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. Firstly, in general, I believe the “worldly culture” has done a better job of addressing the issue of sexual abuse than the Church. Having attended many churches over the years, I don’t recall any that dealt specifically with the topic of sexual abuse in an ongoing fashion. I don’t recall hearing about churches that have a ministry focused on this topic since blogging, either.

In full confession, I have difficulty with 9Marks because of hyper-authoritarian teachings which can lead to spiritual abuse, but I wanted to see what Fred Butler was reading when he tweeted his criticism of the article, What the Church Can and Should Bring to the #MeToo Movement. What problem did Fred find?

The article was written by a woman, so there’s that. Did Butler have difficulty because the author is “teaching” a man as he reads it? I’m not sure, but whatever it is, at the time of this screenshot, 28 people “liked” and 4 people retweeted Fred’s tweet.

Here is the author’s bio:

Whitney Woollard is a writer, speaker, and women’s Bible teacher in Portland, Oregon, where she and her husband Neal attend Hinson Baptist Church. She holds her M.A. in biblical and theological studies from Western Seminary and loves sharing her passion for the Bible and good theology with others.

Back to the Butler’s tweet – the world may hate God, but there are a lot of people in the world who hate abuse as well. God also hates abuse (Ezekiel 34). So, because many in the world hate abuse, we must dismiss #MeToo because it’s now a cultural thing? I can’t buy that logic.

So, what did Ms. Woollard say in her article that Fred Butler would find difficult to stomach? I’ll share some quotes which give the overall gist of the article, which by the way, I found quite good.

Like any movement, #MeToo is imperfect, but that shouldn’t prevent us from appreciating it as an expression of God’s common grace. He restrains evil and pours out graciousness on all people, enabling even those outside of Christ to do good, carry out justice, and promote human flourishing. It’s not salvific, but it is good.  

I agree with this overall thought. Evil is evil, and it is not only Christians who can identify it. I believe that Christians should be leading the way on shining the light on evil, but sadly, this has not happened; and thus, we have the #MeToo movement. This should be a wake-up call for the Church.

Ms. Woollard discusses the following topics:

  1. #MeToo is dragging wickedness into the light.
  2. #MeToo is forcing a conversation everyone would rather not have.
  3. #MeToo is teaching women that abuse and harassment is real and wrong.

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Once again, I found myself agreeing with Ms. Woollard. I appreciate how Ms. Woollard shared a recent personal experience she had. Women are regularly gawked at sexually, and I do not think men understand how pervasive this is for women. Many women cannot walk anywhere in public without fear of receiving some sort of sexual comment or catcall.

Don’t believe me? Yesterday I left my house for one hour and encountered a man in a semi-isolated spot who told me “if women don’t watch out, white men are going to start fighting back against #MeToo” and we should “fear the force with which their wave would hit us.” Then I was cornered at a crosswalk by a man who yelled sexual obscenities at me, saying, “I’m sorry but I have to because, God, you’re so (bleeping) hot.” (I was wearing a baggy sweatshirt and loose jeans.) I felt uncomfortable and unsafe, yet unsure of how to respond without calling more attention to myself. I grew up thinking you just smiled and laughed that stuff off. But now I rejoice in a new era where that speech and behavior are unacceptable and where women are taught to stop inappropriate comments or “playful” touches and say, “Stop right now. This is making me uncomfortable.” This is common grace at work.

See?  One hour. She got all of that in one hour! Ugh!!

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Healthy Churches

Further, in the article, Ms. Woollard describes what happens in healthy churches. Again, I have yet to see this for myself, but it is my heart’s desire to see this take place:

THE CHURCH HAS ANSWERS THE CULTURE NEEDS

They need hope, healing, and restoration. In other words, they need the church.

Assuming we’re talking about a healthy church with good structures and policies in place, what does the church have to bring to #MeToo

  1. The church has the gospel.
  2. The church has a biblical bias.
  3. The church has member care.
  4. The church has corrective and formative discipline.
  5. The church has a theology of imago Dei.

 

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Sadly, here’s a tweet I sent out nearly 3 weeks ago before the article was posted. If Twitter had an edit feature, I probably would have added the words “in general.”

