Saturday, July 14, 2012

Two Important Issues for Me

There were quite a few interviews I did, KPTV, KATU, and KOIN, and at one point there were a group of reporters and I think I counted five microphones in front of me with various reporters asking questions (yikes).  This occurred during a break time at the court hearing which was much longer than we had anticipated.

I have only seen a couple of the interviews and readers have shared with me that the plaintiff's side has now addressed the media.   

There are two issues really important to me that I would like to discuss to make sure there is no confusion.  

Last night, a group of us went out to dinner and we discussed this, too.  I have spoken with many former members and one issue stands very clear:  the former members do not have animosity towards current church members or even the pastor and his family.  There is sadness, anger at what happened, but overriding those emotions, the bottom line is we have a deep love for these precious people.  This former church was our family.  I know my heart and others have expressed the same:   our heart aches for what we know is going on there and what they are experiencing.  Just as we have experienced shunning, they are too.  I'm sure it aches their hearts when they see us in town and must turn away from us, avoid all eye contact with former friends with whom they were so intimately connected.   

If anyone was in the area outside the courtroom at either hearing, they could surely feel the tension in the room, see the diverted eyes, the stone cold faces because they are shunning us.  They are convinced what they are doing right and although we don't agree with what they are doing and how they are following the pastor, we hold no ill-will towards them at all because we once were "them".   Last night we prayed for them, too.  This is about spiritual abuse which we have experienced and so many readers have and are experiencing throughout the country and world.

The other aspect that has been frustrating to me is with the media.   I can try to share what I want to share until I am blue in the face, but the media has an agenda and will only report what they want you to hear.  I have discussed spiritual abuse in every interview.

The following statement is very, very important and I don't believe people are fully comprehending it and as of yet, I haven't heard the media reporting it very clearly, or at all:


I believe the lawsuit is an extension of the spiritual abuse.  

Spiritual abuse occurs when someone in a position of spiritual authority, the purpose of which is to ‘come underneath’ and serve, build, equip and make God’s people MORE free, misuses that authority placing themselves over God’s people to control, coerce or manipulate them for seemingly Godly purposes which are really their own. –Jeff VanVonderen

When Meaghan commented on my blog using her real name, she was added to the lawsuit.   I don't know that I have discussed this publicly on my blog, but since it was mentioned in court yesterday, I will mention it here.  Another former member was also threatened with a subpoena.   This was done in error by the pastor's original attorney.  My understanding is that in an anti-SLAPP motion, no subpoenas are issued, yet paperwork was sent out in error regarding the  subpoena of a former member.  When I heard about it, I contacted the former member who was naturally quite disturbed at the whole idea.  This was a huge disruption to their family.    

We believe the lawsuits and threats of subpoenas are being used to cause fear in former members.  I believe it is being used as a clear warning to former members that if they dare to comment negatively on my blog or anywhere else on the internet, they better be ready for a lawsuit.   Although I seem to be the primary public figure in this lawsuit (because of the blog and the most complaints), it's important to remember that the pastor has sued FIVE former members and attempted to subpoena one - so SIX people in all.  The media has had little to say about the others.

Spiritual Abuse occurs when a leader, church or a belief system, whether well intentioned or not, dominates, manipulates or castigates individuals through fear tactics, mind control, or some other psychological or emotional abuse. –Spiritual Research Network

Two of the defendants were dismissed and of course the subpoena did not follow through, but please consider the intrusion in the personal lives of these families.   Think of the two defendants and the financial burden placed on them, the emotional toll, physical toll, etc.  Think of the person who was threatened with the subpoena, waiting for it to arrive, wondering what was to become of their family's finances, etc.  This is now six people.  This is wrong!  People have the right to express themselves.  They should not be living in fear about what they discuss or share with others or what they post on the internet. Living in this kind of fear of what they can or cannot say publicly or privately is an extension of the spiritual abuse - - - and it is happening to former congregants who left the church months ago and even years ago. 




* * * * Added note to regular readers:  There is definitely increased traffic on the site which also means some visitors who may not understand spiritual abuse.  You may see this in recent comments, too.   After the media rush, things will calm down again, so please be patient :)   

75 comments:

  1. Julie Anne, a thought came to me yesterday regardling the lawsuit. One thing that an attorney will tell you is that most lawsuits never reach the trial stage.

    Trials are expensive. A trial such as this, if it were to get to that place, could potentially last a few days. You would want to have people testify on your behalf as to what was witnessed at the former church. Testimony would be given that demonstrated aspects of the words used in the online writings that are part of the lawsuit. In essense, much more could potentially be shared about what may have happened there and there would be a public record of that testimony that anyone would be free to see.

    I thought it was interesting the pastor showing a reporter a stack of negative emails he'd received, claiming it was a result of your blog. I dare say that it was a result of the lawsuits he brought into it all. That alone is what brought the church in question all the negative publicity it has received. You were an "unknown" to the world at large prior to this, as were your reviews and blog. Want to bet that most, if not all, of those emails are from after the lawsuit was filed and the media carried the story?

