Snippets – How should churches handle known predators? Should mental illness be disclosed in congregational meetings? Can we see Stockholm Syndrome?

Lots of interesting discussion in the comments of the previous post.  Reader and commenter “Nickname” had this to say about the question of how churches ought to handle things when there are known predators in their midst:

Let’s say that when SGM leaders found out, they went to the perp and said, “We know what you did, and you need treatment. We will see that you get the very best treatment available for people who are attracted to children. You need to repent and ask God’s forgiveness, but you need to realize that you have forfeited the privilege of being included in church activities. You will not be allowed to be in places where children are present, for their protection as well as theirs. The child that you molested will never see your face again. You may write a letter of apology, but you will never be present in this child’s life. You must pay all expenses for this victim’s medical and psychiatric treatment, and we’ll begin a fund for that — deposit your first check within two weeks.  We will pray with you and help you with treatment. We believe that in Christ, we are new creations, but we also know that pedophiles are generally not cured. We know that only God can recognize genuine repentance, and we are not qualified to determine if your repentance is real.  If, in your case, you experience a miraculous recovery, you would certainly never wish for a child to be endangered or traumatized by your presence, so you will voluntarily identify yourself as a prior offender, and remove yourself from any activities involving kids. Adam and Eve repented and were forgiven, but they still lost the garden.”

And let’s say that SGM said to the victims and the parents, “This was NOT your fault. Nobody deserves to be abused, (even if we do believe that we’re all sinners who deserve wrath) and we will do everything we can to prevent anything like this from happening again. We’re gonna help you get treatment. We love you, and are so sorry that you have been hurt. You will never have to see that perp again in your life. We’ll pray for you, and ask God to help you figure out how, in time, to forgive this heinous act, but we know that can’t be coerced.  We’re not experts at this, but we’re going to learn how to be. How can we help make this easier for you?”

If they had done all that — they’d still be at fault for not reporting to authorities. But we sure wouldn’t be standing where we’re standing now.

Suppose that when the very first rumors of strange behavior surfaced, or the very first pedophile was arrested within the ‘family of churches’  they had said, “We need to find out more about this problem. We need to call in some experts and have them teach us, and talk to the kids and talk to the parents. Maybe nothing else has happened, but this is something we need to learn about.”  After all, they called in so-called parenting experts to give seminars, and even produced a video series about parenting.  Why not a class on how to form child protection policies, and how to deal with the situation if a  predator breaches the child protection policies?

What if they followed the example of Vienna Presbyterian Church in Virginia, who found out years later that a youth pastor had been a predator, and although they were advised by their insurance company to keep quiet, they apologized and tried to make things right?

And suppose that today, after the lawsuit dismissal, they said something like, ‘We realize that we have been spared a terrible trial due to a technicality, and we are freshly aware of God’s mercy. (Oops — had to throw in a little SGM-ese there.) We will do everything in our power to bring healing, restoration, and restitution to every one of these victims. Although we stated that our preliminary investigation has turned up no evidence, we will ask for help from someone who specializes in child sexual abuse cases, and leave no stone unturned until we are sure that everything in our power will be done to find and make public the truth. We want to become educated about this kind of thing. We’d like to be the pioneers in championing victims and identifying pedophilic tendencies, and start providing treatment for people who are at risk for offending before they ever commit an immoral act. We were wrong. We admit it, we regret it, and we will make sure that nothing like this ever happens again. We will try to ascertain the truth behind every allegation. clear the names of anyone who is actually innocent of charges, and cooperate with the prosecution of anyone who has actually committed these atrocities. We have x amount of dollars in the bank, and will use every dollar if necessary toward the purpose of restoring every dime these families lost due to our wrong behavior. We cannot presume to even ask your forgiveness; all we can do is offer our deepest apologies, repentance, and love for these victims.  Here is the way we will handle any further allegations of abuses from the past or in the future…..’

There’d be a standing ovation, and SGM could deserve some kudos from the RBD’s and the wider Christian world.

I may have missed something — does anyone else have educated info on what they really ought to say and do about this case?

The sad reality, of course, is that several of the churches within Sovereign Grace Ministries did none of these things.  If anything, they seemed to work overtime to conceal predators, cover up for them, and advocate for them, all the while judging the predators’ victims as being in sin for bitterness and a lack of forgiveness.  (See this post for links to survivors’ stories and an analysis of the mindset behind leaders’ weird responses.)

At the same time, though, some SGM churches take quite a different approach to how they handle the perceived sins of those struggling with mental illness.  From various readers, we have learned that this past Sunday, it was announced at one SGM church that a pastor was stepping down specifically because his wife was “mentally ill.”  Perspectives and opinions vary wildly as to the accuracy and truthfulness of the pastors’ statements about this situation, but in my view, the larger question is one of whether or not such a discussion in such a setting is even appropriate in the first place.

And, isn’t it interesting that the protectiveness SGM leaders have been willing to extend to pedophiles does not appear to extend to a pastor’s wife with (perceived) mental issues?

Finally, I received a couple of emails asking me to talk more about something I posted last night as a comment.  It’s my opinion that one of the reasons SGM pastors have behaved in controlling and even spiritually abusive ways toward members in the past is because many of them honestly buy into the idea that taking a hardline stand against certain issues is the way they can best “serve” and lead members.  I’d even go so far as to say I think at least some of these otherwise nice Christian guys who at points have seemed to have tremendously tender hearts for the Lord fall victim to Stockholm Syndrome during their SGM training.  Here’s the comment I posted:

I think the SGM system is set up so that everyone — from members to pastors — is conditioned to lord authority over those beneath them.  Parents are trained to submit themselves to pastors while demanding that their children submit instantly and joyously to them.  And of course, in order to be even considered for a leadership role, a man has to demonstrate total unquestioning submission to the men above him.