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Rachael Denhollander and Unhealthy Churches

Back to Fred Butler – he is wrong. The world is exposing sexual abuse and harassment. It’s here and it is now in all places/business/industries. The world is ahead of the Church in drawing attention to the problem and forcing a response. The Church now has a responsibility to deal with it, not play theological word games about collecting “action points” from the world. This is not about action points, this is about the hearts of women who need healing, and most likely, their souls do as well if they were harmed by someone in the Church.

The mishandling of sex abuse cases in the Church is not only causing survivors emotional harm, but I strongly suspect it has led to many abandoning their faith. That’s why I would rather survivors seek secular mental health help from trained and licensed professionals who understand the dynamics of sexual abuse. I’m not alone in this thought. Read the words from Rachael Denhollander, the brave woman who took down Dr. Larry Nasser, the pedophile who sexually assaulted hundreds of young girls while “treating” their injuries:


When asked, “How can people trust the church and Christianity?” in the wake of sexual abuse, Denhollander simply said, “Don’t.” ~Rachael Denhollander


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In case you hadn’t heard, Rachael Denhollander was selected as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the year 2018. She is a conservative Christian. Big names in Christendom talked about Rachael, even wrote blog posts about her and her victim’s impact statement. Because along with sharing how the abuse affected her, she offered her evil perpetrator forgiveness and presented the Gospel to him. But even Rachael cannot recommend that sexual abuse survivors get help from the Church.

Denhollander said that while she is a “very conservative evangelical,” she believes the Church has a long way to go when it comes to dealing with victims of sexual abuse.

“That’s a hard thing to say, because I am a very conservative evangelical, but that is the truth,” she said. “There are very, very few who have ever found true help in the Church.”

Fred Butler and his “liking” buddies need to read this article from Dr. Diane Langberg before spouting off on Twitter about the #MeToo subject. #MeToo is not just a “worldly cultural” issue, it’s an issue prevalent in evangelical churches.

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I will close with part of Dr. Langberg’s letter to the Church:

God calls us to the truth and light of transparency. Transparency protects both alleged victims and alleged predators from the horrific burden of lies. A transparent process protects truth for all. When those in power attempt to dissemble in order to protect an institution they are no longer accomplishing damage control. They are causing damage – damage to God’s precious sheep and damage to the name of our God –this, in the name of protecting the house of the Lord. That is what the Israelites said in Jeremiah – “the Temple of the Lord” – all the while throwing their children, the vulnerable ones, into the fire of Moloch.

 

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Fred Butler, #MeToo, Rachael Denhollander, Sex Abuse, Worldly Culture

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:

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Section 11 – The Role of the Congregation (Page 53)

Although authority in the local church is given to elders, they are not to be
insulated from the congregation’s appropriate observations and concerns and even responsibility to ensure the fidelity of their leaders. Because Scripture affirms the right of church members to bring legitimate allegations concerning an elder (1 Tim. 5:19-21), a church’s local polity in conjunction with the Sovereign Grace Rules of Discipline (which follow) outline the relevant policies and procedures by which such allegations can be evaluated. Clear communication about such avenues of recourse will foster both a healthy accountability and an atmosphere of trust. Additionally, the roles and responsibilities of the congregation may be worked out in Sovereign Grace churches by the following pursuits:

• Seeking input from the congregation for any pastoral candidate for ordination.
• Seeking input from the congregation for any deacon candidate for installation.
Creating a church environment where there are vital relationships, active
discussion, and cooperation between the elders and the whole church with a
clear, comprehensive, and welcoming feedback system

It is important to note that the Owens were shut down before any formal process could take place.

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Tweet Thread by Jeff and Sarah Owens

2 months ago we approached our Sovereign Grace Church pastors about the SGC response to ’s statements about SGC. We asked them to encourage the family of churches to consider the independent investigation that Rachael called for. We did not do this flippantly.

We spent a great deal of time in prayer and searching before approaching them. We also made clear we had no concerns about our local church and affirmed how they as leaders handled children’s ministry and ensured safety of children at church functions.

Their response was to claim there were factual errors in our concern. (We stated no facts, other than that we were concerned.) They wanted to meet in person to discuss, which we agreed to.

However before that meeting took place they told us had been “sharing her opinion” & causing mistrust of the pastors by doing so.

Sarah’s tweet:

However before that meeting took place they told us we had been “sharing our opinion” and causing mistrust of the pastors by doing so. Because of this they shut down the women’s group I was leading. This was without coming to me to see if there was any validity to those concerns

Because of this they shut down the women’s group Sarah was leading. This was without coming to us to see if there was any validity to those concerns.

