Spiritual Sounding Board – This is your place to gather and share in an open format.
Acts 3: 11 – 26
Acts 3: 11 – 26
Boy, oh boy, it’s been FIVE years today since the beginning of my blogs, and tomorrow marks five years since being served with the lawsuit by my ex-pastor Chuck O’Neal of Beaverton Grace Bible Church. It’s a good milestone moment to update the legacy.
Here was my profile summary from the original blog (on Blogspot):
And here is the comment left on the Google review site wherein my ex-pastor announces that he has filed a defamation lawsuit against me.
Here is a comment he left online years earlier in November 2009.
The above comment now makes me laugh. I am currently taking a technical writing class and my instructor has repeatedly shown us how important white space is — the space between paragraphs, the margins, etc. This is important because crowded wording is difficult to read. When you have a crowded paragraph, you are forced to read the whole thing without stopping or you might lose your place because of the wordiness of it. Looking at the above comment without reading it, it feels heavy, like you can’t get a breath or think.
That is exactly what Chuck O’Neal was like: a whole lot of ranting with some yelling, and no breathing room. You felt obligated to stay and hang onto every word until the very end. It was squelching. He types exactly how he preaches. I felt constricted and couldn’t breathe spiritually or physically because we felt like we had to be at church all the time. It was truly an unsafe place. And, just looking at the way he writes, I can see the “my way or the highway” high-controlling behavior he used publicly online against me because I dared to challenge his assumed authority.
Beaverton Grace Bible Church as a church is still going, though it is not nearly the size it was when we were there. Instead of doing Friday night evangelism, each Saturday they now picket and harass the people who go into local abortion clinics and film them without their permission (and sometimes he posts them online without their permission). Way to evangelize, Chuck! (So, if you notice, those who work full time now have a full weekend of church activities to keep them tethered to the cult/church.)
Shunning still continues. I’ve heard of more families splitting up. Some grandparents cannot see their adult kids or grandkids. There has been shunning in some families going on for over a decade! Why? Because a pastor said so, that’s why. Because a pastor felt threatened when someone didn’t believe the way he believed. Chuck O’Neal will have to answer to God for this. This is cult behavior.
And when someone questions or leaves the church, they know they are at risk for being shunned by their family and friends. This is at great cost because you are kept so busy at the church, you don’t have much time for “outside” relationships. So, to be shunned means you will be completely isolated. All your former friends/family no longer have anything to do with you since you didn’t give them the time of day while you were busy at BGBC. What a difficult place to be.
This year was challenging because of school/health issues, but it was also a very good year. For the first time in SSB’s history, we saw positive change as a result of very carefully investigated and timed blog articles. I am referring to the victims’ accounts of Tullian Tchividjian in which he habitually emotionally/sexually groomed them, and even had sexual relationships with at least three women.
The information provided in the blog posts, along with telling Rachel’s story in her own words, was key to having Pastor Kevin Labby publicly speak out and say that Tullian Tchividjian was unfit for ministry. That was huge. After Kevin Labby publicly spoke out, many other pastors followed suit.
During this time, it became known that Spiritual Sounding Board is a safe place for women who have been groomed and abused by their pastors. Many people for the first time came to understand that pastors and congregants cannot have “affairs” because of the power differential — it is clergy sexual misconduct, a form of sexual abuse. This is also spiritually abusive.
One consistently active behind-the-scenes part of SSB is wives of pedophiles. Women who are searching for help after finding out that their spouse or partner has been a pedophile have found the blog and find support here. This is the post that they usually find. Sometimes they don’t respond, but instead, send me an e-mail. I am able to refer them to Brenda or Anon3 who take it from there. I am indebted to Anon3 and Brenda who help these ladies based on their experience of also having been married to pedophiles, and the extensive research they both have done on the subject and on recovery for themselves.
I’m so fortunate to have a great team who assists me. Brad Sargent, who has been with me since the beginning, helped me for 9 months on the Tullian Tchividjian case, not only in writing articles, but also a lot of brainstorming and strategizing. Kathi helped me with the Facebook page and kept the Sunday posts going. She also is great at getting me domestic violence information quickly when someone contacts me in a crisis. I tell her the location of an abuse survivor, and she searches online while I’m on the phone with an abuse survivor. It’s so wonderful to be able to send someone help and practical information right when they need it! Last summer it was great to meet together for the first time in person. And here’s the picture to prove it.
