An Abuse Survivor’s Response to Pastor Phil Johnson’s Insensitive Tweet on Domestic Violence

Phil Johnson, Grace Community Church, Sex Abuse, Domestic Violence, Twitter


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Blog reader, Christina, left an important comment on yesterday’s post regarding an insensitive and callous tweet Pastor Phil Johnson sent out regarding domestic violence. His tweet created quite an uproar on Twitter. Because Christina’s comment is addressed to Phil Johnson, I didn’t want it to get lost in the shuffle. It is excellent. Thank you, Christina for sharing.  ~Julie Anne


Response to Phil Johnson

Dear Phil. I guess you are a teacher, not a pastor, maybe that accounts for your lack of compassion. Perhaps we expect too much of you since you work and speak for John MacArthur, and so many people hold you in high esteem I used to be one of those, even though I am not a Calvinist, I always respected your teaching. Lately however, I can’t bring myself to listen to you. Continue reading

Pastor Phil Johnson Shows His Heart toward Domestic Violence Victim

Domestic Violence, Phil Johnson, Grace Community Church, John MacArthur

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Phil Johnson: ‘Some thoughts on CJ, T4G, and “survivor blogs.”’

Phil Johnson, C.J. Mahaney, Sovereign Grace Ministries Sex Abuse Case, Together for the Gospel, #T4G2016, Survivor Blogs

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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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Phil Johnson Claims the Main Trouble in Churches are the Sheep, not Wolves

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Anyone with a Burning Desire to Go to PyroCon?

 

Thoughts about the Reformed Baptist bloggers known as the Pyromaniacs, a Pyro-Conference, and opining about the pain. At least third-degree burns don’t hurt.

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Tony Miano’s New Digs: Grace Community Church

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Street Evangelist Tony Miano announced he’s leaving Faith Community Church and will be attending Grace Community Church.

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Question for Tony Miano: Did Joni Preach?

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Tony Miano, author of Should She Preach?, attended John MacArthur’s Strange Fire conference at Grace Community Church, along with Pastor Chuck O’Neal (suing pastor who had minister’s license revoked and currently in discipline), Phil Johnson, Dr. Steve Lawson, all of whom contributed to Miano’s book.

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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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A Few Notes from Julie Anne

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Countdown:  5 days till court date,  drawn by JA’s 9-yr old
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Just a few things to share before a “regular” blog post coming up as my 9-yr old is busy with his drawing for the post.

Phil Johnson from Grace Community Church (John MacArthur’s church) reached out to me yesterday and we had a lengthy conversation.  As you may recall, in one of the earlier reviews that Chuck O’Neal posted on Google (oy, a lot of activity here!), he said something to the effect that a pastor had given him the okay to sue us.  John MacArthur has continuously preached/taught that Christians should not sue and so it was important to find out if they in fact had recommended Chuck sue us.  I don’t know if there will be more of an official statement coming out than was issued yesterday, but I personally don’t think they outright encouraged Chuck to sue.  This would make sense also by the fact that Chuck recently removed that particular review from the Google site.  There might have been some gray area in communication and understanding, but I just don’t believe they encouraged it.  Regardless, I was very pleased with the conversation and I think he left with new insights regarding the situation between Chuck O’Neal and the defendants of the law suit or at least my perspective on situations.  I felt he was warm and genuine and really listened.   He said there would be a staff meeting today and would be bringing up this situation.   Ya think?

During my first two conversations with pastors from Grace Community, I did not feel like our issues were heard very well or even acknowledged and this was conveyed to Phil.  He apologized for that.  In hindsight, they are probably aware that things could have been done differently.   Who ever would have thought this would have gone so viral?  Wow!   LOL  Go Streisand Effect!

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It appears that Chuck O’Neal has broke his silence.  MSNBC.com featured the first story I’ve seen which includes comments from Chuck.