    But I am getting off the subject of what I wanted to share. My thoughts are that since most lawsuits never make it to trial (for one reason or another), my guess is that they may be hoping to force you and the others to settle in some manner before this stage if the judge doesn't dismiss the lawsuit. If that is the case, my thoughts would be to not do so. The burden of proof is on them to show that the things all of you have written has harmed the church financially to the tune of $500,000. In my estimation, that is rather unlikely.

    They should be wise and drop the lawsuit. Not doing so brings more and more and more negative publicity for them. Do they really desire to have former members testify in court as to the various things that happened to them while attending the church and after leaving? Where more things may potentially be shared than ever would on a blog and yet still be available for anyone in the world to hear about and read? And it is my understanding they wouldn't be able to sue anyone for what they say in court testimony.

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    1. Lois, you write: "my guess is that they may be hoping to force [Julie Anne] and the others to settle in some manner..."

      For the severe emotional and spiritual abuse the leadership of BGBC has inflicted on Julie Anne and others, the only sort of fair settling Team Chuck had better offer is remuneration to Julie Anne and others in the tune of $500,000 in damages. That's exactly how this harassment should be ended. How otherwise would other wolves be checked in their abusing of God's sheep?

      Teach other wolves not abuse the sheep of God.

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    2. An additional comment on the emails the pastor had is that any from people who do not live in the vacinity of the church are rather meaningless in supporting his case. Anyone who wouldn't live close enough to attend could in no way have hurt him or the church financially. If these emails are brought up in court, the defendants attorneys should make a point of this.

      Another thought that came to mind was reading the comments to two of the news articles. Some made remarks of how finally the media was willing to listen to the pastor's side (because he got interviewed). I definitely recall when this first hit the news that reporters contacted the church/pastor for comment and they were not willing to talk to the media. So that was an interesting spin some tried to make on it.

      And I meant to add, Julie Anne, that I agree the lawsuit appears to be an extension of spiritual abuse.

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    3. He declined comment for the original KATU interview (Anita Kisee) and also the KGW interview. The first public statement came with the MSNBC.com article (all of these links are on my sidebar).

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    4. Lois - my attorney filed an anti-SLAPP motion, so this lawsuit will not be going to trial. I believe plaintiff's intent was to go to jury trial (I read that on the original complaint). The anti-SLAPP motion is used for frivolous lawsuits on first amendment cases and was designed to be a speedy process, not the typical long, drawn-out process when you have discovery, jury, trial, etc.

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    5. I need to explain further about the anti-SLAPP. If the court deems the case meets the qualifications of the anti-SLAPP, it won't go to trial. My attorney is convinced that it certainly fulfills the requirements of the anti-SLAPP. Here's an historical Twitter lawsuit in Oregon she defended last year: Twitter Lawsuit

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    6. I realized that about the motion. I said what I did in the first post because I don't think the ones filing the lawsuit thought this through all the way. If they are upset now, they would hear many, many more things at a trial. Evidence would be presented. Those things would be open for anyone to hear and later read. And a person cannot be sued for testimony given during a trial as they are protected from such.

      So my thoughts were, did they really want all that to possibly happen or were they hoping to scare and pressure all of you to make some type of settlement before a possible trial? If a person was, perhaps, used to people caving in or becoming scared, the latter sounds plausible. Their threat in the legal papers of also filing for punitive damages goes along with this thought.

      For those unaware, punitive damages is monetary compensation in addition to actual damages and thus non-compensatory in nature. It cannot be given unless the plaintiff is being awarded compensatory damages. The purpose of a punitive damage is to punish the defendant and to deter them, or anyone else who might act in like manner, from doing similar in the future. They are awarded only in the instance of what the court believes to be outrageous conduct on the part of the defendant, actions seen as willful, wanton or reckless and causing intentional offense. If a court believes that what is awarded by the jury is unwarranted by the facts presented in the case or that they are excessive, the award can be reduced or removed. It appears to be that only a very small percentage of civil cases won include an award of punitive damages. Punitive damages are usually paid for by the defendant and not by any insurance company as intentional actions are not covered in policies.

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    7. Lois - I added my 2nd note on the anti-SLAPP because my husband thought it needed further clarification. It had nothing to do with your comment :)

      I concur with your 2nd paragraph. I have a hunch that he thought I would remove the blog once I was subpoenaed. He did not know me too well :)

      I need to ask my attorney more about this, but I remember her mentioning there will be no punitive damages awarded as she listed off some ORS law. That woman has a computer in her brain - she amazes me!

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  2. I believe the lawsuit is an extension of the spiritual abuse.

    Spiritual abuse occurs when someone in a position of spiritual authority, the purpose of which is to ‘come underneath’ and serve, build, equip and make God’s people MORE free, misuses that authority placing themselves over God’s people to control, coerce or manipulate them for seemingly Godly purposes which are really their own. –Jeff Van Vonderen

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    1. “The worst kind of evil is the wrong kind of love, love that clutches and possesses rather than loosening and liberating. . . . That is Lewis’ final statement on evil. Essentially, it is the wrong kind of love. . . . What the evil man calls love is only a sort of hunger aimed at the total consumption of the emotional lives of those around him. What he calls justice is the selfish granting of his own welfare and pleasure, whether on a personal or a universal scale. And what he calls good is that which will benefit his own aims at the expense or despite the needs of those around him. He is evil not because he wills to be an evil man but because he can do nothing else but will his own narrow desires.”

