Disturbing Trends, Failure to Report Crimes, Leaving the Church, Mandatory Reporting, Meaning of Spiritual Sounding Board, Media Interviews with Julie Anne, Narcissistic Pastors, Safe Churches, Sexual Abuse/Assault and Churches, Spiritual Abuse, SPIRITUAL SOUNDING BOARD

Spiritual Abuse: Interview with Doug Bursch


Spiritual Abuse, interview, podcast, Doug Bursch, Julie Anne, Spiritual Sounding Board Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 7.56.42 AM


Yesterday I did an interview with Doug Bursch from Seattle’s KGNW radio station.  Doug describes himself in his bio as “a speaker, writer, pastor, teacher and evangelist.”  We spoke about spiritual abuse, healthy and unhealthy churches.  I’ve done quite a few interviews since the lawsuit, but this one is my new favorite.  If you know of someone who might have gone through spiritual abuse or wants to understand what it means, what it looks like, this would be a good interview to listen to because Doug really gets it.

Here’s a little excerpt I transcribed because I wanted you to get a glimpse into this guy’s heart.  His compassion made me tear up.  This is the kind of heart we want to see from a pastor:

Julie Anne, not to be sentimental, but I want to apologize, as a pastor.  I know that it doesn’t necessarily help with the harm that has been done to you or the people you’ve had to walk through with  tears and weeping as they’ve dealt with hurts, but at least I’d like say that I apologize for any pastor or person who has misused their power to harm you or harm your family.  My prayer is that we can facilitate a dialogue where there is healing and there’s love.  I think there’ll be more leaders rising up and there’ll be more safe places and I think that’s the ultimate goal.

I encourage you to listen beyond the interview as Doug discusses how not only did Jesus die for sinners, but He identifies with those who were sinned against.  He knew what it was like to be unjustly treated.  He understands our pain.

During the first few minutes, Doug introduces the program by talking about what’s coming up in the show and tells the story about someone who experienced spiritual abuse. The actual interview is right around the 42:25 mark.  You can listen to the interview here.



42 thoughts on “Spiritual Abuse: Interview with Doug Bursch”

  1. Julie Anne,

    I listened to this and commend you both on an excellent job. I have to admit, my favorite part was when he apologized to you. This man displays the heart of Christ! It reminds me of 1 Peter 5:3 “not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” How sad that you have been the victim of a domineering pastor who abused this very text! There are tons of men who do NOT belong in ministry, their words and actions prove so. Your former pastor is such a man.

    I do not know your hurt, but I do pray for continued healing for you. It is so sad that men like your former pastor have forgotten to love one another; they spend their time lording over and abusing their flock. Because of you, many will flee from these types, and prayerfully avoid the hurt you have been inflicted with.
    May God continue to bring you through this and hold you ever so close to Him.


  2. Thank you, lyn. I hope this interview will not only be educational, but also pray that it may be the beginning of healing for some who may not have wanted to have anything to do with Christianity since they were hurt by someone in the church.


  3. Was it just me, or did it sound to anyone else like Doug’s throat was tightening up while he was apologizing for the pain others have caused? He was so genuine that I started choking up.

    This was such an excellent interview. I’m glad JA went through with it even though her voice wasn’t well. I hope there are many more dialogues like this.


  4. Well I have tried to finish this several times but keep getting interrupted. What I have heard so far is excellent. I was astounded you mentioned the problem of narcissism in the pastorate. You go girl!!! Oh boy! the claws are going to come out now.n Put on the full armour.


  5. No, it wasn’t you, BTDT. I listened to it a few times while transcribing that part. I think he genuinely was choking up. And that blessed the socks off me.

    The apology segment begins at 1:06:05.


  6. Great interview! Keep up the good work. It is so important to have a voice. People do not realize the depth of condemnation that is being placed on individuals who may think differently than their leadership. I really suffered and almost turned away from Christ because of the idolizing of everything the Pastor said. You hit the nail on the head. There is no longer room for the Holy Spirit in people’s lives that are under this kind of leadership.


  7. DOUG, It was very sweet. I totally get how you were thinking of all the people led astray and told that Christ is something He is not. It breaks my heart too to think that Jesus is being misrepresented and used as an excuse to lord over people and dominate them. I love your heart towards people.


  8. Wow.

    Jesus died for those who were sinned against too.

    Listening to Doug sounds to me like listening to a different gospel. But that’s only because the ‘gospel’ I was fed was so twisted.

    Utterly refreshing. And healing.

    So much to shout, ‘YES!’ to from both you, JA and Doug.

    Thanks for posting this.


  9. “to set the record straight…I did choke up a bit. :)”

    Like I wrote yesterday, what a neat guy!