We had shared our opinion (the need for an independent investigation) with no one outside of our family. The claim that Sarah had been “sharing her opinion” was false.

After attempting to discuss the issue further and only being told that we needed to not share our opinion, that we had factual errors, and that they needed to know that we could “submit and commit” to their leadership, we requested to meet with a 3rd party for peacemaking.

We asked a trusted member of the congregation to be a 3rd party, and he agreed. But the pastors refused to meet with a 3rd party present. We expressed our confusion and hurt over their response and continued to request a meeting with a 3rd party but were repeatedly rejected.

***JA note:  Why would they not welcome a respected 3rd party to be present? 

We ended up leaving the church. We were told by the pastors that we were unable to fulfill the commands of Hebrews 13:17: “Obey your leaders and submit to them.”

***JA note:  This I believe is the most widely used verse by leaders to instill fear and guilt in congregants. It is meant to elevate their position and use it to control. Using the verse in this fashion is spiritually abusive. 

We sent an email to our small group, close friends, and youth workers letting them know we were leaving and why. Several hours after we sent the message the pastors called an all-church members meeting.

***JA note: I’m glad Jeff and Sarah sent an email to those from the church who were closest to them; otherwise, they would have received the narrative from the leaders.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how we ‘had made false accusations against the pastoral team that cast seeds of doubt and suspicion on the elder team that could be used to destroy the unity of the church.’

At that meeting they told direct and indirect lies about us and another family that had also addressed concerns about how SGC had responded to Rachael Denhollander. We are still dumbfounded this even took place. How can men who claim to love Jesus as shepherds respond this way?

We do not share this lightly. We truly love these men and their families. But can you see the problem here? The truth was twisted or completely set aside in favor of a lie in order to protect “unity”. Our desire to meet with a 3rd party present became, “The Owens refuse to meet.”

“Sharing our opinion” was treated as a sinful and rebellious act against the church, worthy of removal from a leadership position. If it had been true, sharing an opinion about a public issue is certainly not sinful. But on top of that, it wasn’t even true.

We are telling our story because we have learned it is one that is far too common in SG churches across the country. We had no idea before it happened to us. This kind of leadership must be called to account. This is not Jesus. This is not the Holy Spirit. This is not unity.

MLK Jr. said, “In your struggle for justice, let your oppressor know that you are not attempting to defeat or humiliate him, or even to pay him back for injustices that he has heaped upon you. Let him know that you are merely seeking justice for him as well as yourself.”

We do not tell our story in order to slander anyone or to try to cause division. We are telling the facts about what happened to us because it would be wrong to keep quiet and allow this pattern of leadership to continue.

It has harmed not only us, but would continue to be harmful for remaining church members and even our former pastors to allow a pattern of oppressive authority to continue. “It is sad to be a slave of Pharaoh. It is horrible to be Pharaoh.” – Rabbi Belgrad

Our goal is and was ever only to make peace. Our original concern for SGC’s over these allegations was born out of a love for the gospel and wanting our witness to not be tainted by the refusal to be examined. We recognized that striving for peace might mean temporary conflict.

Peacekeeping and Peacemaking are two very different things. Peacekeeping is suppressing conflict. Peacemaking is addressing conflict in order to bring reconciliation. The gospel is the good news of peacemaking. God has come to reconcile man to God and also mankind to one another.

Choosing to not address or investigate serious allegations of sexual abuse in order to protect the reputations of leaders is peacekeeping. Worse, ignoring allegations like these says to those who have been abused & oppressed “your pain doesn’t matter as much as keeping the peace”

As we said in our original message to our pastors, we do not claim to know if there is any truth to the allegations against SGC. We pray that there isn’t. But we do know that the gospel calls for us to stand up for the oppressed, the marginalized, and the abused.

We need to take claims of abuse seriously because God takes justice seriously. We as the church, when accused of serious sin should not circle the wagons, deflect, and ignore, but instead say “Is it I, Lord?”

If accused when we are innocent, God will vindicate us. If we are not, let us turn in true repentance that the world may see that Christ’s church, while not sinless, walks in the righteousness bought for us with the blood of Jesus.

