What Steven Furtick Should Tell Elevation Church About Norm Vigue and Child Pornography

It’s late March when Lauren Book and I head into the bowels of the Florida Civil Commitment Center (FCCC), armed with loose-leaf paper, pencils and the knowledge that we are about to sit face to face with three of the most dangerous sexually violent predators in the state. “This is the most manipulative crowd on the planet,” says Kristin Kanner, director of the Florida Department of Children and Families’ Sexually Violent Predator Program. And one of the men we’re seeing today has been sending Book and her father angry letters for the past few years. link

D. Sharon Pruitt from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, USA

Scared Child, Crying: D. Sharon Pruitt from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, USA

Digression: Before I begin this post, I wanted to say that I have been stunned by the comments on this blog about being *done.* I plan to write a number of posts based on the comments. I will also collate them and send them to The DeChurched Project. Please continue to add to the discussion over the next few weeks. Also, if anyone would like to tell their story in an a more indepth form, please let us know. We are also quite interested in the stories from Acts 29 churches.


Amy Smith, from Watchkeep, is simply amazing. I have been privileged to get to know her over the past few years. Recently, the two of us have worked together on the Greg Kelly story and The Village Church/Matt Chandler story. When I came across the information in today's post, I let Amy know since she is very involved in SNAP and her blog, Watchkeep, particularly focuses on child sex abuse. In spite of being on vacation in Kauai, she immediately began to help me research the court documents, etc. She is far more adept than I am in this area and I am so grateful for her help. The evangelical world is blessed to have Amy Smith keeping an eye on child sex abuse and churches. 

We are both writing on this story today. Amy has posted many of the court documents on her site along with a number of other links.  Between the two of us, we will be giving both our readers and Elevation Church something to think about. Again, I thank Amy for helping me out in this story.


Mr Robot and Internet Child Sex Abuse

Even Hollywood gets the morally reprehensible act of watching children have sex over the internet. The new TV series, Mr Robot, revolves around Elliot, who is a brilliant cyber security engineer afflicted with a social anxiety disorder. From Wikipedia:

Elliot meets a mysterious anarchist known as "Mr. Robot" who recruits Elliot to join his team of hackers, "Fsociety". Elliot, who has a social anxiety disorder but connects to people by hacking them, is intrigued, but uncertain he wants to be part of the group. The show follows Mr. Robot's attempts to engage Elliot in his mission to destroy the corporation Elliot is paid to protect. Compelled by his personal beliefs, Elliot struggles to resist the chance to take down the multinational CEOs that are running (and ruining) the world.

By the end of the first 5 minutes of the pilot episode, I was cheering Elliot because he went after a guy involved in serving up child porn link.

The opening scene takes place in a urban coffee shop. Elliot, the lead character, is describing to the shop's owner why he ending up finding the 100 terabytes of child pornography the owner had that was serving 400,000 users. We don't see a single computer screen or keyboard during this, just Elliot and the owner.

It all started because he liked the fast wi-fi in the shop.

"It was so good it scratched that part of my mind that doesn't allow good to exist without conditions."  

His actions, upon finding the porn, reveal part of his moral code. He isn't going to blackmail the owner. Money doesn't drive him. He's going to the police.

It was interesting to note that the owner of the shop was not repentant but, as soon as he realized the police cars were arriving, he starts shaking but it was too late. My husband laughed as I stood up, wildly clapping. (Dee gives the show 5 out of 5.) From the above link to Crooks and Liars, I found the next statement from the reviewer fascinating in light of the fact that some leaders and members of the evangelical church find child pornography just another one of those victimless crimes.

Serving up child porn is widely condemned as immoral and is illegal. 

It is sometimes distressing to realize that television programs, such as Law and Order SVU, take child sex abuse more seriously than some churches. 

Where is Elevation Church?

Elevation Church is located in Charlotte,NC and reportedly has about 15,000 members. It is led by the often controversial pastor, Steven Furtick. here are some posts written by TWW to give you some background link, link, link, and link. He is best known for building a 16, 000 square foot him and saying "It's not that great." (Read links.)

Who is Norman Vigue?

This is from Amy Smith's post:  Steven Furtick and Elevation Church publicly support, celebrate, and elevate a convicted child sex offender before, during and after federal prison: registered sex offender Norman Vigue now leads Elevation Church Bible study – 

Norman Wilfred Vigue- registered sex offender in North Carolina.  Over two months after Norman's arrest on federal charges of possession of child pornography, Steven Furtick, lead pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, dedicated a blog post to Norm. 

That blog post was called "Hero of the Day."  This is a man who is going to federal prison after being arrested in a sting for accessing child pornography. This is a federal crime. Norman appeared at Elevation Church in 2004, purportedly dedicated his life to Christ and became an instant *mascot.* More on this later in the post.

It appears that merely claiming to come to Christ, and then accessing child pornography (yes, in that order) is enough to get you a table to sign autographs at Elevation Church.

December 29th, 2006 

My hero of the day is in the office right now, working in the conference room.

His name is Norm Vigue.

In a bizarre twist, I can’t tell you right now why he’s my hero of the day just yet.
Because I’m going to bring him up on the stage and share a part of his story on Sunday morning, and you’ll all get to meet him for yourselves.

Then he will be signing autographs in the back, at the resource table, where he works every single week.

It appears that he received images that not only showed teens having sex but also images of children under twelve being subjected to sadomasochistic behavior. Link  Make sure you understand this. This is violent behavior. Norm claimed that he only wanted to see teens over the age of 12 (as if that really makes things better.)

Child pornography Is internet based child sex abuse and is not a normal deviation.

Last night my husband turned to me and said "Tell me this again. Why did Norm say he turned to viewing teens having sex on the internet  because of his divorce? Why did he want to view kids and not adults? That sounds a bit weird."

I told him that it is a dangerous deviation from the norm. Many people do not understand that it is against the law because children are unable to give consent. Here is a quote from a post that I wrote Karen Hinkley Did Not Have a Valid Marriage Covenant; Some Information About Pedophilia. Warning-Graphic!

What are offenders actually viewing on the Internet and what do they expect while viewing? (Very Graphic)

Here is a PDF developed by the Federal government following congressional testimonies.:

Sexual interest in children and corresponding sexual gratification are significant motivators for most child pornography offenders.24 Offenders often use the images to masturbate and to validate their sexual interest in children.25 Some offenders also use images to “groom” or lower the inhibitions of potential victims.26 

Child pornography offenders also may develop or increase deviant sexual interests and distorted attitudes about children as appropriate sexual partners.32 Such symptoms may serve to further socially isolate the child pornography offender and escalate his use of child pornography.33 

Child pornography offenders’ collections often contain a variety of images including legal but sexually suggestive child images,48 sexually explicit poses, explicit sex acts, and images depicting violence,humiliation, bondage, and bestiality.  

Images depicted victims suffering a variety of sexual abuse. NCMEC reported that 84 percent of the victims had at least one image depicting oral penetration; 76 percent of the victims had at least one image depicting anal and/or vaginal penetration; 52 percent of the victims had at least one image depicting the use of foreign objects or sexual devices; 44 percent of the victims had at least one image depicting bondage or sadistic behavior; 20 percent of the victims had at least one image depicting urination or defecation; and four percent of the victims had at least one image depicting bestiality.102 

Most child pornography offenders have some degree of sexual interest in children, but some offenders are partially or completely motivated by other sexual and non- sexual reasons 

If priests could marry and Norm wasn't divorced, they wouldn't view this trash, right?

Wrong! It is vital to understand that viewing child sex abuse on the internet has nothing whatsoever to do with the lack of sex. It is deviant behavior that occurs because an individual has developed a sexual response to children. They enjoy and prefer being sexually aroused by children.

Viewing internet images of children being sexually abused is not a mistake. 

Steven Furtick referred to Norm's activities as a *mistake.* Nothing could be further from the truth. Let me share an actual mistake I made on the Internet.

When my daughter was little, she wanted leopard sheets. I got online with her and on the 3rd click, we landed on a porn site. I threw my body across the screen and shut down the computer so she wouldn't see it. That was in the early days of home computers and my protective software was not effective. That mistake caused a mess on my computer since I kept getting X rated spam and needed to hire someone to undo the situation. That was a costly mistake. It was not a crime or a deliberate act.

Norm deliberately accessed those images. To say it was a mistake downplays both the crime and the sin that is involved with internet child sex abuse. I use that term because that is what is going on in these images. The law recognizes it as abuse.

A dangerous idea: becoming a Christian exempts you from committing crimes.

Furtick, in his book Sun Stand Still, in the chapter titled Mistake Into Miracle, expressed anger over Norman being convicted because he had become a Christian. Steven Furtick does not get that what Norman did makes him a criminal and that it will (and should) affect him for the rest of his life. In that chapter, Furtick again repeats that God can change your mistake into a miracle, too This was not a mistake-repeat x10.

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 1.26.19 PM

This excerpt truly causes me to question Furtick's understanding of sin. People are automatically exempt from going to prison because they became a Christian? Now that is a dangerous thought.

It is this sort of naive belief that causes sexual offenders to target churches. In fact, this will be one of the few times that I will completely agree with Tim Challies  He wrote a post 6 Reasons Why Sexual Predators Target Churches. Furtick and Elevation Church should read this post.

  • CHRISTIANS ARE NAÏVE
  • ​CHRISTIANS ARE IGNORANT OF THE PROBLEM
  • CHURCHES OFFER ACCESS TO CHILDREN
  • (MANY) CHRISTIANS ABUSE AUTHORITY
  • CHURCHES CAN BE MANIPULATED
  • CHURCHES OFFER CHEAP GRACE

This quote sums up the post nicely.

 Pastors and churches are very forgiving. They are quick to apply the gospel—and very, very slow to apply the consequences that come from the law.” An offender will weep and admit that he was wrong and promise never to do anything like it again, and the church may respond by determining they will let it go this once. But when they do that, they simply allow the offender to go right back to his behavior, and allow the child to remain a victim.

Norman Vigue is on the NC sex offender registry.

 Norm is on this registry because the officials deemed him as being possibly dangerous to children. I contacted Elevation Church this morning to ask if the congregation had been warned of his history. As of the publication of this post, I have note received a response.

Norman Vigue is held up as a role model at Elevation Church

Perhaps Norman is truly repentant. However, it is also possible that Norman, already convicted of his crimes, is a charming, manipulative offender. Many sex offenders are. As such, the church membership should be alerted as to his offenses so they can keep their collective eye on him. From Laurel House.

The second tactic is the ability to charm, to be likeable, to radiate sincerity and truthfulness. 

A truly repentant sex offender and a truly thoughtful pastor would speak openly about the crimes.

Take a look at how Wade Burleson, Pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church (and E Church) handles child predators in his church.

Burleson:   "We work with sex offenders in Celebrate Recovery, a program in our church, and we have those who worship, but when someone who's been convicted of a sexual crime is being ministered to in our church, we write a letter saying they are welcome to come, then we post their picture, we post their crime, and we distribute it to every person who is an employee or a servant in the church who's working with other people and say this is the person that's coming, this is what he did, you need to know his face, you need to know his name, you need to identify him, you need to love him, but he is never to be alone in any room with any person.  And you know people have been upset with that.  Why would you do that?  And we tell the sex offender, that's the consequence of the choice you made when you abused a child. And so that's what we do."  

A repentant child sex offender should be willing to have his crimes spelled out to the church and to go out of his way to make sure that there is not chance that any child could be harmed. That should be a consequence of his deliberate sin.  Does Elevation Church have Norm's picture posted around the church? Does the church even know of his crimes? If not, why not? Does Vigue have full access to all areas of he church? Is he ever alone in the church?

Who Jesus Came to Save

Do we know the full truth of what happened?

  • Norm did NOT initially plead guilty. On 10/26/06 he pled *Not Guilty.* (Furtick only states that he pled guilty.)
  • He waited until January 3, 2007 to change his plea to guilty.
  • On 10/27/06, (P.2 of 6) Norm is directed to have no direct or indirect contact with victim. (It appears there is more going on here than we know. Did he have contact with a victim?)

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 2.10.12 PM

  • ​Steven Furtick claims that Vigue did not commit these crimes after he met with Furtick and had become a Christian. That does not seem to be the case.

Note also that this document states that, "In 2004, Norman Vigue found his faith." Furtick claims that Vigue committed these crimes before he became a Christian.

(Furtick speaking) "A few months ago, Norm came into my office and asked me if we were going to kick him out of the church. It turns out that before he received Christ, Norm committed some crimes and he was facing at least a few years in jail."

The indictment record of Vigue states that, "Between January 14, 2005 and February 24, 2005, in the Western District of North Carolina and elsewhere, Norman Wilfred Vigue did knowingly receive, and did knowingly attempt to receive, child pornography…" 

Has Furtick, Vigue and others ever expressed any public compassion for the children Vigue harmed by viewing the videos?

Mistake into a Miracle

Imagine if you were sexually abused as a child and you viewed Steven Furtick's reception of Norman Vigue on his first day at church after returning from serving 4 years in a federal prison. Furtick was crying and holding up Norman as a role model for the church. Let's get that straight. Norman was the role model. Not one word was mentioned of the children who were harmed by illegally being sexually abused on video. Not. one. word.

This, to me, is one of the most egregious acts of this entire story. Imagine if you had been that little girl, crying for her mommy as she was being molested for some stranger's sexual gratification? What if you were a trafficked teen sold into slavery and forced to perform these acts on camera? What about a middle school boy who was beaten and raped by multiple men? And the guy who contributed money to keep this despicable industry alive is "the role model?"

Could he have fully repented? Possibly. However, both Furtick and Vigue did not mention concern for his victims or the nature of his crime. The lack of such openness leads me to question the depth of repentance. It also causes me to question Furtick's commitment and concern for children who are exploited. Why in the world has he never mentioned Norm's victims? Who is he protecting? It doesn't seem to me that protecting the Elevators is his first concern. That, along with his penchant for living large makes me wonder who this is all about? 

Where does that leave us?

The full truth should be admitted to by Steven Furtick and Norman Vigue. The congregation has a right to know this. That is why Amy Smith and I are writing these posts. If Norman is truly repentant, he should not take offense. I have contacted the church and asked directly if the congregation was made fully aware of Vigue's crimes. I have not received an answer. 

I would imagine that Steven Furtick may go off on one of his "Hey Haters" rants. I hope not. Maybe he will see the wisdom of being more open. So, for all of our readers who have not see this video-watch it. It gives some insights into the viewpoints of Furtick towards those who disagree with him.

Comments

What Steven Furtick Should Tell Elevation Church About Norm Vigue and Child Pornography — 301 Comments

  1. Who cares? He’s not around kids at church. This is a good man you’re smearing, I pray he won’t have to check himself into a mental hospital for this stuff coming up now. Pastor Steven did the RIGHT thing by not humiliating a good man.

    Losers like Wartburg Watch and Amy are jealous of what Pastor Steven has built and would say or do anything to bring him down. They can’t handle that someone who made a sinful mistake could turn their life around through Pastor Steven’s personal support and teaching.

  2. I got this up last night. Its my suggestion that the single greatest threat today is not a Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, but instead corruption inside evangelicalism.
    Fore example SGM, CJ Mahaney, Mark Driscoll, etc… Before Al Mohler or John Piper continue to critique the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage they need to address child sex abuse in SGM.

    Also why I believe the decision will be good in separating the wheat form the chaff, the chaff being those who want to wage the culture wars.

    https://wonderingeagle.wordpress.com/2015/06/29/my-contention-that-the-single-greatest-threat-to-the-gospel-is-not-a-supreme-court-decision-on-gay-marriage-instead-its-internal-corruption/

  3. It would appear that Norman Vigue is leading a Men’s Bible Study “to help us further understand God’s vision for us as men of purity.” “If you are seeking the freedom from sexual immorality, this group will provide Biblically-based topical discussion & regular accountability.” This man has been out of jail for less than 4 years, and he’s now leading a purity group?

    https://elevation.infellowship.com/GroupSearch/ShowMultiple/1207106,735839,590001,900977,1197528,1197461,735749,850966,738173,1029552,729482,1034944,1054584,1026807,458692,598110,1137401,1026817,1189843,729985,1053475,1073987,728713,845566,735891,750210

  4. Note also that this document states that, “In 2004, Norman Vigue found his faith.” Furtick claims that Vigue committed these crimes before he became a Christian.

    i.e. He said The Magic Words (just like in the Jack Chick Tract) so that makes everything OK.

  5. Perhaps Norman is truly repentant. However, it is also possible that Norman, already convicted of his crimes, is a charming, manipulative offender. Many sex offenders are. As such, the church membership should be alerted as to his offenses so they can keep their collective eye on him. From Laurel House.

    The second tactic is the ability to charm, to be likeable, to radiate sincerity and truthfulness.

    I grew up with a younger brother like that. Though my brother was not a sex offender, he was a master manipulator who could radiate charm, sincerity, and truthfulness on demand. (Including turning it on and off like a light switch.)

    And in one of these comment threads from a while ago, someone cited an actual study which claimed the surest sign of a sociopath is the ability to play the poor poor innocent victim and make others feel so so sorry for him.

  6. So Furtick says conversion was in 2004 and legal (crime related) paperwork says Vigue consumed child pornography in 2005, and Furtick says crime was before conversion. Something does not compute and that something makes Furtick a documented liar protecting a post-“conversion” pedophile consumer of pornography.

    A friend of mine was sentenced to multiple decades in prison for non penetrative contact with a child, both fully clothed! How does Vigue get away with a four year sentence. Oh yeah, Furtick said he became a “Christian” and “repented”. Furtick gets the Naive Pastor of the Year award.

