On Monday, Congressman Louie Gohmert, one of the most conservative members of the Republican Party, gave a general speech on the floor of the House and recited a sermon written for him by Pastor Tommy Nelson.
Gohmert explained that Nelson, a friend who runs Denton Bible Church in Texas, sometimes joked about how he would one day give a sermon “when I get to speak to Congress.” Since Tommy Nelson wouldn’t actually get that opportunity, Gohmert decided to serve as the middleman by asking Nelson what he’d want to say to Congress and delivering a nearly-25-minute Christian address on his behalf.
A lot of the speech was what we’ve come to expect from Gohmert: Full-throated Christian Nationalism, bigotry, and a belief that converting everyone to Christianity would solve all of society’s problems. Gohmert explained that, “Without God and His word to guide man, his fallen nature is unleashed, and unlike nature, man has become more and more immoral, violent, ignorant, and cruel.”
That sort of sermon has no business on the floor of the House. But that’s not even the biggest problem with it. Gohmert neglected to mention that his buddy Tommy Nelson and Denton Bible Church have been in the news quite a bit this year for reasons that shouldn’t be ignored.
Gohmert didn’t mention that Rob Shiflet, a former youth pastor at Denton Bible Church, had been repeatedly accused of sexual abuse and was sentenced to 33 months in prison in 2021 for sexually assaulting two girls on church trips.
Gohmert didn’t mention that his buddy Tommy Nelson commissioned a third-party investigation into that matter, which found that Shiflet had actually abused 14 girls, including 11 at Denton Bible. The report also found that church leaders knew about the allegations but never took them seriously. (In one instance, they asked him to write an apology letter to a child… which he didn’t do.)
Gohmert didn’t mention that Tommy Nelson’s church refused to give Shiflet a job as high school pastor in 2001 “because of his pattern of being alone with girls”… yet never made that public or shared that information with other churches.
Gohmert didn’t mention that Shiflet later got a job as a youth pastor in Arkansas, thanks in part to a recommendation made by Tommy Nelson. Shiflet’s abuse of children continued after that.
Gohmert did say, however, that Tommy Nelson was full of “profound truth” that comes from a higher power.
Which means a sitting Republican member of Congress praised a Christian pastor for being a paragon of moral excellence… while completely ignoring the fact that the same pastor allowed a sexual predator at his church to abuse children.
If there’s any silver lining here, it’s that Gohmert will no longer be in Congress come January. He announced his retirement last year in order to run for Attorney General of Texas, only to get crushed in the GOP primary.