* * * *New edit here:  Regarding the issue of were we asked to leave or did we leave on or own accord, this is the msnbc.com quote:

Smith, who used to play piano at the Beaverton church, said she and her family were asked to leave the congregation in November 2008, but it was almost a year before she took her grievances online. Church leaders, however, deny ever asking the Smiths to leave and claim her family left of their own accord.  (http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/05/16/11698334-oregon-mom-sued-by-church-over-online-criticism#comments)

Oopsie:  look at this post and judge for yourself.

I copied the top part of the review.  I have underlined the important phrase:

Chuck O’Neal ‎ – Nov 18, 2009

JulieAnne’s Destructive Slander Continues To Whom It May Concern: Almost a year ago JulieAnne and her husband were Biblically put out of Beaverton Grace Bible Church with a group of families and individuals that were engaged in ongoing divisive slander. 

This is Chuck’s “review” on Google.  I have a screen shot of it in case it is removed from Google.

Also, I found out early this morning that a press release was issued.  I’ve read it, it’s long, drawn out and has no place here on my blog and he does not get to have a platform here.   Amen.  Amen.  And Amen!

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I’ve added links to blog stories and interviews (both tv and radio) on the right side bar.  I did an interview with  Don Miller in FL and would love to find a copy of that.  If anyone can locate it, please send me an e-mail.  Don Miller was the first media personality to discuss the case as it pertains to spiritual abuse and I very much appreciated that.  I’d love for you to hear it.

Phil Johnson Issues Statement Regarding Beaverton Grace Bible Church Lawsuit Against Former Members

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Our former pastor, Chuck O’Neal, said in a Google review (now removed) that a pastor from Grace Community encouraged him to sue us.  This is the public response from John MacArthur/Grace Community via The Wartburg Watch blog.  Dee, thanks for posting the information. 



“In a story currently circulating on the Internet, a claim is being made that the elders of Grace Community Church (John MacArthur, Pastor) advised a church in another state to file a defamation lawsuit against a former member.

For the record, we would not approve of such a lawsuit, for multiple reasons.


‘First, Scripture expressly teaches that it is better to be defrauded than to take a fellow Christian to court: “Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? . . . It is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?” (1 Corinthians 6:7). Here is what John MacArthur says about that passage:

Christians who take fellow Christians to court lose spiritually before the case is heard. The fact that they have lawsuits at all is a sign of moral and spiritual defeat (hettema, a word used of defeat in court). A believer who takes a fellow believer to court for any reason always loses the case in God’s sight. He has already suffered a spiritual defeat. He is selfish, and he discredits the power, wisdom, and work of God, when he tries to get what he wants through the judgment of unbelievers.

The right attitude of a Christian is to rather be wronged, to rather be defrauded, than to sue a fellow Christian. It is far better to lose financially than to lose spiritually. Even when we are clearly in the legal right, we do not have the moral and spiritual right to insist on our legal right in a public court. . . .

. . . If we cannot convince the brother to make things right, and if he will not listen to fellow believers, we are better off to suffer the loss or the injustice than to bring a lawsuit against him. “Do not resist him who is evil,” Jesus commanded, “but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone wants to sue you, and take your shirt, let him have your coat also” (Matt. 5:39-40). Contrary to the world’s standard, it is better to be sued and lose than to sue and win. Spiritually, it is impossible for a Christian to sue and win. When we are deprived wrongfully we are to cast ourselves on the care of God, who is able to work that for our good and His glory. [The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1 Corinthians (Chicago: Moody, 1984), 139-40.]

Second
, Jesus was very clear about what Christians should do even when we are vilified by unbelievers: “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad” (Matthew 5:11-12). “Do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also” (vv. 39-40).’

That is our official position, and it is not merely theoretical. Having been at times targets of malicious slander in various gossip-forums on the Internet, we do appreciate the frustration of dealing with relentless character assassination.

But the example we were given to follow by Christ Himself deals with exactly such situations: “While being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23).”

Phil Johnson- Elder, Grace Community Church

Ok.  This pretty much confirms everything we know to be true about John MacArthur’s teachings on the subject.  There’s nothing different there.

But it still doesn’t answer the question:  did anyone from Grace Community encourage/suggest/advise Pastor Chuck O’Neal to sue us?  I can’t find the answer to that in the public response.

