Spiritual Abuse Recovery: Blogs Are a Key Resource

36% of subjects in Orlowski's study said that it was essential to participate in blogs to assist in recovery from spiritual abuse     (p.172)

 

 


 

 

 

True confession: I love to read the acknowledgment page in books. I particularly enjoy reading about the people who assisted and supported an author in the writing of a book. In order to find subjects for her study, Barbara Orlowski contacted blogs that focused on the myriad of issues that involve spiritual abuse. On the acknowledgement page of Spiritual Abuse Recovery, she lists, and thanks, no less than 29 blogs for their assistance. 29 blogs which discuss spiritual abuse?!! Good night!
 

What is even more surprising is that none of the blogs, with which we at TWW are currently familiar, are listed. This could mean that, since Orlowski’s research was completed, the problem of spiritual abuse is either growing,  becoming more well known, or being talked about more openly.
 

Another factor that may be contributing to the growth of this phenomenon is that more people are becoming Internet savvy and are willing to brave the technology to start blogs. That is certainly the case for your technopeasant, yet always glamorous, blog tsarinas,
 

Others folks may be encouraged by the success of similar blogs and want to help folks in their particular denomination or family of churches. For example, there are a couple of blogs, which have focused on the reported abuses within Sovereign Grace Ministries. Here is a link to Sovereign Grace Survivors.

 

When the author began her study, she asked the following research question. How have Christians recovered after experiencing perceived spiritual abuse in a local congregation?
 

She hypothesized several scenarios:(p.7)

  • Said abused individuals need confidants such as friend, relatives and leaders from other churches to help them process their negative experience.
  • They needed time to tell their story.
  • They may use the Internet to connect with people via websites or blog interactions to receive immediate support and feedback.
  • They may find books that deal with spiritual abuse

 

The author mentions a book called Missio Dei- In the Crisis of Christianity- by Fred Peatross. Here is a link to it on Amazon.

 

The purpose of this book is to explore how to develop an authentically missional church. What is a missonal church? According to Brad Brisco, writing for the Missonal Chruch Network, link, “A missional church is a unified body of believers, intent on being God’s missionary presence to the indigenous community that surrounds them, recognizing that God is already at work."

Orlowski quotes a review of this book which contends that Peatross believes that blogging is contributing to the changes happening in today’s church movements. “If you think you can go to a bookstore and check out the most recent book and find out what’s going on, you’ll miss 90 percent of the conversation, which is largely grassroots, democratic, electronic and interpersonal conversation.” (p.16)
 

Let’s take a real life experience. Doug Pittman (you can read his story by clicking on the his name in our categories) observed pornography on a pastor’s computer in his role as the designated “computer geek” for his church. The situation is allegedly covered up and Doug and his friends are made persona non grata for revealing this problem. After a series of increasingly bad experiences, Doug turns to the Internet and starts a blog. Said blog attracts the attention of others who have gone through similar experiences. Discussions ensue. TWW, always researching, is made aware of the situation. We write on this terrible situation and more people, now through our blog, are made aware of the problem. Some begin to share their painful experiences. Through this, we become aware of Tom Rich’s blog about FBC Jacksonville, link, and write his story. We share links to each others blogs and begin to develop supportive friendships and networks. More and more people begin to find these blogs and share their stories. A far flung, sympathetic community of “What, you too? I thought I was the only one!” is born.
 

I know that both of us have benefited from the warm fellowship of the interconnectedness of the Christian blogging community. Some of us have met personally, talked on phones, certainly commiserated via emails and have found great satisfaction in the body of Christ expressed in a new manner. We are blessed by these new friendships.

 

Orlowski, who has been observing these blogs over time, made the following observations. (p.17) She says that there are “significant parallel patterns about people’s unfortunate experiences of church life.” She lists major issues that bring Internet readers to the same point of cynicism.
 

