The Gift of Standing in the Trenches with a Survivor




“Being heard
is so close to being loved
that for the average person,
they are almost indistinguishable.”
― David Augsburger

The other day, a spiritual abuse survivor and friend I met last year in Moscow, Idaho, posted the following quote by Dr. Diane Langberg on her Facebook wall. Please read it slowly and carefully. Knowing and understanding this could be the very gift you use to help propel a survivor in a positive direction towards healing. Continue reading

Phil Johnson, Tony Miano, Grace Community Church, and Public Rebuking for Public Behavior

 Phil Johnson, Tony Miano, Grace Community Church and Public Rebuking for Bad Public Behavior

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Bullies: Celebrity Leaders Who Act Different in Private Settings Reveal Their Heart


Watch out for any celebrity or Christian leader who treats you differently in private. They are bullies.



Have you seen this video of ESPN’s reporter Britt McHenry who berates an employee at a towing company as she pays to collect her impounded vehicle? It’s been making the rounds in social media and people are appropriately stunned at her behavior caught on video.

I was shocked at what I heard. I thought about how she used her celebrity position, her education, her good looks, to elevate herself above another human being. Not only that, she berated the female employee about her teeth, assumed she had no education, called her overweight, etc.  Take a look (you might want to stop the video at 1:45 to avoid an advertisement):




Here is a bit of the transcription thanks to Washington Post’s article: Who had the worst week in Washington? Britt McHenry:

“I’m on television, and you’re in a f—ing trailer, honey,” McHenry said in the tirade, released online Thursday. “That’s all you care about is just taking people’s money,” she added. “With no education, no skill set. Just wanted to clarify that.”

She went on to blast the woman’s alleged lack of teeth and advised her to “lose some weight, baby girl.”

Ms. McHenry’s behavior is completely inappropriate. Searching on social media, you can see the disgust people are expressing about her behavior. And there is talk about why she is only suspended for one week.

Please tell me that this is not true:

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I recently read this excellent article by Pat Green: Night Moves: Diary of a Chicago Area Cabbie ex-Preacher Man.

This article describes an account of Pat, a Chicago cabbie, giving a ride to a popular preacher whose ministry he knew and followed. This preacher is a respected author and speaker.

The celebrity pastor behaved one way under the public spotlight, but donned a completely different persona when one-on-one with the cab driver. This well-known preacher showed a sense of entitlement as he treated the cabbie as a less-than. Here is an excerpt from the article. We jump in the story as the cabbie attempts to be gracious to this “hero” and gives his rude behavior the benefit of the doubt:

I decided to change the topic a little.

“I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t like the restaurants. So where are you flying to?”

“Look, I already know what you do. Pretending to care what I do is not going to change the tip. I had to wait for almost 20 minutes to start this ride. Just get me there on time. Do you even know where you are going? I don’t see your GPS on.”

“I only use it if I don’t know where I am going. I know where we are going.”

“Your parents must be so proud of your achievement.” He remarked. He then grabbed his smart phone and disappeared into it.

Did he just say that? He could not have just said that. This is not happening. Not him. Not the one who preaches a better gospel. Not a person who inspired me to change the way I approached not only church, but the manner in which I handled my faith at the time.

I just got on to driving while he typed away on his phone.

At one point he looked up from his phone and asked,”Can you move it a little bit?” I was doing 5 over the limit. I was with the flow of the beginning morning airport traffic.

Spiritual leaders who behave one way in public and treat you badly in private are spiritual bullies. Period. Don’t be deceived by their charm, celebrity status, privilege.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” John 10: 11-13


Who is @Rhology? What are #pulpiteers? How Do They Function?


Alan Maricle aka @Rhology defends and imitates J.D. Hall’s (aka @pulpitandpen) bad behavior on Twitter.

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When Sharing Concerns or Asking Pastors Questions Leads to Spiritual Abuse

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Questioning authority or raising concerns can be the litmus test to see if your pastor is spiritually abusive or not.

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Strange Fire Conference: John MacArthur, “Reformed Theology is not a Haven for False Teachers”

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I apologize in advance for the length of this post.  Please read the Facebook status slowly and let it sink in, would you?

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Finding Refuge from Religion: Forever

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Many people who have been hurt by religion want to escape from it.   We’ll take a look at an organization that is offering a refuge from religion, Recovering from Religion.    Is this the answer?