  7. OK, I’ve seen and read a lot in my time, but this post left me literally shaking. There’s so much I could say here but I just can’t find the words.

    I hope the local press in Charlotte picks up on this. I really do.

  8. An Attorney wrote:

    A friend of mine was sentenced to multiple decades in prison for non penetrative contact with a child, both fully clothed! How does Vigue get away with a four year sentence.

    Is Elevation in the Bible Belt where “He Became a Christian and Repented” would be a plausible defense?

    Does Furtick have Influence(TM) with the courts and/or justice system?

    Or is Vigue just that good a manipulator?

  9. I read the conditions of release for Vigue. He’s on probation for eight years. Here’s number 21:

    21.As directed by the probation officer, the defendant shall notify third parties of risks that may be occasioned by the defendant’s criminal record or personalhistory or characteristics, and shall permit the probation officer to make such notifications and to confirm the defendant’s compliance with such notification requirement.

    *snip*

    29. Defendant shall register and keep registration current in each jurisdiction where the offender resides, where the defendant is an employee and where the defendant is a student for initial registration purposes only, a sex offender shall also register in the jurisdiction in which convicted if such jurisdiction is different from the jurisdiction of residence.

    *snip*

    32.During the period of supervised release, the defendant shall notify his employers, family, friends, and others with whom he has regular contact of hisconviction and/or history as a sex offender

    From: https://www.scribd.com/doc/269718569/USA-v-Vigue-1-06-cr-00160-sentenced-on-June-19-2007

    According to the North Carolina sex offenders registry, Norman Vigue was released on 7/20/2011. He is still on probation and still under these requirements for another four years, until 2019.

  10. An Attorney wrote:

    A friend of mine was sentenced to multiple decades in prison for non penetrative contact with a child, both fully clothed! How does Vigue get away with a four year sentence. Oh yeah, Furtick said he became a “Christian” and “repented”.

    It is my understanding that some people at the church lobbied for a lighter sentence and the court was *impressed.* Read the documents. Made me a bit ill.

  11. “This excerpt truly causes me to question Furtick’s understanding of sin. People are automatically exempt from going to prison because they became a Christian? Now that is a dangerous thought.”

    It’s worse than that. People are automatically exempt from going to prison because they SAY they became a Christian. Not only that, we’ll make you a hero AND have you sign autographs.

    Evangelical ‘Christianity’ loves ‘repentant’ sinners. Just say the words and they’ll make you a hero, no discernment necessary. They’ll soft pedal whatever crimes you’ve committed, no matter how heinous, to the point of not even mentioning them lest people get uncomfortable. It makes such great theater and keeps the money rolling in, never mind the victims or any discernment.

  12. This excerpt truly causes me to question Furtick’s understanding of sin. People are automatically exempt from going to prison because they became a Christian? Now that is a dangerous thought.

    It’s actually more prevalent than you think.

    The followers of young earth creationist Kent Hovind believe Kent shouldn’t be in prison for failure to pay taxes, structuring and obstruction of the IRS because he’s a great man of God telling the world about the evils of evolution.

    It’s as if Jesus was a “get out of jail free” card. Well no, you still did what you did. Jesus may comfort you and your faith give you strength as you’re serving your time, but Jesus is not a mitigating factor in your conviction and sentencing. *sigh*

  13. I did read the original post, and maybe overlooked it here, but did you mention that Elevation Church has Vigue leading a weekly Bible e-class for men, about sexual purity?

    The Watch Keep blog has information indicating that Vigue teaches a purity class to other men. Here is a blurb:

    Norman Vigue, registered child sex offender, is currently leading an Elevation Church men’s bible study every Tuesday night from 7 pm to 9 pm.

    [from the church’s material:]

    ..If you are seeking the freedom from sexual immorality, this group will provide Biblically-based topical discussion & regular accountability.

    From the original post on the top of this page:

    It is vital to understand that viewing child sex abuse on the internet has nothing whatsoever to do with the lack of sex. It is deviant behavior that occurs because an individual has developed a sexual response to children.
    They enjoy and prefer being sexually aroused by children.

    Thank you for repeating this.

    I’m an adult who has never had sex, and I continue to find it very insulting how often Christians (and Non Christians) automatically link celibacy to child sexual abuse.

    I may be celibate, but I do not, nor have I ever, nor would I ever, sexually abuse a child, and I have no sexual interest in children at all.

  14. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    someone cited an actual study which claimed the surest sign of a sociopath is the ability to play the poor poor innocent victim and make others feel so so sorry for him.

    That information appears in the book “The Sociopath Next Door” and other sites.

    Dr. Stout upends the reader’s notion of a Sociopath; warning that the real tell tale sign is not fear but pity.
    She states, “The most reliable sign, the most universal behavior of unscrupulous people is not directed, as one might imagine, at our fearfulness. It is, perversely, an appeal to our sympathy.”

    Source:
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/take-all-prisoners/200912/your-conscience-the-sociopaths-weapon-choice

  15. I searched on “Elevation Church” and “Norman Vigue”. This is the first hit:

    It’s a Bible study that meets at “Chik-Fil-A” Wesley Chapel

    Men’s Bible/Book Study eGroup: Foundations of Faith (Norman Vigue) Next meeting: Tue. June 30, 2015 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
    Description This eGroup exists to help us further understand God’s vision for us as men of purity. This is for men who are interested in growing in their faith, whether renewing a commitment or making a commitment for the first time. The life of Nehemiah is a perfect place to start. If you are seeking the freedom from sexual immorality, this group will provide Biblically-based topical discussion & regular accountability. We are meeting weekly, but rebuilding the walls daily.

    Gender Male
    Marital status Married or Single
    Meets on every Tuesday effective 3/6/2012 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
    Led By Norman Vigue

    https://elevation.infellowship.com/GroupSearch/ShowMultiple/735742,729482,458692,458291,598110

    I’ve got it in a PDF file in case it gets memoryholed.

  16. Have never seen a whisper of consideration from Furtick for the thousands of victims of his sick narcissism, avarice and theology, so why should we expect any consideration from him for the victims of child pornography?

  17. Furtick is a loon. How are the children in his church safe? Do they have a special colouring book that tells them what to do?

  18. Beakerj wrote:

    Furtick is a loon. How are the children in his church safe? Do they have a special colouring book that tells them what to do?

    I think it says something to the effect of trusting pastor Steve, our Great Leader.

  19. From Sun Stand Still: “Unfortunately, the charges were just now being brought, and the parties bringing the charges could care less that Norm had experienced a life-changing encounter with God.”

    I will refrain from using the salty language that is floating in my head at the moment, but, heck yeah they could care less! Furtick does a great job at making Norm the victim in this situation. This really disgusts me.

  20. Kathi wrote:

    From Sun Stand Still: “Unfortunately, the charges were just now being brought, and the parties bringing the charges could care less that Norm had experienced a life-changing encounter with God.”

    I will refrain from using the salty language that is floating in my head at the moment, but, heck yeah they could care less! Furtick does a great job at making Norm the victim in this situation. This really disgusts me.

    Remember the study I mentioned up top, how the surest sign of a sociopath is the ability to paint themselves as the poor poor innocent victim.

  21. JeffT wrote:

    Evangelical ‘Christianity’ loves ‘repentant’ sinners. Just say the words and they’ll make you a hero, no discernment necessary. They’ll soft pedal whatever crimes you’ve committed, no matter how heinous, to the point of not even mentioning them lest people get uncomfortable. It makes such great theater and keeps the money rolling in, never mind the victims or any discernment.

    As well as if the sin was JUICY JUICY JUICY, the Testimony(TM) lets all those Upright Respectable Church Lady types indulge vicariously in it while remaining Upright & Respectable(TM).

    Where have we seen this whole pedo two-step before?
    Take a number and stand in line…

  22. mirele wrote:

    It’s a Bible study that meets at “Chik-Fil-A” Wesley Chapel

    “Chick-Fil-A” Chapel?
    WTF?
    (Well, Chick-Fil-A is the CHRISTIAN(TM) fast-food chain…. Major cash contributions?)

  23. It appears that Norm has lived in other states. I wonder what his status is there? Another interesting question is about his employment. Has he ever taken jobs that expose him to children? (daycare, toy stores etc)
    If he is truely repentant-wonderful. However, this should not impact his punishment. I question him leading a purity class. Some men “get off” on focusing on their sexual sin and love to discuss the details of their actions. I hope there is a trained therapist involved in this group.
    If Furtick doesn’t wise up, he may be manipulated into a major disaster. Vigue is 65 and has many more years of life experience than Furtick.

  24. Daisy wrote:

    I’m an adult who has never had sex, and I continue to find it very insulting how often Christians (and Non Christians) automatically link celibacy to child sexual abuse.

    Because everybody’s gettin’ some, and if you’re not there’s gotta be something wrong with you (nudge nudge wink wink know what I mean know what I mean).

    In my high school days, the accusation if you weren’t known to be doing a girl was “QUEER!”

  25. Ann wrote:

    I question him leading a purity class. Some men “get off” on focusing on their sexual sin and love to discuss the details of their actions.

    This was touched on in the South Park episode (Children of the Corn parody) where the kids falsely accuse all the adults in town of molestation to get them taken away. The therapist at the slammer where the adults get jugged is heavily implied to be a closet pedo himself who gets off on listening to others confess in juicy detail, and manipulates them into juicy confession after juicy confession.

    And besides, anything SEXUAL(TM) tends to make people stupid & crazy to start with.

  26. I am reminded of the time ( the early 2000’s) when a convicted child molester who began attending the church of which I used to be a member. He frequented the young singles class and I often caught him leering at the ladies in the class. So I called the pastor and asked him what should be done. Pastor had already been made aware of this guy’s MO, so he met with him and laid out the ground rules (which were very similar to those suggested by TWW). He now knew he was allowed to come to church, but was being monitored very closely. After that meeting, we never saw him again. I am still proud of pastor for his wisdom.

    Is occurs to me that maybe the reason these sins get glossed over are because we evangelicals spend so much time at “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” But we must remember that Jesus spoke of those who mourn, are persecuted, etc. Evangelicals (And Fundamentalists) have done a huge disservice to the victims by only viewing them through the “all have sinned” lens. It distorts the whole picture. When there is a crime committed, the ground is no longer level between perpetrator and victim. It’s time the church stopped acting that way.

  27. The attitude of Elevation Church reminds me of the response of CLC with Dave Adams. Just sayin.

  28. A while back, out of curiosity, I listened to one of his older sermons (one of his “Confessions of a Pastor” sermons, the one where he goes on a rant saying “There’s 700-plus other churches in Charlotte, look one up in the phone book if you don’t like what we’re doing”) and at the end Steven brought this Norm guy up on stage and bragged on him (this was right before Norm was due to start his sentence.) Not ONCE did Furtick tell the congregation the serious nature of Norm’s crimes, and in fact, until I read this post today, I was unaware that the crimes were related to child pornography (I had it in my mind that Norm was convicted of robbery or something drug-related, and since Furtick didn’t divulge the charges…)

    I will say it again. I am thankful that I realized something was seriously wrong with Elevation after attending only one “worship experience,” as they call it.

    Sad to say, I’m not entirely surprised. As a Charlotte resident, I’m growing quite tired of Steven and Elevation doing harm to the reputation of my city.

  29. I think I know what Furtick is about. What I do *not* understand is why there are apparently a lot of people in Charlotte who think this is just fine. Never mind being a Christian who is supposed to have the mind of Christ. What is wrong with these people just as simple human beings?

    On a related note, if Beaker or anyone else has a good professional resource to help an older woman understand the desire to consume child pornography while knowing full well how it is produced, I would appreciate it. I’m afraid to use a search engine.

  30. Eagle wrote:

    single greatest threat today is not a Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, but instead corruption inside evangelicalism.

    Too true, unfortunately the single greatest threat is pretty big. Furtick and Elevation church have been on the radar for quite some time, hopefully they can run out of money like Mars Hill and fold. How long can people at Elevation put their hands over their ears going lalalala?

  31. Once again I feel sick but not surprised. That’s what is so sad about these things. Thank you for exposing it. May God’s people repent.

  32. AnonInNC wrote:

    t the end Steven brought this Norm guy up on stage and bragged on him (this was right before Norm was due to start his sentence.) Not ONCE did Furtick tell the congregation the serious nature of Norm’s crimes, and in fact, until I read this post today, I was unaware that the crimes were related to child pornography

    Good night! Thank you for your input into the original sermon.

  33. Bill M wrote:

    How long can people at Elevation put their hands over their ears going lalalala?

    How long can they be mesmerized by the bling, cool hip arrogant pastor and big orange chairs on stage? A long time. And when some are done, there are new young non thinking ones to recruit. None of it goes away until the money starts drying up. That is what killed Mars Hill. Not the truth— but money.

  34. Bill M wrote:

    How long can people at Elevation put their hands over their ears going lalalala?

    That is Charlotte of course. Jim and Tammy had Heritage USA/PTL just outside Charlotte, and Carowinds is there (or was) so I am thinking that Furtick’s place may fit right in. Don’t get me wrong, Charlotte has a lot to recommend it, but there is this rather entertainment side to it also.

  35. Okrapod wrote:

    Carowinds is there (or was)

    We still have Carowinds (complete with a brand new ride) and also NASCAR if you can consider that “entertainment.” Not to mention the many pseudo-/wannabe-Elevation-type churches that are popping up on almost every block nowadays.

    We have a not-so-proud history of being drawn in by charming, flashy speakers who pepper their talks with religion.

  36. AnonInNC wrote:

    We have a not-so-proud history of being drawn in by charming, flashy speakers who pepper their talks with religion.

    Oh, I forgot NASCAR. Good grief. One thing we have not mentioned is that the area also tends to be affluent. Not that anybody trying to build a mega mega would notice that, of course.

  37. mirele wrote:

    Men’s Bible/Book Study eGroup: Foundations of Faith (Norman Vigue) Next meeting: Tue. June 30, 2015 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

    I wonder if that is the Chick-fil-A owned by Proverbs 31’s Lyssa Terkhurst’s husband.

    Also, isn’t Tuesday night family night at CFA? Are they allowing children in the restaurant that night?

  38. AnonInNC wrote:

    We have a not-so-proud history of being drawn in by charming, flashy speakers who pepper their talks with religion.

    North Carolina and Charlotte can’t brag about that. I’ve lived lots of different places, and every one has had its local outrageous religious charlatans with lots of adoring followers. I really think that if every pastor had to earn a living in the real world, a lot of this kind of thing would go away. How many of the charlatans could make an honest living?

  39. Okrapod wrote:

    That is Charlotte of course.

    I’m up here in Orygun, one of the least “churched” states in the union, I used to think that was a bad thing. If Elevation is the type of church people go to, maybe it is wiser to stay home and Orygun isn’t that bad.

    Note I spell it phonetically lest you folks pronounce it “Oree gone” and sound to us like foreigners.

  40. Ryan wrote:

    Pastor Steven did the RIGHT thing by not humiliating a good man.

    Good men view child pornography?Ryan wrote:

    are jealous of what Pastor Steven

    Why? I have no wish to be a member of a huge megachurch with a very rich pastor. Most people don’t want that as well.

    Ryan wrote:

    They can’t handle that someone who made a sinful mistake

    He didn’t make a mistake. He deliberately accessed disgusting child pornography in order to make himself feel good. It is time for him along with you to be honest.

    Ryan wrote:

    Who cares? He’s not around kids at church. This is a good man you’re smearing, I pray he won’t have to check himself into a mental hospital for this stuff coming up now.

    It is his own fault, along with your church, for not dealing with the truth of this sooner.

  41. Burwell Stark wrote:

    I wonder if that is the Chick-fil-A owned by Proverbs 31’s Lyssa Terkhurst’s husband. Also, isn’t Tuesday night family night at CFA? Are they allowing children in the restaurant that night?

    It is probably operated by Terkeurst. As for being around children, who knows what is happening.

  42. Dee said:

    It is my understanding that some people at the church lobbied for a lighter sentence and the court was *impressed.* Read the documents. Made me a bit ill.

    Reminds me of Doug Wilson appealing to a judge in a pedophile case at his church.

    As I was watching the Furtick video where Norm got on stage after he served time, I was noted the music playing in the background. It was music drawing you into the emotion of Furtick’s message. This is the perfect marketable redemption story, even down to the focus on weight loss. If people were really thinking about the weight loss, they would realize it most likely had to do with a guy depriving himself of bad prison food, but nooooo, Furtick adds that to his list of remarkable changes. This show sells, sadly.

    BTW, waving to JulieAnne above (who is not me). I got confused for a sec – even Anne with an “e” (the correct spelling – lol). 🙂

  43. @ Ryan:

    Sorry, Ryan, but the evidence is very strong that a little support and some counseling, and religious conversion, do not remove the urge to view child pornography. So if Vigue stays away from it, he will be roughly one in one hundred thousand. It is not that he stays away from children, but does he stay away from computers and the web sites that earn money from people like him by raping children and selling the images.

  44. Why am I not surprised about which “well known church” is featured today?
    The elevators are out already, I see. Us haters just gotta hate!

  45. Ryan wrote:

    Losers like Wartburg Watch and Amy are jealous of what Pastor Steven has built and would say or do anything to bring him down.

    That is an old mega mantra taught to pewpeons as a defense posture. Does it still work?

