Friday, May 18, 2012

Walk the Talk!

Countdown:  3 days until court hearing.  Drawn by Resident Artist, Age 9

This is a fairly new blog, but there are a lot of new readers recently and I would like to welcome you!  Never in my life would I have imagined this.  But as my new pastor told me:  it is what it is and I'm rolling with it.  

This blog shares my experiences and of what is commonly known as spiritual abuse.  I hope this blog can be of help to you and will spotlight the deeper issues of spiritual abuse so that people can identify what it is, learn from their experiences or the experiences of friends and loved ones, and heal as they rediscover what true religion is, what a true shepherd looks like, and most importantly, learn who God really is to them. 

This blog allows a platform for readers to comment and share their stories and sometimes I like to highlight them.  Today, I'd like to highlight two older comments from last month:

AnonymousApril 30, 2012 9:50 AM
We were never sought out after we left either. I am certain that the reason given for our absence had nothing to do with the real reason we left. Suffice it to say that the pastor/elders did not want it widely known that they had discriminated against a disabled child.

AnonymousApril 10, 2012 10:05 AM
Intimidation is one of the main tools used by the leadership of this church. Over the years I watched them intimidate and oust single mothers, widows, the mentally ill and families of disabled children. It doesn't surprise that after these "successes" they turned their rage to more powerful and spiritually strong individuals (like you!).

What does God's word say about true religion and the care of the less fortunate? 
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.
Drawn by 9-yr old Resident Artist

We no longer live in the Portland area, but I have a lot of friends from around the area who have been sending out notifications on their Facebook wall regarding an event that is happening in Portland tomorrow.  The Pregnancy Resource Centers of Portland sponsor a walkathon "Steps for Life" each year to raise money for their organization which helps pregnant women in real practical ways.   Each year, our former church has participated in this event.  

My family used to attend this walk.   This is a special day in which we celebrate life:  the life of the born and the unborn, the young and old,  the healthy, and people with special needs.  All life is precious, designed by God for His purpose and to be respected.

However, the last time I attended this walk was not such a celebration.  I was there with my kids.  It was about 6 months after we had left the church.  Let me tell you about our last time at the Steps for Life event.

The event is opened with a prayer.  The person leading the opening prayer was my former pastor.  As we walked around Pioneer Square downtown Portland, my children spotted children from our former church.  These children used to be among their closest friends.  But we were being shunned.   I told my children that although their former friends may not talk to them,  we were always to treat people respectfully.  I told them that being respectful means acknowledging people with a greeting when they see someone they know.  This is common courtesy.  My children did just that.  I hung back at a distance.  I knew how I would be treated by the adults, but figured I would not prevent the children from talking to them if they wanted to.  I had prepared them ahead of time.  It felt awkward.  

The adults didn't turn and walk away, as they had earlier, yet it seemed they  were uncomfortable with our presence.  So odd - Christians not liking other Christian's presence?  What is that?  Their expressions showed it all.  They purposely kept their eyes diverted away.  The mothers of the children at first let our children meet, but then gently tried to guide them back.  They were not rude, thankfully.  We've been treated worse, but still.  

I eventually went toward the group to get my children.  I tried to look into the eyes of my former friends.  I addressed them by name and said it was nice to see them, but they kept their eyes from connecting with mine and continued to look forward.  I did not want to play that game, so I just greeted them and then walked away.  I do remember one lady (who has since left) who slightly nodded.  I think she was struggling.  I have a hunch she will e-mail me after reading this to see if it was her.

Very soon, after my former had finished with the opening prayer, he returned to the group and they began the 2-mile walk together.  It was such an odd feeling.  Balloons floating, families together, happy people, and this group from our former church, people I had sung with, played with, prayed with, eaten with, and camped with continued their ridiculous shunning.  I still had no clue as to why we were being shunned.  Nobody had told us we had done anything wrong or why we were in "church discipline" or being excommunicated.

What strikes me now is how hypocritical this was.  This church says they honor and respect life, yet they treated my children and me like dirt.   The pastor  prayed about the value or life and respecting life, yet disregarded ours as rubbish by the way they treated us. 

