Freedom from Richard’s Political Stranglehold

There is an unexpected blessing inside all of the trauma and ugliness of the friendship breakup with Richard (and Chris, as well, who had been posting some really weird stuff on Facebook before he unfriended me): I’m no longer dominated by his crazy Libertarian (anarcho-capitalist) politics.

I was so tolerant, and so afraid of offending my bestest friend, that I didn’t tell him how I really felt about his politics, and I let him go on about how he hated Democrats, they were the enemy, they vote for killing babies, etc. etc., even though I tried to gently tell him that good, Christian people also vote Democrat.

Some of the most religious people I know (including a very conservative, anti-abortion Christian from college, and a preacher) are Democrats.

But inwardly I hated the way he railed against Democrats, even though I was an Independent myself, sometimes voting for Democrats, sometimes voting for Republicans.

I hated how he talked about Obama, how he talked as if the people who voted for him in 2008 were just mindless dupes–as if they couldn’t have honestly voted Democrat because they felt he was the best candidate with the best ideas and values.  (And McCain’s running mate sure didn’t help.)

Then he went into that Tea Party and Anarchy, and really went off the deep end in wacko politics.  I was afraid to tell him what I really felt about these things, because he started scolding me for disagreeing with him.

Like during a citywide controversy in 2009, when we were about to lose Mercury Marine, a company which is extremely important to our local economy.

But he pooh-poohed that, even though I had already seen my engineer husband lose his job at another company because sales at Merc had gone down, and even though other cities in our state had already gone into the crapper because of big companies moving out.

I “liked” the Facebook status update of the city council president because he helped keep the company in town.  Then Richard actually scolded me for liking it!

When he started spouting off on Facebook about nutty things like how we don’t need the police, I disagreed with him, so got chewed out and basically told that my opinion didn’t matter and that I didn’t care about liberty etc. etc.

He even scolded me for posting on Facebook one day (after seeing on Hotel Rwanda how political hatred led to so much violence) that we need to not hate our political enemies!  I really began to feel like I was the heretic to his orthodoxy, in his own mind.  [Update and disclaimer: When I went back into my Facebook timeline in 2014 to review this post and its responses, I saw that I may have confused his reply with those of some other people.]

In 2000, when the candidates were first being nominated, I looked at Al Gore as a possibility, though later on I did not vote for or like him.  But around 2000 I noticed, whenever I took an online political quiz, that I kept leaning more toward the middle, or even toward liberalism.  I had been a lifelong Republican, so this surprised me.

When I became Presbyterian (USA, the liberal one) in 2005, I found myself agreeing with the more Democratic leanings of their denomination’s monthly magazine.  It was actually refreshing to find liberal instead of Republican politics in a Christian magazine.  Which, of course, was surprising for a lifelong Republican.

But in 1998 I was so disgusted with the Republican crusade against Clinton (even though I did not like Clinton, thought he was slimey) that I told my Irish penpal I no longer considered myself Republican.  So by 2005 I believe I was a moderate Independent, neither one nor the other.  [Wait: I also began thinking more Democratically after reading Cornerstone Magazine.]

I voted for McCain, but that was only because Richard told me about a video (which I found online) in which Obama, doing a stump speech, said he was going to make states pay for abortions, something to that effect.  Well, he never actually did that.

I always liked McCain, especially since he kept partnering with the Democrat Feingold (whom I also liked), so I didn’t mind voting for him.  But I was still happy to see Obama win.  But try to tell Richard that, and oh, you get told how wrong you are….

In the past few years, especially with the rise of the Tea Party, its eventual connection to the Republican Party, and the maddening denials of science and reason and human rights and rights of the poor, which I’m seeing come out of the GOP lately–I cannot in good conscience have anything to do with the Republican Party anymore.

My opinion of the Tea Party did not come from the media, but straight from what Richard and Chris kept posting on their Facebook walls.

I believe in global warming.  I love Obama and will vote for him, think he’s a good person/president, he’s just being stymied by Republicans who don’t believe in compromise.  I believe compromise is a virtue and essential for good government.  I can’t stand Ron Paul, think he’s a kook whose policies would destroy the country.