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How to Respond to a Someone in a Crisis: A Dad who Understands the Gift of Listening

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If you ever wanted to see love, empathy, compassion during a crisis, excellent listening skills, support, encouragement wrapped up in one package without ever having to take a class or read a book, I think I found it right here in this short video.  This video encapsulates what so many books try to teach about listening.  Save yourself the money and enjoy.  It’s all right here in this short video. Continue reading

Can our Faith and Love Co-Exist with Extremism?

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Having been spoon-fed by my former pastor a form of extremism, or rigid, legalistic, black/white rules and practices, I have pressed myself to re-evaluate those rules and ideas and measure them with scripture using my own eyes and discernment.  What freedom!

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Financial Ramifications of Abuse: What’s a Church to Do?

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Survivors of abuse have to climb many mountains.  The first mountain is acknowledging the fact that they are being abused.  Then they have to decide what to do.  They are left emotionally reeling and yet, have to survive, take care of their children, put food on the table, etc.

One of SSB’s regular readers, Brenda, found the blog via a Google search which landed her at this article:  Being Married to a Pedophile: A Wife Speaks Out and Offers Hope to Other Wives of Pedophiles.   While Brenda’s story is horrific, the story of how she found the blog and what has happened since is one of my favorite stories.  You can read the comments where she connects with another former wife of a pedophile.  It’s a beautiful story in that two women who had their lives completely disrupted by their pedophile husbands were able to connect and tell their stories.   Now they have a unique connection and can offer one another hope, share heartaches, and struggles.  I just love how God works.  Brenda has a blog, A Solitary Journey, and is so vulnerable in sharing her personal story in hopes that she can be of encouragement to others.    Continue reading

Moved by Compassion: The Story of Cherith

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The following is a guest post by my long-time friend, Maryl Smith.  In Maryl’s work, she has the opportunity to get acquainted with people in a more personal setting.  She is very sensitive and a big support to people who have endured all kinds of abuse, including spiritual abuse.  ~ja Continue reading

The Legal Rights of Christians vs Mercy and Love of Christ

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Personal disclaimer:  I was alerted to two local news articles this morning and struggled with whether or not I should share them with you because of the personal connections as you will soon see.  After conferring with others and checking my heart, I am going to share them. If I did not know the individuals involved, I would have done a post on this topic anyway, as this is something that has been touching my heart lately with regard to what is going on in “churchianity” or religiosity vs Christianity.

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Beaverton Grace Bible Church and Pastor Chuck O’Neal – A Year after They Lost the Defamation Lawsuit

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But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:  For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blpasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,  unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,  having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!  2 Tim 3:1-5

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Admin note:  Ok, I apologize in advance for the length of this article, but I could not find a dividing point without losing the flow and making it disjointed.   The goal was to have all of the documentation in one post.  So . . .  if you only have time for reading the condensed version and important parts, read the BROWN font and the tweets.  

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One year ago today, we heard the ruling from Judge Fun regarding the $500,000 defamation lawsuit against me and 4 other members (2 were later dropped).  We won!  I was away at a Christian summer camp serving as a counselor when we got the news and quickly got away for about an hour to share the news. Continue reading

Christian Homeschool Dad Takes on LGBT Former Homeschooler

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It’s not always easy growing up in a Christian fundamentalist homeschool environment.  I have been seeing an increasing number of homeschool graduates “coming out” in more ways than one.  As a Christian homeschooling mom of over 20 years, we didn’t think about our own kids coming out sexually.  That just was not an option that was discussed in our fundamentalist circles.  A lifestyle other than heterosexual was not a consideration.  Well, it’s happening. Some former homeschool kids (HKs) are in fact coming out.  Some are doing it quietly, others are more bold and telling their stories publicly or online.  They are experiencing responses from their Christian fundamentalist parents, some not so positive.

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Effective Street Evangelism with Changed Lives? Yes! Right here!

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Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  James 1:27

I think this is true street evangelism right here.  It is being done on a busy street, but there are no mega phones, no one is shouting at people walking by telling them they are on their way to hell.  This street evangelism is quiet, yet it is changing lives, not only for mothers and their babies, but for those involved in this work.  Please watch this short documentary trailer.

