Former NBA player Nick VanderLaan, a recent money-giving member of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, tells his story of being detained against his will and then arrested for speaking out at a meeting to question the presence of the controversial Ergun Caner.
He attended a special meeting at CCCM featuring Ergun Caner as the guest-speaker. Previous to the meeting, Nick expressed his concern to CCCM Leadership, believing he had the right and responsibility to do so as a giving member of the Church. His concerns were basically ignored.
At the meeting, Nick stood up to challenge Caner’s presence. He was non-violent and merely spoke out and spoke up. Calvary Chapel Leadership knew who he was. Nick and his family were known quantities, attended a trip to Israel with Chuck Smith, counseled with pastors there, dedicated their kid at the CCCM pulpit etc etc.
He was immediately surrounded and detained by the Calvary Chapel goon squad (my opinion, my description of the security guards and CC personnel based off of their subsequent actions).
The goon squad cuffed Nick up, took him to another part of the church, denied him bathroom and water and detained him against his will for a prolonged period of time.
Santa Ana police arrived later and arrested and charged Nick.
This incident was not during a church service, but during a conference. In the 36-second YouTube recording below, you can hear Ergun Caner seemingly inviting audience response by his words: "So if you've got a problem with me, hit me up and tell me what I did wrong."
VanderLaan's response was: "I have a problem with you. You're a liar, you're a fraud, you need to repent."
Some might not find VanderLaan's method appropriate. Some pastors have complained to me about my blogging. Oh well. Speaking out against against abuse is a subject that many find uncomfortable, but there is biblical precedent. And if those in authority are ignoring issues, we might see more of this kind of response.
The District Attorney eventually dismissed the case, but I'm sure it came with a cost to the VanderLaan family. You can find attorney's letters, police report, court records and the complete story at Ephesians 5:11 Blog.
But as I was reading this article, what struck me was how fast police were involved in this situation. As we've been reading about so many abuse cases where pastors or church leaders refuse to report crimes (including cases at Calvary Chapel), look how fast they reported this church disruption as a CRIME by getting civil authorities involved and consequently Nick arrested.
So disrupting a conference is worse than child rape or sodomy, or spousal abuse? Give me a break, people. I see how it is - they call the police when it benefits them, but when there are real crimes like sex abuse in the church or spousal abuse, they do NOT call authorities at all. It makes me sick - BLECH!
* * * Update: Nov 5, 2012: I was just sent a link giving more background information on Ergun Caner which helps to explain why Nick felt justified to speak out at the meeting.
I could find no copy of a church constitution on their website, but if the church is an elder led church and does not welcome congregational opinions, despite the fact that you mention 2 times in your summary that VanderLaan was a "money-giving member" there is obviously no provision in this church for members to express their concerns.ReplyDelete
Their yard, their rules...don't join if you don't want to play by their rules...it's called discernment.
"Their yard, their rules ... don't join if you don't want to play by their rules ... it's called discernment."Delete
[[Please refrain from using "Anonymous" as your user ID. Instead, click on Name/URL. In the "name" field, type your pseudonym, ie, Fred Flinstone.]]
And so, @ Anonymous October 31, 2012 3:38 AM, you're saying you have no discernment about this website, right?
I see the "Anonymous" natives have been restless in my early morning hours. Anonymous, you could take a few notes from Fred Flinstone, Jr. who obviously has impeccable reading comprehension skills.Delete
It's more appropriately called brainwahing - don't have an opinion, and if you are so brazen as to have one anyway, don't even think about speaking.Delete
What was he charged with, and did they end up dropping the charges, I wonder? Off to Google to find out.ReplyDelete
Buff - I just checked - the charge was CPC 302(a) "Disturbing a religious meeting". If you read Ephesians 5:11 Blog article, it mentions that in order for that specific charge, a pastor has to be speaking and it is noted that Ergun Caner was not there as a pastor, but as a teacher. It was a conference, not a religious service.Delete
Amazing, in a sad way. The church apparently thinks it can handle abuse on its own, but doesn't think it can handle an upset member of an audience without calling the police. Perhaps they should consider arresting members that arrive late to services.ReplyDelete
HA! Boy, I'd have a big rap sheet if that were the case - - - so many interruptions to a mom of many.Delete
People need to start speaking up in churches. There is so much that is wrong these days and the church authorities are banking on the folks staying silent.
Tom - Interesting choice of words you used: banking. One key pattern we see in abusive pastors is their desire for control whether that be through power or $$. Some of these so-called churches seem to be run more like corporations with CEOs in charge rather than by pastors who tend and care for their sheep.Delete
It is all about control and darn it I'm not into letting people control me.