I hope Bill Shannon will respond to my e-mail.  I keep checking.

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Side note:  I am getting quite a few e-mails about donations to help with our legal fees.  I would like to thank all of those who have asked.  It warms our hearts to know that you want to support in a real practical way.  Thank you so much!!

Does anyone know how this can work with regard to taxes, etc, and how to easily facilitate this process?

Anticipation

Six More Days Until Court Hearing

There are a number of Christian bloggers keeping up with our story.  Yesterday, two popular bloggers posted articles about our situation and I wanted to give more information so you can see how things fit together.

I’ll give a little background.  This is the original Google review that was posted February 25, 2012.  It has since been revised one or more times and I’ve had several readers tell me Chuck took it down entirely very recently after the media got the story.

Admin note:  If you click on the links below, you will see that the reviews have since been edited (in fact, multiple times).  Below is what was on the Google review site as of the date of this original posting. 

 Chuck O’Neal ‎ – Feb 25, 2012
DEFAMATION IS A CRIME: Pastor Chuck O’ Neal, his wife, his children, and Beaverton Grace Bible Church as a whole, have suffered JulieAnne’s hateful lying slander for well over three years. After seeking counsel from a pastor on staff with Grace Community Church (under Pastor John MacArthur) and reading him several excerpts from JulieAnne’s endless defamation, he recommended that we FILE A LAWSUIT in an appeal to Caesar as the Apostle Paul did when falsely accused of crimes against God and the state. The lawsuit has been filed in the Washington County courthouse. JulieAnne and many of those involved in her present and historic slander will be served within the week. Her many lies and vicious criminal accusations will not stand in the light of day in the Washington County courthouse or in the coming courtroom before God. OVER THREE YEARS AGO the reviewer known as JulieAnne or “BROWN” was Biblically put out of Beaverton Grace Bible Church for ongoing vicious slander. You can see my 2009 response to her in the reviews below .

This “review” (it’s not really a review of Beaverton Grace Church, it’s a review of me, but strangely, I don’t see “Julie Anne Smith” at the top of the Google site, but Beaverton Grace Bible Church).

Side note:  Can someone do me a favor and look up the rules on Google reviews and see if it is okay for a “business owner” to review the reviewer?   Also, can someone explain to me how my reviews were mysteriously removed?  I contacted Google to have one of Chuck’s reviews removed (one where he is removing me) and they wouldn’t do it.  They said they would need me to send them official court documentation before they would do it.  Well, nothing has gone to court yet, but many reviews of mine were removed.  How did they get removed?  Weird.   Sorry – that is just one thing that has bothered me for a while.  Anyway .  .

Back to the story . . . . . after I saw that review stating we would be served, I made a phone call to Grace Community Church on February 27.  We played phone tag and I believe we finally connected on February 29.  I spoke with a “pastor of the day”.   I explained to him my story about the threatened lawsuit, the difficulties and challenges our family had with the church and wanted to know if he had any way of determining if in fact Chuck O’Neal had indeed been told by pastor(s) of Grace Community Church (John MacArthur’s church) to sue me.

I don’t have time to dig them up right now, but there are blog posts (on my blog) and/or comments discussing Grace Community Church’s involvement in this.  A number of readers have quoted John MacArthur from his sermons/books/teachings where he discusses that Christians are not to sue other Christians.  In all of MacArthur’s teachings that I saw, there was no exception for a Christian to sue another Christian, so that is why the interest in knowing if in fact a pastor from GCC recommended that Chuck O’Neal sue us.

The pastor told me, that as far as he could tell based on their record-keeping system, there was no record of Chuck calling any pastor regarding the lawsuit.  I made sure he spelled it correctly “O’Neal”, not “O’Neil”, and he again confirmed it.  He did say that if Chuck had a personal phone number of a pastor, then it was possible that he did hear from another pastor.   I was a bit surprised that this pastor didn’t volunteer something like:  “Based on scripture, Christians should not be suing one another, so I highly doubt one of our pastor encouraged your pastor to sue you. ”  John MacArthur does not mince words on this subject, so why wouldn’t his pastors?  But that did not happen.