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What Do Victims of Natural Disasters Need? A Survivor Shares

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Jesus wept.  
John 11:35

Yesterday, I got ten times mores hits on my blog than usual  –  all because of someone’s tweet – – someone who should know better – but who said something so shocking that people came to see the tweet for themselves  (the tweet had later been deleted).  Quite a few people came to defend John Piper here.  They told us we weren’t reading it in context.  Others mentioned we are calling Piper, “Satan in disguise”, “truthfully hateful”, that the comments were a “blog stoning.”  Wow. We were being uncharitable. One person told me on another blog that those who interpreted his message in an uncharitable way should repent and apologize to Piper.  I don’t think so.

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Who gets to decide what is “real” love?

Is it Love or Not? Street Evangelists Defend Their Method

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As a follow-up to the article, What is Real Christian Love? Is This it?, I found an enlightening conversation between Tony Miano and Ken of Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) and two other individuals.  Tony Miano was recently in Portland at a conference put on by CARM and after the conference, he and Ken went street evangelizing at colleges, around town, and also at the abortion clinic in downtown Portland.  In the article, I posted a 42-minutes video in which Miano interacted with a gentlemen who was not happy about his loud presence outside the clinic.

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The World is Watching Us

One of the key signs of a healthy person and a healthy church is looking at the fruit they exhibit.  What kind of love do they show?  How do they model Christ to the world?  The world is watching and judging.
I read some words yesterday that were shocking to me on many levels.  They hurt me as a mother.  They hurt me as I thought about my daughter and what those words might mean to her.  They were not loving.  They were not gracious.  They did not think the best in someone.  It baffled my brain how these words and suggestions could come from a Believer. 
Right now, I am issuing a Trigger alert.  What this means is that people who have suffered spiritual abuse are likely to get an emotional response to this post.  Read this post at your own risk.

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.”  John 13:34

At church on Sunday, the speaker discussed something so important for Christians to understand:  we as Christians must understand that God has given the world the right to judge us.  The overall theme was love and as I read the comment that was posted about my daughter (which follows) and thought back over all that has gone on over the past 5 months during the lawsuit, the past 3-1/2 yrs we have not been able to get to any reasonable resolution because all communication has been rejected by the other side, the 2 years we were at a church where God’s truth was distorted and twisted and left people spiritually abandoned and confused, some completely leaving the faith/church, dealing with the crazy Mark & Avoid lists of shunning and breaking up relationships, etc, one thing that has stood out so loud and clear to me is the lack of love for people and their souls.

“And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow.” 1 Thes 3:12

“But we don’t need to write to you about the importance of loving each other, for God himself has taught you to love one another.
Indeed, you already show your love for all the believers throughout Macedonia. 
Even so, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you to love them even more.”  1 Thes 4:9-10

“If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” 1 Cor. 13:3
“…love your neighbor as yourself”  Lev. 19:18
Now some may think this next comment is petty, but it really isn’t.  God cared about names and we even see where he changed names (Saul/Paul).   I have informed him quite a few times how to spell my name, that I do not go by “Julie”.  Addressing people properly by their name shows respect at a basic level.  It’s not difficult to give this basic courtesy, yet I continually see my name shown in various forms by him, rarely the correct form.  I’ve even suggested using JA for simplification (and which I am perfectly fine with), yet it seems he prefers anything but my proper name.   What’s up with that?  The fruit is evident.   Keep in mind, I have been interacting with him for a few months now, so this is not anything new to him.
You may have read The Other Tom’s comment in yesterday’s post regarding a comment that Fred posted on his blog.  Brace yourself.  It is disgusting. Here is Fred’s comment that I copied from his blog.  Notice also that he brings out a major distraction to the real issue of spiritual abuse.  My daughter is the focus of the distraction below.  The lawsuit and the ongoing issues we have had with the church have never focused on our daughter, yet he wrongly puts Hannah front and center as a key piece in this battle: 
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Blogger Fred Butler said…

Julie A. writes, Me afraid? I don’t think so. I think it shows pretty clearly you were evading my question and it makes me wonder what you were trying to hide by not answering my question 5 times (Twitter, my blog, your blog and other blogs). 


Really???? Proof, please. My daughter posted one Google review before she was sued. That Google review was posted late Dec 11 or early Jan ’12. I am not aware of any others before that. You sure are coming across like you have info. Provide it here publicly. He accused me and those with me of going from church to church spreading junk.  

