Jane’s story, The Master’s University, rape, Eric Davis, John MacArthur, #DoYouSeeUs
Eric Davis, pastor of Cornerstone Church in Jackson Hole, WY, posted an article at Cripplegate.com, “Do You See Me?”: A Partial Response, in response to the account of “Jane,” an alleged rape victim whose sexual assault, kidnapping, and drugging was reportedly mishandled by The Master’s University leaders. You can read the horrific story Do You See Me?.
Before we break apart Pastor Davis’ article, I received this text from Jane, and she gave me permission to post it. I thought it was a good clarifying statement about why she posted her story.
The Master’s University, The Master’s Seminary, Grace Community Church, John MacArthur, Sexual Assault, Sexual Abuse, Jane’s Story, #DoYouSeeUs
Introducing the Account of Master’s University Student “Jane” Being Raped
Earlier this week (September 18), blogger Marci Preheim shared the story of Jane (pseudonym), a Master’s University student who was drugged, then raped. The horrific story of what happened and how she was treated afterward is entitled, Do You See Me? This incident occurred in 2006, 11 years ago.
Of course, this has created quite an uproar in social media, so much so, that statements from Pastor John MacArthur’s church and schools were posted on the Facebook pages of Grace Community Church (GCC), The Master’s University (TMU), and The Master’s Seminary (TMS). John MacArthur is the pastor of Grace Community Church, and founder and president of both The Master’s University and The Master’s Seminary.
Here is the statement posted on these Facebook pages: Continue reading
Phil Johnson, Grace Community Church, Sex Abuse, Domestic Violence, Twitter
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
Domestic Violence, Phil Johnson, Grace Community Church, John MacArthur
How to help a family member or friend leave a high-controlling church group or cult: spiritual abuse, trapped, thought reform, mind control, freedom
“Mind control is the process by which individual or collective freedom of choice and action is compromised by agents or agencies that modify or distort perception, motivation, affect, cognition and/or behavioral outcomes. It is neither magical nor mystical, but a process that involves a set of basic social psychological principles. Conformity, compliance, persuasion, dissonance, reactance, guilt and fear arousal, modeling and identification are some of the staple social influence ingredients well studied in psychological experiments and field studies. In some combinations, they create a powerful crucible of extreme mental and behavioral manipulation when synthesized with several other real-world factors, such as charismatic, authoritarian leaders, dominant ideologies, social isolation, physical debilitation, induced phobias, and extreme threats or promised rewards that are typically deceptively orchestrated, over an extended time period in settings where they are applied intensively.”
― Steven Hassan,
I’ve heard it said that losing a child to death can be a parent’s worst nightmare. Now imagine having lost your adult child and their family, not to death, but to a high-controlling church or cult. Imagine not being able to celebrate birthdays or major holidays together. Imagine having only limited contact with your adult child and their family. How could your loved one entirely dismiss you, act like you are a stranger or enemy when you did nothing to them? Continue reading
Phil Johnson, C.J. Mahaney, Sovereign Grace Ministries Sex Abuse Case, Together for the Gospel, #T4G2016, Survivor Blogs
Does Tony Miano’s ministry show kindness, genuine love, truthful speech and honor, or is he heralding slander instead of God’s Holy Word?
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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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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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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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Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. Jeremiah 23:16
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Covenant Life Church (CLC) in Maryland which recently severed ties with Sovereign Grace Ministries has posted a job opening for Executive Director. The job description is posted here. I took a screenshot below and highlighted the area which left me with some questions.
* * *“Mental illness” is a poor term, sounding like “It’s just your mind.” But a broken brain is as physical as a broken bone. Rick Warren tweeted 4/13/13 a week after his son committed suicide.
I still have a couple of more thoughts regarding the Nally suicide case discussed last week: How do Churches Handle Difficult Mental Health Cases, Biblical Counseling, and the Law? and Biblical Counseling and Mental Health Crises: Does it Always Work?.
As a recap, here is why John MacArthur and three other pastors from Grace Community were sued following the 1979 suicide death of 24-yr old member and bible college student, Kenneth Nally:
The suit charges that the defendants knew young Nally needed professional psychiatric care but actively dissuaded him from seeking it. In addition it is claimed that Nally’s turmoil was worsened by the religious guidance he received—guidance that “exacerbated Kenneth Nally’s preexisting feelings of guilt, anxiety and depression” and characterized suicide as a legitimate remedy for an unsuccessful life. (Source)
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A friend sent me a tragic story this morning. It is an older story from 1979 involving John MacArthur’s church, Grace Community Church, and a young man, Kenneth Nally, who at the age of 24 shot himself and died. He suffered from depression and sought counsel from church leaders/counselors. The counseling provided at Grace Community is biblical counseling. They do not claim to be trained mental health professionals.
Kenneth’s father, Walter Nally, later filed a $1 million lawsuit against Grace Community Church and four leaders for malpractice and negligence in their son’s death.
Before I get to the subject of this article, I wanted to give a brief update on my court case: I’ve had a few people asking me on the blog and privately if my former pastor has paid the attorney’s fees. He and/or the church did pay the attorney fees for the two defendants who were dismissed early on. I believe this amount was just under $17,000. Judge Fun has not issued an order for the fees yet for our portion, nor has there been any action on the plaintiff’s side to appeal. So basically, my understanding is we are waiting for Judge Fun to issue the order to get that ball rolling.
|“Church” as seen through the eyes of my now 10-yr old resident artist.|
It appears that my case is winding down or is seemingly quiet for the moment. The case victory means I am free to speak my mind on the internet within the rights of the Constitution. Yea for Freedom of Speech! Other bloggers like me are continuing to share their difficult church stories and their speech is protected, too. My blog did not remove my pastor from the pulpit, but it has served the initial purpose of having a place to tell my story in hopes that others could identify spiritual abuse and we can all learn and heal from our experiences.