      ~ Janice Witherspoon Neulieb, reviewing Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis, in Christianity Today, 28 March 1975, page 16.

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  3. Julie Anne says that the current BGBC members averted their eyes and had stone-cold faces because they believe what they are doing is right.

    I won't comment on whether they're right or wrong. That is for them to decide by the Holy Spirit. What I will comment on, though, is this: Where is their love? Joy? Peace? Patience? Kindness? Gentleness? Goodness? Self-control?

    If you believe someone is wrong, you don't treat them as a leper. You reach out to them in love. That, in conjunction with the rest of the fruit of the Spirit, has seemed sorely lacking in BGBC's membership.

    1 John is very clear about how you identify a believer...

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  4. Julie Anne, I went to say hello to one of the folks of their group yesterday in court, someone I really care for and have appreciated his friendship while I was there, unfortunately, I was met with GREAT hostility, obviously making contact was a bad idea. What I witnessed was anger and quite possibly fear. It is so sad.

    As you know we are praying God would open eyes for dialogue with these folks. I think that if just one of them would be willing to actually sit down and talk with any of us, much good would be accomplished. At the very least they could say they have made an effort to get both sides of the story. Sadly I believe they are under pressure not too, and this of course is just my opinion.

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    1. Well, of course it is only your opinion, Don. You couldn't get sued for stating your opinion. You should be fine :)

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  5. Julie Anne - it is all so creepy, the shunning and the members acting as though you are some sort of evil monster. There really is only one logical explanation - here is my theory: the pastor has slandered you and your family in private with members, about things that if you knew, you'd be shocked. These zombies in the courtroom probably believe they have the "inside story" on you that other people outside the church don't know. My experience is that people in fundamental churches nearly worship their pastor, to the extent they don't believe he - or the pastor's wife for that matter - is capable of outright lies and slander. When the pastor or his wife says something about you or your kids or your husband, impugns your motives, or even makes up a story of crimes that you committed, claims to have seen you doing so and so - the people will believe it! That is likely what has happened to cause these people to act this way.

    Thankfully not all the people at my former church act this way, but some of them sure have. When the pastor or the pastor's wife makes up stories of crimes they've seen you commit, their worshippers can't process the possibility that they are being told a bald-faced lie by their "Man of God" or his wife. So they believe it, and think you're a monster.

    When you experience it first-hand, it is faith diminishing, almost faith destroying.

    That's my two cents worth.

    Keep doing God's will, Julie Anne.

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    1. Watchdog, you hit it with the first paragraph. It reminds me of something that happened at my former church the year I walked away.

      I had been away for a few weeks and when I returned, the church seemed in an uproar. There had been a Christian radio broadcast and the subject on this particular broadcast was spiritual abuse. Two former members of my church gave an account of their experience.

      A copy of this broadcast was later obtained by my pastor and he devoted an entire Thursday evening service while I was away and played this recording to the congregation. The intent was to show the members what others were saying about the church. (No location or name was mentioned, but if you knew this couple, you would have known what church they were speaking about.)

      This caused quite a stir amongst the congregation. Many became angry or upset, developing an attitude of, "How dare you say that about my church and pastor!" I did not like what I was seeing.

      I almost immediately heard about it upon my return. I was able to borrow the tape and listen to it in the privacy of my own home. Though I felt areas were somewhat exaggerated, I did not have the same intense reaction as the other members. At this point I was already questioning some things that had happened and were happening at my church. When returning the cassette tape, one woman at the church held it by the tips of her fingers, as if it were something contagious or dirty.

      So, a pastor can indeed get people in an uproar over an incident. There can be the "us vs. them" mindset because of it. Been there and personally saw it.

      Zombies in the courtroom- someone will pick up this name for a future zombie movie. LOL

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    2. Watchdog - that was worth more than $.02. Just so ya know :)

      Thanks!

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  6. Hi Julie! Glad you made it through yesterday! Sharon and Jeanie said it was a "fascinating" day, and were so glad to see you! I appreciate you reaching out to the folks who are still members of your old church, and expressing affection and kindness towards them. How wonderful a day it will be when one of them calls you up and asks, "When's the next time you're coming to town? I need to talk..."! That still happens to us, though rarely now, 16 years after we walked away from the madness.
    The dysfunctional, failing, abusive ministry that we were in was nonetheless a place where we bonded with others members very closely, and although leaving was a blessed exodus for our family--there was still the pain of disrupting friendships, esp. with the knowledge that by the standards of the abusive church, such friendships were absolutely forbidden in the future. After we left our group, the leaders pulled up the draw-bridge, de facto excommunicated several members who did not seem fully "on board" with their stories, changed their church's name, and actually made it tougher for the members who stayed--trying to weed people out who might cause "trouble," I guess. It's good to remember, in public settings with those in hurting, abusive ministries, that what you see in public does not correspond to what goes on in private. If you were struggling, hurting, and doubting while you were there--you can bet that some of them are, too. I'm glad you're keeping the doors open. Pastor Ken

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    1. Hey Pastor Ken! It was great to see Sharon and Jeanie there. I grabbed hugs from them. There's something so comforting knowing that someone has walked your path and understands. Those 2 precious ladies get it!

