Bethany House, a major Christian book publisher, has canceled the the publication of megachurch pastor Andy Savage's book The Ridiculously Good Marriage after he confessed to sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl while he was her youth pastor some 20 years ago.
"Bethany House and Baker Publishing Group have cancelled publication of the Andy Savage book The Ridiculously Good Marriage. It may remain on various retail web sites for a short time until those sites update," the company said in a statement on Twitter Monday afternoon that has since been widely applauded online.
Savage, teaching pastor at the popular Highpoint Church Memphis in Tennessee, admitted Friday that he had a sexual incident with a female high school senior. Jules Woodson, the high school senior from the "incident," described in graphic detail to The Wartburg Watch how Savage coerced her into performing oral sex on him on a dark Texas dirt road when he should have taken her straight home to her mother's house.
"He turned onto a dirt road and continued to drive. There were trees all around. I could not see the main road anymore, from which he turned. I asked what was back here. He told me they were building a church. I thought, maybe that's what this was about, maybe he has some secret to tell me, like perhaps he was moving to another church. We reached a dead end and he turned the truck around before putting it in park. We were stopped, and he turned the headlights off," Jules wrote. That was when he asked her to perform oral sex on him.
After about five minutes, Savage reacted in shock at what he had done.
"I remember him pleading, while he was on his knees with his hands up on his head, 'Oh my god, oh my god. What have I done? Oh my god, I'm so sorry. You can't tell anyone Jules, please. You have to take this to the grave with you.' He said that several times," Woodson said.
The confession led to a standing ovation by his congregaton for 10 seconds. Instead of confronting the erring pastor, Savage has been upheld for his courageous confession. This has led to a petition calling on Savage to resign his position at Highpoint Church is gaining momentum online, with 836 signatures out of a 1,000-signature goal Tuesday evening.
The petition, on change.org, calls for Savage to either resign or be fired from Highpoint, an East Memphis church with additional locations in Collierville and Arlington.
"He should be disqualified from ministerial leadership," the petition says. "He must resign from his position at Highpoint Church or be fired by its leadership."