Saturday, May 12, 2012

In Honor of Hannah

Today, I'd like to honor someone very special to me - my eldest daughter, Hannah.

When Hannah told me she was leaving home so abruptly that very sad day, she told me that she couldn't set one more foot in that church.  It was killing her.  She knew that if she remained at home, we would have made her go to church with us because that is what we do as a family and that's what was expected in this type of environment.  She knew that.  She didn't want to cause an uproar in the home, she just wanted to be free from having to go to that particular church. 

We wrongly assumed it was because of a bad influence in her life and all of the focus shifted to her bad behavior, who she was associating with, her disobedience to her parents, to her God. 

Her mind was made up.  She knew we wouldn't change our minds.  She had her plans already set.  She would move out with someone she met on Craigslist - a stranger - a single LDS woman.  She would be living 45 minutes away from home.  She had no job in that area.  She had no driver's license, no vehicle.  There was much to sacrifice, many unknowns and uncertainties.

Because we were convinced this was an act of disobedience (keep in mind that Hannah was 21 yrs old - not 17 yrs), she had every right to move out, but once again, we didn't see it that way while we were at the church.   My husband told me to not help her move out in any way.  We did not contribute boxes, help her pack, move her boxes to the truck that she had arranged to come help her move.  Her new roommate's boyfriend and roommate helped her load the truck - pure strangers.  We had a truck.  We could have helped her.  We had boxes.  This is painful to type.  There's more mama guilt going on with each letter I type - and of course the trickle of tears have started again - ugh.

She was not to take her bed, her bedding, and if I remember correctly, even her pillow.  We told her that if she left anything in the house, it would be thrown out.  Ouch! 

This was our precious daughter.  She was leaving because she could not take the emotional and spiritual abuse she was experiencing at the church.  By telling us she couldn't take it anymore, she was crying out for help saying, "THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG THERE" and we missed the clues.  She left about 4-1/2 years ago and the pain of seeing what happened in hindsight is so deep. 

My daughter willingly gave up many things to protect her sanity and leave the place that was emotionally killing her.  She gave up her precious relationship with her only sister, her sweet brothers.  She gave up wonderful home-cooked meals that she loved, the security, the warmth from family.

What we all lost was beautiful music at the piano, playing the recorder, fun in the kitchen doing dishes with her brother while jamming and playing my "kitchen dance music" playlist.    My daughter and I were robbed of precious time from each other.  I no longer had the ability to touch her, hug her, be a part of her daily life, be influential to her, say the special things moms say to their children.  I was robbed of our special knitting times at coffee shops.   I was robbed of relationship with my daughter.   

Her little brother, just a toddler, would never know what it is like to grow up with his older sister.  He probably has no memory of life with her in his home.   

When she left her family, she also left most of the friends she grew up with.  Only a select few remained in contact with her over these past 5 yrs.  That's quite a sacrifice.

The first months were very hard.  I determined to remain in contact.  We had rules - she was not allowed to be alone with siblings.  She could come to the house, but none of her siblings could go to her house because we had no way of knowing what she was involved with at that time.  My husband was very distraught.  We were convinced that she was in deep rebellion and sin.  He didn't call her for 6 months.   That was nearly unbearable to me.  

I cried every single day.  E.v.e.r.y  s.i.n.g.l.e. day.  It was like a death to me.  I never knew a mom could have so many tears.  My precious daughter was gone from my home, my life as I knew it.  All the dreams I had for her were shattered.

Her life changed.  She no longer had any desire for church and relationship with  God.  She got into other relationships.  She didn't go to church.  And I can't say that I blame her.

But this young lady remained focused.  She had dreams and goals.  Her roommate situation changed over time.  She got her driver's license and bought a car.  The car was paid off as quickly as possible.  She worked full-time and took college classes at night.  

Today marks a special day - her graduation from college.  She did it completely on her own. 

Now, looking back, I understand why she left.  She was the first person I know to clearly articulate:  there is something wrong at that church.   She needed to move on.  She needed to be free from that control.  Having that freedom enabled her to reach her personal goals. 

Hannah is brave.  She is sensitive.  She has great insight.  She is driven, independent, and extremely focused.  At work, she sees the full picture and finds ways of improving procedures so many are benefited from it.  She is a team player and selective with those she calls friends.  In doing so, her relationships are deep and meaningful.  She is very talented, a great cook, musician, and can do pretty much anything that she sets her mind to doing.  She is also very forgiving of what we as parents put her through.  She adores her family, respects her parents.   She treasures close relationships with her family.  I am so proud to call her my daughter. 

Hannah, on this graduation day, your mama will be a big mess of tears sitting amongst the spectators.  What you accomplished speaks volumes of your character.  Your grace and forgiving spirit to us as parents has been remarkable.  Many would have written their parents off, but you loved us through the process and allowed us to finally "get it".  You showed us unconditional love.  

I always have taught my children to "trust their gut" and even though your whole family was not getting that message, you followed through with that very powerful advice.  When you left, it caused me to re-question everything.  Your bravery was the first domino to fall amongst the winding path of dominoes.    It set the path in motion for many questions, lots of dialogue, and encouraged me to trust my gut. 

You have handled this lawsuit especially well.  From one simple review of sharing your experience on Google, you have been placed beside me and three others to defend something we never dreamed of doing  - defend our First Amendment rights and to stand for the truth.  

This sequence of events may have far-reaching effects.  It shows the value of standing for what is true - for speaking out when we know people are in harm's way.   Many will say to just leave it be and move along, but you have chosen the narrow path of standing up for truth despite the risks involved.  I have always taught my children to defend the weak and help those in need.  You are doing that right now!

I cannot wait to see what lies ahead for you.  You rock my world, daughter.  I love you and am so proud of you.    When you walk on that stage accepting your diploma, look out into the stands and find your mama.  You'll see me standing, waving my white hanky.



133 comments:

  1. Congratulations Hannah! Don and I are proud of you!

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  2. I found out about your blog today through the media attention surrounding this lawsuit. As a survivor of legalistic Christianity, and a staunch defender of freedom, my heart truly goes out to you. For whatever it is worth, I am a friend and acquaintance to many activists in the north coast, and if they are not yet familiar with this story they will be today. This WILL GO VIRAL, and the leadership of Beaverton Grace will never live this down. You can count on my support, and the support of many others of all faiths. Be well and may the spirit bless you.

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    1. Thank you so much for your comment and your support. It's always sad to hear of another story of legalism in the church. As far as going viral - the pastor is the one who made this public. It would have died a slow death, buried in the Google reviews. He had to have known that once the papers were submitted that they are public information available to any and all interested parties.

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  3. I am so glad Hannah was able to get out when she did, and thrilled that your family was able to leave and find the same freedom.

    Free speech will win, but I'm sorry you have to get dragged through this to prove it.

    -Rebekah

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  4. Congratulations, Hannah! I pray that all of this publicity does not spoil your big day. Those of us who left before you admire your courage and your determination.

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  5. I too was lead here by the media attention surrounding your treatment by the church. I just wanted to post my support for your family, and big congratulations to Hannah!

    I was raised as a Jehovah's Witness, a high control group that also teaches shunning and disfellowshipping. I left my family at a young age due to these practices, after my mother died disfellowshipped and thinking that God no longer loved her.

    There are so many of us who have woken up to the spiritual abuse that some churches practice. In fact, I'm part of a larger group of Ex-JW's who are quite vocal about it, and who work hard to help those who have nowhere to turn after shunning.

    Keep up the good fight, what they're trying to do to you is beyond wrong. We're all right behind you fighting too!

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    1. That is wonderful that you are helping others after your difficult experience. This is real living - it's not about $$, it's not about fame, it's not about stuff, it's about the hearts of people!

      I love your comment. Thank you for sharing.

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  6. You're going viral, Julie Ann, and I think that's a good thing. I was led here by a link on Facebook, and I also wanted to share a few words.

