Tullian Tchividjian,Clergy Sex Abuse, Expastors.com, Greg Atkinson, Jonathan Merritt
ExPastors.com Opens the Gate
My last post was about the new article written by former pastor, Tullian Tchividjian – The Freedom in Losing It All – published at the site, ExPastors.com. (It isn’t clear yet from a preliminary ExPastors.com article or otherwise whether this publication came about at their invitation or at Tullian Tchividjian’s request to post.) As the day went on, I watched the comments and noted a familiar pattern: The blog moderators were not comfortable with comments questioning Tullian Tchividjian’s character or their integrity. They started removing comments, and posted an explanation that the comments were not meeting the blog’s intended purpose.
When they started implementing that, the comment total was at 121. As of this morning (September 30th), it appears that a total of 4 comments were outright deleted, and 2 comments are still “awaiting moderation,” so the comment count total is 117.
What is the purpose of ExPastors.com?
We seek to be a place of help, healing and hope for expastors, pastors, and church leaders. We do this by hearing their stories, connecting them with people and resources, and focusing on spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional health. (Link.)
Now, obviously my blog has an intended purpose. The purpose of my blog is to expose abuse within Christian churches/organizations, and to supply a safe place for survivors of those hurt by abuse. I also have posting guidelines and will remove comments if someone is defending an abuser or if their comments make this place feel unsafe for survivors to participate.
So, that leads me to the obvious conclusion that ExPastors.com is doing the same, but the difference here is that Tullian Tchividjian has now become the victim.
Tullian Tchividjian was the perpetrator and the liar who left a trail of destruction in his wake. This celebrity pastor whose ministry collapsed because of lies and sexual sins, and now … he has reportedly turned his life around? Really????
In contributing to ExPastors.com, Tullian Tchividjian has been graced with a platform on a silver platter to share the depths of his despair, even to the point of contemplating suicide, to his large and ever-faithful following and to the regular audience there.
The Poster Boy
Tullian is a perfect poster boy for this site. What more could they want than a high-profile celebrity pastor whose tragic collapse has now been beautifully restored?
But wait … has it really? How are we to know? Are we to believe the man who publicly confessed that he had an affair only after finding out about his wife’s affair? How convenient of him to leave out that he had previously had sex with another woman who was not his wife. And how hateful for Tullian Tchividjian to blame his wife for his more recent sexual immorality. And then when Pastor Kevin Labby took him under his wing at Willow Creek Presbyterian Church in Winter Springs, Florida, Tullian Tchividjian also failed to disclose the full extent of his sexual immorality. This is not a man who has a history of telling the truth. Are we to assume that a claim of spiritual restoration means he is now telling the truth? Because he claims God has done this work, does that mean we are exempt from fact checking?
I think not.
If you aren’t convinced of the opinion that he lies, see it for yourself by reading the extensive chronology, posts, and initial analysis in this Resource Bibliography. (That resource page is due for expansion and updating soon.) Patterns of deceit, failure to be forthcoming with the truth, blame-shifting, etc., seem clear enough.
Meanwhile, it’s important to note that the goal of ExPastors.com is apparently primarily to deal with ex-pastors, not any residual fallout caused by them (i.e., any people they may have victimized), nor to verify first if ex-pastors who contribute material on their site are being truthful.
So, on Twitter, I challenged the Executive Director, Greg Atkinson, during his conversation thread with my long-time Twitter friend, Andrew, who rightly is concerned about victims. Here are screenshots of that thread:
And then I, too, was blocked.
Our exchange was … interesting, yet it aligns with their statement of What We Believe:
We believe in God. We believe in the corporate church. We believe that we all have issues. But more importantly, we believe in grace. We believe in restoration. We believe in renewed individuals fulfilling the call of God on their lives. Whether it’s serving in a pastoral or lay leadership role or as the janitor mopping floors, we believe the expastor should, once again, become reintegrated back into ministry, into a place where they are fulfilling their call.
Why do we believe this? Because we’re confident that God is not done with you yet.
Notice this important part: “[W]e believe the expastor should, once again, become reintegrated back into ministry, into a place where they are fulfilling their call.” Yikes. Imagine those harmed by Mr. Tchividjian who are now reading this.