      You are so right about those who may be hurting privately. That thought breaks my heart because I know that pain.

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  7. I praise the Lord for your honesty, your courage, your love (and those with you at court), Julie Anne. And I praise the Lord that you continue to stand strong in His grace, providing a contrast to the behavior of Chuck O’Neill and those from his church.
    As believers, we are called to be light in a very dark world. How? Through our love, through our unity as believers and through lives that seek to imitate Christ. We are not to exhibit an attitude of anger or malice or self-centeredness, but one of love, forbearance and humility. As a pastor, Chuck O’Neill should be modeling these qualities as he leads and disciples his flock. Instead, he has provided an example that is in conflict with this attitude as well as the qualities described in 1Peter 5:1: shepherd the flock of God that is among you…not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.
    The larger context of our calling as God’s church to be a good witness can get lost in the fleshing out of this and other spiritual abuse situations. It is critical that the church understand, that as long as her members participate in this behavior, either by allowing her leaders to behave as O’Neill does or breeding disunity by shunning, we fail to be what the Lord called us to be. And we become more like the darkness than the light that is supposed to expose it. May the Lord grant His church repentance for allowing or participating in spiritual abuse. May He bring healing and comfort to those who have experienced the terrible injustice and damage from spiritual abuse. And may He use your situation, Julie Anne, to expose the critical need for His church to recognize this wrong and work to be rid of it.

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  8. Quote from Chuck's wife in the KPTV piece: "The only thing worse than a vicious woman is a group of vicious women."

    That statement by Chuck's wife as she looked into the camera is a prime example of the danger in this church's teachings. I find that statement to be sexist and extremely demeaning to women. I can think of many things worse than a "vicious woman." Like a pedophile, or a murderer, or maybe even a "vicious man". No, the bottom of the totem pole of humanity is defined by Chuck's wife: a vicious woman, and a group of vicious women. That is what this woman has been taught by her pastor/husband. Pretty sad.

    How sad is it that Chuck prides himself on being a man of the bible, believing it to be inerrant and infallible, yet he doesn't obey one of the primary teachings on love by Jesus. I think Jesus said a thing or two about not hating your enemies, but loving them. Did you see Chuck's wife's eyes as she said Julie Anne was vicious? I saw a woman filled with hate and rage against Julie Anne. I saw no love or mercy or grace. The bible is pretty clear how she is to treat her enemies. Oh well, I guess Chuck and the Mrs. don't believe ALL the bible, just the parts they like from time to time.

    And let's talk about "slander". This woman looked right into the camera of a TV reporter, and said Julie and the other defendants are "vicious". Do you know the meaning of that word? It means to be filled evil, wholly corrupt, and depraved.

    Chuck and Mrs. O'Neal, you probably have already persuaded many around the country not to become Christians.

    Julie Anne, on the other hand, handled herself with grace and dignity before the camera.

    Maybe we can say the only thing worse than an angry, vindictive pastor is an angry, vindictive pastor's wife.

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    1. Jerry Sandusky was convicted only weeks ago, and this lady thinks Julie Anne (and apparently her female minions? Why was I not invited to be a minion? I'm very disappointed hee hee) is the worst thing in the world?

      Wow.

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  9. Those who jump on the 'spiritual abuse' bandwagon have been proven time and again to be wolves in sheep's clothing. This whole idea of spiritual abuse is just another attack by secularists against the Body of Christ. Jesus, Paul, Mathew Mark Luke John Timothy Peter address this false accusation phenomenon frequently...there solution for lying was quite dramatic.By the standards espoused on this and other sites would be called 'spiritual, physical, mental and emotional abuse by you and your supporters.
    When the spirit of discernment really is exercised appropriately you would have no need for all this hypocritical attack dog rhetoric.

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    1. Bill-

      "Those who jump on the 'spiritual abuse' bandwagon have been proven time and again to be wolves in sheep's clothing."

      This is a classic tactic of those who enable abuse. Make a sweeping, unprovable statement that dismisses anyone and everyone who might have been hurt or abused - and paints them as the 'wolves'.

      But you don't stop there.

      "This whole idea of spiritual abuse is just another attack by secularists against the Body of Christ."

      You try again to dismiss with a blanket statement - insinuating that anyone who says that they have suffered spiritual abuse is in league with 'secularists' attacking the "Body of Christ".

      You then add...

      "Jesus, Paul, Mathew Mark Luke John Timothy Peter address this false accusation phenomenon frequently...there solution for lying was quite dramatic."

      This is an obvious attempt to use fear of going against the bible to persuade people that Julie Anne, et al, are liars. The thing is, the evidence suggests that the one lying is not Julie Anne but rather Mr. O'Neal and company.

      Your words suggest to me that you are (in my opinion) either a staunch member of BGBC, an abusive pastor in you own right, or simply a blinded sheep who places more faith in the institution than in Christ and is thus angry and frightened when the institution and those upholding it are threatened.

      The only 'hypocritical attack dog rhetoric' I have heard so far has come from BGBC and its supporters.

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    2. Bill Wickens, is this yoUr mug?