    Okedoke...so, I'm an atheist. Scary, right? But I support you, and your search for a welcoming spiritual community. That's what freedom of religion is all about. Personally, I find the cons far outweigh the pros in organized religion, and it's not for me. And I'm so sorry that you experienced such pain at the hands of people you thought you could trust. At it's best, I think church, and worship, can be a place of great fellowship and community. At it's worst, well, I think you know. Intolerance. Greed. Lust for power. Look at any religion and you'll find an example.

    Anyway, good for you for standing up for yourself. It takes a great deal of courage to challenge something as fundamental as your beliefs. Congrats to Hannah as well, on everything. She sounds like an amazing young woman. Remember, she may have taken those first painful steps without you, but you were the one who gave her the strength to stand on her own in the first place. Don't look back. Enjoy your present.

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    1. You are so sweet, Erin. No, I'm not scared of atheists at all. :) Your last few lines really touched me. Thanks!

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    2. I'm an atheist as well and I agree with everything Erin said.
      It doesn't matter what you believe in now, wether you are still a Christian or not, it's just important that you broke free from an abusive relationship with a pastor that was detremental to your family.
      Wish you all the best in your future and I hope that lawsuit will backfire on the church 10 times.

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    3. I think it will. Thanks, Michael!

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  7. I grew up in a similar situation to Hannah. I ended up leaving my mother's house at the age of 15 to live with my father. And she reacted just like you and your husband did. She swore to everyone that it was because he would let me do whatever I wanted, and that I didn't appreciate having a "loving but strict mother". Turning my friends and family against me.

    To me, what the church put me (and even worse what they put my sister through soon after) was horrible. But to this day, I still hold my mother to a much higher level of responsibility. Because I am her child. I was just another patron to the church.

    Tomorrow is mother's day. And we will not be speaking. I love her, and always will. I sent her flowers, as I try to do on holidays and birthdays. And we see each other from time to time. But to this day, she does not understand. She learned quickly that she had to back off or lose me. She is now very good about keeping her opinions to herself, and just trying to be an open-minded loving mother. But every couple years, the topic comes up of life in our house. And it is always blown off just as fast as it came up.

    I'm very happy, and jealous, that Hannah and your family were able to see the reality of the situation. Especially after reading how you reacted and treated her. Your husband took up the role of your paster, with no second thoughts. And you were the parishoners at costco turning your head... away from your own daughter. I would never dream of speaking for her. But I can tell you, having read your post. It hit me too close for comfort. And while I rarely think of our old church anymore, I also rarely think of my mother anymore.

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    1. Wow - such a heart-wrenching post. I'm so sorry to hear that you haven't been able to get your relationship restored. I imagine Mother's Day could be difficult for you.

      In your last paragraph, you hit it dead on. It's so hard to read let alone imagine that we took on those very unhealthy roles instead of being healthy parents. Yep, I was sick. I accept that 100%. I'm sick NO MORE!

      I will pray for you and your family. This stuff is tough!

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  8. Hannah, you rock!

    Julie Anne, you also rock for speaking out now after all this heartache. I grew up like your daughter did, and left in a similarly traumatic (though more drawn-out) way. Glad you all got out.

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  9. I hear you, as my tale was similar. Glad to see there is so much support. I'll be following this story.

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  10. I came across your blog just now. Good luck with the bogus lawsuit from the church. It's a shame the way a congregation can be poisoned. Again good luck!

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    1. She has done this to other churchs before. I think the lawsuit is a way of getting her away. She likes to divide people. She is the opposite of what God wanted for his people, but she is blind.

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    2. Are you confused? I didn't sue anyone.

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    3. Wow, really, Anonymous? Make you feel like a big man to harass a lady on the Internet? Sad & Pathetic.

      I hope you consider a lawsuit against this nasty church, pastor and current members, since it's obvious they won't let up even with all this negative press.

      Also, you should consider writing a book, to reach an even larger audience. I'm sure there are some needy Christians out there being abused somewhere who don't use the Internet. Actually, you'd be surprised how many people don't... *scratches head*

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    4. A lawsuit against the church? Have you even read the Bible?

      1 Corinthians 6:1-8
      New International Version (NIV)

      Lawsuits Among Believers

      6 If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? 2 Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world?

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    5. I think you should direct that comment to the Pastor. He's the one bringing this bogus lawsuit.

      http://www.katu.com/news/local/Beaveton-Grace-Bible-Church-lawsuit-charles-oneal-julie-anne-smith-151227055.html?tab=video&c=y

      What the pastor has done is a perfect example of "The Striesand Effect" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9f0K6glgQJw

      Delete
  11. I love you Smiths and am so happy for you Hannah. Congratulations on your achievements and the many blessings coming your way...you have been such a blessing to me through the years.
    Thank you Julie Anne for such a heart felt recounting of such a hard and painful part of your lives-I am blessed to count you as my dear friend.
    Love t you all,
    Meaghan

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    1. Love you, Meaghan. You've been such a great support to me!

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  12. Do you enjoy this? Going church by church and trying to get people angry. I am disgusted that you would attack people that are trying to do good for the Lord. I don't care if you agree with them or not, this church does some good work.

    To everyone being sent here by the media, this is not the first church the smiths have had problems with. It seems almost amusing to them to try and divide God's people. I think the Smiths are great people, but have a very twisted view on God's mission.

    The church is wrong to sue, but I believe that the Smiths need to think long and hard about what non-christians would think about these immature actions.

    GODBLESS!

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    1. Reader alert: I highly suspect the above post to be a member from the church. The story sounds familiar as one that he told the congregation.

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    2. "Going church by church and trying to get people angry." [Citation Needed]

      "...this is not the first church the smiths have had problems with." [Citation Needed]

      "It seems almost amusing to them to try and divide God's people." [Citation Needed]

      You're adorable. I just want to pat you on your pointy, narrow minded little head, and send you out to play in traffic. Hey, at least Julie Anne has the conviction and intestinal fortitude to put her name behind her words. Looks like the same can't be said of you. Guess it's safe to say, you're nothing more than a simple troll.

      Now, I'm still waiting on those citations to be provided. Hard evidence please. You're being graded.

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    3. What are the "immature actions" of the smiths? It seems to me that the way the news reported it YOUR pastor is the one who filed the lawsuit. Huh.... Got that one backwards, didn't ya?! It's obvious by your comment wording that you are actively involved in this cult. I pray that God gives you eyes to see and ears to hear. Julie Anne has a lot of strength and obviously a lot of support. She didn't pick this fight, your pastor is the one who choose the names of the women and children he wanted to call out. Reading this blog, it is obvious many people have chosen to leave for "creepily" similar reasons. Guess he just picked the wrong people to step on this time. Thank God that He has given her the strength to stand up for so many. I am praying for you, and I am praying that pastor o'neals reign of terror and abuse is coming to an end.
      P.S. Immerse yourself in God's word. Read it all. Soak it in and apply it in it's full cultural, historical, and living context. Getting tired of seeing this church proof text in order to create some imaginary divine support for such evil and selfish actions.
      P.P.S. For those of you commenting that are stating that "this is the reason" you don't want to be in a church.....please know, churches aren't perfect, they are full of imperfect people. But God is perfect and so is His love. It is just being poorly represented by this type of litigious behavior.

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    4. Scarlytte: Julie Anne just got out from under her cozy covers, stood on the floor and shouted a hearty: AMEN, Sistah!

      Anon 12:21 - Good words to the confused church member. Thanks!

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    5. "going church by church and trying to get people angry"......hey, wait! Isn't this what pastor chuck oneal does by his own admission on the church website? He claims that he "evangelizes" by going to other people's places of worship and preaches against them, calling them out as agents of satan....... Just sayin'. I agree with other comment that you offer no proof but your pastor condemns himself on his own website! Quit flinging mud, you might get yourself dirty!

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    6. anonymous said:

      " I just know that this is not a church problem."

      And how do you know this? 1 Corinthians 6 says suing people is sin. BGBC pastor is suing. And this is NOT A CHURCH PROBLEM? Can you explain that?

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    7. I misspoke I meant to say its not only a church problem

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    8. Shouldn't you be over on google reviews trying in vain to get all the new reviews removed?