Last, but not least, a special thanks goes to Billie, aka GrandieMAW to 11. I’ve written her story before. She was harmed in the church, but now has time on her hands and anger about abuse that propels her to be one of the best online researchers I’ve known. If you are an abuser in the church, be advised that if I catch wind of your activities and send info to Billie, you will be exposed. She will find you out.
These wonderful people enable me to do what I do best as a blogger and “first responder” — assess crises, and get real and practical help to survivors quickly, using a variety of resources and networking with people I’ve met over the past 5 years. What an amazing journey. Thank you for coming along with me.
Brad, who never likes to forget anniversary dates put the following together. It’s always interesting to look back on the year and see what people like to read. Thank you, Brad, for compiling this!
Year 5 statistics for Spiritual Sounding Board. There have been 3,462,013 hits on SSB total, as of the 2:19 PM on February 19, 2017. This includes 1,159,039 hits on the home page/archives, and 75,305 comments on a total of 1,062 published posts and 32 published pages.
Top 15 posts, 20,000 to 80,000+ views each:
The public ministry platforms of Tullian Tchividjian — including his books — have become an issue of public concern and debate, in light of his various degrees of involvement with multiple women.
One of the more frustrating things about abuse is that sometimes you know the truth about an abuse situation before others. It’s especially difficult when your friends or people you respect are still believing and defending the abuser. This is what happened in the case of Tullian Tchividjian. Some people came to realize that Tullian Tchividjian was not who he claimed to be after the first sexual relationship outside of marriage went public. Many more saw the light after the second woman was revealed. Yet, many church leaders still extended grace, believing that Tullian had been truly remorseful and wanted to make a positive change.
This seeing-the-light process that other people needed to go through seemed extremely long for me, but that is because I had information directly from the victims — information which I held in confidence. But as the victims have slowly recovered and have agreed to release more from the accounts of their experiences, they discredited Tullian’s testimony, which was previously the only testimony. With the victims’ narratives going public, more people saw the truth and were no longer being duped by someone whose intention was to control the narrative.
The following is a brief summary of the rest of the article. The article is a bit long because the situation is complicated. But, that’s often what happens in these types of cases as we slowly put the pieces of the big puzzle together. We had a lot of missing pieces, but now we have much better clarity. Details follow the bullet section overview.
Because this case is so convoluted, it will make better sense if it is detailed in chronological order.
On September 6, 2016, Warren Throckmorton reported on his blog that Tullian Tchividjian was writing a book.
In late September, the third woman with whom Tullian Tchividjian had a sexual relationship contacted me privately. I had to carefully weigh the information now in my possession. This was information that most likely David C Cook didn’t know, but needed to know in order to protect their business and witness for Christ.
I decided that I needed to contact the publisher, David C Cook, to ask questions in an effort to “do no harm.” There were two primary reasons behind this: (1) to get clarification on the book contract and Tullian Tchividjians’ current status with David C Cook, and (2) because the third woman had contacted me about Tullian Tchividjian’s sexual relationship with her while he was married, and I wanted to know if they were aware of that important information.
Many people expressed anger as they watched Tullian Tchividjian wanting to get back into the limelight again. They also knew that publisher David C Cook reportedly had an ongoing contract with him. They had found out he preached October 31st, 2016, at Spring Hills Community Church in Santa Rosa, California.
But now there was another victim that no one else knew about. Tullian could once again play the repentance card and pull the wool over every one’s eyes while continuing to earn an income writing books on spiritual matters. Were conferences next? Something was wrong with this picture.
So, I reached out to David C Cook, his main publisher, in October. Tullian still has an audience through books published by DCC; he could continue to write and get books published with little oversight and accountability. Had Tullian confessed to his publisher about this particular woman? I knew there was most likely a moral turpitude clause that publisher David C Cook requires.
Literary agent Steve Laube discussed moral turpitude clauses in his excellent article, What to do about Morals? He mentions that “many faith-based publishers have had a ‘moral turpitude’ clause in their contracts for a long time. . . . It is understood in the legal community as actions or activities that can get you fired from your job, deported if you are a foreigner in this country on a Visa, or have your contract cancelled if you are an author.”
