LETTER TO CHURCH FAMILY
isn't a letter of condemnation or even anger
..it is about
a person who has lived with pain since childhood, how you added
to it, instead of having compassion, and how what you did, affected
me. I still struggle with nightmares and pain. It will be worth
it, if even one person has their eyes opened. I prayed that perhaps
one person would have been authentic enough to question the process,
and ask the questions I had.
the book: MORE JESUSCLESS RELIGION
(Be Set Free from Man-Made Rules, Churchianity, and Legalistic
churches share an unspoken practice. Their members are so committed
to reaching out to hurting people, that if you are in to much
trouble to show up, if you are too ashamed to come, the people
of a healthy church will come to you. They will find you and reach
you, and help you no matter where you are. This practice sets
them apart from others. It indicates that these believers are
committed to loving you.
desire mercy, not sacrifice,....relationships, not rules should
take precedence in our lives. LOVE, not legalism should reign....Jesus
was so authentic and real that the masses were naturally drawn
a HEALTHY FAITH SYSTEM, our relationship with God will manifest
itself in a compassion for hurt individuals....our ability to
empathize allows our relationships to deepen and become intimate.
Mercy, grace, encouragement, along with personal presence and
helping hands, replace the shaming, intolerant condemnation.....so
often present in a TOXIC SYSTEM.
far as we know, Christ never knocked anyone else to the ground
with a blinding bright light from heaven and an audible voice
that sounded like thunder. Yet, that's what it took to reach Saul.
How did he or HOW WILL HE-------REACH YOU?
who experience suffering and hurt, and then feel the comfort of
Christ are the ones BEST QUALIFIED to administer first aid to
others. We become wounded healers, just like Jesus. I am one of
those wounded healers. I have been helping others regarding abuse
for the past 10 years. I tried to start a support group at church,
but to no avail.
of accountability in any leadership structure is a clear warning
that ought to flash before our eyes: DANGER! DANGER! In red neon
letters. It also indicates a lack of faith in God and the presence
of a faith built on self-assertion and ego.
believers reflect their savior, and therefore are full of love.
Their love heals and helps them bear up under every trial. Where
love is present, faith grows, and people are attracted to God.
Healthy believers allow a person to be different and to make mistakes
without being SHAMED.
What I Have to Say:
a grave injustice was done to me. According to God, I was still
married, so voting me out of membership was bizarre. Memberships
believe you were doing God's will. I believe someday you will
be told you were not. God's will was for you to love me, reach
out to me. Not only did you not love, me, you rejected me, without
one word. You didn't even speak to me about what had happened
in my life. You waited one week----never contacting me, and without
question, voted me out of membership. My membership is with God.
HE is my shepherd, and he knows my voice. He heard it as I cried
out in anguish to him. HE is in the process of healing me from
what you did.
could never do what you did. I could never kick someone out without
asking questions and speaking to the person whom it affected.
the church a sanctuary for saints, or a hospital for sinners?!
Since we all sin every day, by virtue of that, none of us could
positive thing came out of this : My pain came out in poetry----over
130 poems, and a story of how I was spiritually abused by the
very people I expected to love me, and should have cared about
me, more than anyone else. These poems are on a website to help
heal others. A pastor told me that he was convinced that God was
helping me write these poems.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELVES:
If your child was accused of something, would you wait 7 days,
not ask them one question, and then throw them out of the house?
Of course not, but that is exactly what you did to me.
In order to serve in that church, you must be a member. Membership
requires agreeing to a whole list of rules and regulations. There
is a word for that LEGALISM. Jesus wouldn't be able to be a member----he
drank wine, spent all of his time with prostitutes, thieves, drunks,
and all of the outcasts. By your standards, Jesus wouldn't have
allowed the apostles to serve him. All that Jesus required (requires)
is to believe on Him, love and follow him. That was and IS his
ONLY requirement. If you follow all of the rules and regulations
(legalism), and have not LOVE well, you know the rest.
from that church sent me a letter, and signed it 'a friend'-----Friends
don't send anonymous letters. Paranoia-------What was this person
I was told by a woman that she knew what had been happening to
me for years, and was praying for me. I didn't know whether to
cry or laugh. Praying isn't enough. What if the good samaritan
had looked at the injured man, and said, "I'll be praying
for you." Our faith calls us to be active
without works is dead."
was told by many people in that church (who left), that it was
judgmental, and I couldn't see it, and didn't want to believe
it---I was blind. The majority of people who need Christ are not
in churches----they are everywhere else. Jesus would be going
into bars, talking to homosexuals, the homeless; all of those
in need of Him, all those in pain-----divorced, alcoholics, drug
addicts, single parents, etc., etc., etc........If these people
went to that church----would you welcome them with open arms,
or just avoid them? That's not what Jesus did. I speak the truth-----it's
messy and painfulCbut that's what people's lives are about. I
get the feeling, that in that church, everyone is afraid to be
authentic and open-----afraid others might see them for who they
really are, and reject and judge them. Something Jesus never did.
