by Andrew Hanson
I came across Patricia Moleski’s YouTube video about six weeks ago as I was researching another story. The events she recounted were so horrific and bizarre that I was immediately skeptical. I have spent considerable time investigating her story, and I am convinced she is completely truthful.
I’ve been asked a number of times why I as a life-long Adventist would choose to report on a story that sullies the name “Adventist” and calls into question the “good name” of Adventist Health Systems whose mission statement is, “Extending the healing ministry of Christ.”
What motivates me to write this series of potentially damaging reports? Because the Adventist Church has no shortage of critics, from the insightful to the lunatics, I thought you ought to know something about me and my motivation before continuing this series. So here’s my answer.
I have been aware of corporate abuse of power within the Adventist Church since I was nine or ten when an administrator attempted to fire my father so one of his relatives could have the job. In the intervening 60 years, as a college student, a teacher in a junior academy, an elder, a school board member and acting principal, and as a church member, I’ve observed a kind of institutional pecking order in which certain denominationally-employed Adventists accumulated more power and perks, and others got poorer, not just monetarily, but in influence and social standing.
When I protested that this institutional pecking order was wrong, my wife invariably said, “So what are you going to do about it?” And to my shame, I did very little besides bending the ear of a fellow teacher or sympathetic pastor. I attempted to quiet my conscience by telling myself: “I don’t have time to get involved. If those people don’t like the way they’re treated, they can get other jobs.”
Sometimes I reasoned, “It must not be important to those folks.” When I was particularly frustrated by the unfairness of the system, I excused myself from speaking out publically by blaming the victims: “If those people are willing to put up with that treatment, they deserve it!
When a person gets to be 70, a review of the life lived can’t be avoided, and I decided to meet my wife’s challenge and get publically and professionally involved. I fancied myself qualified to be a theological activist, an editorial critic, and a satirist. It never occurred to me that my public commitment would require me to face the realization that a huge, politically and financially powerful organization, flying the flag, “Adventist”, whose mission is “the healing ministry of Christ,” was harming others through what appear to be conscious, premeditated practices. When the realization hit, I was scared. I tried my previous excuses for not getting involved … without success.
And there is a personal reason to pursue this story; something about “standing for the right though the heavens fall.” And, “the want of the world is men who are as true to duty as the needle to the pole.” Those are quotations that have been written on my heart and mind by my Adventist education and my spiritual mentors.
Patricia Moleski is living proof that these are not just words on a page or outdated sentiments.