  • Hierarchical leadership styles-power and control
  • Hypocrisy
  • Kingdom building among leaders (rather than pastoral care)
  • Inability of church leadership to deal with criticism
  • Heavy-handed ways of dealing with members who oppose or question the direction of the leadership
  • Individuals who feel they have no voice in the congregation, especially regarding injustice

 

Such issues lead to the following problems for the hurting individual (we have added a few of our own)

  • Depression
  • Frustration
  • Helplessness
  • Isolation
  • Anger
  • Distrust

 

Many times the harmed individual  feels that others do not believe his/her story. Not only has the individual endured a wrong, but he/she is now accused by others of being a liar. Sometimes, this one grates the worst. It calls into question one's very integrity within the Christian life.
 

According to the author, blogging has become a significant bridge to the road to recovery. One issue that is instantly resolved is isolation. A belief in the individual’s story is the second relief offered. I still remember meeting with Doug Pittman and his friends at a Cracker Barrel in Georgia. For them, this was now no longer an isolated pain. Someone in another state was concerned. When we posted on this matter, we were stunned by the response. Suddenly, there were people all over the country who were angry at how these folks were treated. Suddenly, Douglasville, Georgia, was now everyone's community. These folks also had stories of their own to share. God was calling the fellowship of believers together to believe, uphold, and love.
 

Although Orlowski’s book focuses on recovery, TWW has observed another value to blogging. Until blogging, abusive pastors and abusive situations could be deep sixed by a code of secrecy that is endemic in many such negative situations. In the past, pastors have the only efficient means of communication via the pulpit, church meetings and church newsletters. The offended person is often frozen out of the fellowship and his/her stories are not only not heard, but are actively silenced, by the co-dependent church leadership.
 

For example, I know of one situation in which a group of members asked to speak about an issue involving sexual abuse to the deacons in that church. The deacons invited the individuals but, at the last minute, the pastors stepped in and prevented the matter from being discussed. In the past, that would have been the end of the matter. However, a blog made this situation public and the pastors have been forced, reluctantly, to deal with the matter.
 

Blogging offers an instantaneous method for the “little guy” to share his ideas along with his pain and concern. In some respects, the priesthood of the believer is coming into its own via this medium.
 

Blogging has been a shock to pastors who have been used to controlling information flow. Some of their reactions to blogging have been counterproductive and have backfired on the leadership.  In Doug Pittman’s situation, the Georgia Baptist Convention, at the behest of his embattled pastor, passed an antiblogging resolution. Here is a link.  However, this action only served to draw attention to the underlying situation, causing blogs such as ours, FBC Jax Watchdog, Wade Burleson and others to feature this action, causing even more people, across the country, even globally, to become aware of the problem. The GBC inadvertently went international on this one and it wasn't well received by the masses.
 

Mac Brunson, lead pastor of FBC Jacksonville, reportedly used state and local authorities, to “out” an anonymous blogger, Tom Rich, who had been critical of Brunson’s excessive lifestyle. Brunson then had Rich and his family excommunicated from "his” church and issued trespassing papers against the family. Tom has sued the church along with state and local authorities for illegally obtaining his name. This has become a nationally watched court case (Tom has won his suit against the state and local authorities and, in our opinion, will most likely win against the church and the pastor). This ill-advised reaction on the part of the church (Just who is advising this well-endowed church so poorly, btw?) highlighted the issues of FBC Jacksonville in glaring and embarrassing detail in local, state and national news. You can read about it here. Tom’s blog, link,  has grown in numbers and national prominence. (Way to go, Dog)!
 

One thing is certain. Blogs are here to stay and pastors will need to learn how to effectively deal with the fact that their daily activities are now open to public scrutiny. TWW believes that blogging is a gift from God to challenge the secret, hypocritical and closed society of church leadership by allowing free and open discourse to occur between the priesthood of the believers. And perhaps such fellowship will help to heal the broken hearts and the wounds of those rejected and mistreated by narcissistic pastors who care far too much about fame, money and power than caring, as Jesus, for the least amongst us.
 

I leave you with this comment I found on a blog that deals with abuse. Always remember, there are real brothers and sisters who have been deeply wounded by the church. Please join me in praying for one of those who was rejected and forgotten. May she find hope in the Lover of her soul.
 