  10. JA, Thank you for posting your interview! You did a great job. I am also glad to hear there are others out there like me! (You mentioned nones) After attending church for 50+ years, I stopped attending a few years back. I also have trouble reading the Bible after hearing it used as a weapon to alienate people in the last several years. I think I asked this earlier, but do you attend church? My husband and I are still uncertain about how to find a safe community of believers. Thanks for all you do! Ann


  11. Exactly, Chris – – it did sound like a different Gospel. And does that not want to make us go to Him, who understands our pain? Doug did some good preachin’ there. It’s been a while since I’ve needed to pull out a white hanky to wave.


  12. Ann – – you are not alone. I stopped reading my NKJV John MacArthur Study Bible after leaving cult church because it brings back too many memories. I also switched to a different translation. At this point, I think God would rather me be reading than not reading, even if the translation is not perfect. If he can speak through a jack ass, I’m sure he can get His message through to me.

    And another thing – – I think God definitely speaks through His people and that’s one way that hasn’t triggered me. Yesterday, I saw God move wonderfully behind the scenes on the blog in someone’s personal situation and it made me realize: God was here. He was present in this person’s individual life meeting her needs in a very personal and practical way. That gave me great joy and encouraged me spiritually.


  13. Julie Anne, I listened to the podcast and I must tell you that your voice echoed the pre-conceived notions I have about you. You were articulate, self-assured, well- spoken and compassionate. It was evident (notwithstanding the scratchy voice)! The pastor? I thought he oozed goodness – you can just tell! Now I have another person to add to my ‘wish-I-could-meet’ list!


  14. Now I have another person to add to my ‘wish-I-could-meet’ list!

    carmen – – who do you mean, Doug or me? Be careful with that answer.


  15. JA, what a great interview. I know you’ve touched many lives with the great work you do here.
    I listened to the whole podcast, I liked the things Doug had to say. I must admit, I had tears in my eyes when he apologized to you.
    Thank you, JA.


  16. I missed the very end because I got called away for Mom’s Taxi Service. You were great! And, it was nice that your voice held up through it.

    Thank you, Doug, for having Julie Anne on your show and for being willing to hear the voices of those who have dealt with spiritual abuse.


  17. Julie Anne,

    Sorry for being off-topic, but I couldn’t help but notice that you and JD were doing a little sparring on twitter.

    I have contributed my concerns to him and his contributors about their “Methodology” in the way they publicly communicate their views with others. It seems their Methodology has become toxic, acting like adversaries that hate each rather than brothers/sisters that love each other.

    One can have a disagreement without getting personal and still be kind and civilized, but not with this group, some of whom will skim through a response without reading it and then verbally retaliate.
    I’m saying this with a burdened heart because I don’t like correcting a Preachers behavior.

    Most of them are “Reformed”. I’ve read some semi-diluted sexist remarks on their twitter accounts. They really don’t know what happen in your situation and the abuse you endured. So for them or any of us to chastised someone who endured abuse without walking in their shoes, is sinful.
    Being the recipient of abuse by a Stealth Calvinist who wouldn’t explain his doctrine then retaliated against those that simply asked questions about their Methodology while purposely keeping their doctrine a mystery, is a horrible experience of deceit.

    I have found keeping it simple and not sparring with those who embrace being combative is better for my soul, but maybe to those who choose to go head to head it may be more soothing, to their own soul.

    My impression though is their hearts are hardened and will not embrace being kind when they express their differences with others, who profess the Gospel.



  18. Yea, his comment came out of left field after posting a tweet about an article he was mentioned in. I link to a variety of articles of interest on Twitter and this article seemed to show the Arminian/Calvinism debate beneath some decisions being made at a university and so since it involved JD Hall, I tagged him. Someone “corrected” me in a tweet that it really wasn’t about Calv/Arm debate and that’s when JD Hall chimed in with his love for me – haha 🙂

    JD associates with people like Paul Washer, Phil Johnson, Miano, etc. We have some history because of my article on the Arminian nightmare book he wrote for children (https://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2013/06/01/indoctrinating-your-children-with-doctrine/). Sadly, I find his gospel lacking love and grace from what I read in Scripture.


  19. Julie Anne,

    I made a similar statement about the one-sided debates that Arminian/Calvinism get caught up in and several “Reformers” on JD’s blog completely ignored that reality and become aggressive toward me..

    With a couple of exceptions most of the “Reformed” toxic sparring going on in cyber space are between the Calvinist and those that reject Calvinism.

    What I take issue is how they communicate their differences, sometimes getting nasty toward each other while a cyber audience watches.

    When I suggested they look like adversaries that hated each rather than brothers that love each other they quoted a verse about ‘tough” love which authenticated their poor behavior without acknowledging their love for the brother they were sparring with.

    I gave them something to think about, but in my view nothing has changed.


