Monday, August 6, 2012

Response to Apology - Trolls and Spiritual Abuse

Last week, Fred Butler issued a public apology to the Smith Family on his own blog per my husband's request.  Comments on the post were closed, so I have copied Steve's words here (and sent Fred an e-mail):

Concerning what you wrote about Hannah - your apology is accepted and I forgive you. Thank you for taking my request to heart.  Bear in mind I'm only speaking for myself, not JA or Hannah. 
One further question: How much oversight do you give GCC peers or pastors over what you write publicly?  I realize you may never answer that question, but for sensitive issues like this it is human to write something hurtful in the heat of passion over strong beliefs.  It is easy to take a favorite side without investigating the facts.   With GCC being such a trend-setting church worldwide I'm sure the broadcast image of all the elders is very important. 

I, too, have forgiven Fred for last week's inappropriate comments regarding my daughter and repercussions on our family and have sent Fred a personal e-mail.  Hannah accepted Fred's apology earlier.

Thanks to reader Tom Kelley for submitting this :)

Trolls and Spiritual Abuse

I lost track of how many posts were deleted these past few days.  These are not the typical trolls that cause disruption on blogs,  These trolls are posting very hurtful comments directed towards my daughter and Emily and her friend, who were also former members.  Other comments were disruptive, just to stir up trouble and waste my time.

I've been saying from the beginning that the lawsuit was about spiritual abuse;  a pastor is trying to exert his control over those who have left to prevent them from talking.  The lawsuit was an attempt to shut down this blog.  The pastor and some of his people will do anything to sabotage this blog, including trying to bring sympathetic outsiders into their fight against us by spreading gossip, and using them to continue this battle as was evidenced last week.  (Fred mentioned in his blog comments:  "Your old pastor emailed me when I put up my second post on wicked sheep to tell me how much he appreciates my being discerning with my post and comments interacting with other "survivor bloggers" and to explain his side of the story. "

What's interesting is that in their quest to cause disruption here, they are blatantly sinning (calling young girls disgusting names) and bullying and showing no Christ-like behavior.   Would God call people to sin in order to fight His battles?    I don't think so.  People who are so blinded that they behave in such a fashion are also ones who could be easily deceived and convinced to drink the tainted kool-aid because they have lost common sense of what is right and what is wrong.  Please pray for these folks as they are in a dangerous place.

In light of the above, I am going to toughen up the posting rules a bit.  I will periodically switch from moderated to unmoderated comments,  as necessary.  I am much more inclined to delete Anonymous posts, so please refrain from posting using "Anonymous" as a name.  Instead, either use your real name (first name is fine), or select a pseudonym and stick with the pseudonym.   Thank you for your understanding.

Let's move on . . . . 


  1. Hi Steve,

    Lovely response to Fred, God bless you for your grace towards him. I would like to think that if it were my daughter being publicly maligned I would be as generous as you and Julie Anne, but frankly knowing my bad temper/sin nature I am not certain. You have set a great example here for all of us to strive towards as we seek to walk in obedience to Our Lord.

    1. Old Mom - you didn't see my e-mail :)

      Well, Fred can speak for himself. I think I behaved.

  2. May the Lord use the way Steve, you, and Hannah responded for His glory. Bless you all.

  3. Julie Anne,

    In these kind of circumstances, I always try to remind myself that no person alive can ever offend me as much as I have offended God. Not always easy.

  4. Powerful cartoon. Nobody believed the prophets either. I can't imagine your pain Julie Anne. Seems lengthy and amazingly draining, but worth taking a stand against spiritual abuse. God bless.

  5. Great cartoon and oh so true! Keep up the blogging Julie Anne!
    You are a godsend to many who do not understand what they have just wandered out of/in to~
    Prayers are always sent up for you and your family~there is always going to be attacks on those who speak the truth and stand in the gap~

  6. Loved the cartoon. That encapsulates so much when it comes to the treatment of those who blow the whistle on spiritual abuse.

