Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Round and Round We Go: More Court News!!!

We have a new update:  The other original mother on the case has now been voluntarily dismissed from the case yesterday.  WOOHOO!!!!!  I am so thrilled for this family!!!

Admin note:   My daughter and I have discussed this and because this case is so public, we have just gone along with that and have used our real names here.  But I have been careful about disclosing the identity of the other defendants (except for Meaghan who has now been posting publicly).  

When Chuck O'Neal filed the lawsuit, it made our names public in the courthouse documents which also meant that the public could access those documents.  I am normally a fairly private person on the internet.  Chuck changed that for me.  My kids tell me that you can Google search "Julie Anne" and see pictures/articles of me on the first page and pages and pages afterwards, as well as videos on YouTube, you name, it.  I can't hide.  OY - so much for privacy.  Thanks, a lot, Chuck.   But in the meantime, if I discuss the other former defendants, I will not be naming them.   In this discussion, I will be referring to them as "Kay" and "Jay". 

Shortly before the first hearing on May 21, 2012, we got word that the only male defendant "Jay" was voluntarily dismissed from the lawsuit.    And as of yesterday, his mother, "Kay", was voluntarily dismissed.

Since most of my readers have probably not read the legal documents, I thought it would be interesting to show exactly what  Chuck attributed to Kay and Jay so you can see what he calls defamation:

Their attorney, Herb Grey, did a fantastic job representing Kay at the hearing, noting several reasons why Kay could not possibly be charged with defamation, any one of which should have dismissed her from the case.  Obviously, Herb was compelling enough that the "other side" decided not to fight it anymore.  Let's see why.  I blanked out the names. 

Here are Jay's alleged defamatory remarks (keep in mind Jay was dismissed before the hearing):






Is the above defamatory?  What do you think?

And here are Kay's alleged defamatory remarks that Herb Grey defended.  Keep in mind that these comments were posted "Anonymously" and Kay does not ever recall making these remarks.





The link mentioned above shows the full context here.  You will also see that someone came to the defense of the pastor in the comment section.

Well, Congratulations, Kay and Jay - we're thrilled that you are now free from this mess.  Now you may resume normal life!   Praise God! 

71 comments:

  1. We are very happy to see one more off the list. We will keep praying for the rest of you. The Lord is at work.

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  2. This seems wishy washy to me, lol. I get a kick out of it. Chuck sues you, me, Kay, Jay. Removes Jay, adds Meaghan, removes Kay. It's almost a math problem. How many people is he currently after? It changes every month. Part of me hopes he drops the entire lawsuit, so his "flock" don't have to pay more than they already do. I hope his church realizes they are paying for his salary, but also for this lawsuit, and if he loses or drops people, they are on the line for the fees, court costs, and attorney's time. Did they all really want to go forward with this? Is all this really worth it for them? Is this the best use of their hard-earned resources? I, for one, wouldn't want my money to go to a lawsuit that popular opinion seems to think will lose. But part of me wants Chuck to go all the way to the end, because maybe that will be what it takes for them to see the light and how he's treating them, and has treated so many people.

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    1. Well said, daughter! Come up and see the fam. The pool is now open :) The sun is out. You might have forgotten what that is in Ptown ;)

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    2. Planning on it next month!

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    3. Except for the most hardcore BGBC loyalists, I would expect ay level-headed church member to say something along the lines of "MY A$$ I'm paying for your legal fees!". They have no obligation to pay one red cent of any of that financial burden. It's all on Mr. O'Neal. I would bail out of that church NOW before he tried to rope me into that mess.

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    4. Beloved in RecoveryMay 30, 2012 at 1:49 PM

      Math problem ... I love it. Homeschoolers gather 'round. "If your former pastor sues 5 people, then adds 3 more names, but removes two - how many people are being sued?"

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    5. hahahahahahahahaha :) Great story problem!

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  3. So there is no evidence that these alleged defamations came from the named defendant at all, which means that the allegations were false. The plaintiffs should be held in contempt for bringing to court allegations against a person with no evidence that that person was involved in making the allegations.

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    1. Correct, Arce - plaintiffs provided no proof that it was defendants' words, statute of limitations existed on online words - and it was well past that timeframe. Remove all that, the words are still opinions and opinions are not defamatory. Oh, "Wolf" is a religious reference, and religious references are thrown out. I could go on. Herb was fantastic. I had a hard time restraining the excitement that was bursting from within. :)

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    2. So it is legal to call Chuck a creepy wolf. I love it!!

