“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)

 

 

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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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.)

Continue reading

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

Survivor of Tullian Tchividjian’s Alleged Clergy Sexual Abuse Goes Public with Her Story – Part 5

Tullian Tchividjian, Personal Survivor Story, Clergy Sex Abuse


Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

LINKS: My Story: Part #1Part #2Part #3Part #4Part #5.

Editors’ Note: This is Rachel’s story, and she is sharing what she recalls of her relationship with Tullian Tchividjian. She is sharing her facts, opinions, and what she believes to be true. Tullian is a public figure of interest. It is not defamatory to share opinions, beliefs, and personal stories publicly. In order to prove that she is being defamatory, it would need to be shown that she knowingly told lies, and did so with malice. Continue reading

Survivor of Tullian Tchividjian’s Alleged Clergy Sexual Abuse Goes Public with Her Story – Part 1

Tullian Tchividjian, Personal Survivor Story, Clergy Sex Abuse


Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

LINKS: My Story:  Part #1Part #2Part #3Part #4Part #5.

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An Introduction, from Julie Anne Smith and Brad Sargent

Several of those who have alleged victimization by Tullian Tchividjian have contacted me (Julie Anne) over the past year and a half. Rachel (which is her real first name) was one of them. She is the survivor of Tullian Tchividjian’s clergy sexual misconduct in the spring and summer of 2015. She’s also named as “Woman #2” in our recent Partial Timeline post. Discovery of their sexual relationship by staff at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (CRPC) led to Tchividjian being asked to resign as Senior Pastor there, and his being “deposed” by the South Florida presbytery (i.e., having his ministry credentials removed).

Rachel’s story is critically important to consider, in part because she tried to inform multiple Christian leaders – mostly men who were supposedly responsible for overseeing or counseling Tchividjian – about what she experienced as his patterns of lies, seduction, and spiritual abuse. She herself admits, she didn’t always do this in the best way, with rants and emotional comments on posts. But she and her family had been harmed, and she was also trying to get Tchividjian to follow through in repaying over $11,000 he had borrowed from Rachel and her husband to hire a private investigator.

So, it turns out that her personal story intersects with the three main ministries that have been parts of Tchividjian’s platform during the past several years: Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (Fort Lauderdale, FL), Willow Creek (Presbyterian) Church (Winter Springs, FL), and the Liberate Network. At this point, we know of no other survivor whose actions connect with all three. We are grateful she has agreed to share her story so that others can be warned about wolves in the Body of Christ, and also learn about what real repentance and recovery can look like. Continue reading

Survivor of Tullian Tchividjian’s Alleged Clergy Sexual Abuse Goes Public with Her Story – Part 2

Tullian Tchividjian, Personal Survivor Story, Clergy Sex Abuse


Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

LINKS: My Story:  Part #1Part #2Part #3Part #4Part #5.

Editors’ note: This is Part 2, a continuation of Rachel’s story which began here. The remaining parts of the series will be posted soon.

Edited to add 11/30/16: This is Rachel’s story, and she is sharing what she recalls of her relationship with Tullian Tchividjian. She is sharing her facts, opinions, and what she believes to be true. Tullian is a public figure of interest. It is not defamatory to share opinions, beliefs, and personal stories publicly. In order to prove that she is being defamatory, it would need to be shown that she knowingly told lies, and did so with malice.  ~ja Continue reading

Survivor of Tullian Tchividjian’s Alleged Clergy Sexual Abuse Goes Public with Her Story – Part 3

Tullian Tchividjian, Personal Survivor Story, Clergy Sex Abuse


Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

LINKS: My Story:  Part #1Part #2Part #3Part #4Part #5.

Editors’ Note: This is Rachel’s story, and she is sharing what she recalls of her relationship with Tullian Tchividjian. She is sharing her facts, opinions, and what she believes to be true. Tullian is a public figure of interest. It is not defamatory to share opinions, beliefs, and personal stories publicly. In order to prove that she is being defamatory, it would need to be shown that she knowingly told lies, and did so with malice. Continue reading

Survivor of Tullian Tchividjian’s Alleged Clergy Sexual Abuse Goes Public with Her Story – Part 4

Tullian Tchividjian, Personal Survivor Story, Clergy Sex Abuse


Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

Statue of Lady Justice © Sebastian Duda, Fotolia #35822634.