From what I’ve heard, the Pastors College curriculum for several years included a very grueling discipleship process, where each pastoral candidate and his wife were assigned a corresponding “discipler” couple who would then proceed to probe the candidate couple’s lives.  One woman whose husband had gone through the PC in the earlier 2000s (I’m thinking like 2002 or 2003) wrote me to describe what this was like.  She compared it to being cut open and having all her insides pulled out and laid out on a table, with everyone free to examine and point out everything that needed fixing.  It honestly sounded utterly awful.

But by the end of the 9 months, the couples who made it through the process had come around to be OK with it and even think it was great.  It occurred to me that it was not unlike how a kidnapping victim can fall prey to Stockholm Syndrome, where he or she ends up empathizing and willfully taking on the belief system of his or her kidnapper.

Is it any wonder that these pastors, who were themselves put through the wringer, would turn around and believe that it was their duty to “disciple” those in their congregations with the same hardline coldness and sin-sniffing with which they themselves had been discipled?

It’s really a classic case of the abused becoming the abusers.

1,349 comments

  1. 5yearsinPDI says:

    I posted this on the last thread but it was closed. Sorry to digress but I wanted to show support for Jill.

    ********

    Even some of us Reformed amillenialists who reject dispensationalism think we might be getting real close to the end of the mil, where there is an unloosing of Satan to deceive the nations leading up to Gog Magog. Plenty of historic premils like Grudem who also reject dispensationalism think we might be getting close to the return of the Lord…if not us, our kids could see it.

    Ever since Fermi sat next to the first nuclear pile in Chicago, in December 1942, we have been heading into great tribulation. Nuclear warheads will bring about suffering like this world has never known. 2/3 of the world hooked into the electric grid for food, water, heat, sewage, cooking, gasoline……and a few good solar flares could wipe all that out. Antibiotics are losing their effectiveness, and new disease threats emerge all the time. So many biblical threats. Asteroids, famines, war.

    And they think this is mental illness? Even some of the postmills believe we will see a massive glorious global revival that will be the end of the times of the gentiles, leading up to the very end.

    Stupid. They think they learn a little bit of Reformed theology and know everything.

    I am happy to hear J& B are moving far away. May God bless them.

    Oswald, you really want to keep going there? I don’t know the area to suggest alternativs, but there must be something decent near you.

    Allison….I don’t think it would work. The emotions and the stories are just too interwoven to separate them out in a discussion forum. I would think Brent’s blog has enough clear facts laid out to convince anybody who wants to know the truth if you want to direct somebody there. Or direct them to the link here up top of “the stories”.

  2. 5yearsinPDI says:

    I posted this last night on the other thread, and I am only reposting it because I felt like the Lord spoke this to me as I was in prayer. Until leaders change on a deep inner level such that their first obligation is to care for their wives and children, and secondly the congregation, no approach will work. None. When self gratification of sexual desire it promoted from the very top, predators on some level will find an ally.

    ************

    I believe the Lord spoke to me tonight that SGM men have been brainwashed into thinking that they deserve sexual gratification whenever they want it. If your wife is sick with the flu, or ready to vomit, you deserve it. If she has her period, you deserve it and she must use a “period blanket”. If she is in terrible pain the night before an operation, too bad, you deserve it. If the two of you are driving home and you want to stop at a hotel and do it this instant, you stop, even if it costs over a hundred bucks to lack self control enough to wait for your own bedroom. If you are struggling with sex because he was fondling your daughter, he gets it when he wants it and you need to perform better.

    I think this carries over in some dark and disgusting way such that even the perps deserve sex with kids. Of course they would never say that, or even intellectually assent to that, and of course they would deny it. But there is this insidious atmosphere of foul unclean demandingness that the guy gets it no matter what(every 48 hours some of them used to say- a biological need) such that self control and self denial just isn’t expected. Guys have a right, and wives are to meet that right with no exceptions…..and is it all that hard to understand not coming down on a guy who slipped up with little girls?

    I felt like the Lord showed me tonight that CJ brought in unclean sexual teachings that are demanding, inconsiderate, and really dark. Probably demonic, although I don’t know what is flesh and what is evil spirit. And while of course I don’t think he is a pedophile, I think he laid the groundwork to protect perps and ignore the children. After all, men deserve it when they want it no matter how much pain or struggle it brings to the woman.

  3. annie says:

    Mary, to follow up after the last thread, I just read your story. I’m so very sad that they treated you that way. I appreciate these words you wrote:

    “I truly believe in grace. Jesus’ blood was enough for my sin. The gospel really is good news! A big thank you to all who had the courage to share where at SGM they have been and their stories. And, a big hug for those that are still afraid to share. I understand. Love and hugs to you out there. In the words of Jason Gray: “I won’t deny, the worst you can say about me. But, I’m not defined by mistakes that I’ve made because God says I’m free.” My freedom was beyond costly. A cost I can’t even comprehend. Thanks be to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. May the rest of my life bring glory to Him!”

    Amen! May mine, too! I know it took courage to write your story. You have more courage than I do. Thanks for your kindness after my rudeness. :)

  4. Kris says:

    I would ask that we refrain from using the pastor’s wife’s full name. Initials are good.

  5. It's just the beginning says:

    Yellow is.., #529 (previous post): I agree Ronin’s choice of words (“accuser”) was a poor choice. I chalk that up to carelessness, not intent to consider that person merely an ‘accuser’ (versus the victim she most certainly was). Those who have posted often on here, myself included, have been careless with words at times.

    Ronin: did you realize your subtle choice of words in your quote here:
    “D.A. did do what he’s being accused of, but he already went to jail for that; he has served his sentence and paid his penalty to society and the __accuser__.”