I suspect they will be there Saturday.  It's a tradition.

It's easy to get up on Saturday morning with families, meet at the church for donuts and caravan the 20+ minutes to downtown Portland.  It's easy to watch your pastor lead the opening prayer.  It's easy to walk the 2-mile trek wearing signs saying that you respect and value life. 

But what about during the rest of the year?  How about walking in the trenches with a family with a difficult case of special needs, or a family who has mounting medical issues requiring childcare and transportation.  Sadly, since beginning this blog, I've read more stories than I was aware of. 

Was that same respect shown to elderly, widows, children with special needs, families with financial burdens?  I knew stories of when I was there, but now . . . since this is in the media . . . more stories are coming to light of being abandoned, neglected.  My heart aches.

This kind of false religion - showing a public image of respecting life, yet neglecting the true needs of the hurting, needy at your own church is a big problem in many churches, not just my former church.   It is a common sign to look for in churches.  Pay attention to your church.  Are they walking the talk?

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.
Psalm 37:23


  1. Julie Anne said: "I still had no clue as to why we were being shunned. Nobody had told us we had done anything wrong or why we were in "church discipline" or being excommunicated."

    This is something I would like to know, too. Just what was so wrong in their eyes that you were no longer welcome?

    And if the shunning was part of "church discipline" after you were no longer a member, then you may have cause to sue your former church. If there were negative and untrue comments made from church leadership to the church members after you were no longer a member, then you also may have cause to sue. Once you are no longer a member, the church has no legal grounds to attempt any form of discipline.

    So if you have never been told why you were kicked out, do you have any thoughts as to why that happened? If you have not, please share the article I told you about on my site regarding this issue about the separation of church and state and how this no longer pertains when a person's church membership ends.

    1. I believe it would be boiled down to "questioning authority", Lois.

      We were never members of this church.

      I think we were kicked out because he could tell we had very strong opinions about the way he handled the firing of a staff employee. He could probably tell we wouldn't be so comfortable there anymore and perhaps speculated that we'd be divisive.

    2. Soooo... all the headlines about "Church sues former "MEMBER" is just plain media manipulation. Check.

      Now re-read what Phil Johnson wrote...
      "A believer who takes a fellow believer to court for any reason always loses the case in God's sight. He has already suffered a spiritual defeat. He is selfish, and he discredits the power, wisdom, and work of God, when he tries to get what he wants through the judgment of unbelievers."

      You Julie Anne are equally and firstly guilty of this same crime. You brought your case before "unbelievers" for judgment long before "Chucky" sued you. You now accept and applaud Atheist help, it's plain an clear to me, you are no better than your accuser in this regard. "You are the Man" would be words spoken to David by a prophet exposing his Adultery. All sin is sin against God himself.

      God will often use/allow ungodly people to bring judgment on His own who deserve it, but woe to Him who God uses/allows as well.

    3. Are you understanding what I meant by saying that we were never members? I mean that we never went through the official member process of the church. We attended, but were not official members. Members is a confusing word because many take it to mean they were simply congregants.

      My heart is clean before God.

    4. Oh thanks, I think I get it. Clean as in fornication without marriage because you were only "living together" for 2 years, doesn't count for "adultery" exactly eh?

      It makes it easier on your conscience to play games like that, I'm and ex-expert, who got very skilled at that too. (Like you I falsely thought) At least I wasn't as bad as the other people I know who are worse. Hypocrite alert! It comes from self righteousness, we all suffer badly from this, and it is a disease worse than cancer in that it is always fatal.

      You don't exactly get a divorce if you weren't married. You don't exactly get kicked off of or out of something you weren't “involved” in. You can't apostatize or fall away from something you never did belong to. Yet you blame your illegitimate lover for all your problems (especially Hannah), and were not willing to commit yourself. You have to appreciate the irony in that no matter what you believe about God and Church and who the Body of Christ is.

