Bill Hybels, the Willow Creek “System,” and Why the Women Needed to Speak Publicly

Bill Hybels, Clergy Sexual Misconduct, Willow Creek Church


Bill Hybels, Willow Creek, Clergy Sexual Misconduct

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Scot McKnight at Jesus Creed wrote a very important article about the Bill Hybels/Willow Creek sexual misconduct scandal. This is a very important article that summarizes the system that was in place which allowed Bill Hybels to not only go unchecked, but to be protected and defended. You can apply this kind of corrupt system to many others where perpetrators are defended and protected. Simply replace the names/locations with another renegade high-controlling pastor who abuses (sexually or spiritually), and victims are silenced and their characters maligned.

The important take-home here is to note the universal pattern that keeps corrupt systems corrupt, and what it takes to stop this system so that truth can be revealed, and hopefully bring restoration to both victims and the church.

The women who spoke out are the heroes at Willow Creek. They were trashed, called all sorts of evil things, but truly, they were the heroes, trying to protect the church. We would do well to listen to survivors!

“We would not know any of the truth of this problem at Willow (Association and Elders) had they not gone public. Four years of silence, four years of nothing being known, four years when others may have spoken up. We know what we know only because the women had the courage to go public.”

Please read the article and try to apply the Willow Creek “system” to other abuse stories you are familiar with. I think you will see the pattern. This is the pattern we must learn, or we will repeat the same mistakes.

Scot McKnight’s article:  Willow: Why the Women Went Public?

 

Rachel, Victim of Clergy Sexual Misconduct by Tullian Tchividjian, Speaks Out about Fortress Press Book Deal and Lack of Repentence

Tullian Tchividjian, Clergy Sexual Misconduct, Fortress Press, Rachel, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church


Tullian Tchividjian, Clergy Sex Abuse, scandal, spiritual abuse

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“But you can’t ignore wounds and cries for justice. For until all parties agree accountability has occurred, there is no reconciliation. And until reconciliation has occurred, there’s no restoration.”

~Paul Mundey

A couple weeks ago, I published a press release from Fortress Press. Later, Brad/futuristguy posted the article, Tullian Tchividjian and Fortress Press: Don’t Legitimate Second Chances Require a Real Track Record of Repentance First? It included important comments from a former editor at Fortress Press, David Lott. Here is part of David Lott’s comment which is relevant to this post, as you will soon see:

I’m not against second chances. I believe in God’s profligate grace. I have no prior personal opinion about Tchividjian or his book, though my subsequent study of what precipitated his downfall I find shocking and repugnant. But I do object strenuously to a publisher positioning itself as the arbiter and vehicle of such rehabilitation, and especially in such a self-congratulatory way in order to boost sales and gain media attention. I object to invoking the #MeToo movement in this misbegotten effort to expedite Tchividjian’s restoration to normality, while ignoring the voices of those whom he exploited. ~David Lott, former editor at Fortress Press

One important part of the press release from Fortress Press stood out to me when I read it:

After careful consultation with his pastoral counselor and other mentors, Fortress Press is confident that Tchividjian has repented of his past indiscretions and has put himself under the authority of trusted Christian leaders.

To be a reputable company, it’s important to go to the sources. Fortress Press apparently went to Tullian Tchividjian’s “pastoral counselor” and other “mentors.” Well, that’s fine and dandy, but if you recall, Tullian Tchividjian was under care and mentors and lied while he was engaging in sexual misconduct with multiple women (see this: An Infographic on Tullian Tchividjian’s Pursuit of Women) — all while he was senior pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, married to his wife, Kim, participating in Liberate conferences, writing best-selling books, speaking, podcasting, and of course, working on his physique and tan.

When you are dealing with a master manipulator and someone who chronically deceives people, it’s important to go directly to those he harmed. I did just that. I went to the primary sources and communicated directly with Rachel. Both told me that he has not contacted them and repented.

When I told Rachel (this Rachel: Survivor of Tullian Tchividjian’s Alleged Clergy Sexual Abuse Goes Public with Her Story – Part 1) about the re-release of his new book, she was very upset and wrote the following statement.


Written by Rachel

I️ am deeply disappointed to hear the news that Fortress Press, a Christian publishing firm, is partnering with Tullian Tchividjian to re-release his book. Tullian has never acknowledged the real truth about the past, but rather has viciously lied to cover his tracks and keep the spin in his favor. He has a very repeatable pattern of finding yes-men to hide behind and use to further his “career.” Christianity can be no more than a means of financial gain to this man. I️t pains me that vulnerable people believe he is a man of God. I believe he is a liar and a spin doctor of sinister magnitude.

