Spiritual Abuse: What Are Nonbelievers Going to Think?

Spiritual Abuse, Reputation
Jonathan Hollingsworth

Spiritual Abuse, Jonathan Hollingsworth, Gossip

This is the fourth blog post referring to an article by Jonathan Hollingsworth, What Not to Say to Someone Who’s Been Hurt by the Church. The article resonated with a lot of people, so I thought it might be a good idea to discuss these unhelpful statements one by one here, and give people the opportunity to share their experiences.

I am working through all six of Hollingsworth’s statements/questions of what not to say to someone who has been hurt by spiritual abuse. The first post, we covered when people say, “No Church is Perfect.” The second post, we discussed was Spiritual Abuse: When People Ask You, “Are You Working Toward Reconciliation?” The third post dealt with gossip, Spiritual Abuse: It’s Not Gossip to Talk about Abuse.

Here is the fourth question on what not to say to someone harmed by spiritual abuse, followed by Jonathan Hollingsworth explaining why it is not helpful:

“What Are Nonbelievers Going to Think?”


Have you ever read a headline about a Christian going public against a church or ministry and thought to yourself, “Is this providing a good witness?” If you’re more concerned about the church’s reputation than you are about the abuse itself, you might have your priorities mixed up.


As Christians, we can get so preoccupied with how outsiders view the church that we put appearances before the truth. When we try to control the narrative, we substitute the reality of the church for our own ideal of the church. All we’re showing the world is that we prefer a false witness over a bad one.

Oh boy, can I relate with this one! I’ve lost Facebook friends after someone asked me this question and I wouldn’t budge. There have been a couple of times where I have posted about a church abuse case. In both situations, they private messaged me, reprimanding me for not being a good witness by posting so much negativity. They actually get pretty upset when they can sense that I won’t relent.

I don’t waste my time arguing anymore. I just thank them for their concern. 

Here is the reality: everyone knows there are problems in churches. Christians would get more respect by being honest and identifying problems instead of covering them up. 

Have you, too, experienced this kind of response? 

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

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Rachael Denhollander Challenges Sovereign Grace Churches to Respond Appropriately to Sex Abuse Cases

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Pastor Kevin Swanson’s Blame Game When it Comes to the Dr. Larry Nassar Child Sex Abuse Cases

Kevin Swanson; Larry Nassar; Child Sex Abuse; Rachael Denhollander

Screenshot 2018-02-09 at 10.08.13 PM

Kevin Swanson from Generations.org

-by Kathi with editorial comments by Julie Anne

Kevin Swanson’s February 9, 2018 broadcast on Generations covered the recent gymnastics and sexual abuse case by now-convicted sexual predator, Dr. Larry Nassar. Right Wing Watch picked up his broadcast and noted that he blames immodesty in the sport of gymnastics for Dr. Larry Nassar’s behavior.

Julie Anne texted me at work and asked if I would be willing to write a snarky post about Swanson [JA here = is it possible to do a Kevin Swanson post sans snark? Serious question.] As much I can’t stand to listen to him speak, I decided to listen to the whole broadcast. Kathi is a glutton for punishment. I only asked if she would be willing to write about the modesty part that Right Wing Watch reported on. In fact, here is where she tells me on Messenger:

My (unfortunate) experience with listening to Swanson over the years has brought me to the understanding that he is never sympathetic to victims of sexual abuse, so I wanted to see if this broadcast would be any different. My snarky side turned to my angry side as I realized that he hasn’t changed one bit. Continue reading

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Rachael Denhollander, the Relentless Hero Who Loved Sacrificially, and Stopped Dr. Larry Nassar from Sexually Abusing More Girls

Rachael DenholIander, Dr. Larry Nassar, Sexual Abuse, MSU, USAG


rachael denhollander, dr. larry nassar

“Who is going to find these little girls and tell them how much they are worth?”   Rachael Denhollander

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I normally write articles about church leaders or Christian groups. This is neither, but you will see soon discover that the hero in this story, Rachael Denhollander, is a Christian. In this story, you will see sacrificial love – love that puts the needs, safety, concern of others, far ahead of herself. It’s one thing to sacrifice for your family or friends, but Rachael sacrificed for strangers. She was steadfast, strong, determined, articulate, thorough, and unrelenting. She became a leader, a counselor, an encourager, a listening ear, and perhaps even a surrogate mother-like figure to many who had gone through the same horrific ordeal. For those who couldn’t speak, she became their voices; but by her bravery and courage, she empowered others to use their voice, even up until the very last day of testimonies.

This is about a highly publicized sex abuse case, not in the church, but in athletics. The Dr. Larry Nassar sex abuse case has been an important case. I like to watch cases like these to observe the tactics abusers or enablers use to hide the deviant behavior. When there’s one person who is abusing, many times there are others who enable the abuse. This is a classic case of systemic abuse just as we have seen at Penn State, in the Catholic Church (see Spotlight Movie), the Boy’s Scouts, and others.

Because of the graphic content in this post, I am issuing a trigger alert. If you have been sexually abused, this will likely be difficult to read. Use caution. 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

Kari Benton Shares: Spiritual Recovery after a Lawsuit and Spiritual Abuse

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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:

Josh and Anna Duggar Announce New Pregnancy After His Sex Scandal

Josh Duggar, Sex Scandal, ATI, Ashley Madison


 

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The eldest son of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar of TLC’s popular TV show, 19 Kids and Counting is in the news again. Josh and his wife Anna Duggar made an announcement on their family’s website. This announcement comes two years after accusations of:

  • alleged sexual abuse against his sisters and another young minor as a teen
  • having an Ashley Madison online account
  • paying for sex
  • entering a pseudo Christian “treatment” facility
  • separating from his wife, Anna

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Second Amended Complaint Filed in Bill Gothard & IBLP Sex Abuse Lawsuit: 18 Victims in Lawsuit

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