Has this blog served any other purpose? Regulars may be familiar with my friend and reader brad/futuristguy. Brad has experienced spiritual abuse and has been compiling information, following trends and patterns regarding spiritual abuse for years. We’ve been observing how bloggers and social media are impacting the views of church by uncovering and creating document archives for church abuse stories, discussing the financial misdeeds and power plays of pastors, watching how churches handle sex abuse in church. The internet has allowed us to get a close-up look at what churches are doing right and wrong.
Disclaimer: I am keenly aware that there are in fact troublemakers in churches who are chronic grumblers and complainers who have posted negative comments online about their church. This article is not discussing that problematic issue, but real cases of abuse coming from pastors and leaders in the church.
It’s interesting to note that my church was a Podunk church of maybe 100 congregants, yet it made the headlines as if it were a mega church. Most people in Beaverton probably didn’t even know of the small church. The church is not on a major road and sits back behind a small housing development. Reader, Kathi, is from the area and had no clue where the church was until I told her, yet, the media attention broadcast the church’s and pastor’s name far and wide around the world so that names Beaverton Grace Bible Church and Chuck O’Neal became publicly known as the church/pastor who sued a mother and former congregants for $500,000. The internet and social media have put churches, regardless of size, on an even playing field. What this means is that my single voice – – – or your single voice – – – from Podunk, USA – – can be heard just as loud as someone’s voice from a mega church with a celebrity pastor. This is very important to note.
Mega-churches are certainly realizing the impact of social media and the effect it has on their reputation. Take my case for example. My former pastor falsely said in his Google review that a pastor from mega church Grace Community Church (Pastor John MacArthur’s church) told him it was okay to sue me. (That is my paraphrase.) This comment was picked up by popular Christian bloggers and went viral. Even mainstream media picked up on this information and added it to their news stories. This false comment threatened the reputation of Grace Community Church, Grace to You, and Pastor John MacArthur to such an extent that Phil Johnson, John MacArthur’s right-hand man, had to involve himself in my Podunk church’s lawsuit mess and issued a press release on behalf of John MacArthur and Grace Community. Do you see the ripple effect?
There is a new reality for pastors and others who may be attempting to hide their spiritually abusive practices. The internet has become a real threat to pastors who once found a safe haven in the walls of their church to continue their destructive behavior. The internet has allowed individuals to voice their concerns LOUDLY. Podunk pastors may not realize this new reality yet, but larger, more popular churches like Sovereign Grace Ministries, Grace Community, Mars Hill, and so many other Christian celebrity people and places are certainly aware of it.
The BGBC/O’Neal lawsuit was pivotal to watch last summer because it discussed freedom of speech regarding church abuse. Because of the clear victory in my case, a precedent has been set, giving bloggers added confidence to know that it is within their rights to publish their stories and express their opinions about their negative experiences in churches or ministries with strong words like: spiritual abuse, cult, creepy. They can even discuss publicly online how churches handle sex abuse or sex offenders.
My case represented spiritual abuse and also discussed sexual abuse and how it is handled by leaders within a church. A huge case that has been in the headlines around the same time has been the handling of the sex abuse case at Penn State. The world has been watching how Penn State staff, administration, and trustees handled (or mishandled) the many sex abuse cases connected with Jerry Sandusky. This case has caused outrage across the nation as we have seen how those involved in that system, one after another, failed to take appropriate measures and/or report crimes to authorities.
We have seen in many news accounts that there were far more efforts in defending the image of Jerry Sandusky and Penn State than protecting and defending innocent children. This story has caused many universities and organizations to take a closer look at their abuse policies. That is good. I recently posted about mandatory reporters at church and how some states allow pastors an exemption from reporting abuse, yet other states will arrest church leaders who fail to report. These are hot topics in churches and organizations across the States. Hopefully, as church abuse cases are coming to light, church leaders will be taking a good look at their policies regarding sex abuse and spiritual abuse.
My strong words were regarding my little church, but they represented a small sampling of what is happening all over the states in small churches and mega churches. There are a number of ongoing church situations similar to mine, with bloggers and members/former members sharing their personal accounts. I think it is important to take note of these situations and observe how they are handled in the church setting, and also observe how other pastors and outsiders are responding. Here are some that come to mind quickly:
Calvary Chapel: Abuses are noted in the Calvary Chapel family of churches. A current situation is Pastor Bob Grenier of Calvary Chapel Visalia threatening to sue 4 former church members for defamation. Other personal accounts of spiritual abuse are shared involving many Calvary Chapel churches.
Sovereign Grace Ministries: The blogs, SGMSurvivors.com and SGMRefuge.com, deal with the heavy-handed abuse, sexual abuse cover-ups in the family of churches, Pastor CJ Mahaney’s abuse of authority, blackmailing former church leader, etc.
Mars Hill: Joyful Exiles and Mars Hill Refuge – these blogs are no longer “active” but the stories are there – permanently archived on the internet. These cover the heavy-handedness of Pastor Mark Driscoll in use of “church discipline,” his use of church memberships in controlling ways, etc.
I will be highlighting one of the above church groups in the next post because there’s a whole lot of shakin’ going on and it is important to keep tabs on this situation in light of church trends in dealing with spiritual abuse and sex abuse.
|Countdown: 5 days till court date, drawn by JA’s 9-yr old|
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!
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:
– 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!
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.
|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.
– Feb 25, 2012DEFAMATION 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.
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:
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:
Julie Anne said…
Bill Shannon has my e-mail and phone number. Or else you may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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?