BGBC Google Reviews, BGBC Lawsuit, CHRISTIAN LEADERS, Christian Love, Fred Butler, Spiritual Abuse, Spiritual Bullies

The World is Watching Us

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One of the key signs of a healthy person and a healthy church is looking at the fruit they exhibit.  What kind of love do they show?  How do they model Christ to the world?  The world is watching and judging.
I read some words yesterday that were shocking to me on many levels.  They hurt me as a mother.  They hurt me as I thought about my daughter and what those words might mean to her.  They were not loving.  They were not gracious.  They did not think the best in someone.  It baffled my brain how these words and suggestions could come from a Believer. 
Right now, I am issuing a Trigger alert.  What this means is that people who have suffered spiritual abuse are likely to get an emotional response to this post.  Read this post at your own risk.
 

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.”  John 13:34

At church on Sunday, the speaker discussed something so important for Christians to understand:  we as Christians must understand that God has given the world the right to judge us.  The overall theme was love and as I read the comment that was posted about my daughter (which follows) and thought back over all that has gone on over the past 5 months during the lawsuit, the past 3-1/2 yrs we have not been able to get to any reasonable resolution because all communication has been rejected by the other side, the 2 years we were at a church where God’s truth was distorted and twisted and left people spiritually abandoned and confused, some completely leaving the faith/church, dealing with the crazy Mark & Avoid lists of shunning and breaking up relationships, etc, one thing that has stood out so loud and clear to me is the lack of love for people and their souls.
 

“And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow.” 1 Thes 3:12


“But we don’t need to write to you about the importance of loving each other, for God himself has taught you to love one another.
Indeed, you already show your love for all the believers throughout Macedonia. 
Even so, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you to love them even more.”  1 Thes 4:9-10

“If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” 1 Cor. 13:3
 
“…love your neighbor as yourself”  Lev. 19:18
Now some may think this next comment is petty, but it really isn’t.  God cared about names and we even see where he changed names (Saul/Paul).   I have informed him quite a few times how to spell my name, that I do not go by “Julie”.  Addressing people properly by their name shows respect at a basic level.  It’s not difficult to give this basic courtesy, yet I continually see my name shown in various forms by him, rarely the correct form.  I’ve even suggested using JA for simplification (and which I am perfectly fine with), yet it seems he prefers anything but my proper name.   What’s up with that?  The fruit is evident.   Keep in mind, I have been interacting with him for a few months now, so this is not anything new to him.
You may have read The Other Tom’s comment in yesterday’s post regarding a comment that Fred posted on his blog.  Brace yourself.  It is disgusting. Here is Fred’s comment that I copied from his blog.  Notice also that he brings out a major distraction to the real issue of spiritual abuse.  My daughter is the focus of the distraction below.  The lawsuit and the ongoing issues we have had with the church have never focused on our daughter, yet he wrongly puts Hannah front and center as a key piece in this battle: 
 
 
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Blogger Fred Butler said…

Julie A. writes, Me afraid? I don’t think so. I think it shows pretty clearly you were evading my question and it makes me wonder what you were trying to hide by not answering my question 5 times (Twitter, my blog, your blog and other blogs). 

and

Really???? Proof, please. My daughter posted one Google review before she was sued. That Google review was posted late Dec 11 or early Jan ’12. I am not aware of any others before that. You sure are coming across like you have info. Provide it here publicly. He accused me and those with me of going from church to church spreading junk.  

I never spread anything in any church. My daughter didn’t go to church. She has no interest in God or church since dealing with Chuck. So, please give me the inside story that even I don’t know about, Fred. 


I haven’t evaded any questions of yours and like I wrote on the previous occasion, I never had any insider information…


That is, until as of yesterday evening when I received an email from a church member at Grace Bible with some additional information I did not know before. According to this individual, who is not the pastor or in pastoral leadership to my immediate knowledge, one of the big parts to the back story that you demand proof about is that your daughter was fornicating with a guy.


Now. Before I continue, is that true or is this person lying? Was your unbelieving daughter involved in an illicit sexual relationship with a guy? 


Perhaps you have discussed this on your blog and I missed it, but if that is true, that places the events involving your daughter and this church into an entirely different context and changes the dynamics of your complaint against them. We can maybe discuss if how the situation was handled was good. Maybe they were overly harsh when they confronted her and dealt with the aftermath, but that hardly makes the pastor a terrible cult leader.


If an unbelieving daughter of a church member is found out to be fornicating are you seriously suggesting that a pastor is to just “let that go”? Just “let the family take care of it”? And not say anything? 