LINKS: My Story: Part #1Part #2Part #3Part #4Part #5.

Editors’ Note: This is Rachel’s story, and she is sharing what she recalls of her relationship with Tullian Tchividjian. She is sharing her facts, opinions, and what she believes to be true. Tullian is a public figure of interest. It is not defamatory to share opinions, beliefs, and personal stories publicly. In order to prove that she is being defamatory, it would need to be shown that she knowingly told lies, and did so with malice. Continue reading

Doug Phillips: The Sex Abuse Lawsuit Conclusion and Epilogue of His Vision Forum Shipwreck

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Doug Phillips Lawsuit, Lourdes Torres, Sex Abuse, Vision Forum, Spiritual Abuse

 


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Doug Phillips, Vision Forum Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 12.03.20 PM

It’s been a long while since there have been any updates on the Lourdes Torres vs Douglas Phillips lawsuit. Normally, I received updates from Attorney David C. Gibbs III, who represented Lourdes Torres. Either he would e-mail or text me, or I would inquire of him, and he or another attorney from his office would respond quickly.

Because of the influence Doug Phillips had in so many lives in the Christian Homeschool Movement, I’ve tried hard to get information from first-hand sources. Sadly, after several requests, I have not received any response from Attorney Gibbs’ office regarding recent updates on this case; however, Free Jinger, a website that hosts discussions on the culture, abuses, and key people in Christian fundamentalism, noted mid-May that the court case was dismissed:

 

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I was also told by a couple of very reliable sources that the lawsuit was dismissed, settled out of court, and a gag order in place, so that would explain why we haven’t heard anything from Lourdes Torres or anyone.

I’m disappointed with the outcome of this case for a number of reasons. Although this case primarily concerned Doug Phillips’ inappropriate relationship and grooming of an underage teen, then using his position of authority as clergy, boss, and mentor to continue the relationship after she became an adult, it represented much more than that.

While Phillips’ ship has sunk, and the case has closed, it doesn’t really feel finished to me. Lourdes Torres was the sacrificial lamb who bravely spoke out about this clergy abuse. She helped to sink the ship of Doug Phillips’ ministry, Vision Forum, which had been a mainstay in the Christian homeschool community for many years. However, it feels like Phillips got away with harming much more than a Titanic-full of people. People who boarded his ship, expected a captain who would safely navigate them. They had no clue that he was going to cause a shipwreck.

One cannot say that this lawsuit only affected Lourdes Torres, Boerne Christian Assembly, and the Phillips family. As a result of Doug Phillips’ so-called ministry demise, some families have shattered and had difficulty picking up the pieces. Some have shipwrecked their faith. I read e-mails from divided spouses and families: one spouse wanted to discard the teachings of Phillips, while the other wanted to continue Phillips’ teachings. How does a family reconcile this kind of conflict?

While Doug Phillips and his family have now abandoned the idea of family-integrated churches (which he claimed was the right way to go to worship as a family), he and his family have joined a traditional church in Texas with segregated age groups (something he taught against). He also failed to abide by the church rules he helped establish when he founded the church, Boerne Christian Assembly.

In November of 2014, elders Jeff Horn and David Fry posted a note at the Boerne Christian Assembly website (which now doesn’t seem to exist) that Philips was excommunicated. Doug Phillips has done nothing to resolve that issue. No big deal for him, he just wiped his hands clean of his old life and is starting a new one with his family.

In closing the final chapter of Doug Phillips and his shipwrecked ministry, I thought it would be good to reflect on a couple of comments left here at SSB by two individuals during the height of the Doug Phillips scandal. I do not believe these two individuals have commented since that time, but they obviously had a need to share what they had gone through. Their personal stories about sex abuse and patriarchy represent real lives and most likely echo the experience of others.

