Dr. Dan Allender: Trauma, Our Personal Stories, and Recovery through Music

Dr. Dan Allender, Trauma, Music, Spiritual Abuse Recovery, Personal Stories


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Those who have been reading here for a while know how important I believe it is for survivors to tell their abuse stories. It took a while for us to believe the lies our church leader(s) told us about who we are and who God is. Eventually, through manipulation and deceit, we then told ourselves those lies. These “recordings” played over and over in our minds until they were perceived as normal. This is all part of thought reform, patterns of coercion, manipulation, and control, that cult leaders use to keep us emotionally and spiritually bound to them and their teachings.

When we are finally in a place where we can identify truth from lies, we still have to wrestle with the recordings that play in our minds that attempt to shift us back to the dangerous teachings we heard. I strongly believe that hearing ourselves speak the truth when we tell our stories will eventually override the old and damaging recordings in our mind.

I believe this is why many survivors have a need to tell our stories over and over again. It doesn’t mean we are living in the past. No. I believe it means we are validating our experience and further pushing that false and destructive narrative out of our minds.

Telling stories is empowering. It gives us strength to stand on our own two feet and use our critical thinking skills. We own our stories, even though they are negative. But now, as we tell our stories safe from our abuser, we are in control, not our abusive spiritual leaders. We speak not as one who remains stuck as a victim, but as a survivor who can incorporate the negative experience into the fabric of our bigger life story in a positive way. It shapes us, it softens and humbles us. It still hurts at times, but we can become more resilient and intentional with this trauma behind us.

May we never tire of listening to the stories of survivors. When we do listen, we validate them and help them to become whole. Also, if we are survivors, may we never tire of telling our stories without apologies. It may be just what a listener needs to hear.

Lately, I’ve been reading about our body’s response to trauma, and this 2-minute video is fascinating. In it, Dr. Dan Allender helps us to understand the power of music used as a healing agent in relation to trauma.

 

I’ve been a lifelong musician (pianist and vocalist).

Yet in my darkest days, the one thing that left me

was what I love the most,

the music that spontaneously played in my heart.

 

Although I played the piano during praise and worship at my cult “church” and enjoyed it, I lost my love of singing. I didn’t have songs playing in my heart.

Some may recall that it was music  — me accompanying my son’s high school choir  — that helped me to get out of my cult. I looked at the world differently when I was participating in the choir. I didn’t hear my pastor’s evil words telling me that everyone who was not going to his church was probably on their way to hell. Instead, I saw people for who they were – unique individuals created in God’s image.

This was the beginning of the process of me separating from the cult. When I was busy with the high school choir, it gave me time to think of other things outside the church. Previously, the church kept my mind so busy, I didn’t have time to think. Now, at the high school choir, I gained back my self, my critical thinking, my own thoughts and questions. I came back to life again. At one time during a Wednesday night choral performance, I remember feeling a tinge of guilt come over me – I had missed the Wednesday night meeting at church. But my mind said, “I don’t care.” That was a healthy response! The idea that I played secular choral music on the piano without my pastor’s oversight or permission was so liberating. There’s probably nothing scientifically significant about my experience with music that allowed me to wake up, but I’ve always acknowledged that it was that choir experience that was pivotal in my spiritual abuse journey.

In the following video, Dr. Allender takes the topic of music a step further and notes (pun) the physical responses in our brain when we experience trauma, and then add music. He discusses how our brain physically heals through music. I love this. Is it any wonder we see so much in the Bible about worship and music? I was always impressed in the Old Testament that there was an emphasis on using trained musicians to lead music. God wanted good musicians to lead people. And when people sang and worshiped, they were moved emotionally and spiritually. And I have no doubt that many were healed through music.

So, if you are recovering from spiritual abuse or any kind of trauma for that matter, I encourage you to play music, and SING!  Your brain can regain what was lost as a result of trauma! Watch the video, it’s around 2 minutes long.