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    3. Ed- Calling someone a creepy wolf is an opinion which is protected speech. "Wolf" is protected as an opinion and on religious grounds because of the scriptural reference, so you're safe there on two counts.

      signed, Julie Anne who is also a homeschool student along with her children learning the ins and outs of lawsuits, the real meaning of defamation, anti-SLAPP, learning the value of relationships, the power of the internet/media, and most of all learning that God is in control.

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    4. I am sure that there are a lot of us Public Schoolers that are learning all of this with you as you go along. Lots of good information from people here.

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    5. You are being sued for defamatory? I know what's wrong with religious leaders...Jesus warned us (Mathew 7)...and it's what the bible tells us...not me or anyone. Hope everything goes well Julie Anne.
      One more question: Are these religious leaders living under the laws of Moses? With the perfect sacrifice of Christ, the law was brought to an end (Galatians 3:10-14,25; Romans 10:4;6:14.

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  4. I find it interesting that #1 that they could accuse or try to bring a case against someone when they could not prove if they were the "anonymous" and #2 that someone came to try and defend him on that blog essentially 2 years after the fact. That seems a bit strange...like someone was trying to drudge something up now that it's in court and I wonder where they were two years ago? I know many of the people including the "pastor" believes he's following God's will and that he's a "fine" teacher but it appears he's not truly following the Word of God by his practices...because if he was it's doubtful that all of you would be in court and that there would be so many that God is helping heal up from the major spiritual and emotional scars coming out of his "fine" teaching. Stay strong and keep holding on to the Lord as He will see you through!

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    1. Exactly. And tell me something else - when was the last time you did a Google search on your pastor? Is that something that normal congregants do? Something seems odd about that to me.

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  5. Chaplain's SpouseMay 30, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    Chuck does not seem to be operating from a place of spiritual wisdom or maturity (spiritual or otherwise). People in leadership of any kind need to develop thick skins, because even when it isn't fair, criticism always comes. It's inevitable.

    I don't know him personally, but I looked at his profile on the church's website. A flag for me is that it looks like he didn't go to seminary. Instead, he just has an undergraduate degree. Like Chuck, we come from a military background. My husband has counseled a lot of young guys who wanted to get out of the military and become pastors, but they didn't have a bachelor's degree yet. Many just wanted to go to a 4-year school and move on, but my husband (who also has a strong ministry background) counseled them to get their bachelor's degree and then go on to seminary (an additional 3 years).

    While we don't sit in judgment on the ones who didn't take this counsel--after all, we do not presume to know God's will for everyone else and do not have the final say on what's right and wrong if scripture is silent--we see issues with their ministries. There is a stubbornness, a lack of patience, and a "rightness" that invokes thoughts of the Pharisees.

    I don't know if this is true for Chuck, but it fits the pattern of what we have seen and experienced.

    I continue to pray for repentance in this situation. Pride has no place in the pulpit.

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    1. I have mixed opinion on this. I agree with much of what you say, especially how seminary can better prepare one to manage a church. But on the flip side, did Paul have a seminary degree? Does God require teachers/shepherds to have that piece of paper? I don't think so - that is a "modern" thought. I know this is a highly debatable topic.

      I do think it was a mistake that Chuck was put into a a pastoral position so quickly. I think he should have been mentored and certainly should have had better accountability before having full reign and after (yes, that implies authority that he did take). In our meetings with elders, we discovered they did not hold him accountable as they were required to do. This was a mistake and a costly one.

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    2. 55 years a Baptist mostly SBCMay 30, 2012 at 10:40 AM

      Julie Anne,

      Paul was a highly educated man for his day, essentially a lawyer (Romans reflects this!). In addition, after his salvation, he spent years in study under tutelage of at least one church leader, prior to becoming public with his teaching/preaching and his writing.

      I do not think the degree is necessary, but if more people went to seminary, I do not think we would have so many abusive pastors in pulpits and trying to stand in God's stead over them.

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    3. Chaplain's SpouseMay 30, 2012 at 10:56 AM

      Believe it or not, I have the same mixed opinions. Paul didn't have a seminary degree, but he also met the Lord face-to-face and spent years alone under the Lord's teaching before he ministered in public.