      The only comment I saw posted on your blog was this one directed at yoU

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    3. Let's see what Paul had to say about those who were hurting believers spiritually by teaching and doing things that were not biblical. From Galatians 5:1-12 (emphasis mine):

      "It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough. I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view; **but the one who is disturbing you will bear his judgment, whoever he is.** But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished. **I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves.**

      To act as if there is no such thing as spiritual abuse is either ignorance of the subject or denial.

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    4. "Those who jump on the bandwagon to attack those who have suffered spiritual abuse have been proven time and again to be wolves in sheep's clothing. This whole idea of attacking the genuine victims of spiritual abuse is just another attack by God’s enemies against the Body of Christ. Jesus, Paul, Mathew Mark Luke John Timothy Peter address this false accusation phenomenon frequently...there solution for lying by corrupt church leaders and their minions was quite dramatic. By the standards espoused on this and other sites would be called 'spiritual, physical, mental and emotional abuse towards you and your supporters. When the spirit of discernment really is exercised appropriately you would have no need to give any credibility for all this hypocritical attack dog rhetoric by the Chuck O’Neals and his enablers such Bill Wickens of this world."


      There, fixed it for you.

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    5. That certainly is better, The Other Tom. :)

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  10. Did you see Chuck's wife's eyes as she said Julie Anne was vicious?

    Ummm... yeah.

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    1. I finally saw it late last night, but was more distracted by Chuck's big smile as she said those strong words.

      The pastor's wife is in a very difficult situation. She only hears one side which sounds horrific in her eyes. I did call her shortly after we left or right before. She was hurt because I said the teens had lost the spark of joy in their eyes. I tried to discuss what I saw, but she had heard her husband's words so loudly, it didn't matter what I had to say. The phone call was cut off and that was the last time I spoke with her.

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    2. She can't very well have an opinion without getting approval from her husband and her pastor, right? I guess at least she cut out a little legwork in that her husband is her pastor so she only has to ask one man if her opinion is acceptable......

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  11. Here is an interesting article by Diane Landberg, PhD, on the G.R.A.C.E. board. See what you think.

    G.R.A.C.E. » Blog Archive » Regarding Jerry Sandusky
    netgrace.org

    Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment

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    1. Wow. That is powerful. And I agree that when we start getting whiffs of things that are askew with church leadership, we need to resist just blowing it off and carefully pursue discovering the truth. However, in my experience with spiritual abuse, no one would listen to me. I tried to bring attention to remarks and behavior I witnessed that were inappropriate and I was met with indifference. It would be helpful for Dr. Langberg, or you, Barb, to give suggestions for how to proceed when that happens. For those who do try to stand for righteousness and find themselves alone in the midst of a system shouting to leave the status quo alone, what else can be done? For Penn State, their football idolatry caused the sacrifice of children; for the church that tolerates spiritual abuse, there is often the idolatry of spiritual self-righteousness that blinds them to their participation in something very toxic. How are the sheep awakened to this reality and brought to a place of not just tolerating it, but actually entering into behavior that changes it?

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    2. Susan: One of the cool things about Blogger is that I can see referral links to see how people find my blog. Sometimes I follow the links and see what is being discussed. I have entered in some of those conversations. There has been a good bit of discussion about what to do and what not to do. A frequent discussion is how I should not have this blog and how I should not be publicizing any names, etc. I get torn because although I see some of their side, I also see a biblical precedent to call out false teachers. It can be very confusing.

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  12. Julie Anne, I just wanted to say that there are many of us out here rooting for you. Sweetheart, I am a Christian and I am so sorry for what you have been through and continue to go through. I applaud your integrity in standing up for freedom of speech.

    As I have read through your blog, I have noticed a serious lack of detractors and trolls. There are a couple, but after all the media coverage, I was surprised that there were not more. I believe that has much to do with your attitude and how you have conveyed your story on this blog. Anyone who reads any of your posts can see that you are coming at this with a spirit of love towards those who have harmed you. People can't seem to find a nook or cranny to stick their toe in. The most you are getting is regurgitated rhetoric. I just wanted to wave a white hanky in your direction. It wouldn't be hard to be bitter coming from where you have but you have walked this road set before you with a tremendous amount of grace.

    I guess I just wanted to say thank you. Pastor Chuck may be tarnishing the reputation of The Church, but you are polishing the reputation of the true believers, or as some of my friends call the church with a little "c." I know this will be an example to me to honor and love even those who despise me.

    Thank you for being you being willing to run this race as has been set before you instead of being dragged along kicking and screaming as you have every right to. Thank you for giving up your personal rights for the greater good of He who loves you.

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    1. Thanks for the white hanky wave, Shakes. What a sweet post to wake up to this morning :)

      As you can see here, people who have gone through spiritual abuse understand the depth of pain and they have been a tremendous support to others and to me. I give them credit for helping me to stay grounded through their prayers and support.

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  13. Julie Anne, I received a link to your blog from Barb Orlowski. I am glad she sent it so I could begin to pray for you. You can correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like you are the scapegoat for so many horrible things and too many others that have experienced the same thing are not really standing up as much. Again, I will be holding you up in prayer.