  46. Can I ask a rather silly question of Christians. I admit I have committed some absolutely horrid sins that maybe even God cannot forgive. I will confess them to you. I do not hold to inerrancy as defined in the “Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy”, I hold to the validity of the evidence that overwhelmingly supports the Theory of Evolution, I hold to a OE “big bang” cosmology, and am an open theist and universalist. I think Women and kids have been treated like trash by many faith communities and that abuse has been swept under the rug. This is a real biggy, I have publically shown grief at the loss of a loved one. This one I cant seem to figure out but I have been given a bunch of guff over it when I was in faith communities. I live a celibate life and I will wait for marriage before having an intimate relationships. Another real biggy sin, I wont sue people for personal reasons or money. I will not argue my points at church or at bible studies even when I know I would and could easily “win” I consider that rude and disrespectful and I fear damaging other people’s faith, another sin on my part or at least that is what I was told.

    Another confession and I dont know if it is a sin, but I laughed myself hoarse when Mr. Furtick did that haters video.

  47. @ dee:
    If Norm is using the Chick-Fil-A on Weddington Road in Matthews, that location is operated by Dean Sandbo, best bud of the Terkeursts.

  48. @ Dave A A:
    “Elevator hater” is begging for a Piper poem or an Owen BHLH rap.

    Is it just me, or do the ones who show up on these posts, regardless of camp, seem too perfectly out of touch to be real? I’ve been taken in too many times, so I get that part. But Furtick and Mahaney and Driscoll (this is the camp I know) have always been creepy to me. Yet their fans adore them!

  49. Bilbo Skaggins wrote:

    Evangelicals (And Fundamentalists) have done a huge disservice to the victims by only viewing them through the “all have sinned” lens.

    I agree with your post. I am wondering why Christians who make all sins equal don’t stop to ponder how is it that most or some people do not fondle children?

    The Bible says that all people are sinners, but not all sins are equal, and not everyone commits the same sins or commits the same severity of sin.

    It’s one thing for 1. a person to steal a cheap ball point pen from his job and 2. another for some guys to put on masks, carry fire arms, and hold up a bank. Not many carry out point 2.

  50. Ryan wrote:

    Losers like Wartburg Watch and Amy are jealous of what Pastor Steven has built and would say or do anything to bring him down.

  51. AnonInNC wrote:

    Not ONCE did Furtick tell the congregation the serious nature of Norm’s crimes, and in fact, until I read this post today, I was unaware that the crimes were related to child pornography

    I am curious to know if Furtick would allow Norm to spend time alone with Furtick’s kids? Furtick has two or three small children.

    If I had children, I don’t think I’d feel comfortable letting the Norms of the world around my kids, even if I were in the room with all of them.

  52. Ryan wrote:
    Losers like Wartburg Watch and Amy are jealous of what Pastor Steven has built and would say or do anything to bring him down.

    That old “your just jealous” line didn’t work in third grade either.

  53. I’m beginning to wonder how much letter writing attendees of Elevation do to beg for shorter prison sentences for folks. Within the last week a local radio station broke the story that Tonia Bendickson, Elevation Outreach Director, wrote a letter to the judge sentencing Patrick Cannon, former mayor of Charlotte. Tonia was a former anchor for WBTV, the CBS affiliate and made sure her letter informed the judge of her massive journalistic talents and awards as well as asking for leniency for Cannon who pleaded guilty to charges.

    Yet, regular folks who attend Elevation complain about difficulties getting help when they need it…

  54. Ryan wrote:

    They can’t handle that someone who made a sinful mistake could turn their life around through Pastor Steven’s personal support and teaching.

    “Sinful mistake?” I don’t think Jesus takes sin against children so lightly.

    “If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)

    God can forgive anyone of any sin, but it’s very wrong-headed for a church preacher to hold a pedophile up as a “hero” and put him in charge of classes about sexual purity.

  55. Churches are way too gullible about “bad people made good” because they profess some kind of allegiance to Jesus. It’s impressive to have a transformed ax-murderer in the congregation to brag about.

    When I was growing up my Dad had a friend, married with a child, who enjoyed having little girls sit on his lap. I was always unhappy that my mom wouldn’t let me sit on his lap. My mom’s response was that I was “too big” (I was all of 6). Fast forward ten years-my dad had been called as a character witness for this Baptist deacon because he liked to fondle little girls, usually when they sat on his lap. He went the first time, but not the second. This was a guy who would never change. Since it was the mid-70s, the punishment wasn’t that severe, but it was enough to make him lose all credibility in his church.

    Point: Pedophilia needs to be taken seriously. I believe that Jesus forgives and restores-but just like alcoholics shouldn’t work in liquor stores, pedophiles should not be around children unsupervised (if they should ever be around children…)

  56. Ryan wrote:

    jealous of what Pastor Steven has built

    So it’s really not all about Jesus, then, isn’t it? Careful Ryan, you’re showing the true colors of Elevation Church. Flying the idol flag.

  57. “Turns out that Norm had been involved in some illegal online activity before he accepted Christ.”

    When I first read that in the book, I thought it was something involving theft. Personally, I think it’s more than a little disingenuous.

  58. You know something I really was a bit Jealous of Pastor Furtick’s house when it was in the news I really was. My first thought was wow, what a great group home it would make, I tend to do that I measure homes by how they would be as a group homes. I measure expensive cars and such by how many wheelchair vans I could get with it.

  59. Elevators (people who attend Elevation Church) are notorious for not asking questions or being curious. It’s a quality much admired within that church and rewarded as well. After all, if you have a brain and ask questions, you’re asked to move along and find another church.

  60. Corbin wrote:

    When I first read that in the book, I thought it was something involving theft. Personally, I think it’s more than a little disingenuous.

    Yep. The question is why? Why wouldn’t they tell the church what Norm did?

  61. Olivia wrote:

    ithin the last week a local radio station broke the story that Tonia Bendickson, Elevation Outreach Director, wrote a letter to the judge sentencing Patrick Cannon, former mayor of Charlotte. Tonia was a former anchor for WBTV, the CBS affiliate and made sure her letter informed the judge of her massive journalistic talents and awards as well as asking for leniency for Cannon who pleaded guilty to charges.

    I would love to learn more about this. Could you send me some links?

    Olivia wrote:

    After all, if you have a brain and ask questions, you’re asked to move along and find another church.

    That is why it is helpful for those outside the church and Charlotte to ask questions.

  62. I have been getting hang up calls on TWW’s phone line since I called Elevation church to ask if they had ever told people about Norman’s crimes.

    If these are from the church, let me tell you how this works. You are asked to give a name and the phone then rings through on my super secret cell phone number. If I am nearby and pick it up, I hear the name that was spoken and will approve the call so long as you are not using my name in vain.

    If I am not able to pick up the phone, then you will be asked to leave a message. All phone calls received are kept confidential unless they are really nasty then I write posts about it.

  63. @ Ryan:
    Either a poor joke or just banal evil. I’ve seen it in other venues but it is a pretty poor performance for a church defender.

  64. I just finished watching the VIMEO video with James Brett (Chunks) Corbett speaking of how Norm came to Elevation Church for the first time. Mr. Corbett was acting in a professional capacity as a physical therapist and Norm was his patient.

    Wouldn’t it be against professional ethics to ask a patient to attend his church? Many people would not know how to handle this and are vulnerable since they are physically hurting when visiting a physical therapist.

  65. dee wrote:

    I have been getting hang up calls on TWW’s phone line since I called Elevation church to ask if they had ever told people about Norman’s crimes.
    If these are from the church,

    If, then, some growing up needs to happen.

  66. Olivia wrote:

    Yet, regular folks who attend Elevation complain about difficulties getting help when they need it…

    Rank. Hath. Its. Privileges.

  67. Ryan wrote:

    They can’t handle that someone who made a sinful mistake could turn their life around

    TRIGGER WARNING:
    Ryan, I’d love to be able to sit down with you & talk about this properly. If you understood what Norm had done you wouldn’t be able to label it so lightly as a ‘sinful mistake’. Norm used to internet to view the sexual violation & torture of children for his sexual pleasure.It’s not a crafty look at adult women in Playboy. It’s not the kind of thing you just stumble on, you have to look for it or be invited into it. Many of those children may well still be being abused – having things you or I would rather die than have done to us, unless you are okay with being forced to have sex with individuals, often of the same sex, much older, who you are not married to, violate you in a way that often leaves injuries that require later surgery. This is violent rape, & unless you’d be fine with writing off this offence (& people later getting sexual pleasure by watching your ordeal) against you or your loved ones as a ‘sinful mistake’ then you need to rethink. Think about prison rape, time this by 100…There are very very good reasons why those who get pleasure from the sexual torture of others are treated with gigantic caution. Many of these offences also show an enormous amount of really horrific psychological & emotion manipulation, which is soul destroying, & demonstrate offenders/online watchers to be masters of fooling others. Offenders often pick churches to hang out in because they know they have to do a little bit of playing repentant & all the doors will open.
    Hoe do you KNOW Norm has changed, truly? What signs are there that couldn’t be acted out by a practised deceiver?

  68. Ryan wrote:

    This is a good man you’re smearing…

    and

    Losers like Wartburg Watch and Amy are jealous of what Pastor Steven has built…

    Proof enough that Steven Furtick has built himself a cult and cult followers.

  69. when Furtick welcomes norm back from prison and never tells the congregation what his crime was Furtick ‘elevates’ him in the eyes of everyone at the church. (creepy that furtick says he hugged him longer than he has ever hugged his wife.)
    so joe pewpeon is listening and learns that this norm guy is the pastors bbf and a wonderful guy above the regular people that attend the church and this is so wrong because it gives norm access to any child in the building.
    No consideration for the victims and no notification to the members of his crime, it just makes me sick. it makes me so sick just to watch the furtick guy speak, and when he is welcoming norm back he begins by saying he is taking worship in another direction, thus saying this is his worship it is so sick and so horrible and so pukey that i am surprised the church hasnt been struck by lightening and destroyed by now. this is so rampant in ‘churches’ that i am sure judgement from God is not nearly so harsh against consenting gay adults as it is against those who offend little children and then its boasted about it by actions or inactions in church and unrepentant sinners get positions of teaching and authority.
    ‘maybe norm has repented’ if norm had repented there would have been no reason for Furtick to lie about the sin not happening after norm got ‘baptized and gave his life to God’.

    i read an awesome testimony by a guy that had attempted or did hijack an airplane cause he needed more drugs or cash or something. anyway, he gave his life to Jesus and went to jail. He was willing to go to jail for the entire lengthy sentance but a couple years into the sentance it was lowered and he only had to spend a few years instead of almost his whole life. That is an example of someone not using ‘i gave my life to Jesus’ as a get out of jail card. True repentance is confessing sins/crimes, serving the just punishment, being sorry and expressing apology and concern to the victims in a meaningful way that isnt empty words, and if Jesus wants to, He will do a miracle ‘get out of jail’ all by Himself.
    This Furtick guy makes me so ill watching him twist the grace of Jesus into condoning sin in the church, and the darkness in his countenance is unsetteling, so much that i am going to skip this thread mostly. i am so glad this blog and watchkeep are keeping these people in the public eye so they dont get to keep on abusing kids with no repercussions at all.

  70. Gram3 wrote:

    How many of the charlatans could make an honest living?

    All of them, because our culture has redefined what it means to be honest. All they have to do is get into advertising or sales, quickly make a fortune, and move on to money management for the affluent.

  71. brian wrote:

    Can I ask a rather silly question of Christians.

    Okay, brian, so you are a religious baby bad-a** at one end of the spectrum and somewhat scrupulous at the other end of the spectrum. A lot of us here can identify with that life style if not all those specific issues. So what was the question?

  72. So is this one of those fundygelical churches where if they see you having a meal with a glass of wine, they will question your salvation. Or if you suspect the earth is a bit older than 6,000 years old, they will kick you out? But if you did something horrible and have a dramatic conversion story, you are elevated to the status of super-duper Christian? I have seen churches where if you have lived a normal life and don’t remember ever not believing in Christ but you don’t have a dramatic conversion story, you probably are not saved and at the very least, you are not very interesting and not a good example. But if you have done some really horrible, almost unspeakable things, but you said the sinner’s prayer and use the right churchy code words, you are a hero and example.

  73. Using the format of Eric Berne’s analysis of the game of alcoholic, and understanding that format can be used in literary settings not specific to alcohol, and noting that this ‘game’ can be seen in multiple different situations, let me opine.

    Berne describes the game as having five roles, and notes that one person can play more than one role at a time and that persons can change which roles they play. The roles include alcoholic who is ‘it’, the persecutor, the rescuer, the patsy/dummy, and the connection.

    In this case one might say that the perp, the ‘it’ has changed to (or included for himself) the role of rescuer of others in the small group for men regarding purity. I seems that the pastor has played both the role of patsy/dummy and also the role of connection in enabling the ‘it’ to act our the role of rescuer and perhaps providing access to children albeit perhaps without conscious malice to any potential victim. And for the role of persecutor there has been first those who brought the complaint to law enforcement and then law enforcement itself and now those on the internet and everybody else who calls them out on this.

    Isn’t it fun to keep on with the same old games but just realign some stuff and clean it up a bit. I am thinking that this may be the best that one can hope for from therapy, but I think that true conversion would enable God himself to go a bit farther than this in the process of remaking a person’s life.

  74. A quick hypothesis on “Ryan”…

    There is, as many of you know, a history of parodists commenting here in the guise of Elevators pouring out their hearts in worship of pastorsteven. They’re not actually Elevators and don’t personally believe a word of what they’re writing – compare with Tina Fey’s well-known parodies of Sarah Palin or (in Blighty) Jon Culshaw’s impressions of George Dubya Bush.

    You may think the parody is funny, and you may not. I have some sympathy with the parodists, TBH; when you really despise something, sometimes parodying it is a way of letting off steam.

    For further information, see the wikipedia article on Poe’s Law at wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe’s_law.

  75. @ Nick Bulbeck:

    Tell me what you think about this. Is it necessary or perhaps an advantage for the person doing the parody to kind of sort of to some extent be in sympathy in some way which the situation they seem to mock? I don’t know how to explain this, but I get the feeling that if one can do a parody so well that other’s can’t really tell the intent of the thing, then how come they can do it that well.

    Let me say it another way. If a person of the light (or the dark) can parody the dark (or the light) so well, does that indicate that they themselves may be standing in the shade?

  76. @ Okrapod:

    that would be others, not other’s

    I am going to have eye surgery later in July and then maybe I won’t miss so much stuff when editing.

  77. And to think, Jay Rabon wouldn’t let my wife and I lead an eGroup simply because we don’t systematically tithe to Elevation Church, which is one of the “core values.”

  78. Jacob wrote:

    But if you have done some really horrible, almost unspeakable things, but you said the sinner’s prayer and use the right churchy code words, you are a hero and example.

    As long as your Testimony is JUICY! JUICY! JUICY!

  79. Jimmy wrote:

    And to think, Jay Rabon wouldn’t let my wife and I lead an eGroup simply because we don’t systematically tithe to Elevation Church, which is one of the “core values.”

    All about the Benjamins, baby.

    Saddam Palaces/Furtick Mansions are EXPENSIVE.

  80. Kathi wrote:

    yeah they could care less! Furtick does a great job at making Norm the victim in this situation.

    It really irritated me as well. Fir tick somehow believes that Norm’s professed faith gives him a “get out of jail free” card. Not only is that wrong, it is unbiblical. We are to obey the authorities that God has put in charge of the laws.

    I, for one, am glad. I far prefer the judgement of the court system to Furtick’s uninformed beliefs.

  81. JeffT wrote:

    It’s worse than that. People are automatically exempt from going to prison because they SAY they became a Christian. Not only that, we’ll make you a hero AND have you sign autographs.
    Evangelical ‘Christianity’ loves ‘repentant’ sinners. Just say the words and they’ll make you a hero, no discernment necessary.

    You are correct and I wish I had said it exactly as you said it.

  82. mirele wrote:

    he followers of young earth creationist Kent Hovind believe Kent shouldn’t be in prison for failure to pay taxes, structuring and obstruction of the IRS because he’s a great man of God telling the world about the evils of evolution.

    Hovind and his followers are amongst the strange and weird crowd of evangelical thinking.

  83. I’ve been thinking about ‘famous Christians’. In my day, everyone read Run Baby Run and the story of Nicky Cruz. Just occasionally, God does something spectacular amongst down and outs, brings about remarkable change very quickly. In this case iirc the gang members turned themselves in to the police, and asked the bemused sargeant to sign their new bibles! There was no question that conversion albeit genuine absolved them from the legal consequences of the crimes they may have committed.

    Corrie Ten Boom would be another example of a trophy of God’s grace, and Joni Earickson another.

    It legitimate to take encouragement from such examples of God’s grace and the power of the gospel to change people. However, for most ‘ordinary’ Christians like most of us, the changes are not so obvious, two steps forward and one step back if you’re lucky; their everyday Christian life a walk rather than an ascent into the heavenly places, more mundane, spectacular experiences rather the exception than the rule. Slowly growing in knowledge and grace, only to get it wrong yet again, pick yourself up, dust yourself down and start all over again.

    I wonder if in the Furtick case here, a church with little to show by way of dramatically changed lives needs a supposed miraculous conversion and dramatic turn around story to bolster an otherwise lacklustre faith. To have the form of dramatic gospel truth without the actual power of the gospel.

    Alternatively, Furtick may be basking in the reflected glory of a supposed dramatic conversion, as though it vindicates the gospel he preaches and in effect brings glory to his church. This is of course somewhat speculative on my part, but I wonder why the crimes committed were so strongly downplayed as though this would ruin the effect of good advertising for the church.

