North Jamaica Conference Still Venerating Disgraced Ex-Pastor Burnett Robinson, Giving Him a Platform
- NJC President Karl Archer calls Burnett Robinson an inspiration and “a man mightily, mightily, mightily used by God in the advancement of His cause.”
- During an NJC interview, Robinson blames some women in his church for posting the video clip of him advocating for marital rape.
- Robinson said Greater New York Conference administrators “panicked and pandered” to others in their treatment of him.
11 January 2022 | Burnett L. Robinson, the former Adventist pastor who said “the best person to rape is your wife” during a sermon, has resurfaced again on official Adventist media.
The North Jamaica Conference (NJC) hosted Robinson on a program called “Journey of Faith” that was streamed live on Jan. 8, 2022. The YouTube video description said it explores “the experience of a committed member of the Adventist Church,” and brings “inspiration to remain faithful on your Christian journey…A blessing awaits you.”
NJC President Karl Archer interviewed Robinson, who is originally from St. Elizabeth Parish, Jamaica, and spent much of the time highlighting Robinson’s past accomplishments in ministry.
“As a young pastor, growing up, you have been an example to me,” said Archer. “I really want to let you know that you have really been an inspiration to me.”
In February 2011, a woman filed a petition for an “Injunction for Protection Against Repeat Violence” against Robinson while he was a pastor in Florida, US, reported Spectrum magazine.
According to Florida law, the petition can be filed if someone accuses another person of committing repeat violence against them or an immediate family member, defined as two or more incidents that include one in the previous six months.
The judge in the case granted a temporary injunction against Robinson, which was later extended. However, in June 2011 the case was dismissed after the petitioner appeared at a hearing and expressed the desire to “voluntarily dismiss the action.”
The relationship between Robinson and the petitioner was unclear; it was not Robinson’s wife. Public records do not reveal details of the allegations.
From 2013-2021, Robinson was the senior pastor of the Grand Concourse Seventh-day Adventist Church in New York, US. According to Robinson, it is a prominent church in the area with about 1,100 members. During a Nov. 13, 2021, sermon there, Robinson said married women belong to their husbands and falsely suggested that raping one’s spouse is legal.
A statement from the Greater New York Conference later said Robinson deeply regretted what he said, that he “knows it caused injury and has given an unqualified apology.”
However, during the NJC program, Robinson said, “I did not say that. I would not say that. I could not say that because that’s not a part of me philosophically; it’s not a part of me theologically. It is un-me.”
Instead, Robinson blamed the “furor” on certain members in the Grand Concourse church, calling them the “Gang of 5.” He emphasized they were female, and aligned with Adventists for Social Justice and the #MeToo movement.
“They are very malicious,” Robinson said. “When these ladies took this clip to try and demean me, they were putting themselves as pawns in the hands of Satan to hurt me and to hurt the church.”
The Greater New York Conference put Robinson on leave after the video clip of his statements was widely circulated. During the NJC interview, Robinson said the Greater New York Conference administrators “panicked and pandered.”
Robinson did not apologize for what he said during his Nov. 13, 2021, sermon, or in any way intimate that he could have misspoken.
However, Robinson did say during the NJC interview that “no man has the right to rape neither his wife or anybody. Rape is a crime. It’s criminal. And yes, a man can rape his wife because sex must be mutual consent [sic].”
“If she says ‘No,’ let it be ‘No.'”
Robinson said he willingly retired on Dec. 31, 2021, and would work voluntarily wherever he is asked. He expressed an interest in the areas of education, counseling and chaplaincy.
“I want to leave this church better, not bitter,” said Robinson. “I want to leave as a victor, and not a victim.”
However, the Religion News Service reported that Kevin Lampe, a communications consultant for the Adventist church, had said Robinson would no longer be allowed to serve a Seventh-day Adventist church.
Still, it was evident during the NJC interview that some in Adventist leadership are very supportive of Robinson.
“Your ministry has really been a blessing so far, and I am confident it will continue to be a blessing,” said Archer, who is the president of the NJC.
Archer called Robinson “a man mightily, mightily, mightily used by God in the advancement of His cause,” and concluded with an invitation to Robinson to come back onto the program.
“After watching Robinson here, it is hard to believe that he regrets anything but the backlash he received,” said Sarah McDugal, an abuse recovery coach for women in faith communities, in a Facebook post on her page.
“It would appear the steps taken by administrators up to this point, remain woefully insufficient to effectively resolve the situation,” said McDugal.
(Photo: Burnett Robinson, left, is interviewed by North Jamaica Conference President Karl Archer in a livestream presentation on YouTube on Jan. 8, 2022. Photo via screenshot.)