    You mean the VICTIM who was sexually abused for 3 years.

  6. Diego says:

    All SGM is doing is about image. A complaint about SGM a few years ago was they did not present a complete gospel. They started to say “Jesus” more to prove they weren’t a cult. They have been critisized that they don’t believe in mental illness, now you are hearing this term from the pulpit. it is all about image. Showing christiandom how intune they are to the spirit. They offer no confession or show any repentance from their sin. Their fruit is not that of the Holy Spirit.

  7. Steve240 says:

    I had a brief discussion with someone fairly high up in SGM about what CFC Leaders did to the one wife. This was his response:

    I was not at the meeting and don’t know what was said. Certainly I think a situation like this one requires a great degree of care and tact.

    If any CFC member or pastor has questions on the conduct of the meeting they can appeal locally and then regionally according to the new polity.

    Apart from a just process and a full investigation I will not speculate on what was said and what should be done about it. And I don’t have any immediate authority to directly intervene – that is really up to the members and pastors of CFC.

    Well here is an opportunity to try the new polity out and see if it works. Does any CFC member care to make an appeal?

  8. Bridget says:

    Steve –

    “Apart from a just process and a full investigation I will not speculate on what was said and what should be done about it. And I don’t have any immediate authority to directly intervene – that is really up to the members and pastors of CFC.”

    Do any members have access or way to even know what the new polity gives them the power or right to do? Did they all receive a copy of it before their appointed leaders signed them up to be committed to it?

    I don’t remember reading anything in the polity that instructed a member as to how to bring a grievance. That polity structure was about the leaders, leadership structure, and protecting the leaders and SGM. I didn’t read much in it that was for the purpose of protecting and nurishing the members of that institution.

    How can this SGM leader say that it is up to the members? Were any “members” consulted before this announcement was made and this woman’s life was laid bare before this church? Did the “Team of 9 Men” on staff think outside of their own group maleness think machine? At this point, I think it is almost impossible for any team of leaders in an SGM church to have a wide diversity of thinking on anything. They are all “ingrown” in their thinking and relationships – many are even related by blood.

  9. Steve240 says:

    Bridget

    Good questions. Again this is what the leader shared. Hopefully some member will try this avenue and report what really happens.

  10. mary says:

    Annie – thank you. I didn’t think you were rude at all. God has healed me and I no longer need anything from SGM. I do have a passion for. the Church. I would love to see repentance from the leadership one day but I no longer need validated. I just think it would be the right thing for them to do. I also think leaders can change the culture of a church. But without repentance theiir reputation will not be rebuilt.

  11. GGMo says:

    Per nicknames comments.

    “If they had done all that — they’d still be at fault for not reporting to authorities. ”

    I’m not so sure I understand that. In Maryland at least I can find nowhere a criminal penalty for failure to report. There is a requirement to report if you work in the public school system, hospital, social services, or police but nothing other than that. Please correct me on that if I am wrong but I never could understand the whole conspiracy theory at least in Maryland because there does not appear any legal violation. Oh you can certainly make a moral case for it but you can’t really bring suit if there is no law violated can you? In December of last year it looks like a mister meaner bill was proposed but I don’t see anything after that. This would lead me to believe that the Virginia church may have something but in Maryland you would have only criminal options available directly between the abused and the abuser only which would leave CLC and SGM out of it wouldn’t it?

  12. Pam Palmer says:

    From the Stockholm Syndrome article linked above, quoting Elizabeth Smart:

    She revealed that her religious upbringing made her view herself as ‘impure’ after Mitchell raped her, saying: ‘I understand so easily all too well why someone wouldn’t run because of that alone.’
    Ms Smart recalled that she thought at the time, ‘Why would it even be worth screaming out? Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued? Your life still has no value.’
    As a 14-year-old girl, Ms Smart said her abductors made her feel ‘worthless’ and she felt afraid that even if she did escape they [meaning her family?] would not love her anymore.
    ‘I felt my soul had been crushed. I felt like I wasn’t even human anymore. How could anyone love me, or want me or care about me? I felt like life had no meaning to it…’

    In reference to the abuse allegations from the Complaint, that are more difficult to fathom, consider the impact of her words. She felt ruined/unlovable/worthless because she had been raped. She felt that there was no worth in even trying to be rescued or to get away from the abuse, because her “purity” was already “destroyed” — she was a teenager and could articulate these thoughts, however similar concepts are unconsciously/non-verbally believed by small children after they have been victimized. Elizabeth Smart’s description here explains why a child may act “normal” in a social setting with an abuser after having just be molested — why a child would follow the directions of an ongoing abuser to meet at a secretive location far away from the safety of her dorm room — why, even today, some victims from alleged abusers have not come forward yet — we are talking about serious trauma here, that affects victims in a multitude of ways.

  13. intheNickoftime says:

    From what I’ve heard, the Pastors College curriculum for several years included a very grueling discipleship process, where each pastoral candidate and his wife were assigned a corresponding “discipler” couple who would then proceed to probe the candidate couple’s lives. She compared it to being cut open and having all her insides pulled out and laid out on a table, with everyone free to examine and point out everything that needed fixing. It honestly sounded utterly awful.

    But by the end of the 9 months, the couples who made it through the process had come around to be OK with it and even think it was great.

    Sounds like a fraternity hazing. Once you get through it you think it is ok and you do it to the next batch of pledges. But no way you would acquiesce to that kind of treatment if you knew it was going to happen like that.

  14. Concerned for the kids says:

    FrOm the other discussion:

    “But, it would have been interesting if they had private information that only a victim would know.”

    Yeah, because then all the CLC/sgm defenders would attack because no one else knew that info and thought it was made up.

    Do you even read what you post???