  20. Oh I thought it would go into moderation first so you could check it out. I am not sure about posting links etc on some sites. feel free to delete it but I think in this case a picture is worth a thousand words.


  21. Thanks, Brian about your interview comment. I’ve received positive responses privately, too, and that is encouraging. I think when pastors like Doug are willing to hear our stories and want to dialogue, it will do a lot of good, not only for us, but for those in ministry positions.


  22. Paul Washer, Phil Johnson, Miano ug. Though I do think Mr. Washer and Mr. Jonhson are sincere, especially Paul Washer because he has gone to some places in the world a billy goat would not travel. But he did this sermon on little kids being basically sin filled devil worshipping hither Jr. wannabes, that if a “16 month old baby had the strength of an 18 year old he would kill his father and walk across his bloody body to get dad’s shiny watch.” That is not an exact quote he was much more dramatic and hit that pulpit a few times.


  23. Julie Anne,

    I just listened to your interview this afternoon. You did a great job. It’s inspiring to know you’re trying so hard to make these problems known, even when you’re not feeling your best. It was great to hear Pastor Bursch listening so well and sympathetically.

    I hope you get lots of rest for your voice this weekend. Get well soon.


  24. So great to hear someone speak such kind words to you, Julie Anne, especially since various creatures continue to mistreat you so often. And I think your voice sounded beautiful!


  25. Thank you, Andrea, I will check that out. I just checked my email and someone else also mentioned it was great. I can’t wait to hear it.


  26. I live about 15 minutes away from the church that Doug Bursch pastors and I have been seriously thinking of checking it out. I like what he has to say on his radio program and I also like four square theology.. I’m just really nervous to open myself up to another church again.. Hopefully in time this will change. Thank you Julie Anne for all your hard work and your love for the victims of abuse!


  27. Jaysgirl84 –

    From where I’m coming from your apprehension certainly seems normal to me. Maybe you can contact the church and talk to Doug or another pastor before actually trying it out. What I appreciated about Doug was his willingness to want to connect and build a bridge to those who have been hurt.

    He posted a new blog post today that I liked a lot: http://t.co/dnmcE1VjjH About having authentic relationship rather than focusing so much on doctrine, etc.

    My bad church was so into law and God’s wrath and perfect doctrine. Other churches can be into works. I really appreciate pastors who encourage a healthy relationship with Jesus. I think when we have an intimate relationship with Jesus, the other stuff will fall into place.

    Keep me posted!


  28. That’s great advice that I think I will heed before trying any new church. My former church was very good at the grace part but not so much at acknowledging that a woman had anything of value to say or do besides cooking and cleaning. It was all about “the dudes” as my former pastor used to say. It had cool music , trendy clothes and all . My husband and I gave so much time and effort to this church and when we couldn’t do it because of numerous personal issues going on in our life, we were totally forgotten. Or at least hubby was. I was never , ever acknowledged , ever.


  29. Jaysgirl84,

    Oh boy – I have experienced that before by certain pastors from a well-known church. BTW, a thought I had – the simple fact that Doug had me, a woman, on his show to share my thoughts about healthy vs unhealthy churches shows me that he values women and their opinions, ya know what I mean?

    BTW, Doug gave me permission to give out his e-mail address. We’ve had some back and forth e-mails since the interview and I think he’d be happy to talk with you or answer questions. Please send me an e-mail if you’d like it. Here’s my e-mail: spiritualsb@gmail.com


  30. Thank you, Julie Anne. I have experienced much worse than what I described in the previous posts from former churches ( I have been a Christian a very long time ) but I don’t feel like I have the energy to rehash all of that right now . I am at a place where I just feel tired, weak and broken by it all. I love The Lord with my entire being and have most of my life. I feel like I am going through a time of healing and really discovering who I am in Christ and what that even looks like. It’s not just about the “woman issue” but I think having to deal with that in my last church and experiencing shallow community under the guise of being a family just sent me over the edge. I really thought this last church would be our home for a very long time and I am just disillusioned by all of it. The entire history of the garbage I have seen under the guise of Christianity. I know that I will not be in this place forever and I really, really appreciate your blog and a few others that I visit daily . You all have helped me process some of this stuff and made me really think. I don’t think I will ever be the same and that’s probably a good thing in the end. I just want to follow Jesus and know Him ..in truth! I am probably not explaining my self very well but I hope some of what I said makes sense.


  31. I don’t think I will ever be the same and that’s probably a good thing in the end. I just want to follow Jesus and know Him ..in truth! I am probably not explaining my self very well but I hope some of what I said makes sense.

    Actually, you explained yourself very well. I identify with it and I’m sure countless others do, too. You are now responsible for your spiritual path and no one else is. Take your time testing the waters if and when that’s the direction you feel led 🙂


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