Thursday, May 17, 2012

Julie Anne's Musings

Countdown:  4 more days until court hearing, drawn by 9-yr old Resident Artist

I have been inundated with requests to set up a Legal Defense fund.  That blesses my socks off.  Thank you for your support in this practical way.  

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I've got a Twitter account now:  

I'll probably need some hand holding.  If anyone can refer me to quick and easy tutorial, I'd appreciate it.    Twitter definitely helped to publicize this story. 

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Now this is funny.  I laughed and laughed some more.  This came in my mail (and I have permission to share it).  It comes from Pastor Ken Garrett from Portland:

We found out about your situation when our church (Grace Bible Church, Portland) began receiving tons of hits on our website--accidental visits from people who were actually looking for your old church.  Also, we've received a nasty phone call, and a couple of nasty/scolding emails that were intended for Beaverton GBC!  Strange world! Actually got my attention, since on a very heavy traffic day, our church website gets about 8 hits!  No worries, it was fun to think for a few nanoseconds that our site was going to go viral! :)

So people, please be careful not to send dear Pastor Ken Garrett nasty notes or phone calls.  He's on our side.  In fact, he along with his family has suffered spiritual abuse.   He tells me there are others in his church who are also on the road to healing.  Pastor Ken wrote about false teachers in his article The  Fingerprints of a False Teacher.  It's good and it's from Jude.  Love that book.

This is the really good part of his e-mail right here - from a pastor who gets it:

The main reason I've written is to share with you that my wife and I were involved in an abusive "bible-based" church for 12 years.  We did the whole thing: "discipleship training," high-pressure evangelism, spiritual elitism, criticism and disdain for other "backslidden" local churches, etc.  What dark hole!  What a painful exit it was for us, and our poor daughters!  It was here in Portland, is still in existence, although they've changed their name.

Now, we're at Grace Bible Church in downtown Portland, where I'm the pastor.  The main reason I wanted to write to you is to tell you that you are certainly not alone, the phenomena of abusive bible-based churches is not only real, it is largely unrecognized, and unappreciated by the church at large (just my opinion, here!).  Of course, we are still, as a family, processing and healing from the whole experience, although we've been free for over 15 years now.  I think the healing goes on until we finally see our tender-hearted Lord face to face!  But, I just wanted to reach out and encourage you to hang in there, keep praying, and trusting in God. 

Don't you feel the compassion?  And look how long this takes - it's a process.  People who have walked our path understand it can be such a wonderful resource for us.  Now Ken is using his pain for God's glory by helping others.

And he offers more insight in today's e-mail to me:

A strange thing I've noticed along the way of healing is that once people leave spiritually abusive churches they (most of the time) will never again subject themselves to another one (assuming that they left because of the abuse).  The problem is, many of them simply will never step into another church again, either!

Julie Anne's comment:  Yes, this is so true!  Go to the or articles (referenced in my sidebar at the top right) and scroll through the  thousands of commenters who say this is why they left the church and won't go back.  Many have left comments on my blog to that effect as well.

An abusive church rarely grows (numerically) beyond the size that the narcissistic pastor is able to control.  Ours never grew beyond 50 adults, and that's about as many as our guy could effectively control and bully.  More than that, and he felt out of control, and would find a way to drive the "fringe" people away.  As these leaders get older, their ministries often begin to shrink, because of their diminished abilities to control effectively....  Fun, huh?

Ouch!!   nailed it.

Now, Ken, I don't know if you saw this, but when I told Hannah about your sweet e-mail to me, she was multi-tasking on her computer and looked up your church's Google reviews and look what she found:

How funny is that!  At least no one mistakenly left you a negative one!

So anyway, friends, there really are some decent pastors around - ones who understand what we have gone through, will guide us, and not lord over us. 

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And last, but not least, here's a public shout-out to Rachel, my massage therapist - - - - I got my first complete night of sleep in some time.    Thanks, sweet thang!     Woohoo!   zzzzzzzzzz



  1. glad to hear you got some good sleep, been praying for restful sleep for you~adsense~on it...
    God is all powerful and blesses His children,
    love to you and yours

  2. Cultish intimidation via frivolous lawsuits for defamation is really more in the character of the Church of Scientology than any REAL Christian church. Beaverton Grace Bible Church is evidently not actually Christian. Who Would Jesus Sue?

    There's lots of crazy cults that try to piggyback off the widespread belief in the Messiah Jesus Christ and twist and distort Christ's teachings for the purpose of pursuing power and profit.

    Shame on Beaverton. Go ahead - sue me, too!

  3. Saw the news from and I am here to show some support!

  4. Some cellphone recordings could have greatly supported your cause. It seems that abusive prophets are common in this country; I have actually met victims of some twisted priests. Too bad that the country is a bit fundamentalist... People need to wake up. They must use reason and free themselves from dogma and subordination. One should listen to words that come from logic, nothing else.

  5. Loved that delightful account of hits on that 'other' church! LOL!

    Thanks, Ken for sharing. Glad to hear of your disheartening story and now the sensitivity that comes with this devastating experience.