I don’t believe in a New World Order or Illuminati conspiracy.  I think the John Birch Society is also kooky.  I don’t believe the government is going to round us up into concentration camps, take our guns away, or force martial law.

I don’t believe there is a “liberal media,” but I do believe Fox News has a deliberate and deceitful bias trying to make people vote Republican.  I love the Daily Show and Colbert Report because finally, I found there some sanity!

I believe in teaching science and not religion in a science classroom.  I believe God created using evolution, that evolution has been proven, is no longer just a theory.  I believe unions are absolutely necessary to keep businesses from exploiting their workers.

I’m even beginning to believe–contrary to what I’m “supposed” to believe as an Orthodox Christian–that homosexuality is often something gays/lesbians are born with, not something they choose, so God must have made them that way, and that they should be allowed to settle down with whomever they love, and legally marry.  I believe that people should be allowed to make whatever marital arrangements they wish (such as plural) as long as they’re consenting adults.

I believe the poor and old should have help from the government.  I like Obamacare, though what I really want to see is something more like Canada.

I despise what Walker did to the state of Wisconsin, believe he cut or tried to cut everything that’s wonderful about that state’s government, and the Republicans steamrolled over the Democrats to get there.

I don’t believe in abortion, but I do fear the unexpected ramifications of changing the laws on that (such as making the birth control pill illegal in some states).  I believe in Social Services being allowed to help the ones who can’t help themselves, i.e. abused children.

I believe in having the police, a fire department, etc.  I believe in helping illegal immigrants instead of abusing them.  I believe in renewable power, and regulations on banking and business.  I believe in supporting public schools and that we can pray any time we like in our heads.

I believe that Islam is not the enemy, that there are many wonderful, pious Muslims.  I don’t think political systems are inherently evil; it’s what is done with them that makes them evil.  I don’t think Socialism is the enemy, nor do I believe our president is a Socialist.  Or a Muslim.  Or a Kenyan.

And even though I am Orthodox, I keep finding Democrats in my local church.  One of the elderly men is Democrat, for example.  My new friend in the church is not just pious, but Democrat.

I have finally come out of the closet and said I am a Democrat, and proud of it!

–Can you imagine the fallout if I told this to Richard (and Tracy) and was still friends with him?  Especially when I noted how his other friends tend to be Republicans or Libertarians like him?  I can, and it isn’t pretty.

I can be friends with people of other parties; my friends have always been a mix of Democrat and Republican.  So I can change from one to the other and still keep the same friends; I just avoid political discussions with them.

For the past two years, I have finally felt free to post what I like on my Facebook about politics!

And about pretty much anything else, since with Richard and Tracy no longer on it, I was no longer derided for not liking gory movies, or treated like I needed to be “pampered” when I don’t, or punished for being too quiet, or scolded for saying that pesticide is bad for the environment and our health, or made fun of for posting about new raffle rules for Greek Fest, or had my comments deleted all the time, or got yelled at for saying “I’ll miss you dearly on your trip, but have fun!”

I can gently flirt with my friends without an angry Tracy on my back, or a hypocritical Richard acting like it was wrong, while he did far more blatant flirting with others all the time!

No more scolding for being too “liberal” in my religious beliefs about marriage, or lectures on how I should be submissive!  No longer told that everything I do is wrong, that my childrearing is “spoiling” my kid, while they defend their own abusive behaviors!  No more bullying both on Facebook and in real life!

I’m free to be myself again!  It felt like a noose had suddenly been taken from my neck.

[Update: Unfortunately, it seems like whenever I get rid of one extremist, another one replaces him.  Especially after Scott Walker turned Republicans and Democrats against each other, nobody listens to each other anymore, and I’m afraid to post anything political at all.  I always seem to get at least one snarky comment no matter what the subject.  😛  ]

 

Reblog: Pastors and Abuse: Confronting and Dealing With Abusers (All Parts Together)

 

Gathering this whole series (by Jeff Crippen) together for the reader’s convenience:

Part 1

And that means abusers will take on the guise of being a Christian, very frequently of being an eminent Christian in a local church.  He may be a pastor or elder himself.  How can pastors effectively deal with these “hidden reefs” who creep in among us in the church?