 

I was sexually and spiritually abused by a spiritual leader in our church starting at age 13. Unless you have lived that experience, you cannot understand the anguish and struggle it is to be whole again with both God and self. The shame, the confusion, the lost innocence, losing the childlike faith you had in God and “Jesus loves me this I know” because you no longer “know”. S’s comments obviously show her own unhealed, bitter woundedness from her husband’s unfaithfulness, as it is a very selfish stance to ever blame the one under the control of a man of such age, authority, spiritual position and charm as DP (and my own abuser).

I was sucked into the Patriarchial [sic] mess 9 years ago when our state’s Christian homeschool conference changed from teaching us how to teach our children, to guilting us in how badly we were living as families of faith. In my own spiritual mess of striving to please God, as I was not yet whole from the abuse, I quickly fell for the charm, the smiling, happy-looking families, the mandate that to be right with God we must live their way. To have our children saved, faith-filled, strong in the Lord, we must live their way. To pass on the mantle of faithfulness that the world could not destroy in them or future generations, we must live their way–and of course, that meant buying and using what they sold.

For 3 1/2 years I wore skirts only. I finally convinced my husband to let us go to a FIC [family-integrated church]. We were all miserable, but that only meant that I was failing to “get it right”. Somehow, someway, I was missing the message. So much fear grew in me. My family, my children were not going to turn out right. I was failing them and failing God. Wow!! Exactly what my abuser had once told me, “Saying no to him was saying no to God and failing him was failing God.”

I just found out about all of this on Saturday when I came across the World magazine article on DP [Doug Phillips] someone posted on Facebook. Although we have been away from the FIC for 5 years and patriarchial [sic] thinking in general for 3, it was fresh salt to the wounds. I have thousands of $’s in materials from VF that have been sitting on shelves untouched because I have been so unsure, uncertain in what to believe. Today, I will box them up for the dump. I see freedom in my future. But for now, this is all so very painful.

Unless you have walked in any shoes similar to Victim, you CANNOT understand. To be sinned against in such a way, in the name of Jesus, is indescribable. I apologize for writing so much, but I do appreciate having a safe place to express these deep emotions. Thank you!

 

 

 

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Longtime lurker as I’ve been sorting through extricating my family from this patriarchy culture. As a father of 4 daughters, reading what this sociopath has done makes me want to meet him in a dark alley and educate him in the usefulness of Israeli special forces training. And by this I completely mean I would kick his @#$. Your pushup regimen wouldn’t help one iota Doug.

All these patriarchy wimps can ‘pray’ for him and his wife, and try to sound holier than thou with their long-winded sophistry. Deep down they are still intimidated by him and wondering if he’ll rise like a phoenix. Better to not be too overt in their dismissal right? Quietly distance because ‘its the ‘Reformed Christianese’ way to handle it, right? Some are merely swooping in to fill the patriarchy vacuum and acquire the cash flow stream that was VF.

No. Real men kick @#$ when things are obvious. Real men protect and fight when needed. This is why Lourdes’ family chased this predator down the street after he jumps out her window. They are the real men. They don’t just ‘play’ one on stage or in self-aggrandizing ‘crockumentaries’. They ended it right then and there. Looking down the barrel of a gun. Real men. With fire in their betrayed eyes. No lifts in their cowboy boots needed, Doug.

Patriarchy puts the weight of the world via Old Testament manipulation on families, then runs to the New Testament for ‘forgiveness’ when the fruit of these doctrinal entrapments are shown in the light of day. It’s called EVIL doctrine. Wolves in sheep’s clothing. We’ll know a tree by its fruits. Their brand of ‘forgiveness’ is attempting to hide it (VF Board) to protect the cash cows (I mean ‘ministries’).

Equally culpable are the sycophants who equate Phillips with some kind of modern-day King David archetype – ‘well, he ‘fell’ but I still believe what he taught was Biblical’…are you kidding me?! This knee jerk quasi-biblical response is merely projection. They actually do (or did) view him as their king. Not Christ. Little doug fricking phillips.