Mr. Laube referred to this Wikipedia article on moral turpitude:
MORAL TURPITUDE. In the event Author is publicly accused of an act of moral turpitude (substantiated by the preponderance of evidence, a court decision, or Author’s own admission), a violation of any Federal law or any other conduct which subjects or could be reasonably anticipated to subject Author or Publisher to public ridicule, contempt, scorn, hatred or censure, or could materially diminish the potential sales of the Work, Publisher will have the right to terminate this Agreement upon written notice to Author of the public disclosure of such conduct or alleged conduct. In the event of such termination of this Agreement, Publisher will have the right to demand from Author and receive payment within thirty (30) days of the demand, a sum equal to all advances paid to Author under terms of this Agreement that have not been recouped by Publisher prior to said termination. Upon such payment all rights granted to Publisher in the Work will terminate and vest exclusively in Author, provided that Publisher will have the right to sell or otherwise dispose of all remaining copies of the Work in any manner Publisher deems appropriate.
I cannot imagine a Christian publisher not having a moral turpitude clause. This important legal clause would protect them in case an author committed some crime or moral behavior that caused financial harm to the publisher. David C Cook could recoup any money paid to Tullian Tchividjian if he failed their moral turpitude clause. Surely infidelity and lying would be part of that.
Now, of course I understand that contractual agreements are confidential. I get that. But I wanted David C Cook to know that I had additional incriminating information about their money-making poster boy. Did they, as a Christian publishing company, and a non-profit corporation at that, want to be promoting an ex-pastor who has a history of lying, and chronic predatory sexual grooming behavior, and now three times followed through on the grooming to get into sexual misconduct while he was still married to his now ex-wife, Kim?
If DCC is still in a contractual agreement, who are they speaking with to ensure that Tullian is being honest with them? Keep in mind, the only time Tullian has ever admitted to his sexual relationships is after he has been confronted. He has never volunteered any confession of his own accord about wrongdoing . . . ever.
Here are some of the questions I tried to get cleared up:
My initial conversation was with someone who handled Tullian Tchividjian’s business at David C Cook. This person asked me not to reveal their name, so I will honor that request. The conversation did not get off to a good start. I sensed immediate defensiveness. There was a reluctance to reveal information. Most of my questions were answered with, “That’s confidential, I cannot disclose that information.”
So, because of confidentiality reasons, I was not able to gain much information in my call with the source at David C Cook. This source, who was clearly in the know, said they were in regular contact with Tullian Tchividjian, and had also been in contact with others to follow up on care for him. The source refused to indicate whether Tullian Tchividjian had signed a moral turpitude clause, even when I pushed further. The person did, however, permit me to release the following statement (which I have not released until now). Keep in mind, this quote is from October 2016:
“We are not currently working with Tullian on a book in progress.”
So — I was not able to ascertain in October 2016 whether David C Cook’s people knew about this new woman he’d reportedly engaged in sexual misconduct with. But, at least I knew they were given the information by me.
Whether they found out the info from me is irrelevant, but what is important is that Tchividjian’s publisher needed to make important decisions based on that information. What were they going to do with this information? My hope was that they would soon “see the light.” But on December 2, Leonardo Blair at The Christian Post reported that publisher, David C Cook, said that “nothing has changed” with their relationship with Tullian Tchividjian:
Tim McDonald, chief advancement officer with David C Cook, told CP on Friday however that nothing has changed.
“Our status with him (Tchividjian) hasn’t changed. We’re committed to him and his family as a publisher and will continue to be so,” he said while declining to comment on an expected release date for the book.” (emphasis added)
This puzzled me because it conflicted with what I had heard from the employee of DCC back in October:
“We are not currently working with Tullian on a book in progress.”
You can probably see why I was puzzled. So I contacted the same source at David C Cook again on December 2, 2016, and left a voice mail telling him that I was confused by The Christian Post’s comment and asked for clarification.
He texted me this response on that same day, December 2, 2016.