First, and without doubt most importantly, pastors must take steps to correct their ignorance concerning the nature, mentality, tactics, and characteristics of this category of evil.  The persistent, nagging deficit that is plaguing our churches is the pervasive lack of understanding of abuse.

Great harm and injustice are being effected upon victims of abuse at the hands of the very church families that should be the chief protector of the widow, the orphan, and the weak.  Abusers are masters at using all kinds of deceptive means to gain allies to their side in their oppression of the victim and we have many documented case histories to support this conclusion.

Pastors become the ally of evil, all the while thinking they are standing for righteousness.  Abusers are embraced as brethren in Christ while their victims are falsely accused and rejected.  No true shepherd of Christ’s flock wants such travesty to continue.  He will be willing to take steps to familiarize himself with the psychology and methods of abuse.

Part 2

Pastors, like most other people, have a “default” reaction to abusers and their victims.  No pastor should think himself to be immune from this default setting.

If a pastor remains ignorant regarding abuse, he and his church will surely engage the appallingly common chain of events which regularly deals injustice and suffering to abuse victims who come to their church for help.

The same pattern will simultaneously enable and support the abuser in the torment of his victims.  The victim will not be believed when she tells her pastor about the abuse.  The seriousness of the abuse will be minimized by the pastor.

The pastor will take superficial steps to “fix” the problem, such steps serving only to make the situation worse and even endanger the life and safety of the victim.  And, in the end, it will be the victim who is driven from her church rather than the abuser.

This cycle of church abuse of abuse victims will engage unless pastors give themselves to arriving at a full understanding of the mentality, nature, and tactics of abuse….

After taking diligent steps to familiarize himself with abuse (see part 1 of this series for suggested resources) the next thing a pastor must do — and in many ways perhaps the most important of all — is to believe the victim when she comes reporting the abuse.

This will sound unwise to the untrained ear.  After all, doesn’t every tale have two sides?  Shouldn’t the other half of this marriage be consulted before a judgment is made?

While that approach may be true in other kinds of conflicts, it is most certainly not true in the case of abuse.  Once a pastor educates himself about abuse, he will be able to identify common characteristics of abuse as the victim tells her story.

While abusers have quite an arsenal of tactics, that arsenal is really quite consistent.  Playing the victim, distorting history, instilling fear, utilizing a Jekyll-Hyde facade, sexual abuse, economic abuse, isolating the victim from family and friends are just a few of the weapons abusers typically use to shore up their reign.

A pastor can in fact become familiar with these tactics and learn to recognize them as a victim reports her plight.  These reports are worthy of our belief.

Abuse victims do not readily report their abuser, especially if the victim is a Christian and functioning within a church setting.  There is a huge amount of fear and trepidation on the part of such victims, and therefore pastors must realize that by the time the victim comes to him for help, she has resolved to take a very big and risky step.  Will anyone believe her?  What if her abuser finds out?

(One commenter notes that a church does have the legal right to ban a person from its premises, that if the church owns the building, it’s private property.)

Part 3

In summary, the pastor’s duty to the abuser is secondary to his duty to the victim.  Regarding the abuser, the pastor must 1) Be able to avoid being deceived by the abuser’s ploys, and 2) exclude the abuser from the congregation in order to protect the victim and the flock.  All of these actions will be costly.

Part 4

It would take an entire book to refute the errors of this booklet.  It is hard to imagine another such book I have read that more perfectly exemplifies all the things that are wrong in the evangelical church when it comes to dealing with abusers and abuse victims in its midst.

If any pastor desires to learn what NOT to say or do when an abuse victim comes to him, I think Priolo’s work would be the place to go.  Is that being to harsh on Mr. Priolo?  I think not.

Because as is so typical of nouthetic counselors, may God have mercy on the abuse victim who goes to such a counselor, because that counselor certainly will show them none.