Religion News Service/Jonathan Merritt Widens the Path
Sadly, what often happens when news of a fallen celebrity pastor makes a comeback, they are given more media attention. Sure enough, Jonathan Merritt at Religion News Service (RNS) got hold of the story and decided to extend Tchvidjian’s platform to even a larger audience. RNS posted Billy Graham’s grandson on his near suicide and whether he’s planning a comeback on September 29th.
As a sidenote, I found out later that this was not Jonathan Merritt’s first time writing about Tullian Tchividjian. He has done at least two other personal interview-type articles:
Billy Graham’s grandson takes Christians to task: An interview with Tullian Tchividjian, Religion News Service, October 2, 2013.
Billy Graham’s grandson warns of New Year’s resolutions, JonathanMerritt.com, January 2, 2015.
Back to the article posted yesterday about Billy Graham’s grandson … Good grief, my blood pressure rose as I considered the implications of this – – – scores and scores of people getting to read about their hero making a wonderful spiritual comeback – – – based on what? Just Tullian Tchividjian’s word?
So, I responded to the tweet announcing this interview article, and here’s that thread:
Yes, that’s right. It took me all of seconds to contact key people directly harmed by Tullian Tchividjian to see if he had changed, to see if he has made things right with them.
- I contacted Pastor Kevin Labby, his former pastor and boss, and he hasn’t heard from Tullian. No one from ExPastors.com has contacted him.
- I contacted Kim Tchividjian, his ex-wife. She also said no one from ExPastors.com has contacted her.
- I contacted one of the women whom Tullian Tchividjian groomed sexually and then committed clergy sexual abuse with. She said that ExPastors.com did not contact her, nor has Tullian Tchividjian made any effort yet to make things right with her. She has seen no evidence from him of repentance or sorrow for the pain he caused in her family.
So, what we have going on here is a masterful show of supposed spiritual renewal by ex-pastor Tullian Tchividjian, with no fruit evidenced toward the above people he harmed, or by other I also contacted.
This how you fact check – – – you go to the people he harmed, and you do not take just a chronic liar’s word for it. It’s called “due diligence” – – – duh!!
So, sadly, now the Tullian Tchividjian fans are coming out in droves to read their hero’s words. But ExPastors.com and Jonathan Merritt failed to do due diligence when they allowed Tullian Tchividjian to uncritically report his own narrative. Someone who is truly repentant wouldn’t be taking center stage again without making sure all of his victims were okay with it. Tullian Tchividjian’s victims don’t matter to him. They are just excess baggage that gets in his way.
Wasn’t Tchividjian masterful? He appealed to an audience who wanted to hear his side, and what a perfect setup to gain back trust from his fan base to purchase his possible upcoming book.
* * * * * * *
Edited 09-30-2016 to clarify that it is not yet known whether the ExPastors.com article came about at the invitation of ExPastors.com or from initiation by Tullian Tchividjian.
231 thoughts on “Is This Tullian Tchividjian’s Spiritual Comeback Tour?”
“No, not painting myself as a victim just pointing out what you have claimed about my comments (obnoxious, jerky, rude, condescending and hammering) which you call behavior. I think you are projecting.”
~ ~ ~ ~~
No. I’m not projecting. I’m not guilty of doing those things.
Considering the snarky comments I’ve gotten here and the other blog off several people, I think I’ve restrained myself pretty well.
I was “saved” as a kid when I put saving faith in Jesus.
I now wonder if the whole enterprise or most of it is total bunk.
I did not attack Ed with ad hominem, but you went out of your way to use my single status as a dig, which was a cruddy thing to do.
And Ed did not deal with my comment at
OCTOBER 5, 2016 @ 2:55 PM
Where I listed two different scenarios.
Katy, that’s a good point.
Which is complementarians often blame a wife for a husband’s sin (whether it’s infidelity or abuse), but you don’t see them usually holding the husband to the same standard.
I’ve seen a lot of complementarian preachers blame a husband’s affair on the wife either not supposedly being attractive enough, or not having enough sex with the husband.
There are some facets of complementarianism that do husband-blame (such as Strachan referring to unemployed fathers as “man fails”) but usually, the lion’s share of blame is doled out on to women, both married and single.
Then why does St. James state that those who teach will be judged more strictly?
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Can give you the people who took this public and the hell they went through and their jobs, lives threatened to get this public and so much more.
(And much of the rest of your post). That is very sad and frustrating.
I think the laity out there just puts up with it, and it’s puzzling.
