Nyssa's Hobbit Hole

Category: abusers in church (page 1 of 27)

Now my church is officially merging with my abusers’ church…..

The announcement came out in the media this week.  I voted in favor of the merger because it seemed to be in the best interest of both churches, and because people (at least in my church) were nearly unanimous.

But it will be interesting:

Tracy–from what Richard and a once-mutual friend have told me, and what I myself have observed–apparently has inherited an abusive form of Borderline Personality Disorder and/or other disorders from her mother.  Her behavior interlaps with Narcissistic Personality Disorder as well.  She has caused trouble with other friends and in other churches, from what I’ve seen and what Richard has told me.

And Richard himself shows many signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  He claims to have hypnotized me without my knowledge, and he manipulated me.

Both have demonstrated stalker tendencies as well, and have even tried to intimidate me at church.

And both of them are child abusers.

And neither of them have ever admitted to abusing me, or to the legitimacy of my pain, or to the fact that I deserve an apology.

In fact, they told me they laughed at my pain.  These are your classic Christians-In-Name-Only.

I admit a certain trepidation at the thought of the poison that could now enter my church.  I hope they will not destroy it.  Though I hope the priest would be able to stop any such thing.

Of course, I have no clue if my abusers are still involved in the other church.  It hasn’t held services for three years, so they very well could’ve moved on to someplace they like better.  These days, all I know about my abusers is that they still live somewhere in town, even though one of their regular, confirmed IPs shows up in my blog stat trackers as Missouri.  Hubby believes he saw them walking a dog near our house three weeks ago.

Several years ago, one friend told me that church could be a good influence on my abusers, so not to be too upset about seeing them there.  At this point, I can’t tell them to stay away if it’s also their church.  But sharing the Eucharist and other church activities could be terribly problematic.

I also have many friends in my church.  Then there’s my BFF at that church, a fellow convert-NOT-by-marriage, introvert, writer and German-speaker.  🙂  I haven’t felt lonely for a long time.  Maybe they will help me feel safer.

I will have to play things by ear.

Hubby says they may not even come, but if they do and try to badmouth me, the people there know me way too well to listen to them.  It would only go back on them.

Or who knows, maybe they’ll take advantage of tomorrow’s Forgiveness Sunday (Orthodox thing right before Lent) to make peace.

But in any case, if my abusers start coming to my church, things will get interesting.  Please pray for me, or good wishes, or whatever you do.

StalkerQuote

 

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A few blog posts on sharing Communion with your abuser

I found a blog post, Abusers at the Communion Table, written in response to a post by Sarah Moon about taking Communion at church with her rapist.

Quote:

If you have wounded someone, repented, and done what you can to repair with them (including serving your sentence in the case of abuse), then part of repairing is respecting the other person’s boundaries.

This is just common sense love for the person you have wounded. If you are repentant, do not show up in the place of worship of the one you sinned against.

And those counseling and pastoring repentant abusers need to lead on this as well. I understand the predicament if, for a 50 mile radius, there is only one assembly of believers. But that is rarely the case, at least in the US.

In the event that you do not live in the plains of Nebraska an hour away from the nearest congregation, then repentant abusers should find another congregation away from the person they wounded to receive communion. The Body of Christ is large. It’s expansive. It’s worldwide.

There really is no excuse for an abuser to stay in a local congregation in a way that his/her presence is felt regularly by the one he/she abused. Find another congregation, be honest about your history, and allow them to walk with you. —From Abusers at the Communion Table

I don’t recommend reading the comments, because some of the people don’t seem to understand what it’s like to be abused.

Or–maybe more likely–they (and the blogger) didn’t realize Sarah Moon’s blog post was about UNrepentant abusers.  The ones who will hurt you again if given a chance.  The ones whom the Church is actually directed in the New Testament to put out of fellowship and not even eat with.

For example, if my abusive exes and a few school bullies were at my Communion table, and they were Orthodox, I could share it with them with no problem, because apologies have been exchanged.  People have grown up, moved on.

However, if my abusive ex-friends were at my Communion table, even though they are (last I knew) Orthodox, I could NOT share it with them, because they chose mocking, stalking and intimidation over repentance.  For the safety of abuse victims, such things must not be allowed.

Now for Sarah Moon’s When my abuser is welcome at the [Communion] table, then I am not.  Quote:

EVERYONE is welcome. But more and more it seems the “EVERYONE” that Christians are really going after is abusers.

And why not? How radical and Jesus-like does that sound? Abusers and survivors, sitting at the same table. Sharing the same bread and wine. The lion lying down next to the lamb.

Sure. That sounds great. Excuse me while I go have a panic attack or two.

I don’t know how to respond to this trend anymore. When I express discomfort about calling a rapist my “brother in Christ,” people accuse me of being a  bitter,  grace-hating person.