They are that blind. *I* was that blind. Lock, stock and barrel. A one time conference speaker, leader in a well known ‘reformed’ church, the whole shootin’ match. Could smell the megalomania on Phillips from the first time I met him, but ignored my better judgement. Just wasn’t ‘reformed’ enough I told myself. Wrong. I was ignoring red flags because something inside me wanted to be in the ‘inner circle’ with these yahoos. That’s how a cult is designed – to make people deeply revere and subsequently want to become one of the leaders.

Strange brew because this cult is more like a network – almost like the tapes and seminar kingpins of Amway. Different leaders and power structures around the U.S. – all vying for paid speaking gigs at each other’s events. They are information and event marketers, pure and simple. These are not ministries. While small potatoes in the world of business, they still rake in hundreds of thousands a year – under the guise of 501c3 status. It’s profitable! And just like Gothard and every other deceived ‘celebrity’ minister turned information marketer – they believe their monetary ‘success’ is God’s blessing. God’s ‘approval’ on what they are doing in this world to ‘take dominion’ and reconstruct America in the vanity of their mind’s eye. And if *they have ‘God’s’ approval, who are you and I to question it? MenoGAWD syndrome in the worst sort of way.

But thank God for the Holy Spirit opening my eyes and getting my family out of this mess. We are truly free in Christ, led by the Holy Spirit and in relationship with a loving Father.

We’ll be reading about this ‘movement’ on wikipedia as another creepy anomaly history lesson in American Churchianity. Beware of future iterations of it however. The wolves have to eat until they stand before God for their duplicity.

 

 

If you were affected by Doug Phillips’ teachings on Patriarchy, the Homeschool Movement, Courtship, family-integrated churches, etc, and would like to leave an update on how you and your family are doing, I’d especially love to hear from you.

Oh, one more thing – – I checked out VisionForum.com to see if there was anything left of the site. It has changed [see updated note below]. I don’t think it is quite what Doug Phillips, Esq. had enVisioned . . . or not.

 

vision forum, doug phillips

visionforum.com

 

Edited to note:  Gary W. correctly pointed out that the Vision Forum website used the address: http://www.visionforumministries.org, not Vision Forum.com.  I’m going to leave the above photo posted because of the irony of a website named Vision Forum. To me, this aptly describes how Doug Phillips lived his life. He lived the high life, while gambling with people’s lives. ~ja

Update again:  Ok, the Vision Forum store/catalog which sold books and gender-specific toys did use the VisionForum.com site!!  The ministry used the http://www.visionforumministries.org site.

A Challenge to Abused Christian Women Regarding Teachings on Divorce

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Pastors Tullian Tchividjian + Bob Coy + Sexual Sin + Church Leaders Who Protect Immoral Pastors = A Broken Church

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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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Domestic Violence is NOT a Marriage Issue, but an Abuse Issue

Domestic Violence, Naghmeh and Saeed Abedini, Divorce, Marriage, Abuse, Church Response to Abuse

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Troubling Tweet: The Gospel Coalition Promotes Unbiblical “Gender Role” Teachings

The Gospel Coalition (TGC), Kathy Keller, Domestic Violence, Complementarian, Marriage, Headship

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Vetting, Accountability, Licensing, and Promoting for Pastor Saeed Abedini: Exploring What Went Wrong and How

The Qualifications Case of Pastor Saeed Abedini, and the Roles of Pastor Bob Caldwell, Franklin Graham, Jay Sekulow, and the American Evangelistic Association


 

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.  Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.  He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive,  for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?  He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

1 Timothy 3:3-7 (ESV/English Standard Version, via Bible Gateway)

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Regardless of which New Testament translation we use, we can’t get away from the essential mandate in 1 Timothy 3:3-7 — that those who want to be in public roles for the Church automatically subject themselves to ongoing “background checks” about their character and actions. ~ brad/futuristguy

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The Saeed and Naghmeh Abedini story is complicated. That doesn’t mean it is unfathomable, but it has many layers and interconnections involving these two individuals with other people and organizations. This post explores some of those key connections to see how they influenced the unfolding storylines, and to see what we can learn about how to do things better in the future.