“It has been 4 years since we left the church and community we had poured ourselves into. 7 years since the pain started. And I have found myself with no trust, no church family, no real friends and unhealed. It has hurt my marriage and family and i wonder if I will ever heal or recover. It seems the longer it has been the less hope I have that there is another chapter or a reason for the pain. No hope”

 

Lydia's Corner: Numbers 8:1-9:23 Mark 13:14-37 Psalm 50:1-23 Proverbs 10:29-30

 

Comments

Spiritual Abuse Recovery: Blogs Are a Key Resource — 33 Comments

  1. Of course, those who have been mistreated aren’t the only ones communicating in the blogosphere. Techno-savvy Christian leaders are blogging and tweeting more than most. For example, Al Mohler loves Twitter. Here’s a tweet he posted just minutes ago:

    “There is nothing like the soaring grace of Gothic space. The Duke Chapel.”

    He also included a photo of the chapel which can be accessed at this link:

    http://plixi.com/p/74568999

    FYI – this is where my husband and I were married and where I would often attend church when I was in college. Let me tell you, that’s a VERY LONG aisle to walk down when it’s your wedding day!

    Why is Mohler in Durham you may wonder… Because he was the chapel speaker at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in nearby Wake Forest this morning (Feb 3). Here’s the link to the chapel schedule at SEBTS.

    http://www.sebts.edu/news-resources/chapel/default.aspx

    The internet is such a FANTASTIC research tool!

  2. I was moved by the comment you included at the end of your post above. I’ll add myself to the list of people ruined by church experiences. I can identify with everything the commenter is saying, down to the marital tatters and the effect it has all had on our kids, & the bad feeling in our home. Probably like the writer of this comment, things have eroded so much that I have come to feel almost 100% indifferent to God — I feel nothing. I can’t deny that I know he exists, from previous things that made it clear to me — but it has become like my belief in gravity. Yes, it’s real and true, but beyond the fact that what goes up will come down, so what?

    HOWEVER, a friend and my parents have been diligent to ask and keep asking God to lead my husband & me to a church that would work for both of us (& for our kids), one I could tolerate if not even begin to enjoy and benefit from. I didn’t think it was possible. But it did happen. Took us completely by surprise.

    (I’ll add the caveat that I think the institution of church, as it has come to be, is not so much based on truth as it is on tradition, and blindly at that — including the new church we now attend. However, a church that does things in an honest, healthy way with integrity [albeit with unnecessary goofiness] can be a life-giving thing & a vehical for God — including the church we now attend. So I’ll keep going.)

    As we’ve been going to this new church (about 6 months now), I know I’ve looked very pained, either completely resistant or with tears running down my cheeks, one or the other — i’ve seen the wondering in the faces of the people there, but also the concern. My husband mentioned a little of our past experience to the pastor, so I know there is some understanding (don’t know how far this information has spread — i’m not sure yet to what degree this church is “in everyone’s pockets” [from past experience, I hope not at all]). But, nevertheless, I’ve had a sense that “person” or “people” there have been asking God for his help for me / our family.

    And just a few days ago, this “thing” — this feeling of having been “bulldozed & ground up for God for nothing” (nothing to reap, no reward, no fruit) & the anger over the injustice of it — ……. this “thing” just broke. Like a fever breaking.

    Completely yes, reading about many other people’s similar experiences has helped tremendously. Bringing these things into the light of day is having a cleansing, healing effect. Thank you, TWW, for the time and conscientious effort you put into this. It is of enormous value.

    And even though my experience of God is still as dry as physics, he is apparently still there and, it turns out, very personal. I do give him credit for this very positive breakthrough i’ve just had.

    I hope for a similar and equally good breakthrough for the writer of the comment in your post.

  3. The quote at the end of the post: I will be praying (Been in that place myself.)

    And yeah, accusations of exaggerating or outright lying are very hard to bear. (Especially when people “in authority” do a quick-change job on their stories, claiming they never said/did X, Y or Z, when they said/did all of them…)

    Back in late 2005, when i 1st started looking online for resources re. people who had been hurt by churches, there was very little available. But it’s a whole different world now.

    Thank you for keeping this blog open and running, and for your kindness and commitment. It all means a lot!