Do you readers know about this situation if it is true? Again, maybe you have written on it, but I haven’t seen anything, so please direct me to a post where you have if that is the case.
7:05 AM, August 01, 2012

 
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I spoke at length with Hannah about this today.  What we have here is a man who has entertained gossip from a church member, not even someone in leadership.  This member does not even know any of us as she came after we left.   She is taking information told to her, not first-hand knowledge.  Fred has taken that juicy gossip and published it broadly on the internet without the decency to fact check.  Fred asked the questions publicly without regard to the harmful and hurtful consequences of such questions.  Just a couple days ago, I e-mailed Fred regarding duplicating posts on his blog and asked him to remove one.  Here is a copy of my e-mail:   
Fred could easily have contacted me before posting such gossip.  He also has my personal phone number and I have asked him numerous times to give me a call if he has questions.  He has refused.  He intentionally made the choice to not contact me and instead made the choice to publicize information that had no business being broadcast on the internet without fact checking (and actually had no business on the internet at all).   
Healthy pastors and church leaders do not behave this way.  This is wrong.


“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Cor. 13:7“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”  1 Cor. 13:13

Why would someone do such a thing?  Was his intention to harm Hannah and our family? 
“Love each other as brothers and sisters.
Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.” 1 Peter 3:8
Fred likes to go on about how I have been slandering my former pastor and church publicly.  When we had issues with our former church, the discussions began very small – with the pastor and elders.  When that didn’t work, another pastor was brought in for mediation, but that mediation was turned down by the pastor.  The circled widened as the pastor/elders closed the doors to dialogue.  Fred did not begin small.  He took a piece of gossip and did not consider keeping the circle small.  Instead, he went straight to the internet.  Fred, is that what they teach you at Grace Community Church (GCC)?  I’m flabbergasted.  How would you feel if someone did this to your daughter?  I keep getting the picture of the Scarlet Letter in my mind with the big “A” hanging on my daughter.  Crazy!
Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
It does not demand its own way.
It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  
It does not rejoice about injustice but 
rejoices whenever the truth wins out.”  1 Cor. 13:4-6
What has Fred learned at GCC and Master’s College about entertaining gossip?  He has clearly not demonstrated anything that I have learned from his pastor/teacher whom I do respect.

“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.”  Eph 4:15

Secular media will not publish such a story without confirming with sources, yet Fred Butler, a Bible teacher from Grace Community Church, graduate of the Master’s Seminary, employed by Grace to You, freely posted this gossip without regard to the ramification of my daughter’s reputation, her person, her dignity.  He assumed the worst in our daughter.  That is not love.  That is not thinking the best of someone as scripture exhorts.  Does secular media hold higher standards of moral conduct than Christians?  It appears so in this case.  This is shameful behavior.  Fred, the world is judging your behavior.  
Healthy pastors and church leaders do not behave this way.  This is wrong.  


“Always be humble and gentle.Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.”  Eph 4:2

How would Bren (the BGBC church member you apparently got this allegation from) get this kind of sensitive information unless it was disclosed from the pastor?  Bren doesn’t even know us.  She received second-hand information and Fred posted it?  What kind of pastor discloses information that is privileged for only pastor/young adult/parents?  My daughter was never placed in any church discipline.  We were there for 11 months after Hannah left and there was no discussion of this whatsoever.  The topic of sexual immorality never came up.  Why?  Because it didn’t happen.  
Healthy pastors and church leaders do not behave this way.  This is wrong.  

“Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing.” 2 Thes 1:3

If there was no church discipline, the church congregation has no business knowing about it.  The reason there was no church discipline regarding this issue is because the issue did not exist.  This is a complete lie, fabricated by someone, perhaps the pastor.  The pastor has shared sensitive information before, including names, on issues that the regular congregants had no business knowing (as I disclosed in court documents).  
Yes, our former pastor disclosed things to me that I had no business knowing – about specific people in the congregation regarding very sensitive topics.  The things he disclosed to me surely should have remained behind closed doors, kept only between the pastor and the congregant (or possibly with elders).  I was shocked and this was also added to my list of red flags that caused me great concern and eventually led to the several meetings at the end of our time there.  
Healthy pastors and church leaders do not behave this way.  This is wrong.  
Let this be a warning to those who remain there:  your personal information is never safe and it may be twisted and exaggerated or lied and possibly broadcast on the internet, spread by church members who believe they are spreading the truth, when in fact it is a lie.  
Here is the comment from church member, Bren (who is a frequent Google review burier):
Insider scoop?  Gossip?  Bren spread false information about my daughter – presumably told by the pastor and it was spread to the internet, yet when real rape/sodomy occurred in the church, the pastor admittedly covered it up and kept silent.  In fact, we have been told by those who were at the church at the time and now have left (a few families) that the church was only told about “inappropriate touch”.   This convicted sex offender is not incarcerated for inappropriate touch, but for rape, etc, and multiple counts of sexual offenses.  This was not a one-time incident, but multiple incidences with more than one child.  So stories are fabricated about my daughter, yet when illicit sexual crimes are being perpetrated by a young man at church, the story is changed and minimized.  This is messed up stuff.  
Healthy pastors and church leaders do not behave this way.  This is wrong.  The world is watching and judging.

“Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.”  John 13:34b

A bigger issue here is that a young adult’s sexual indiscretions (whether it actually happened or not) has no bearing on the issue of spiritual abuse, period.  This is an attempt to draw attention to a side issue that never existed and to get me worked up.  


“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

Fred has a long-standing agenda to stand up on behalf of pastors who are wronged by congregants who have authority issues and seems to lump them all in the same bundle.  At the same time, he gives a free pass to someone who goes to his church’s Shepherd’s conference year after year and was selected to go to expositor’s school.  Just because a pastor goes to Shepherd’s Conference and expositor’s school at a great place does not mean they pass the healthy pastor test.  

They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.   Titus 1:16

Listen, Fred.  Your buddy, the one who went against pastors Phil Johnson’s advice and Bill Shannon’s advice and against the Bible sued and lost the court case.  He is dragging his church through a financial fiasco to pay for attorney’s bills, court costs, filing fees, etc.  Between his attorney bill and ours, the church’s tithe money and/or other resources could be paying close to six figures for this ridiculous lawsuit.  God is surely not pleased.  He didn’t need to do that.  Why are you defending a man who refuses communication with former congregants?   Why are you defending a man who did not report to the authorities gross sexual abuse against children (rape, sodomy)?  In your quest to defend all pastors who have disgruntled congregants, you are missing the bigger picture here:  Spiritual Abuse.  
We have gone the biblical route and have many more witnesses than the Bible requires.  We offered phone numbers of long-time members who were leaders/elder from the church, but you and other pastors from GCC refused to make the call, not wanting to get involved. You are overlooking very basic issues we have brought out and are blinded to the truth in your quest to protect pastors.  Brother, the blood is going to be on your hands.  You are acting like a spiritual authority and missing obvious signs and refusing to deal with people who have been crying out for years.

James 3:1 “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”

At the very least, Fred, I am asking that you publicly apologize to my sweet daughter who has been hurt directly by you in your public blog post and comments.  Does her soul not matter to you?  How dare you do such a thing!  
The world is watching and judging Christians and surely they are observing this poor behavior.  You have the opportunity to make things right, Fred.  I hope you do.  

115 thoughts on “The World is Watching Us”

  1. Anonymous, I understand completely. And I'd like to see you put together something sound and wise. Just don't write anything in anger but in love (if the tone is angry the board might dismiss us altogether, we want their ears). Write it in love for Fred and for the Church of Jesus Christ. Here's my email: pelocaoufe@gmail.comSend me your thoughts. I'd be happy to be a pair of second eyes and even a voice if you'd let me help you draft something for the board. Anger can be a very healthy emotion, however, the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Please get in touch with me,David Johnson

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  2. I'm going to be the odd one out here. I've read through this comment a few times and don't see it as threatening. The "kick your door in" is obviously just an expression because it included the phrase "(LIKE YOU HAVE THE SMITH'S)". Smith's door is fine – these are just passionate words of expression in response to something that was cruel. To me, that is righteous anger, just as righteous as the anger I had when I discovered that a sex offender was without supervision. What I see is anger and sadness. We've got a 45 yr old who obviously went through a horrific church experienced which possibly contributed to the suicide of a dear friend at the tender age of 18 – when the transition from child to adult is such a challenge. These are pivotal days in a young person's life and to experience that would be very traumatic – obviously lasting for years.With regard to looking up personal info – people do it all the time at their places of employment. I did it when I worked at a utility company. I don't know anyone who didn't. I don't remember any rules against it. It's what you do with that information outside of work that can get you in trouble. I don't see a threat there. Working for free? No biggie there, either – meaning Anonymous would be willing to do anything to help justice be served, even working without pay.When I read this post for the first time, I was struck with immense sadness and then when I thought about it later on, it brought me to tears thinking of the possible outcomes had Hannah not been so strong and/or had support. Bullying can yield devastating results on someone's psyche. If done to someone who is weak, it could lead to emotional scarring or even suicide as we have seen in the media. This is serious business and why it must be addressed at a higher level.

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  3. David – your post must have gone up when I was in the process of mine. I'm not sure that Anonymous' post is NOT righteous anger. I appreciate your willingness to be a sounding board, though. I've done that with a number of people regarding posts and comments – thanks to my BTS (behind-the-scenes) friends 🙂 Gotta love good friends for critique and even rebuke. I've had some of both lately – lol.