The world watched as Pastor Saeed Abedini was elevated to hero status. Our hearts collectively ached for Naghmeh and her young children as we heard of his mistreatment in Iranian prison. After 3-1/2 yrs in prison, Saeed was released, and instead of joyous reunions, we heard of troubling details that were not part of Naghmeh’s original storyline.

Most readers have probably heard by now about Pastor Saeed Abedini’s 2007 domestic assault conviction. Where has this news been all of this time? Would Saeed had been the face of American prisoners in Iran if we had known this? Saeed represented religious freedom, the cause of Christ, and the persecuted Church. I suspect his image would not have looked too good with a previous domestic assault conviction.

The Pastor Saeed Abedini Story: I believe influential leaders failed to take responsibility for those entrusted in their care, and thus, Christ’s name has become a mockery to the world. I find many aspects of this story troubling, but two in particular are disturbing:

  • Leaders failed to do due diligence with the Abedini family regarding Saeed’s long-time pornography and abuse issues. Saeed Abedini was unfit to be pastor according to biblical requirements. What was done in this situation? Why was he allowed to continue ministry work? Why was he allowed to obtain and retain the pastor title?
  • The Abedini family was used by opportunistic individuals and organizations as a pawn to promote political agendas or personal gain.

 

saeed

 

Let’s take a look at key people involved in this story.  There are four key people/groups involved, as I see it, and I believe these four are responsible for not doing due diligence with this family, or for using them for their personal gain and promoting personal or political agendas:

  1. Pastor Bob Caldwell, Calvary Chapel Boise  – This is the home church of the Abedinis in Boise, Idaho.
  2. Franklin Graham.
  3. Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).
  4. American Evangelistic Association (AEA) – This is the organization from which Saeed Abedini obtained his pastoral license.

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Pastor Bob Caldwell

Pastor Bob Caldwell has known Naghmeh since before she married Saeed. He visited Iran when they were married in June of 2004:

Meanwhile, in the U.S., a young woman named Naghmeh from that same country had accepted Christ and was attending Calvary Chapel Boise, ID. Feeling prompted to return to her homeland to share the Gospel with her family, she was sent out as a missionary by CC Boise in 2001. After sharing the Gospel with her family there for two years, she met Saeed. They immediately recognized God’s hand in bringing them together and their mutual calling to share the Gospel with Muslims. During a visit from Pastor Bob Caldwell of CC Boise, Saeed and Naghmeh were married in June of 2004; the couple continued to share Christ in the Islam-governed country. (Source)

Pastor Caldwell and his church were very involved in supporting the Abedini family before, during, and now, after Saeed’s release. In a different article about Saeed’s release from prison, Pastor Caldwell shares more about their relationship and acknowledges the political work Naghmeh has done to help free her husband:

“It’s beyond description really,” said Calwell. “I’ve known him pretty well and have been with him in Iran when he was doing stuff there, starting churches. So I love him a lot and to have him come back is just amazing.”

Caldwell said he’s proud of Naghmeh Abedini’s efforts to free her husband. During Abedini’s husband’s captivity she testified at the United Nations and before Congress. She also met with President Obama last year.

In the same article, Caldwell discusses Naghmeh’s disclosure of abuse by Saeed:

Caldwell said this public revelation – which Naghmeh says she regrets and blames on emotional distress – was a shock to some people in his church who supported Saeed through the years.

“It’s hard for a lot of people because you can turn a person into a hero you know, like a superhero,” said Caldwell. “And that’s kind of dangerous because people don’t want their heroes to be normal.” (Source)

Caldwell, unfortunately minimizes the abuse when he uses the word normal. Why was the word abusive not used? Is it because it is difficult to identify someone you have mentored and supported as an abuser?  Most victims understand the importance of correct terminology. To minimize is to dismiss.