  4. Elastigirl and numo,

    Your comments are extremely encouraging to us, and we are so thankful that our website is beneficial in your recovery from spiritual abuse. Rest assured that Dee and I are praying tor you as you heal from the hurts you have experienced.

  5. Thanks so much – as for the feedback, I’m more than glad to encourage you! (We all need it, after all.)

    I wish you’d been blogging about spiritual abuse back in the early 00s, but hey – you’re here now, and that’s a wonderful thing! 😀

  6. As an aside (sorta), what happened to me started in late 2002. I’m still “processing” things, as it were, though I feel like I’m mostly past the “looking for the light at the end of the tunnel” stage. (Lots of other real-life things have been happening since 2005, so the whole recovery deal has been on the back burner at times.)

    To tie this to current events: it’s useless to try and squelch dissenting voices, isn’t it? Because that rebounds on the squelchers/censors/dictators/et. al. – big time. (I have some friends from Egypt, so I’ve been kinda glued to coverage of events there and am praying for a peaceful transition to a democratically-elected government there, and for hope and peace for all…)

  7. Elastigirl

    I have been thinking about your post all day and praying for you.I am so sorry for the pain that you have experienced at the hands of an uncaring church. All of us go to church, excited to learn about God and assuming that we will have warm, caring fellowship and are shocked that the Christian life is not better lived out amongst the brethren. And then people get knocked around because they don’t see things exactly like a pastor and the leadership who seem more intent on living out some manmade vision-bigger church, bigger money, cooler doctrine, whatever. And then they step on those who try to question or figure it out.

    Our friend, Doug Pittman, has it right. We must follow Christ, not man no matter how much “the man” tries to convince that he is speaking for God. I still haven’t gotten over my shock at pastors who are cold, calculating and narcissistic.

    Please know that you are loved and we are glad that you take time out of your pain to share with us. Your pain hurts all of the body. I am sorry your last church didn’t know it.

  8. Numo

    Let me tell you a story. We know some people really well who caught a pastor telling the truth, which was damaging, on a recorder. Said recording was legal in NC. He had been denying said truth to one and all until that moment. Guess what? When presented with the truth, the sycophants, pretending to be impartial investigators, said “no comment.” Refused to discuss it. End of story, period. I still cannot believe that people have ears can refuse to hear even when it is played on max audio.

    In fact, what is even weirder, the confessor said he was soooooooo upset that he was recorded. How dare they! Isn’t it against the law-(nope). There is an old saying that some attribute to Ben Franklin which says “Always tell the truth so you don’t have to try to remember what you said.”

    So,some pastors are known to lie, to change the story and still get a pass, even when recorded. However, that recording exists for time and eternity and God has heard it. Somehow, I don’t think “no comment” will cut it with God.These folks will play it for anyone who wants to hear it.

    Back in the early 2000s, I was still a Pollyanna and would have thought you caused your own problem. God had to slap me upside the head and have me experience it for myself. Pain is a dreadful, yet honest and life-changing, teacher.

    So, now you not only have a sympathetic ear, you have one who has been there and is now refuses to shut up, much to the dismay of many. I actually feel for you in my gut just like i feel for parents whose kids are diagnosed with cancer like my daughter. Been there, felt that and still , on occasion, get mad but also, on occasion, can laugh at the antics of men who think they are really “in charge.”

    We aren’t going anywhere as long as there is someone out there who wants to read the rants of a couple of middle aged, albeit very glamorous, women.

  9. We aren’t going anywhere as long as there is someone out there who wants to read the rants of a couple of middle aged, albeit very glamorous, women.

    Ah! I think I’m in that category, too… 😉

    btw, I was booted from a church for supposedly lying about something that I didn’t even do. People were told not to communicate with me, but then the “pastors” put some spin on that and claimed that they just wanted me to “chill out.” They also backpedaled about the “don’t talk” part, and got VERY angry when I said that I had been kicked out *and* that they were practicing a form of shunning.

    I know the latter was real; there were people who deliberately looked down at the ground or away when I tried to say “hi” to them. (At a Christmas service, no less!)