    I've also experienced spiritual abuse with a "bullying" pastor that had everyone around them worshipping them. And, from reading Barb's book and some other things on spiritual abuse recovery, I am starting to venture into visiting some churches again. It has been hard to even get the nerve up to it.

    I wrote a brief post about it:

    http://blessingthebeloved.blogspot.com/2011/12/after-further-review.html

    I am hoping I will be able to trust again and be part of a community that is not worshipping the pastor and shunning those that truly see what is going on and seeing control and spiritual abuse.

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    1. Hi Tammy: The blog naturally makes me more susceptible to criticism, especially with the media attention. I've found that the people who criticize loudest do not understand spiritual abuse. They seem to confuse spiritual abuse with conflict with church leadership.

      Barb is great. She has been such great support to me along the way. It's good that you have connected with her.

      I read your post and it is good. Keep trudging along. You will have to rethink/relearn things, but the process is good and you will have such an amazing sensitivity toward others who have gone through what you have gone through. And that is a gift. Thanks for your comment :)

      Oh, I love this quote you have on your blog: "Seize every opportunity to render joy by giving extravagant, risky, chance-taking love(Lucado)."

      Beautiful!!!

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  14. Ostracon over here embedded links to two fascinating BBC documentaries into the minds, hearts, actions and reactions of the Westboro Baptist Family. I watched them shortly after reading some thoughts from Hannah and this from Craig Vick.

    CV wrote how “these groups have a strong us vs world dynamic.” Everything’s black and white in these groups, either one’s an insider or an outsider. WBC believed that they were Zion exclusively, that outside their church everyone else was going to hell. And that was their mission as prophets, to tell everyone they’re going to hell.

    One of the young WBC women flat out told Louis Theroux, “You are going to Hell.” Which reminded me of seeing the 2008 Independence day footage where Mr Charles O’Neal was proud “to take the opportunity to express our civil liberties... and to celebrate our freedom of speech.” He then is seen haranguing a passerby,“You Sir, shall Perish from the Wrath of God!” Is this sort of evangelism effective toward turning the hearts of the lost toward Christ?

    Louis Theroux stated, “In the [WBC] world being hated was proof that they were doing the right thing.” Their hostility to the world bred hostility toward them from the outside, which in turn, strengthened the bond of the insiders.

    They call their Papa Smurf—Gramps. Gramps yells from his pulpit seat, “Any preacher preaching in any other way is a lying hell-bound false prophet!” And then he twists Scripture to serve the ends and targets of his chosing. When prompted Gramps admits that Yes, WBC, is the only true church on earth.

    There's one funny scene where Gramps tells Louis, “you’re just too dumb!” and then Gramps immediately proves himself to be the dumb one by not remembering something and then falling into his own trap his stupid mathematics sprung on him.

    Together the family is alive to something special and exclusive. I was saddened by a young passionate woman’s understanding of “friendship with the world is enmity against God.” There’s a whole lot of twisted and warped logic. Their hearts seemed anesthetized and their minds numb to the reality of what it means to be human and to be saved.

    In the follow up documentary the many who had left WBC had been marked as “Rebels” it was “good thing” to be “unburdened” of them, to be “rid of the weight.”

    The disfellowshipping and shunning of the young woman broke my heart, but at least it made her free of the madness. My thoughts turned to Hannah and the Smith family in these scenes.

    Anyway, thanks, Ostracon, for the links

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    Replies
    1. Very interesting and well thought-out comment, monax. In the Google reviews and also on a blog somewhere we read of people being very disturbed by the church's evangelism efforts - they felt harassed by people from the church who ignored "no solicitor" signs, etc. We were also told that friendship evangelism was certainly inferior and their evangelism was the right way. Basically I got the sense that any church and their methods were inferior to our church and our methods.

      He regularly told the congregation to expect persecution and to count it all joy when people responded negatively. He did a sermon on homosexuality which was to be broadcast on the local radio and basically told the congregation that we need to be prepared for a hostile environment and that he had warned the elders/deacons ahead of time how to handle such hostility. Weapons were mentioned. (I was just reminded about this by a young man who was a teen at the time we were there. The stories just keep coming.)

      Delete
    2. Here is a blog that speaks of the pastor's visit: http://respectistheanswer.blogspot.ca/2011/07/unfortunate-experience.html

      Delete
  15. I can't find any of the news interviews of Chuck and/or Mrs. Chuck online. Does anyone have a link?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mrs. Chuck isn't featured in either of the two videos. Guess they edited her out for a shorter version?

      Delete
    2. I just checked and it's still there. She speaks at 1:08 mark. I used the link right above your comment and it worked fine.

      Delete
    3. Thank you, I found it.

      Delete
  16. "And let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the LORD.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Don't see any fruit of the Holy Spirit in either of the O'Neals responses...wonder if the media cut those parts out? I do see disdain, judging and contempt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe they did miss that part.