Same here, Tom. The contrast between a controlling pastor and one who truly cares for souls is amazing.Delete
While I agree that one must use discernment when selecting a church - it is important to remember that the question isn't about what makes you feel comfortable, but are they teaching sound doctrine. Re. Nick's outburst. While he may have gone to his church leadership they chose to ignore him. I don't care if he gave $5 or $5 million that isn't the issue for being heard...which seems to be a point on the other blogs agenda. I agree that Nick should have been detained. Listening to the outburst - he is clearly angry and upset. Not at all biblically presenting himself so that others may listen and consider. He sounds more like he had an axe to grind. When outburst happen similar to that, the person is detained. The police are called. Leadership isn't sure what else may happen. While CCM may have other issues that I don't have time to research, the approach taken during the conference wasn't inapporpriate.ReplyDelete
Hi Megan. I agree with you that sound doctrine is absolutely important. If you look deeper into this story, that was Nick's point. I don't remember websites making an issue out of his tithing except for using that as an example that he was a regular member and "invested" in the church. It shows him to be someone truly interested in his church and that is important to note - he didn't just show up and air his complaint, he had a history there. His voice had a right to be heard.Delete
Yes, he was angry. How can we tell it was not righteous anger? If he was angry about bad doctrine or his church hosting someone he concluded was a fraud, is that bad?
I think being arrested was over the top. Detained? Maybe not. But arrested? When they don't pick up the phone to report spousal abuse/child abuse? Yea, I have a problem with that.
I'll be very brief. You are wrong in your assessment of this situation.
You said:"the approach taken during the conference wasn't inapporpriate."
Really?? I believe he had every right to do what he did. It appears leaderships way of trying to intimidate people from speaking up.
If I am a member of a church I have every right to speak up without being detained.
When do Church Pastors/Leaders call Civil Authorities?ReplyDelete
When someone gets uppity about THEM, of course!
"YOU WILL! (smack!) RESPECT! (smack!) MAH AUTHORITAH!!!!! (smack! smack! smack!)"
-- Eric Cartman, South Park
Yes, that it's exactly when - - - when it affects them. So true, HUG!Delete
Referring to the anonymous post that started the comment thread "Their yard, their rules" - I'm not sure any one expects Christian elders to lack warmth and transparency and shut down answering questions from members. I wonder how that would be written into a church constitution.
"if the church is an elder led church and does not welcome congregational opinions,...there is obviously no provision in this church for members to express their concerns."
The church is described in 1 Corinthians 12 as one body with many members and 1 Cor. 12:25 says, "that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another." If opinions and concerns are not welcome, how is that justified as "sound doctrine"?
Churches rarely have their constitutions available on a website - did you receive a copy of the church constitution in your former church? Did you or anyone else read a church constitution and find this "congregational opinions and concerns are not welcome" clearly outlined in writing? Did you sign a church covenant?
Hi NAR - if you're talking about my former church, no, we did not receive a copy of the constitution while we were there. I did, however, get copies of key parts of it after I was sued. A former church member gave it to me. I don't remember reading anything about concerns or opinions not welcomed. We sure found out that questioning was not a good thing to do. We never signed a church covenant.Delete
I have no idea about Calvary Chapel covenants or constitution. I can ask Alex Grenier about that.
Our small church in rural Canada was certainly not used to conflict and the elder board had no idea how to handle it. When we left because we could no longer subject ourselves to the constant condemnation coming from the pastor, the board didn't know what to do with us! They are good men but they just want everyone to be happy. If others had spoken up sooner a lot of heartache and stress would have been eliminated. We were "allowed" to share our story and we suggested that everyone has a responsibility when they see something wrong to speak up! Don't operate on fear folks! "For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."ReplyDelete
Good for you, Another one!Delete
Accountability is a good thing. We don't need to be complainers about trivial matters, but when there are key issues that we feel are wrong, we shouldn't feel timid about discussing things with our church leaders.
I knew the man arrested. Did some minor buisness with him. I also attended The church mentioned. I would say there is a time and a place for those kinds of dissagreements. The speaker gave open permission for a twitterfacebook\social media platform of expression and debate. Im nuetral completely but I would not think of yelling out in the middle of a meeting unless I heard herasy wich I did not.ReplyDelete
You know - a lot of people wouldn't have typed up a negative Google review about their pastor or started a blog. And what I say to people who criticize my actions is: walk in my shoes. I know under normal circumstances, I wouldn't yell out in a meeting, however, maybe these weren't normal circumstances.Delete
A reader just sent me a link to this blog exposing more of the background story of Ergun Caner: http://ephesians511blog.blogspot.com/2012/11/video-document-of-ergun-caner-why-nick.htmlReplyDelete
I will update this blog post to add this information.