Some good men have trusted Tchividjian and learned the hard way over the past few years. Much of this is public news … yet there are people who still want to believe he is legitimately repentant and to give him the platform his narcissism requires to further its own ends. It’s hard when you meet Tullian to believe that he could be a sinister person. He seems genuine, humble, very likable. However, the responsibility now resting at the feet of those “mentoring” him and helping further his career is to investigate the truth about him and not just believe his narrative.

Tullian has deeply hurt, and continues to hurt, people close to me whose stories may never be heard. His behavior “behind the scenes” remains scandalous. He has never taken the crucial steps that would indicate biblical repentance … confession of the truth and a genuine public acknowledgment of his repeated lies to the press. I️ have never wished to shame Tullian in a spirit of bitterness, as he has insinuated to others about my motives. But rather, details are necessary when spin and lies are being created to form a narrative. His narrative is always aimed at maintaining public sympathy and keeping his options open to profit financially from the church.

On 30th November, 2016, The Christian Post summarized the content of a blog post I️ had written for Spiritual Sounding Board. Tchividjian’s comment on my testimony denied the truth blatantly. Tullian has never recanted these lies or reached out or apologized to me for throwing my name in the dirt to protect his own.

QUOTE FROM CHRISTIAN POST, 30th NOVEMBER 2016

He dismissed the following claims made by Rachel, however, as “absolutely false.”

Rachel claims Tchividjian: Encouraged her husband to divorce her without her knowledge; suggested to her that if Coral Ridge failed as a church and he was able to buy the building he would turn it into a nightclub; borrowed thousands of dollars from her and her husband to hire a private investigator to look into his now ex-wife, and said he does not believe premarital sex is unbiblical.

I️ stand behind everything that I️ wrote in the article to this day. There were no lies on my part. Tchividjian, when caught between a rock and a hard place (having been exposed by his pastor in Orlando 9 months after stealing over $11,000 from my family), returned the funds by check. Copies of the check were even posted on the Spiritual Sounding Board blog. Is Tchividjian insinuating these copies were forged?

Surely the beginning of genuine repentance for Tchividjian would be to confess his lies and to step away from profiting financially in any way from the church. His income should come from working in a secular job and restoration should be made, including financial restoration, to his many victims. Had we sued him, the courts would have ruled this in our favor. He has done nothing to right any of his wrongs, but merely adds insult to injury.

Why do foolish Christians still support this man without investigating who he truly is? Grace? We may all be sinners, but we don’t all have to be blindsided, used, and duped by someone who is a master of deceit.

Tullian Tchividjian and Fortress Press: Don’t Legitimate Second Chances Require a Real Track Record of Repentance First?

Tullian Tchividjian



This post is written by Brad/futuristguy.

Unfortunate things afoot with a return to a publishing platform by Tullian Tchividjian at Fortress Press, as endorsed by acquisitions editor Tony Jones. See this post at Spiritual Sounding Board on the press release and related issues.

Former Fortress Press editor David Lott posted a lengthy comment critical of the news on this announced publishing relationship, and how it is out-of-sync with the former reputation and publishing line of the company. Mr. Lott also cross-posted the above comment on his public Facebook page, along with these two later comments with relevant details and further analysis.

Comment #1, things get normalized that shouldn’t be.

Comment #2, clarification about Fortress Minneapolis under separate management.

More background: In 2015-2017, SSB posted extensively regarding Tullian Tchividjian and his reported multiple relationships of sexual misconduct, serial refusal of accountability, and more. Although he’s recently been speaking out on God’s grace in suffering, he has multiple unresolved relational/organizational issues. This book contract with Fortress Press appears to give him unconditional restoration without a track record of repentance plus remediation/repair work to mitigate damages.

Don’t legitimate second chances

require a real track record of repentance first?

Apologies are just words; transformed direction requires action.

One publisher apparently did impose consequences on Tullian Tchividjian’s unresolved interpersonal and institutional issues. Spiritual Sounding Board appealed in 2017 to David C Cook, which published several bestsellers by him. Julie Anne Smith asked them to stop promoting him and his books. (Research shows that several of them were released and/or became bestsellers while he was reportedly in the midst of sexual misconduct. This chart contains a detailed visual timeline.) His titles are now gone from their sales section.

God’s grace truly does liberate. But abuse and misconduct emotionally imprison their victims. If Tullian Tchividjian’s latching onto grace the last few years is genuine, surely he can refrain from spreading that news and rebuilding any public platform until he’s acted responsibly toward specific people he harmed.