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    9. I am glad you blocked Anonymous. He is nothing but a coward anyway. I have been in many institutions over the years and I know what spiritual abuse is. I have not been in one now for the last eight years. I left for good as the last one I attended the pastor didn't protect me from a married man. I asked Holy Spirit to show me the truth and He was the one who told me to leave and stay home and learn from Him and He did lead me and guide me into truth. I am totally free in Him. No rules ..no control just wonderful freedom and love, love ..love.

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    10. You know, there are enough of those anonymous posts with the same wrong facts in them... Does that not sound like the pastor is, oh, I don't know, *making up defamatory statements*?

      Wouldn't the merest shade of evidence of that sink the pastor's lawsuit faster than molasses on Mercury?

      Discovery? Friendly source with a recording device?

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  13. I really want this comment to sink into your brain.

    "Okedoke...so, I'm an atheist. Scary, right? But I support you, and your search for a welcoming spiritual community. That's what freedom of religion is all about. Personally, I find the cons far outweigh the pros in organized religion, and it's not for me. And I'm so sorry that you experienced such pain at the hands of people you thought you could trust. At it's best, I think church, and worship, can be a place of great fellowship and community. At it's worst, well, I think you know. Intolerance. Greed. Lust for power. Look at any religion and you'll find an example"

    That's what YOU did. Nice job! I think a lawsuit is a joke, but you are dishonoring the Lord.

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    1. READER ALERT: The above post is similar confrontational style we were taught at BGBC.

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  14. From there website: "We teach that God originally created man in His own image and free from sin, but through the temptation of Satan, he transgressed the command of God and fell from his original holiness and righteousness. His posterity thereby inherited a corrupt nature wholly opposed to God and His law. Man is therefore under condemnation, and as soon as he is capable of moral action, becomes an actual transgressor."

    They say that I have a corrupt nature and am under condemnation. Can I sue them for defamation of character?

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  15. Julie Anne, you're amazing. To have the conviction to stand up, to speak, to find your freedom, to embrace the freedoms that people like my husband and myself have fought for generations to guarantee in this country, is simply amazing.

    Since finding this linked on Fark, I read through your entire blog. You've gone viral, and it appears that you've garnered the favored attention of even the hardest to impress parts of the internet. Especially when the topic is faith based.

    Don't lose hope, and keep your head held high. You've a beautiful, loving family. As for friends, if they can drop you like that so quickly, they really weren't friends to begin with.

    Keep up the good fight. I salute you. HOOAH!

    Also, to the Anonymous troll, I'm still waiting. [CITATION NEEDED]

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    1. I love your style, Scarlytte. I read through comments on Fark - had some great laughs, too :)

      Here's the deal - I've heard too much to not speak up. I think I would go crazy if I didn't.

      I think I'm having a positive post buzz :)

      Thanks so much for your comments. Love them!

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  16. Wow....You blocked me from being able to reply.....I don't go to BGBC. I go to the last church you did something similar to. We didn't react as immature as this church did. However, we know what they are going through. You talk in a little group and get each other riled up then you all leave. I don't work for any church. You probably don't even know who I am, but I know you and grew up with your kids. Your great people, but why are you spreading rumors about churches?

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    1. I haven't done anything to prevent you from posting. I'm not sure what you are experiencing, but please know it's not me.

      If you are saying that you grew up with our kids, then that tells me that you are probably fairly young. Yes, we did leave a church after attending it for 6 yrs. Some of those dear people are my closest friends to this day. I am going to think about what you shared. It sounds like our leaving may have caused some hurt feelings. I apologize for that. It was difficult for our kids as well. Maybe things weren't handled as well as could they could have been handled.

      However, regarding the church we are currently discussing - that is a completely different story. I am sharing my experiences and observations based on what I have seen/heard. That does not equate with rumors. I would be happy to discuss things privately with you because this is not the appropriate place to bring up another church. Send me an e-mail at bgbcsurvivors@gmail.com

      BTW, there are people from your church who attended a graduation ceremony and other events at BGBC and I'm sure they would be happy to tell you their observations about BGBC. A number of people from your church told us that they thought BGBC seemed abusive. Sadly, we didn't listen to them at the time. But they were right. I need to thank them!

      I hope you will be bold enough to e-mail me.

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    2. You sound like a real brave soul. So....what's your point? Do you believe suing is the right course of action? Many people have left many churches so what does that prove? You didn't attend BGBC did you?

      You said:

      'Your great people, but why are you spreading rumors about churches?'

      Julie Anne didn't spread rumors. She posted her opinion of BGBC and the pastor is suing her for that.

      Delete
  17. Note: I have been removing posts from Anon who is shooting accusations, yet unwilling to post his/her identity, or e-mail me privately, etc. This blog is supposed to be a safe haven for those who have gone through spiritual abuse. I'm happy to discuss with this person and trust they have numerous ways of contacting me since they know my kids. This is just not the appropriate place and especially on this post where I am honoring my daughter - come on, Anon - have a little sensitivity and respect.

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  18. As I read your story above I marveled as tears ran down my face that my story so parallels yours. I had the perfect family. All children scrubbed and lined up in church for so many years while I spent all my time serving everyone else and trying to make sure that my children were the correct representation of a "godly" family. Then one night my 16 year old came home dead drunk and the myth of what I had thought we had built came tumbling down. I was sure I had followed the guidelines to produce the perfect family. It was that time in my life, crying more tears than I thought possible, that I began to let myself question my beliefs and those of my church. It was the hardest time of our marriage. Your description of your husband could have been of mine. We fought. We came through it. Our relationship had to change or I don't think we would have made it. All that to say - I get what you posted above.
    Some have said, "you were part of the crazy of this church you now post about." I was too. I helped lead the crazy church. But when your kids fall apart, you begin to allow yourself to question and then it falls like a house of cards.
    We too have been threatened for our "survivors" site and the things we have said about our former church. Maybe though our former church leaders will watch the mess your pastor is making and think twice. Could be you have saved others the pain by yours being so public.
    We are praying for you. Thanks for your transparency. It has encouraged me today.

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    1. Barb - sending virtual hugs to you. It sounds like we have much in common. I wish we could sit down and talk one day. I hope this does send a message loud and clear to abusing pastors.

      Thank you so much for sharing your story.

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  19. Shunning and ex-communication is a disgusting habit of alot of churches. Brava for fighting back. This lawsuit is mean-spirited and disgusting. A church is only as good as its' leaders. Obviously, charles o'neal is not fit to run anything, nevermind the oversee the spiritual lives of others. His support of the practice is disgusting and not in the spirit of our Lord and Savior. It is VERY UN-Christian. In my opinion, hee is NOT a good Christian. Sue me, o'neal, because that's what Jesus would've wanted.

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  20. I can't believe you treated your daughter so shabbily but I'm glad you've grown up and seen how horrible your religion led you to behave. Now it's time to lose the shackles of religious gullibility completely. We can each define our own morality based upon our evolved empathy and reason...just think about any action you want to take and try not to do harm to others. Following the arbitrary, anti-freedom dictates of a 2000 yr old book of myth leads to bad moral decision-making.
    There is no god.

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  21. In Jesus' own words: "Instead of giving you God's Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn't think of lifting a finger to help." (Matthew 23, The Message)

    You and your family have a lot of Facebook fans! Although I'm Jewish, I like the FB group, "Christians tired of being Misrepresented", I'm sure they'd love to have you on board. The quote above came from another group member and I thought I'd share it with you.

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  22. This most certainly has gone viral! Good for you for standing up to those who would rob you of free speech!

    Your situation has been blogged about here: FBCJaxWatchdogs. It's almost a parallel case, except here, the blogger was the one defamed and the one who brought the lawsuit. The pastor couldn't prove that what he said was true, and he (and the church) lost the lawsuit. The truth is always a defense against defamation, libel, and slander. The blogger also won a lawsuit against the Sheriff's dept. for violating his right -- and it is a right -- to anonymous free speech, which speaks more to your situation. (Pun not intended.)

    Give the site a read but ignore the trolls. You'll be encouraged, I think. Others are praying for you as you fight this.

