it to cause harm to the person who is thee object of their lies.

We have been blogging for almost 6 years. We are well aware of the meaning of these words. Unfortunately some of our readers are not. We consider accusing people of libelous threats to be out of line UNLESS there is some proof of that statement. Idle threats are not welcome here."

And more from The Digital Media Law Project at Harvard University:

Out West

Anonymous said...

FINALLY, the truth emerges. Austin staged this in order to collect $35 million dollars.

Anonymous said...

Finally the truth emerges. Austin Davis deliberatedly bankrupted because his family owed thousands of dollars from elaborate purchases he couldn't repay his personal debts. The only out was for him to declare bankruptcty and claim he was a professional victim in order to extort money from Covenant, Harpeth Hall, Jennifer Doe and now Westminster Chapel so he can live in the lap of luxury.

Austin Davis is a CON ARTIST,

Unknown said...

My question is....if Austin Davis wins does Burleson get a share of the profits.

It Certainly appears to be so.

Anonymous said...

I was a member of a PCA church for approximately twelve years but eventually became discouraged and left. My impression was that the denomination thrived on, and even yearned for, conflict. There seemed to be an endless series of whipped-up battles, both internal and external, that consumed much of the intellectual energy of our churches. Our pastor was a good man who genuinely dreaded Presbytery meetings for this very reason. In the early 2000's that presbytery (Westminster) adopted a rule that a man could only be ordained a deacon or elder if he professed belief in a young universe created in six literal 24-hour days. Adherence to a "highly reformed" theology took precedence over everything. I still love the people, but frankly I'm mighty relieved to be done with the PCA.

melissa said...

I was friends with Austin years ago when he was writing that first book in Memphis. I remember reading parts of it. Even then, definitely a young man of character. Our family left the PCA years ago, witnessing a hardness, not to the degree Austin has experienced, but a lack of compassion for sure. Would love to know how his family is faring now. ~Missy Wallace Smith

Bridget said...

I met this beautiful kind hearted soul tonight. The pain in this mans face would break your heart in a million pieces. His faith in God after everything he has been through has shaken me to my core. As you read this …. Here is one thing I can tell you. He is a man of god and a blessing to all who meet him. As my meeting him was brief…. And a handshake that I had chills pass through my body as I could feel his pain. We have to put a end to these cult churches! It’s running rampant throughout the state of TN. Being covered up by the legal system & politicians. If you will follow this story #freedomforgracie #justiceforgrant
Thank you Mr. Davis you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Unknown said...

It turns out when the school thought he was a possible shooter back in 2006 they were on the money.