I never spread anything in any church. My daughter didn’t go to church. She has no interest in God or church since dealing with Chuck. So, please give me the inside story that even I don’t know about, Fred. 

I haven’t evaded any questions of yours and like I wrote on the previous occasion, I never had any insider information…

That is, until as of yesterday evening when I received an email from a church member at Grace Bible with some additional information I did not know before. According to this individual, who is not the pastor or in pastoral leadership to my immediate knowledge, one of the big parts to the back story that you demand proof about is that your daughter was fornicating with a guy.

Now. Before I continue, is that true or is this person lying? Was your unbelieving daughter involved in an illicit sexual relationship with a guy? 

Perhaps you have discussed this on your blog and I missed it, but if that is true, that places the events involving your daughter and this church into an entirely different context and changes the dynamics of your complaint against them. We can maybe discuss if how the situation was handled was good. Maybe they were overly harsh when they confronted her and dealt with the aftermath, but that hardly makes the pastor a terrible cult leader.

If an unbelieving daughter of a church member is found out to be fornicating are you seriously suggesting that a pastor is to just “let that go”? Just “let the family take care of it”? And not say anything? 

Do you readers know about this situation if it is true? Again, maybe you have written on it, but I haven’t seen anything, so please direct me to a post where you have if that is the case.
7:05 AM, August 01, 2012

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I spoke at length with Hannah about this today.  What we have here is a man who has entertained gossip from a church member, not even someone in leadership.  This member does not even know any of us as she came after we left.   She is taking information told to her, not first-hand knowledge.  Fred has taken that juicy gossip and published it broadly on the internet without the decency to fact check.  Fred asked the questions publicly without regard to the harmful and hurtful consequences of such questions.  Just a couple days ago, I e-mailed Fred regarding duplicating posts on his blog and asked him to remove one.  Here is a copy of my e-mail:   
Fred could easily have contacted me before posting such gossip.  He also has my personal phone number and I have asked him numerous times to give me a call if he has questions.  He has refused.  He intentionally made the choice to not contact me and instead made the choice to publicize information that had no business being broadcast on the internet without fact checking (and actually had no business on the internet at all).   
Healthy pastors and church leaders do not behave this way.  This is wrong.

“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Cor. 13:7“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”  1 Cor. 13:13

Why would someone do such a thing?  Was his intention to harm Hannah and our family? 
“Love each other as brothers and sisters.
Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.” 1 Peter 3:8
Fred likes to go on about how I have been slandering my former pastor and church publicly.  When we had issues with our former church, the discussions began very small – with the pastor and elders.  When that didn’t work, another pastor was brought in for mediation, but that mediation was turned down by the pastor.  The circled widened as the pastor/elders closed the doors to dialogue.  Fred did not begin small.  He took a piece of gossip and did not consider keeping the circle small.  Instead, he went straight to the internet.  Fred, is that what they teach you at Grace Community Church (GCC)?  I’m flabbergasted.  How would you feel if someone did this to your daughter?  I keep getting the picture of the Scarlet Letter in my mind with the big “A” hanging on my daughter.  Crazy!
Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
It does not demand its own way.
It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  
It does not rejoice about injustice but 
rejoices whenever the truth wins out.”  1 Cor. 13:4-6
What has Fred learned at GCC and Master’s College about entertaining gossip?  He has clearly not demonstrated anything that I have learned from his pastor/teacher whom I do respect.

“Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.”  Eph 4:15

Secular media will not publish such a story without confirming with sources, yet Fred Butler, a Bible teacher from Grace Community Church, graduate of the Master’s Seminary, employed by Grace to You, freely posted this gossip without regard to the ramification of my daughter’s reputation, her person, her dignity.  He assumed the worst in our daughter.  That is not love.  That is not thinking the best of someone as scripture exhorts.  Does secular media hold higher standards of moral conduct than Christians?  It appears so in this case.  This is shameful behavior.  Fred, the world is judging your behavior.  
Healthy pastors and church leaders do not behave this way.  This is wrong.  