    Oh, and for those of you who are complaining that "suing someone is a sin", remember that the pastor is the one doing the suing. Also, there's no indication he has followed Matthew 18:15-17 with Julie Anne, her daughter, or anyone else. So, if we go by what Christ himself said, your pastor is at fault in more than one way.

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    1. Yes!!! I have referenced FBCJaWatchdogs before on my site and I think as a sidebar link. I just read that post - it is awesome! I was thrilled for him when he won his lawsuit.

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  23. I can't believe you treated your daughter so shabbily but I'm glad you've grown up and seen how horrible your religion led you to behave. Now it's time to lose the shackles of religious gullibility completely. We can each define our own morality based upon our evolved empathy and reason...just think about any action you want to take and try not to do harm to others. Following the arbitrary, anti-freedom dictates of a 2000 yr old book of myth leads to bad moral decision-making.
    There is no god.

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    1. It wasn't religion that led me to "behave" like that, but a man who used his authority inappropriately. Thanks for coming to the blog!

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    2. Yes, it was religion. Admittedly, your pastor was an ass and his interpretation of christianity contributed to your behaviour; however, the bottom line is that you ignored your empathy and reason (and love for your daughter) because you believed god wanted you to treat her like you did. The same thing will happen again if you continue to base your morality on the arbitrary standard contained in a myth rather than actually thinking about what harm your choices may do. Religion poisons everything.

      Delete
    3. I see a lot of this, good people who think they get their goodness from religion or some "god". Why do you think they cannot take ownership of their own morality, why do they have to get it from an external source ? People who say (like clergy) they know more about this than the everyday folk are just lying. Moral philosophy has come a long way. I hope she escapes religion.

      Delete
  24. Julie Ann

    Too often the religions taught are not the ones we believe in our hearts. Keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
  25. They(fundamental, legalistic, and in my opinion outright mean spirited "christians") may call themselves Christians but in reality they are just fans of Jesus. They are not "Jesus followers". A follower of Jesus will "Say no to wrong. Learn to do good. Work for justice. Help the down-and-out.
    Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless. -Isaiah 1:13-17(the message)

    People often take what Paul writes in his letters to the churches of that day as a "Higher Authority" than what Jesus (God in the flesh) himself spoke rgarding the church, pastors, and to each of us individually concerning authority in matters of our relationship between Him and us. God is the only one who has authority over me and he leads and corrects me through His divine Holy Spirit, not through some other fallible human being. I go to and participate in corporate worship/fellowship (church) to give praise to the One, Jesus, who has saved me from myself. It also gives me a chance to share the love of Jesus with as many lost people as possible in a single moment because I believe the place where you can find the most people who really do not, have not experienced, and know the saving grace of Jesus to today is in the churches today.

    Matthew 23

    4-7"Instead of giving you God's Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn't think of lifting a finger to help. Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called 'Doctor' and 'Reverend.'

    8-10"Don't let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. Don't set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do. Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of 'Father'; you have only one Father, and he's in heaven. And don't let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.

    11-12"Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you'll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you're content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

    Frauds!
    13"I've had it with you! You're hopeless, you religion scholars, you Pharisees! Frauds! Your lives are roadblocks to God's kingdom. You refuse to enter, and won't let anyone else in either.
    15"You're hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You go halfway around the world to make a convert, but once you get him you make him into a replica of yourselves, double-damned.

    ReplyDelete
  26. You're an awesome person for standing up against an institution as greedy as that Church (and continuing to do so thru this awesome blog). BTW, Happy Mother's Day!

    -from the Philippines

    ReplyDelete
  27. I read through FBCJaxWatchdogs. I appreciate what the guy is trying to do, but when I read through the comments I'm immediately reminded of why I left Christianity behind me so long ago. And what makes me a bit queasy, is knowing that while many of his supporters (and perhaps some of Julie Ann and her family) get the fact that the kind of judgmental attitudes on the part of these Pastors and their congregations are destructive, they stop short at realizing (as a single example) that promoting homosexuality as a "choice", using religious or ideological bigotry to emotionally blackmail Gays into staying in the closet or of at least staying celibate, denying themselves the emotional and physical comforts and happiness of personal relationships and therefore promoting their emotional and/or physical self-destruction can be demonstrated to fall under any reasonable definition of "hate".

    We welcome our gay congregants without hesitation in Synagogue and we *don't* pray or otherwise encourage them to "stop sinning". We don't consider their relationships in any way sinful or unnatural.

    Besides - Jesus himself railed publicly against the very destructive practice of divorce and clearly stated that those who remarried were adulterers. One would think that these "Outreach" pastors who are so shrill about Homosexuality would be preaching LOUDLY against how destructive divorce is to marriage instead of imagining that same-sex marriages are. Lots of married gay couples out there, and I don't see any decrease in the number of marriage license applications...

    Sorry - didn't intend a rant. I also want to say to Hannah - I wish more children were as resourceful, self-reliant and confident as you. There are a lot of "Hannah's" out there whose families abandon them because they had the courage to stand on their own two feet and say, "thus far and no further may you go". Good for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mike - Just a note - there are a bunch of trolls posting on his site. They are mad that he won the church lawsuit. He eventually removes them. When I just checked they were gone.

      Delete
    2. Understood - but I think I can spot the trolls. I'm talking about the people who support him but who otherwise, can't agree on anything else. 2 Jews, 3 arguments - but we really don't descend into this level of madness, even across Orthodox/Conservative/Reform lines. There are exceptions - yes, but the legitimate folks on his blog - what do any of them actually *agree* on?

      Here's a blog for you:

      rabbirami.blogspot.com

      Delete
  28. @Steven Paul - well said. I have a lot of respect for the progressive, "red-letter" Christian movement. They focus on the words, works and teachings of Jesus himself and pretty much ignore the rest of it or at least, give it minority authority.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do not nor would I ever ignore the rest of the bible and consider it a "minor authority".
      The bible does not contradict itself. The human interpretation of it does to sometimes to meet their agenda. People will "proof text" or change the meaning of the hebrew or greek text to suite their needs because it doesnt match up with what someone as taught them as truth.

      Delete
    2. Oops - well, I consider it all "minor" authority. I wonder if God gets a kick out of the fact that we think he wrote it. Or any of his other "holy books". Our Hebrew Bible (your "old" testament - you know, the one who's law some Christians say they're not bound by but quote endlessly when there's not enough bigotry in the new one to suit them?) really and truly was, written to be understood by people of the early to late Iron Age, has some great moral stories and is otherwise filled with the bloodlust and violence you would expect from, well...the early to late Iron Age. And most of us understand that. Its our faith story. I no more would ignore the OT than Shakespeare. And I know this Steven, because I'm a Jew, its our book, and we wrote it and know (more or less) how to interpret it correctly in light of Hebrew thought-form, experience and good 'ol Jewish Wisdom. You guys, with all due respect, make a mess of it. It really *isn't* about Jesus and the suffering servant in Isaiah *really is* the people Israel.

      Well - at least you guys got the God who went to anger management training, to quote Lewis Black.

      Of course the Bible contradicts itself. It is in fact, one massive contradiction and anyone with minimal critical thinking skills can see that. And I don't want to stink up Julie Anne's blog with the argument but my keyboard grabbed my fingers and forced me to type all that as soon as I read, "The Bible does not contradict itself".

      I'm just here to let Julie Anne and Hannah know I think they rock. And I still have a lot of respect for the Red Letter people. And for this family, so hurt by other people who so believe the Bible doesn't contradict itself, that they're happy to ruin lives to prove just how they think it doesn't contradict itself - or their interpretation of it.

      Delete
    3. Red Letter people...that's a new one, for me anyway...love it.

      Delete
    4. I am glad to have a title to go with what I am. I am a Red Letter Person! All the rest of it is, indeed, minor authority. Thank you for this!