    A picture/cartoon is worth a thousand words! Delightful!

  7. Julie Anne,

    It's sad to have to say, but this is to be expected. In Jesus' friendly fireside chat with his own religious leaders, he pointed out that they circled land and sea to make one convert, then when that convert was made, they became twice the children of hell that the leaders were. When evil, wicked people are in church leadership, their followers can be even more evil and wicked. Satan was a liar from the beginning, and these trolls are simply doing the deeds of their father, the devil.

    Here we have a confession. And an apology. And forgiveness. And continued attack on those who offer forgiveness? Sounds familiar.

  8. Hi, Julie,

    You have taken on a huge responsibility in doing this blog and I know your intensions are very good. I like the way you respond with compassion to the people who write stories to you that are hard for them to put into words. I know that you are considering whether or not to keep this public or to take it into a private conversation and that is a difficult question. I have spent a lot of time studying and being involved in emotionally divided conversation. The responsibility of a public conversation is to be accountable to people with other points of view. Vulgarity and name calling is a characteristic of what I call a protection reaction. People sometimes have very strong feelings that they cannot express in an effective way. I do not consider these people to be trolls. They are quite likely trying to protect their church and do not know how to speak to you. All that comes out is emotion expressed in a way that uncharacteristic of the person who said it. Love them, too. It would be good to decide if you want the "other side" in the conversation at this point. Being sensitive to what might trigger a protection reaction is a big responsibility. It is certainly easier to have a more private conversation, but you have also given some insight to people that may be important. While shunning is characteristic of cults, it is also a normal human reaction to a point of view that people with other points of view cannot respond to. Divided loyalty causes shunning to happen. It may be that your judgment of Chuck is correct. I am not God and do not know Chuck. Most leaders whose reputation is threatened will fight. I read a post in the blog which reassured you that the church would fail and that 200 other blogs would be started. If I were a friend or family member who still attended the church, I would have wanted you to make it clear whether or not that was what you wanted. Some of this responsibility is pretty heavy, Julie Anne. God be with you.

    1. There's a lot packed in your comment, Mea. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I think you do see the predicament I face sometimes daily.

      I have and do pray for "the other side". That has been my heart from the very beginning, that they would see the truth. You are right, some of these "trolls" could be former members. I have to balance that out with the fact that the blog has now gotten a bigger focus on spiritual abuse with many people reading who have suffered. As you know, I allow nearly all comments to remain. But I cannot allow the blatantly disruptive or personal attacks. Some people get triggered emotionally by these attacks and then this place no longer feels safe for them and that would defeat the purpose of the blog. So, there is a careful balance to consider. Please pray that I have wisdom in knowing how to handle each case. I take every comment deletion seriously and the majority of the time, I have run the situation by at least two others who help behind the scenes for guidance. I know my name is all over this blog, but there are quite a few people who help me in these kinds of decisions and I am so thankful for them.

      I was trying to find the post you mentioned. Can you please direct me? I don't remember it. During the crazy media days, I could only skim some comments and perhaps it was overlooked. I'd definitely like to take a look at it. Thanks!

    2. Julie Anne,

      I did not see this request until now. Sorry! It is on the Personal Stories page, the last one on May 14th. I was not really necessarily wanting you to delete it but just to give us a position statement of sorts if your position differs from this one. I think that is an important issue. Is the chruch's failure your goal?

    3. The last comment on May 14th says this:

      100% behind speech must be preserved above all else.

      Mea Gray: Why would you ask such a question? Have you never read me say that I pray for the church members and care for them? I was once one of them.

  9. Mea,
    Your response is very insightful. My prayer for Chuck is repentance which only God can grant. Eyes of those who still attend to be opened-there was very little love poured out while I attended, and now sheer hatred towards those who have spoken their truth. It has been a very heart breaking journey over the last several years, but God is healing through His Holy Spirit the years that were stolen.To God be the glory, great things HE has done.

  10. Pseudonym selected. I hope you don't mind, but I tumbled your picture. :)


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