“Always be humble and gentle.Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.”  Eph 4:2

How would Bren (the BGBC church member you apparently got this allegation from) get this kind of sensitive information unless it was disclosed from the pastor?  Bren doesn’t even know us.  She received second-hand information and Fred posted it?  What kind of pastor discloses information that is privileged for only pastor/young adult/parents?  My daughter was never placed in any church discipline.  We were there for 11 months after Hannah left and there was no discussion of this whatsoever.  The topic of sexual immorality never came up.  Why?  Because it didn’t happen.  
Healthy pastors and church leaders do not behave this way.  This is wrong.  

“Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing.” 2 Thes 1:3

If there was no church discipline, the church congregation has no business knowing about it.  The reason there was no church discipline regarding this issue is because the issue did not exist.  This is a complete lie, fabricated by someone, perhaps the pastor.  The pastor has shared sensitive information before, including names, on issues that the regular congregants had no business knowing (as I disclosed in court documents).  
Yes, our former pastor disclosed things to me that I had no business knowing – about specific people in the congregation regarding very sensitive topics.  The things he disclosed to me surely should have remained behind closed doors, kept only between the pastor and the congregant (or possibly with elders).  I was shocked and this was also added to my list of red flags that caused me great concern and eventually led to the several meetings at the end of our time there.  
Healthy pastors and church leaders do not behave this way.  This is wrong.  
Let this be a warning to those who remain there:  your personal information is never safe and it may be twisted and exaggerated or lied and possibly broadcast on the internet, spread by church members who believe they are spreading the truth, when in fact it is a lie.  
Here is the comment from church member, Bren (who is a frequent Google review burier):
Insider scoop?  Gossip?  Bren spread false information about my daughter – presumably told by the pastor and it was spread to the internet, yet when real rape/sodomy occurred in the church, the pastor admittedly covered it up and kept silent.  In fact, we have been told by those who were at the church at the time and now have left (a few families) that the church was only told about “inappropriate touch”.   This convicted sex offender is not incarcerated for inappropriate touch, but for rape, etc, and multiple counts of sexual offenses.  This was not a one-time incident, but multiple incidences with more than one child.  So stories are fabricated about my daughter, yet when illicit sexual crimes are being perpetrated by a young man at church, the story is changed and minimized.  This is messed up stuff.  
Healthy pastors and church leaders do not behave this way.  This is wrong.  The world is watching and judging.

“Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.”  John 13:34b

A bigger issue here is that a young adult’s sexual indiscretions (whether it actually happened or not) has no bearing on the issue of spiritual abuse, period.  This is an attempt to draw attention to a side issue that never existed and to get me worked up.  

“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

Fred has a long-standing agenda to stand up on behalf of pastors who are wronged by congregants who have authority issues and seems to lump them all in the same bundle.  At the same time, he gives a free pass to someone who goes to his church’s Shepherd’s conference year after year and was selected to go to expositor’s school.  Just because a pastor goes to Shepherd’s Conference and expositor’s school at a great place does not mean they pass the healthy pastor test.  

They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.   Titus 1:16

Listen, Fred.  Your buddy, the one who went against pastors Phil Johnson’s advice and Bill Shannon’s advice and against the Bible sued and lost the court case.  He is dragging his church through a financial fiasco to pay for attorney’s bills, court costs, filing fees, etc.  Between his attorney bill and ours, the church’s tithe money and/or other resources could be paying close to six figures for this ridiculous lawsuit.  God is surely not pleased.  He didn’t need to do that.  Why are you defending a man who refuses communication with former congregants?   Why are you defending a man who did not report to the authorities gross sexual abuse against children (rape, sodomy)?  In your quest to defend all pastors who have disgruntled congregants, you are missing the bigger picture here:  Spiritual Abuse.  
We have gone the biblical route and have many more witnesses than the Bible requires.  We offered phone numbers of long-time members who were leaders/elder from the church, but you and other pastors from GCC refused to make the call, not wanting to get involved. You are overlooking very basic issues we have brought out and are blinded to the truth in your quest to protect pastors.  Brother, the blood is going to be on your hands.  You are acting like a spiritual authority and missing obvious signs and refusing to deal with people who have been crying out for years.

James 3:1 “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”

At the very least, Fred, I am asking that you publicly apologize to my sweet daughter who has been hurt directly by you in your public blog post and comments.  Does her soul not matter to you?  How dare you do such a thing!  
The world is watching and judging Christians and surely they are observing this poor behavior.  You have the opportunity to make things right, Fred.  I hope you do.