      I can tell you that the interview I did in The Dalles, OR - we stopped half-way on our trip to Portland so they could get their report in time for the 10pm news - is gone. The entire interview is gone. Hmm. . . . . we could have gotten to Portland a half hour earlier without that stop. The only thing I see remaining of that "interview" is a still shot of the most-likely-not-approved top I was wearing :) hahaha (wondering how many of you are going to venture over to the KPTV interview to see my top - top link on right sidebar). Guys, it's tame . . . really. You'll see much more (or less - lol) in line at the grocery store. :)

      Delete
  18. Sending good thoughts your way.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Julie Anne - It appears that you're getting quite a positive response from the growing anti-Christian movement and sentiments in this country and world. This present course sounds to me so much like the end-times that I have heard preached for decades. As I read your blog, it looks to me to be so obvious that you really do have a vendetta for this pastor and this church - I mean three years and you still are throwing stuff. It appears that your blog is becoming a living organ - a part of you - you seem to be shaped by it as much as shaping it as I watch your posts and responses to bloggers. Encouraging bloggers here, seeming the sweet victim there... Can one sue another for causing one's insanity?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gordon -I'm no expert, but I have a hunch anyone can sue for anything if they have the $$ to pay for an attorney. Maybe "An Attorney" will pipe in with his expertise. As far as the rest of which you discussed, you won't get a response from me. I'm not in the mood. You got this much of a response because you spelled my name correctly :)

      I'll let others who are in a better frame of mind respond to the rest. Good night.

      Delete
    2. Gordon, I'm not sure I understand quite what you're saying here. Are you suggesting that reading Ms. Smith's blog causes insanity? If so, why ever are you reading it? Although it appears from your comment, sir, that you have absorbed the entire content of the blog in order to make such a sweeping assessment of its apparent impact on blogger and readers.

      Delete
  20. You're quiet the control person too... only posting one side! tut tut!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not quite understanding this comment either. Are you suggesting that any online source is fully objective, and typically does more than post their own side?

      Even the Beaverton Grace Bible Church website surely only posts one side - their side - doesn't it? One wonders if you have tut-tutted them for blatant bias, sir ...

      Delete
    2. P.S. It's intriguing that if Ms. Smith is a total controller, one could wonder why she ever allows comments such as yours when they are obviously not in her favor ...

      Delete
    3. Spiritual abuse blog = yup, there really is only one side on this blog as far as my posts go. I must be a control freak - haha! :)

      But Brad is right, I moderated and published both of your posts. Another guy, Will, had about 10 comments go through on Sat or Sunday - all criticism. Whatever.

      Delete
  21. Spiritual Abuse ExistsJuly 16, 2012 at 10:16 PM

    Gordon,

    Thanks for your comment which totally confirms that you just 'don't get it'!! Sorry to hear that. Just too bad.

    Anyone else want to confirm that overwhelming assessment about Gordon?!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Gordon,
    I will be praying for understanding for you. When a church has a mark and avoid list longer than the present membership, they are reaping what they have sown.
    You have never heard my side, nor the many many others who have been put on the mark and avoid list.
    Unless you walk one inch in my shoes (or Julie Anne's), I don't believe you have any understanding of what a three and a half year character assassination looks or feels like.
    Have you attended this church?
    apparently not

    ReplyDelete
  23. Anyone with the money to pay an attorney and filing fees can sue anyone else for any thing. There is a risk that the suit will be found frivolous or otherwise contrary to law and the defendant will recover costs, expenses and, at times, damages from the plaintiff. I actually make some of my income by representing people who are falsely or inappropriately sued by debt buyers because we file a counterclaim.

    In Julie Anne's case, the Oregon Anti-SLAPP statute provides that, if the judge rules that the suit is covered by that statute, the pastor and church can be ordered to pay Julie Anne's legal fees and may have to pay Julie Anne's expenses for having to be in court with her attorney.

    BTW, as I read the record, the pastor/church has been shunning Julie Anne and her family for four years or so, and saying very nasty and untrue things about her from the pulpit and in publications. It also appears that some victims of the pastor/church and this shunning process have been so treated for more than ten years. So who is obsessed with whom?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, An Attorney.

      I had to look up debt buyers. That was a new one for me.

      BTW, Is the word "vicious" defamatory? It sure sounds like it's on the same lines of words as: creepy, controlling, etc. hmmm :)

      Delete
    2. I do not think that creepy, controlling, etc. are defamatory. In particular,in the case at hand, they are either demonstrably true statements about the person so described (controlling) or your opinion (creepy). You can probably sort the others. On the other hand, "vicious" is one of those borderline words. They have to defend that as opinion, as it is not demonstrably true of you or of the others so labelled. But then, what are your damages for that? Absolutely none, because everyone who heard it knows it far more describes the speaker and her husband than it does you.

      Delete
    3. I'm poorly versed in legal matters so please forgive the ignorance of my questions.

      Is our constitutional right to the free exercise of religion relevant in this lawsuit against Julie Anne and the others? A couple of the press reports listed calling the pastor a wolf as an example of something that may be defamation. Since 'wolf' is a Biblical term for false teacher or prophet it seems to me that in order to determine if this is defamation the court would need to first determine what is and what isn't a false teacher. That would involve the state in deciding who is and who isn't qualified to be a pastor. Wouldn't the first amendment prohibit this?