  15. Patricia says:

    Wikipedia definition: “Stockholm syndrome, or capture–bonding, is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them, and sometimes the feeling of love for the captor shows.”

    Even after a person leaves a cult, he or she can experience blind loyalty either to a former leader or to former beliefs.

    Considering the depth of severe dysfunction within the full ranks of leadership associated with SGM, I do not feel this “church” can reform to the point of properly assisting those harmed by abuse. I also cannot see any church being highly educated enough in the field of criminal behavior to understand how to reach a pedophile.

    All instances of abuse should be reported to the authorities God ordained to handle criminal behaviors.

    According to Paul, government is “ordained by God” (Romans 13:2) to promote justice, restrain evil, and protect the people under its care (Romans 13:3-4).

    People who have been in cults often benefit from professional counseling.

  16. Sopwith says:

    *
    *
    *
    Pre-Post: Embracing Chaos: “Slumming Through The Wild Black n’ Blue Blunders?”

    “If the light in you SGM be darkness, how great then is that darkness?”
    *
    hmmm…
    *
    “Someone told me long ago there’s a calm before the storm,
    I know, it’s been comin’ for some time…. – CCR
    *
    For some five years kind folks have been say’in that SGM gets you to spill your guts, –to reveal your deepest, darkest secrets, then they are forever using them as willing agents against you. From that moment on, they got you by your privates – compliant, submissive, and willing to cooperate. 
    *
    The SGM Pastor’s College is apparently built around this nefarious principle. Once down this dark path, there is absolutely no escape.
    *
    “I pray everyday for the victims, and for the alleged perpetrators. And I pray for justice. The sadness in my heart is profound….” -Dee, Moderator, The Wartburg Watch…
    *
    “I wanna know, have you ever seen the rain comin’ down on a sunny day?” -CCR

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoQ2axlgZQQ&feature=youtube_gdata_player
    *
    (sadface)
    *
    Sopy

  17. Paul K. says:

    Mary – I agree w u. I have a connection w our pastors in which I am free to say whatever is on my heart. Just got off phone w Dixon – he called me. He has sent them prophetic words identical to what I tell them straight up w/out apology. However, they saw me fight for them with all my heart – I will show u some of that in time. My point is this : no one brings people into their secret place unless there is trust.

    I will post some things I’ve been telling them. But u must understand and process certainn facts u have w imagination. Imagine a man like Josh living w this secret. I’ve never felt the sense that I know his inner man. Much love between us – godly character – always talking w hurting people – not the together people – I have a daughter who loves Josh but no other pastor because he talked with her while other pastors walk around like police officers. Just has not only experienced the abuse he’s mentioned, he’s experienced spiritual abuse. He has to process all this now with a family and a church. Please don’t heap further abuse on this young man. He was 22 when u got here. In pastors college I had to read his dad’s book on home schooling. Josh was 13 w orange hair. At 17 he got excited about God – by 22 he was here thinking CJ would be his father in the faith. He and his dad did not have the greatest relationship. Do u understand that other than his wife he probably has not experienced friendship because of this secret? If folks here are hostile rather than compassionate how can he come here? I have shared w u the tip of the iceberg of how we’ve been abused. I could be very angry and bitter. I see the CLC pastors as victims of CJ who are trying to understand what hit them and what to do about it. They too came into a friendless culture.

    It is true that they have some serious reconciling to do and one pastor in particular is the main problem in my opinion. This is the opportunity for healing. If I had not forgiven I would never have met Josh and would probably be doing to them what I am to SGM – u have a spirit like mine and I do like that u speak out from ur heart.

    I simply ask : would u folks please be willing to pray and look for rays of hope? Do u realize 1/3 of my income is from CLC property ? They could fire me and say there’s not enough money. Think about it : I relayed Josh’s e/mails to u w out his permission and never heard a word about it.

    The day after I posted CJ would not let me mow his lawn and why, Josh texted me w a list of work he wants done at his house for his sister’s wedding- after posting his e-mails here. This week I texted him these words : “Just tell the truth, pray, and trust God – that’s all he requires.
    It’s His church – He promised to build it – the government is on His shoulders – don’t be afraid.”
    Response : ” The words I needed.”

    I told Bob : u can bring all the truth u want to anytime but if u don’t build trust they can’t hear u.
    Yes – the pastors must find a way to heal through understanding the depth of sin done through this church but only three were primarily here and I think Josh has been told many lies.

    If u don’t have compassion it makes it harder. When u applaud positive things people can listen to your correction. Do u see any positives? I’m here saying Greg should have been allowed to reconcile here. Greg just spent three hours w me. He knows what I’ve told the pastors. No one is correcting me – that doesn’t mean they approve but they don’t hinder me or reject me. Under CJ I’d be fired by now. Does this say anything to anyone? Any ray of hope in this at all?

    Please know I understand. I feel this anger toward one of our pastors and must now speak w him face to face – other pastors including Josh and Grant know this.

    Please be patient – I’m trying – but don’t make it harder. I ask ur forgiveness for waiting so long to read Survivors. After all the abuse I’d received I thought, “What if they went through what I have?”

    I didn’t understand I was in an abusive culture till I saw what they were doing to Josh. When someone else is getting hurt thenI wake up. All the abuse here was hidden from me. Ok. Please forgive me for not being more discerning – I thought Mahaney just didn’t like me. I should have been here a long time ago. I pleaded w our pastors, “please don’t do things that send more people over there.” Would someone copy the poem in honor of SGS called, “Did God Really Say Louisville?” The conversation in the poem is between CJ and Gary Ricucci. God wrote that poem through me out of love for u. I did not plan to write that poem – God took over out of love for u. He wanted it to honor this ministry. Maybe u can actually help heal those who have wounded u for they too have been wounded.

    Please forgive me – I’m so sorry for not being aware but I too was trying to survive. I’m on medications myself.