  84. Law Prof wrote:

    so why should we expect any consideration from him for the victims of child pornography?

    That is exactly my point. Furtick, Chunks and Norm show a disregard for the abused children by hiding this crime.It really helps to keep the real victims alive in my thoughts as I look at these situations.

  85. Ann wrote:

    If Furtick doesn’t wise up, he may be manipulated into a major disaster. Vigue is 65 and has many more years of life experience than Furtick.

    Fruitcake does not wish to wise up. Norm serves a purpose for Furtick. It gives legitimacy that Furtick is preaching *the gospel™.” See, sinners are being saved-really, really bad sinners. Except it is too icky to bring up that child sex porn stuff so he pretends it was just a garden variety crime but bad enough to go to prison in Texas.

  86. Bilbo Skaggins wrote:

    Evangelicals (And Fundamentalists) have done a huge disservice to the victims by only viewing them through the “all have sinned” lens. It distorts the whole picture. When there is a crime committed, the ground is no longer level between perpetrator and victim.

    Great comment. I have gotten into discussions with people who believe that all sins are the same sins. When I cuss a guy in my head who cut me off on the highway, I sin. However, it is totally different if I decide to pursue the guy and fire shots at his car, hurting him.

    One is a problem inside me. The other involves the potential to sin against others as I fire shots going down a highway. To say they are both *just sins* exhibits a naïveté that will lead to much heartache.

  87. Okrapod wrote:

    I am thinking that Furtick’s place may fit right in.

    I am thinking he should use his 16,000 sq ft mansion to house victims of human trafficking.

  88. Jimmy wrote:

    And to think, Jay Rabon wouldn’t let my wife and I lead an eGroup simply because we don’t systematically tithe to Elevation Church, which is one of the “core values.”

    That is not limited to evangelical churches. My episcopal church is starting more small groups (formation groups) which meet at SS time, if we had SS, and has listed the following requirements for those who might be interested in being a group leader or co-leader: ‘active in the life of the church through attendance, mission and stewardship.’ The church pushes tithing but as far as I know has no way of actually knowing what anybody’s income is, and there is no enforcement policy or threats or such. Just pious talk. I have no idea what would happen if Joe Pewperson claimed that he gives money to some non-church project and thinks that comes under the heading of ‘mission’ and ought to count toward some idea of tithing. I mean, we are liberal but probably not that liberal.

    I plan to ‘bless’ the church by probably avoiding any attendance at any small group so that I can avoid being a trouble maker. They will thank me for that is the sweet bye and bye.

  89. Bill M wrote:

    If Elevation is the type of church people go to, maybe it is wiser to stay home and Orygun isn’t that bad.

    Better be careful. You guys are being targeted by some church planting groups, some of which we have discussed here.

    I love your beautiful state and have had the pleasure of visiting and touring it on three occasions.

  90. Bill M wrote:

    How long can people at Elevation put their hands over their ears going lalalala?

    As long as Furtick tells them what they want to hear. He is creating a people who want him as pastor because he acts like they want to act. he makes a bundle of money, builds an audacious “not so great” 16,000 sq ft home. He is arrogant, condescending, the visionary, and is not to be questioned.

    There are wealthy people in Charlotte, the home of the banking industry. Isn’t it nice to have a pastor who gives them the freedom to be just. like. him?

  91. @ Nick Bulbeck:

    I don’t know if that was a parody. Parody done well should still read as parody.

    Parody done poorly reads as a Poe, and I don’t think Poe’ing on a thread dealing with subject matter as serious and revolting as this is wise or sensitive.

    If someone is going to do parody, they need to drop more hints in their writing that we shouldn’t be taking them for real.
    They should be letting us in on the joke while simultaneously skewering the object of derision (in this case Furtick or Elevators).

  92. Melody wrote:

    Thank you for exposing it.

    TWW and Watchkeep have a real thing about internet child sex abuse and direct child sex abuse. We are appalled that churches have sought to cover up this stuff for decades. God has given us the internet and it is now time for his people to stand up for the victims.

    I will never forget a former friend who told me (this is why she is a former friend) that God had not called her to be concerned about child sex abuse in her church. She is as much of the problem as the leaders.

    Do I believe that pedophiles can become Christians? Of course I do but Christians must be very, very careful that abusers are not manipulating us to gain access to children in our churches. Yes-people do use the faith for nefarious purposes. Those who commit these crimes must, after incarceration, show that they understand the serious nature of their crimes by confessing it within the church and submitting to rigorous supervision in that environment.

    If I hear one more ex convict that claims they paid their time, I will slap them upside the head. Yes, they paid their time but they have not yet demonstrated that they are no longer a danger to children. They should be willing to go a lifetime demonstrating their willingness to be supervised. It shows respect to their former victims and shows they understand that there could be future victims due to the difficult nature of being attracted to children.

  93. Jimmy wrote:

    And to think, Jay Rabon wouldn’t let my wife and I lead an eGroup simply because we don’t systematically tithe to Elevation Church, which is one of the “core values.”

    Does this mean you essentially buy your way into a leadership role?

  94. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    a history of parodists commenting here in the guise of Elevators pouring out their hearts in worship of pastorsteven. T

    You are right, Nick! Perhaps Ryan is one of those folks. i took the liberty of tracking the IP address and it has never showed up on TWW before. So, the jury is out. Let’s see if he returns. He apparently graced Watchkeep with his presence as well.

  95. Bill M wrote:

    Note I spell it phonetically lest you folks pronounce it “Oree gone” and sound to us like foreigners.

    Not to worry. We would pronounce it or uh guhn. We believe that God created the schwa on the eighth day.

  96. @ Bill M:
    @ Beakerj:

    Growing up, my dad had a prison ministry. He was as young and naive as Furtick. Two out of the three “changed life” prisoners who my family became close with after serving their time proved untrustworthy. One stopped by the house when my parents were gone. I was 12 and babysitting two of my siblings 3 and 4 years old. I didn’t know much about sex or drunk people, but I had seen on TV shows about drunks needing coffee. We only had instant, so I kept trying to boil water for him while fighting off forceful sexual pawing thinking all he needed was to sober up and he would leave me alone. Funny how I don’t remember even thinking of myself as a child. I just had a knowing of what was about to happen and I was more horrified that it would happen in front of the little ones or worse that he would kill them. They were upstairs, luckily. Because of them I stopped fighting, not wanting to draw attention. I was just beginning to tell him to at least let’s go in my parents bedroom so the kids won’t see. Just in the nick of time my parents came home, but I still feel sick and violated whenever I think about it.

    The other “changed man” and his wife lived in one of our bedrooms for a while. One day the couple just disappeared. But respecting their privacy my mom didn’t go into their room for a while. When she did, it was obvious they had been doing drugs the whole time because of the needles around. She also found child porn. This was before the age of computers so there was no sudden clicking off the images. I did not know about the porn until I was an adult. And it wasn’t even until not that long ago that my mom told me the details of the porn because I wanted to know what she saw. I wish that I could scrub my brain and heart from what she told me. Every person who defends the likes of Furtick type naivety needs to know the filth. My mom sobbed and shuddered as if she had been abused herself while she described to me for the first time the horror of seeing it and thinking about those poor abused babies and their lives wherever they are today, and realizing their images of sex with adult men was in her own house.

    My dad helped hundreds of ex-cons transition after they accepted Christ. The two out of three he trusted most screwed him. My dad even allowed one other to pick me and take me home for babysitting his kids. He had spent twenty years in jail for murder. He was fine. But with odds like those, Furtick, you playing Russian Roullette with your naive groupies.

  97. dee wrote:

    It really irritated me as well. Fir tick somehow believes that Norm’s professed faith gives him a “get out of jail free” card

    It is worth a minute to compare Furtick’s statements/actions with those of Tullian Tchividjian’s, in response to his own sin. Tullian said: “No vertical condemnation does not mean no horizontal consequences…” So true.

  98. Not that all cases of “nose touching” are indicative of deceit, but what I would have to say in Furticks case it is very likely he is. As he was introducing Norm Vigue it was apparent, for Furtick was continually fiddling with his proboscis.

    I cannot for the life me understand why Christians are not even willing to ask the question??? hmmm……. something is just not right here in this church. Come on people start thinking a little.

  99. It seems that Furtick is playing the victim card with the haters video and the Elevators coming to his defense. I think Furtick himself is a sociopath.
    The haters video is seriously creepy. Since when was it Christlike to taunt those who disagree with you?

  100. Jimmy wrote:

    And to think, Jay Rabon wouldn’t let my wife and I lead an eGroup simply because we don’t systematically tithe to Elevation Church, which is one of the “core values.”

    If you would ever like to write your story for TWW, let us know. Of course it is a core value. People have mansions to build, state of the art speakers to buy, and fog machines for all campuses. Jesus said so!

  101. dee wrote:

    and fog machines for all campuses

    It’s in the bible.

    For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes

  102. What was the question, why is that guy can be forgiven and accepted into the family and folks like me are not and cant be? That has always been my question concerning the faith.

  103. There is idolatry of two things going on here, in my opinion:

    Worship of The Great Leader (of course, Steve and secondarily, the Elevation System, not Jesus).

    Worship of The Great Feel Good, Tear-Jerking Story.

    Of course, the tear-jerking story loops back to the leader and has the effect of lifting him and his system up in the eyes of the flock. If you can make those emotional connections with people, you can inspire adoration and awe among the congregation.

    The main thing being elevated here is Mr. Furtick.

  104. I was at Elevation since the beginning (almost- the church had around 500 people when I started) of the church and knew Jay Rabon, Holly, and Steven very well. I remember when Norm left for prison. I spent three years of my life pouring everything I had into Elevation, then, after seeing what it was becoming, I had to leave. It’s been almost eight years, and I haven’t been able to go back to church. When I read TWW, it helps me get clarity on a really painful part of my life. This entire situation (and many, many others at Elevation) are very, very sad. I believe one day it will fall apart- it’s being built on a man, not God. I live 1.2 miles from the main campus but they are building another new main campus 3 miles away from my house. Why? Why is all this money being spent on more land, more buildings? I don’t understand, when I left Elevation, all my friends there cut off contact with me. I was extremely close with several of the Pastor’s wives but once I left, it was like I had died. I can’t risk that hurt again, so I stay away from church now. Sorry to be so rambling, but this is bringing up a lot for me.

  105. Jess wrote:

    I spent three years of my life pouring everything I had into Elevation, then, after seeing what it was becoming, I had to leave.

    Good for you, Jess! And I pray the clarity will continue.

  106. Jess wrote:

    I spent three years of my life pouring everything I had into Elevation, then, after seeing what it was becoming, I had to leave. It’s been almost eight years, and I haven’t been able to go back to church. When I read TWW, it helps me get clarity on a really painful part of my life. This entire situation (and many, many others at Elevation) are very, very sad. I believe one day it will fall apart- it’s being built on a man, not God.

    Many of us here totally understand your feelings and also the situation you faced and continue to face. It is so easy to get caught up in what we think God is blessing, and the things we might get caught up in may look very different from one another. I think that what the Deebs have done at TWW is a valuable thing for a lot of people. Sadly the ones who could best apply the lessons learned that are talked about here are the ones who are least likely to listen. If I may ask without putting you at risk, what was it that was the tipping point for you and why do you think that you saw it while others did not?

  107. Gram3 wrote:

    @ Jan:
    One person’s hater is another person’s narcissistic zero. Projection is definitely a possibility.

    So true. And these sorts of cult of personality places need an “outside enemy” to rally around and keep the followers focused. It is when the followers start asking the hard uncomfortable questions that problems arise.

  108. This whole situation convinces me to refer to this so-called pastor as Steven Furtive from now on. He does nothing but hide: He hides from the press, hides the truth about his house, hides the facts about Vigue’s crime, and now he’s hiding from the Fearsome Deebs when they come calling and looking for the truth. Not only that, his penchant for hiding could be endangering children among his own flock, because they don’t know the nature of Vigue’s offences.

    Furtick never really had my respect, but now I can’t even see him as dimly amusing any more. There’s nothing funny about this. At all.

  109. Jess wrote:

    Why? Why is all this money being spent on more land, more buildings?

    Maybe he’s taking a page out of the “Ideal Org” scam (being run by another insidious cult): Buy up all the land and refurbish all the buildings you can for your “church”, because more real estate = proof for the peons that We Are Growing Like Never Before.

    Sorry you’ve had to put up with so much pain, Jess. I hope you can find some healing.

  110. dee wrote:

    I have been getting hang up calls on TWW’s phone line since I called Elevation church to ask if they had ever told people about Norman’s crimes.

    this reminds me of how it all started with Perry Noble’s church and James Duncan and the boyish mean antics that turned into pure evil. And Perry Noble is on Furtick’s “outside” board of directors made up of rich mega church pastors. Birds of a feather?

  111. Ryan wrote:

    Losers like Wartburg Watch and Amy are jealous of what Pastor Steven has built

    Apparently God had nothing to do with it. I suspect He’s relieved.

    facepalm + headdesk

  112. Lydia wrote:

    And Perry Noble is on Furtick’s “outside” board of directors made up of rich mega church pastors. Birds of a feather?

    “These five Kings said one to another:
    KING UNTO KING O’ER THE WORLD IS BROTHER…”
    — G.K.Chesterton, “Ballad of the Battle of Gibeon”

    And “One Hand Washes the Other”.

  113. Gram3 wrote:

    I think that what the Deebs have done at TWW is a valuable thing for a lot of people. Sadly the ones who could best apply the lessons learned that are talked about here are the ones who are least likely to listen. If I may ask without putting you at risk, what was it that was the tipping point for you and why do you think that you saw it while others did not?

    I became a different person. I started caring about how popular I was with the staff, what events I was invited to, I’d brag that I’d have lunch with Holly Furtick, etc. Its all really embarrassing now. I think the tipping point was when my best friend visited Elevation and said when we stood in the lobby together I didn’t look at her while we were talking, I just kept looking over her head to see who was around, who I needed to “connect” with. I realized it was like high school. And, in spite of all my volunteer work (free, unpaid 40 plus hours a week), I also realized that I stopped praying and reading the Bible. I was saturated with Elevation, not God.

  114. And it wasn’t until I left that I started to realize the extent to which things were really, really off. 🙁

  115. dee wrote:

    There are wealthy people in Charlotte, the home of the banking industry. Isn’t it nice to have a pastor who gives them the freedom to be just. like. him?

    Funny… Over at Daylight Atheism, he makes exactly the same point about the appeal of Atlas Shrugged.
    It gives its fans The Blessing to be Greedy and Selfish as a Good Thing.

  116. brian wrote:

    What was the question, why is that guy can be forgiven and accepted into the family and folks like me are not and cant be? That has always been my question concerning the faith.

    For one thing, they are using him to make themselves look good. And for another thing his ‘story’ is about a helping of s-e-x with tales of persecution for gravy. Two hot and enticing ideas right now in this nation.

    You on the other hand think for yourself, do not easily toe the line, have no dramatic damascus road story to tell, and apparently do not have good skills at deception and deceit. Go tell them you were gloriously delivered from sexual deviance (any kind will do-preferably something you can describe in public) and then tell them that you lost your job when they fired you for witnessing to this event on the job, and since then you have worked with the homeless for poverty wages but somehow through it all the Lord provides. See if that works.

  117. @ Okrapod:

    And by the way, this has nothing at all to do with faith, it is just about people and how they do. Faith is a very different thing.

  118. @ Jess:
    That has been my experience. When I was in the middle of it, it was much easier to dismiss my reservations or doubts. Once the tipping point was reached–in my case it had to be something outrageous–then it was much easier to look at the big picture and understand how things fit together. And also how I got caught up in it. Thank you for sharing your story. I have also been very encouraged by the stories I have read here.

  119. @ Okrapod:
    I once had a conversation with a woman visiting our church from what is now the Republic of Georgia and who had previously been a member of the Georgian Orthodox Church. That is another discussion entirely. The remark I made was that I did not have a dramatic conversion story because I was basically a nice GRITS before and after. Well, maybe not so much recently. Anyway, she said to me that God’s grace is manifested in various ways and that perhaps in my case it was what he had saved me from becoming in the first place. For some reason–maybe Paul’s experience is taken as normative–Christians want to immediately promote case studies of God’s grace as if it is a once and done and very dramatic thing rather than an outworking. I wonder if this is largely an American thing.

  120. I noticed somebody else spelled it Fur tick, which made me chuckle. This guy is another parasite on the body of Christ.

  121. Announcing that someone is available to “sign autographs” is just unbelievable. Not that I can’t believe that they would do that at Elevation, but that no one there seems to bat an eye at it(apparently). If the Apostle Paul showed up it would never cross my mind to be like, “Oh my goodness, please sign my Epistles!!!”

    It is one thing to celebrate radical grace and transformation, but celebrating radical grace and transformation is directly tied to understanding the depth of the degree of sin that one has been changed from. If I was a former crack addict prostitute and God changed me, I would tell people what I was changed from. It wouldn’t make logical sense to only say, my story is amazing, I once did some naughty things and now I am different. The impact is severely lessened by not given the full picture.

    If PF(what a fun moniker) wanted to REALLY blow people away, he would should have no problem clearly describing the sin.

  122. Patti wrote:

    My mom sobbed and shuddered as if she had been abused

    Thanks for the example of how a real person reacts to this ugly stuff.

  123. brian wrote:

    What was the question, why is that guy can be forgiven and accepted into the family and folks like me are not and cant be?

