Sunday, May 6, 2012

Dare to Leave: One Family's Tragic Account

A couple of the earliest posts on this blog discussed how difficult it is to leave the church well.  Meaning, it is nearly impossible to leave the church and remain in the local area without repercussions (church discipline, shunning, etc).    Here are the links to those early posts:  Leaving a Church and How Dare You Leave Our Church!
What is this insanity?  You go to go to a church, decide to leave only to discover later that your former pastor has held you emotionally and spiritually captive by threats, shunning, excommunication, and/or  church discipline?   And you can come back in good graces only if you come back to the church, tail between your legs (okay, that was an exaggeration) recanting and repenting of your ways?   Really???? 
Below is a heart-wrenching personal account of a family who tried to leave the church and move on with their lives.   (This account was left in the comment section by Anonymous and I took the liberty to break it up here for easier reading.) 
If you take blood pressure meds and have not taken your daily dose, please take your meds now.  Reading this could cause medical problems. 

Reading through all the comments on various blogs one thing has jumped out at me.  I know some people were told to leave for various and often almost unbelievable reasons and then told they were under church discipline and or shunned.

But I left on my own volition after many months of prayer.  I was terrified and had no one to ask counsel of if I was doing the right thing.   I was concerned about certain things that were going on, especially scared for my children.   But I had been attending BGBC for several years so I had already succumbed to the order to eliminate non-members from my life.  I was so afraid to make the decision to leave.   But I was not under church discipline.
MONTHS after I left, chuck discovered that several members were still friends with me.  At that point he called a church meeting (I was of course not invited) at which time he informed the church body that I was not saved and a danger to anyone talking to me because I had subversive ideas (leaving the church).  I was a member at another church at this time and heavily involved in sunday school classes, three separate bible studies, and teaching three year olds.

He informed the members that I was in open rebellion against him and God and that I was trying to get other members to leave.  At this point I was so terrified of chuck that I had never said anything to anyone else about leaving.  However, he forbade anyone from having any contact with me at all.   He actually told them I was a danger because I was an unrepentant goat!

Fortunately, a few brave saints kept contact with me because they admitted they could see fruit in my life and were confused as to what my unrepentant sin was.  So was I!

No one had ever contacted me to confront me regarding this "sin".  One member actually asked if I was excommunicated or officially under church discipline.  Since I wasn't, chuck said no, but the threat I posed was real and they needed to follow his counsel.   Praise God that a few people chose not to!

One actually told chuck that they were leaving our relationship in God's hands unless chuck could actually specify my sin.

So I guess my point is my shunning didn't result from an open confrontation with chuck or some sin I refused to repent of, my shunning was a direct result of leaving the church.

There have been a few people who have likewise commented that they are unaware of what their sin was. I can tell you, you didn't give chuck the inappropriate authority over your life that he demands. I still grieve for the friends I lost for no reason other than chuck's ego.  And for the ensuing years that I have spent triple guessing everything from books, to "truths" I learned under chuck that I have had to unlearn.

Ok, folks - how much of the above sounds like a normal, healthy, church?  Why has this madness been allowed to continue for over a decade?  How many more families and children will have to endure this kind of treatment?  Who will stand up against this insanity? 


  1. Thank you, anonymous, for sharing your heart wrenching story. May God heal your broken heart completely in the sufficiency of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    My prayer is that many more people will be emboldened to share their stories of abuse at the hands of Chuck O'Neal. This will bring the darkness into the light and will greatly diminish the power he holds over people. Lest you think this is bitter and ungodly, think of how Jesus continually exposed the Pharisees. This helps people see there is a PATTERN of abuse and perhaps will be used of God to free more captives.

    We are working on our story now and should have it done soon.

    1. That is right. I think I'm going to do a post on this topic. It is not gossip to talk about the truth.

      The sad part of this particular story is that it is only part of this family's story. This family suffered more than was written here, but most likely for the sake of anonymity it was not mentioned. (Someone else sent me a note late last night saying that this story was minimized from what they remembered - more confirmation of the ugly truth that occurred at BGBC.) I am thankful for what this person sent, though, because it gives a clear picture of ongoing anti-Biblical practices from a pastor who is using his "imagined" authority completely inappropriately.

  2. I wonder how many of us are on the "Mark and Avoid" list? My hunch is that "the list" is longer than the people still attending.

    1. Well, no doubt. More people left over the years than remain. That's got to be one long, honkin' list. I'll bet some people have no clue who they are marking and avoiding.

      How are they marking them, anyway? Are they all walking around with Sharpies in their hands ready to "mark" someone? Ridiculous!!!

  3. I had my own "mark and avoid" list while attending BGBC. I "marked" (or noted) those who gossiped to the pastor/elders, with whom it was not safe to share any information. Actually it was somewhat humorous once I figured them out to watch these individuals try to seek me out and dig for information. Funny but sad. In a healthy church these activities are not tolerated.

  4. You should check out for a really gut-wrenching cult experience in WI.

    Thank you for your courage in speaking out. These cults are a black mark on Christianity and a black mark in many peoples lives.

  5. I don't understand why you have not filed a suit of your own against this jackass Chuck. It looks like you have grounds for one.

  6. I would just make new friends at a new church and move on... I can't imagine allowing a two-legged creature to have that much power over me.

  7. I've never heard of something so awful in my life. Does Chuck not understand the whole concept of Matthew 7:1 "Do not judge or you to will be judged?" What authority does he have to hold an entire congregation emotionally hostage? It's definitely a sign of a cult for this congregation to be forbidden to associate with those outside of their church’s beliefs and practices. Anyone who has left this church is wise, it sounds like.

  8. These stories sound like they are about a guy named Jones!

  9. This is not an experience of only one church. As a child and teenager, my family attended a similar church in Oregon with similar pastor. Out of guilt as an adult, I tried several times to revisit the church with my mother. I remember one Sunday I looked at my mother and said "Look around, where are all the children that I grew up with?" My point being that they were all gone. I could only find two families that I had grown up with, in one of the largest churches in the area. I could write a story or blog that would show the exact same experiences, and some even worse, and have many times thought of writing a entire book about my experience. A most memorable example: I was 16. The pastor who did not approve of a friend who I was bringing to church with me, stood over us with his wireless microphone, and told us we were sinning and needed to repent. It was a large church in the community and many of the children went to my high school. Try having friends at school after that, and all the gossip it had created. What do you think happened with my friends experience with church, and the path that her life would then later take? As an adult, and after trying several other churches, I stopped trying to go to church because I find that the main message of Jesus has been forgotten: unconditional love. "For the greatest of these is this, that you love one another as I have loved you." A couple of books had helped me heal: If Grace is True, and If God is Love. I still long for fellowship and a sense of community that church can create, but I can't bring myself to subject my own children to the things that I endured as a child. So if you do find a new church ask yourself this question: "Where are all the children?" I'm not talking about the little children that come with families I am talking about children from generations past.


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