Blogger Michael Newnham addresses what Pastor Caldwell knew in his recent article:

We know that as far back as 2007, his spousal abuse and addiction to pornography was known to the pastor he worked under, Bob Caldwell of Calvary Chapel Boise.

We know from sources that Caldwell briefly put Abedini under discipline for this, a time our sources put at 3-1/2 to 4 months.

In the comments section, Michael continues:

I do know that Bob Caldwell exercised authority over him in the matter of his pornography issues.

We read nothing but respect and admiration of Pastor Caldwell from the Abedinis. However, outsiders want answers because they feel they were deceived. Did Caldwell believe Saeed was fit for ministry, knowing his abuse/pornography issues?  And did he do anything to prevent him from going overseas and doing ministry work?

*     *     *     *     *

Franklin Graham

So – what about Franklin Graham?  What role did he play in this?  Franklin took Saeed and Naghmeh on as his project. The Abedini family was the perfect poster family for religious freedom, and he put his money and his name with both Naghmeh and Saeed over the last 3-1/2 yrs.

You can see how political this situation became and how Naghmeh was used in the process:

 In March, Secretary of State John Kerry said he was “deeply concerned” about Saeed Abedini’s fate in Iran. “The best outcome for Mr. Abedini is that he be immediately released,” Kerry said.

“It is not enough,” Naghmeh Abedini said today. “We need to see action to back our rhetoric, in the living, breathing form of Saeed Abedini… having been released.”

“Even if our president can’t see the reality, the rest of the world can,” she said. “I hope and I pray our government… will realize how far we’ve fallen.” (Source)

In the screenshot below, Graham speaks out politically, even naming imprisoned Pastor Saeed Abedini as his friend. The other prisoners are not named. Did you know the other prisoners’ names?  I sure didn’t. Someone sure did a good PR job, huh?

 

 

A side note about the PR job I mentioned earlier. The DeMoss public relations firm coincidentally represents Franklin Graham, American Evangelistic Association, and Jay Sekulow. Maybe it is not coincidental after all when you look at their political leanings.

Back to Franklin Graham. Graham seemed to be spreading the bulk of news upon Saeed’s release: photos, videos, and statements. We were told that Naghmeh would join Franklin and they would fly together by private plane to Germany to meet Saeed. Naghmeh didn’t go to Germany. Instead, Saeed landed on US soil near Franklin Graham’s place.

These were the first pictures that came out after Saeed returned to the US – pictures with Franklin Graham and his private plane behind them:

 

 

We were told Saeed was to rest at Graham’s facility, and Naghmeh and their kids would join him. That, too, did not happen. Instead, Saeed flew to Boise to see his kids. (I read no reports of Saeed seeing Naghmeh – I could have missed something.)  Did Naghmeh have a voice in these plans?

What prompted Franklin Graham to be so actively involved in this case? What did he know and when? Did Graham have knowledge of Saeed’s conviction in 2007?  Per Naghmeh, he did know about the abuse a few months ago. Naghmeh posted this comment on her Facebook page: “Franklin was giving [sic] letters by religious leaders months ago confirming my allegations of abuse. He knows.”

saeed1

 

Franklin Graham frequently mentioned Saeed’s name as he made political speeches about terrorists and the US. Saeed’s name was so well known by now, people didn’t have to know his last name. #FreeSaeed was displayed on social media. People knew who he was, and that he had a beautiful family waiting for him at home. This was great marketing.

After Saeed’s release, Franklin Graham published a statement, which was discussed at The Wartburg Watch blog. A whole post could be made dissecting Franklin’s words, but it’s important to note: Franklin Graham put himself in the place of spokesman for the Abedini family. He told the world where Saeed would be going, when Naghmeh and his family would join him, etc. The last we heard from Franklin Graham was this public statement. In it, he referred to himself as “a minister of the Gospel.” As a minister of the Gospel, he had responsibility. Did he do due diligence to protect this family? Or did he use them as a picture of religious persecution, compromised religious freedoms, etc., to further his own political agenda?
After Saeed left Graham territory and flew to Boise, Franklin Graham seems to have dropped the Abedinis like a hot potato.

