September 29, 2017: Birger Draget is a Seventh-day Adventist pastor in the United States Midwest. For many years, leading up to 2011, he had pastored in the Kansas towns of Junction City, Manhattan, Enterprise and Salina. In October of that year, he was arrested for the alleged rape of an underage child, and of course his world, his life and that of his family and congregations came crashing down.
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He continues to serve as a pastor in the denomination’s Kansas-Nebraska Conference at the Three Angels and Newton churches in Wichita, according to the conference’s web site. The Mid-America Union Outlook carried an article in which Draget is listed as the primary speaker at a Holy Land Series of public meetings at the Three Angels church in it’s December 2016 issue. If he had been convicted of the charges, denominational policy requires that he be fired.
There are extensive comments on one of the Salina newspaper’s archived stories from 2011, mostly in defense of the pastor, many from people associated with his local church who said they couldn’t imagine him committing such a crime. The article also prompted negative comments from others in the community who were generally critical of conservative Christian denominations like Adventists, but who had no direct knowledge of the case.
A defense fund was created in 2012 at the Roger Falk Law Office in Wichita. An email address entitled “Draget family” (which is apparently no longer operative) appeared in connection with the Web site.
Draget and his wife Geanina appear together in recent photographs online, and the family seems to be intact. The couple have three children (two daughters and a son). Since there is no criminal record of his case, and Draget continues with his ministry in the confidence as an Adventist denominational employee, old references to the case should be removed from publications where possible.
Because Adventist Today published a brief story about his arrest, a reader wrote to us recently asking about the current facts in the case. We assigned a senior editor to follow up and discovered the facts that we have reported in this story. The original story has been deleted from our Web site.
Adventist Today reports on allegations of sexual abuse, as well as other criminal activity, by Adventist denominational employees if the charges are made officially by legal authorities, not on the basis of private reports. We do so because no other news media in the Adventist faith community does so and because of the problems that have developed in some other denominations due to ignoring and covering up such problems.