    Of course, I was also de-ministried. And yet… this church wanted to do an official “sending out.”

    There’s more, but I’ll save it for another time.

  10. Oh, and… several people told me that they were told (in a music ministry meeting) not to communicate with me. Period.

    Meanwhile, the “pastor” seemed to have an uncanny awareness of who was talking to me.

    It was creepy as h*ll, and a lot like being there. I lost almost all of my friends, and it was a terribly lonely time… still is, in some ways, but things have been getting much, much better as time goes on.

    (I say that with fear and trembling to some degree, as I have some friends in SGM churches who probably think I’ve gone around the bend completely.)

  11. Anyone who want to chat, needs help, or is concerned about issues within their church concerning issues such as ” Spiritual Abuse ” and the like…………….. please feel free to contact me anytime.

    I do know what I am talking about.

    doug@dougpittman.com

    I feel your pain and YOU can come back – my story is still evolving.

    Following Christ, Not Man
    Doug Pittman

  12. Thank you, Dee. You are very kind. I appreciate your prayers so very much. Amazing to think that 2 rather anonymous people can form a faith triangle with God to bring about positive life change.

  13. Elastigirl, I am so happy for you for what you shared in your first post. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  14. Stunned

    I have been thinking about what you shared about your son and your dreams all week. It has to be on of the more poignant and heart-wrenching testimonies ever. I am praying that God will one day help him to see that you were a victim of wolves in sheeps’ clothing and you thought you were doing the best thing for him. The intent was to do right and I hope he one day understands it.

    I just read a story about Katy Perry- that somewhat obnoxious yet talented performer and songwriter. She wrote the song “I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It” as a way to get revenge on her evangelical Christian mother who would not allow her to ever say any bad word in their home. This included changing devil eggs to angel eggs, you get the picture. Maybe one day she will have the grace to understand her mother was trying to do good even if she was misguided by her Christian leaders.

    Someday, when you can, you need to write. You have a way with words that make the event come alive to a reader.

  15. Numo

    Did you see the episode about shunning from the Office? I have posted it several times on the site but here is a link. It makes a wonderful point of the silliness of such a thing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMlGpDfyxEA

    Jesus never shunned people-He talked with a Samaritan woman, He ate with undesirables, He was kind to tax collectors.

    Shunning is a power tactic NOT to help the person being shunned but to protect the pastor and the church. If the person leaving has something negative to say about the church in the community, the pastor can use the old “they are under discipline” codswallop. This also serves as a warning to those staying behind that, if they get uppity, they too will be piled high in cow dung.

    What surprises me is that so many people put up with this. Way too many people think that being a christian means being “nice” instead of living radically. So, they scamper off, nice and protected and dying slowly without realizing it.

    However, you and I have been set free from this nonsense. For me, it involves writing a blog and finding out how many of us are skulking around out there. This also serves as a warning that there are those of us who will not take the status quo anymore.

    So, Numo, you know you will never be “shunned” by us.

  16. Dee – Ha! I grew up in (and now live in) an area where some Amish practice shunning. Apparently the degree of severity depends on the individual church. (They meet in their house, btw.) I think maybe some of the really old-school Mennonites might do it, too, but I suspect only rarely. (I’m just guessing; I’m PA Dutch but Lutheran, so am therefore one of “the English” and not party to any inside information, let along anything beyond superficial contact with local Amish.)

    I really, really appreciate what you’re saying. In my case, I was in an East Coast urban area – though in some ways, it’s a weirdly small city/suburbs-type place – and the “pastor” of the church that booted me is fairly well-known in certain circles. I felt that he would interfere in my attempt to attend or join another church, though I was trying to find some counseling specifically geared to the situation I was experiencing when… a whole bunch of things happened and – for better or worse – I ended up moving away from there. (Which might, in both the long and short run, be a good thing. :))

    I think the physical distance + the fact that there’s no church like the one that booted me in this neck of the woods has helped lots in my being able to gain some perspective, though I still don’t attend church… which is another story altogether!

    The “accused of lying about something I didn’t do” part of my story is very, very bad: I am on SSA disability and somehow the “leadership” of that church decided that my claim was phony. (Another long story; my disability is not a visible one, so…)

    Gah! Just talking about this makes me want to holler.

  17. Though I’ll add that I heard an “elder” (at my former church) breathe a sigh of relief that they didn’t have to put an elevator in for disabled people.

    The church is old and the sanctuary is on the second floor. There’s literally no way anyone using a walker or wheelchair could get up there unless someone carried them; ditto for people who just have a tough time climbing stairs for whatever reason.

    They think that piping the sermon into the church “basement” (ground floor) is sufficient for the handicapped.

  18. Numo

    One of my dearest friends has a daughter confined to a wheelchair. i have learned much from her about the plight of those less abled in walking. When we dismiss someone who is differently abled, we cut off a part of the body that God intended to be there.The whole body suffers.

    My pastor says that the true evidence of faith in the ability to empathize. It sounds as if there was quite a bit of that lacking in your former church. Hmmm-I wonder about their faith….

    Recently, I had foot surgery and i had a hard time walking until recently. I got a handicapped placard to use for three months. I remember feeling guilty using it, wondering if people believed me. It must be hard not to be believed. I wasn’t believed by some folks regarding a situation at my church. But, I do talk louder than they do so they had to hear it anyway. 🙂

    As I nurse, I know lots of people who had disabilities that can’t be seen. How quick we are to judge one another. My guess is that they may be guilty of pretending they don’t have a disability. Sounds like they couldn’t love and I bet they pretended that they are a loving church. So, which one is really disabled?

    Please feel free to holler good and loud-How do you do that on blogs? All caps? Let me try for you. GOL DARN THAT STUPID CHURCH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Well, you hit the nail on the head re. lack of empathy/ability to empathize, at least as far as the “leaders” of that church are concerned!

    I was absolutely stunned when I heard the offhand comment about not being required to put in an elevator. One kind of crummy ramp and you’re off the hook??!! (Apologies; I get kinda steamed about this sort of thing because I have had to use a cane at times and have, like you, had a period of time where I qualified for a handicapped placard, so… I don’t know what people in wheelchairs and scooters feel like – or even those with walkers – but I sure did see how people on the sidewalk, in stores, etc. were pretty much oblivious to someone gimping along with a cane. Changes one’s perspective completely!)

    The elevator-that-wasn’t was – of course – about money.

    As for lack of empathy, I saw it the day I was booted, in the sarcastic remarks made by one of the so-called “elders” (who has long since left for other places). I mean, the remarks were very cutting. And I saw it again when the so-called “pastor” flat-out refused to look at some articles I gave him about my particular health problems. He literally said, “I don’t have time for this.”

    Don’t.have.time

    When did Jesus ever say that to someone?

    I really don’t want to paint the whole crew at this place as unfeeling or unkind – it’s not that way at all. But… their “leaders” have had a serious problem (for decades now) with a harshness of speech and tone that they believe is “prophetic.” (Third Wave/”strategic level spiritual warfare”/etc. here we come!)
    They were preaching extremely harsh and – imo – utterly untrue things before my time ended there.

    The worst – guaranteed to send people into paroxysms of guilt, shame, etc. – was a sermon on sexual sin in which it was stated that sexual sin was “a holocaust that could not be put out.”

    As if there was no forgiveness.

    And… I’m not talking about the possible consequences of, say, adultery – the broken trust and all that. Nope; that’s not what they said in this sermon.

    They said that sexual sin was a fire that could never be put out; that it would consume the lives of the one who sinned as well as the lives of those he/she was close to. (With a strong hint that “generational sin” was the upshot.)

    You know, the “pastor” of that church literally spoke what he believed to be a “curse” directed at me at the end of a counseling session. It happened shortly after a prolonged period of time where I had needed to use a cane.

    He told me that if I wasn’t careful, all of the curses pronounced on Israel would overtake me. (Those passages are in Deuteronomy, I think…) And that I would probably die before my time for … basically, for claiming that I had some physical problems that weren’t visible (I think he meant that I was lying).