      Delete
    5. You're very welcome.

      from, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-Letter_Christian

      "Red-Letter Christians is a non-denominational movement within Christianity. They believe that Evangelicalism has been exploited by both right-wing and left-wing political movements, and they endeavor to create an Evangelical movement that focuses on the teachings of Jesus Christ, particularly in regard to social issues. "Red-Letter" refers to New Testament verses printed in red letters to emphasize the actual words that Jesus spoke without the use of quotations (see Red letter edition). While many Christians have defined themselves as such over the years, a mass-market movement was initiated by authors Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis who felt the religious right spend too much time on two issues: abortion and homosexuality. They believe Christians should be promoting biblical values such as peace, building strong families, the elimination of poverty, and other important social justice issues.[1]
      The social issues valued by Red-Letter Christians include taking care of the poor, spreading the Gospel (see also the Great Commission), and loving one's enemies. They believe that these are the issues that Jesus spoke of directly, and therefore these issues should be political priorities. Other issues such as homosexual rights, abortion, and war are viewed as important but over-emphasized by both liberals and conservatives.
      On the reason for creating Red-Letter Christians, Tony Campolo said, "The purpose of this gathering was not to create a religious left movement to challenge the religious right, but to jump-start a religious movement that will transcend partisan politics."[2] Campolo has released a book to help explain this, called Red Letter Christians, A Citizen's Guide to Faith and Politics (Regal Books, February 2008)."

      Delete
  29. Congrats Hannah! I was the first of my little family of friends to leave the church. I was threatened, shunned, and even officially disfellowshipped. It took another year before my best friend left as well. It cost him his marriage. However, free from that oppression and open hatred of the world, every day seems brighter and better than the last. I feel more human and more in touch with humanity. Now that I can freely say the rest of the world isn't going to hell and doesn't need to be avoided, I feel that I am truly living my life instead of waiting for this burden to be over.

    ReplyDelete
  30. How strong and spiritually truthful you are is evident in your words. I support your quest to state your honest experience and opinion. This is a secular nation which guarantees freedom of religion AND speech. You've not sought financial gain, nor deprived said congregation of its expected livelihood.....rubbish law suit should be dismissed immediately.

    ReplyDelete
  31. You claim that: "I have always taught my children to defend the weak and help those in need.", yet you failed to do that with your own daughter at the time of her biggest need in her life! It sounds like Hannah should start a blog titled "Hypocritical Family Survivors".

    PS- No I am not a member of your previous church...I do not agree with what they do either...you two (Hannah's mom and the Pastor at the church) seem to be two peas in a pod.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow...where's your compassion? Julie Anne is being honest in her blog post about the mistakes she has made. That is not hypocrisy but honesty. Her daughter has forgiven her and they have a great relationship.

      The pastor of BGBC does not admit his faults in all that has happened. He preaches the Word of God but does not obey it. That is hypocrisy.

      Delete
    2. Hey Anon, I know a church in Beaverton right up your alley ! Have a wonderful day!

      Delete
    3. and this is yet another example of what 'spiritual abuse' can do to a family. I appreciate Julie Anne's genuine care for hurting her daughter while trying to respect the leadership. Thankfully her eyes were open and more time wasn't lost with her family fractionated.
      If she was the only family demanded to mark and avoid adult children who were in "sin" then I could agree with you anon at 653, however this is an ongoing practice of this church.
      Walk one day in someone else's shoes and then you can sling some dirt, however sad...usually fruit of one's life tend to trinkle down from leadership. Children follow parents examples, parents often follow leadership in churches examples TILL eyes are opened.
      Thank you Julie Anne for being transparent with your trials as a parent. Thats what I love about you!

      Delete
  32. Thanks people for your words in support of my mother and I. It means the world to us. I believe in forgiveness, and anyone who has been in our situation knows how easy it is to be blinded until something comes around the corner and slaps us conscious. It's like a gas that you don't know you're breathing until you're out. My parents didn't realize what they were doing to me, in fact, I didn't truly figure things out until I'd been away from everything for awhile and could see the situation in hindsight. We worked on our issues together, and it took a couple of painful years to get to where we are today. My parents and I have spent countless hours talking over what happened, and what we learned from it. They have apologized and we have found reconciliation. Chuck has not, THAT is the difference between him and them. We and our attorney have requested that Chuck drop the case, he has refused. Please do not compare my parents to Chuck. They are worlds apart in their actions, conversations, and intentions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hannah, you are truly a wonderful person. Your parents are so blessed to have you in their lives. I've never been in such an abusive church, but I have been in an abusive marriage. The abuse creeps up on you until you are not sure what is right or wrong. Good for you that you were willing to do the work to repair your ties with your family. They raised an amazing young woman.

      Delete
  33. I attended that church for a while. I never went to a church that was so judgmental of everyone and of everything. And it started from the pulpit

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good thing you listened to your gut and left!

      Delete
  34. That is pretty crazy. I go to church and believe in God and Jesus but there are many things in the Bible that I question. unfortunately people wrote the Bible and put in their own prejudices and fears as rules from God. I didnt grow up with church, and have only been going for 2 years (I'm 40) so maybe that is why I am more liberal than most. I avoided church for all my life because I hate the intolerance, the "us against them" mentality, how they treat gay people, and other things. Our church doesnt harp on those things. I enjoy many aspects of church too.

    I cant believe your old church is sewing your daughter for writing about her experiences. I cannot imagine a judge allowing a case like that. if it is the truth, it isnt defamation. I have a relative that has been a scientologist. your case sounds more like something they would do. Sorry you have had to go through all this hassle. Dont let a bad church effect your faith. Maybe this is one of those trials and tribulations I've heard about. ;) even if your faith has been shaking, I hope you dont mind me praying for you, your family, and other members of your old church. I am sure there are others with your problem.

    even though I dont know you guys, my family and I send you love and hope everything comes out in your favor and in a timely matter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Eric. My faith has deepened after this lawsuit. :)

      Delete
  35. I can't believe you put Hannah through what you did and she still respects you? Unbelievable, she really is a treasure for the rest of us non-christians because you and your church didn't do her any favors. I can't believe she even let you go to her graduation, she really is an amazing woman, no thanks to you. If you really wanted her in your and her little brothers life you would have helped her in her time of need instead of shunning her the way the church is shunning you now. You need to look in the mirror and check yourself. There are two sides to every story and all we are getting is your side. You sound like a selfish hypocrite putting the church before your daughter, is that what the christianity is all about? That's why I'm an atheist, because of people like you! Christianity has more blood on it's hands than all wars and drugs put together, is that really an institution you want to be aligned with? Not me. I hope you find the strength and fortitude to leave god because god is not good for you, look at what god has done already, taken your daughter away from you. Don't blame your daughter, blame god. Liberals aren't ruining this country, christians are, STOP IT!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dick Hurtz: The truly self-righteous don't publicly apologize to their friends and family as this lady has done here. They never learn how their behavior or the behaviors they foster hurt the ones they love. In this case, give the lady some slack. She's done the right thing here. She's one of the very rare who *did* learn something.

      So many parents out there never know (or don't want to know) the loss of trust and respect they suffer from the children they hurt. Children pay lip-service when they're threatened. Hannah has forgiven her mother - but don't assume she will ever, ever forget, either. "Karma's a bitch" so they say. We must never forget that the Hannahs we kick out of our house today or out of our lives because they didn't accept our religion, or because they were gay, or pursued an interracial relationship or some other non-destructive behavior that otherwise we couldn't tolerate, might eventually be the sole decision maker in choosing the nursing home we end up in!

      I would of course, be extremely disappointed if what she learned didn't translate into other aspects of practicing her religion.

      Delete
    2. Hi Richard:

      I'm not at all offended or hurt by what you shared even though it would have been very painful for me to read a while back. You're right, she had every right to not let me attend her graduation. But I figured since I got that Facebook invite, she might have wanted me to attend. And sure enough, I did see that gorgeous redhead of mine frequently look back at me as she sat amongst the graduates. Yea, I think she wanted me there. I just am so secure of our relationship and where it is headed.

      But I feel a bit sad for you, too. Because for some reason your brain got stuck on the abuse that I inflicted upon her and wouldn't allow you to see the sweetness of "the rest of the story". That only tells me that you must have been hurt deeply by someone like me. I am deeply sorry that you suffered abuse in the church. I hope that you will see true Christians, ones who are transparent, who know they are sinners, yet trust that they are a work in progress, do care about you.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. I really do appreciate it.