Here’s that quote from the off-the-record source at David C Cook publishers:
“No, there is not an ‘upcoming’ book–no topic, no release date–there may be a book in the future, but that’s very far off in my opinion. Our highest hope is for restoration–that is our prayer for all.“
This response did not sit right with me. To me, it was a lame response. It said nothing about whether or how David C Cook planned to do anything regarding a more formal statement about Tchividjian’s chronic problem of sexual grooming and acting on it. I stewed more. I see this as something of grave importance because Tullian Tchividjian has a large following, even after his scandals. People are still clinging on to his every word. All you have to do is look at his Twitter or Facebook page to see that people are itching to have anything from him.
I called DCC again, and this time, I was directed to Tim MacDonald. Mr. MacDonald reports directly to Chris Dornboos, the publisher’s Chief Executive Officer.
Mr. MacDonald and I played phone tag for a few weeks, but were finally able to connect instead by e-mail. Below is a copy-and-paste of my correspondence to Mr. MacDonald dated January 30, 2017:
[Personal sentences redacted]
Mr. Tchividjian has publicly acknowledged his extramarital relationships from 2015 (Rachel; acknowledged June 2015) and from 2014 (kept secret except from at least Steve Brown and two Coral Ridge Presbyterian elders until publicly admitted in March 2016). Another woman has come forward whom he reportedly groomed starting October 2013 and engaged in a sexual relationship. Other women have reported his relational/emotional grooming and connection going as late as September 2016. So, this covers nearly the entire time since initial publication of the bestselling One Way Love.
This information is captured in the infographic found in this post at Spiritual Sounding Board:
I have asked the victims what they would want from institutions who have kept Mr. Tchividjian’s platform going. Are you interested in reading them?
A side note: during one of Mr. Tchividjian’s trips to the offices of David C Cook, one of the women with whom he had a sexual relationship actually picked him up from the airport. If anyone from David C Cook was curious as to why he needed no ride from the airport, there’s the explanation.
Another issue I specifically would like to get cleared up is regarding the statements attributed to David C Cook and interpreted by Leonardo Blair and Warren Throckmorton. I came to a different conclusion regarding David C Cook’s involvement with Mr. Tchividjian. Will you please explain the discrepancies between the statements attributed to you/David C Cook found in these online articles?
December 2, 2016. The Christian Post. Tullian Tchividjian Says His Family Is ‘Fighting to Breathe’; Book Publisher Remains ‘Committed’, by Leonardo Blair.
December 1, 2016 (updated December 2). Warren Throckmorton. Statement: Former Church Says Tullian Tchividjian Should Not Be in Ministry, by Warren Throckmorton.
Below are other general questions:
Do you plan on keeping Mr. Tchividjian’s books in print? Or will you be removing them from publication – and if so, when? Or have some other plans regarding his past books?
Does David C Cook have a signed contract with Tullian Tchividjian for a forthcoming book, or tentative plans of any kind with him in future projects?
What is your response to the statements of some within the “spiritual abuse survivor communities” that they intend to boycott David C Cook products permanently if you publish another book from Mr. Tchividjian?
Will you be issuing a public statement regarding the situation with Tullian Tchividjian and his moral failure and chronic lies?
Thank you, Tim, for your time. I strive to post accurate information and make great effort to speak directly with sources (as I have with the women involved, including his ex-wife, Kim). I believe my first ministry is to come alongside those who have been harmed in the church. Spiritual abuse survivors are my first priority. My second objective is to look at the “system” connected with the abuse and identify who has been involved in allowing the abuse to continue. This “system” includes identifying people, leaders/friends, churches, and organizations/institutions closely connected with the perpetrator of abuse. This objective involves identifying what Christian leaders and organizations have done or have not done when presented with factual information regarding a very public Christian leader who has a history of moral failure and/or spiritual abuse. Sadly, David C Cook became a part of this system once anyone from David C Cook found out about the issues surrounding Mr. Tchividjian. But with that knowledge comes a responsibility.
There are far more people involved than Mr. Tchividjian, his immediate family, and the women with whom he had sexual relationships. His former church, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, and his large number of followers still have questions and are in a lot of pain. They need clear answers. I have spoken with quite a number of people who used to go to Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and who have been so hurt by Mr. Tchividjian, they are no longer attending any church at all.