This righteousness is given by costly grace, not by whitewashing our images. May we honor Christ’s sacrifice by openly confronting and turning from the sins that he died to save us from. “The Lords works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.” – Psalm 103:6

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Responses to Tweets

sg1sg2sg3sg4sg5

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Conclusion

Tom is right. Those who are in SGC churches need to question what is going on in their family of churches. If you are part of an SGC church are not satisfied with your responses, if your ministry position is pulled from you without communication, if your attempts at communication get shut down, if you are told you “just don’t understand,” these are not acceptable responses. Leaders are going against their own polity which claims they welcome communication from congregants.

If church leaders are disregarding their own polity, and you have exhausted all reasonable methods of communication, then it’s important to let others know as Sarah and Jeff have done. Congregants and future congregants need to know what they are up against if they have an issue they would like to bring up to church leadership.

I asked Jeff Owens if I could use his public comments and respond to them, not as an attempt to attack, but to shine a light on the methods by which some SGC churches maintain control and prohibit congregants from asking legitimate questions and criticisms. This is not a healthy church environment. Elders are using their assumed position of authority in ungodly ways.

This is yet another family who has had to leave their church family and friends. I’m not sure how long they were members of this SGC church, but there is much sadness and heartache when one leaves a church under these circumstances. This is wrong.

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Sovereign Grace Churches, Sovereign Grace Ministries, Sex Abuse Lawsuit, Spiritual Abuse, Church Polity

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

Spiritual abuse, sex abuse, patriarchy, domestic violence, Sovereign Grace, Desiring God, CJ Mahaney, John Piper, Mental Health


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Part of recovery from abusive churches is coming to grips with what you were taught and how it affected you. Sometimes, and very appropriately, the ability to see this clearly results in anger. Jennifer Michelle posted about her experience on Facebook and gave me permission to share it. I think many of you will be able to relate to her experience. ~ja

What church doctrine taught me about myself:

Sin nature- all are born sinners. Children must be “trained,” and disciplined, and made to repent. Chastisement is sanctification. Suffering is holy. Anger is unholy- unless you’re a man in your home, a man behind a podium, or a white man in general. Sadness is selfish, a symptom of pride. Pride is to be avoided, as it is the ultimate sin, bad enough to bring down Lucifer. Free will is meaningless, because each and every instinct we have is sinful anyway, and should NOT be validated. Besides, what difference does free will make when God chose the “elect” before the foundations of the earth?

The law is our SCHOOLMASTER, but we will never “graduate” this side of heaven. We will NEVER be “sanctified” until we are “glorified” in death, in heaven.

Total depravity- nothing in us is innately good. We are putrid, vile, worthless, helpless sinners, and can ONLY be loved perfectly by a perfect GOD, and ONLY by His “mercy,” since we are all undeserving. Mercy is NOT something man can ever possess in the “flesh,” because the flesh is sinful. And we shouldn’t expect ANYONE to ever truly love us since we aren’t worthy of it, so we shouldn’t complain or be at all surprised when we are treated like shit, especially by our loved ones, and especially by authority figures, since God appoints them over us for our sanctification.

Nevertheless, God will send the Holy Spirit to live inside of you, should you “choose” to repent of your sins and invite Him in. But you can never be sure if He is guiding you, since you can never trust your instincts, and the Holy Spirit is a “still, small voice” that can easily be drowned out and “grieved.” Only by “renewing our minds” by telling ourselves bible “truths” over and over can we ever be “sure” we are doing, thinking, or living the right way. Even still, our minds are fallible, so we should seek “wise counsel” from more “spiritually mature” individuals who can interpret bible truths for us. But we can’t blame them if they are wrong, intentionally or otherwise, since they are also fallible. Also, remember that “the flesh” is constantly at war with “the spirit,” so just ignore the inner conflict you feel since we are called to be joyful in all circumstances. So be thankful for your pain, and don’t blame anyone. That would definitely be gossip.

Special thanks to Sovereign Grace Ministries, The Gospel Coalition, Desiring God Ministries, Living Waters, The Way Of The Master, Focus On The Family, and Grace To You. I want to send each of you my therapy bills.

Furthermore, why should my theology be informed by organizations who cover up child sexual abuse and lie about it? Organizations who oppress women and discriminate against minorities? Organizations who are fixated on “honoring God,” while excusing domestic violence? WHERE IS YOUR HONOR? These organizations do not wish to honor God, they wish to take the ROLE of God in their parishioners’ lives. Well, I’ve taken mine back.