      I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater or make sweeping generalizations. All I can say is that we have seen a pattern. There is a lack of maturity and what I'd describe as impetuous behavior in the people we've known who didn't want to "waste the time" going through seminary that has carried through into their lives. Seminary isn't the be-all and end-all, and I can say that my husband doesn't consider every single class he took to have been necessarily invaluable in his ministry. What seminary does reflect, I guess, is the willingness to take the time, prepare and learn as much as possible, and do the work. It also shows legitimacy, and while I cringe when I type that because I can't think of a better word, I will try to explain what I mean. I don't mean that people who don't go to seminary are illegitimate. What I am trying to say is that seminary offers substantial preparation for serving in ministry, and churches who have a seminary-trained pastor generally know what they're getting.

      Again, there are teachers of God's word who have only been trained through their own study of God's word who are better ministers than some who have a master's of divinity and even doctorates. I'm not lumping people into categories and making judgments; at least, I'm not meaning to do so. I am just saying that, for me, a pastor with just a 4-year degree is a flag. That doesn't mean it is a deal-breaker; it's just something I'd want to investigate and find out the reason(s) why the pastor didn't go to seminary.

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    4. From what I understand he actually did attend a seminary, but he left before completing his course work there due to disagreements with the teachings. I don't know if that is true, it's just what I've heard.

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    5. Actually Paul was a Pharisee of Pharisees. He was a lawyer of the law of Moses with tons of education background. But he considered all that education as dung. Check out Philippians Chapter 3:5-8. And if he considered it dung, what does that say about seminary? The 11 Apostles (excludes Judas), did not have any formal education. Jesus said that he had much to teach, so Jesus is the teacher, and we are the student. Whether Apostle or not, Apostles are still a student (disciple) of Jesus.

      Philippians 3:5-8
      5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

      6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

      7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

      8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

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    6. I love all the comments here. I think if I were a pastor, I would most definitely not agree to the pastorate without having some sort of accountability in place. I think I would also seek out a more seasoned person - whether in the pastorate or not doesn't make a difference, but for personal accountability. When people assume authority or control, things can get out of balance if they are not in check.

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    7. While the question of whether a pastor should have seminary training or not is debatable, the Scriptures have very clearly defined qualifications for elders.
      Titus 1:5-9
      5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you— 6 if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 For a bishop[b] must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.
      1 Timothy 3:1-7
      This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, [a] he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money,[b] but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

      It is my opinion that Pastor O’Neal misses the mark in so many of these qualifications. Some of which is obvious by his recent actions. And lest someone is tempted to say this should not be said publicly I refer you to the Word of God: Also, think about Paul publically rebuking Peter.

      Titus 1:10-11, 13b, 16
      For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11 whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain...Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, ...They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

      Please read Titus 1:16 carefully. God is letting us know that while a pastor may have all his doctrine lined up it is possible to "profess to know God, but in works they deny Him"!

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  6. I would like to read a transcript from the hearing. Is there one available?

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    1. I don't know. I'll ask my attorney and report back.

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    2. My attorney notified me that anyone can purchase the CD. You will need to tell the clerk the case number, date, and time.

      Washington County Courthouse, Hillsboro, Oregon
      Case #C121174CV
      May 21, 2012 around 10:40AM

      She thought the cost might be around $10 for the CD.

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    3. Thank you! In retrospect, I shouldn't have added to your burden by asking you about this, but I appreciate the information.

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  7. If this case doesnt get entirely thrown out will it go to a jury trial? If I post a negative comment on google about a bad experience at any business they wouldnt sue me. I mean thats what those are for. This blog mainly got publicity because of his lawsuit. Its all so ridiculous. Maybe he should sue himself for all this drama.

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    1. If we lose the anti-SLAPP, there is an immediate appeal process. My attorney has told me that sometimes the lower courts are not as familiar with Anti-SLAPP laws, so it's not out of the question to lose in the lower courts and then have it heard at a higher level court where they have a fuller understanding of the anti-SLAPP law.

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    2. Nate, As long as the review you post is true and you can prove/ document it you will be fine. On the other hand businesses have successfully sued for bad review that were created to damage competitors. Currently Yelp, Judy's list and Angie's list all have numerous cases pending. Rip off report.com has been successfully sued and has a string of unpaid judgements (operated by off shore proxy servers.

      What makes Chuck O'Neal's litigation unwinnable is an entirely different matter , quite extensive and very amusing. He has made a fool of himself nationally, embarrassed his church (if they have any sense)and probably condemn his church to remaining a little rinky-dink church as long as he is the pastor. If I attended there I would move for a vote of confidence on him at the next church business meeting. We can't have incompetent,poorly educated (seminary free) ego driven tyrants running our churches.