~ Brad/futuristguy

This article has been cross-posted at futuristguy’s blog.

Dr. Frank Page: Another Alleged Clergy Sexual Abuse Case?

Frank Page, Moral Failure, Clergy Sexual Abuse, Southern Baptist Convention, Paige Patterson, #MeToo

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Yesterday’s Washington Post article, In a #Metoo moment, will Southern Baptists hold powerful men accountable?, by Jonathan Merritt, discussed how Southern Baptist leaders asking if the #MeToo moment has arrived for the Southern Baptist Convention. He was primarily discussing Paige Patterson and other Southern Baptist leaders who have used their positions of authority to harm women.

I missed it until an alert reader notified me this morning. In that article, Merritt mentioned Frank Page, former chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. If you recall, just over a month ago, Dr. Frank Page announced his retirement, and then followed up with a confession that he was really stepping down due to moral failure (see Frank Page, President of SBC’s Executive Committee, Resigns and Later Discloses Moral Failure). Continue reading

Fred Butler, #MeToo and the Worldly Culture

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Who is Fred Butler?

I saw this tweet the other day. Long-time blog readers will recognize the name, Fred Butler, an employee of Grace to You, the radio ministry of Pastor John MacArthur. Butler’s tweet references another tweet from the @9Marks Twitter account which quotes from an article recently posted on their site. The article is about the church’s response to the #MeToo movement.

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The Problems

I have a number of problems with Fred’s tweet. Continue reading

Sovereign Grace Church Leaders Remove Wife from Women’s Small Group Leader Position after Couple Asks Questions

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Both Jeff Owens and his wife Sarah recently sent out a thread of tweets regarding a recent experience they had at their former (unidentified)  Sovereign Grace church. I think these tweets deserve a wider audience.

What you will read is not healthy at all, and people need to understand the dismissive and bullying behavior employed by Sovereign Grace church leaders when they are encouraged or questioned about having an independent investigation of the decades-old sexual abuse allegations involving many children, many churches, and the mishandling of these cases by church leaders.

Sovereign Grace leaders are still using the same tactics that we’ve heard from personal accounts for years: no one gets to question authority or criticize authority without repercussion. Folks, this is spiritual abuse. Let’s call it what it is.

I have copied the tweets below for easier reading, but if you would like to see the original tweet threads, click on the hyperlink in Jeff Owens’ tweet below, or Sarah’s link within his tweet.

In the tweet thread, there is a reference to Rachael Denhollander. If you are unfamiliar with Rachael Denhollander and her experience in exposing Sovereign Grace ministries mishandling of sex abuse cases, here’s a good article to start:  My Larry Nassar Testimony Went Viral. But There’s More to the Gospel Than Forgiveness.

Before we get to the tweets by Jeff and Sarah Owens, I wanted to share a section of the Sovereign Grace Local Church Polity with you. I have bolded parts pertinent to the communication by congregants to elders and leaders: Continue reading

Personal Story: What Did the Church Teach You about Yourself?

Continue reading

From a Bill Gothard Survivor to Other Survivors: Free Yourselves

Bill Gothard, IBLP, ATI, Institutes in Basic Life Principles, Spiritual Abuse, Sexual Abuse


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The following was written by David Shere, who has been reading here for some time. He wanted to share his thoughts and advice as a Bill Gothard survivor.  This was written after the news that the plaintiffs had dismissed the lawsuit against Bill Gothard.  ~ja


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From a Bill Gothard Survivor to Other Survivors:

Free Yourselves

by David M. Shere Continue reading

Survivor Emily Jaeger Responds to Bill Gothard’s Reactions to Her Revealing She is “Jane Doe III”

Bill Gothard, sex abuse, cults, lawsuit, Emily Jaeger, freedom, IBLP


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A note of introduction from Julie Anne:

Emily Jaeger is one of the sexual abuse survivors and plaintiffs in the Bill Gothard/IBLP sex abuse lawsuit. Her official statement about the lawsuit was posted on Spiritual Sounding Board a few days ago.

Then someone close to Bill Gothard contacted me. He runs the Discovering Grace website, which is devoted to supporting and defending Bill Gothard and his teachings. We communicated at length, during which he asked me if I wanted to post Bill Gothard’s response to Emily Jaeger’s statement (per Bill’s suggestion). After I declined, it was then published at Discovering Grace website.

I initially said no, because I do not want my blog to be used as a platform for an abuser. However, then I saw Emily Jaeger’s new reply to Bill Gothard’s response statement, and it made sense to me to post both.