Frank Page, President of SBC’s Executive Committee, Resigns and Later Discloses Moral Failure

Southern Baptist Convention, Frank Page, Sexual Misconduct

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Today, Frank S. Page, President of the SBC Executive Committee, announced his retirement on Twitter:

 

Many people thanked him for his good service to the Lord, along with ordinary  sentiments, but he left out something that was kind of important – that he was retiring due to a “morally inappropriate relationship.”

Florida pastor Stephen Rummage, chairman of the Executive Committee released a statement which included the following:

“Last evening, the officers of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee met via phone conference with Dr. Frank Page during which he announced his plans for retirement. Today, I spoke with Dr. Page and learned that his retirement announcement was precipitated by a morally inappropriate relationship in the recent past.” Baptist Press

This afternoon (March 27, 2018), Dr. Page released his own statement, this time, adding the moral failure part that was left out earlier on Twitter:

“It is with deep regret that I tender my resignation from the SBC Executive Committee and announce my retirement from active ministry, effective immediately. As a result of a personal failing, I have embarrassed my family, my Lord, myself, and the Kingdom. Out of a desire to protect my family and those I have hurt, I initially announced my retirement earlier today without a complete explanation. However, after further wrestling with my personal indiscretion, it became apparent to me that this situation must be acknowledged in a more forthright manner. It is my most earnest desire in the days to come to rebuild the fabric of trust with my wife and daughters, those who know me best and love me most.”

As expected, the FrankPage.org website was taken down quickly, but upon searching the site via Google cache and Wayback Machine, I noticed his speaking schedule. In the summer months of 2018, he’s booked up nearly every weekend. That’s a lot of time away from home.

Moral failure by a prominent Christian is not good. It is a shameful witness to the world and causes harm to many. It is too bad that he could not heed the strong words he spoke on the day of his inauguration, February 21, 2011, in Nashville:

“I believe God demands a commitment from us. We are to serve him with passion,” Page said. “We are to give him first-rate loyalty for a first-rate cause. I believe God’s calling for Southern Baptists is to be closer than we’ve ever been before, to be purer than we’ve ever been before, to be more passionate than we ever have been before about sharing the good news with a lost and dying world.” Baptist Courier

In Stephen Rummage’s statement regarding Page’s retirement, he encouraged people to pray:

“I call upon all Southern Baptists to pray for everyone involved in a situation like this, and especially for Dr. and Mrs. Page. Please pray for the Southern Baptist Convention and all that is entrusted to the Executive Committee.

While it is important to pray for the Page family and the people in the Southern Baptist Convention, I notice that the person (I will assume it is a woman) with whom he had an immoral relationship seems to get lost in the shuffle. She is lost behind generic words like, “everyone involved” in the “pray for everyone involved” part of Rummage’s statement. In Frank Page’s statement, the woman is lost behind the generic words, ‘those I have hurt.” It’s almost as if she doesn’t exist. Isn’t that odd?

As I have covered several stories and dealt behind the scenes with many women who have been spiritually and sexually harmed by Christian leaders, I am struck by what  women might feel as they read the words that apply to them: “those I have hurt” and “everyone involved.” Do they realize that she, too, has a family? Do they realize that most likely the leader has used his position of power and influence to gain his own sexual pleasure? Do they realize that it’s very likely that the woman involved was in a position of vulnerability, perhaps originally reaching out for help? This is the story that I typically hear when speaking with women who have been harmed by the sexual misconduct of pastors or Christian leaders.

I don’t want the woman involved in Frank Page’s immorality crisis to be lost in the shuffle. I would like to ask that we collectively pray for this woman and her family – that she will have good support around her, safe people to talk to, and that she can begin her journey of healing.