      Cult leader or not, you had to provoke and win the approval of any ungodly person to win your case. You did. The ungodly and atheist love you! You represent the ultimate rebellion. They wouldn't really know the difference between different cults, to them a Mormon is just as godly as Chuck or John MacArthur, they all speak against Homosexuals as being in sin, so they must be the same thing.

      I've skimmed or read every article you posted. I've followed many of your links. I have true empathy and sympathy for your situation because I've been to this Church and at the same time you were and was ditched by the “evangelism team” at the Rose Parade. I'm horrified for you not because of the lawsuit that will come to nothing (he shouldn't do that)... but because you are still speaking “Christianeese” and by your words and actions, you prove you haven't found the Christ it speaks of.

      Its a great first step to leave a false religion, but keep stepping, and turn your whole heart to begging Him for the help you need to find the truth. Otherwise you will end up with 7 demonic spirits worse than the first.

      So walk the talk ;)

      JIm Jones you ask? I actually met him face to face and walked with him in Grants Pass Oregon, just days before coming to your BGBC.

      I posted this after he passed.

    5. This is the Jim Jones I was referring to:

      However, after reading your post 3 times, I'm a little unclear as to what your primary point is, but I'm tired, so I might be missing something plain as day. Sorry!

    6. Julie Anne, I suspect he has issues with the way Christ speaks to you, and to others through you. This does not make you wrong, or does it put you in the "bad guy" category of Christianity.

      It means he doesn't understand it.

      IMO, the idea that he thought you meant a man from Grants Pass, OR when you mentioned Jim Jones on a blog about spiritual abuse tells me he is either quite young or has no idea what has horrors have come in the name of Jesus prior to 1980.

    7. So, I am trying to make sense of all this. Julie Anne, you say that you were "spiritually abused." So, that is why you've spent the last couple of years trying to make sure that everybody knows that you feel that you were mistreated, and to keep as many people as possible away from BGBC.

      I am just curious to know what role, other than victim, you played in all of this is. A conflict is very rarely caused 100% by one party. My family went to BGBC for a short time. It was only about a year, because the church was simply too far to drive to, and there was another really good church in our area we wanted to get involved with. However, most of the people there, especially Pastor Chuck were always very nice. In fact, we see them every year at Steps for Life, and unlike your experience, they don’t shun us. On the contrary, they go out of their way to visit with us every year. When we started going BGBC, I don’t remember you ever greeting us or welcoming us to the church, so perhaps you were shunning us?

      I don't know why they are shunning you, but there must be a reason for it, since this is not what we experienced. Most of the people on this blog probably haven’t taken the time to hear the other side of the story. As I understand it, BGBC is alleging that you (or someone named in the lawsuit with you) called Dept. of Human Services on them. If that, and some of the other things they are accusing you of doing are true, then I can’t blame them for not wanting to talk to you. It looks like you have made every attempt to paint Chuck as a monster, and BGBC as an apostate church. And, you wonder why they don’t want to talk with you?

      It seems that you have been really upset by the way your friend was let go from being on staff at BGBC. Does that have anything to do with why you can’t simply find a new church, move on, and leave BGBC alone? Or, is it simply their stance on modesty that you are so highly offended by that you can’t let it go? If that is the case, there are plenty of other churches that couldn’t care less about modesty, why don’t you just go to one of those? Who was forcing you to go to BGBC anyway? If it was so unbearable, why didn’t you leave sooner? Why pass the blame onto someone else. Exam the Scriptures for yourself, and if you feel that the pastor or church is in error, go somewhere else. That doesn’t mean you have to spend the remainder of your life attacking them.

      Didn’t you, and the other two families start coming to BGBC after leaving another church (I thought I heard it was Southwest Bible Church)? Did you have the same experiences there? I would be interested in hearing your experiences there, as well as hearing what the people who knew you there have to say.