When I say that I can’t get over the hurt my abuser caused me, people tell me to get over my “perpetual victimhood.”

When I ask for a safe space, people tell me I’m acting just like the exclusionary fundamentalists, and that I need to learn that Christianity isn’t about being uncomfortable [sic].

There’s no grace for me, as I try to work through all the festering hate toward my rapist that I don’t know what the hell to do with. There’s no grace as I try to figure out whether I ever want to forgive a man who hurts me more each day even though we haven’t spoken in six years.

Maybe they’re right and I am the bitter, hateful person they think I am, but what about all this talk of grace?

Faith Newport wrote in the comments about her own pastor,

She protects her people. If there was someone in my life or my past who was a danger to me, who had abused or harmed in me in any way, the minute they walked in the door all I would have to do is tell someone in leadership, and that person would be asked to leave. They would not make it to Communion.

This is an issue for those who have been abused by people who share a church with them.  Abuse victims really need to be allowed to deal with their various emotions without judgment or feeling pressured into “making nice” with their abusers.

How can you forgive someone who does not repent?  I have heard all sorts of definitions of “forgiveness,” but the only one that really sounds correct to me, is that forgiveness means reconciliation.  This is the definition used by God when WE repent.

And if you reconcile with an unrepentant abuser, they will only hurt you again.  And again.  And again.  While you paste on a Stepford Christian smile.

However, lack of forgiving does not mean we remain trapped in bitterness, anger, and desire for vengeance.  ESPECIALLY if we are not forced to push down our feelings during the healing process, or pretend that our abuser is innocent.  If we are allowed to process our grief and anger without judgment, then eventually it will pass.  Maybe once in a while we’ll remember and feel angry, but it won’t consume our thoughts and lives.  In other words, “letting go.”

But that does not mean we want to be in the same room (let alone church) with this person, or share Communion with them.  That would just lead to yet another abusive episode, over which to grieve and heal AGAIN.  Letting go is not the same as stupidity.

If Jesus is the head of the Church, shouldn’t His church be the greatest protector and supporter for the vulnerable and the hurting? Where is Jesus when churches fail to respond wisely to sexual abuse and then refuse to take responsibility or repent for such colossal failures?

Where is Jesus when churches make expedient decisions that affirm offenders, rather than making difficult decisions in the best interests of children and abuse survivors? Where is Jesus when churches go out of the way to advocate for offenders, while hurting victims watch in terror and isolation?

Where is Jesus when churches refuse to acknowledge their need for help from experts, thinking that they know best? Where is Jesus when churches simply aren’t teachable? Where is He? These are the painful questions I am asking all too often these days. –Boz Tchividjian, Churches That Are Making Good Decisions About Protecting Children and Responding to Abuse

 

Something is wrong when churches protect perpetrators and marginalize victims. In recent months, we’ve seen a bit of the underbelly of covering up sexual abuse, demanding victims forgive and forget instantly for the sake of the poor offenders whose lives might be ruined if they were found out.

Cover up that exalts the “ministry” or a ministry personality over the well being of one who has been sinned against does not represent the Jesus I follow. –Mary DeMuth, Churches That Prefer Perpetrators Are Being Contrary to Authentic Christianity

A few good blogs on abusers in church are:

Grace for my Heart

Spiritual Sounding Board

Samantha Field

The Wartburg Watch

Wondering Eagle

 

 

 

 

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Reblog: How to deal properly with abusers posing as Christians

From Jeff Crippen of A Cry for Justice, just posted today:

So why is it then that we keep hearing things from churches such as “the abuser must be held accountable and taken under the care and discipline of his church. He must be informed that there are going to be consequences if he continues to abuse.” What?

You will notice in such an approach that the abuser actually is still being considered a Christian, still a member of the church, even though now busted with his guilty hand in the cookie jar (a pretty rare event in itself in most churches) he is going to be forced to put the cookie back and stop raiding it anymore.

That is to say, this “Christian” is having external pressures put upon him to force him to live like a Christian! Of course we all know where such an approach is going to end. He isn’t going to change, except perhaps for the worse.

Why in the world churches and pastors and elders and church members persist in treating the abuser as if he were a Christian just boggles my mind. Why will they not, for the glory of God and for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, openly announce the truth of the matter? “This man is no Christian and he is to be put out from among us. Do not even eat with such a one.”

Why? Why is that so hard? What is “in it” for a local church keeping such a wicked person in their midst? I can think of a number of answers to that question. None of them are good reasons. Every one of them involves disobeying our Lord.

Read the whole blog post here.

 

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On Spiritual Abuse

Is your church infected by spiritual abuse?  The Apologetics Index has all sorts of links about this.

Also see Churches That Abuse and Recovering from Churches that Abuse by Ronald Enroth.  These are full books on PDF.  The guy who runs this website has a signed letter from Ronald Enroth giving him permission to scan these two books, both of which are out of print.

One practice, now widely discredited because it easily becomes spiritually abusive, was often used in the 60s and 70s: shepherding.

It’s giving yourself over to someone else, your “covering,” who makes all your decisions for you–even who to date or marry, how often to have sex, or what music to listen to.

If you disagree with your shepherd or suggest changes to the group rules, you just might find yourself out of the group, since the leadership makes all the decisions.  Congregations may find themselves with no vote or voice.

In groups which decided the “shepherds” must be the opposite sex, shepherding has also led to adultery.

It has also led to broken people.

Unfortunately, shepherding seems to have re-emerged in many churches and Christian groups–ones which seem orthodox on the outside, so you must watch out for it.

I’ve heard of accountability groups, which seem to have come from this practice; take care that it does not match characteristics of shepherding.

I’ve also noted that talks about wifely submission sometimes use the same terms used in shepherding: i.e., the husband is the “covering” for the wife and she “submits to his decisions” no matter what.

Webpages on shepherding, what it is, how it’s abused:

Shepherding Movement

Christian: Who is your covering?  A Christian look at the Shepherding Movement by Steve Coleman

Shepherding Movement–Discipleship Movement–Christian Growth Ministries–Advanced Information

National Shepherding Movement–Discipleship Movement–Promise Keepers Warning

Article by Don Matzat about this and other issues

The Shepherding Movement Comes of Age by Lynn and Sarah Leslie describes the practice of signing covenants, which exists in many groups and churches.  It also implicates the Purpose-Driven Church model.

Willow Creek charges Promise Keepers and Willow Creek Church with shepherding.  The writers are rather fundamentalist and I disagree with them on many points, but they still make interesting charges.  Whether the charges are true or not, you be the judge.

Here and here, you can investigate whether Willow Creek practices shepherding.  And here, you can check out Saddleback’s FAQ.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot on these sites.  I’ve heard of restrictive covenants and the like, but don’t have proof of them.

Nowadays, you can also find blogs about spiritual abuse, on which you can share stories, find comfort and validation, and learn which churches to avoid.  My favorites:

The Wartburg Watch

Spiritual Sounding Board

Healing from Complex Trauma and PTSD/CPTSD (includes posts about a spiritually abusive pastor)

Written between probably 2005 and 2007

Index to my theology/church opinion pages:

Page 1:

Tithing 
End Times and Christian Zionism 
God’s Purpose/Supremacy of God Doctrine 
Cat and Dog Theology 
Raising One’s Hands in Worship 
Christian Music 
On the “still, small voice” and Charismatic sign gifts
On church buildings 
The Message Bible 
The Purpose-Driven Life 
The Relevance Doctrine, i.e. Marketing Churches to Seekers 
Republican Party 
Abortion Protests 
Creation 
The idea that God has someone in mind for you 
Literalism in Biblical interpretation
Miscellaneous 

Page 2:

Name it and Claim It Doctrine, Prosperity Doctrine, Faith-Formula Theology, Word-Faith Theology,  Positive Confession Theology, Health and Wealth Gospel, and whatever else they call it
More about Pat Robertson
Dr. Richard Eby and others who claim to have been to Heaven
Women in Marriage/the Church
Spiritual Abuse 
Other Resources 

Page 3:

Why do bad things happen?
Should we criticize our brethren’s artistic or evangelistic attempts?  Or, how should we evangelize, then?
Angels: Is “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti a divine revelation or fiction?
Halloween: Not the Devil’s Holiday!
Hell and the Nature of God 
Is Christmas/Easter a Pagan Holiday? 
Is everybody going to Hell except Christians?
How could a loving God who prohibits murder, command the genocide of the Canaanite peoples? 
What about predestination?
Musings on Sin, Salvation and Discipleship 
An Ancient View which is in the Bible, yet new to the west–Uncreated Energies of God

Page 4:

Dialogues
The Didache 
Technical Virginity–i.e., how far should a Christian single go? 
Are Spiritual Marriages “real”?  (also in “Life” section, where it’s more likely to be updated) 
Does the Pill cause abortions, or is that just another weird Internet or extremist right-wing rumor?
What about Missional Churches, Simple Churches, Fluid Churches, Organic Churches, House Churches or Neighborhood Churches?
Is Wine from the Devil–or a Gift from God?
What is Worship? 
Evangelistic Trips to Already Christianized Countries
Fraternities, Sororities, Masonic Lodge 
Was Cassie Bernall a Martyr?
Some Awesome Things heard in the Lamentations Service (Good Friday evening) during Holy Week

Conversion Story

Phariseeism in the Church

 

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Reblog: Ingrid Schlueter–yet another blogger threatened with defamation lawsuit

This post regards a situation described here, which is right in my backyard, in Milwaukee.  Ingrid writes,

I have a message for Vic, for Randy, and for anyone else who believes that Scripture’s direct instructions on handling conflict don’t apply: We will not be bullied.