If Christians would stop giving these guys money (tithes) that might help.
I saw an accurate meme Tweeted by people that was attributed to Boz T. that said something like, “Churches extend grace to abusers but issue Law to victims and wonder why people are quitting church in large numbers”
– something like that.
There are more recent examples – such as Mark Driscoll, this Tullian guy who is under discussion in this thread, Perry Noble – and on and on. These guys get involved in misdeeds, or are very sexist, financially rip off their church members, or whatever, but Christians keep giving these guys a pass, and they are not held to account (or it seems, very rarely).
There was an IFB pastor who is in jail for sexual relations with a teen girl from his church. I always forget how to spell his name, I think it’s Jack Schaap?? He’s in jail for what he did, at least.
I think Jim Baker did jail time for financial flim flammery he committed while a TV preacher or what not.
So preachers who do wrong are occasionally are reprimanded, but it doesn’t seem to happen often enough.
THOT, speaking of TBN, Orange County newspaper sometimes covers them and their shenanigans.
Their articles have discussed allegations that various Crouch family members cover up child sexual abuse, one of them allegedly waved a gun around to threaten another Crouch family member who was going to go public with financial wrong doing, etc, etc.
Here is one story from this summer about TBN from the Orange County paper:
‘Very clear signs of trouble’ at Trinity Broadcasting Network as revenue shrinks, attractions close
It was wasn’t it! That’s the point, it shouldn’t been done to Ed, that is the point.
I could drive it further –
Oh my word, Daisy. You’d give the Eveready [sic] Bunny a run for its money.
Hey now, Eveready is not misspelled. I looked it up 🙂 haha
‘Energizer Bunny’, but he’s probably ready. 🙂
Q, I am the one who insulted Ed, not Daisy. I ‘own’ any criticism for that act.
Daisy just happens to be giving him solid, well-researched information that should cause him to re-think his stand on the topic. Daisy, I am impressed that you’ve taken all the time and trouble to do that, although I get the impression that he’s got his hands over his eyes when it comes to analyzing the topic – pastors who should KNOW BETTER than to get involved with parishioners (the onus is on THEM to keep the line firmly drawn) and his refusal to see that by painting women as jezebels, he’s firmly establishing the patriarch.
I was at work yesterday and couldn’t reply to your inquiry about why your comments take on a whole different insidiousness if you are female. Here’s why:
It is obvious why men would want to reinforce and maintain the patriarchal system – it’s extremely beneficial for them. When women do it, it’s completely mind-boggling and even more infuriating. I don’t know how you have missed the underlying premise in most of Julie Anne’s posts – she is an advocate for women who have been abused, hurt, and taken advantage of by things that happen in the patriarchal system of churches (and – it could be argued – society in general).
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I did not personally attack Ed, not about his personal background.
Someone else brought it up.
All I did was say in response, “Oh, I didn’t know that information.”
I did not say anything cruel, heartless, or mean about his personal background.
The other poster, I take it, was trying to explain Ed’s motive for why he is so doggedly insistent on these threads at discounting the testimonies of women who have been preyed upon by clergy.
I made no judgement one way or the other about his wife or ex-wife or other family. I did not insult Ed over any of it or call him bad names over his family life.
You chose to use something personal about me to make a point, though.
I’m really tired of talking about all this and had planned on staying off the blogs today, but here I am.
I get the impression he did not look at any of the several articles I linked him to about the topic, by experts on the issue of CSA (Clergy Sexual Abuse) who say everything we’ve been telling him in these threads.
What’s really funny (or sad), is that I conceded at the other blog (and maybe here) that I realize that sometimes women do flirt with pastors, and sometimes normal affairs happen as a result – I never denied that can happen, but it depends on the context-
1. Ed and his friends at the other blog keep acting as though I think it has never happened, or is not a possibility, and that they think I think all women every where are innocent and clean as the freshly driven snow.
(One woman at the other blog who is quite nasty and rude did that to me -she attributed views to me I don’t hold-, when I called her on it, she got even more rude and catty with me over there, and denied she did that and claims I did so to her – I did not. I would be thrilled if that lady never, ever replied to me ever again.)
Ed doesn’t concede that most often (not always, but usually), these sexual relations between a lady congregant and a male pastor is abuse on the face of it, because of the power differential and trust people impart to the position of pastor (the way kids place trust in school teachers), so both parties are not always equally responsible.