Part 5

Prevention is better than cure.  This applies to abuse within the church as well as to our physical health.  It is better for us to create an environment in our churches that is alien and hostile to evil.  A place where righteousness and truth reign to a degree that evil just has to leave because it is exposed.

The question is, why aren’t our churches such places?  And apparently it is not exaggerating to say that they are not because victims of abuse come with the same stories over and over about how their abuser was able to hide, was able to gain allies, was able to be enabled within a local church.  What has gone wrong?

(One commenter even discusses a behavioral contract given to her abusive husband.)

Part 6

When it comes to dealing with abusers, pastors must grow up and be wise!  We must be innocent of evil and yet as wise as serpents in regard to it.

Abusers are not like other sinners.  Oh yes, it is possible that we could come across a man or woman who, out of ignorance, is not treating their spouse well.  But such a person will be quickly and rather easily corrected through biblical rebuke and instruction.

Not so the abuser.  Abusers, remember, are people who have a fundamental mindset of entitlement to power and control. They are the very center of their universe and they deem themselves fully justified in using whatever means necessary against their victims to control those victims.

Such a person is often a full-blown sociopath.  He has no conscience and no ability to feel empathy for others.

If you approach such an individual in “love,” thinking that if you just paint them a clear enough picture of the harm they are doing to others that they will be heartbroken and repent, then you are going to fail.  They have no heart, you see, to be broken!  They are, in fact, evil….

Listen to these great words from Jan Silvious, author of Fool-Proofing Your Life:

The apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Rome with these instructions: Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. (Romans 12:14-18, NASB)

Peace with everyone surely is the goal for us as believers. But it is not always possible. When you encounter a situation that has a one-sided peace, then living with the fallout can leave you exhausted and bewildered.

Over the years I have spent many hours “riding the ambulance” with too many people who have been wounded (and sometimes “left for dead”) by someone they loved or were tied to through blood.

I have seen too many people locked in a grid of fright, guilt, and anger because of the “shoulds” and the “oughts” that have been used as weapons to force them into an uneasy peace.

I have seen many of them turn to the church or to well-meaning, believing friends or relatives only to experience a total lack of understanding of what they are going through as they try to relate to a person who abhors peace.

So often, the person who is doing the “trying” is the one who is blamed if peace doesn’t work. This ought not to be!

Well over fifteen years ago I began to see patterns in the people who crossed my path as I spoke around the country and as I worked in a counseling office. Their symptoms were the same, and the “methods” used by their difficult person were the same.

In each instance, with very little deviation, I saw a person who wanted a decent relationship living as a hostage of someone who was unwilling to take personal responsibility for his or her actions.

I was amazed to note that it did not matter whether the hostage-taker was a mother, a husband, a child, a sister, a friend, or a boss; the behavior was the same, and the results were the same. One person held control and through open rage, passive anger, oily manipulation, or sullen silence stubbornly refused to release his grip.

Part 7

In the church, unrepentant sin is to be pronounced from the rooftops, in the hearing of the entire church.  It is to be exposed and dealt with openly, so that those who profess Christ’s name yet cause that Name to be blasphemed by unbelievers are expelled from the body of Christ, and Christ’s Name thereby is once more honored.

If a pastor is going to deal biblically and righteously with an abuser who is a member of his church, that pastor must resolve to do so in openness and in truth.

There can be no cover up, no minimization of the evil, no political maneuvering designed to save face or cover anyone’s tail end.  The evil must be exposed for all to see, and the unrepentant evil one delivered over to the realm of darkness, outside the church, in the power of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Part 8

Do you begin to see the point?  The pastor has invested emotionally, socially, financially, and in other ways in his church and ministry. He has invested in this family, and often in the life of the abuser himself.  The abuser might be an elder or deacon or some other key figure in the church.

So the victim’s report sounds a dissonant chord in the pastor’s mind.  His temptation is going to be to change his thinking to some theory that will justify the abuser and support his long-held notion that the abuser is really who the pastor has assumed him to be.  The pastor will do this rather than believe the shocking and threatening alternative:  the victim’s account.