      Beaverton Grace Bible church in now as notorious as Westboro Baptist on a national level. Mr. O'neal was attempting to silence public evaluation and discourse about himself and his church. He has now received literally more exposure than any church I know off except Westboro. National TV news, numerous papers, radio and tons of horriable reviews all over the net.

      Nice job Chucky, you have made an complete Dunsky of yourself. Now go sue me so I can file for change of venue and you can face a true litigator that will ruin your "church" with run away legal costs. You totally deserve it.

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  8. I continue to be curious about the legal implications of this lawsuit, as I believe it has become a major object lesson for churches, Christian non-profits, and ministry networks in America.

    (I do project management work, as well as organizational design and development. Also, I am working with an international team that is creating a system of qualitative indicators that mark (un)healthy, (non)transformative, (un)sustainable churches, ministries, and projects. So, I'm watching the kinds of actions being taken surrounding this lawsuit as indicators of whether the church does things "decently and in order" from a biblical standpoint, whether there is non-profit compliance with their own internal organizational documents like constitution and by-laws, and whether there is compliance with external rules, regulations, and laws.)

    Anyway, Hannah's comment made me wonder ... since the official plaintiffs jointly listed on the Amended Complaint of April 26, 2012, are Beaverton Grace Bible Church as an Oregon non-profit, and Charles O'Neal as an individual:

    (1) Does it require an official meeting of the non-profit/church membership (with any of their prescribed/required actions, such as prior notice, quorum, record keeping, etc.) for a defendant to be added or removed to the lawsuit?

    (2) If these steps were supposed to be done by the non-profit, but weren't, and there was a unilateral action on the part of Pastor O'Neal as an individual, does that remove any/all liability from the non-profit as plaintiff and place it completely on the individual plaintiff?

    (3) If the plaintiffs lose, could there be non-financial legal consequences or non-profit status questions?

    Anyone out there with expertise have answers or insights on this, or related questions I should be asking? Thanks …

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    1. 55 years a Baptist mostly SBCMay 30, 2012 at 10:47 AM

      I think it is apparent that Charles O'Neal has been granted, either officially or by consent to his actions, dictatorial powers in this church, with a couple of hench-elders as his assistants. So I doubt they even have business meetings to approve lawsuits and Chuckie (intentional movie reference) does whatever he chooses. I suspect that if he loses, it will be the end of the church, which has two assets, a membership and a building with furnishings. My crystal ball sixth sense suggests a bankruptcy coming, in an attempt to avoid paying a judgment.

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    2. Most state statutes allow for a three person board for a non-profit, and for a church that could be the pastor and elders, although that is an invitation to abuse. That board would then have the ability to commit the organization. In this case, it appears that the elders defer to the pastor (again, stupid!!!), so that the church is committed as a body to the suit on his say so. If I were the defense attorney and they win, I would insist on a lien on assets, with a payment plan and interest, and be prepared to foreclose. Perhaps then a real church could exist on that site someday.

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    3. Many Baptist church's, although they have a board of deacons or elders, defer to the Pastor as their arch-leader, allowing him singular control over the church. As pointed out this can be quite dangerous.

      I believe the biblical model for how a church should operate is through a circle of qualified elders, neither one having more decisive power over any of the others. This helps check any errant dictatorial tendencies, and holds each elder accountable to each other to lead according to the dictates of Scripture.

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  9. So very glad Kay and Jay are off the suit. I believe I know who they are if only distantly. I am very happy to hear that they are no longer under attack of The Chuck.

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  10. futurist guy,

    I do similar work as an attorney, and formerly (pre-law school) was a management consultant with most of my practice in the area of managing the liabilities associated with hazardous materials and wastes, including accident prevention and response. Would love to get to know more. Perhaps Julie Anne can find a way to share our emails. She has mine

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  11. Hi Arce,

    Hi Arce, Julie Anne contacted me with your email address. I'll be in touch sometime soon ... am in the midst of an intense writing schedule. And, in case people are interested about some of what motivates me to ask these kinds of questions, my original major in college was public administration, which included Constitution Law. I'm formally trained as a linguist, which is about detecting language patterns ... not just learning second languages. And I'm informally trained and working in cultural interpretation, ministry contextualization, and strategic foresight (i.e., I actually am a "futurist," observing cultural trends that are shaping the future). I'm trying to get a sort of group "MRI" reading on this situation to better understand where similar issues could potential go in the future, and why. "futuristguy"

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    1. I did some future projections 30 some years ago, looking at emerging energy technologies and the potential barriers to realization, including political, social and economic barriers, as well 15 years ago, advising clients on where they should put effort in pollution prevention -- which kinds of processes and streams, based on projected future regulation.