Are you capable of hearing the truth? Can you hear it? If you
can, what will you do about it?
What I went through for 18 months was a horrific nightmare.....meetings,
physical problems, nightmares, GROSSLY INAPPROPRIATE questions,
phone calls. I almost lost my job because of taking so much time
off, because of the physical problems brought on by the mental
I experienced it, I had never even heard of the term......the
meaning: "The mistreatment of a person who is in need of
help, support or greater spiritual empowerment, with the result
of weakening, undermining or decreasing that person's spiritual
Abuse causes a part of a community to hurt acutely. When one part
hurts, we are all hurt. Many who have been spiritually abused,
find it difficult-----even impossible to trust any worshipping
congregation -----ever again. I went to a conference on spiritual
abuse, and met these people, who are so broken, sad, mistrusting,
and angry. There are thousands and thousands.....how incredibly
shocking to me.
worse than the lack of recognition is the attitude of denial that
spiritual abuse even exists in the first place.
feel damaged, disoriented, isolated----leading to a very painful
abuse is a well-documented phenomenon. It doesn't just occur in
cults, but also in Bible-believing churches.
irony is that I went for help to the church many years ago (9),
and I was not helped. The church accepted no accountability at
all!---- A Lack of accountability in any leadership structure
is a clear warning that ought to flash before our eyes: DANGER!
DANGER! In red neon letters. It also indicates a lack of faith
in God and the presence of a faith built on self-assertion and
is not true that this situation 'wasn't about divorce'-------From
the beginning it WAS! I was told that if I got the divorce, I
would be subjected to church discipline. I was told the purpose
was to 'make an example of me.' This is NOT what Jesus would have
said or done. I asked what was the difference between me and any
other divorced woman in choir. The answer: "Because if people
see you, they will think it is okay." That makes no sense
one thinks divorce is okay. It isn't about "it" being
okay. Divorce is a death, a painful process, and something no
one takes lightly. It was an excruciating experience. How sad
that the thought process wouldn't be: She has gotten a divorce
painful that must be; I wonder what I can do to help
that be your first thought or would it be: (I heard a woman state
over someone else's divorce): "I wonder whose fault it is"
sad, how judgemental
had a man verbally attack me, and say "why didn't I just
leave?!" How is that Christ-like? No one cared. This is NOT
what Jesus would have said. Except for "my" deacon,
none even spoke to me, sent a note of encouragement, tried to
help or support me; that is certainly NOT "bearing one another's
burdens." No words of compassion, support were ever spoken.
In fact, not one word was spoken to me, except in the deacon's
meeting, where I was NOT ALLOWED to take a woman member with me,
but was allowed to take my therapist (which, incidentally, is
why I went to him----because of what the church was doing to me).
Non-members are not allowed, so what was that about? This was
wrong. I faced 15 men, with not one woman present. I was asked
unbelievably inappropriate questions. I couldn't believe what
I was hearing. You have one person on one side of the table, with
an array of men on the other side. A domineering person is telling
you you are wrong, why you are wrong, that you need to repent,
and then, one by one, all the rest of them agree wholeheartedly.
The targeted person has a tremendous psychological onslaught to
deal with. This is exactly what happened to me!
added to my pain I had experienced for a lifetime. Jesus wouldn't
have done that. Christians crucifying their wounded?!
Come to me, all ye who are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
You gave me no rest. How could you do this----you didn't even
SPEAK to me?! Jesus would have never sat me before a congregation,
put my name up on a screen, and asked people to vote me out of
about God's grace.......while the pastor was handing out the ballots,
he was joking, and laughing, and you laughed. I felt like someone
had stabbed me in the heart with an ice-pick. How in the world
could you be laughing when you were about to do what you did?!
My precious friend, sitting next to me, was shocked. When my name
was put up on a screen, my friend was by then, crying, and I was
appalled. When people hear this story, they cannot believe it.
Talk about evidence of God's grace!! I was smiling, laughing and
hugging people afterwards. Some of you were crying. Those tears
were not for me, but for yourselves, I believe.
requested withdrawing my membership quietly, but was not allowed
to do so. Why not?! This was about punishment.
I left, not one person contacted me. God didn't abandon me, but
you did?! Where are you now? What happened to restoration
..I KNOW where God is ...He walks with me, and
He talks with me, and tells me that I am his own. I was part of
your family. Families are supposed to stick together. Why didn't
known Jesus all of my life, and I thought I knew you were wrong.
never stopped loving me. Why did you
not enough to attend church. What are you doing to heal the broken-hearted,
the hurting, the wounded....those broken in spirit, and desperate
for a kind word, for someone to notice them, and care......that
is what Jesus did and still does.
uses broken people ----he understands my pain, because he experienced
it. I am a wounded healer, and have been helping others all of
my life. Jesus gave me a tender heart and incredible sensitivity,
for hurting people.....in other words, He gave me part of who
When Dorothy spoke of making a covenant/commitment to a person
as a member in the body of Christ, no matter what that person
does, the church is supposed to remain committed. The people who
authorized that Sunday school lesson and the people who heard
it, obviously did not believe it.
most ironic thing of all is that, if I had never gone to the church
for help 10 years ago, this nightmare never would have happened.
you want to know what spiritual abuse consists of, you can read
the Spiritually Abusive book by Jeff Van Vonderen
are many excellent resources out there, if you wish to become
knowledgeable and know the truth. It will set you free.