Part 9

The large majority of the readers of this blog do not need to be told that a false gospel, gutted of a call to genuine faith and repentance, is the abuser’s great ally.  This “gospel,” which the Apostle Paul says is no gospel at all (Galatians 1), only produces nominal Christians, meaning that they are Christian in name only.

Survivor after survivor will tell their stories of how their abuser hides in the pews, playing the role of “Christian” and enjoying the affirmation of his fellow church members.  Where a false gospel is preached, false Christians are produced, and an environment that is ripe for the practice of evil is cultivated.

Sadly, we must admit that such a false gospel is widely preached in our churches today, as it has been for decades now.

Part 10

Pastors and men: it is time we take to heart that our Lord calls upon us to effect justice and mercy.  When we are confronted with a victim of evil, then we are to be the Good Samaritan whether the bandits who beat up the victim like it or not.  This is what real pastors do.  It is what real men do.

 

More Stuff From Crying Out for Justice Blog

A Cry For Justice looks to be a very interesting blog about how to deal with people who are being abused by church members.  It’s a brand-new blog which intends to be “Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst.”  Just in January I find:

You probably already know that Christians and pastors and churches (people like me, Jeff) readily start dumping what we are convinced is God’s Word to her.  Divorce is never permitted.  You need to submit to him.  You should forgive him if he is sorry.  And on and on.

In fact, what we need to do is (assuming we really know what we are talking about, which few of us really do) provide her with information, help, safety, and so on. –Jeff Crippen, We Need to Stop Telling Abuse Victims What to Do

 

And that is how we need to handle abuse situations, because it is very, very common for the abuser to claim to be the victim – and his disguise can be pretty ingenious.  Many hostages are thrown in “jail” while the bad guys go free when it comes to how our churches are dealing with abuse in their midst.

It really is not that difficult to recognize an abuser.  Their mentality of power, control, entitlement and justification always betrays itself in their speech and you can hear it if you know what to listen for. —How to Spot an Abuser Who Claims to be the Victim

The following is about the above quoted article and Learning the Language of Abuser.  If you read them first, you will understand what I mean.

I don’t know what Richard and Tracy told my priest when they spoke to him before I did three months ago.  But there are a few things I can tell you, regarding the points made in the above article about how to tell who the real abuser is, based on what they say:

I have been reticent to tell anyone the full details of what happened with them, except for my husband, who knows everything I’ve written about in my blogs.  My husband has been the only one I felt I could trust with everything.  Even when ranting on Facebook, I kept names out of it, and always felt like, Will anyone believe me or will they think I’m crazy?

I was afraid of being judged, having experienced this already, when opening up a little bit to a forum back in 2008 about things that had happened back then, and getting blasted instead of finding understanding.  I left that forum.

I was full of self-blame for the first year (2010-2011), simultaneously with feeling rage at the abuse.  I felt that I desperately needed to tell the full story, but trusted no one with it: not even my priest or a potential therapist.

I’d only open up a little at a time on Facebook, testing the waters among my old and new friends.  (My wall is set to private.)  Far more details were poured into letters to close friends, but even then I feared saying just how badly I had been deceived and manipulated by Richard.

So I began pouring it into my blogs and website, with fake names and a place to deposit all the anger and grief without worrying about what people will say.  Since I had no resources for therapy, my blog became my therapy.  I turned off comments, you see, made it impossible for anyone to contact me unless they knew who I was.

Of course I still worried about what people would think, and still do, but put the things up anyway, thinking that if they read the entire story, they won’t judge me for missteps along the way.

I think the article ignores the fact that many people, by the time they’re ready to truly open up about abuse, are very angry about the abuse.  Anger and rage is common in abuse victims.  We don’t all just sit back and take it, thinking we deserve it.  And sometimes our stories do seem unbelievable.  That doesn’t make us “fake” abuse victims.

I am concerned that the above article will make legitimate abuse victims seem like liars because they don’t have the right “victim mentality” of deserving what they get.  Anger and rage help legitimate victims realize they need to get help, get out.  And the last thing a victim needs, is to not be believed.

