Mark Benson, also known as Mark Allen Benson who was born on February 19, 1954, was an active member of the Ames Congregation of Community of Christ, where he even served as a pastor until recently. Shockingly, this year, it came to light that between 2009 and 2012, he committed the heinous act of drugging and raping a girl who was only between the ages of 10 and 13 at the time.
The horrific truth remained hidden until October 2022 when the victim, now in her early to mid-twenties, bravely reported the rape to the police. In November 2022, a search warrant was issued, leading to his arrest on January 3, 2023. On September 25, 2023, Mark Benson pled guilty and was subsequently sentenced to a maximum of ten years in prison.
During the sentencing, the survivor shared an impactful statement:
“Now I watch people. And I keep them at a distance. I built walls up so high you can’t knock them down. I see the bad in people before I see the good. And you did that to me. You created this world in which I live in where everyone is a liar and a monster before they’re anything else”
In a desperate bid to maintain the reputation he had falsely built for himself as a good Christian man, Mark Benson, now an admitted and convicted child rapist, said:
“I would like to publicly say I am deeply sorry. I love you all I hope that you can forgive me.”
The scriptures give us insight into people such as Mark Benson. Matthew 7:15 cautions us about individuals who disguise themselves as harmless, but underneath, they are truly malevolent. 2nd Timothy 3:2-5 teaches us that abusive people often appear to live a Godly life, but in actuality reject God. We cannot deny that Mark Benson’s actions align with the warnings in these scriptures. For years, he raped a young girl while maintaining the facade of a man of God. It is a matter of undeniable fact that Mark Benson had over a decade to come forward and take responsibility for his abhorrent actions, but he chose not to. If his victim hadn’t stepped forward, the truth about this man would never have been known. His remorse is not for the harm he inflicted upon a child, but rather for being caught. His outward piety is nothing more than a charade. In fact, the survivor also cried out and said:
“God didn’t change this man your honor. The truth coming out changed this man. He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and I am asking you, pleading with you, to see through his God-like manner for what he really is.”
As a church, we adopted World Conference Resolution #1276, “Sexual Abuse of Children,” on April 13, 2002. In this resolution, we solemnly declared:
“Whereas, Sexual abuse of children is a problem that exists worldwide, and
Whereas, Victims of sexual abuse, both past and present, will often seek counsel from pastors, priesthood members, and church leaders regarding sexual abuse, and
Whereas, Other Christian denominations are currently under close scrutiny due to their lack of education and a timely appropriate response to allege cases of abuse, and
Whereas, There is an added, serious sense of betrayal felt when the perpetrator is a member of the clergy and that our own church with its priesthood and leaders cannot consider itself to be beyond the risk nor immune to this serious problem, therefore be it
Resolved, That the church’s program and policies continue to include classes and information for pastors, priesthood members, parents, youth workers, and others in matters regarding sexual abuse of children, to include how to recognize sexual abuse, how to mitigate sexual abuse and how to assist the victim in their recovery process within appropriate parameters of our role as ministers; and be it further
Resolved, That the church continue to make this program available throughout the Community of Christ; and at next World Conference a report from the Presiding Bishopric be given regarding continued implementation of this program and policies; and be it further
Resolved, That the World Church Leadership Council encourage all pastors, priesthood, and youth workers to complete and follow the program and policies that have been developed.”
The church unwittingly placed this pedophile in positions of authority, potentially putting more children at risk. Astonishingly, he even has a YouTube channel featuring content explicitly intended for children. Our church failed to recognize this predator, ultimately allowing an admitted and convicted pedophilic child rapist to lead congregations. This is a stain on our collective conscience which we should be ashamed of, and we must confront it with unflinching honesty.
While we cannot change the past, we hold the power to shape our future actions. We must publicly acknowledge the wickedness of Mark Benson and denounce it in the strongest possible terms – this acknowledgement must come from us as individuals as well as from every level of the church, especially our International Headquarters. We must acknowledge our deep failure and the betrayal inflicted upon this courageous woman. We must acknowledge that our children aren’t currently safe within our church. Our commitment must be unwavering in ensuring that such horrors never happen again; zero tolerance for predators is the only acceptable stance. We must conduct more rigorous vetting of those ordained into the priesthood to prevent further abuses. Failure to take these steps would make us susceptible to the Divine’s proclamation in Isaiah 29:19: “These people claim to worship me, but their professions are meaningless, for their true convictions are far removed from me.”
Sources that Mark Benson was involved with Community of Christ
2017 Sep/Oct Herald (Vol 164-5:37)
Sources that Mark Benson is a child rapist