A response from David C Cook is very important. You can either validate these people who have been harmed by making an appropriate response, or you can cause more harm by doing nothing.
I would be happy to discuss this further with anyone from David C Cook if there are any questions, or you would like more information. My greatest hope is that you “do no harm” in this situation.
In His grace and truth,
Julie Anne Smith
Here is the response Tim MacDonald sent me:
Important text from MacDonald reads:
“We do not have any plans to publish a new resource with Mr. Tchividjian and as you know any contractual agreements with any author are confidential.”
Readers, what do you think about how David C Cook has been handling: (1) the series of clergy sexual abuse scandals of Tullian Tchividjian, (2) questions about whether they do or don’t have a book contract with him, and (3) what they intend to do about his books that are already in print?
Acts 3: 1 – 10
This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the underlined subtitles below are chapters from the book.
Today, children, we will talk about marriage and singleness, husbands and fathers, and wives and mothers. Continue reading
Acts 2: 29 – 47
I’m sure you have noticed the sporadic blog posts these past few weeks.
After taking off last term to recovery from a hysterectomy, I have gone back to school with a full load this term. I’m still not at 100% and require more sleep/rest than normal. All of the women who told me that this recovery takes up to a year are absolutely right. Whew! I just spoke to my advisor and we mapped out my classes. It looks like I should be able to graduate Spring 2018 with my Bachelors if all goes as planned.
I am trying to juggle a lot of things (mom, blog, school). I continue to do a lot of behind-the-scenes work on the blog. I still have the final post in the series on Tullian Tchividjian to post. Last week, I finally received a statement from a source that I had been waiting for, so that post should be coming soon.
Trying to balance all of the above is a challenge and I’ve needed take my own advice when it comes to self-care. Carrying so many abuse stories in my heart is taxing, so sometimes I just need to take a breather. This is important so I can be a better advocate, a better mother, a better student. I’ve had to mentally give myself the freedom to not write a post if I need to do self-care.
I have no plans on stopping here. There is a consistent cycle of wives of pedophiles who find the old 2013 blog post and ask for help. That has been a unique ministry here as Anon3 and Brenda support these precious ladies.
Although right now I cannot do the in-depth stories that require a lot of research as I used to do, there is obviously a need here, as I keep getting more personal stories. Personal stories are such a powerful way for readers to connect with their own abuse. They also help survivors to validate themselves as they own their stories and use their voice in a powerful way. Personal stories will continue.
I have to think simply when it comes to the next year or so. My upper-level classes are more challenging in my field of study, so I have to allow for that, as well as a possible internship which is highly recommended.
I think I will try to at least post an open blog post each week. This will help give a dedicated space for those who wish to connect, share articles, share if they are going through a difficult time, get connected and support/encouragement. I’m grateful to Kathi who has continued to post the Sunday posts. She has been such a help to me.
I’m so thankful for all of you who have continued to be part of this SSB family, providing support to others, sharing your stories. You’ve all been such an encouragement to me.
Acts 2: 14 – 28
Earlier, I posted about the reconciliation between Alex Grenier and his parents. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before — reported on a situation that has a positive outcome. The thought of restored relationships after years of harm makes me cry. This has been so amazing. When I first got involved with Alex’s story and then formed a group to work on the “Who Would Jesus Sue” campaign to bring media attention to this story nearly 5 years ago, I don’t think I ever expected to see such a positive outcome. My thoughts were that hopefully Alex would win the court case, but I don’t think I ever imagined that something this beautiful could have occurred.
Alex is my friend. We have many things in common, and I love him like a brother. After he lost the first couple of rounds in the court process, I saw him change. I saw him go downhill spiritually and emotionally. He was angry (and rightly so). The new Alex was more cynical. I saw close his circle of friends get tighter. He became serious and driven, and he had to do things his own way. There were several friends I know who remained steadfast in their support of him, even though Alex sometimes lashed out.