 

Lori Alexander Dishes Out Heartless Advice to Wife Who Was Sexually Abused

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Pastor Chuck O’Neal Continues to Pull the Wool over His Evangelist Friends’ Eyes

Chuck O’Neal, Beaverton Grace Bible Church, Jeff Rose, Dr. Edward Delcour, Mike Gendron, Mike Stockwell, and Robert Gray, Evangelism Reformation Conference, Reformation Fire Conference

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I don’t have a problem with those tweets. On the surface, they are fine. But even false teachers get things right. The Bible tells us:

For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. Jude 1:4

 

I haven’t done a post on my ex-pastor for quite a while, but I’ve been disturbed lately to see that he has found a niche with people who agree with him on evangelism, yet probably do not have a clue about his background.

I discovered after the fact that Chuck O’Neal had joined with Voddie Baucham, Scott Brown, Mark Spence, Dr. Jason Lisle,  Jeff Rose, Ben Seewald, Jeff Pollard at the Evangelism Reformation Conference in Texas in June 2017.

 

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This was the only tweet that I found from O’Neal on his Twitter timeline about the conference. He’s known to post many tweets to upcoming events, so it’s odd that he only did one tweet before the event.

 

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However, looking through his Twitter timeline, it appears that Chuck O’Neal and his church, Beaverton Grace Bible Church, is also sponsoring/hosting and speaking at a conference with speakers in August 2017.

 

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Why do I even care about what Chuck O’Neal does? Why don’t I just move on? Why does it matter to me?

 

lawsuits chuck O'neal beaverton grace bible church

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The $500,000 lawsuit he filed against me was dismissed about 5 years ago. It matters to me as much today as it did when I posted my first negative Google review about him many years ago. He portrays himself as a godly man, likable, committed Christian, etc, but beneath that facade, he is a fraud. More than that, he is a wolf who devours. Those were the words I used when he took me to court years ago. But nothing has changed.

I care because while he is finding his fairly new niche in the broader evangelism community by making friends on social media and then connecting, these people with whom he meets and speaks do not sit in his pews. They do not see his behavior on a weekly basis. They do not see how he treats people in his church and people who have left his church.

It’s easy to say, “Oh, yea, I know him, he’s a great guy” when you only know him based on evangelism or pro-life connections, but that is not who this man really is.

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I’m sure that most do not have any idea that while he is currently “evangelizing” and speaking on evangelizing, he has anti-evangelized for over a decade and people have been left bruised, battered, and some have even abandoned their faith due to his abusive leadership.

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To those who have worked with O’Neal in evangelism or pro-life efforts, please be advised that when you endorse this man, fellowship with him, speak with him, you are endorsing a false teacher and a wolf. If you recommend Chuck O’Neal to someone who is looking for a church in the Portland area, you are sending people into the arms of one who spiritually harms people.

I get it. You think I’m nuts because Chuck O’Neal is so nice, wouldn’t hurt a fly, has nothing but the love of God in him. I know how he presents himself. That’s what I thought when my family started attending his church. Some who read this will doubt me. I understand that. However, after reading this post, and looking at the links, you cannot deny that the behavior described is troubling. It’s not enough for you to ask Chuck O’Neal about my claims. Obviously a wolf is going to speak strongly against anyone who exposes him. He has a whole website against me to convince you that I’m the one who is wrong and he uses all sorts of “proof” that I am evil and not to be trusted. That is foolish.

 

If you care about the Gospel, care about families, care about the spiritual health of people, please do due diligence and do your homework on this man.

 

What’s disturbing to me is this man has been able to pull the wool over so many men’s eyes. Have they done due diligence in investigating O’Neal or his history? All it takes is a simple Google search to see that there are many issues with Chuck O’Neal that show up on the internet. Has any of the people he is teaming with chosen to reach out to his victims? No one has contacted me. My contact information is pretty easy to find on Twitter, Facebook, blog, etc. If you would like to speak/connect with people who have been harmed by Chuck O’Neal, I can give you references.