Six days later, on March 1, 2012, my husband received the subpoena.  Whoa!  It’s pretty weird to see the names in all caps:  CHUCK O’NEAL/BEAVERTON GRACE BIBLE CHURCH  vs JULIE ANNE SMITH (etc) on an official court document.

The following week, I received a phone call and the Caller ID said “Grace Community”.  I thought that was odd – perhaps a follow-up call from the previous pastor to see how I was doing?  No, it was a pastor from Grace Community, Bill Shannon.  I had no idea who this pastor was, but he said that he wanted to hear my side of the story regarding the lawsuit.  He told me that Chuck had requested counsel.   Chuck O’Neal and other men from church were in S. California to attend the annual Shepherd’s Conference put on by Grace Community.  Bill asked me background questions and said they were planning on meeting with Chuck O’Neal later in the week.   At the very end of the conversation he asked what it would take for me to remove my posts off the internet.  I gave him conditions.

Later on in the week, they did meet.  I had sent an additional e-mail of conditions we would like if Chuck agreed to drop the lawsuit.  Chuck did not agree and so I received a follow-up e-mail from Bill that Grace Community could no longer help.

What I failed to do was ask Bill if he could confirm or deny that any pastor encouraged Chuck to sue us.

This is where things take off regarding Grace Community.  Of course I personally wanted to know GCC’s stand on this issue, evidently FBX Jax did as well and made it part of the focus of his post.

After I saw FBX Jax’ blog post on Mother’s Day (Mother and Daughter Being Sued by Their Former Pastor – Pastor Claims He Was Told to Sue by John MacArthur’s Church),  I remembered I had a draft copy of an e-mail I was going to send to Bill Shannon asking him to let me know whether or not he or any pastor at GCC had recommended to Chuck that he sue us.  This had been a matter of discussion on my blog recently, so I finally sent that e-mail to Bill yesterday (May 14) afternoon.

A few hours later, I noticed that Dee of Wartburg Watch Blog also took off on that same topic.

Pastor Makes International News by Suing Blogging Critic-Is John MacArthur’s Church Involved?

There were a couple things I wanted to talk about regarding the post, so I called Dee.   I was surprised to learn that she, too, had contacted Grace Community on the same day – only a few hours earlier, asking about the same info.   That was a strange coincidence.

Late night, I saw a reader comment from Phil Johnson:

Phil Johnson UNITED STATES on Mon, May 14 2012 at 09:53 pm

Dee:
I just learned about this story for the first time at noon today. I couldn’t locate your e-mail address, bit if you’ll e-mail me, I’ll send you an official statement from Grace Church and John MacArthur that you can publish. If you want to talk further by phone, I’ll tell you what I learned about this situation this afternoon. I’ll give you my cell # by e-mail.

So I left this comment on Phil’s blog since I couldn’t find a place to e-mail him:

Blogger Julie Anne said…

Sorry, Phil, I see no other way of contacting you. Can you please have someone contact me regarding the situation with Beaverton Grace Bible Church lawsuit against 5 former members? I’m one of the defendants named in the lawsuit and most likely the primary reason Chuck O’Neal had a meeting with Bill and another pastor. I would like to have this information since it pertains more to me and friends (former church member) than anyone else.

Bill Shannon has my e-mail and phone number. Or else you may contact me at bgbcsurvivors@gmail.com

8:40 PM, May 14, 2012

Timeline:

Feb 25 –  Chuck posts review saying he is suing us

Feb 29 – talked with pastor of the day from GCC

Mar 1 –  Received subpoena

Mar 5 or 6 –  Bill Shannon phoned me to ask questions

Mar 9 – Bill Shannon told me he can no longer help in our situation after meeting with Chuck

Did they or did they not encourage Chuck to sue us?  That is the question!

So, now we wait for Dee and Phil Johnson to connect so she can post the official statement from John MacArthur on this situation.  Would someone please send me a dose of patience?