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Pastor Chuck O’Neal sometimes recorded private conversations without getting permission from involved parties. The elders were aware of this practice as you will read below. This was not a rare practice for him according to some people who personally saw this taking place. I’m wondering how many churches have pastors/elders who tape record conversations of their church members/attenders?
I mentioned in Comparing the Two, Part 2, that Chuck O’Neal and the two elders came to our door unannounced and demanding information from me a few weeks after we had left the church. A commenter asked me a question:
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Later, Meaghan added a followup comment sharing her experience with Chuck O’Neal using a recording device. Here is her story copied directly from the comments section. Meaghan’s story needs to be read. It is important and shows the type of treatment she and many others endured at the church, but was never able to share because of shunning.
Someone mentioned to me that they knew of a meeting in which Chuck played a recorded conversation that I was involved in. If Chuck had an issue with something that I said, why didn’t Chuck come to me personally? Why don’t I know about it? I wish I could hear this conversation.
It feels very strange knowing that someone heard a private conversation of mine without my permission and knowledge. I am typically a very open person and what you see is what you get, but I like to share when it feels appropriate and safe for me. Knowing that something private was shared without my permission kind of feels like being stripped naked in front of a stranger – a very vulnerable feeling.
It makes me wonder how many people were violated in this way. To me it is a violation of privacy to record someone’s private conversation. I also think it is wrong to take that recorded conversation and play it in front of people who were not privy to that conversation. It is wrong on so many levels. What would make a pastor stoop to such a level? Why would a pastor have a need to record conversations? Why can’t someone’s recollection suffice? Why does he need “proof”? Are his witnesses (elders) not proof enough?
Out of the 40+ yrs I have been going to churches, I’ve never heard of a pastor using recording devices to record his congregants’ conversations. It really is hard to wrap your head around this kind of thing. This seems like something one would see in a criminal tv movie, not a church, and certainly not from a loving shepherd.
A number of people have also told me their stories about recorded conversations, but I will not share them without permission. If you would like to add your story to the comment or send me an e-mail. I would be happy to feature your story.