    I’d still like conservative Christians and churches to explain the logic in allowing a pedophile to lead church-sponsored sexual purity classes-

    But at the same time, maintain or suspect, and without foundation, that all or most single adults (but especially single women) are morally loose and-or temptresses who are supposedly more prone to sexual sin and preying on other adults, so that they are not allowed to hold leadership roles in churches.

    (Because of what they might do. Not that they’ve actually been temptresses, but that they might.
    But a guy who was once married and served in jail on pedo charges is given the green light to serve in a leader or teaching position.)

  124. Jess wrote:

    I became a different person. I started caring about how popular I was with the staff, what events I was invited to, I’d brag that I’d have lunch with Holly Furtick, etc. Its all really embarrassing now. I think the tipping point was when my best friend visited Elevation and said when we stood in the lobby together I didn’t look at her while we were talking, I just kept looking over her head to see who was around, who I needed to “connect” with. I realized it was like high school. And, in spite of all my volunteer work (free, unpaid 40 plus hours a week), I also realized that I stopped praying and reading the Bible. I was saturated with Elevation, not God.

    Ah, you have just described the typical mega church world. It is all about being in the inner ring and part of a movement. Being approved by the staff and so on. And yes, it is like high school.

  125. Adam Borsay wrote:

    If the Apostle Paul showed up it would never cross my mind to be like, “Oh my goodness, please sign my Epistles!!!”

    And he would have sold them. :o)

  126. Gram3 wrote:

    Christians want to immediately promote case studies of God’s grace as if it is a once and done and very dramatic thing rather than an outworking. I wonder if this is largely an American thing.

    Probably. Everything the biggest, best, most unbelievable American way. (And for anyone wondering, I am not anti American in any way.) I am for leading a quiet peaceful life.

  127. Something else I find strange and distasteful in this story is that Furtick is giving this guy a cookie for (supposedly) stopping viewing child abuse sexual imagery.

    Nobody deserves an award for that. You shouldn’t be looking at it to start with, but if you stop, that is doing the right thing.

    It reminds me of this very long term relationship my sister was in with her boyfriend “Harry.” Harry did not have a job or do anything around the house.

    The only thing Harry agreed to do was take the trash out once a week, but my sister ended up doing that chore most of the time, too.

    On the few times Harry took the trash out (about once every other month), he would expect a blue ribbon or a pat on the head from my sister for it.
    (For doing something he was supposed to be doing anyway.)

    I don’t understand the thought process of a preacher or church of bestowing accolades, giving parades, and baking cookies for a guy who says he gave up child abuse photos.

    The guy should never have been using that stuff to start with, and he does not deserve ticker tape parades for saying he stopped doing it.

  128. Jess wrote:

    I also realized that I stopped praying and reading the Bible.

    When that has happened, you know something has gone wrong. I can identify with this – an offshoot of an American megachurch on a different continent and using a different language can have the same effect!

  129. Ryan wrote:

    Who cares? He’s not around kids at church. This is a good man you’re smearing, I pray he won’t have to check himself into a mental hospital for this stuff coming up now. Pastor Steven did the RIGHT thing by not humiliating a good man.
    Losers like Wartburg Watch and Amy are jealous of what Pastor Steven has built and would say or do anything to bring him down. They can’t handle that someone who made a sinful mistake could turn their life around through Pastor Steven’s personal support and teaching.

    Sexual abuse of minors isn’t a “mistake.” Almost 100% of the time, offenders re-offend when given the opportunity. Pedophilia is a condition that requires intensive therapy to control, and it almost never actually goes away.

  130. Daisy wrote:

    I’d still like conservative Christians and churches to explain the logic in allowing a pedophile to lead church-sponsored sexual purity classes-

    The kind of conservative one is depends upon what one desires to conserve. In this case and others, I think that they are not trying to conserve what people who are called to imitate Christ would think first about conserving.

    I call myself a conservative Christian because I desire to conserve the true Gospel and the authority of the Bible and what it reveals about God and humanity. I am not interested in conserving a particular “conservative” interpretation.

    Likewise I call myself a social conservative because I desire to conserve the things that promote both a free and a civil society where everyone is respected and where the rule of laws rather than humans prevails. That is because I think this is as close as civil society can come to the Kingdom. Many people who call themselves conservatives are really interested in conserving illiberalism, and many people who call themselves liberals are really conservative about things which are not liberal at all for all.

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  132. Gram3 wrote:

    Christians want to immediately promote case studies of God’s grace as if it is a once and done and very dramatic thing rather than an outworking. I wonder if this is largely an American thing.

    The wanting everything to be big – church, salary, membership, campus, manse that is immense, the whole prosperity thing is to some extent an American thing. And to aim at being good and effective is not wrong.

    Chasing after status and excitement and well-known speakers can be found everywhere. Even in the UK where the biggest churches probably don’t exceed 1500 members church size and growth can become an idol. I remember being under strong pressure to produce results in terms of growth in my house-church days (‘you ought to be up to at least a hundred by now’).

  133. Daisy wrote:

    But at the same time, maintain or suspect, and without foundation, that all or most single adults (but especially single women) are morally loose and-or temptresses who are supposedly more prone to sexual sin and preying on other adults, so that they are not allowed to hold leadership roles in churches.

    I think there is more to it than that. There is also the caution that perhaps the married women will see the freedom and opportunities that single women have to manage their own lives and the married women will be jealous, make their husbands lives miserable and perhaps even leave their husbands. In other words, thinking that it sets a bad example for the married women.

    And there is always the issue of wondering why someone is not married, and the issues of personality disorders and/or alternative sexuality come to the fore, especially if the single person is a man. Not so much for a woman. Men are thought to have an opportunity to marry, not necessarily so with a woman.

    However, if the single woman has a tale to tell it helps. Such as: she had a love of her own (remember the song from the king and I?) but alas there was a tragedy. The tragedy can be death or desertion or like Lottie Moon a difference of theological position in which she gave up her one true love because he believed in something or other (for baptists think infant baptism) and she was afraid that her children would never find Jesus if they were baptized as infants and her heart broke for these not yet conceived children–therefore she is a martyr to the cause of fidelity to church doctrine (also known as ‘jesus’ in some churches.) There are a myriad of variations on this theme, and actually it can be fun to pull it off if it comes to that.

    So, if they want a story give them one that covers all the basics, recast yourself as a tragic heroine who has suffered for the faith and who is too heartbroken right on to be a threat to anybody.

    Hey, Daisy, I have been there. We know it is not easy and not fair and just plain wacko, but that does not mean that one should not play the game to win.

  134. Bridget wrote:

    Everything the biggest, best, most unbelievable American way. (And for anyone wondering, I am not anti American in any way.) I am for leading a quiet peaceful life.

    If you think about it, that is probably the most “American” thing of all. The freedom to be left alone to pursue one’s life, providing that all are protected and respected. That is, IMO, the primary reason people have come here historically and nowadays.

  135. @ Gram3:

    I’m a conservative too but see a lot of double standards in a lot of self-professing conservative churches. How they’re handling pedophiles vs. how they deal with single adults who are not pedophiles are two different things.

  136. @ Okrapod:

    I think some Christians may find single adulthood threatening, or a reproach, and want to shuffle us off to the side, because folks like me who are still single despite trying to get married, it means that the majority of Christian advice given to singles does not work.

    If you want marriage, most Christian sermons and books say: just pray, wait, and have faith and/or serve in a local church, and God will send you a spouse. There is a truck load of singles who followed all that advice to a “T,” but it still did not work.

  137. Patti wrote:

    My dad helped hundreds of ex-cons transition after they accepted Christ. The two out of three he trusted most screwed him. My dad even allowed one other to pick me and take me home for babysitting his kids. He had spent twenty years in jail for murder. He was fine. But with odds like those, Furtick, you playing Russian Roullette with your naive groupies.

    Wow, Patti. Thank you for sharing that rough experience with us. It is a sobering reminder of the difficult nature of these sorts of crimes. One should not *trust* them. That trust was broken the day the did the crime. It is sad but they have to live with the consequences of their actions.

  138. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    t gives its fans The Blessing to be Greedy and Selfish as a Good Thing.

    I have bumped into some ardent Ayn Rand fans. Its fascinating to be able to be so sure of complete freedom in economics.

  139. NJ wrote:

    I noticed somebody else spelled it Fur tick, which made me chuckle.

    It is really funny. The spell corrector has changed his name to Fur tick and I decided to leave it.

  140. It’s a curious thought that Charge Much and Church Game are anagrams of megachurch. Is there any significance in this?

  141. Gram3 wrote:

    If I may ask without putting you at risk, what was it that was the tipping point for you and why do you think that you saw it while others did not?

    I dealt with this issue of Sovereign Grace. When I left Fairfax Community Church I was cut off by a number of people. This is problematic across the board.

  142. dee wrote:

    When I cuss a guy in my head who cut me off on the highway, I sin.

    You’re doing better than me.
    My cuss words usually make their way out of my head. ;P

  143. I checked Wikipedia for the history of Elevation because I don’t know much about this organization. It appears that Vigue must have been there basically from the launch of Elevation which was due to the generosity of the North Carolina State Convention. I invite the NC State Convention to do what they did in the case of Perry Noble. What was done with good intentions can be undone if they are willing to suffer a loss of numbers.

    In the Wikepedia article on Elevation there is the following info:

    At the beginning of 2012, Elevation Church hosted a 12-day “Holy Ghost, Old-School Revival” called ‘Code Orange Revival’ to kick off the year. Guest preachers included LifeChurch.tv founder Craig Groeschel, Jentezen Franklin of Free Chapel, Matt Chandler of The Village Church, Christine Caine of the A21 Campaign, Ed Young Jr. of Fellowship Church, Kevin Gerald of Champion’s Centre, Stovall Weems of Celebration Church, Perry Noble of NewSpring Church, T. D. Jakes of The Potter’s House, James MacDonald of Harvest Bible Chapel, and a special night of worship with Grammy award winner and worship leader of Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church, Israel Houghton.

    Apologies if someone has already mentioned this in a prior post or comment on Elevation, but these are some very interesting names. Not from some distant past but rather from 2012. Along with the usual TV prosperity types, there is also Matt Chandler and James MacDonald. That is a very interesting fact to me. Chandler and MacDonald have had their own issues with abusing authority and being unaccountable. But they both have been excused and are either taking a tactical “break” or are being actively rehabilitated by the SBC because they “apologized.”

    So, here’s my takeaway. In this crowd, everything is OK as long as you either “apologize” or have a great redemption story whether it is real or not. But the bottom line is their bottom line, and the only thing these guys really have in common is the god of Big Numbers and Worldly Success.

  144. @ Jess:
    Jess I understand- I have felt the same way as many here have also. You are not alone. 🙂

    There is a great site online that has been an encouraging place to heal: http://www.theGodJourney.com
    Wayne Jacobson gets it and has written books about how the institution of church cannot sustain itself.

  145. @ Gram3:

    You are right on this one Gram 3. This is why I felt the Gay Marriage law is a win-win either way for Al Mohler and the gang; for they will just turn around and get the courts to protect “religious freedom” which in modern Christianise means “religious bondage”. This will fortify the IC to set up their OWN standards of DO”S and DON”TS within the church; set up their own laws and create a separate way to get married “under the law of God”. In turn, those who get married (especially women and children) under the church and not the state will probably not be guaranteed any rights in property or person. Hopefully this does not happen, but the way these guys have been heading would not surprise me. My family members are church members and are distraught about the gay marriage law; me, not so much because I am told by God NOT to worry about the world, but to live my life according to His will. Which by the way should be joyful and showing compassion and love to a dying and lost world.

  146. Gram3 wrote:

    But the bottom line is their bottom line, and the only thing these guys really have in common is the god of Big Numbers and Worldly Success.

    Yep. Does it sell with the crowd? That’s it.

  147. @ Faith:
    A woman or man who marries without a state license is putting himself/herself in a very vulnerable situation. Each pastor, obviously will have to decide if he/she wants to perform marriages licensed by the state. For me, it would be irrelevant, but for some it may involve a matter of conscience, and I think we should respect that just like I respect the conscience of men who refuse to ordain women. Whether there should be such a thing as “ordination” is another question.

    Personally, I think that a properly drafted religious freedom law is a good thing because I don’t think that people should be compelled to violate their conscience unless there is some greater harm done to someone else. I don’t consider going down the street to another service provider to be an undue burden. I wish that there had been much more discussion in the Supreme Court about how our civil society balances the rights of citizens when they conflict. I hope that wise people on both “sides” of the various issues which confront our civil society will be able to find a win-win approach. Almost always, however, one “side” feels like it has not won until the other “side” has lost. That is the nature of politics, unfortunately. It should not be so in the church.

  148. Ken wrote:

    I remember being under strong pressure to produce results in terms of growth in my house-church days (‘you ought to be up to at least a hundred by now’).

    You’d need a house the size of the Furtick Mansion for a hundred-man house church.

  149. Gram3 wrote:

    Almost always, however, one “side” feels like it has not won until the other “side” has lost. That is the nature of politics, unfortunately. It should not be so in the church.

    It’s called “The Zero-Sum Game”; since there’s only so much (of whatever) to go around, the only way to get more for me is to take it away from you. The way for Me to Win is to make You Lose.

    And it’s everywhere these days.

  150. dee wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    t gives its fans The Blessing to be Greedy and Selfish as a Good Thing.

    I have bumped into some ardent Ayn Rand fans. Its fascinating to be able to be so sure of complete freedom in economics.

    Rand, “The Only Truly Rational Mind Which Has Ever Existed” (her self-description, not mine) was a Totalist Cult Leader in all but name. (Including dispensing and withholding existence and taking sexual advantage of her followers.) And her True Believers act like any other Cult minions who have drunk the Kool-Aid of The One True Way.

    Just this morning on a Metrolink train I ran into this big pudgy guy with long wild hair and beard with a T-shirt reading “ATLAS SHRUGGED: Now Non-Fiction”.

    And after the 2008 elections we had John Galt Celebrity Impersonators coming out of the woodwork.

  151. @ Gram3:
    Yes I could see where you are coming from with a religious freedom law; I just hope it is then not abused by those who garner any power. I could be totally wrong, but just have this feeling/intuition (feelings however are not tangible or evidence). Both sides of the coin whether the far right or far left for me I want nothing of; it is all about who gets the throne for these guys..

    @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    Yeah you have that right HUG.

  152. Jess wrote:

    I realized it was like high school

    Wow, I’ve used that same exact analogy to almost the same circumstance. It continually amazes me the similar stories I read here. Glad you broke free and can rediscover your first love.

  153. Daisy wrote:

    I am curious to know if Furtick would allow Norm to spend time alone with Furtick’s kids? Furtick has two or three small children.

    Of course not. Rank Hath Its Privileges.

    Some years ago, JMJ over at Christian Monist wrote that in the Tennessee Fundagelical church where he grew up, one of the Elders was known to be a pedophile. The Pillars of the Church Community who had kids would steer newbies with kids to him so he would rape/molest THEIR kids, not MINE.

  154. Bill M wrote:

    Jess wrote:

    I realized it was like high school

    Wow, I’ve used that same exact analogy to almost the same circumstance. It continually amazes me the similar stories I read here. Glad you broke free and can rediscover your first love.

    I have been out of High School for 42 years, and the damage is still there.

    (Guaranteed HUG rant: Whenever someone talks or acts like they want to be in High School forever, like Stephanie “Twilight” Myers; or Al Bundy of Married With Children bragging at every opportunity about his High School career (he’s based on reality); or the suits at Hasbro who green-lighted Equestria Girls.)

  155. @ Faith:
    I am distraught that 9 unelected judges can make new law. I thought congress did that. Hopefully with a long debate. Law making is messy and divise on purpose because we disdained oligarchies. It is supposed to be how our system works. We don’t seem up to it anymore.

  156. Bilbo Skaggins wrote:

    You’re doing better than me.
    My cuss words usually make their way out of my head. ;P

    Be careful what you say and act when the kids are around. I find many things my children did that irritated me were things they picked up from me. One recent exception, my adult son had someone do something that raised his ire and his verbal response was to say drolly, “live long and prosper”. I felt so proud I laughed out loud.

  157. Okrapod wrote:

    I plan to ‘bless’ the church by probably avoiding any attendance at any small group so that I can avoid being a trouble maker. They will thank me for that is the sweet bye and bye.

    hehehe perfectly said

  158. mirele wrote:

    and shall permit the probation officer to make such notifications and to confirm the defendant’s compliance with such notification requirement.

    one would hope that the probation officer has been to elevation church and made a public statement to the congregation!

  159. dee wrote:

    Better be careful. You guys are being targeted by some church planting groups, some of which we have discussed here.

    I love your beautiful state and have had the pleasure of visiting and touring it on three occasions.

    Keep us apprised of anything you see developing out here, most of the groups you typically report on don’t operate in my locale but many of the methods and problem are certainly present. I’ll have to send my story sometime when I get time but right now it still has some things to play out. Thanks for all the help and support you and your readers have provided me.

  160. An Attorney wrote:

    So Furtick says conversion was in 2004 and legal (crime related) paperwork says Vigue consumed child pornography in 2005, and Furtick says crime was before conversion. Something does not compute and that something makes Furtick a documented liar protecting a post-“conversion” pedophile consumer of pornography.
    A friend of mine was sentenced to multiple decades in prison for non penetrative contact with a child, both fully clothed! How does Vigue get away with a four year sentence. Oh yeah, Furtick said he became a “Christian” and “repented”. Furtick gets the Naive Pastor of the Year award.

    what makes me so sick about this whole thing is that Furtick can repent of lying for a pedophile but i will never give him the excuse of being naive. if he is so unaware of what he has done by honoring a pedo in his church, or that norm lied saying he repented which is evidenced by the fact he viewed porn after his ‘conversion’ then he has no qualifications for pastor. if Furtic is honest, and comes clean about his part in all this, again he has no qualifications of pastor.