[Update 9/8/14: My concerns were addressed in this blog post, which was actually written in response to my comment on the original article!  🙂  The author seeks to differentiate between legitimate, healthy anger of an abuse victim, and the narcissistic rage of an abuser pretending to be the victim.]

The charge that the abuse victim is guilty of gossip and slander against her abuser if she ever tells anyone what he is doing is very common, especially in a Christian environment.

I personally have had THIS wicked tactic played on me more than once by guilty, controlling, abusive men and women who desire to operate in secret.  I don’t play their secrecy games anymore.  I’m on to them!

In contrast however, announcing from the rooftops what the abuser is doing to his victims is not gossip or slander. 

It is motivated by a desire for justice – a hungering and thirsting for righteousness.  It is the exposure of things done in darkness by the application of the light of Jesus Christ.  It is telling the truth where lies and deception have existed.  

THIS IS NOT SIN!  It is right in every way!…

Therefore, to victims of abuse, I say TELL!  Tell someone.  BUT be wise and be careful in doing so in order that your safety is not compromised.

You are NOT guilty of gossip or slander or disrespect toward your abuser.  TELL about the awful things he has done to you.  As you do so, and as you read and learn more about the nature and tactics of abuse, you will be set free from his deceptive spell. –Jeff Crippen, The Abuser’s Evil Demands for Secrecy

 

Christ truly changes us when He saves us. I mean, He really changes us so that though we are not perfect by any means, the fundamental nature of our being becomes one that loves God and loves others.

Have you been taught otherwise?  I was taught “otherwise” at a conservative Bible college for Pete’s sake!

When I faced up to this, I realized that a person who is an abuser simply cannot be a Christian.  It can’t be. He may look like it in many ways and at many times, but he is a fraud.

I learned that good people never pretend to be evil, but evil people love to pretend to be good. Sheep don’t wear wolves’ clothing.

What is perhaps even more sobering is that this also means that many people in our churches who may not be classic abusers, nevertheless are not genuine Christians. Abuse victims in a church can really suffer at their hands too. —More Thoughts on Why an Abuser Cannot be a Christian

 

In several cases, the abuser, on his own initiative and usually at the start of a relationship with someone (say, they are new to a church for example), will “own up” to the fact that he once was an abusive man.

He will tell about how terrible he was to his wife, how he frequently raged at her, and so on.  He will do so right in front of his wife, and even to a group of people he is just getting to know.

And then comes the story of his “conversion.”  Suddenly he woke up to what he was doing.  He realized that it was wrong and that he needed to stop treating her that way.  His wife says nothing.

But the rest of the folks, well, they think it is just marvelous that a man can be such a fine Christian that he can humbly and opening admit his past sin.  What a great thing it is going to be to have these people in the church. —The Abuser’s Ploy of “Confessing” His Past Abuse

Richard did this.  He confessed to having abused his kids in the past, but I discovered–when he was charged with choking one of his children in 2010–that it was still going on.

How can a reformed person choke a child?  How can anyone just up and choke a child?  There must have been more going on than he admitted to.  He also told me other things about reformation which I now doubt.

This is why I have often told our church here that the pews of the Christian church are the most dangerous place in the world if anyone who sits in them, listening to Christ’s truth week after week, rejects it.

Yet this is precisely what the “Christian” abuser does! Right?  Many of you could give first hand accounts, and I have heard many of them, of how your abuser played the game in church.  How he deceived and even continues to deceive the church.

He is an apostate – having rejected what he knows to be the truth, but he remains in the church anyway.

What kind of mind does it take to do that and still be able to sleep at night?  It is the mind of the sociopath – the mind with no conscience.

In some way, this kind of person is especially wicked in God’s sight because he holds up Christ to open shame, just as the mockers did when Christ was crucified.  They mock him by their evil facade.

My point is this – the abuser who is pretending to be a Christian is the hardest and most treacherous of all abusers.The “Christian” Abuser

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