I may have more to say later — in fact, I am thinking of doing an SSB “learn to discern” post to analyze these statements in depth. But for now, I’ll say I think his statement is a perfect opportunity to see a spiritual abuser in action, violating boundaries, and hers shows what it looks like when someone leaves the influence of a high-control environment, thinks independently, and makes their own decisions. See what you think … Continue reading

Is Ravi Zacharias Violating his Federal Lawsuit Non-Disclosure Agreement? Does Anybody Care?

Ravi Zacharias, Online Sex Scandal, NDA, Lawsuit, Suicide emails


ravi zacharias, online sex scandal, lori anne thompson

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GUEST POST by Steve Baughman

Is Ravi Zacharias Violating his Federal Lawsuit Non-Disclosure Agreement? Does Anybody Care?

by Steve Baughman

On November 9, 2017, Ravi Zacharias settled his lawsuit against Lori Anne and Brad Thompson by entering into a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). The terms of the agreement are confidential. But from what Ms. Thompson says, they are highly restrictive. She told an inquiring Christian blogger shortly after the settlement, “My husband and I are, and always will be bound by confidentiality legally. All I can say now or ever say is that he dropped the lawsuit and the matter is settled.”

Ravi apparently sees it the same way. He told Christianity Today “I am legally prevented from answering or even discussing the questions and claims being made by some, other than to say that each side paid for their own legal expenses and no ministry funds were used.”  According to the magazine, “Zacharias declined to comment to CT on the image of the emails showing the apparent suicide threat, citing the nondisclosure agreement.”

This is pretty standard stuff.  A case settles on confidential terms and nobody can talk about it except to say that it has settled.

Take careful note. The Thompsons can now say nothing. And they appear to be taking their promise seriously.

What about Ravi?

Well,… not so much. Continue reading

Will Those in the Real Gospel-Centered Churches Please Stand?

Gospel-Centered Movement, TGC, YRR, Calvinists, Jared Wilson

Continue reading

Guest Post: My Dinner With Ravi: An Atheist meets the “Great Apologist of our Time.”

Ravi Zacharias, RZIM, Steve Baughman, Apologist, lawsuit, sex scandal

Continue reading

First #MeToo, Now #ChurchToo: Sexual Abuse, Harassment, and Mishandling in the Church

#MeToo, #ChurchToo, Sexual Abuse, Harassment, Church

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The hashtag #MeToo has been trending for quite some time on Twitter. Women who have been sexually harassed or abused have been identifying themselves as survivors of sexual harm, indicating it with the hashtag, #MeToo. But now, there is a new trending hashtag, #ChurchToo. The stories that you can read in one little tweet are heartbreaking.

I wanted to share some here, and also invite those who have been on Twitter to feel free to share more here if they like.

If you are new to Spiritual Sounding Board, this is a blog that deals with abuse in church or church groups. We have dealt with all kinds of sexual abuse: sex abuse of children, sexual abuse in marriage, sexual abuse by clergy, wives of pedophiles, church leaders who have failed to report sexual crimes, church leaders who have blamed victims for sexual crimes, and also spiritual abuse which often occurs when a church leaders are involved in any capacity (perpetrator, counselor, spiritual advisor).

If you have been harmed sexually, this is a safe place. If you would like to share your story in more detail, you can in the comments, or to me privately: spiritualsb@gmail.com. Please feel free to comment using a pseudonym. This is your place to use your voice where it will be heard.

~Julie Anne Continue reading

Former Florida Megachurch Pastor Bob Coy Allegedly Sexually Abused 4-yr-old Child

Bob Coy, Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, Pedophile, Sex Abuse


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Miami New Times investigative reporter, Tim Elfrink, did a stellar job investigating the shocking story of fallen Calvary Chapel megachurch pastor, Bob Coy.

Some long-time readers may remember I posted about Bob Coy’s moral failure in a blog post dated April 8, 2014:

You may have heard of the recent scandal by Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale Pastor Bob Coy.  The church elders called a special church meeting on Sunday where it was announced:

“On April 3, 2014, Bob Coy resigned as Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, effective immediately, after confessing to a moral failing in his life which disqualifies him from continuing his leadership role at the church he has led since its founding in 1985.” (Source)

58-yr old Bob Coy with his wife founded Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale nearly 30 years ago. The church reportedly has over 20,000 attendees and a staff of over 1,000 at 10 different campuses.

Michael Newnham at Phoenix Preacher blog reported:

We have confirmed  that Coy has admitted to at least two affairs in the past year alone and has had a long standing “problem with pornography”.