      Also did impact analysis for projected economic developments, both new facilities and closing military bases.

      All before going to law school.

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    2. Cool ... will be in touch by email, Arce. Meanwhile, thanks for your many contributions to help us understand the situation and implications of this lawsuit more fully.

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  12. What a roller coaster ride for all of you.

    I just wish to share again after reading the many comments on various posts here since it appears some are sharing they were disciplined after leaving a church, that when you leave a church you feel is unhealthy, make sure you officially resign. As people are learning, courts will not interfere with religious squabbles over teachings and the like. However, once a person has officially ended their membership at a church, that church is NOT permitted to "discipline" that person in any way. Should they do so and should they cause the person harm, the church and/or its pastor can be held liable in the courts. An article explaining some of this, as well as giving legal references, can be found here: http://spiritualabuse.org/experiences/lawsuits/separation.html I used to feel that it didn't matter much whether you gave a letter of resignation or not. However, when I was researching a lawsuit that a former church member brought against their former pastor for slander (which she won by the way), I started learning what the courts will and will not do in matters that pertain to churches.

    One other thing I will mention. Let's just say that the church wins against everyone they have included in their suit. Despite such, they will actually lose and have already. Think about it.

    A few people made some reviews over the years. Probably only a handful of people ever saw them and most likely these consisted mostly of former and current members of the church. Even when Julie Anne's blog started, only a small number saw. My guess is that these handful of posts probably never stopped anyone from visiting the church.

    But with bringing this lawsuit and the other things that happened surrounding the events, literally hundreds upon hundreds- and into the thousands- of people now have heard about the church. People who never ever would have heard had it not been for the lawsuit. Other churches and pastors, who never heard now have. So very many have gotten such a bad taste in their mouth after hearing about it, that they would probably never consider visiting. Not because of some online reviews. Not because some former members shared their personal thoughts and experiences. Not because of words like creepy, wolf, or spiritual abuse. But solely because of the actions of the church and pastor in bringing the lawsuit.

    Their church members should think long and hard about what this has cost them already. Forget the money aspect. All the money in the world won't fix the bad reputation they now have due to their own actions.

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    1. You are absolutely correct, Lois. I know on this blog during the height of the frenzy, there were 17,000 to 18,000 hits on my blog alone and most of those were from people actually doing a Google search to find the blog, not from a direct link. Normal blog hits prior to media attention was 250-400 hits. The wife of my boys' youth pastor heard about the case from my son who mentioned it in a prayer request. She did a quick online search and found one article with over 65,000 hits, another with over 40,000 hits. That would not have happened without the lawsuit, period.

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  13. You homeschool them kids? Or just Blog the day away.. Lol

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    1. You have some constructive criticism to offer? Or do you just go to BGBC.. Lol

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    2. I'm pretty sure "Anonymous May 30, 2012 12:12 PM" is a BGBC member. She writes like she talks.

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    3. Oh snap! Burn!

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    4. Well, obviously I do blog the day away :) This is true. I have my phone by me and can moderate comments via e-mail (love this new feature I recently found).

      But you raise a good question that I'm sure a lot of people have, so I will give a longer response.

      When I was in school, my teacher would give a brief introduction to a lesson and then assign the lesson to be done at our desks. The teacher would then generally be at his/her desk and available for questions and we worked independently. So in essence, a traditional school teacher might be able to maintain a blog in her classroom if she wasn't interrupted by questions. Teaching is not always one-on-one and certainly not all day long. Hmm, wonder how many blogging teachers there are out there - lol.

      I only have 6 kids at home compared to that 25 that a traditional school teacher may have. My homeschooling philosophy is to raise independent learners. It is a team effort between my husband and me and is not during specific hours, but all hours, all days (including the summer), and it is simply a lifestyle.

      This lifestyle of learning is taught by example. Ie, when we moved to a new house with many fruit trees, we realized that we would have way too much fruit to handle, so the children observed me researching the internet/library for what to do with that fruit. That first summer, I learned how to can and dry fruit. It was a family effort with all of us learning in the process. I knew they had passed the test one year when I came back from a trip to find a counter loaded with jars of jam. A friend of mine realized I was missing raspberry season while away and took my kids berry picking. They came back with probably well over 50 pounds of berries and Hannah supervised the processing of the berries. That is real schooling: teamwork, researching, measuring, following directions, etc, and we all got to appreciate the "fruits" of that learning all year long.