Do they realize that:

  • that numerous people, including pastors at John Mac Arthur’s Grace Community Church,  advised him to withdraw the lawsuit, but he refused.
  • his ministerial license was revoked by the same group who administered it (I can provide names and contact information of longtime godly pastors who licensed him years ago, and then revoked the license).
  • he purchased domain names similar to the name of an ex-congregant in order to “phish” traffic to your site he can spread gossip about ex-members he sued?  Chuck O’Neal
  • he has encouraged shunning for years. If you leave the church, he conveys to the congregation that you were in some sort of church discipline (completely ignoring the church bylaws on church discipline). Many people who left the church on their own were later found out that Chuck O’Neal had “excommunicated” them. He hadn’t informed them of this, but this is what congregants later told them. Congregants were told to never have any contact with those who had left, or they too would be put on the shun list (Mark and Avoid list). I have personal accounts of this “church discipline” shunning practice used as a spiritual weapon by Chuck O’Neal going back at least 15 years. Here is only one story. I know of many others. In Chuck O’Neal’s church, you cannot leave well unless you are moving out of the area for work, etc.

 


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Special note to Jeff Rose, Dr. Edward Delcour, Mike Gendron, Mike Stockwell, and Robert Gray, who are schedule to speak with Chuck O’Neal at his church, Beaverton Grace Bible Church, on August 18-22, 2017:

Gentlemen, I would like to reiterate that I am happy to provide contact information to back up anything I mention in this post. My sole purpose is to alert you that Chuck O’Neal should not be standing behind any pulpit preaching, teaching, or speaking. Why do I do this? Because I have seen the harm done in my personal family and many other families. It is devastating. Please, please, do your due diligence! And ironically, I urge you to please do what Chuck O’Neal suggests in the tweets at the beginning of this blog post.

“Taking marriage seriously” – what does that mean for a Christian?

Christian Marriage, divorce, domestic violence, abuse, marital counseling, extramarital affairs


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-Taking marriage seriously- means taking the vows seriously and having real consequences for breaking them. The idealists and perfectionists who are trying to turn -marriage- into a protected space for all man.png

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My friend, Valerie Jacobsen posted this statement on her Facebook page and I asked permission to share it. I found it powerful, and yet, so contrary to the way marriage is handled in the church – especially when abuse is involved. I’m sick and tired of women being forced by their pastors/elders to bear the brunt of evil in their marriages by staying in their evil and harmful marriages.

I do not believe for a second that it is godly advice for pastors tell abused wives to remain married to their chronically evil and reviling spouses. If marriage is supposed to be representative of Christ and the church, an abusive marriage is a mockery to Christ. It seems that pastors would want to help rid the church of the blot of evil when there is an abuser clinging to his marriage and refusing to change his evil ways.

Women who leave their chronically cheating and/or abusive husbands are saying NO to evil. It is their husbands who abandoned the marriage long ago when they started their evil ways.

We need to stand beside these women and tell them they are free to go when pastors tell them otherwise. Pastors who give this bad advice are not living with this evil. And I’ll bet that they would not say this kind of thing if it were their daughter living with an abuser. Let’s stop this crazy business!

 

 

 

h/t Hannah Smith for image (taken in Hawaii)

 

 

Blog Series: Spiritual Abuse in the Church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery by Pastor Ken Garrett, Wk 2

Spiritual Abuse, Pastor Ken Garrett, Spiritual Abuse in the church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery


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Pastor Ken Garrett, Spiritual Abuse, Spiritual Abuse in the Church: A Guide to Recognition and Recovery

Pastor Ken Garrett

Ok, here we go, plowing through Pastor Ken Garret’s dissertation about spiritual abuse. I used the word plowing intentionally. For some of us, it will be work. It is not enjoyable to be reminded about difficult experiences. However, some push that pain under the rug and haven’t been able to process it in a safe environment. If you feel ready to do that, come along and join us. Even if you don’t feel ready, you can still read. And for those who have never experienced spiritual abuse, I’m grateful that you are reading, too. Having compassion and understanding is so important in helping someone who has gone through spiritual abuse.