      Delete
    3. Good words, Mike. Thank you!

      Delete
    4. In fact I have never been hurt or shunned by anyone in the church the way you shunned your daughter. I just can't see through all the hypocrisy in ALL religions, except christians are the worst. I've seen the christian church shun my friend for divorcing his wife who cheated on him and left him. He didn't even do anything wrong except try to salvage his marriage by seeking the support of his pastor as well as going to marriage counseling, but since he was "divorced" that's all his church needed to know. Instead of supporting him in his time of need they shunned him. What's up with that?

      My uncle is a lazer catholic and a used car salesmen. I've seen him on his knees crying and praying to the virgin mary and 30 minutes later he's fleecing an old lady selling her a piece of junk car, what's up with that? I guess as long as he confesses his sins on Sunday or his death bed he's cool right?

      There is just too much hypocrisy in religion for me (and many others) to take religion with a grain of salt. Why are christians pro-life but they support the death penalty. What's up with that? Life is life right?

      Don't feel sad for me and don't pray for me either, feel sad for yourself and all the problems the church is causing you RIGHT NOW! If you didn't go to church you wouldn't be having these problems right? Do you really need the church to tell you not to steal, kill, or respect your neighbor, or to not cheat on your partner? Life is common sense and religion is a myth. Religion was created by smart people to control dumb people. The bible you read is in English. How can that be the word of god if English didn't exist then? That means it's been translated over, and over, and over, and over with the biases of those translators and interpreters. It is no longer the word of god but the word of biased men. Do yourself a favor and stop worshipping god, your life will be much better, guaranteed. Don't knock it until you try it.

      Good luck!

      Delete
  36. Julie Anne,

    Thank you so much for your courage and refusal to be silent. You might want to visit the IFB Cult survivors page at http://www.facebook.com/groups/35429320847/. We would love to have you.

    I wish I could say I was surprised by what is being done to you, unfortunately, many coming out of the IFB have run into similar problems. I have a friend who had to endure a court battle as well to protect her right to tell her story and not be silenced by the church. It's not fun.

    The church I grew up in, in the Cleveland, Ohio area, was not unlike the one you described. We were there just about every time the doors were open, and the church sat on property that once was my great grandparents farm. I was sexually abused by my father (a member of the church) and when I finally came forward to tell someone, the youth pastor at my church said "Not Jim, he could never do such things. But, read the Psalms, you'll be fine". Shortly after the disclosure, I was sexually assaulted by another member of the church. This time, however, I did what I had been taught; to keep silent.

    After my mother found out about the abuse, she used it as a weapon against my father, as he had been granted custody of my siblings after my parents divorced. Once the court hearings were over, and the prosecutor wanted to charge my father, he was told by my mother that no charges would be brought because she "didn't believe I was telling the truth anyway".

    I kept my secret for years. And even after I began counseling, I only discussed some of the feelings I had surrounding the abuse, as I believed for years that by revealing what had happened to me, I'd be dishonoring to my parents. When I found the cult survivors face book page, my path to real healing started, and I now refuse to be silenced about what the "church" and those involved did to facilitate the cover up of my abuse.

    Again, thank you for your courage! There are many who support you!

    Melanie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your story sent shivers down my spine. I think you are honoring your parents. It's not honorable to cover up gross sin/abuse. Shining light on that sin gives your parents an opportunity to deal with it and make things right. You have absolutely honored them and honored God! I am sure that God is pleased, too, because He cares deeply about that one lost sheep.

      I am touched that you shared your story so boldly here and so
      thrilled that you are recovering and getting healing. WOOHOO!!!

      I'm a huggy person. Mind if I send you a cyberhug? {{{{hugs}}}}

      Delete
    2. I don't mind hugs at all. so (((Julie Anne)))

      My father hand I have since begun the reconciliation process, as he's no longer a part of the Baptist faith and sees things differently now. My relationship with my mom remains strained, but I've done all I can as far as that goes.

      I've been disowned by many family members since leaving the cult and understand how difficult to lose so much you love. Keep up the fight, for every child we save, it's worth it!

      Delete
  37. For those who wonder how we as adults could be involved in following the teachings of shunning even to our own children, please understand the complete devastation that we feel upon realizing that we were wrong. Have you EVER done anything and then later decided that what you did or thought was completely against what you knew to be right. Have you EVER had a change of mind?
    I gave each of my girls permission to vent to me their hurt and even disrespect that I deserved when I finally went to them and asked their forgiveness for what I participated in and made them participate in as well. Do you not get that both Julie, I and other parents will carry around the burden of screwing with our children's lives and their spiritual lives? That is why it is called Spiritual ABUSE! Because it is and we know it now. So please have a heart. We are saying we were wrong. We are trying to repair relationships. What else would you like us to do?

    ReplyDelete
  38. One doesn't have to dig far into the clandestine world of the IFB to find it's cult characteristics. The very action of this church show that it feels threatened by the truth coming out. Fundamentalist Christianity is more of a threat to this country than any terrorist cell.

    There is a long standing tradition of spiritual abuse in this country, as well as a long standing tradition of sweeping it under the carpet. As more and more people realize the fraud that has been perpetrated upon them, you are going to see more and more people telling their story. Not in a vindictive way, but in a manner that purges the poison from their souls. They are telling their stories in order to protect others. They are telling their stories in order to survive.

    I'll share one story with you...the story that began the downward spiral in my life and in my soul. At 8 years old, I was sent to a Baptist Youth Camp in South Florida for a week during summer break. Several forms of abuse happened that week:

    Spritual abuse: I, as a frightened 8 year old boy, with no adult allies in sight, was subjected to a large, red-faced man screaming that my sin-filled little twisted soul was going to HELL if I died that night. At least a hundred crying children flooded the altar, praying that little prayer that would "seal the deal" of salvation of their eternal souls. Words that had no meaning to them.

    Sexual abuse: As a child of a single mother, I was taken with others in my same situation by a member of our camp counselors on an outing to the beach. There were only four of us. In this man's mind, we were easy targets. Once at the beach, he would take each of us, kiss us and tell us that God loves us and so does he. I am very fortunate to have blocked out most of the rest of what happened. But, it planted a seed of guilt deep within my soul.

    So, I will shout from the rooftops to protect those who have endured this kind of abuse. Those children who were manipulated by twisted scriptures and fear. FEAR!!!!! At 47 years old, I have finally found the strength to confront all of this crap I was taught and to purge it from my soul.

    Barb and Julie Ann, I ask that you please forgive yourselves. You did the best you could with what you had to work with. It's never too late to start anew. My mother is gone now and she never had the chance to apologize for her role in all of this. But, I forgive her 100%! Because SHE did the best that she could with what she thought was truth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John - there are so many stories. Keep telling yours. Wow - tears are in my eyes - I pray I may never stop feeling the pain that others have endured. Thank you, thank you for sharing your story! I join you from that rooftop.

      Delete
    2. John, so glad to see you posting here as well! You ROCK!

      Delete
  39. As a parent who was brainwashed into believing the same way you believed by the church system, I can relate to why you and your husband reacted toward Hannah the way you did. I too came out of a fundamentalist baptist church/cult. The spiritual abuse is so rampant in Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches that it boggles the mind. We women are degraded and suppressed; controlled and manipulated through the twisting of scriptures; so are the men. The attitudes and Peer Pressure are strong in these types of cults. When we escaped, we lost everything we had ever known, but we broke free from the bondage. We rebuilt the relationships with our children that the church helped to destroy because of its abusive teachings, and are now living an abundant life. My book, Religion's Cell: Doctrines of the Church that Lead to Bondage and Abuse has many testimonies of the tactics and abuse these churches use against congregants to control them. It also contains victims testimonies as well. Download the e-book and feel free to quote any of the abuse and tactics you wish. The things I talk about in the book may be helpful to you in your fight against these "Homewreckers for God." Cynthia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When things calm down, I'd love to read your book, Cynthia. Thanks for posting. It's nice to feel the support from someone who truly understands.

      Delete
  40. I WANT TO BE SUED, TOO!

    Jim & Casper are on your side, Hannah and Julie Ann. We wrote "Jim & Casper Go to Church" where we reviewed various churches, and then started a website, www.churchrater.com, that is LOADED with opinions about various churches.

    Apparently, we could get sued as well. WHICH I WELCOME. Few things are less Christ-like than suing someone.

    WE WANT STAND WITH YOU. Care to have an organized picket outside Beaverton "Grace" Bible Church (grace is in quotes as I think this church has foregone grace) this coming Sunday, May 20?

    Let us know! We're on facebook, and here: info!churchrater.com
    Matt Casper

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Picketing is protected free speech. I don't have a problem with it. I exercised my First Amendment rights, didn't I?

      Delete
    2. It sure is free speech. And your posts are free speech, too (opinions are not libel).

      Seriously: read about me and Jim and let us know if you'd like our support... we have been hosting a church rating site for years, and there are things that echo what you have said (albeit, about different churches) all across churchrater.com.

      No one has threatened a lawsuit yet... YET!

      Delete
    3. WOW. I can't believe what I am reading. Picketing? Really? I don't go to that church, but think of the way even this blog is affecting christian. It is making GOD look bad. Do you even care? People are commenting about how this is an example of why God is terrible.

      You both should be trying to contact other member and trying to save them. I believe picketing is a form of shunning and that is what you were fighting against.

      Delete
  41. Sadly, your behavior towards your daughter was just as abusive as anything the church did to her. You may have been influenced by the church, but the final decision to shun her was yours. I hope she can forgive you and that you learned a valuable lesson.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You most have skimmed the post. What a shame.

      Delete
    2. Once again, someone chooses to hide behind the veil of anonymity to spew their negativity. Unless you have been under the spell of Fundamentalist Christianity, you will never know the hold it can have over you. There is a verse, often quoted, about hating your family in order to love God. It is well used and misconstrued in order for the church to gain control.

      Before you pass judgment upon others (another Fundie trait) check your own house first!

      Delete
  42. What Matt Casper is saying is that he and I would like to join you in protesting in front of Grace Church next Sunday. We would also invite our many friends in the Portland Area (Christians and Non Christians) to join us in protesting the Beaverton Bible Bully who has taken this action against you. What do you think? you in?

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  43. As a mom, I know it was hard for you to turn your back on your daughter when she had the courage to leave. I know that you felt torn and I also know that you felt like you were doing the right thing. It took great courage for you to admit fault and to question the teachings of the church. I have not experienced it personally but I understand how the church can have such a strong hold on everything that you are. After all, we are called to follow God above all else. It breaks my heart to see such a large number of "Christians" who are really just church goers, some are more abusive and controlling than others. They might even be fans of Jesus, but they certainly aren't His followers. After all, who followed Jesus? Not the self righteous, judgmental religious leaders who felt like they were already good enough. It was the sinners. The imperfect who wanted a relationship with a perfect savior. I am glad that you got out of that church. I pray that your daughter and family come to know God in a real and intimate way that is not religion but a relationship. Blessings to you.

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  44. Go Julie Anne, Go!!!!

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  45. It is so hard to actually express the amount of oppression and abuse that the IFB/cult puts its members through.
    I want to share with you a little bit about my story. My brother committed suicide due to the amount of abuse we endured. We tried to tell people in our church that things were not right. We were just told to not bring attention to ourselves or to read our bible more. These are not things that you tell children who are telling adults that there is something wrong. My brother's suicide was lied about to the congregation and to the student body. I found my brother - He did not die the way that was told to the student body. He hung himself with chains. My father admitted that he was told to lie about how his son died too. Yet instead of fighting back, he chose to continue believing the lie and not his daughter. My father admitted that the pastor of our church told him to lie. Why would that be? I was denied all forms of help after finding my brother that way. I was pushed back into the mainstream and told to be a good girl and not tell my version of how my brother died. I was told that I would get in trouble if I did. My brother was only 14 at the time. I was just 17. I moved on and did all that the church told me to. I did all I was supposed to as a good christian girl. I won all the christian character awards there were to be won during my senior year at this IFB school. I had a paid semester at Pensacola Christian College. I won these things based on my christian character. Yet, it was never good enough. I was never good enough. The oppression was so bad that on the morning of my 18th birthday, I decided that I had had enough. I too told my father that I could not handle the life that we were living. I was not allowed to take anything with me. I left with the clothing on my back. I moved to my mother's home. Because I moved there, I was then shunned because in the churches eyes and my father's eyes, I was living a worldly life. I was not living any differently. I still attended the very same church and I still had my devotions. I just chose to not live under the regime that was so oppressive in my father's household. Every decision my father made was made with the pastor of the church. I can not completely convey the heaviness of living a life so controlled. Just know that our IFB/cult church took preeminence over all things familial. So much so that my father would not even walk me down the aisle on my wedding day because he felt that the boy was unsaved. When I moved to my mother's house, all forms of any support -financial, emotional, physical dried up. I was living as a christian should. I was judged because I moved to my mother's house - a divorced woman - who left my father. I was called a whore. I was told that I would never amount to anything. It was eventually said to my youngest half siblings that I was dead just like my brother was and to never speak my name again. Imagine finding that out from your half-sibling years later. I was told by various family members that when they would ask about me that it was not known where I was - even though I tried for many years to recapture some form of a relationship with my father. Only through Facebook have my family and friends been able to find me and hear my story. There has to be something about a family in which a child takes his own life and two others decide to leave abruptly. Yes, my half-sister left the same way I did - with the clothes on her back. It should be known that neither one of us are allowed to have any of our personal belongings.
    I am happy to tell you that you saw that you were a victim too. You are not alone in this fight. There is a giant lumpy rug that the IFB/cult hides all their alleged abuses under. Slowly that rug is being pulled back to expose the allegations. It is a nationwide thing that is happening now. I hope that you will gain the exposure you need to fight this battle. I am behind you 100%.

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  46. I did not want to post anonymously - been trying to post here all day - the above post is by me...Stephanie Reger Davies

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    1. Is there a problem with the site? Yikes - maybe too many viewers? LOLOLOL hahaha!!

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    2. Such a sad story Stephanie. I'm sorry to hear of your brothers suicide because of abuse. May the Lord continue your healing.

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  47. Julie Anne, I'm curious. Several people have started lumping IFB churches in with cults. As the hostess of this blog, do you feel that IFB churches are cults?

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    1. http://www.baptistdeception.com/tag/cult

      Dear Curious - look at the above link. It defines a lot about the IFB and it's cult-like tendencies and how many view it as a cult. I feel fairly certain that there are others who will also be able to explain why many of the IFB churches are lumped into this category. It is important to remember that there is a lot of "control over" the masses. Julie Anne is being told to be quiet by having a lawsuit brought on her - that is "control over" her freedom of speech.

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    2. Thanks. I want Julie Anne's opinion, not yours.

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    3. oh, and BGBC is NOT IFB.

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    4. I don't know about IFB, but any individual church (whether affiliated with a larger group of churches or by itself) can have a leader who abuses his authority. Does a spiritually abusive church equal a cult? Not sure of that answer - I'm no expert. All I know is that spiritual abuse is certainly damaging and can leave many scars.

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    5. Curious is correct, BGBC is not IFB.

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    6. Oh well, Curious - so much for being kind. It doesn't matter if BGBC is IFB or not - the issue is that they are attempting to squash her first amendment freedoms - just like you have your rights to yours. Pardon my attempt to help you not be so "Curious" in regard to your question about IFB churches being "lumped in with cults". Have a great day...

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    7. I'm not terribley curious about what IFB churches believe because I'm in one, and personally I think that link you gave me was bunk. Not one thing on that page lined up with what my church believes. NOT ONE. So perhaps before you engage in blanketing one demonination as cult, you ought to do a little research yourself.

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    8. And Julie Anne, it seems possible that bad information is being passed around your blog. Might be time to take back the reigns.