NEW INFO March 28, 2018:

SSB blog reader Dave AA found part of Frank Page’s original statement. I was able to find a cached version of it at Baptist Press, but the new version does not include it. Removing this part of Page’s original statement removes the fact that he intentionally misled people with his original statement:

“Many months ago, my daughters shared their deep desire for Dayle and me to retire and move closer to them in South Carolina so that we might spend more time with them and their families – especially our grandchildren. After much prayer and conversation, we have chosen to make this decision . . . “

And:

“You have been dear friends to me these last eight years,” Page wrote to EC members. “You have served tirelessly beside me – advising, encouraging, challenging, and honoring my position as President and CEO of the Executive Committee. Most of all, you have been prayer supporters in every way. I will never take that for granted. I thank God for what we have been able to accomplish in this time together. Pray for Dayle, my family, and me as we make this important transition.” BRnow.org

In the second statement in which Page confessed to a vague sin of sexual nature, “after further wrestling with my personal indiscretion,”  it makes one wonder if he was wrestling because someone was going to expose him, or was he personally convicted?  Time will tell.

I have been unable to find Frank Page’s full initial statement anywhere. If anyone can find it, please let me know. ~ja

 

 

 

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”.

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Tullian Tchividjian and Mark Driscoll are Baaaack

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

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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

3. Research Findings on Publishers of Books by Tullian Tchividjian

Part #3 of 4, by Brad Sargent

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.

This post provides reference information compiled by Brad Sargent 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. This research writing is part of his due diligence to produce a forthcoming case study on this situation, focusing on systems of accountability and how they succeeded or failed, and possible reasons why. This information on publications is all drawn from publicly posted documents and websites.

This series concludes with Part #4, in which Julie Anne Smith addresses issues with David C Cook specifically, given their reported intention to publish a future book by Tullian Tchividjian.

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tt-timeline-5-4-books-120

The above infographic was provided to Spiritual Sounding Board by a reader who wishes to remain anonymous. The preparer based this chart on information that appeared in the Partial Timeline post, which provided details of various women whose connection with Tullian Tchividjian has been made public, and publication information that was likewise available online.

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Issues of Language: Removing Neutrality Toward Abusers and Negativity Toward Survivors

 

Tullian Tchividjian, Spiritual Sounding Board, abuse, language

by Brad Sargent aka brad/futuristguy

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Introduction: Changing Our Language to

Remove Neutrality Toward Abusers and Negativity Toward Survivors

Who typically gets trusted or distrusted by default — the reported perpetrator, or the victim who reports? That is especially important in understanding the realities faced by survivors of abuse. Language is crucial to communicating what abuse took place, and specifics of whether it involved violation/violence that is emotional, physical, spiritual, sexual, or all of the above. But there are problems with victims speaking up about such things. Continue reading

2. An Infographic on Tullian Tchividjian’s Pursuit of Women and a Public/Publication Platform

Part #2 of 4, by Julie Anne Smith and Brad Sargent

Part #1 introduced the third woman reportedly seduced by Tullian Tchividjian into a sexual relationship. Her story extends his womanizing behaviors back into 2013. This post shows an infographic on what Tullian Tchividjian’s pursuit of these women looks like, when it is layered over some of his ministry platform and publication data for Fall 2013 through 2016. (UPDATE: The revised version below of 12-17-2016 replaced the original version posted on 12-16-2016. See the updates in Notes #1 below the infographic for details on the differences.)

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tt-timeline-5-4-books-120

(Click on infographic to see it full screen.)

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1. Third Woman Victim of Tullian Tchividjian’s Seduction Gives Details; She Reportedly Extends Timeline of His Adulteries Back into 2013

Introduction to Four-Part Series:

Tullian Tchividjian Situation Update

We (Julie Anne and Brad) were planning a two-part series to update the situation on Tullian Tchividjian, focusing on what has been happening with his current and former publishers, and individuals who’d been promoting him over the years.  However, we are now able to share related breaking news — a third woman with whom I (Julie Anne) have been in touch gave us permission to share certain details of her story. She was reportedly drawn into a sexual relationship by Tullian Tchividjian, with a very similar pattern as other women have stated he used for grooming them emotionally. Tchividjian lured them in to trust him and doubt themselves, and then in two other cases at least, eventually seduced them into sexual involvement.

This newly revealed woman says that her connection with Mr. Tchividjian started in October 2013 and ended in August 2016 before he got remarried. Her additional account changes things — her narrative extends Mr. Tchividjian’s apparent manipulative patterns back into 2013. It also means he has kept silent about this relationship for over three years, which fits the general pattern he has displayed with two other women, of not admitting to adultery until it has been exposed publicly.

And so, this has led us to reconfigure the material we had into a series of four posts: Continue reading