Just an FYI, Ken has removed his dissertation from his blog because he plans to publish it into a book. Ken has graciously allowed us to continue using his original dissertation for this series. (Thanks, Ken!!!)

Well, let’s dig in. Here is the very meaty paragraph we will start with this week:

Abusive churches, past and present, are primarily characterized by strong, control-oriented leadership. These leaders use guilt, fear, and intimidation to manipulate members and keep them in line. Followers are led to think that there is no other church quite like theirs and that God has singled them out for special purposes.

Other, more traditional evangelical churches are put down. Subjective experience is emphasized and dissent is discouraged. Many areas of members’ lives are subject to scrutiny. Rules and legalism abound. People who do not follow the rules or who threaten exposure are often dealt with harshly.

Excommunication is common. For those who leave, the road back to normalcy is difficult, with seemingly few who understand the phenomena of 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:

Church Member Responsibility and Church Discipline at Pastor Eric Davis’ Church

Church membership, church discipline, Pastor Eric Davis, Cornerstone Church


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Church Member Responsibility and Church Discipline According to the Cornerstone Church By-laws

mind-the-gap

-by Kathi

I recently wrote about how Julie Anne and I dared to comment on an article at The Cripplegate which subsequently caused our comments to be deleted and comments to be closed. Pastor Eric Davis provided an entirely too long explanation about how the discussion had run its course, more humbleness in being a part of God’s community was needed, and that there was too much focus on logistics. Let’s not forget that he provided the wonderful 16-point article challenging excuses for not going to church. But who’s focusing on logistics? Continue reading

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

How our Pastor’s Biblical Interpretation Can Affect Our Understanding of Scripture and God

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This is a very insightful statement from C.J. Mahaney.

 

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Help! My Family Member or Close Friend is Trapped in a High-Controlling Church or Cult. How Can I Encourage Them to Leave?

How to help a family member or friend leave a high-controlling church group or cult: spiritual abuse, trapped, thought reform, mind control, freedom


 

“Mind control is the process by which individual or collective freedom of choice and action is compromised by agents or agencies that modify or distort perception, motivation, affect, cognition and/or behavioral outcomes. It is neither magical nor mystical, but a process that involves a set of basic social psychological principles. Conformity, compliance, persuasion, dissonance, reactance, guilt and fear arousal, modeling and identification are some of the staple social influence ingredients well studied in psychological experiments and field studies. In some combinations, they create a powerful crucible of extreme mental and behavioral manipulation when synthesized with several other real-world factors, such as charismatic, authoritarian leaders, dominant ideologies, social isolation, physical debilitation, induced phobias, and extreme threats or promised rewards that are typically deceptively orchestrated, over an extended time period in settings where they are applied intensively.”
Steven Hassan, Combating Cult Mind Control: The #1 Best-Selling Guide to Protection, Rescue and Recovery from Destructive Cults

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I’ve heard it said that losing a child to death can be a parent’s worst nightmare. Now imagine having lost your adult child and their family, not to death, but to a high-controlling church or cult. Imagine not being able to celebrate birthdays or major holidays together. Imagine having only limited contact with your adult child and their family. How could your loved one entirely dismiss you, act like you are a stranger or enemy when you did nothing to them? Continue reading

Practical Guidelines for Teaching Complementarity

Ligon Duncan, CBMW, Complementarianism, Egalitarian, headship


 

Practical Guidelines for Teaching Complementarity

by Kathi

 

Ligon Duncan stresses that if pastors do not regularly teach complementarity, then “we lose on this issue.”

 

 

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Feel free to play along while you watch the video. You are guaranteed a black out!

 

In April, Ligon Duncan addressed pastors at the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) pre-conference of the 2016 T4G conference regarding how to address complementarianism.


Duncan offered eight guidelines for pastors when teaching complementarianism. Three celebrate complementarianism, and five realizations as you practice this “Biblical” view.

You have to teach and preach complementarianism.

Duncan stresses that if pastors do not regularly address complementarianism, then congregations will be won over to the teachings of culture and “we will lose on this issue.” Duncan also stresses that pastors need to make sure that leaders in the church are equipped in this teaching as well.

This leads me to wonder: how often is he talking about addressing this issue from the pulpit? Every other Sunday? Every Sunday? Should it be taught in Sunday school classes and small groups? How about in children’s and youth ministries? If he is calling for equipping leaders, then it sounds like he wants the church to be infiltrated to follow complementarianism on all fronts.

The church needs to become a culture that honors women and loves people who struggle with same sex attraction.

Duncan states that when pastors teach on complementarity they will be labeled as misogynistic and homophobic. Yes, very true. So how is a pastor to combat that view? By publicly honoring women and loving people with same sex attraction.

It is this part of the talk where I get the feeling that Duncan is stressing that complementarianism requires an image make-over. Is he sincere about honoring and loving? I really hope so. However, he goes on to say that he hopes that women’s and gay’s testimony to complementarianism is that “we’re not treated like that.” So really, it seems more of concern about how complementarianism is portrayed than anything else.

As you celebrate “beautiful complementarianism” make sure men know that headship is a service and not a “tool for self-interest.”

Doesn’t this make you wonder why Duncan must tell pastors to address that women should be honored and men cannot use complementarianism as a tool of abuse? In relationships where each partner is treated as an equal, men do not need to be reminded that they are given a “unique responsibility.”

And, for good measure, I’ll throw this quote out to stand on its own:

When women realize that the Bible’s teaching on men being godly spiritual leaders in the home is something that is in their best interest, they are the people in local congregations that are loudly most for it.

Sigh. I haven’t realized what is in my “best interest.”

Moving on to the realizations…

Don’t assume the next generation agrees with complementarianism.

Gasp! And if they don’t?! What is a pastor to do?

Don’t panic!

A pastor must show the next generation the beauty of complementarianism by living it out in marriages and preaching it from the pulpit.

Polity is theology.

This is what it all comes down to. It’s not the death, burial and resurrection of Christ that dictates theology, but church policy and governance on complementarianism. A secondary issue becomes a primary theological issue.

Don’t overreact.

The goal here is to stay calm and carry on. Don’t restrict women’s ministries in the church and make sure that people understand that preaching/teaching of the church is to be done by “qualified men.” Apparently this is not a male/female issue, but an issue of making sure that a qualified man does the job.

Be firm in your conviction and winsome in your persuasion.

Make sure ardent feminists and gays are offended by your teaching yet are overwhelmed by the respect and love you show them.

None of this information is new. Duncan has been teaching about complementarianism for years. But I get the feeling that there has been a bit more push back toward CBMW in regard to their teaching. More women are telling their stories about suffering through abusive marriages that resulted from following strict gender role teaching. Aimee Byrd recently wrote a fantastic post about how CBMW has left complementarian women feeling betrayed by their silence.

CBMW needs to learn that showing respect and love to people, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, is what should be preached from the pulpit because it is how God commands us to live. That should be the primary issue on a pastor’s heart.  Any public display of honoring a woman or loving a gay person will only be seen as a facade if all you are doing is attempting to show that complementarianism is “not like that.”

Tullian Tchividjian and Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church Discussion: “He demanded that people be loyal to him.”

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Tullian Tchividjian is Back, Fully Endorsed by His Pastor, Kevin Labby

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

Bill Gothard, Lawsuit, IBLP, Institute in Basic Life Principles, David C. Gibbs III, Sex Abuse, Sexual Grooming, ALERT

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The Fallout of Spiritual Abuse on Our Children

Children Harmed by Spiritual Abuse

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Pastor Doug Wilson on Rape, Submission, Feminists, and Boobs

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While the Board of Bill Gothard’s Former Ministry, IBLP, Claims Judge Dismissed Lawsuit, Attorney for Plaintiffs Says Four New Plaintiffs Have Come Forward

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Four Primary Conditions that Result in People Leaving Abusive Churches and Cults

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