Acton Bowen
Acton Bowen
Acton Bowen is a self-described "star evangelical preacher" and best-selling (self-published) author from Alabama that no one outside Alabama had ever heard of before he was arrested early last week on charges of "second-degree sodomy, enticing a child to enter a vehicle or house for immoral purposes, and second-degree sex abuse." The victim was a boy over the age of 12 and under the age of 16.

According to a report posted on AL.com over the weekend, Bowen's wife filed for divorce on Friday afternoon. Which is a little awkward considering the whole "one man, one woman, for life" line pushed by evangelicals throughout the marriage equality debate—a debate they lost in 2015 but, hey, all bets are off once Trump is through stacking the courts.

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It was also awkward in light of the statement Bowen issued to the press on Thursday...

In his first public statement, Bowen said he wanted to say "thank you" to the countless number of people who have prayed for his family. "My wife, Ashley, and I along with our incredible family are so grateful for your prayers,'' he said. "I'm also thankful for the countless calls of support from those who have walked a lot of life with me and know me best,'' he said. "Your steadfast, unshakable support gives me strength. For almost 20 years (since I was 18) my life has been committed to serving Jesus by serving people."

Ashley, who married Acton two years ago, wants the house, her maiden name back, and for "Acton Bowen [to] be 'prohibited from any communication or contact for the purposes of harassing, threatening, intimidating or assaulting her.'" She added that she fears "for her immediate safety from [Acton Bowen]" or anyone his alleged crime may have pissed off. Her fears seem pretty reasonable when you take a look at the anniversary present Ashley gave to Acton back before their relationship went south...

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An AR-15. I believe that was the gift Jesus brought to wedding at Cana. Anyone know if men facing rape charges in Alabama have to surrender their guns to authorities prior to trial? (For the record: I believe divorce should be legal despite what Jesus Christ clearly says about it in the New Testament—he clearly condemns it—and I fully support Ashley's decision to divorce her husband of two years. I don't think Ashley Bowen should have to remain married to that man just because the Bible condemns divorce... kinda like I don't think I shouldn't be able to marry this man just because the Bible (according to some interpretations) condemns gay sex.)

In other Acton Bowen news: he had a program on his computer called "Covenant Eyes" that automatically sent online viewing reports to a designated accountability buddy—Josh Dodd, a board member of his church, since resigned—in order "to protect Bowen from any allegation that he had viewed or was viewing pornography." His accountability buddy told the Birmingham Herald after his arrest that Bowen definitely hadn't been viewing pornography on his watch. So, um, there's that.

Another board member of his church—Gadsden attorney Trenton Garmon—resigned after Bowen's arrest. Garmon worked as a lawyer on former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore's campaign for the senate last year and didn't resign despite numerous credible allegations that Moore had molested girls over the age of 12 and under the age of 16.

And then there's this:

As a second means of ensuring the sexual integrity of the ministry was protected, Dodd and Garmon requested that Acton implement an advanced version of the Billy Graham Rule which they called the "Guardian Policy."

"We requested that he never be alone with any female other than his wife. And we requested that he never be alone with a male minor which I considered to be someone under 16 years old,'' Garmon said. "I was told that these minimums were being followed. Yet, in light of the allegation, it appears that the Guardian Policy was not always honored."

It would appear not. (And this is who runs your churches, evangelicals. These are the guys who preach to you on Sunday: men who can't be trusted alone with teenage boys, women of any age, or laptop computers. Okay.)