About 6 months ago, I noticed a change in Alex. He wanted to prioritize the important things in his life: his family, his business, and I think it was around this time that he also wrestled with his God. For me, it was difficult to observe this long process over the years. I was watching the fruit of what happens when someone is harmed. We all know it can happen, but when you have been closely connected to someone, the sadness is real. You know there’s nothing you can do except continue to extend love and grace. You just hope and pray that your “brother” will get it all figured out. Alex is one tough dude and I knew he’d have to get hit hard (because he and are so alike). The nearly five years of legal battles, and all of the emotional and spiritual strain in his life, left him spent. He was done. And apparently, it was in this place where Alex was humble, and was able to find truth, love, and healing. I love you, Alex. I think this is your life verse, literally:
Acts 2: 1 – 13
Acts 1: 12 – 26
Many long-time readers will remember the ongoing lawsuit (nearly 4 years!) between Pastor Bob Grenier of Calvary Chapel Visalia (and his wife, Gayle) against his step-son Alex Grenier (son of Gayle). I have written many articles about this case over the years in support of Alex and consider him as friend.
I am happy to bring you this news which was originally reported on Michael Newnham’s blog, Phoenix Preacher. Michael has given me permission to copy it entirely.
Alex Grenier has informed me this morning that the lawsuit between his step father and mother and himself has been dropped.
No money has changed hands and true forgiveness and reconciliation has taken place.
We would ask that prayers for the whole family go forth as they resolve family issues and learn to love each other again.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about Doug Phillips, Vision Forum, Bill Gothard, or Patriarchy teachings. A young woman who identified as “Done Running” posted her personal story and it deserves its own post. Done Running describes the residual effects of patriarchal teachings by Doug Phillips. These ideologies (stay-at-home daughters, courtship, quiverfull teachings) leave women completely dependent on their fathers for their choice in marriage partners, schooling, work, etc. It is abusive, and in my opinion, a form of emotional, if not physical kidnapping.
Young women whose parents participate in these teachings/ideologies are not allowed to have independent thought, to make their own choices for their future. The plan is to have the father pass his baton of authority over to a man he selects as her future husband. A woman is always under the authority of a man, never to be free to think for herself. Her role in life is to bear children (as many as the Lord provides) and serve her husband.
~Julie Anne Continue reading
Acts 1: 1 – 11
I recently wrote about how Julie Anne and I dared to comment on an article at The Cripplegate which subsequently caused our comments to be deleted and comments to be closed. Pastor Eric Davis provided an entirely too long explanation about how the discussion had run its course, more humbleness in being a part of God’s community was needed, and that there was too much focus on logistics. Let’s not forget that he provided the wonderful 16-point article challenging excuses for not going to church. But who’s focusing on logistics? Continue reading
Luke 24: 36 – 53 Continue reading
Thanks to Boston Lady, I looked up a blog post that was linked in a comment on this blog’s previous post. Eric Davis wrote, “Reasons We Miss Church (But May Not Need To)” which was posted on The Cripplegate.
This post discusses all of the wrong reasons why someone might miss church. They include:
As noted by Boston Lady, the ever eloquent A. Amos Love had left some comments on there, so I decided to chime in as well.
ExPastors.com writers Greg Atkinson and Bo Lane published several significant articles about Tullian Tchividjian, and one article by him, in September and October 2016. These unleashed waves of both criticism and of support, as it appeared Mr. Tchividjian had contacted them first and that he was positioning himself for a comeback into the public eye. His article was interpreted by Warren Throckmorton and others as preparing the way for his still-forthcoming book from David C Cook.
I have been writing an extensive case study on the situation of Tullian Tchividjian, and lessons in it about systems of accountability. In fact-checking and link-checking for that report, I discovered today (January 3, 2017) that two of the four relevant articles at ExPastors.com had been removed from their site – one by Bo Lane and the other by Tullian Tchividjian. Two other articles by Greg Atkinson had been edited without any notice or update that I could find, that he had made edits to the pieces. Also, a search on the ExPastors.com site for “Tullian Tchividjian” yielded no results.
Because there is no notice about removing/editing posts, we don’t know exactly when it happened, or why. Unfortunately, that leaves it up to readers to fill in gaps – and some may impute motives or hopes that are completely unreasonable and inaccurate. If ExPastors.com wants readers to trust them, it would help to know the reasoning behind these site alterations. Continue reading
Luke 24: 13 – 33 Continue reading
This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the underlined subtitles below are chapters from the book.
Today, children, we will talk about purity and honoring. It had to be covered at some point, why not now? Continue reading