  18. Dr. Pepper says:

    Concerned #14,

    Sometimes victims know certain info that they would only know if they were a victim. This may be graphic.For example, if a perp forced oral sex on a victim, and that that perp had lazar hair removal done on that area, and the victim said they had no hair, then only a victim would know that, I think. I hope that makes sense.

  19. Never Again says:

    Tried to post on previous thread before it closed:

    So many SGMers carry on in their smiling SGM *alternate reality* bubble as if none of this is happening, like it is so far above them or so far beneath them as if to be on another plane of existence, one where only pastors dare tread. It is unreal.

    Does the leaders and pastors of SGM share social constructs that function as conspiracy?

    1) CJ Mahaney, with knowledge of A-Team, blackmails Larry Tomczak to shut up about the stealth doctrinal switch maneuver or he’ll expose Tomczak’s son for being a sexual predator. Then, because their plan works and Tomczak keeps quiet, SGM claims it was not really blackmail because, after all, they never actually told on him! Now they say it was just a foolish emotional moment of coercion inspired by concern for Tomczak.

    (So they’d cover up the kid’s predations to protect SGM, or expose them to protect SGM, whatever suited their purposes, but they did not do one little thing with a thought or care for his victims. Think about that.)

    2) SGM leadership isolates, intimidates, suppresses, silences, and shuts down disclosure of known predatory child abuse. This revictimizes the victims and allows horrific abuse to continue and spread to more victims, who then sometimes produce more victims. Then because their plan works, the victims keep quiet, assuming they are the only ones, while the congregations are enthusiastically clueless and SGM grows in numbers and in influence. Now SGM claims they can find no internal evidence of a cover-up (?!!!? — ponder that one for a while) while their supporters claim that the horrible stories can’t be true because, after all, SGM is a highly respected gospel ministry.

    3)SGM leadership conspires to cover up sexual abuse and silences the truth for DECADES. They go out of their way to support pedophiles while marginalizing and discrediting victims and their advocates. Then because their plan works, by the time the victims grow up and connect the dots and seek redress, the statue of limitations has run out! Now SGM says that is unfortunate but claims they continue to protect children and seek truth.

    4)SGM files motion after motion stop the lawsuit. They assert 2nd amendment rights, they strike certain key names from documents, they file on statute of limitations. Then because their plan works, the lawsuit is gutted. Now SGM whines that they have been falsely accused with no way to clear their good names.

    Wow, now I wonder why anyone would ever suspect a culture of conspiracy and cover-up?

  20. Phoenix says:

    Allison, re #520 on the previous thread

    Try The Tolling Bell http://www.thetollingbell.org/ It’s a sort of SGM news digest.

  21. Papist says:

    Hello all. I should have posted this earlier but I’ve been busy with school (finals). To the questions that have come up from the last thread about statute of limitations on sex crimes. There is NO criminal statute of limitations in Maryland for crimes (felonies and misdemeanors) that have sentencing that requires serving in a department of corrections facility (major jail, not local county or metro jail). This includes child abuse/sexual abuse. So criminally the state can prosecute fully at any time hence the criminal investigations. The statute of limitations the judge dismissed for was for civil court. The lawsuit is a tort case seeking monetary damages. That is why there is a SOL there.

  22. Mary says:

    Paul K, I am not mad at your words. But, you and others seem to be very concerned about Josh’s feelings and how we might hinder him. It challenges me because you are asking me to give him what CLC did not give me. What CLC did for me was bring me to a point that I almost took my life because they were hurting me so badly. A friend of mine did take their life at about the same time period. Families and people have been destroyed by the lack of love, compassion, empathy, understanding, listening etc. Very harsh abuse of authority…so to keep hearing have mercy or words instructing me that compassion wins someone over….do you see how for me that shuts me off? I am not angry with them. But, they need to repent for what they have done to people. Josh still has staff that abused their authority. They are still there leading the church. I will take time to consider your words even though the truth is…they turn me off. I am not mad with you…but, again it feels like being asked to serve leadership when good leadership serves others like Christ did – by laying down their life. I will pray and consider your words in spite of how distasteful I find them – because of the heart they came from. Sigh.

  23. Paul K. says:

    Mary, I came across a great post of yours in which you quote an incredible statement by 5 Years.
    What you wrote is so good on the one hand, but so sad in what it reveals about the CLC pastor.
    I’m going to type what you wrote and then leave my e-mail for you because I want to personally talk to this pastor. What I’ve noticed is that different pastors do things in their offices and no other pastor knows about it. Someone needs to confront this pastor or pastors and I will do it.

    “My CLC pastor also came across as a good listener and seemed to care. I was the kind of person who was quite compliant – not a trouble maker. But as soon as I said “no” to something, a mountain of brick landed on my head, door slammed shut, and all pretense of love disappeared. He had pretense of love down well but not Jesus love. Paul’s posts have helped me see that. (I had asked, “Have you ever felt a pastor cared about you as a person rather than either as a project to fix or someone who could be useful to help them in their responsibilities?”) That statement you made 5 Years, ‘At this point, to have friends who care and who pray for me is a tresure…
    You can have pastors and counselors but friends remain. I hope we can all be that for others, to make that our aim. Many people out there are lonely.’ That’s what I now want to be for others. I want to look them in the eye and say, “I will be there for you no matter what happens – no matter how messy.'”

    Mary and 5 Years – those are God words! Thank you for them! Jesus said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” We should be like Him. My favorite poem is called THE LANTERN OUT OF DOORS by Hopkins, a Jesuit priest. In the poem he talks about the uniqueness of people and how he wishes he could get to know all these people but in essence there’s not enough time and then he says “and out of sight is out of mind.” Then he begins talking about how “Christ minds, foot follows kind, their ransom, their rescue, and first, fast, last Friend.”