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    9. Hey all, I'm not going to let this be a debate ground on specific groups. I'm sure there are other blogs for that.

      Can we keep this topic in general nature? Each person needs to discern for themselves whether their pastor is a true shepherd or abusive. Thanks!

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  48. Julie

    Are you interested in appearing with a group of concerned people to picket/protest your former church next Sunday? We would like to help put Spiritual Bullies like your former pastor that they cannot make threats to people and not have any ramifications. It is our silence on these matters that outsiders/non christians see as more of an indictment of our faith than speaking up. Silence IS slander to Jesus. Let me know. info@churchrater.com

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    1. I'm sorry, but I will be at church service during that time - especially since it's the day before the court case. Thank you for the invite. I appreciate your efforts so much. Someone take pics, please and send them to me!

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  49. If you can't be there we will defer at this time. Your presence is what the press would show up for. Have fun at church

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    1. I will be at the courthouse on Monday at 9AM. You are welcome to come there for support!

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  50. JulieAnne,

    First, huge hugs. I'm so sorry about all the pan and hassles you're going through.

    This is the first I heard of any of this so I'm still trying to piece together the whole story. I do know that it involves very UN-Christian behavior on the part of your pastor. And I know that Hannah was abused and couldn't take it anymore, so moved out of her home.

    But there are still so many questions!

    Why did Hannah move from her HOME when she was being abused within her CHURCH?

    Did she tell you specifically what was going on? (You did say that she told you that she couldn't step foot in the church again.) If so, did you believe her? If she didn't tell you, why didn't she?

    Why was she essentially punished for moving out, at the age of 21? (Not allowed to be alone with siblings, no help moving, not allowed to bring even a pillow or bedding, no involvement or contact from parents?) She had obviously been very close to her family, she had stated that the church was killing her and she couldn't step foot in there again, and she said (or implied) she had to save her sanity. You are a close family and intuitive, compassionate parents, so I'm reaching a disconnect because I know that you have always been deeply in touch with your children's emotions. What was it about her decision to move out that caused you and the rest of the family to remove yourselves in every way (emotionally, financially, spiritually) from the daughter you loved so deeply when she was doing something completely normal for a 21-year-old, but in such a pained, cry-for-help manner?

    I'm curious, now that the family and Hannah have mended the rift (I assume) what you would have done differently if you had it to do over again. I know that's a painful question, and I hope you don't mind me asking it. I'm curious how things could have been different, had some circumstances changed. What if a 21-year-old wasn't required to go to church with the family as a condition (??) of living at home? ("She knew that if she remained at home, we would have made her go to church with us because that is what we do as a family and that's what was expected...")

    It seems to me that shame, guilt, and fear are at the root of all this -- both for Hannah at church and for the whole family at home. That's what turns people inward (or outward in anger) when they're confronted with a crisis -- and if they haven't been encouraged throughout their lives to think for themselves and do what's right -- across religious, generational, and even authoritarian lines -- then they spiral into... well, into what seems to be real hell.

    I do not mean to be critical. But I do hope to save another young woman, another mom, and another family from going through what Hannah, you, and your whole family has gone through. And with all the press this situation is getting, maybe that's one way to help so no one goes through this like you all have. I think we need to teach our children to ask LOTS of questions (yes, even at church, even about spiritual teachings) and teach them to trust their guts and their instincts. If we raise them right -- whether in a religious home, an atheist home, or somewhere in between -- they will know what's right and wrong.

    I don't really understand the lawsuit yet (must read more), but the story about Hannah moving out was like a kick in the gut -- to READ it. I can only imagine what it must have been like to experience it.

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    1. Carol ::::waving:::: I'm going to post Hannah's story soon and I think it will answer a lot of your questions.

      I hope that someone will learn from our painful experience. I've already had many, many people tell me their eyes have been opened and they are ready to make changes. I am so thankful for that. That is the purpose of this blog. I am so far from perfect. I regret that I didn't listen to that voice inside that told me something was wrong.

      If Hannah's post doesn't answer all of your questions, you know where to find me.

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  51. Thank you for this honest, gutsy, vulnerable post!

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  52. AEEENCION TO ALL:::::

    TO THE PASTOR OF THIS CHURCH

    FIRST OF ALL U NEED TO REPENT AS A HEAD SHEPARD.
    SECOND U NEED TO APPOLOGIZE TOTHE PEOPLE,AND PUBLICKLY TO THE CHURCH BODY.

    WHY ?
    AS A LEADER ESPECIALLY YOU ARE NOT TO TAKE YOUR BROTHER TO COURT,AS A LEADER YOU ARE TO COME TO AN AGREMENT WITH YOUR BROTHER. NOT TAKE THEM BEFORE THE LAW,WHO IS CONSIDERED TO BE THE ((((UN SAVED)))).
    THE WORD OF GOD LETS U KNOW THIS,THEY CALLED JESUS A WINE BIBLER,BEASELBUB, AND HE SAID NOTHING. DOSEN'T THAT TELL YOU SOMETHING PASTOR. IT DOS ME !!!
    AND WHO AM I ? I AM AN APOSTLE HERE IN D.C.MD.AREA.
    REPENT REPENT REPENT OR GOD WILL SURLY JUDGE YOU FOR THIS!
    FROM THE APOSTLES DESK

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  53. To Hannah - I hope you realize that your leaving, as hard as it was, was probably the beginning of your parents' awakening. Sometimes it takes doing something hard, thrusting someone out of our life, for them to see abusive relationships they are in. Praise the Lord for your leadership!

    Julie Anne - you are an awesome mom and a wonderful example to the world of how honesty helps other parents. We all screw up, many much worse than you. It helps when other parents admit their mistakes and their pain. God is working through you both.

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  54. Of course I do not know of this particular church or the pastor. However, so many of these so called "Bible" churches have clergy that do not have seminary degrees, or even college in many instances.

    Often they are "start up" churches often in large part due to the ego of someone who feels called, but rejects formal professional training. Yeah, I heard it before, Paul and Peter didn't go to seminary, but they also already knew Hebrew, Greek, and perhaps some Latin. They didn't need to study ancient worldviews and philosophy. Since they were likely doing much formal on on one counseling, they didn't need to study and learn about family systems dynamics, child and spouse, substance, or alcohol abuse. Many of these "Bible" churches exist as their own entity with no accountability to anybody.

    Of course there are many goodly men and women who do ministry without professional training, and yes, there are some bad apples who have gone to seminary; however, all in all some professional training only helps one be a better equipped minister.

    When I go to a physician, I want somebody not just "called" but trained, aka, St. Luke likely didn't go to medical school either but no doubt would have found med school very helpful.

    As one who has taught philosophy, religion, and even the New Testament in college, I can tell you that many of these independent church pastors are really uneducated and really don't understand the Bible, all the time while they teach it with great authority, (aka the Dunning-Kroger effect). It reminds me of somebody who knows all about a 55 Chevy, they can quote all the specs of the car but they don't understand how the car was designed and built.

    When you go to a church, ask how the pastor was trained and educated. Who is he or she accountable to? Is their church part of a larger fellowship, perhaps one that understands that other churches are valid? Or does the church teach that somehow they are the only ones with the truth? Or that somehow they have more truth than others?

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  55. Religion, belief in a god or gods is a mental illness, the sooner people realize this the better.

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    1. Your comment makes me wonder if you were ever caught in a spiritually abusive church. So many who were end up hating religion, hating God.

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  56. Thanks for sharing the link. I believe my mom has a lot in common with you. I found out later that she told a friend of mine that her heart broken when I left. She has found a lot of strength through my speaking out about living at home to stand up to my dad and she doesn't let him manipulate her anymore. I'm very proud of her.

    your daughter is blessed to have a mom who has seen her faults and seeks sincere forgiveness from her. Thank you, as a daughter who's been in the same shoes Hannah has been in, for doing that.

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    1. Chryssie Rose: I hope that others can learn through our pain and our experiences. People can connect with personal stories much more easily than if they were told: Patriarchy is wrong, courtship doesn't work, etc. There is a lot of unhealthy teaching going around in the homeschool movement.

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