      Also, church and pastor, according to the news reports, admit there was a sexual offender in the congregation. Doesn't that admission make the question of exposure of minors to this offender a matter of judgment? Because of the Sandusky case I've heard several in the media underline how important it is, in order to protect children, to speak out when there's danger. The threat of a huge lawsuit doesn't exactly encourage speaking out.

      Why isn't this lawsuit simply thrown out?

      Delete
    4. Wow, good point, Craig. It seems that would leave a dangerous precedent for the abused. I hadn't thought of that aspect before.

      As far as your first paragraph, you are exactly correct. At the hearing on Friday, my attorney spent a decent amount of time showing the court my blog. She had pages printed out showing the top banner, highlighting the name (BGBC Survivors is obviously a blog of critical spiritual nature), the subtitle of Matt 7:15 which discusses ravenous wolves who are false teachers and devour sheep which is obviously a verse from the Bible. The content is clearly religious in nature. I've read and heard many places that the court will simply not touch that subject. The court is not in the business of settling religious disputes.

      Delete
    5. In connection with the issues over reporting of a sexual offender at Beaverton Grace Bible Church, and lack of notification to congregation, etc., I have felt there was providential timing in the release of the Freeh Report on Penn State. The scandal there raised significant awareness of the concepts of prevention of child abuse, legal responsibility to report, accountability and culpability, etc.

      Both the 267-page report and the 7-page press release are available in PDF form at the official website:

      http://thefreehreportonpsu.com/

      Here is one key paragraph from the press release, in the section on "Findings." If you substitute the parallel positions/roles from a church congregation for those of the university, it highlights some of the seriousness of this specific issue for a church. Thus, it appears Judge Fun was exercising judicial diligence in asking for more details at the July 13th court hearing.

      QUOTE: From 1998–2011, Penn State’s “Tone at the Top” for transparency, compliance, police reporting and child protection was completely wrong, as shown by the inaction and concealment on the part of its most senior leaders, and followed by those at the bottom of the University’s pyramid of power. This is best reflected by the janitors’ decision not to report Sandusky’s horrific 2000 sexual assault of a young boy in the Lasch Building shower. The janitors were afraid of being fired for reporting a powerful football coach.[end quote]

      Delete
  24. As Julie Anne indicated at the end of her post, it seems that many new people are visiting the blog. If they had the opportunity to read the whole thing, they would get where she's coming from. Instead, they seem to be making snap judgments about her--for example, thinking she's had this blog for 3 years.

    Some days Julie Anne's posts are encouraging. Sometimes they show her personal pain. Sometimes, they reflect anger (though I think it's righteous anger) about the injustices inflicted from certain pulpits. Julie Anne writes from where she is.

    Spiritual abuse does exist and can cause deep wounds. Julie Anne has created this forum to be a place where it can be discussed and also a place where people can find some salve. I have been reading for a while, and it is neat to see other readers for the most part lifting one another up and encouraging them on--not whining, grumbling, and trying to stir up trouble for trouble's sake.

    It's been said before, but I have to echo it: Julie Anne continues to show grace. Good for her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oops, just read this. I'm feeling a little snarky this morning. Maybe I should go back and delete my comments.

      Thanks, Holly :)

      Delete
  25. Fbx Jax= little mutt all bark no bite lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wouldn't want to go up against the Watchdog. Are you kidding me? LOL

      Delete
  26. FBC Jax got a pulpit apology from the pastor involved and some kind of settlement from him and or the church. So there was some bite!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely! I heard about the case after searching on the internet for church lawsuits when I was sued. I was thrilled to hear of the settlement.

      This story is documented many places online. Here is one: FBCJaxWatchdog Lawsuit:

      Delete
    2. Thrilled?

      The pastor apologized to Rich and his family for calling him a sociopath in public.

      One of the lawyer deacons called Rich a coward in public. No law suit there...hmmm. Too formidable?

      Rich picked his battle wisely and relied on 1 Cor 6 to limit his liabilities. After seeing what you are getting I would be a little slow to criticize or report on pastors without thoroughly checking things and the sources of the information.

      That is all. No one knows what the settlement was but Watchdog does not write about FBC very much anymore. I expect that the settlement was not all one sided.

      Just an observation but did you start this blog to give you the appearance of the victim? You are still the defendant, right? Technically, the plaintiff is the victim, right?

      Delete
    3. I stand by my words regarding the FBCJaxWatchdog lawsuit.

      The purpose of this blog is clearly stated on the top-right sidebar:

      I began this blog in Feb. 2012 after noticing that the Google reviews I had posted of my former church were being removed. Days after the commencement of this blog, I received a legal summons suing me and three others for defamation to the tune of $500,000. The story of spiritual abuse needs to be told. People are being hurt emotionally and spiritually by pastors who use bully tactics and we need a place to learn, to talk freely, and to heal. I will not be silenced.

      Delete
    4. Julie Anne, I applaud your ability to travel back in time and start this blog "to give you the appearance of the victim", that was genius. If I could borrow your time machine at some point, I have some really bad hair decisions in the 1980's I'd like to un-do.

      Anonymous, you are confusing criminal court cases and civil court cases. One cannot assume in a civil suit that the plaintiff is the victim or the defendant is a perpetrator. Acutally, in criminal court cases the defendant is also not considered a perpetrator until proven guilty....

      Delete

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