    A real friend is someone you can bring into the deepest secrets of your life and they still love you. Until that happens, there is always the question, “If they knew this would they still love
    me?” Until that happens, we still feel lonely. CLC, except here and there where people have created their own friendships (some care groups have this but mostly it’s just people who know how to know people forming friendships as 5 Years described) is generally a lonely culture when it comes to depth of friendship. I noticed this as early as 1981. A lot of meetings, programs, places to serve, good teaching, etc but not much in the way of depth of friendship.

    Sadly, the pastors themselves are in a lonely culture. It will take time to change this culture.
    But there is no excuse, no matter what, to receive the kind of treatment you did – it helps me to understand your tone. pckellen@gmail.com If these things aren’t confronted they’ll never change. I care about people enough to confront pastors in love for their good and the good of people. What you experienced grieves God – I hope you’ll help me help this person (I purposefully call him a person and not a pastor because people are people before they are anything else.)

  24. 3rd name says:

    THANK YOU Kris for having the wisdom to close the comments from the Dismissal thread! Although I still have a number of things I wanted to post,(mostly encouragement and observations, at least now I can catch up and finish reading them all, having been at least a day behind so I GET BACK TO WORK!

  25. 3rd name says:

    Cutting and pasting sure messed my thought up!

  26. Nickname says:

    The fourth line of the comment I posted should read “You will not be allowed to be in places where children are present, for your protection as well as theirs,” instead of “their protection as well as theirs.

    Just listened to the Janet Mefford radio show interview with one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs. He said this was just one battle in what may be a very long war.

    The fat lady has yet to sing.

  27. Mary says:

    Paul K, I would never again offer the leaders of CLC even a morsel of the pearl of my heart. And, they do not need my instruction. There are brothers at church that can do that. I am too free to fight. Also, they know what they have done, and who they have shunned. If God ever brings them to repentance they can contact me – otherwise I am too happy to let them anywhere near me :o) Someday, I would smile to even hear a general statement that they admit their leadership was harsh, controlling, and often unkind. That they shunned people they shouldn’t have and that they encourage anyone that participated in a shunning to find the person and apologize. Someday that would be nice….but if not that is okay too. I don’t need them. And, they didn’t need me. I have found people that do and I will give them the pearl of my love and heart joyfully. Peace to you Paul. I know you mean well and I can appreciate that. I pray God blesses you in the role you are called too and that it bears fruit.

  28. annie says:

    Mary, I guess my apology was confusing. I was having a senior moment and had confused you with Patricia.

  29. Never Again says:

    To add to my list:

    5)A pastor’s wife who has been admired and appreciated for her sensitivity to the Holy Spirit goes to her pastors to tell them she believes that one of them is engaged in deep darkness and evil practices, possibly witchcraft rituals. SGM pastors at Covenant Fellowship Church publicly announce to the entire congregation that she is delusional and mentally ill. Her husband steps down from the pastorate. Then because their plan works, anything she might say has been preemptively discredited and the family conveniently goes away. Now the local SGM pastors can claim it was necessary for the good of the church and SGM higher-ups can claim they know nothing and can do nothing.

  30. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    And, isn’t it interesting that the protectiveness SGM leaders have been willing to extend to pedophiles does not appear to extend to a pastor’s wife with (perceived) mental issues?

    The pedophiles are all MALE.
    The pastor’s wife was FEMALE.
    Q.E.D.

  31. Paul K. says:

    Mary,

    God is amazing! I didn’t read your last post because I was making the post after your post so I just now read it! God is in the details! I found your post because I was trying to find the poem called “Did God Really Say Louisville?” which is dedicated to SGS.

    How grieved I am. I made a very long post explaining a lot of things and it’s suck in my I-Phone – no it’s up there now!

    I understand if u can’t consider my words. U know I lost a son. Wow – what a son! I’m so sad. I’m so sorry you were close to taking your life. I tried twice as u know in 2002 – no pastor came to see me in the hospital or called my wife.

    I still haven’t listened to Josh’s message – I’m afraid I couldn’t handle it emotionally. But when my wife called me and told me what he shared, I texted Josh : “Josh, I freely tell people I tried to kill myself twice. I should be dead therefore any good I do is because He thwarted my attempts to kill myself.”

    His response : “Paul, I am so grateful that our Father thwarted you from doing that.” He took the time to respond on the Sunday he shared this with the church when he was being with his family including Shannon’s dad and his wife Kathy. That is love!

  32. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    For some five years kind folks have been say’in that SGM gets you to spill your guts, –to reveal your deepest, darkest secrets, then they are forever using them as willing agents against you. From that moment on, they got you by your privates — compliant, submissive, and willing to cooperate.

    Just like Scientology with their E-Meter Auditing.

  33. Paul K. says:

    Mary, I didn’t want you to go, I want to go. I don’t blame you for never wanting to step inside those doors again. And if it hurts too much to even tell the story, I understand. I can’t bear to watch Sunday’s message right now.

  34. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    I believe the Lord spoke to me tonight that SGM men have been brainwashed into thinking that they deserve sexual gratification whenever they want it. If your wife is sick with the flu, or ready to vomit, you deserve it. If she has her period, you deserve it and she must use a “period blanket”. If she is in terrible pain the night before an operation, too bad, you deserve it. If the two of you are driving home and you want to stop at a hotel and do it this instant, you stop, even if it costs over a hundred bucks to lack self control enough to wait for your own bedroom. If you are struggling with sex because he was fondling your daughter, he gets it when he wants it and you need to perform better.

    Isn’t that the attitude of a slaveowner to his sex slave(s)?
    Whenever, wherever, any way *I* want it?

    Just like an alky and The Constitutional Right to My Next Drink.

  35. Mary says:

    Thanks Paul. You seem kind. I don’t really want to share my story mostly because I don’t think it matters to them and I don’t need anything from them…even repentance. LOL as I type this oddly I think I want humility. Just admittance they screwed up on what a pastor should be and as a result misrepresented God and His love for all His children….that’s all :) smile.

  36. Somewhereintime says:

    I DO NOT believe that ANY SG-related church can EVER be healthy going forward. Even if they leave SGM, these pastors, especially the ones that remain to this day, have been bought and sold in to the SG way of pastoring.

    Even if they turn away from SGM, they have ONLY PASTORED under the influence and teachings of SGM.

    I believe that if you stay you will still run into sinful and blind pastoring.

    For example. I recently heard from a New Jersey friend that the Marlton NJ church had a meeting that discussed how parents should “manage” how their children should date. This is how SG related churches always address “grey” issues.

    They feel as though they have the need to lay out “rules” for people to follow. This is the lingering legalism that exists throughout the Marlton church and what remains in almost EVERY SGM-related church.

    Leaving SGM will not rid the pastors of their sad and weak pastoral teachings. They do not trust God to work in people’s lives … which is the role of the Holy Spirit … they instead feel the need to TELL people what to do.

    Everyone’s best bet is to get spritually healthy by leaving your SG church. You won’t believe the difference if you then attend a spirit-led church with spirit-led pastors.

    Instead of

  37. Pam Palmer says:

    Paul K.

    U know I lost a son. Wow — what a son! I’m so sad. I’m so sorry you were close to taking your life. I tried twice as u know in 2002 — no pastor came to see me in the hospital or called my wife.

    This is one of the saddest things I have ever read. Are you saying that after being in CLC for over 30 yrs. faithfully serving — I’ve seen you joyfully mowing the church property, for years (BTW, were you compensated for that appropriately?) — you lose your son tragically, then sometime after that you tried to kill yourself, twice, and NO PASTOR comforted you or YOUR POOR WIFE? OMG that is horrible! Wake up CLC. Shame on you CLC pastors.

  38. mary says:

    Paul, seriously that is making me laugh. I want humility. And, I will admit there is a part of me satisfied when I read their humiliating moments…because of such a lack of humility in their calloused, false judging, authoritarian attitudes. I am honest if nothing else :) okay so will pray about that…funny…

  39. Somewhereintime says:

    Pam,

    You have to remember … SGM Pastors do not exist for others, they exist for themselves, support themselves and do EVERYTHING for themselves … and their families. You are just a means to their existence. They’ll “pretend” to care, but they really don’t. It’s all about them. They never learned that that their role in the church is to SERVE! Not be served.

  40. 3rd name says:

    I didn’t realize we “were allowed” to post a long post. (How’s THAT for STILL having PDI/SGM influence after being gone for many, many years!) So, here I go.

    Someone in the last post mentioned the “pastors” “denying their humanity to serve a man”. HMM! Sounds similar to what happened in Nazi Germany. The men denied their GOD-given conscience to obey the whims of a man who was accountable to no one. (Not that this is on the same level but the princple is the same). Reminds me of how you cook a frog. What we all experienced. Put the trusting frog in the pot and gradually turn up the heat – voila! Frog legs for dinner! You come with high hopes and the joy of the LORD and slowly get indocrinated until you don’t recognize yourself or your own thoughts. I remember CJ saying that “God has no grandchildren.” Meaning we are to relate to GOD directly, but CJ made us all into great-great grandchildren (even step-children). Yep! check your brain at the door! Stepford wives and all! These 2 can’t marry, cuz the pastors don’t think it’s a good match. No dating except in groups. (Boy, did THAT doctrine leave many fabulous single sisters unmarried.) Dress a certain way, according to the fashion plate set by CJ and wife. Wearing 2 shirts in the summer because the 2 colors looked classy (GQ) together; suits in the summer? The pressure to conform was unbelieveable. And unfortunately for those who stayed, it got much, much worse.

    One thing that REALLY riles me is that so many “gifted” men were publically humiliated and made to “step down” for some small infraction of a spouse or child like “Your son is not following the Lord closely enough as a teenager”, but CJ’s own son smoked pot! 1) How could the other pastors even consider allowing CJ to abide by a different standard than the harsh one he, himself, had set in motion for decades, going back to CW. 2) Why wasn’t there an outcry from the congregation? 3) How could CJ – – well, never mind!

    OH! and BTW, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit have said and it was confirmed by one of the mothers that the civil law suit had NOTHING to do with money. The plaintiffs said that if they had been offered money to drop the case and settle out of court, they wouldn’t have. I believe they wanted JUSTICE! For the secret sins of these men to be made known. FINALLY!

    Lastly, there ARE victims who were MADE to forgive their rapist/molestor/perp. That was part of the cover-upin the lawsuit. Unfortunately, some, I think, may have the misguided belief that since they have forgiven, they MUST move one and not bring it up again because there have been payoffs. Someone in the last post wrote about DA bearing fruit in keeping with his repentance. I’m glad these victims had the strength to forgive but they also need to bring their testimony to this lawsuit and help stop the perpetuation of these crimes. Some of the victims have fallen away from the LORD because they think HE let them down, HE didn’t protect them, they can’t get justice. Let’s band together, and PRAY them back to the LORD, and to see justice done on their behalf. Let’s pray that ALL victims, having forgiven or not, will have the strength to come forward (even anonymously) and tell whatever they remember. Through CORROBORATION let’s defeat satan and exalt JESUS our precious LORD with the TRUTH!

  41. KAZ says:

    Does anyone else notice the total lack of compassion from SGM towards people in need ?
    I am reading lots of new stuff here but keep seeing the same thing. Many (not all) SGM pastors know about people who are in great need but for what ever reason refuse to give any or find them the help they require….

  42. Dr. Pepper says:

    somewhere #39,

    I would not say all SGM pretend to care. I think some actually do care. :)

  43. Persona says:

    Anyone know what CLC pastors do these days? Are they out visiting the ill or caring for widows and orphans or do they mostly attend meetings?

    If they aren’t pastoring and they don’t preach, what exactly do they do? I have oft wondered. I figure they must be busy doing something. I just don’t know what.

    Also, does anyone know if CLC has rehired G. Somerville? If so, do they really need another pastor in a shrinking church?

    While we are on the subject, what happened to all the other members of the Somerville clan? There used to be a heck of a lot of them at CLC and one by one they have departed. What happened to them that they would want to leave their beloved church home?

  44. musicman says:

    I’m still catching up on some of the details, but here’s my thoughts.

    First off, I agree with Kris, that disclosing the opinion that someone is mentally ill at a public meeting seems problematic and potentially more hurtful, if someone truly is suffering from a mental disorder.

    Secondly, I say this with as much tact as possible, but I wonder about JV’c claims to having “visions” about a pastor and his evil ways. This sort of “spectral evidence” is highly subjective and hardly the same as seeing someone actually committing a wrong. I don’t put much stock in visions and dreams as proof.

    On a personal level, I was good friends with a couple whose wife was extremely committed to Covenant Fellowship and seeing it change. She believed she had a prophetic role to play by staying and trying to “be a force for good and change”. She openly criticized the pastors at CFC and was removed from a leadership role with her husband. I agreed with a lot of what she had to say and she was willing to “walk the talk” when it came to taking in the homeless and hurting, believer and unbeliever alike. She was a good person with a big heart!

    But there was another side to her I never knew…she was mentally ill. Very ill (confirmed to me by her husband in person). He told me stories that totally rocked my view of this woman.

    All this to say, as disgusting as I find the idea of outing someone as mentally ill (shame on you Jared), my own experience tells me that it could still be true. And that it might be a good idea for them to withdraw from ministry and get some solid counseling (secular-in my opinion) that will be able to try and help sort out what is truly going on between this woman and her husband and the “visions” she has seen.

  45. Matt (aka Papist) says:

    Hey Paul,

    I am sorry for your loss and grateful that you made it through your trials. I tried to kill myself twice as well, but it was for me back in 1994-1995. I was an atheist then so I had no support (except Jesus, as I know now thankfully!). I’m glad you had a wife and family to support you. I’m sure their love helped you greatly. I give glory to Him everyday for sparing me.

  46. Kris says:

    3rd name said,

    One thing that REALLY riles me is that so many “gifted” men were publically humiliated and made to “step down” for some small infraction of a spouse or child like “Your son is not following the Lord closely enough as a teenager”, but CJ’s own son smoked pot! 1) How could the other pastors even consider allowing CJ to abide by a different standard than the harsh one he, himself, had set in motion for decades, going back to CW. 2) Why wasn’t there an outcry from the congregation? 3) How could CJ — – well, never mind!

    Before there’s a great outcry from CJ’s defenders, I must clarify that CJ’s son’s pot-smoking has never been officially verified or documented in a way that would satisfy those who are desperate to “believe the best.” In other words, CJ himself, as well as the men surrounding him, have all gone on record as denying that this ever happened. There’s never been a bootleg video of Chad lighting up a fat one, and nobody has CJ caught on tape acknowledging there was a problem of any sort.

    However…

    Just about everyone who knew Chad as a peer back when the stories first circulated (back in about 2010 or 2011), as well as those kids’ parents, would likely agree that the pot-smoking was widely considered common knowledge. There was one incident in particular where several students were caught. According to some reports, Chad was the person who had provided the pot. He may not have been in the room when the kids were busted, but he was a known user.

    From what I understand, the other kids involved were given some pretty harsh consequences. One or two may have been refused recommendations to the schools they wanted to attend. The kids’ families were shamed. There was quite a grueling “restoration process.”

    The people who had enough firsthand knowledge to step up and call CJ and his enablers out for their total hypocrisy were understandably reluctant to do so after having made it through their punishments to the other side. They preferred to keep their heads down and not draw further attention to what had happened.

    So – technically speaking, Chad’s drug use did not officially occur. It was never admitted. CJ never agreed that it happened. So for a lot of his supporters, it’s just an unsubstantiated rumor.

    (That’s some clarification for those those with questions about this topic.)

  47. Paul K. says:

    Mary,

    I am so glad u are free and can laugh! How great is God! But just know this: I want to address it so it doesn’t happen to someone else. But no obligation – just whatever the Holy Spirit gives u faith for. Like I said – a pastor may do something and report it differently.

    The main thing is to know u can laugh helps me not feel as bad today. Lewis said when the devil bothers u laugh at him – proud people can’t stand being laughed at. I tell him, ” Zhou bother someone else stupid – The Lamb of God hung my sins on a tree but yours will never be forgiven u idiot! ” And he runs like the coward he is.

  48. Dr. Pepper says:

    Keira,

    Not sure if you’re still reading here, but you said that the docs said JV was not mentally ill. Do you have proof that is what the docs said?

  49. Somewhereintime says:

    Dr. Pepper,

    Define “care”. Does your pastor visit the sick .. In their home? Do they serve alongside of you when you are doing the free carwash? Do they call on you at your home or even come over and pray with you when you are in need? Do they visit the elderly? Do they provide care for the widow? Do they grieve with you when you are grieving? Here is the biggest question … Are they like Jesus?

    If not they are a substituted FRAUD for the role of pastor!

  50. Pam Palmer says:

    correction on #37 Paul, I just found out that your son died more recently. So sorry for your family, what a terrible loss.