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  4. Julie Anne, I respectfully disagree with you that there isn't a problem looking up personal information about people that isn't in the public. I don't care whether or not it is used. Those databases should be used for the appropriate purpose, not curiosity. I'm very, very uncomfortable with the thought that people with access to personal information would use that access inappropriately.While I can agree that Anonymous may have righteous anger, there can be unrighteous behavior associated with it. I took as a possible threat the "pay that ticket" comment, which indicated at least to me that Anonymous may know something or wants others to think he or she knows something.I do agree that Anonymous' hurt is deep, and as I said, I am sorry for that. I also believe that the Smith family was treated in an unspeakable way. I'm not excusing that. Still, at least to me, there is a line that shouldn't be crossed.That is all. Don't want to make an issue of it but just explain where I was coming from.

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  5. Thank you for explaining, Will. No prob. We're not all going to agree on everything. I do remember thinking that I wished the comment had ended after the first paragraph, so I was a bit uncomfortable with it, too.

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  6. Oh come on now. Is anyone going to make a real argument that Fred can be sued? J. Fun just ruled that you can write an out right lie on a blog and reasonable people should be able to discern.Some of this stuff is just ridiculous.

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  7. I do not think that it was truly a threat, other than a promise to enforce the law if Fred is in violation for not paying a ticket or otherwise does not fulfill the requirement of a bond.I also have access to all of the same databases, and, if I determine a business purpose for using them, I can do so. Finding info to send an employer a letter about the behavior of an employee that is damaging to the image of the employer, which is the Fred situation, is a perfectly reasonable business activity for me or a private investigator working for me, if I am representing or considering representing the victim.

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  8. Julie Anne said that Chuck O'Neal repeated private things about parishioners. He repeated them to her. She is sharing her first-hand account of what she witnessed.Keep seeking. God promises that when we seek, we find. I pray that your eyes are opened.

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  9. No doubt it's righteous anger. As we wield our swords it's a good thing to feel the holy energy of that, yet anger needs the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit to be most effective toward the advancement of the kingdom. That is my prayer. The words of Jesus here: 'the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force' (Matt 11:12).

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  10. @ Seeking the Truth."Oh come on now. Is anyone going to make a real argument that Fred can be sued?" Didn't it appear that Arce, who happens to be an attorney, seemed to be saying that was possible?"J.Fun [assuming you actually mean Judge Fun … you might show some respect for his position as a judge in the court system] just ruled etc etc." Would appreciate your sharing the specific page and paragraphs where Judge Fun said exactly what you said he said … or is that just your interpretation of what he said? I think I've noticed in several of your prior comments that you seem to do that: say he said something when it doesn't seem the actual court documents support that. So I'm trying to figure out if you have a novel theory of what *should* be the interpretation, or whether you have read/not read the primary source documents, or what."Some of this stuff is just ridiculous." Really? What exactly is "ridiculous"? You are being vague. Such sweeping conclusions are certainly opinions, but you might want to be more specific about things if you actually want substantive interaction based on details. But do you actually want anyone to respond rationally? Or are you wanting just a reaction emotionally?

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  11. "seeker of truth, while putting out lies":In my opinion, Fred committed defamation and could be successfully sued for it. He told a falsehood that he could easily have checked prior to publication. Julie Anne et al. told the truth!!! What the judge ruled is that the things complained of by the plaintiffs in the suit did not rise to the level where analysis of whether they were true or not was needed, because they were in the nature of opinion and not in the nature of statements about fact. That did not mean that truth is irrelevant. Fred's statement was about statements that are factual in nature and, in fact, false: (1) whether a young lady had engaged in fornication and (2) whether she had been in church discipline at BGBC. Since those statements could be demonstrably true or false and are not in the realm of opinion, Fred could be successfully sued for defamation.I, for one, think that that realization is what led Fred to make his apology and basically retract the statement.If you continue to post suggesting that the allegations are true, I will investigate, determine who you are, and will take appropriate action against you.

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  12. One thing that I would add, to amplify your thought, is that there is a place for an individual to take action, based on the urging of the Holy Spirit regarding a particular situation. An individual is wise to consider the need, the timing, and the best possible (Christ-honoring) approach. There is also the participation 'in' and 'with' community, the Family of God. Sharing one's insights and passions with others in a caring spiritual community, where Christ is Lord, is a way of testing, modifying, expanding, and tackling an issue with the wisdom and the blessing of community.No one gets it all the time, that is why we need each other. We need to bounce some of our ideas off others and see how they 'see' things from their vantage point. The Holy Spirit works in and through Christ's Body. That is something tried and true in caring, authentic Christian community–whether we chat in person or via the internet.May we each be energized by the Holy Spirit in how we can best use our skills to benefit the cause of Christ especially around the topics that arise around spiritual abuse and recovery, which this blog is dedicated to.

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