*     *     *     *     *

Jay Sekulow, American Center for Law and Justice

Here is Mr. Sekulow’s bio:

“Jay Sekulow is an attorney with a passion for protecting religious liberty – freedom – democracy. For nearly a quarter of a century, he’s been on the front lines – working to protect religious and constitutional freedoms in the courts, in Congress, and in the public arena.” (Source)

I’m not going to get into much from Sekulow except to say that Saeed was once again the poster boy for the kind of causes that Jay Sekulow fights for. Saeed and Naghmeh were used to further his own political agenda.

Check out this article and very short video. The video is basically an infomercial for ACLJ. Take note of the music in the background.

Jay Sekulow: ACLJ leader Jay Sekulow says the fight against Christian persecution is not over just because Saeed was released. Sekulow echoes what each individual involved has stated publicly: Christians must continue to pray and fight for an end to persecution. (Source)   http://aclj.org/

*     *     *     *     *

American Evangelistic Association (AEA)

Saeed Abedini received his pastor’s license through this organization. A summary of the historical background of AEA:

To compensate for the highly political hierarchy in a major denomination and the limitations of their overseer systems for organizing and controlling grass roots pastors, in 1954, Dr. [John] Douglas led a group of several dozen pastors in becoming become independent pastors and formed the American Evangelistic Association (“AEA).  (Source)

Did you interpret that the same way I did? I read this as an ideal place to get a pastor’s license if you don’t want to be under someone’s authority. Boom!

aea4

Source

 

American Evangelistic Association recognizes credentials for Pastoral Ordination, Pastoral Licensing, Elder recognition, Deacon/ Deaconess recognition, Church Planting leadership, and missionary. AEA believes the Scripture teaches that both male and female are eligible to serve in all capacities of ministry leadership. (Source)

OK, here’s the important part (bolded by moi):

Background checks are made on all candidates therefore thumb prints are required on the application. (Source)

So  – inquiring minds want to know – did they do a background check on Saeed before administering a pastor’s license to him?  Here is where it gets confusing. On January 16, 2016, president of AEA, Kerry Fink, sent out two nearly identical statements announcing Saeed’s release from prison. In those statements, there are two different dates indicating when Saeed joined AEA:

This one states early 2010:

 

And this statement lists June 18, 2008 as the date Saeed joined up with AEA.

aea2

Source

 

Here is the AEA application section where Saeed should have filled out his criminal record:

 

As we have come to find out from the official Idaho court record on Saeed’s domestic assault guilty plea, the violation date on the case is July 1, 2007, it was filed the next day, and the disposition was on January 25, 2008.

2007 Saeed Abedinigalangashi Case History 2

If AEA did their background check as they said they do, and if Saeed was forthcoming with information on his application that he was indicted and convicted of domestic assault, and AEA did invite Saeed into their fold in 2008, then why was he issued a pastor’s license? This blogger wants to know.

In case any of you wanted to become a pastor (male or female, btw), here is what it will cost you, and a brief explanation about the required “contributions.”  I never knew that contributions were a requirement!

Since the association is totally dependent on contributions we require all of our members to make a monthly financial commitment to their association. (Source)

 

 

*     *     *     *     *

It is my opinion that Saeed Abedini should never have been licensed as a pastor or serving in that role, based on the 2007 case and conviction, and ongoing pornography and abuse issues. Church leaders and the AEA could have done a better job of preventing him from getting into ministries and alerting others to his ongoing problems if he sought out ministry anyway.

It is my opinion that Naghmeh has been a victim of her husband’s abuse, and she was used as a puppet to further the political agendas of Jay Sekulow and Franklin Graham. These two men saw an opportunity for funds, prestige, and power right in front of them and they seized it. However, once the abuse allegations became public, they wiped their hands clean of the mess and I have yet to see anything from them showing real support for Naghmeh now.

Is it any wonder why the world laughs at Christians?

 

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

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