The Highway of Holiness Church in Oklahoma City, Okla., recently invited a convicted sex offender, Dale Hoffert, to attend their Children's Crusade event.
“I was upset. I was sick to my stomach,” mom Tanya Cotton told News 9 (video below).
“You should send your kids to church and feel safe about it," added Cotton. “His past is not good with children. Do not be tempting him with our kids.”
Cotton saw Hoffert on a cell phone video that was shot by her 10-year-old son in the children's church event.
Hoffert used to be the youth pastor at the church, but was convicted of forcible oral sodomy in 2007.
Hoffert did go to prison, but was released earlier this year on a suspended sentence. Hoffert's victim did not attend the church, which defended the convicted felon.
“They sentenced him. He paid his debt to society,” Highway of Holiness Church Pastor John Steiger told News 9. “We're a church that believes that God can change people.”
“It all happened in this sanctuary,” added Pastor Steiger. “There was 25 adults in this same room, and he was never left alone with any of them. A church is a hospital for the soul. We help lost souls. We've done what a church is supposed to do, help a lost soul change their ways.”
Cotton doesn't mind if Hoffert attends the main church service, but added she doesn't want him in the children's church.
“I just don't want to see any children hurt, again,” said Cotton.
However, it's not clear if Hoffert will be banned from the children's services, which has outraged the organization SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
SNAP stated on its website:
Convicted bank robbers can't own handguns. Convicted drunk drivers can't operate school buses. And convicted child predators should be nowhere near kids, even after “paying their debt to society.” A reformed alcoholic doesn't seek work in a brewery. And a truly repentant and reformed child molester doesn't attend a children's church service.
But Dale Hoffert Junior is just doing what predators do: spend time around kids. The more troubling wrongdoers here are the staff and members of Highway of Holiness Church, who are knowingly endangering kids by letting Hoffert near children. You can believe God changes people without tempting fate and setting up risky situations in which children are put in harm's way.