We will not stop speaking the truth about what has gone on, and no attorney letters, threats and throwing weight around by anyone of influence matters one bit.

We have tried for years to get help and to resolve this in a Christ-honoring manner to no avail. Peacemakers, think about that name, were not wanted. Attorneys were. Onward Christian soldiers.

The only option for those who claim to possess Jesus Christ is biblical mediation of conflict. That has been resoundingly refused by Randall Melchert, the top officer legally of VCY America, inc. It has been resoundingly rejected by Vic Eliason and Randy Melchert, men who prefer to pass on stories about headless squirrels and retain attorneys to try to stifle the truth.

She also writes,

My sister called tonight and asked if I’d checked the mail. I hadn’t. Vic Eliason, our father, is threatening to sue us for attempting to get this shameful situation into biblical mediation with Peacemakers.

He is characterizing all we have spoken, the truth, as defamation.

….My father may not be aware that we have a close friend who is a lawyer. Our friend, who actually has significant experience with defamation has pointed out the following.

First, a lawyer with experience in this area of law would identify the supposed falsehoods. This “gentleman” is unable to do that.

We wonder–what is false? That we requested biblical mediation? That his daughter and his two sons-in-law were forced out of VCY? That he tried to bribe his grandson into bearing false witness against his own mother? That he sent pornography to me under a false name and posted on blogs as a woman?

None of these things is false–all are provably true. And this lawyer apparently doesn’t realize that defamation does not mean “bad for Vic” but means actually false.

From Julie Anne Smith’s latest post, VCY America Founder, Vic Eliason, Sends Letter Threatening Legal Action to His Daughter, Ingrid Schlueter:

I sometimes have to laugh when attorneys use the “defamatory” word.  It is up to the courts to decide what word or phrase is defamatory or not, not some podunk Wisconsin lawyer throwing around legalese to threaten (disclaimer: this is JA’s opinion, lest some whacknut attorney try to sue me for defamation).

Mr. Russell, you would be wise to look up defamation lawsuits and see how many cases are in fact successful.

….Now, if Ingrid Schlueter is telling her story as she sees it, that is her perceived truth. In court, Ingrid’s perceived truth would not be judged as a lie (even if it is in fact a lie).

The plaintiffs in a defamation lawsuit would have to prove that Ingrid (and her sister, or anyone else named in the lawsuit) intentionally lied.

….Let’s just cut to the chase. This letter from Attorney Patrick Russell is a farce. He is throwing around big words acting like he’s going to make a real case over this situation. He doesn’t have one. It’s a bully method to tell someone to shut up (disclaimer:  Julie Anne’s opinion).

Abusers and bullies use all sorts of methods to control and using civil courts and threatening letters is just one more method. It happened to me, it happened in the G*** lawsuit, and now we see it here with Ingrid Schlueter’s father.

It’s important to acknowledge what this really is and what it is not. This letter is Vic Eliason’s attempt to control who can talk. It is not an honest attempt to resolve conflict in a Biblical fashion (as the Schlueters have attempted to do via a mediator).

It is certainly not appropriate behavior for a Christian to sue another Christian. It is not loving and gracious.  Is this what the 1 Corinthians passage is referring to when they use the word reviler?

There is no humility in paying an attorney to bully family members. Imagine what family times might be like with the Eliason, Schlueter, and extended families. I suspect Thanksgiving and Christmas will be a bit solemn as this fractured family reels with a pending lawsuit over their heads.

This shameful situation is now public. I hope Mr. Eliason will retract his attorney’s ridiculous letter and handle his family conflict using appropriate Biblical methods.

This public display of suing family members in the civil courts makes him look like a fool and a bully.

This all sounds very familiar, as I, too, was threatened with a lawsuit for suggesting biblical mediation to resolve the situation with my abusers, if they began coming to my church full-time.

In my case, I called the bluff and immediately went to my priest about the situation (though, of course, I had already spoken to my priest about it previously, because I needed his counsel).

My abusers pretended to continue trying to intimidate me and be oh-so-scary.  But in truth, they backed down, and did nothing.  The statute of limitations has long since run out for them to sue me for going to my priest about this.  And, well, a policeman told me that they could not sue me for that, anyway.

But not everyone is so fortunate.  Various abuse bloggers have been sued in recent years: Julie Anne, Christina Enevoldsen….But the bloggers keep winning, or could still win.  Hopefully Ingrid will not get sued, or–if she does–will win the case.

Keep speaking the truth without fear!

 

 

 

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