  161. @ Patti:
    Patti – I’m so sorry to read your story & so glad you weren’t hurt further. We all want to trust those who say they’ve changed, but there comes a point where reality kicks in & you realise that some things just don’t seem to change. People putting children at risk of rape, even accidentally…the daydreaming about a heaven on earth of forever changed offenders has to stop there, doesn’t it? Your Mum’s response was absolutely the right one.

    People like Furtick never seem to consult an expert on how to handle things which are way out of the realm of his own expertise – though I’m sure he considers himself an expert on the ways of God. I’d love to see some old retired Parole Officer/Prison Officer or similar being brought in to handle these kinds of situations, we need those who have seen it all, are seasoned with life wisdom & are no longer fooled to be in charge of overseeing these ‘ex’-offenders.

    It does make me despair, but it also makes me more determined.

  162. Burwell Stark wrote:

    mirele wrote:
    Men’s Bible/Book Study eGroup: Foundations of Faith (Norman Vigue) Next meeting: Tue. June 30, 2015 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
    I wonder if that is the Chick-fil-A owned by Proverbs 31’s Lyssa Terkhurst’s husband.
    Also, isn’t Tuesday night family night at CFA? Are they allowing children in the restaurant that night?

    very very good point!

  163. brian wrote:

    You know something I really was a bit Jealous of Pastor Furtick’s house when it was in the news I really was. My first thought was wow, what a great group home it would make, I tend to do that I measure homes by how they would be as a group homes. I measure expensive cars and such by how many wheelchair vans I could get with it.

    hehe me too, only homeless guys or maybe a domestic violence housing center! sometimes i have to repent of my anger though, and stop thinking about some of my stinky smelly homeless guys with lice sitting on Furticks couch in his living room

  164. There is something about this that is nagging at my intuition. Why make such a huuuuuge deal about Vigue? Back in 2006 did Vigue look for a church to hide in knowing what was coming down on him? Why would Furtick be so gushy over Vigue? Honestly, what he did goes way beyond commending a man who has repented. I understand using the Big Redemption Story, but there is so much downside to this particular kind of Big Redemption Story that I really wonder. Of course, Furtick is so weird that maybe it seemed/seems reasonable to him.

  165. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    It’s called “The Zero-Sum Game”

    I think it is that mixed with something even worse, namely the desire to see not only the defeat of the other peoples’ ideas but their destruction as persons as well. That does not work for the betterment of the social fabric of society or for the church when it happens there.

  166. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Some years ago, JMJ over at Christian Monist wrote that in the Tennessee Fundagelical church where he grew up, one of the Elders was known to be a pedophile. The Pillars of the Church Community who had kids would steer newbies with kids to him so he would rape/molest THEIR kids, not MINE.

    Sooner or later one of these mental Titans (fundagelical autocrat of a Church) who ignores sound practice concerning access to kids is gonna drop the ball big time and be held culpable and complicit by the courts. No amount of pleading, howling ‘persecution’ or even wrangling by highly paid legal counsel will get them off the hook. They’ll go down.

  167. @ dee:

    “I love your beautiful state and have had the pleasure of visiting and touring it on three occasions.”
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

    any visits to California in the near future?? There are at least 5 of us here…

  168. As I was reading through these comments, I was thinking about what the evangelical church has become and how far off our focus is most of the time. Then my mind turned to the students I see in D.C. every day (ages two through eight, with disabilities – and their classmates without). Some of these students, their teachers, and their families have truly dealt with adversity and are worthy of both help and honor. Shouldn’t our focus be on things like that instead of creating false heroes and pits to throw our money into that just feed the beast?

  169. @ lydia:
    What I want to know is who took it to court anyway? Was it the Defense of Marriage Alliance? If so, it was either a stupid move on their parts ….or they looked at it as a win/win for them if they lost to shore up their political base. I would not be surprised if the far right coalition gets stronger and starts to demand their rights be heard. Taking these issues to the SCOTUS is not a good thing in my opinion. Under the Constitution issues like gay marriage are neither here or there because there is nothing that states that marriage between two men or women could take or not take place. Like you I don’t like it one bit because now we are definitely going to be divided and used like pawns between two factions: the far right and the far left. Again this is just my humble opinion

  170. @ Ryan:
    I wonder if Ryan is real or just someone trying to pull everyone’s chain. However there is an entire church giving ol’ Steve mucho dinero…

  171. @ Bill M:

    No worries there. I have learned the art of biting my tongue. My young daughter only hears those words on the school bus. 🙁

  172. Faith wrote:

    Taking these issues to the SCOTUS is not a good thing in my opinion.

    Makes you wonder if the only reason we have a President & Congress is to appoint SCOTUS justices who then rule the entire country by five-to-four decree.

  173. Gram3 wrote:

    I think it is that mixed with something even worse, namely the desire to see not only the defeat of the other peoples’ ideas but their destruction as persons as well.

    That’s just the Zero Sum Game To The Death.

    Or the original meaning of “Game of Thrones”.

  174.   __

    “Takes One To Know One?”

    hmmm…

    Q. Have the Pillars of the Elivation Church possibly brought a known ‘reformed’ pedophile into their confidence to possibly ferret out and identify ‘un-reformed, hidden and potentially dangerous pedophiles possibly in their midst as a safeguard to their congregations from this type of harm?

  175. dee wrote:

    Bilbo Skaggins wrote:
    Evangelicals (And Fundamentalists) have done a huge disservice to the victims by only viewing them through the “all have sinned” lens. It distorts the whole picture. When there is a crime committed, the ground is no longer level between perpetrator and victim.
    Great comment. I have gotten into discussions with people who believe that all sins are the same sins. When I cuss a guy in my head who cut me off on the highway, I sin. However, it is totally different if I decide to pursue the guy and fire shots at his car, hurting him.
    One is a problem inside me. The other involves the potential to sin against others as I fire shots going down a highway. To say they are both *just sins* exhibits a naïveté that will lead to much heartache.

    That confusion comes from believers conflating the soteriological consequence of sin (all sin, any sin separates people from God) with the temporal consequence of sin (sins of the mind that don’t translate into action vs. sin in word and/or deed).

    God’s Word says that He ranks certain sins above others… and one is unpardonable. (I know that you know this, many believers don’t)

    Part of the great downgrade is the watering down the severity of sin…

  176. Two important books on this subject:

    Schizophrenic Christianity by Jeri Massi
    The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout

  177.   __

    “10 things a church can do to properly address this pedophile issue?”

    1. “Recognize the risk”

    With the recant sexual abuse scandals rocking the Church, it is inconceivable that any pastor or church administrator would ignore the risk to children that can come from sexual predators entering the church arena. 

    Unfortunately, many pastors would rather turn away from the ugly reality of sexual abuse and convince themselves that “this can’t happen here.” 

    This denial happens in churches across the country on a daily basis.

    The wake-up call has sounded!

    There is simply no excuse to disregard the truth. 

    Gene Abel, director of the Behavior Medicine Institute of Atlanta and one of the nation’s leading experts on sex offenders, made this statement in Patrick Boyle’s book Scout’s Honor: Sexual Abuse in America’s Most Trusted Institution: 

    “The volunteer organizations are just perfect for pedophiles, in the sense that they [volunteer organizations] are just the ideal situation if they [pedophiles] can get to a large number of kids, to kind of check out which ones might be the easiest victims.”

    [Churches have historically been just such a place of opportunity.]

    —-> However, when churches become proactive, recognizing their vulnerabilities and taking steps to prevent child abuse, this critical step dramatically lowers the risk of such a horrific event.

    2. “Use a screening form.”

     Another simple, yet incredibly effective step is the implementation of a screening form in the children’s worker selection process. Each church must establish a workable and effective screening form to be completed by applicants for a position, whether voluntary or compensated, that involves the supervision of minors.

    (This is not to be confused with an employment application.) The information sought by the screening form is directed to and seeks information about past church work and experience, history of abuse in the life of the applicant and information concerning prior criminal charges or convictions.

    The screening form should include a release from the individual to contact references to obtain information about his or her character, fitness and ability to work with children and youth. The application should also release the church from any liability for usage of the authorization to obtain information. A screening form should also include an authorization for the church to conduct a criminal records background check and include a place to list references as well as previous establishments where the applicant has worked with children.

    The church should seek competent legal counsel to assist in the preparation of the screening form to comply with the laws of the particular state and in order to address any recent changes in state laws.

    If the screening form information reveals a history that has involved incidences of child abuse, even where the applicant is or was a victim, I strongly advise the applicant not be further considered for a position working with children and youth. If the applicant was a victim of child abuse, it is very important that the next several steps be given great attention if he or she is given further consideration for a position as an employee or a volunteer.

    3. “Contact references.”

     Contact each reference listed on the application and make a written record of each contact. When the references have been contacted, the notes of each contact should be kept with the screening form application and maintained in a file.

    Further, contact each church the applicant claims to have attended. If churches or references listed on the screening form are reluctant to give you information regarding the applicant’s prior conduct, provide them with a copy of the release that is a part of the screening form, which allows the church to obtain such information from references without legal liability.

    4. “Conduct a personal interview.”

     If an individual is applying for a position that would permit direct contact with minors, that individual should be interviewed by a member of the church staff who is schooled and skilled in screening child-care and youth-care workers.

    5. “Do a criminal records check.”

    With an authorization set forth in the screening application form for the church to conduct a criminal records background check, such a check should be completed on all paid workers whose position necessarily involves the custody or supervision of minors. It is also advisable to do a criminal records check on all paid workers whose position necessarily involves incidental but routine contact with children.

    If the criminal records check reveals a conviction of a sex-related crime, the individual should be disqualified for child care and youth work in the church. I call this the “one strike rule.” There should be no second chances when children are involved. These persons may serve in other areas of the church but must be prohibited from direct contact with children. If the criminal records check reveals a conviction of a crime of moral turpitude, it is advisable to contact the church’s legal counsel for an opinion as to whether the charge or conviction should disqualify the individual for child care and youth work in the church.

    6. “Implement consistent and effective training. ”

    Every church should implement a training program that emphasizes the following areas:

    How to recognize a perpetrator of child abuse. It is important that we not paint the picture of child abuse with too broad a brush. Its causes are many, varied and complex. Stereotypes do not serve well in this arena. Child abuse can be carried out by anyone given the opportunity and who possesses the inclination.

    Child abuse occurs in all types of settings by people of all races, creeds and socioeconomic and educational backgrounds. Persons known to the child perpetrate four out of five assaults on children. Children of all ages can be the victims of it. Adults are not the only perpetrators; children also victimize other children.

    How to identify victims of child abuse. Quite often, victims of child abuse live in a world of silence. They may not understand that what they are experiencing is wrong; they may feel a sense of loyalty to the offender (especially if the molester/abuser is a family member); they may feel guilty about getting the offender in trouble; or they may feel afraid of the repercussions if they tell anyone. However, victims cry out for help, even if their actions are unintentional. Our responsibility is to recognize the verbal or behavioral signs of abuse so that we might rescue a child from a destructive situation (see related story on page 48).

    How to interact appropriately with children. Jesus clearly demonstrated that certain forms of touching are appropriate and should be encouraged. In many cases, they can enhance a child’s feeling of safety and self-worth. Mark 10:16 tells us that Jesus took little children and babies in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them.

    However, forms of inappropriate touching can cause confusion, shame and hurt to the child subjected to them. Therefore, it is crucial that all those who work with children receive training in proper interaction.

    Adequately training and equipping your child-care workers is important business. Every church must take the time to develop an ongoing training program that covers these areas. Make certain to research your options and choose a program that is easy to use and effective.

    7. “Delegate duties properly.”

     To maintain order and promote security, it is best to have one primary director responsible for maintaining the oversight of the operational portion of the child-care protection program. If too many individuals are involved in supervising the program, things can slip through the cracks.

    Important considerations and obligations of the director of a child-care facility include making certain he or she conducts a regular meeting with the pastor and elders of the church. Such meetings should contain a reminder of the safeguards implemented within the church to guard against abuse, what actions have been taken against any potential molesters and any other information deemed necessary.

    If possible, the director should be a paid staff member because this creates an extra incentive for the person to be alert and organized. Be sure to include this and other duties in the job description and have the person sign an agreement stating he or she understands the position’s nature and responsibility.

    8. “Maintain consistent supervision.”

     One of the most effective ways for the director to maintain clear oversight of activities is for him or her to create a policy of “strategic supervision.” In order for the director to know what is occurring, he or she must tour the facility during hours of operation. These tours should be random, without warning and never limited to any one part of the facilities. They should encompass all areas where children are present, including closets, basements, bathrooms and so on.

    9. “Follow the ‘two-deep’ rule (two adults with two children).”

     This might be one of the most effective tools a church can use to prevent abuse. The adults should be unrelated–meaning they will not be found to have any kind of an intimate or confidential relationship.

    By ensuring that two adults are always with the children, you will deter any potential misconduct. Additionally, if any molestation is alleged, the accused will have a witness who can verify nothing improper happened. For this reason, the adults should be unrelated because a court will not be able to find that one party may be covering for the other due to their relationship.

    10. “Plan for the worst.”

    By implementing a plan to respond to allegations of abuse, you can cover all of the appropriate steps. If you don’t prepare in advance, however, it is probable you will act on emotion and make unwise choices rather than following the most advantageous path to protect the victim, the rights of the accused and the church.

    The first step in the plan is to coordinate a response team made up of a group of persons within your church and outside professionals who are schooled, skilled and ready to respond to the report of child abuse.

    It is critical never to ignore an allegation of child abuse, no matter how unlikely it may seem. The first and possibly most important thing your church leaders can do is to remember to take each and every reported allegation seriously. Many of the problems churches faced in the past, such as continued abuse of children and large monetary awards levied against the institutions, could have been easily avoided had the church leaders faced the problem when first reported. Had they instigated a thorough investigation and dealt with the issues instead of shuffling the offender to another position and refusing to confront the issue, countless children might have been saved the terrible pain of abuse.

    Understandably, it may be difficult to believe someone you admire and trust could ever hurt a child, especially if this person is in a position of leadership within your congregation. And while an allegation may in fact turn out to be false, it is incumbent upon you to thoroughly investigate and report any accusations levied against any church worker, volunteer or official. Having an attitude that refuses to properly investigate the accusations because “everyone knows he would never do something like that” will endanger future children and expose your church to financial liability.

    Following is a basic outline of necessary notification procedures when an allegation is made:

    Notify the parents. If the report received is about a worker of the church and not about the parent or guardian of the child-victim, the leader of the church-response team should immediately place a telephone call to the parents or guardian of the child-victim. At that time, a meeting between the leader of the response team, the director of children’s ministries and the parents of the child-victim should be scheduled (consider whether other members of the response team, including the church’s attorney, should be present).

    Notify the accused. It will be necessary to notify the alleged wrongdoer of the receipt of the report of child abuse.

    Inform the alleged wrongdoer that the church is not on a witch-hunt; rather, the church is acting responsibly to a serious allegation and is on a quest to find the truth. The church should seek to gain basic “who, what, when, where and how” information from the alleged wrongdoer.

    Notify the insurance carrier. It may seem odd to notify your insurance carrier of an allegation of abuse upon the initial receipt of a report of child abuse and before there has been a final determination. However, this may be necessary because your insurance may require immediate notification for coverage.

    Also, you’ll need to determine whether or not the church’s insurance covers sexual impropriety. Many insurance policies do not cover sexual issues because of the high risk of liability.

    Notify the authorities. Each state has its own mandatory reporting requirements. It is important to become familiar with the laws of your state and to be willing to make such reports. Failure to do so can result in criminal and civil liability.

    Not only can the church be damaged by such failure, but a lawsuit may also be filed against an individual who fails to follow the standards set forth by the state legislature. Very few states protect clergy from reporting suspected child abuse, so the “clergy-penitent” privilege will rarely apply. If in doubt, contact your attorney.

    David Middlebrook is a named partner in the law practice of Brewer, Brewer, Anthony and Middlebrook, located in Irving, Texas. He is the author of The Guardian System (Charisma House), a comprehensive system for the prevention of child abuse within an organization, which received the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Gold Medallion Book Award. For more information on this exclusive Ministries Today product that includes step-by-step guidelines, sample forms and training videos, log on to http://www.charismalife.com and do a keyword search for The Guardian System, or call (800) 451-4598.
    Profile of a Predator
    Most child molesters are not the stereotypical ‘dirty old man’ waiting in the bushes to kidnap a lone child–they are usually people the victim would trust. But abusers do share some common character traits.

    The following behaviors may be signs that an individual has the potential to abuse:

    yells and screams at children
    grabs and jerks children
    controls activities, not letting children make choices
    requires children to be obedient and respectful at all times
    doesn’t let children speak
    disciplines every child in the same way
    has to win every power struggle with a child
    takes inappropriate interest in one child
    shows no respect for children’s right to privacy.

    There are basically two types of child molesters: the situational child molester and the preferential child molester. The attributes of the situational child molester are:

    may prefer adult sex to sex with a child
    does not necessarily plan to molest
    acts on impulse
    may be heavily involved in pornography
    reacts to a vulnerable situation
    may be undergoing an unusually stressful period
    may be difficult to screen because he or she doesn’t necessarily have a prior criminal history.
    Strong safeguards and strict supervision of interaction with children will usually deter the situational molester.