A few folks at the other blog also said they are having a hard time following his points.
This poster did a nice job of summarizing the confusing nature of Ed’s posts:
Anyway, because of the nature of the pastoral position, it is incumbent on the pastors to keep the boundaries in place.
And most pastors have to know that a lot of church people “look up to them” or trust them, which makes confused or emotionally wounded people ten times more easy to manipulate.
You can’t get the Eds of the world to grasp this, or they don’t care to factor it in, or he gets into weird rabbit trails about how pastors don’t ‘really’ have any power, women who are sexually abused by a pastor should call the police, or he starts asking you things like, “does the Bible condone adultery,” and other seemingly irrelevant points that have no bearing on CSA.
Ed and guys like him at the other blog seem heck-bent on turning a blind eye to the dynamics that can lead a church member to be conned into a sexual relationship with a clergy person. They are bound and determined to chalk up every case to nothing but old-fashioned adultery and to stick the blame to the victims of predatory pastors. It’s really disturbing and warped and rather naive.
As to it being naive, it reminds me how many Christians side with child molesters in churches.
Some Christians will do things like sit with the Pedo at court dates at the court house but not sit with the child victim, or the churches who insist the child victim should “apologize” to the man who fondled them.
Many Christians will scold and pressure wives who are being abused by their Christian husbands to submit to him more and keep forgiving him – which only enables the abuse to keep going on.
Christians often side with the guilty party and “spit on” the victims! They get it entirely backwards. Some of them are doing this very thing in these CSA cases.
I guess, Daisy, that I try to put myself in Julie Anne’s position – someone who tries so desperately hard to bring awareness to these issues and effectively stops at nothing – and wonder how she must feel to have a MAN (indeed, many men and some women) trying to pound away with the patriarchal hammer on her onerous labours. I certainly step over the line as far as diplomacy is concerned – I take full responsibility for that (I don’t blame the ‘debbil’ – wink!) ) and have before. I certainly do not fault Julie Anne in her admonishments to me personally – after all, she makes every effort to run a respectable blog and has thousands of readers. But I cannot stand to read about someone essentially arguing to maintain the social order of male dominance: patriarchy. For someone who has been reading JA as long as Ed has, it disappoints (infuriates?) me that he would disrespect her so. He really ought to know better.
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Carmen regarding your post of OCTOBER 6, 2016 @ 9:26 AM
Yeah, I get it. Believe you me, I understand.
I see how by siding with abusive male clergy (by blaming the victims) they’re sort of re-enforcing sexism and patriarchy.
(By the way, I do want to reiterate that I am opposed to women who abuse positions of power to prey on males under their care or rank. -But most clergy is male, not female, so I think most of these stories end up being male- on- female incidents.)
I also find it strange that we have people who regularly visit this blog, a blog that covers spiritual abuse by churches, but on some specific topics under that heading, refuse to call abuse for what it is – abuse.
These same folks might otherwise agree that churches shouldn’t bully church members over secondary doctrine, or they shouldn’t keep using teaching that enables domestic violence, etc, but all the sudden, on CSA, slam on the brakes and let’s hold the victims equally culpable.
Ed is over at the other blog today posting more about all this. A few people over there are replying. I’ve not read all the new posts. I don’t know if I’ll keep replying in that thread over there about this, because I confess to being very worn out about it.
I honestly did plan on staying off these blogs today. I apologize to anyone if I seem to be a Comment Hog. Everyone must be tired of seeing my comments and name pop up. 🙂
Daisy, I appreciate that you take the time to develop insightful commentary on issues. I usually don’t have that kind of time – for instance, I’m leaving in a short while to pick up a few grandchildren at school to go on a hayride this afternoon; it’s a brilliant day here! – so no, I’m certainly not tired of seeing your name. It takes many voices to counter the negative effects of patriarchy; Julie Anne cannot do it alone. Although she certainly makes a valiant effort. 🙂
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“The mistake Egalitarians are making is wanting to be part of the same unbiblical structure. Believing they will be as “good” at it and less authoritarian. They are also SJW for Christ Jesus.”
Are you referring to a specific egalitarian movement or group OR to the concept itself that is mutualism as described in Galatians?
I have one or two errands I need to get into today, but I did take a peek at some of the posts at the other blog a moment ago.
Ed’s responses show a lack of compassion for victims over there.
