Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
(Ephesians 5:11 ESV)
I recently posted two articles by Eric Starkey and Raymond Ernst. Here is Eric's story: Personal Story of Spiritual Abuse by Eric Starkey. Raymond told his heart-wrenching story of the break up of his precious marriage. In that story, he chose to go by the name "Paul". He is no longer concealing his identity and goes by his real name, Raymond Ernst. If you haven't read Raymond's story, be sure to read it so you can get the full picture: Can Spiritual Abuse Destroy a Marriage - Paul's Story.
Some may have discovered in the comment section the connection between these two men. They both went to the same church. Although their experiences are quite different, they both came away with the same conclusions regarding their former pastor and spiritual abuse.
In Eric's personal blog articles, he did not reveal the name of his former pastor or church. He described spiritual abuse, how it has affected him, and discussed his journey of healing in hopes that his experience would help others. He has since had a change of heart regarding concealing his former church/pastor's identity and has revealed more details. He should know more details because he was mentored by his former pastor and served on staff as associate pastor.
Sometimes you get to the point where enough is enough and come to the conclusion that there are more risks than benefits in remaining silent. Eric got to this point. Going public is not fun. It's messy. It's ugly. It's painful. You may lose relationships. People who had respected you may lose respect. It can be a lonely place. Eric feels this issue is too important to not address. He has chosen to take the very difficult, emotional, and unpaved journey of telling his story to warn others so they don't have to go through what he, Raymond, and others have gone through.
I do not recommend that everyone publicly disclose the name of their church and pastor as Eric or Raymond or I have done. In fact, I think it should be done with much prayer, thought, and counsel, and as a last resort. This is Eric's cry of desperation - a plea - a warning to the people of Eagle Heights Community Church in Hammond, LA and to his former pastor, Kevin Dunn.
Read some of Eric's heart-wrenching words from his blog post:
Why would I share negative opinions about the church that I spent seven years of my life building? Why would I litter my personal blog with information that I know will be perceived by many as extremely negative and damaging to the Church at large? Why would I take the risk of damaging my reputation and losing my voice as a respected minister? Why would I take the drastic step of writing this blog post when I now live 725 miles away from this church? Why not just simply forget about it and get on with my life? WHY??? I have wrestled with those questions repeatedly over the past weeks. But, I have a responsibility. I have a responsibility to warn people. I have a responsibility to share the truth that I know. I have a responsibility to at least try to protect others from what I believe to be a very, very appetizing, yet deceptive and unhealthy environment.
Therefore, I do not recommend that anyone become involved with Eagle Heights Community Church for the following reasons:
- It is my opinion that Eagle Heights Community Church is a spiritually abusive and unhealthy church. I believe Kevin Dunn is a spiritually abusive and an emotionally unhealthy pastor.
- I have personally witnessed marriages that have ended and family division that I believe were caused directly and indirectly by Kevin Dunn and his teachings. I find that in these situations, he positions himself as a victim, but he is actually the perpetrator. He “plays” the part of the victim well, but he IS the perpetrator. Those who are the true victims are labeled as rebels, reprobates, troublemakers and cut off from the congregation. The congregation is then told not to fellowship with the “troublemakers.” How convenient? The entire story is never told. He uses his bully pulpit to tell “his own version.”
*If you attend Eagle Heights Community Church in Hammond, Louisiana or if you are thinking of attending Eagle Heights Community Church in Hammond, Louisiana -you have been warned. The warning buoy has been set out to inform you of dangerous waters.
These are strong words - words from a man who wants to protect people from danger. Please read Eric's complete story. It needs to be told. It needs to be read: A "Warning Buoy" for the People of Hammond Regarding Eagle Heights Community Church on his blog.
For the record - - I have looked over Eric's article carefully. I'm no lawyer, but have a fairly clear idea of what defamation is after recently winning a half a million dollar lawsuit. I used words like "cult", "creepy", "spiritual abuse" which were labeled as defamatory by my former pastor. Those words did not meet even the first tier of qualifying for the definition of defamation. Defamation must meet both tiers to be defamatory: (1) intentionally stating a known falsehood (2) stating with malice or the intent to harm. (These are my words, not the legal definition.)
IMHO, Eric's words are not defamatory - they are his strong opinions and beliefs. Although Eric's speech may be difficult to read, they express his thoughts and opinions and thus are protected as free speech. Feel free to read my court documents to see how my words match up against Eric's. Eric's words are tame compared to mine. Be sure to check out the 26-page document showing the attorney fees and court costs my former pastor/church will have to pay for filing a frivolous lawsuit. I hope my lawsuit will deter pastors from making the same mistake as my former pastor. I pray that pastors who are tempted to sue former members would instead humble themselves before God and submit to other respected church leaders for accountability and some soul-searching. ~ja