    On the other hand, the attributes of the preferential child molester include:

    more attraction to children than adults
    spends much time fantasizing and plotting how to gain access to children
    may have hundreds of victims in his or her lifetime and usually molests the same child several times
    most likely heavily involved in pornography–usually child pornography or erotica has very specific age and gender preferences
    requires frequent access to children.

    If a preferential molester can detect a setting where precautions are in place and where unsupervised access to children is minimized, he or she will most likely be diverted from that environment.

    How to Spot a Child Who Is Being Sexually Abused
    Recognizing the signs that someone is taking advantage of a child in your church

    Children will usually offer two kinds of indications that they are being abused: verbal and behavioral. The following is a list of ways to recognize some of these indicators.

    Verbal Indicators:

    stating they don’t want to be with a certain person
    stating they don’t like a certain person
    stating they don’t want to go to a certain place anymore.

    Behavioral Indicators:

    regression to infantile behavior and clinging
    detailed and age-inappropriate understanding of sexual behavior (especially younger children)
    unusually seductive behavior
    school problems and/or behavior problems
    excessive fear of certain people or places
    unwillingness or reluctance to change clothes (where changing clothes is otherwise appropriate, as in changing for sports or physical education class)
    appearing to be threatened by physical contact
    acting apathetic or depressed
    frequent anger and aggressiveness
    compulsive overeating
    extreme loss of appetite.

    ___
    Reference:
    http://ministrytodaymag.com/ministry-life/children/6793-does-this-pedophile-attend-your-church

  178. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:
    That’s pretty much what it looks like. By now you must certainly know that I have no idea what Game of Thrones is about, and I suspect it is violent so I don’t expect I’ll find out.

  179. The response or Steven Furtick and Elevation church is unfortunate. Most evidence is that pedophiles don’t change. Regardless of a claim of a conversion experience, I would be very concerned about having children around Mr. Vigue. A question I do have: is the leadership of Elevation Church nuts? One question I do have: has Elevation Church’s insurance sky rocketed for shielding a pedaphile? I pray it has.

  180. @ elastigirl:

    I would so love to come to your part of the country. I love California. My son just traversed your state with two of his best friends that he has known since 3rd grade. i am calling it Will’s most excellent summer adventure.

    It makes me feel so good that you would actually like to meet me. I would so love to meet you. Let me think how I could get away and do a West coast thing. Thank you for asking. It made my day!

  181. @ Mark:
    One thing i want to clarify. He was convicted for viewing internet child sex abuse. However, there is some part of the conviction that is sealed along with some sort of order to not have direct or indirect contact with a victim.

  182. WillysJeepMan wrote:

    Part of the great downgrade is the watering down the severity of sin…

    Yes, when you sin level as in making all sin the same then the heinous sins are downgraded. We become desensitized to its heinous nature. The last few years have been a nightmare on this score just reading evangelical excuses for what happened at SGM, Matt Chandler, Josh Dugger and much more.

    You know, once certain things have been done things can NEVER go back to how they were. That is just the way it is. A person can say they repent but the dangers to innocents is to great to take the chance of it just being words as they did live a long con before they got caught.

    It almost pays for criminals to become Christians because of how so many leaders deal with this. They get instant forgiveness and many will beg the judge for leniency and such. All those people rallying around them in support (while the victims still suffer). Isn’t Jesus great! (rolling eyes)

  183. Ted wrote:

    Two important books on this subject:
    Schizophrenic Christianity by Jeri Massi
    The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout

    Both are very good books. I agree with your reccomendation. I also am reading “Without Conscience” by Robert D Hare. Very similar to Martha Stout’s book but maybe even more in depth.

  184. @ dee: It is a denial of reality or a numbness to reality. Mr. Vigue may or may not have had a conversion experience, but the church should be informed about his crimes. Yes he was guilty of watching child pornography, but what is risk of this kind of behavior becoming more real than on film? Also the denial reminds me of how other evangelical leaders have dealt with child sexual abuse. Plus does that conversion experience expurgate the horrendous crimes a person has committed?

  185. Maybe I’m just being cynical, but I guess you get a lot more good (celebrity) press if you can produce living ‘proof’ of the power of Jesus to change lives, than if you are down in the dirt picking up the broken pieces of lives that have been forever damaged by an abuser.

  186. Lydia wrote:

    It almost pays for criminals to become Christians because of how so many leaders deal with this. They get instant forgiveness and many will beg the judge for leniency and such. All those people rallying around them in support (while the victims still suffer). Isn’t Jesus great! (rolling eyes)

    Pass go, collect two-hundred-bucks, put it all on Jesus’ back, and you’re home free?
    What a deal!
    Finally a way to beat the big court system in the sky!, where do I sign up?

    This one’s for you Lyds:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Zfqh2OxGFg

  187. An Attorney wrote:

    So Furtick says conversion was in 2004 and legal (crime related) paperwork says Vigue consumed child pornography in 2005, and Furtick says crime was before conversion. Something does not compute and that something makes Furtick a documented liar protecting a post-“conversion” pedophile consumer of pornography.
    A friend of mine was sentenced to multiple decades in prison for non penetrative contact with a child, both fully clothed! How does Vigue get away with a four year sentence. Oh yeah, Furtick said he became a “Christian” and “repented”. Furtick gets the Naive Pastor of the Year award.

    Yeah, I did the math, too.

  188. mirele wrote:

    OK, I’ve seen and read a lot in my time, but this post left me literally shaking. There’s so much I could say here but I just can’t find the words.
    I hope the local press in Charlotte picks up on this. I really do.

    Yes! Please!

    (Let’s hope the church is not a huge monetary supporter of the local paper and news stations.)

  189. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    suits at Hasbro who green-lighted Equestria Girls

    Clearly unrelated to the serious topic on hand….but my wife and I are still po’d about the equestria girls. My almost 4 year old loves MLP and it is one of the few kids shows that I find interesting. When the EG movie first showed up we didn’t think anything of it…but it is not only not the same maturity level but the way they look and dress is clearly not what we want our 4 year old to think is “normal”. And what stinks is she really liked it and always cries about wanting to watch, “bid gull ponies”.

  190. Gram3 wrote:

    There is something about this that is nagging at my intuition. Why make such a huuuuuge deal about Vigue? Back in 2006 did Vigue look for a church to hide in knowing what was coming down on him? Why would Furtick be so gushy over Vigue? Honestly, what he did goes way beyond commending a man who has repented. I understand using the Big Redemption Story, but there is so much downside to this particular kind of Big Redemption Story that I really wonder. Of course, Furtick is so weird that maybe it seemed/seems reasonable to him.

    me too, it feels really bad. like not just a ‘redemption story’ but and i dont have proof and dont like to make baseless allegations but if i did i would say that Furtick by not even telling the congregation anything of the mans crimes, and backing him for so many years and actually lying about it all being ‘before his baptism’ is actually in the same sin as him.

  191. Sopwith wrote:

    “Takes One To Know One?”
    hmmm…
    Q. Have the Pillars of the Elivation Church possibly brought a known ‘reformed’ pedophile into their confidence to possibly ferret out and identify ‘un-reformed, hidden and potentially dangerous pedophiles possibly in their midst as a safeguard to their congregations from this type of harm?

    well, if it was a different church maybe, but this church has built itself around the pastor so tightly that it doesnt shine a light on Jesus. even the kids sunday school coloring books are pointing to the pastor and submitting to him as the authority of elivation church and final word on everything. Jesus is not glorified there. Also they are not teaching that first we pick up our cross and then we are resurected, they skip the actual repentance and dying to self part and skip right to :Jesus glorifies us and we have no responsibility to any victims we have left behind our sinful tromp over those we come into contact with. alot like driscoll only i havent heard of child abuse cover ups yet at driscoll-ville

  192. Gram3 wrote:

    @ Dave A A:
    “Elevator hater” is begging for a Piper poem or an Owen BHLH rap.
    Is it just me, or do the ones who show up on these posts, regardless of camp, seem too perfectly out of touch to be real? I’ve been taken in too many times, so I get that part. But Furtick and Mahaney and Driscoll (this is the camp I know) have always been creepy to me. Yet their fans adore them!

    My first thought was that it was Furtick himself showing up, wearing a disguise.

  193. dee wrote:

    @ Mark:
    One thing i want to clarify. He was convicted for viewing internet child sex abuse. However, there is some part of the conviction that is sealed along with some sort of order to not have direct or indirect contact with a victim.

    i think its important to say this again: if it was just viewing online abuse there would be no order to not contact a victim, if it was random viewing they wouldnt know who the ‘victim’ was or be able to order he not contact the person.

  194. dee wrote:

    @ Mark:
    One thing i want to clarify. He was convicted for viewing internet child sex abuse. However, there is some part of the conviction that is sealed along with some sort of order to not have direct or indirect contact with a victim.

    Ordering child pornography to watch children being harmed for gratification makes Norm a pedophile.

  195. That last part in my comment I didn’t mean to italicize:
    Ordering child pornography to watch children being harmed for gratification makes Norm a pedophile.

  196. Daisy wrote:

    I think some Christians may find single adulthood threatening, or a reproach, and want to shuffle us off to the side, because folks like me who are still single despite trying to get married, it means that the majority of Christian advice given to singles does not work.
    If you want marriage, most Christian sermons and books say: just pray, wait, and have faith and/or serve in a local church, and God will send you a spouse. There is a truck load of singles who followed all that advice to a “T,” but it still did not work.

    If your life doesn’t fit with the usual expectations, then that is a little threatening and it makes some people think that there must be something really wrong with you. In some churches, what passes for faith is this transactional formula where if you are “good” enough God will reward you. There are people who see themselves as “good” or at least “good enough” and to prove it they can list the blessings in their life. So there are good, comfortable people who will look at your trials and consider that you must not be “good” enough. What they won’t do is question the validity of their “I must be good enough” transactional formula they think they have worked out with God.

  197. @Deebs, did ya see the thing going around on facebook news that Brian Houston did all the yada yada implying that Driscoll wasnt going to be at conference but ended up showing Houston’s interview with driscoll during the conference? What Houston was actually saying before the conference is that Driscoll wouldn’t be there **personally** I am gonna have to brush up on my lie detector skills and stop giving these mega church pastors the benefit of believing anything they say i guess.

  198. Sometimes the work of exposing pedo’s and the lack of accountablity by churches and other organizations can make people disenhartened and depressed and weary of keeping on. for those who fight this seeming endless battle i was thinking that you might just see all the abused kids in your mind all the time, but you should be aware of something else also. When you are walking down the street and you see a happy kid that hasnt been abused you should realise that it might just be because you stopped a predator. Prayers and keep up the good work!

  199. @ Bilbo Skaggins:
    Thanks, Bilbo. I’ve been cruising around for the last hour in The Authoritarians and also a site by Robert Hare on psychopathy. Not the best bedtime reading, but…

  200. I wonder if Furtick will pull another “Shake The Snake” angry rant thing this Sunday like he did after WCNC (NBC Charlotte) aired their piece on Elevation’s staged baptisms? Maybe he’ll bring Norm back on stage again. Who knows, he’s been silent on this so far…

  201. AnonInNC wrote:

    I wonder if Furtick will pull another “Shake The Snake” angry rant thing this Sunday like he did after WCNC (NBC Charlotte) aired their piece on Elevation’s staged baptisms? Maybe he’ll bring Norm back on stage again. Who knows, he’s been silent on this so far…

    Maybe he’ll Periscope it. He’s really into that these days.

  202. Ryan wrote:

    Who cares?

    Now THAT is a very good question. Possibly the most intelligent question you’ve ever asked.

  203. Gram3 wrote:

    A woman or man who marries without a state license is putting himself/herself in a very vulnerable situation.

    Depends on the state. My parents’ white wedding (including newspaper announcement) in California was not registered with the government in 1959, so they were not legally married until they moved to Texas in 1973 and held out as married. That’s because Texas recognizes common law marriages and California does not. But I can’t say that to my mother, who came unglued when a county clerk suggested that the start day for her marriage was March 1, 1973. The lady backdated it to September 1959.

  204. *
    *
    *
    __

    “Sinister Purposes Draweth Nigh?” 

    huh?

    sam wrote:

    Sopwith wrote:
    “Takes One To Know One?”
    hmmm…
    Q. Have the Pillars of the Elivation Church possibly brought a known ‘reformed’ pedophile into their confidence to possibly ferret out and identify ‘un-reformed, hidden and potentially dangerous pedophiles possibly in their midst as a safeguard to their congregations from this type of harm?

    Sam: “…well, if it was a different church maybe, but this church has built itself around the pastor so tightly that it doesnt shine a light on Jesus. even the kids sunday school coloring books are pointing to the pastor and submitting to him as the authority of elivation church and final word on everything. Jesus is not glorified there. Also they are not teaching that first we pick up our cross and then we are resurected, they skip the actual repentance and dying to self part and skip right to :Jesus glorifies us and we have no responsibility to any victims we have left behind our sinful tromp over those we come into contact with. alot like driscoll only i havent heard of child abuse cover ups yet at driscoll-ville”

    hmmm…

    Has Elevation Church placed any ‘safeguards’ in place to protect it’s youth from the prying hands of ill-intending church pedophiles?

  205. Lydia wrote:

    They get instant forgiveness

    I think you make some important points in your post. Repentant sinners do receive instant forgiveness. This should involve forsaken the wrongdoing that needed forgiving in the first place.

    He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
    but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

    The process of sanctification takes longer, a lifetime, and I wonder if evangelicals have almost given this a kind of mystical quality, as though it gradually happens automatically by some sort of osmosis. Whatever you think of nouthetic counselling (and who doesn’t!), Adams takes homosexuality as being a life-dominating sin requiring complete restructring of a person’s life. I think he is right in this regard.

    I don’t doubt this is true of someone ensnared in/who has chosen paedophilia. They may be forgiven if truly sorry what they have done, but there is no possiblity of going back to business as usual. For the whole of the rest of their life they surely need to be ‘pastored’, an overseer who keeps an eye on everything they do. Who makes aa certain as humanly possible they avoid temptation to sin again. Their cooperation with such a regime would imo be a mark of true repentance.

    The evangelical church is most lacking in wisdom if it thinks or gives the impression that conversion and forgiveness does not involve dealing with the results of years of abuse. This cannot be wiped out by a quick sinner’s prayer. Justification does not mean just as if I’d never sinned.

    At some point the victims do need to forgive the perpetrators who have genuinely turned from such evil, but I’m sure this needs to be a process, not something instant and definitely not an attempt to get to a situation as though the abuse had never happened in the first place. An unconditional acknowledgment of the evil of what they had done plus a request for forgiveness would surely be the starting point for such a process. Christianity is not easy or a soft option.

  206. __

    “No Mess, Elevation Church – No Ministry?”

    hmmm…

    “Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, But much revenue comes by the strength of the ox. ”
    proverbs 14:4

    Elivation Church does not minister to perfect people, but broken people willing to believe in Jesus, to take Him at His word, and to be conformed by the Holy Spirit and
    *
    *
    *
    __

    “No Mess, Elevation Church – No Ministry?”

    hmmm…

    “Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, But much revenue comes by the strength of the ox. ”
    proverbs 14:4

    Elivation Church does not minister to perfect people, but broken people willing to believe in Jesus, to take Him at His word, and to be conformed by the Holy Spirit and the grace of God into the image of Almighty God Himself?

    This is my hope.

    ATB

    Sopy

    🙂

    — grace of God into the image of Almighty God Himself?

    This is my hope.

    ATB

    Sopy

    🙂

  207. *
    *
    *
    __

    “No Mess, Elevation Church – No Ministry?”

    hmmm…

    “Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, But much revenue comes by the strength of the ox. ”
    proverbs 14:4

    Elivation Church does not minister to perfect people, but broken people willing to believe in Jesus, to take Him at His word, and to be conformed by the Holy Spirit and the grace of God into the image of Almighty God Himself?

    This is my hope.

    ATB

    Sopy

    🙂

  208. mirele wrote:

    Gram3 wrote:
    A woman or man who marries without a state license is putting himself/herself in a very vulnerable situation.
    Depends on the state. My parents’ white wedding (including newspaper announcement) in California was not registered with the government in 1959, so they were not legally married until they moved to Texas in 1973 and held out as married. That’s because Texas recognizes common law marriages and California does not. But I can’t say that to my mother, who came unglued when a county clerk suggested that the start day for her marriage was March 1, 1973. The lady backdated it to September 1959.

    Exactly. You can marry in Texas, declare ” Common Law” and no licence is needed. The media here never uses the term ” living together” it is always written as ” Common Law wife/husband.” But then I am in a backward part of the state.

  209. Ken wrote:

    This should involve forsaken the wrongdoing that needed forgiving in the first place.

    Should? If one does not forsake the sin has one really repented?

  210. Ken wrote:

    Christianity is not easy or a soft option.

    Parts of the church in america seem to have forgotten that. Cheap grace sounds so easy. Apology does not replace repentance. And mouthing the words ‘I forgive you’ is not a magic formula.

  211. @ mirele:
    That may be true in Texas or other states. The point I was making, poorly, is that when legal protections are available, then it is foolish, IMO, to refuse those protections because the state also protects others that you do not believe should be protected. My impression is that this is the exact reason why gay persons believed that recognition of their marriage is necessary by the state. I’m sure that there are people who will decide to “opt out” of the licensing of their marriage because gay marriages are now licensed. I think that is unwise.