Continue reading

Tullian Tchividjian and Mark Driscoll are Baaaack

Mark Driscoll, Tullian Tchividjian, Spiritual abuse, clergy sexual misconduct

Continue reading

Let’s Discuss: The Keepers, Netflix Documentary Series about the Murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik and Systemic Sexual Abuse

The Keepers, Netflix, Cathy Cesnik, Systemic Sexual Abuse, Catholic Church, Spiritual Abuse, Clergy Sexual Abuse



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The Keepers is a new documentary series airing on Netflix. I have watched 5 of the episodes and it is excellent. If you have seen Spotlight, it is similar, however, the investigative reporters in this case are two grandmas who have spent the last three years compiling details of the case and trying to get answers as to who killed their beloved former high school teacher, Sister Cathy Cesnik in 1969.

Like the movie, Spotlight, the series uncovers systemic sexual abuse of female students at Archbishop Keough High School in Maryland by Father Maskell who was a counselor on campus. When I refer to the word “systemic,” I mean it is a whole system of cover-up and abuse. Father Joseph Maskell was not the only one who committed the crimes. His friends in high places also committed sexual crimes and helped to conceal the crimes: police officers, businessmen in the community, etc.

The first episode lays the groundwork for the story and introduces the main characters. Then, the second episode goes into repulsive, unimaginable sexual abuse descriptions. This episode is definitely difficult to watch and I would caution those who get triggered by topics of abuse to be very careful watching it. The second episode was the most difficult for me to watch, but this is important information to know how insidious these crimes were, not only sexually, but spiritually.

Because this documentary series is being discussed so much, I wanted to have a post specifically to address it, and especially to be a place where people can discuss how it may have affected them.

So, let’s use this post to discuss how the show may have affected us and try not to include spoilers for those who have not yet watched it.

Below, I have gathered a variety of links that may be of interest. I encourage you to check out the first link, especially. It is excellent.

Note:  While this sexual abuse scandal – also connected with the systemic abuse cover up with cases around the world uncovered by the Boston Globe Spotlight team occurred in the Catholic Church, Protestant churches are not exempt from these types of scandals. We know of the  Sovereign Grace Ministries sexual abuse scandal which is still ongoing. I am personally aware of several others that are “under the radar.” No one church group is exempt from systemic abuse.

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Related Links

A website was set up for the movie here:  The Keepers. I am very impressed with the information presented at the site, from information about the series, to helpful resources for survivors, therapies, systemic abuse, how to help, etc.

The following links are related and may be of interest:

Christian Blogger Invited to Speak at Free Thinkers’ Meeting about Abuse in Christian Churches

Free Thinker, Atheist, Christian Blogger, Thought Reform, Patriarchy, Spiritual Abuse, Cults




Last Sunday, I had the privilege of speaking at a Free Thinkers group. Privilege, some might ask? You bet. I will take any opportunity afforded to share the truth, set the record straight, and especially let people know that I, as a Christian, am displeased by the state of the Body of Christ when it comes to abuse and our response to abuse.

I feel I have a connection with many atheists. You see, when my defamation lawsuit went viral, I received over 500 emails of support. Many of those emails were sent by people who were harmed in the church, and then became atheist. This was originally a surprise to me, and  it saddened me. So many of these folks get spiritual abuse. They see the dysfunction and hypocrisy of celebrity pastors and leaders. Many of them are upset by what they see, and rightly so. If only those within the Body of Christ would get worked up about it!

It all started when I was in my Environmental Science class at school. Continue reading

4. An Appeal to Publisher David C Cook, and Others Promoting Tullian Tchividjian

Part #4 of 4, by Julie Anne Smith

 

SUMMARY

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.

  • Part #1 introduced the third woman reportedly seduced by Tullian Tchividjian into a sexual relationship. Her story extends his womanizing behaviors back into 2013.
  • Part #2 shared an infographic showing what Tullian Tchividjian’s pursuit of multiple women looks like, when it is layered over some of his ministry platform and publication data for Fall 2013 through 2016.
  • Part #3 provided reference information about Tullian Tchividjian’s publishers and his publications, both out-of-print and presently available, from three publishers: Crossway, David C Cook, and Multnomah. It also highlights the “Christian Living” category bestseller status in 2014-2015 for his most recent book, One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World (David C Cook, released October  2013), and related character contradictions in light of his self-admitted moral failures plus newly emerging reports of emotional grooming and clergy sexual misconduct.
  • Part #4 addresses issues with David C Cook specifically, given their reported intention to publish a future book by Tullian Tchividjian.

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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. Continue reading