2 incredibly powerful books can and should change your lives:
Spirituality by: Michael Yaconelli
When Bad Christians Happen to Good People by: Dave Burchett
The book by Dave Burchett will have you laughing out loud on nearly
are quotes from Ministers:
is a classic example of spiritual abuse and abandonment"
(Christ did not abuse nor abandon his own)
your spirit been broken or closed by what the church has done
"Why did you seek to vilify her when she was oppressed---
One of her spiritual gifts was the ministry of music, and her
spirit grieves at the loss of this"
(From the chaplain at Focus on the Family)
have been a minister for 25 years, and I have never told anyone
this, but you need to GET OUT of that church"
church is guilty of dereliction of duty!"
am so sorry for all the pain that you have suffered, and for the
added injury of feeling
judged and sidelined by the Body of Christ in which you have been
"If your abusive leadership removes your membership, I thank
God they don't speak
would not have done what your pastor did to you, I/we would spoken
your husband (confronted him) and then we would have
prayed for you; cried with you and hoped things worked out but
left you alone to try to work things out----you are married in
God's eyes I can't believe what the pastor and deacons asked you"
"I am so sorry to learn of how your church handled your situation,
sadly, many uninformed churches shoot their wounded"
welcome any loving responses I will not respond to any
abusive, negative, cruel or judmental e-mails
have already experienced that
thank you to the few who refused to vote me out of membership
I would love to hear from you
I am still in therapy for what I was forced to experience
who practice spiritual abuse give themselves over to self-blindness
and hardness without allowing themselves or others to see what
is happening. If one is in a position of power over others and
we fail to place controls on ourselves, we subtly and unknowingly
start to control others. Power that elevates a leader beyond contradiction
longer the process continues, the harder repentence becomes. Church
bosses must be spotted and rescued early, or they may never be
rescued at all
..exceed the bounds of legitimate authority
and often intrude into the personal lives of members (this is
exactly what happened to me)
A major challenge facing the
evangelical church is that they are independent, and not part
of a denomination or network that could provide checks and balances
or ANY KIND OF ACCOUNTABILITY. If leaders are accountable to no
one and resist any outside scrutiny, How can such independent
groups themselves be disciplined or investigated?
and legalism abound
.people are dealt with harshly. Excommunication
is common. For those who leave, the road back to normalcy is difficult.
Those who cannot bear up under the harsh treatment, simply wander
away. "They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one
searched or looked for them." Where was/is restoration? Ezekial
was identyifing a form of mistreatment, which was spiritual in
nature, because it mistreated people by hindering their relationship
with God. It was, and is, characterized by oppression and neglect.
abusers kill people through character assasination. They crucify
their victims in public humiliation sessions. There are long-term
effects, ranging from spiritual confusion to complete spiritual,
emotional and psychological devastation.
Bible is very clear on the existence of spiritual abuse: Legalism,
authoritarianism, spiritual intimidation, manipulation, excessive
discipline, to name a few, in short: the abuse of power in the
context of christian fellowship.
of the rewards of legalism, is the control which it offers. By
performing according to the rules, we can control how we feel
about ourselves. Obey the rules, feel good. Disobey the rules,feel
bad. In some forms of christian legalism we can even control God.
Obey the rules, God is happy, disobey the rules, God is sad.
We impose legalistic restrictions on ourselves and on others as
a way of proving our goodness to others, and to God, all the time
forgetting the rule that is most important, the rule of LOVE.
The Bible is relentless, however, in calling us out of bondage
to religious rules. It calls us to leave legalism and to follow
the way of love. We prefer following rules, rather than loving
have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up
the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched
for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally.
Judgmentalism is a powerful form of spiritual abuse and a source
of spiritual discouragement. It is, unfortunately, very common.
We use it often as a weapon against ourselves and others. Sometimes
it comes wrapped in the language of lofty moral crusades, sometimes
it is a simple,unadorned rejection. But, whenever and however
it comes, it does damage to the emotional and spiritual core of
not judged or you too will be judged. For in the same way you
judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure YOU use,
it will be measured to you
others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
for 4 angels, after the fact, no one carried my burdens
one even spoke to me.
Finally: If a person is willing to follow a person (no matter
who it is), without
question, that is cult-thinking....that is how we got Jim Jones
and Hitler (no, I am not comparing them to the pastor) It's one
to trust a 'leader'----but to follow without question can be a
little children follow without question
was horrified that there were some people willing to vote
when they had no information on what they were voting
has been said that "every man's death diminishes me"
I wonder if anyone felt diminished by my "death"
Jesus said you will be judged the way you have
judged me: without ONE QUESTION