      Look, all I know is that there are two sides of a story, and you are not playing the role of a fair and balanced reporter. I hope that the people reading this blog are smart enough to read the other side of the story before making a judgment. If you have found a perfect church to join up in Washington, please don’t join it, as you would just ruin it. News flash, there are no perfect churches because they are made up of sinners. Unfortunately, we are all sinners (hopefully in the process of sanctification), and will be until Jesus returns. That means that we need to step it up, and show patience, love, grace, and mercy to others, especially those in the church. If you have a problem with others in your church that is insurmountable, then it is best simply to peaceably move on. I don’t see how trying to destroy Chuck and the rest of the people at BGBC is doing that. Perhaps if you would just let it go, they would drop the lawsuit? It could be a starting point of discussion, anyway. I would hope that levels heads would prevail, and the courts could be left out. I don’t see how this blog is helping, however.

    8. Scott - you really must continue reading if you are basing your perception on one year at the church and you somehow managed to leave the church "well". I can name many, many families who are living in fear right now. If I added up all the families including new ones that I have come in contact because of this blog, it would number over 100 people by now. This is not a personal issue, but a church-wide issue that has been going on well over a decade. Some former members are reaching out to me and telling me their story for the first time (via private e-mail). They thought they were alone. It is heart-wrenching. Please do not be quick to think all is well at BGBC and I'm just one disgruntled former church congregant. Maintaining a proper image was paramount there. It appears you bought in to that scheme. The truth will come out. It's messy and ugly, yes, but it needs to come out.

    9. Sad, so typical of these other members who, when you lodge a complaint, are quick to point back at you as the problem. Surely you are not sinless, but that doesn't void your complaint. Are we to be perfect before we bring a charge against someone in sin? Good grief.

      Also, just because one person DID NOT experience it does not mean others DID NOT or that if they did then the fault obviously lies with others. In some families, one sibling will get on GREAT with the abusive/coercive/manipulative parent. Why? Because they've learned to play the game and comply with the demands, or simply have not run afoul of them yet and the less-compliant sibling is still there as a foil to take the hits for them. The one sibling looks at the less-compliant one and says "Why can't you just do what you're told? Why do you have to be that way and cause trouble?" And the parent thinks or says "why can't you be like your sibling?"

      In a small way I have seen it in my own family where one daughter (who is STILL a troublemaker that many of us don't trust) had at one time publicly stated on her website that her parents were always supportive of the kids and their activities. Why? because she happened to choose a career path that the parents agreed with and supported. She seems blissfully unaware of how many times the other siblings locked horns with Dad (and I do love my dad btw but I learned early on in my teen years how to deal with unbiblical guilt. It actually HELPED our relationship in the long run and I was more able to honor him as I ought. Unbiblical guilt is a damper on a person's spiritual growth and true freedom in Christ).

      My eldest sister chose a career path that my dad and her mom supported. Others who wanted to do something else were made to feel guilty that they were wasting their lives and absolutely were NOT supported in that. It did not rise to the level of abuse, but even there you can see the myopia. You can't say that "because it didn't happen to me, it must not have happened to anyone else either, or if it did it's because they're just rebellious" which translates to "they're obviously not as obedient as I am." How arrogant. THAT is the height of self righteousness. "I thank thee Lord that I am not like that unsubmissive Julie lady over there causing trouble and slandering people that I think are pretty awesome..."

      I am always astonished with people who so callously display their ignorance of how this worldly method of group-think and coercion works in every group, and tragically even in the church. It's a very NORMAL way for unregenerate human beings to operate and it's one of those things that will creep in if you don't actively guard against it. But when you are still a part of it, it's hard to see the forest for the trees. It's only when you get put outside the camp that you can even start to realize the larger picture.

    10. I'm also extremely curious what Scott considers a "better" church. I would like to check it out so I can see more clearly where he's coming from.

      Am I reading that right, Julie? You didn't say hi to Scott while you were under a coercive oppressive system, therefore you must be the problem? 0.o

  2. "If you have not, please share the article I told you about on my site regarding this issue about the separation of church and state and how this no longer pertains when a person's church membership ends." should say share it with your attorney. :)

  3. My family left on our own, even had a meeting with the pastor and his wife, they asked to please not leave. We left, 6 weeks or so we found out through others as they were 'kicked' out we too were being shunned and 'excommunicated'. No one at the church told us anything as to our 'sin'. They did show up at our home, like Julie Anne's uninvited and shouted (I say yelled, thought this is up to debate according to Chuck and his elders) we needed to repent and our sin had found us out. We called the nonemergency police line AND the officer spoke with them telling they could not come to our home. Allegedly our new pastor gave them permission to come to our, he offered to sit en masse with the others to settle the dispute..BGBC declined. This is all my own personal own opinion.
    These folks run by their own terminally unique directives, in my opinion, and it is just plain wrong!