    At the time, I basically thought “What the h*ll?!!!” I really could NOT believe that he was trying to intimidate me in that manner. (And I don’t believe in curses, nor do I believe that Jesus would “curse” anyone in that fashion.)

    Let me tell you, these people appear to be good, upstanding, intelligent, highly educated, compassionate, friendly (etc. etc. etc.) folks. And I think some of them are, which is one of the sad parts – they’re decent folks, but misled.

    The “pastor”: well, I do believe he’s someone who has serious problems, but is able to get by on charm. He’s extremely articulate and knows how to flatter, among other things.

    At one service (Easter, ironically), I saw him refuse to talk to a former member who had married someone he disapproved of. (A former colleague, in fact.)

    I found that he started avoiding after-church convos with me… because I would ask him offhand questions about finer points of what he’d just preached, or else say something shocking – as in “Why isn’t the Nicene Creed part of our church doctrinal precis?” (He was ordained by the Church of England, so it seems to me that this wasn’t something that would ruffle any feathers, but apparently it did.)

    And to top it all off… I had been told to be silent in church (no spontaneous Scripture readings or other verbal whatevers typical of charismatic churches) some years before I got booted – because I supposedly wasn’t living right; wasn’t exhibiting the fruit of the spirit.

    I lived weighed down with guilt and shame for many, many years. But at this point in my life, I think I’d just blow off someone who was so verbally dazzling but basically unkind.

    Which is no small miracle.

    (There, you’ve got a lot of my story… apologies – sorta – for spilling it here, but somehow I don’t think you’ll mind. ;))

  20. When we dismiss someone who is differently abled, we cut off a part of the body that God intended to be there.The whole body suffers.
    Absolutely!!!

  21. What’s all this fuss I keep hearing about Spirit-filled cabooses? What does that even mean? Is it a train with a church at the back? Or someone with a godly behind? Makes no sense to me. But I don’t know why everybody’s so against it, this country could use more traveling evangelists and more Christian butts.

    What? Spiritual abuse??

    Nevermind…

  22. Emily

    Sorry for sounding like I fell off the turnip truck but what is a spirit filled caboose? I have not heard that terminology before.

  23. Dee, I appreciate your kindness. Thank you.

    Numo, I am glad you shared more of your story. I have enough internal problems. I couldn’t imagine trying to manage life with a cane or other challenges. I can’t stand it when people decide that they know what a person’s “real” problem is.

  24. @ “Emily Litella”: LOLZ!!!11!!

    @ Dee… remember Gilda Radner’s characters on Saturday Night Live?

    @ Stunned: Canes aren’t that hard to use, really. It’s the problem(s) that bring about the need for one that can be nasty (and make for slowness in walking). and This fall I had to use my old cane for about 10 days, as I took a spill. (Toe of my shoe got caught in the edge of a rug and i came down hard on 1 knee.)

    So… I feel differently about handicapped entrances and handicapped access now. Most places do the bare minimum to comply with the law; that church has a ton of company in that respect.

    Now a lot of the original members are starting to get up there – want to bet that they budget for an elevator over the next couple of years? Sheesh!

  25. Emily (Gilda) and Numo

    I totally forgot Gild’s character. Thank you for reminding me of “Violins” on TV. Feeing dumb right now.

    Oh goodness, now i get it all-spiritual caboose-too funny.

  26. @ Dee: hey, I forget stuff too, now that I’m middle-aged (but still gorgeous. ;))

    One of my fave Gilda as Emily bit was about “eagle (equal) rights.” But the violins on television is THE best – especially when she mentions Leonard Bernstein’s Young Peoples’ Concerts and babies. 🙂

  27. Karlton,

    Thanks for sharing this extremely insightful article. I am well aware of Bill Gothard and his dangerous teachings. Perhaps I will write on this soon.

  28. During my years (well, decades) in charismatic circles, I heard a lot of things that I can now connect to Bill Gothard, yet I also heard people stating pretty emphatically that he was wrong, even crazy.

    Funny how that whole “hedge of protection” deal seems to have crept into so many peoples’ thinking and praying, though – and I’m talking about the early 1980s onward.

    I think that Gothard’s setup *is* a cult, but that’s just me.