      As they get older, one-on-one time diminishes. They become very independent and know where to go to find their answers. For example, they use Saxon math which is geared to homeschool students. A new concept is taught at the beginning of each lesson. They read it to themselves and then work the practice problems. If they are unable to succeed with the practice problems, we have DVDs which correspond with the Saxon books. If they still don't understand it, they can go to Khan Academy online and watch another video (this is a great resource, by the way http://www.khanacademy.org/).

      There are so many resources available. Just because I am a homeschool mom certainly does not mean I do all of the teaching. My job as a homeschool mom is to oversee their schooling, whether that be through tutors/co-ops/public school classes/online classes or independent learning and give them the tools so that they are able to find the answers and then let them soar. It has worked for us.

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    5. I home schooled four kids. And shared responsibility for a business with my spouse. Kids went to college and have been successful (which proves I actually home schooled, in case you were going to apply they left home at 18 with nothing in their brains). There is more than enough time to work with our kids and spend hours during the rest of the day doing something else too! After all, even school kids only go from 8 to 3. Plenty of people with full-time jobs, which home schooling is, blog at night or during breaks.

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    6. Judging from Hannah's excellent writing (and her recent college graduation), you've done a good job with homeschooling!

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    7. Thanks, Julie Anne, for laying that out for us. There are so many advantages to the type of homeschooling that you and your husband employ that I only wish all children had that kind of educational oversight and encouragement, the kind that gives them the freedom to independently and inductively explore as their interests lead them. A child goes camping and sees the stars and naturally wants to know more about the heavens, this may lead to a desire to understand certain maths and sciences. The same child may see something disturbing on television which creates a desire to understand geopolitics, economics, the power of ideologies, etc. You give them the tools, the fishing pole and bait, if you will, to allow them to explore on their own, to feed themselves, to be in a sense self-educated.

      The term "self-educated" however is a bit of a misnomer. We always have teachers, even if their voices reach across the expanse of centuries, through their written works. I bring this up because this relates to the question as to whether pastors need a seminary education or not. Here’s my take. I’m a highly educated man (and as you can see I’m quite humble about it too), nevertheless, my education mostly came from outside the institutional hoops and tracks of degree programs. Most of my knowledge came independently through books, not dictated to me in a classroom. For example, I have strong theological background. I started out as a boy going to a Christian school, taught by my parents, and more than anything Taught by the Holy Spirit. This last acknowledgment in and of itself is why I can not accept the idea of being “self-educated.” No, the Holy Spirit is our ultimate Teacher, directing us, for instance, to profoundly good Spirit inspired educators—like Hodge, Berkhof, Grudem, Erickson, Keller, to name a few solid theologians who have taught me much.

      Here’s my point, every Pastor MUST be educated in the Word of God. Now how he gets that education depends largely on the leading of the Lord, personality and gifting, geography and opportunities, one thing or another. Here in the city of Pittsburgh we have but two seminaries, they both are Presbyterian. One is so liberal that I would warn anyone who isn’t grounded in Scripture to avoid studying there (even though I did study and tutor Biblical Hebrew and Greek there, and have made extensive use of their library). The other is so legalistic that I would warn everyone away from it (you want to talk about serious spiritual abuse, don’t get me started about this institution!)

      So here’s the danger of a seminary education from either of these institutions. If a fresh young convert feels called to be a pastor and goes to either one of these seminaries, chances are he (or she—as is found in the liberal school) will most likely be shaped according to the spirit of the teachers and theologies taught there—educations which I personally believe to be in spirit quite destructive to the body of Christ. So if you tell me you have an MDiv or Doctorate from any of these schools you become automatically suspect in my book. Now this is not to say there aren’t some reasonable good seminaries out there—like Covenant and Calvin and Westminster.

      Again, I just want to register my two cents. A pastor does not need a seminary education. In fact, certain seminary programs can be more hurtful than helpful in the development of a pastors personality and theology. What does need to be emphasized is that pastors DO need to be educated, however that comes about, even if it’s an education begotten from a prison cell.