    1. Meaghan - don't change your words to appease them. If your opinion was "yelled", keep it. That's your opinion. It's protected speech. Free speech on this blog, baby :)

  4. I would suggest you take a look at this cult checklist, The Advanced Bonewits’ Cult Danger Evaluation Frame. The late Issac Bonewits was a Pagan and was well versed in recognising and countering cult practices. His checklist is not written from any particular ideological viewpoint so it can be applied to any group whether faith based or not. You can find his checklist at the following link.

  5. Took the time to view about an hour of various sermons posted by Chuck O'Neal. I think I'm getting a better picture of his outfit. As an outside observer, it seems pretty clear that what is being taught is exclusionary rhetoric and one man's interpretation of the writings of ancients. So, it is no surprise that Mr. O'Neal and the rest would be inclined to give the cold shoulder to those who find fault with his dictates. I still can't believe this man and the elders of this church, would be so eager to try and suppress others' opinions and pick a fight using the legal system. This will not turn out well for them as public opinion has predicted.

  6. James 2 NIV
    "2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?"

    So tell me now, is it discrimination when they tell parents of other three year olds that they should be in church with the adults but they tell the parents of a three year old with ASD that he should be kept in the nursery?

  7. "You've never met a mere mortal. Everyone is either an immortal terror or an eternal splendor." - C.S. Lewis

  8. Julie Anne,

    I think that none of us reading about this situation can possibly gather enough information to adjudicate it properly. I have spent hours reading your posts, listening to sermons from BGBC, and looking up pertinent Scripture.

    Was Chuck wrong to bring a lawsuit against you? Absolutely.

    Were the church members wrong to “shun” you and your children publicly? Unless there is some proven application of 1Cor 5:11, I think that they were terribly misguided.

    Were you wrong to treat a church like any other consumer service that one can write a review for? I think so. (I say this with all humility and a virtual hug, the same way that I would say it to any real life sister)

    My heart aches for the portrayal of the Body of Christ that this situation is giving to the watching, ever-critical, cynical world at large.

    I will be praying that both parties will put their desire to be “right” aside and follow the example of our Rescuer and Redeemer who emptied Himself of His “rights”, even to death on a cross.

    1. Hi Barbara: I appreciate your comment and can tell that you are speaking your heart with humility and conviction.

      You are not the first to comment on this aspect: Did Julie Anne need to post a Google review in public for all the world to see?

      I thought and prayed good and hard over this. My husband gave me the green light. All avenues of communication were attempted before this, to no avail.

      I felt like it was rescuing a toddler off the train tracks from an oncoming train. The problem going on in this church is serious and now after having this blog, I'm hearing from people I never knew who are telling horrific stories.

      You might think differently about it if had you experienced it first-hand.

      Thank you for your prayers. I do want to be God's servant and hear from Him.

      And thanks for the virtual hug :)

    2. I have to say I am glad she put the Google review up. There are as many churches like this one as there are good, loving, churches. Churches such as BGBC prey on the weak. The goal is to get them in the pews, get their tithe in the offering, get them volunteering, and then scare them into staying. Especially if they have developed close friendships with other members and shunning is involved.

      People need to know.

      Every "church" does not represent Jesus. In my lifetime, I have found only one, and it is long gone and changed. I find Jesus in every moment, occasionally visit a church that I adore the face of Christ on their members, and home church now and then with other friends who believe it should be done that way, but mostly, I fall into the "Un-Churched" category. There is far too much crazy to be found for me to want to waste my time when I can, and do, walk with Him at my side and in my heart every minute.


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