    Yes, you are right: "The main reason I wanted to write to you is to tell you that you are certainly not alone, the phenomena of abusive Bible-based churches is not only real, it is largely unrecognized, and unappreciated by the church at large (just my opinion, here!)."

    Yes, so many Christians are oblivious to the fact that spiritual abuse happens at the local church level. If they have the experience--then they get it!

    So many of us would concur with your observation. Some of us talk, dream, joke, about some kind of a group that would be a place of appeal for people. Some have labeled it a Better Business Bureau. Others see professional organizations that monitor those who go beyond professional boundaries.

    Would love to brain storm and network with others on ideas like this.

    Thanks for your support for Julie Anne and for giving us a look through 'your window'. Yes, there are good and caring pastors out there!

  6. The only thing I disagree with is that narcissistic pastors only achieve small churches. My totally narcissistic former pastor has built himself quiet the kingdom with the strength of his personality and lots o manipulation. IMHO, of course...

    Also, many of us ex-fundy folk at http// are following this case on the forum side of the site. (I am not the owner or mgr, just a participant)

  7. When they try to use the defense your blog is what started the mass hatred of their church point out the news article about them suing your family is what really caused the hatred.

  8. To Anon about cellphone recordings - go to the church website and read the pastor's blog entries. Enough evidence right there of how he speaks of those who do not share his exact theological views.

    I've spent way more time on this today than I should have but it's too fascinating. A world I didn't realize existed. Shunning? In this day and age? The Amish, yes, but anyone else? This explains exactly why an old friend, now attending a similar church, quit speaking to me two years ago after discovering we shared different political views and she couldn't talk me to her side in 10 minutes. I guess that means I have to be nice to her now that she's reaching out again.

    I hate being convicted.

    1. Yes, Jaci! Show her grace . . . grace that she has not seen before. She was caught in a trap herself. Let me know how things go, okay?

  9. Here is the thread on the stufffundieslike forum about your situation:

  10. I disagree that when you are in an abusive church, you never go back to one. Some of us take more than one hit to realize you walked right back into it, and be careful not to do it again. I think it has something to do with the dance of a narcissist. They can turn on the compassion, and tone down the abusive rhetoric. In my last situation, I knew of this Pastor's reputation, but didn't see it displayed. I thought "we all learn and grow - he's probably changed." Nope. And yes, now I am afraid to try another church. We are homechurching for now, with the group who left. And I don't think there really is a church here (I've lived here all my life and I know what's out there) that is OK. One very near me - I love the Pastor's wife, but feel uncomfortable with the Pastor. There is something about every church that I have issue with, whether it's their doctrine, or name it claim it, or finding glitter on their hands (It's a sign!!) and crowing like a rooster, or pastor seems to not look you in the eye when he talks to you but seems fixated on other areas (even when you're dressed modestly and not particulaly curvy), another pastor seems wayyyy too interested in the children and raising red flags all over the place, I could go on and on and on. I have to be careful that I'm not taking on the attitude of the abusive church that said "we're the only place" but be discerning at the same time. The church is a mess! And I am hurting and have no idea who or what to trust any more. My main prayer is "Lord, help me... help us ... help our family." I have a son who doesn't know if he believes any more. It is heartbreaking. The one thing *I* know is that God is there ... and He knows right where I am.

    1. Great comment. I used it in the following post! Thank you!

  11. And we need to take into account that a church can become spiritually abusive when it formerly was not. It can happen with a change in leadership. That's why it's important that members be ready to talk with the leaders when they see the first signs.

    Example: I started attending a local congregation because they had a great adult Bible study. I've been a Christian for a long time and had longed for an in-depth Bible study. After a while, the group changed in make-up and the leader began to speak as though the group was separate from the larger congregation. Then he began to "preach" in the group meetings and the thoughtful Bible study was dropped. I told him that I missed it and was told that we were not going to do it that way any more because we had a lot of "new" Christians in the group who weren't ready for the more in-depth study. ("Milk" instead of "meat"- 1 Corinthians 3:2.)

    So a group of us started meeting as a weekly small group to do in-depth study. Sometimes we'd stay on a single chapter for several weeks. After a while we were told we were to stay on the same book and chapter the rest of the small groups in the church were studying!

    Now where is it in the Bible that the leadership gets to tell you which book of the Bible you should study? It wasn't too long before I decided there was nothing for me at that congregation any longer. It's good that Julie Anne reminded me I should be praying for them.

    Which brings up a concept I learned in my youth that's good to keep in mind: The Church is believers world-wide - followers of Jesus, not of a local pastor. Local groups are just congregations. When a "church" (congregation) starts setting itself above other "churches," it's time to watch out!

    1. I think you are absolutely right, Martha. I can merely look at my own life to discover that if I am not in check, I can certainly stray. We must stay vigilant.

  12. I noticed a reference to another abusive church in the Portland area. I was part of a branch of the Church of Christ that was unhealthy and controlling. One of their top leaders, a man named Kip McKean, took over a church in Portland. I think they were/are the Portland International Christian Church.


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