A 32-year-old youth mentor at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church has been arrested and is being held on $100,000 bail for allegedly engaging in “lewd acts” with a 14-year-old boy and suspicions of engaging in similar acts with another 14-year-old boy.
Ruben Meulenberg is a volunteer junior high youth mentor at the church. he was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of lewd and lascivious acts with a child. He was booked in Orange County Jail.
Meulenberg had been volunteering at the church for six years and written religious children’s books, as well as run a religious website and video game with his twin brother.
It was a church member who reportedly told church officials Muelenberg had acted inappropriately with two 14-year-old boys. The official, in turned, called the O.C. Sheriff’s Department.
“They handled the situation effectively,” said Laolu Oladapo.
According to the church website, that position is “designed specifically to help 7th and 8th graders connect with Jesus, each other and a caring adult.”
The two teens told authorities that the inappropriate incidents occurred over the last year, some of them allegedly on church grounds.
Saddleback issued a statement about the arrest. In that statement, they wrote, “We ask you to do two things: First, please pray for the Saddleback families who are involved in this sad matter.”
“Second, please pray for the investigators as they determine the facts,” the statement added. “As followers of Jesus, we always want the whole truth to come out because Jesus taught us that lies enslave us, but the truth sets us free.”
I wholeheartedly agree with the statement. There are accusations that have yet to be confirmed, but we shall see.
Light House Trail Research added some information concerning Meulenberg’s role and family’s role at the church.
If indeed Ruben Meulenberg is a staff member and one with a significant role in youth ministry at the mega church, then the statement released by Saddleback on May 26th has downplayed or minimized Meulenberg’s role at the church.
In addition to Ruben Meulenberg’s apparent staff position, his father, Abraham Meulenberg, is a pastor at Saddleback in charge of interfaith outreach. He was involved with Rick Warren’s efforts to form alliances with the Muslim community (source). Ruben’s mother, Marieke Meulenberg, is also a staff member at Saddleback, and according to her LinkedIn page, she serves as Project Manager and Volunteer Coordinator for the Office of the Pastor (source).
In various capacities, Ruben Meulenberg appears to have been quite involved at Saddleback. As you can see from this video of a Junior High “Glow Light” event, the Meulenberg brothers have been involved with training and influencing the youth at Saddleback (you may find this video disturbing as you watch the Meulenberg brothers, who call themselves the Tornado Twins, lead a large number of Saddleback Junior High kids into a frenzied state). The identical twin men have also introduced video games to Saddleback youth, and in fact, Rick Warren has encouraged and promoted one of their games as you can read in this Christian Post article, “Rick Warren Praises Twins’ Efforts to Create a Bible Video Game That Isn’t ‘Cheesy.” And according to an Amazon web page, Warren also co-authored a book with Ruben Meulenberg along with some other authors titled Transformed: How God Changes Us. It seems very clear that Ruben Meulenberg has had more than a “volunteer” role at Saddleback, thus making the Saddleback statement misleading.
The Christian Post reported, “The megachurch insisted that for decades it has had “extremely high requirements and strict procedures in place” for anyone who volunteers in the student and children ministries, including background checks and fingerprinting.”
“It’s not acceptable,” said Lennard Cowans, a congregant at Saddleback. “It’s not something that, not anyone would condone not only here at Saddleback,” he added, “but any person wouldn’t condone any kind of interaction like that with a youth.”
While some in the church were shocked to hear the arrest on the news because they did not get Saddleback’s email regarding what had happened, I’m actually shocked that there are not a lot more of these incidents taking place at Saddleback.
This is the same Rick Warren who sat before Congress with open sodomite Elton John and held hands and joked about kissing each other, laughing all the way.
Warren declared to John that if the two men kissed, it would be “the kiss heard ’round the world.”
Geoffrey Grider wrote, “Here was his perfect opportunity to lovingly and graciously tell not only Elton John, but all of Congress that without being born again they will die and go to … Hell. But instead, he holds hands with a gay man, and jokes about kissing him. It was a joke, right?”
At the time that occurred, I wrote, “I’m not sure if it was a joke or not. Could there be a “coming out” moment in Rick Warren’s future? Frankly, I confess that for a man to do such a thing make me wonder.”
Now, we have a young man accused of engaging little boys, not little girls, in “lewd acts.” While I’ll leave judgment to the courts and to God regarding this young man, the fact is that it is more surprising with the theology and the actions of Rick Warren that there are not more accusations and arrests, in my opinion.
Before anyone thinks I am high and mighty, that is far from the truth, but the same standard that applies to Rick Warren and Ruben Meulenberg applies to me and you, the Law of God. It is the only authoritative standard to expose our own wickedness no matter how much we may try and hide it and the Word of God also delivers us the remedy for that wickedness: repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.