      I would even stress that a pastor needs to have some working knowledge of Hebrew and Greek to avoid making errors in his preaching. These are necessary tools for the pastorate. Nuff Said. For Now. =]

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  14. I've known Chuck for years. I've never been a member of his church. Candidly, I am not a big fan of that brand of Christianity; but to each his own. Chuck has always seemed like a decent enough guy; however, I purposely avoid the subjects of religion and politics when speaking with him. In my opinion, his personal views on both religion and politics are a bit fanatical.

    This lawsuit is silly. Chuck is going to lose and will probably lose his church soon after. If Chuck disagreed with the original internet posts made by the defendant, he should simply have made his case that the posts were wrong. What he seems to want to do is censor everyone who dares disagree with him. How un-Christian! And how un-American! (especially for a guy who is a Marine and claims to be patriotic)

    I'd be interested to know if church funds are being used to advance this ridiculous lawsuit. If so, the IRS may want to look into revoking the tax-exempt status of Chuck's little enterprise.

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  15. Let me also offer something to a few of your readers. For years I have recommended the book, "The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse" by David Johnson & Jeff VanVonderen. To me, it's the most helpful book on the subject.

    I give away a number of books, mostly to our support group members. This week I ordered a number of copies of this book and they should arrive next week. I would like to offer five copies to the first five people who contact me from reading this on your blog (please mention Julie Anne's blog in your email). My email is found here: http://www.spiritualabuse.org/contact.html No charge, no catch. Please supply a mailing address when you write. This is limited to those with a mailing address in the USA.

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    1. Lois - Thank you so much for your offer. I hope people take you up on this wonderful gift!

      :) Love this!!!!

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    2. I may be able to supply more than five, depending on the interest. So far there have been no takers. I have found that it can be hard to give away books sometimes. Similar often happens when I make the offer on our Facebook page. I understand people being hesitant to share a mailing address. Some have shared their work address, which is fine as long as you are able to receive mail there. I would just like to be able to have a small part in helping those coming to your blog who are hurting. If I could give a copy to everyone here, I would.

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  16. Lois, I'll be happy to highlight your offer in my next post. Another idea is I can contact some who have e-mailed me privately who are really in some difficult situations. They may not read the posts/comments daily.

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    1. Either or both would be fine. I am open to ordering some additional copies. We have given books and some other items away at our online support group for a number of years now. Still do. It is great to be able to help people in this way!

      Another book that may help your readers is a fiction one called "The Gathering Place" by Becca Anderson. Sometimes something fiction can help as people can relate and yet it doesn't feel like their church is being attacked. It is out-of-print but my understanding is that it will be re-issued this year when her new book comes out that is a non-fiction about a cult involvement. Becca was a guest on our support group board when "The Gathering Place" was released and will be returning when the new one is published. I have a list of various books and DVDs that can be helpful to people: http://www.spiritualabuse.org/booklist.html

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    2. Lois & Julie Anne,

      You might like this post the was written on another site.

      The Story of a Flock - A Parable

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    3. Thanks Jeannette, the parable brought tears to my eyes. I anticipated early the Orwellian turn (i.e., 'the upright ones') in the parable. I was hoping the author would throw in a few pigs and dogs (cf., Matthew 7:6, 'Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.')

      Here's a quote from George Orwell's parable Animal Farm. You can do so much with it, like change the word 'kill' to 'sue.' (Suing, of course, is really but an attempt at a legal kill):

      'A few days later, when the terror caused by the executions had died down, some of the animals remembered--or thought they remembered--that the Sixth Commandment decreed "No animal shall kill any other animal." And though no one cared to mention it in the hearing of the pigs or the dogs, it was felt that the killings which had taken place did not square with this. Clover asked Benjamin to read her the Sixth Commandment, and when Benjamin, as usual, said that he refused to meddle in such matters, she fetched Muriel. Muriel read the Commandment for her. It ran: "No animal shall kill any other animal WITHOUT CAUSE." Somehow or other, the last two words had slipped out of the animals' memory. But they saw now that the Commandment had not been violated; for clearly there was good reason for killing the traitors who had leagued themselves with Snowball.'

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  17. Lois,
    Appreciate the book offer too. The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse was a great help in my doctoral research project. Another book, Healing Spiritual Abuse was a great help too. Having a book in one's hands is super. You can underline it, write notes in the margins, and lend it to pals in need.

    Getting one's own answers about spiritual abuse and recovery is something for everyone to work towards.

    There are some short articles on my website which might be of interest to a number of people, especially those at various stages of the recovery process. There are also helpful resources and links.