  212. Ken wrote:

    At some point the victims do need to forgive the perpetrators who have genuinely turned from such evil, but I’m sure this needs to be a process, not something instant and definitely not an attempt to get to a situation as though the abuse had never happened in the first place. An unconditional acknowledgment of the evil of what they had done plus a request for forgiveness would surely be the starting point for such a process. Christianity is not easy or a soft option.

    You make some very good points. One place where I think we get off track is by misapplying the principle that it is good and beneficial for a person to forgive others and that the person doing the forgiving should keep in mind that they have themselves been forgiven. That somehow gets twisted into an obligation to forgive in the manner in which someone else dictates, and if the person who has been wronged refuses to forgive in that exactly prescribed manner, then the wronged person suddenly becomes the offender, for all practical purposes.

    This is the same error, IMO, that others make in other contexts like Our Discussion. An observation by Paul (not a command) that a woman submitting to her own husband is an example of “living in the Spirit” gets twisted into male entitlement to her submission because he is male. Paul’s observation that men who self-sacrificially love their wives in imitation of Christ’s love for the church are an example of living “life in the Spirit” gets twisted into men *are* Christ to their wives, meaning they reign over their wives, or men must be as self-sacrificial as Christ who is God or they are failures as husbands. That is also a misapplication of a principle which causes harm to people.

    We really need to read the Bible for what is is saying and why God has revealed that rather than assuming something it is not saying and thereby making God’s word a weapon.

  213. Okrapod wrote:

    Ken wrote:

    Should? If one does not forsake the sin has one really repented?

    Correction: must. I agree with both your posts, except cheap grace is not confined to the States by a long way.

  214. @ Ken:
    This comment was so good Ken! I agree and also I would add it is the Holy Spirit that works in us and this does take a process no matter what it is. The key is that sins have consequences. Some sins don’t require heavy consequences such as prison time, but there are consequences nevertheless. If I lie, then someone will not trust me ever. If a person is involved in pedophilia then the consequence is that they should NEVER be around children again and also serve prison time; if you murder you are locked away; if you steal, you pay back in full. It is just that simple, however we are a nation that believes everyone has a right to do whatever they want with no consequences if they do wrong.

  215. @ nmgirl:
    nmgirl, first I do not really want to hijack this thread on the subject of gay marriage with my opinions; I was just commenting on it in response to someone else.

    Second, I do not like to debate social issues online; it gets messy and prefer more to talk face to face with others. Plus, it does not really matter what I believe for it is already done and the law. I am just little ‘ole me whose opinion does not matter much in the large scheme of things 🙂

    Third, I tend to be a libertarian conservative. I am more concerned that now our federal government is involved in a social issue such as marriage. I do not believe the federal government is that good at legislating morality issues whether from the left or the right. They have always messed things up and all they will do is look at this as $$$, for now gays can be taxed and they will now not be able to claim being a civil union if they live together . They will now have to abide by the tax codes. I personally do not know why they wanted to do it because marriage is hard work and expensey. When I got married I looked at it as “yes, I love this person, but also I wanted to birth children” so marriage was to me a way to protect the children with both a mother and father caring for them. Otherwise, if no children it would have been way easier just to live with that person then to get hitched.
    Anyway, this is my last comment on this issue for I do not want to hijack the thread.

  216. Ken wrote:

    An unconditional acknowledgment of the evil of what they had done plus a request for forgiveness would surely be the starting point for such a process. Christianity is not easy or a soft option.

    Acts 8:3 states, “But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.” Most likely, Saul’s actions affected families and traumatized the children.

    I can’t find any passages where Saul, after he became Paul, went to each individual he put in prison and specifically asked for their forgiveness.

  217. @ Joe2:
    Paul actually did record what he did to the Christians. He did not whitewash his sin against them. We are not told that he went to each person, but that does not mean that he did not. We certainly have not heard anything like what Paul confessed from the people we talk about here. They “apologize” and then order us to move on.

  218. sam wrote:

    What Houston was actually saying before the conference is that Driscoll wouldn’t be there **personally**

    So he can point to that disclaimer and say he wasn’t lying.

    “It all depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is.”

  219. dee wrote:

    However, there is some part of the conviction that is sealed along with some sort of order to not have direct or indirect contact with a victim.

    Maybe Furtick’s Poster Boy did a little more than just watch?

  220. Off-topic, but longtime Hillsong critic and former member Tanya Levin was arrested for holding an interview with Australia’s A Current Affair TV program outside of Sydney’s Olympic Park where the Hillsong conference is being held. Levin has been forbidden to go into Hillsong properties since 2005. However, it appears that Hillsong wants a roving barrier to keep Ms. Levin away from anything they do, even if it is on property not owned by Hillsong. It’s not like Levin was inside the center yelling, like those young men from the Church of Wells did last Sunday at Joel Osteen’s church in Houston.

    http://www.smh.com.au/national/outspoken-hillsong-critic-arrested-for-trespass-at-sydney-conference-20150701-gi2sp1.html

    I’d note that A Current Affair has done amazing work in Australia exposing my favorite cult (Scientology).

  221. @ Gram3:
    Also Paul gave of himself fully to ministering to the believers even unto death. He even knew death would come to him and fully accepted it as such. You wonder (not having the evidence as such but…) if Paul went to his death as part of the consequence of doing what he did to the believers – who knows but him and God?

  222. nmgirl wrote:

    @ Faith:
    Dear Faith and Lydia, What difference does it make to you if 2 people you don’t know get married?

    It doesn’t to me. I was strictly speaking about process and our march toward oligharchy.

  223. @ Ken:
    As an aside, I heard Adams teach back around 2007 or so and he literally added a step to Matthew 18. It was so obvious I could not believe there were no repercussions. He has no cred with me at all.

  224. @ K.D.:
    I deal with common law marriages, in Texas, a lot. One of the issues that arises is that a common law marriage may require a legal divorce to dissolve! And I have done such divorces. I limit my divorce practice to cases where there has been abuse or a criminal charge against a party, or where children are at risk of harm.

  225. @ mirele:
    Boy this sounds familiar. Not the fact she is media but the whole banning process. I would love to see some former members who have been banned from church property actually sue. I mean…who decides this? A few men? No member vote? All they have to do is claim a person a trouble maker.

  226. @ Faith:
    A friend of mine who has practiced family law for 20 years told me just the other day she has been representing gay couples seperating– in distribution of assets– for years. Who knew?

  227. Gram3 wrote:

    That somehow gets twisted into an obligation to forgive in the manner in which someone else dictates, and if the person who has been wronged refuses to forgive in that exactly prescribed manner, then the wronged person suddenly becomes the offender, for all practical purposes.

    Excellent point Gram3! And we’ve seen how this kind of idiocy is used to sit a three year old girl down before her molester and force her to ‘forgive him’.

  228. @ lydia:
    You are so right about this Lydia……
    I do not think many realize the more the federal government gets involve with marriage, children, health, morality issues, religion the more the few (the oligarchs) have power. Money and power is what they aim for and they could care less for gay issues, race or whatever. They play on peoples emotions about a certain trigger point whether race, abortion, guns, homosexuality; use the media to create panic and hysteria on both sides. If it can give them what they want, then they will put out front any issue that will be useful for them. If you do not believe me watch the media/politicians and how one day a certain issue seems soooo important and then that issue will be gone the next day. It is called pandering to the public, BOTH on the right and the left.

  229. Muff Potter wrote:

    And we’ve seen how this kind of idiocy is used to sit a three year old girl down before her molester and force her to ‘forgive him’.

    Millstones, tar, feathers.

  230. @ Muff Potter:
    Since we are forgiven ourselves, there is a general obligation on Christians to forgive each other for wrongs done, e.g. in the Lord’s prayer.

    I’m going to have to revisit this theme as there seems to be a trend today to forgive those who have done vile things unconditionally, that is, without any repentance or contrition on the part of the evil-doer. I’m not at all sure the bible requires this of us, and it could give the quite erroneous impression that God himself doesn’t take sin and it consequences seriously and just forgives us without any need for us to do anything.

    Oddly enough, in all my years of churchgoing I’ve not heard very much preaching on the subject of forgiveness, yet this is one theme pretty well unique to Christianity.

  231. When you look at this pandering in the religious sphere certain politicians and pastors will team up and make these issues seem sooo big that you (the lay person) “have” to be on board. Peer pressure is a powerful source. LOL, they know this…
    “Aww poor pastor is sooo sorry for what he has done, you (the laity) “have” to forgive and forget; go on, leave it be.” They know how to strategize and market themselves out of any predicament – thats what they pay lawyers and church marketers for.

  232. Muff Potter wrote:

    And we’ve seen how this kind of idiocy is used to sit a three year old girl down before her molester and force her to ‘forgive him’.

    Precisely. Doing that constitutes a second abuse of the victim. As in: I abused you once and now I can do it again by forcing you to publicly forgive me (let me get away with it basically.)

    What kind of parent would not step in and say, Oh, blippin no you don’t you spawn of the enemy! Not to my kid.

  233. An Attorney wrote:

    I deal with common law marriages, in Texas, a lot. One of the issues that arises is that a common law marriage may require a legal divorce to dissolve!

    “May”? Actually, I thought that if you could show a marriage, there had to be a divorce, as there’s no such thing as “common law divorce” in Texas. I’m thinking a common law marriage would be useful to show in spousal division of property.

  234. @ dee:

    “I would so love to come to your part of the country. I love California. …. Let me think how I could get away and do a West coast thing.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Wow — you’ll entertain the idea?! I know amazing eateries in many places…

  235. @ Ryan:

    Ryan – you are sorely ignorant of reality.

    Here is a link to a true church that has engaged the “Megan’s Law” policy for registered sex offenders who demonstrate true repentance as they attend a true church – where yes, they are forgiven – yet understand the deserved consequences of their former actions.

    http://christreformedinfo.org/christ-reformed-churchs-megans/

    Here in California, the Reformed churches take Megan’s Law quite seriously.

  236. Jimmy wrote:

    @ Bridget:
    A lot of churches have a pay to play model of ministry. Elevation seems to be one of them.

    And some have a “Play to Stay” policy. Informal, of course, but known by everyone.

  237. @ Ken:

    To me, forgiveness simply means that I’m not going to respond in kind to an aggressor who does me wrong. It does not mean that I am under any kind of obligation to ‘restore’, ‘hold hands in moonlight walks’, or perform any other type of ‘reconciliation’ with the aggressor.

    Strip away the ‘Biblical’ coat of paint from the concept of forgiveness and its purely pragmatic benefit is two-fold:
    1) It keeps the rabid monkey on the aggressor’s back where it belongs.
    2) It stops the escalation of ‘pay-back’, which as we all know can rage out of control.

  238. @ Muff Potter:

    Exactly, Muff.

    You know, when you take the historical context into consideration the whole concept of forgiveness in the NT makes much more sense. Palestine was a hotbed of zealotry and hatred of the Roman occupation. Some religious leaders were playing both sides while others playing one side. It was a mess of intrigue. And it makes the Barabbas choice more understandable in that context. They would rather free a serious zealot than a toothless tiger who accepts the occupation.

    The forgiveness Jesus was teaching is in that context. He was not advocating for one Israeli to stand there and take a beating from another Israeli over and over again. At some point, you have to admit there is a deeper problem with one who is doing the beatings.

    So many want to teach that wrong doing to others is really just normal. So the onus is on the one wronged to make things go back to what they were before the wrong doing. That is so unrealistic as to be insanity. Grace is not a doormat.

  239. Faith wrote:

    “Aww poor pastor is sooo sorry for what he has done, you (the laity) “have” to forgive and forget; go on, leave it be.” They know how to strategize and market themselves out of any predicament – thats what they pay lawyers and church marketers for.

    “I don’t pay a lawyer to tell me whether what I want to do is legal or not. I PAY A LAWYER TO TELL ME HOW TO GET AWAY WITH WHAT I WANT TO DO.”
    — 19th Century Captian of Industry/Finance, most often attr to J.P.Morgan or J.D.Rockefeller

  240. refugee wrote:

    Dee, how can we find out more about this?

    What specifically do you want to know? Amy and I just spent 30 minutes discussing some new information and may do another post next week.

  241. Okrapod wrote:

    Let me say it another way. If a person of the light (or the dark) can parody the dark (or the light) so well, does that indicate that they themselves may be standing in the shade?

    Sorry, Okrapod – I never got back to you on this.

    I know what you mean… though I’d put it slightly differently. I think one can drop into a parodying role if one has an angry streak, without necessarily having any sympathy for the object of one’s satire. I suppose one could describe it as translating one dark passion into another.

  242. thank God for blogs like Wartburg Watch . . . or how much worse things might be out there where predators are praised from the pulpit

    Isn’t there anyone in authority scrutinizing some of the ‘religious’ venues that openly foster child molesters? It might be a really good idea for those who work against these monsters to keep their professional eyes glued to those places. Another thing, there’s way too much money coming into those ‘venues’ for them to be legitimate ‘churches’. Put big money next to sex predators and the ‘preachers’ that hug them ‘on stage’, and if that is not setting off red lights and warning bells to our law enforcement, I don’t know what. ‘Creepy’ doesn’t begin to describe this mess. Thank you, Dee and Deb, and all of you who work to expose this nightmare. God Bless You. You would protect the children from harm.

  243. Okrapod wrote:

    Muff Potter wrote:
    And we’ve seen how this kind of idiocy is used to sit a three year old girl down before her molester and force her to ‘forgive him’.
    Precisely. Doing that constitutes a second abuse of the victim. As in: I abused you once and now I can do it again by forcing you to publicly forgive me (let me get away with it basically.)
    What kind of parent would not step in and say, Oh, blippin no you don’t you spawn of the enemy! Not to my kid.

    That is so evil! The offender says he made a “mistake” and the church “forgives” him – the church might congratulate itself for being so “forgiving” and it might even celebrate the offender. Then the “forgiving” people point accusing fingers at the child. I can imagine them privately telling the poor child it is all her fault and she is going to hell unless she immediately “forgives” the molester, and if she can’t forget what happened to her that is sin, too (the “sin” is remembering what happened).

  244. Ryan wrote:

    Who cares? He’s not around kids at church. This is a good man you’re smearing, I pray he won’t have to check himself into a mental hospital for this stuff coming up now. Pastor Steven did the RIGHT thing by not humiliating a good man.

    Good men don’t watch little children being sexually assaulted. Period. End of discussion.

  245. Christiane wrote:

    Another thing, there’s way too much money coming into those ‘venues’ for them to be legitimate ‘churches’. Put big money next to sex predators and the ‘preachers’ that hug them ‘on stage’, and if that is not setting off red lights and warning bells to our law enforcement, I don’t know what.

    That same money can be spread around law enforcement (or their elected/appointed superiors through the magic of Campaign Contributions) to turn off any red lights and silence any warning bells. (You don’t want to go against GOD, do you?)

    Another trick is to have a lot of those law enforcement types (or their superiors, or the DA) as Members of your Mega — Pastor’s men in the Department. Still another is for Pastor to become a Police Chaplain, making him “cop” instead of “not cop” and invoking the Code of Blue.

  246. sam wrote:

    well, if it was a different church maybe, but this church has built itself around the pastor so tightly that it doesnt shine a light on Jesus. even the kids sunday school coloring books are pointing to the pastor and submitting to him as the authority of elivation church and final word on everything. Jesus is not glorified there.

    Only the Cult Leader.

  247. Okrapod wrote:

    Apology does not replace repentance. And mouthing the words ‘I forgive you’ is not a magic formula.

    Why not?
    They’ve already reduced Salvation to mouthing a magic formula (i.e. The Sinner’s Prayer).

  248. It is utterly astonishing that anyone could be so divorced from reality as to call a child molester “a good man” because he is one of the “good people,” i.e. a Christian. And before you object, men watching porn are imagining themselves into the act. These guys are molesting kids in their minds, take that to the bank.

    They are breaking the law and should be punished. You want, as a Christian, to forgive them? You can do it just fine through the gray bars. But if and when they take that last step and violate a child… well, ordinarily I don’t recommend suicide, but for those guys I’d make an exception.

    You know what? If you Fundies were more honest about the moral failings of your flock, and STFU with the holier-than-thou routine… admit that Christians are NOT morally superior to believers of other faiths, or none… Wartburg Watch wouldn’t be necessary.

  249. dee wrote:

    Beakerj wrote:
    Do they have a special colouring book that tells them what to do?
    Thank you for making me laugh! For those who are not initiated into the Elevation ways, here is a link to describe the infamous coloring book.
    http://thewartburgwatch.com/2014/02/20/the-madcap-world-0f-steven-furtick-and-elevation-church/

    And a bit of music (suggested in that thread) to go with the coloring book pics:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSaDPc1Cs5U

  250. Bridget wrote:

    Jimmy wrote:

    And to think, Jay Rabon wouldn’t let my wife and I lead an eGroup simply because we don’t systematically tithe to Elevation Church, which is one of the “core values.”

    Does this mean you essentially buy your way into a leadership role?

    The word for that is SIMONY.
    Look it up sometime.
    Named after Simon Magus in the Book of Acts, who tried to buy the Holy Spirit off the Apostles and got told “Go to Hell and take your money with you!”
    Major denunciaton of Romish Popery by the Reformers.
    Dante wrote a complete circle of Hell for it.

  251. Who cares?! Do you have children? He can spread Gods word BEHIND bars– where any sexual PREDATOR belongs. @ Ryan: