Christian Blogger Invited to Speak at Free Thinkers’ Meeting about Abuse in Christian Churches

Free Thinker, Atheist, Christian Blogger, Thought Reform, Patriarchy, Spiritual Abuse, Cults




Last Sunday, I had the privilege of speaking at a Free Thinkers group. Privilege, some might ask? You bet. I will take any opportunity afforded to share the truth, set the record straight, and especially let people know that I, as a Christian, am displeased by the state of the Body of Christ when it comes to abuse and our response to abuse.

I feel I have a connection with many atheists. You see, when my defamation lawsuit went viral, I received over 500 emails of support. Many of those emails were sent by people who were harmed in the church, and then became atheist. This was originally a surprise to me, and  it saddened me. So many of these folks get spiritual abuse. They see the dysfunction and hypocrisy of celebrity pastors and leaders. Many of them are upset by what they see, and rightly so. If only those within the Body of Christ would get worked up about it!

It all started when I was in my Environmental Science class at school. Continue reading

The Fallout of Spiritual Abuse on Our Children

Children Harmed by Spiritual Abuse

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Pastor Chuck O’Neal Who Sued 5 Former Church Members for $500,000 for Defamation Claims His First Amendment Rights are Violated When Police Officer Asks Him to Move to Side of Road to Preach

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Pastor Chuck O’Neal claims Portland-area police officer is threatening his First Amendment Rights. This is the same pastor who sued 4 former church members  $500,000 for speaking out publicly against him.

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Pastor Chuck O’Neal and Open Air Preacher Tony Miano to Speak at Jeremiah Cry Conference Hosted at Beaverton Grace Bible Church

Chuck O’Neal and Beaverton Grace Bible Church to host Jeremiah Cry Ministries “The Soul Winner” conference. O’Neal will be speaking as well as Open Air Preacher Tony Miano.

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Whose Rights are Protected in The Gospel Coalition’s Article on Churches and Current Legal Culture?

 Church Membership is being pushed in The Gospel Coalition’s recent article. Whose rights are protected?


Christina Holcomb, litigation counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, wrote an article for The Gospel Coalition (TGC), 5 Actions Churches Should Take in a Changing Legal Culture, which was published today.

I can’t help but perk up and take notice when I read about churches and legal counsel after having been sued by my former pastor, Chuck O’Neal, and the church, Beaverton Grace Bible Church. Please note that both my former pastor and the church were plaintiffs named in the lawsuit. Here are a couple of screenshots from this lovely document that altered the course of my life:

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Back page:

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Ms. Holcomb summarizes the new threats she sees in our current culture as it relates to religious rights and freedoms:

These new political, cultural, and legal realities directly affect the church’s freedom to live out its faith. While most church decisions about internal governance or doctrine currently enjoy constitutional protection, churches cannot assume that these protections will stand indefinitely. Maintaining a gospel-centered witness in today’s culture requires not only standing firm on the truths of Scripture, but also taking affirmative steps to protect the church’s freedom to continue peacefully teach and live out its faith.

She gave a brief paragraph for the following points:

1. Adopt a written statement of faith about marriage.

2. Establish religious employment criteria.

3. Create a facility use policy.

4. Establish a written marriage policy.

It is the last point, “Adopt a written membership policy,” where I would like to focus.  Here is what she wrote:

5. Adopt a written membership policy.

Only those persons who “unite” with the church have consented to the church’s authority over them. As a result, churches with formal members have greater legal protection when it becomes necessary to exercise church discipline. Churches are encouraged to adopt a written membership policy that explains the procedure for becoming a church member, procedures for member discipline, and procedures for rescinding church membership.

Of course, this recommendation does not mean that a church should adopt a form of church government to which it does not subscribe. Churches can still have designated members who affirm they are committed to and part of a church body, even if there is no voting or say in church practices.

Okie-dokie, I have a couple of thoughts:

Notice in the first sentence:  Only those persons who “unite” with the church have consented to the church’s authority over them

When you become a member, you are agreeing/consenting to the church’s authority over you.

Ok, now take a look at the second sentence:  As a result, churches with formal members have greater legal protection when it becomes necessary to exercise church discipline.

Look again closely. Who has the protection?  The member or the church?

Also please note that she’s encouraging all churches to adopt a written membership policy. 


Christiana Holcomb lays it out for us pretty clearly. She says the church must protect themselves first.

But when abusive church leadership has the law on their side and they don’t agree with you, a covenant-signed church member, you could be hosed.


I was sued without being a church member (despite the fabrications you read elsewhere by Chuck O’Neal). We never signed any documentation, never went before the church body to say we were formally agreeing to be members. I have a copy of the bylaws and know what membership entails and we were not official members, but my daughter and I were still sued.

Imagine, however, being in an abusive church in which your church membership is hung over your head and you are reminded that you signed the dotted line. You may have forfeited some of your legal rights. Please think very carefully about church membership. It is not a biblical mandate. It is a modern cultural trend.

Edited to add:  It looks like Dee at The Wartburg Watch blog also had a strong reaction to this article and wrote a blog post. There are some real practical helps here: http://thewartburgwatch.com/2015/04/09/further-proof-you-are-signing-a-legal-contract-not-a-membership-covenant-courtesy-of-the-gospel-coalition/

Flashback: This Week At the Shepherds’ Conference with Pastor Chuck O’Neal Three Years Ago

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Three years ago, I was sued by my ex-pastor, Chuck O’Neal, pastor of Beaverton Grace Bible Church, for speaking out on social media about the abuse we and other families incurred.

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

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Some Pastors Think They Get to Control the Details of Your Lives, Even the Colors of Clothes You Wear

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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 Ministry of Honor, Genuine Love, and Righteousness by Truthful Speech? Or Not?

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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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Facebook Comments Removed from Tony Miano’s Facebook Page When Commenter Asks About Donation $$

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Tony Miano put out a plea for donations on his Facebook page,  however, Tony’s admin guy, Chris H. deleted comments made by someone questioning about the money.  The commenter was accused of slander, defamation, and threatened to ban from posting on the Facebook page.  Bully, much?

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Invitation to Participate in New Spiritual Abuse Research Study by Dr. Barb Orlowski

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Spiritual abuse author Dr. Barb Orlowski to conduct a new spiritual abuse survivor survey and is looking for participants.

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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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Beaverton Grace Bible Church’s Pastor Chuck O’Neal: Your Past Will Find You

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Today, Willamette Week, a Portland news outlet, published their third recent article on Pastor Chuck O’Neal, my former pastor who sued me and four others for $500,000.  The first article dealt with his protesting at a local abortion clinic and how civic leaders were looking into whether any civil codes were being violated.  This particular situation got additional coverage beyond Willamette Week’s reports:  KATU.com and Oregonlive.com.

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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

What are the similarities between the SGM and Dubai Abuse Cases?

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I got all worked up after reading the following article.  Of course it was the initial outrage because of the story, but there was something more beneath that story.  What was it?  Well, of course, it was reminding me of how victims reach out for help from pastors and church leadership and  sometimes church leaders fail in their response or even non-response.  Obviously a big difference in this article is that the victim is an adult.  In the Sovereign Grace lawsuit, the victims were minors. Continue reading

Spiritual Abuse: Who is to Blame? The Pastor or the Congregant?

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Wicked shepherds have been around for a long, long time.  This passage is from the Old Testament:

The word of the Lord came to me:  “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep?

You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. Continue reading

Beware of False Prophets: By Their Fruits You Will Know Them

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“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.  

Matthew 7:15-19

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Please help me blow the bullhorn on Spiritual Abuse.  Right now we are focusing on Calvary Chapel churches.  Exposure is key.  Use that little Facebook button and Twitter button and send it out.  Let people know what is going on in churches that damage and destroy lives emotionally and spiritually.  Exposure makes change happen.  Silence prolongs it.

BGBC Defamation Lawsuit Archive: How to Document Spiritual Abuse in Your Church

Every account like this makes a difference for those of us who’ve survived spiritually abusive situations.

And hopefully, in the long run, courageous people like yourself and others who choose to do something will help turn the tide.  

~Brad Sargent

Stroll back with me to one year ago.  A year ago, my life was about to turn upside down.  Having been silenced through abuse during my childhood, I was not about to be silenced again by a man who was no longer my pastor and had managed to get Google to remove my Google reviews.  And so a blog was started:  BGBC Survivors.

It’s interesting to go back and read those initial posts and comments from readers.  This morning I noticed that all of the initial commenters used “Anonymous” as their pseudonym when posting.  Why was that? Because these people knew the power of that pastor – that Pastor Chuck O’Neal would create all sorts of trouble for them if they dared to comment using their real name.

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