    Check out: www.ChurchExiters.com

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  18. I notice Jay's comment was about shunning and church discipline has been mentioned. I don't go to a church that disciplines. Can you explain what this is and why this is?

    Can people go to the church who are in the middle of a divorce? What if a man is committing adultery or is an alcoholic and struggling, can he still go to church? Is he supposed to give up his membership and withdraw? Or what if he is not ready to publicly confess?

    What I've picked up from all this, and I know my understanding may be completely wrong, is that if you are not a Christian or if you are doing something the church considers a sin, you are not welcome.

    And I realize this may not fit this particular topic, it just seems that spiritual abuse may start there - with considering ourselves separate if we feel our relationship with God is right and that of others is not.

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    1. Jackie: In most Christian churches there is a discipline process modeled after Matthew 18 starting in verse 15. Although this specific church discipline process is stated in the official church documents, this was not adhered to by any of the families that I know of who were shunned. They are making their own rules as they go, it seems.

      Most churches would accept anybody, without regard to sin, and would work with them just as they are.

      They would welcome sinners to the church. Sometimes the sin is handled appropriately, other times it is handled inappropriately. That is what is confusing - there is a lot of good going on there, but a lot of bad that is being hidden. A quick way to discover the bad is by asking questions and leaving the church. That opens up a whole new can of worms - sometimes for months, if not years.

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    2. Thank you. It is confusing. Actually a great number of Christian churches do not use a discipline process (as a church though I know many Christians who follow the model up to taking 2 or 3 others), and I do not know anyone who has personally experienced it.

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    3. I think the beauty of the discipline process in Matthew 18 is that it really does work. Perhaps we don't hear about it so much is because it is confined to the 2 or 3 others before necessitating taking it to the whole church body. I have seen it taken to the body maybe a handful of times.

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    4. Jackie, such discipline should be rare, so it's a good thing if you haven't had much experience with it. Churches welcome sinners; we are all sinners. Jesus meets us right where we are. He does not ask that we change or be "better" prior to coming to Him (or more rightly, Him coming to us). As we grow in our faith, we should become more and more like Him.

      There is a difference between someone who is trying to walk in a relationship with Christ and someone who is defiantly doing wrong. Example: There was a young couple in my church living together but unmarried. They weren't believers. We welcomed them with open arms, brought them to Bible studies, and tried to love on them. We were given an opportunity to share the truth from scripture, but in love. It was honest but gentle and, I believe, in God's timing.

      Conversely, there was a couple having an extra-marital affair. Both were professed believers, and after counsel one-on-one, then with more, they still chose to continue the affair. Some church discipline took place in that they were asked to leave.

      We are supposed to correct each other in love.

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    5. If I recall Matthew 18, it deals with someone sinning against someone else that is of the same Church...not general accusation sin. For example, if I, as a member of a Church, stole a candy bar from another member of the church, and that member found out about it, he would come to me...not the church. Then if I denied it, he would bring other people...not the church leaders. If I still denied it, then and only then would church leaders get involved. In other words, you handle things at the lowest level of the chain, rather than going straight to the top of the chain. Even military discipline is that way. I was in the Navy for many years, and I had my share of discipline, and the commanding officer never got involved.

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  19. over 120, 000 hits~awesome...keep on blogging

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  20. What do you want to bet that Chuck is using this blog for legal advice and research? There's a LOT of great information being shared here. (But it won't do him any good. He's already doomed. Silly, dummy Chuckie.)

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    1. If he is reading it, I pray that what he reads will cause him to examine himself. I don't want him to be shamed and take no joy in beating him down. I just pray that he will consider that perhaps, even if he meant well, he is wrong.

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  21. Just came across your story. Guy sounds like typical right wing church leader filled with too much ego and not enough Jesus. The system of the Pharisees abounds in these graceless abusive cess pools of darkness claiming to share the selfless love of Christ. Sounds like the bumper sticker that says, "Jesus loves you, everyone else thinks your an asshole" applies to this bonehead. You will probably remove this but I hope it brought a smile to you in the midst of the ridiculous drama this idiot is inflicting upon you. Truth is power and when it threatens to expose darkness the battle is on. This self proclaimed man of God can't see that his heart is filled with dark intent. He has built a cathedral to his own glory and name and carved out his own little Kingdom. Shame on him! Can you imagine Jesus acting this way? Me either!

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  22. So glad at least someone gets some relief from this wolf... er... I mean... this nice man who is trying to sue their pants off for having an opinion.

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