After several months of hearing, the Commission of Inquiry of Action Biblique France (ABF), a union of evangelical churches, issued a statement regarding accusations made by women and whistleblowers against the pastor Guillaume Bourin in sexual matters. The Commission openly released the findings of its investigation due to the official's "high profile of the digital ministry".
Having become famous in particular with his blog "Le Bon Combat", Pastor Guillaume Bourin has the particularity of having received an atheistic education before hearing about God in a summer camp during his adolescence, of which he says thatshe was aggressive towards others.
The 24 last march, the French Evangelical Fraternal Network (Réseau-FEF) issued a press release revealing, without specifying the facts, that Guillaume Bourin had shown another form of aggressiveness by harassing women, some of whom had decided to take legal action:
"We received an alert from a group of pastors in the Paris region who told us of testimonies from several women questioning the integrity of the ministry of Guillaume Bourin, well known in the evangelical world. Our first concerns are for the truth and the restoration of the people concerned [...] Two sisters have filed a complaint, we will keep ourselves informed of the results of this procedure initiated in court."
For their part, the ABF and the AEEBLF (Evangelical Association of French-speaking Baptist Churches), affiliated to the Réseau-FEF, had proceeded, on December 8, to report the testimonies brought to their attention, according to the Réseau FEF which added that the ABF had asked Pastor Bourin "to suspend all of his pastoral and digital ministry", and that he had accepted it.
The Network specified that, "given the seriousness of the accusations", its National Committee could "neither recognize nor support any ministry of Guillaume Bourin, and [that it had to] also inform the leaders of unions of Churches [...] as well as the representatives of the evangelical world within the CNEF (National Council of Evangelicals of France)".
Denials then partial acknowledgment of the facts
In a press release published on April 20 on Le Bon Combat, Bourin had challenged “any form of abuse (sexual or not), violence, or manipulation”, while ensuring that he had recognized faults:
"I maintain that these allegations could not withstand a serious and contradictory examination of the elements of the file. However, I do not seek to shirk my responsibilities: as soon as this case was triggered in the summer of 2020, I confessed to exchanges inappropriate digital material to my Church leaders and some colleagues. An investigation was carried out, I was accompanied and restored by my local Church, but I am still ashamed of my sin which, you understood, explodes in my face today."
Saying he regretted the publicity given to the case, Guillaume Bourin added that it was "unfair [...] that convictions be pronounced without the accused being able to be heard and give his version of the facts".
The pastor had, moreover, expressed his incomprehension at the choice of evangelical authorities to communicate on complaints about him that had been closed for months, and he had added that they had never heard him on that date nor carried out the due diligence. He had requested an investigation by an independent firm.
However, in a press release dated June 30, the ABF Commission of Inquiry declared that it did not resort to external investigators, "because the partnerships necessary for the approach to be credible were lacking". But, above all, the Commission specifies that it had obtained enough evidence to stop using such a firm:
"This recourse was no longer of interest, since we had obtained convincing elements, allowing us to issue conclusions relating to the ecclesial framework, while leaving to justice what could fall within the criminal framework."
The ABF Commission of Inquiry thus advises not to frequent the blog "Le Bon Combat" and the "Transduire" training courses of Guillaume Bourin who refuses to hand over to administrators independent of him despite the results of the investigation. , even though he admitted the veracity of certain accusations. She again expresses, and this time publicly, her regrets for not having given enough consideration to the testimonies of the victims:
"The very tense circumstances between Guillaume and the whistleblowers, in which we became aware of the file, as well as the elements of defense put forward by Guillaume, first led us to believe that a large part of the accusations was unfounded. We opened the file with a favorable a priori towards our colleague and friend Guillaume. We nevertheless carefully examined the elements of the charges brought against him, as well as all the elements of defense that he himself provided us (orally or in writing.) During the month of April, after public statements were issued by different evangelical bodies, new complaints came to us, which did not come from the initial group of whistleblowers. some of these revelations, we were forced to change our point of view and came back firmly to Guillaume, who finally recognized much more than he had initially entrusted to us"
Faults of three orders for at least five years
The scale of the case is such, according to the Commission, that it had to limit its investigations to the last five years. Indeed, it was during the period from 2018 to this year that the ABF "actively collaborated with Guillaume, endorsed his ministry and worked with him on several projects (including the establishment of a Church in Paris)", which has the consequence that the facts related to this period are quite easily accessible and first-hand.”
According to the conclusions of the investigation, "the faults are of three kinds":
"First of all, Guillaume solicited and maintained with several plaintiffs (victims or consenting), numerous essentially digital exchanges of an adulterous nature, in France or in Quebec. Over the period for which we consider ourselves competent, and without being able to pronounce ourselves on certain previous accusations, these relations had a virtual and not a physical character. Next, we find that William made a dishonest use and for his own benefit of the spiritual authority at his disposal and thus betrayed the state of spirit of his pastoral charge (official or not).Finally, we regret in Guillaume, during all these years, the ambivalence of a double life, which despite a real generosity towards his friends, led him to an intolerable religious hypocrisy in the Church of Christ."
The Commission considers that Guillaume Bourin is "not fit for the ministry, because he was not in the required moral situation (according to 1 Tm 3 and Tt 1)" [1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1] and regrets "a real mess ”.
The references mentioned in the press release refer to verses indicating that the person responsible must be "blameless and the husband of one wife". Anxious to promote the words of the victims, the ABF also expresses its concern for "the relatives of Guillaume, caught in spite of themselves in this storm".
Finally, she declares that she continues to reach out to him, "so that he takes the path of unconditional repentance (Psalm 51), the only thing pleasing to our God".
For its part, the CNEF, which fights against sexual abuse in church circles, has installed prevention and support tools addressed to the various member churches, in particular a guide to combating sexual abuse and created a listening service called "Stop Abuse".