I had told him yesterday that a lot of women victims perceive clergy as being trustworthy and authoritative (which can cause them to fall into being taken advantage of by dishonest clergy), and he shot back with this awful comment:
The guy is very ignorant about abusive dynamics.
You can read my reply to him here, if you like:
My Reply, on the other blog
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“Is there a verse in the NT about women gaining control over gullible men, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires….?”
That would have been tough to work out in the first century in any real way. :o). The closest we can find to anything resembling such a thing is the Temple of Diana cult in Ephesus. It is the basis and backdrop for Paul’s respone in 1 Timothy. The fertility cult taught that Eve was created first and tbe temple rituals protected women in childbirth. It was the only occasion in Scripture Paul used “authenteo”. But it was basically a cult based on the fear of dying during childbirth which was not a rare thing.
I enjoy your comments Daisy.
They are funny and spot on.
I wondered about that comment too, Lydia, but I think it got lost in all the other stuff.
There is very much a ‘they did it too’ tendency and I would rather hear specifics because that has not been the experience at my egalitarian church thus far.
I got back from my brief errands.
Well, Salty, Ed is digging himself into a deeper hole on this subject at the other blog about all this.
At least over there, a few different people are taking him on, not just me (in the thread entitled “It’s Clergy Sex Abuse, Not An Affair”).
Amazingly, Ed’s responses seem to have gotten even more unsympathetic towards victims, as he’s continued posting about this into last night or today.
I haven’t even worked my way through the additional 1 billion new posts there folks have made.
At the other blog, he scoffed at my use of links to sites by psychologists and sites that are dedicated to helping victims of CSA.
-As if to say I and everyone should ignore the mountains of personal testimonies by victims of CSA and studies by mental health professionals, to take his word for the real deal about CSA. It’s like talking to someone who is in deep, deep denial.
If CSA were not a real thing, why do at least 13 states have laws against it, to punish clergy who do engage in it???
Julie Anne, I understand if you are too busy to look at this or reply here or at the other site, but Ed brought you up by name at the other blog in a way that I feel is in a way, harmful to victims of abuse.
I replied to Ed’s post where he mentioned you here:
_My Reply at other blog Re: Julie Anne mention_
You may disagree with my observations that I made in that post, I don’t know.
I am taken aback at Ed’s inability to understand that not everyone responds to stress, tragedy, and abuse in the same way.
He writes off people who can’t cope mentally with abuse or stress as well as others have done as being filled with self-pity. I think that is unfair and rather heartless.
I responded, Daisy.
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Thank you, Julie Anne.
I saw your post over there. I thought you might be interested that your name was being used in that way.
He’s gone on to make several more posts there that, IMO, show a huge lack of understanding, empathy, etc., about abuse dynamics, or understanding towards victims.
He seems to hold victims of CSA responsible for their exploitation, or in other posts, he come across as denying that there even is such a thing as CSA.
I don’t agree with much information that I have read about Tullian T. Basically, this man needs to get right with GOD. He needs to get down and honest with GOD and himself. GOD’s word, the Bible is very clear on adultery, remarriage and position in the Church. He should not even be an elder/ Deacon, let alone come back as a minister. Make things right with all persons involved and move on. I would never trust again, a man who was in his position and did the things he did, not once but twice. Who knows if it was only twice. He lied. He has no credibility. You cannot reverse the damage done. My advice, lay low, stay out of the limelight, and worship GOD. You blew your only chance. A public man of GOD, has to ALWAYS walk the line. This saddens me greatly. I realize we are human and sinners, but this IS the Graham family. As Christians we are held to a higher standard. The world is watching us closely. Waiting for us to slip. Tull ian slipped REALLY bad. If we cause one person to stumble……
Catherine, there have been 3 women who have now come forward, not 2! Unbelievable, right? Brad and I have done more posts which will catch you up. You can find them by searching for Tullian in the search field.
After having read the story by Rachel, I want to clarify something I posted earlier before being fully aware of Rachel’s story.
I believe Tullian is a wicked man. One can only hope he will never be in any kind of ministry. I pray his family will or has already attempted to get him help. It appears he is a predatory monster praying on woman’s weaknesses. This type of behaviour is difficult to treat. I hope his current wife knows GOD’s word well enough to discern from his apparently false teachings and well polished deceitful, charming charasmatic behaviour. Wow, talk about end times prophecy and antichrists…..
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