October 22, 2012

-image-well, the day has come

Finally. The day I hoped and prayed for, the day I thought would have to come soon, has finally come. Hallelujah!

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against leaders of the FOC for coverups of sexual molestations.

Three young women and their families have come forward to file this lawsuit against ol’ Baldy and other pastors. I know the mother of one of these young women through our own FOC blog. I’m so heartened to see this courage and this willingness to say “No more.”

My story is nothing, nothing compared to what’s happened to others. I’m well aware of that. Nevertheless, I do take it all a bit personally. My disgust about this place continues on slow simmer — although at this moment, it’s boiling. I know for a fact there are more victims out there than just these three, so it will be interesting to see how big this story gets.

It’s the evangelical version of the Catholic Church scandal.

I’m praying for justice. And frankly hoping that justice means this abusive and corrupt organization will be totally destroyed. (I know I sound all Old Testament-y, but damn, they piss me off, pippa.)

Here are several links to the story. And yes, these links will reveal the real names. I kind of don’t care on that score anymore.

Huffington Post

Christianity Today

Radio interview with plaintiffs’ lawyer, Susan Burke.

Those are some starting points for anyone interested.

14 Comments »

  1. Holey Shnikeys! That’s the church you went to?!! Ok, call me lame-brained, but even after following all of your stories, I still had not made out that that was the church organization you were involved with. Actually, I may have seen that at one point, but didn’t really know much about them at the time.

    I have been following this, and all I have to say is, I hope these people go DOWN! I’ve probably been reading too much about this lately and need to stop, but I just can’t. It breaks my heart.

    Here are some other good places to stay on top of what’s happening:

    The Wartburg Watch: http://thewartburgwatch.com/
    This is a site started by two gals who were interested in the current trends of hyper-authoritarian churches. They are really on top of this stuff. They are always on the side of the victim, especially after they attended a church that did nothing to help families of children who were sexually abused by a church member.

    BGBC Survivors: http://bgbcsurvivors.blogspot.com/
    This gal was sued by her former church pastor (here in Beaverton, OR) for writing about her experiences at her former church. I would call her a lead investigator. She has moved more outside of her experiences and is working to help people who have been abused in their churches.

    It will be interesting to watch how all of this unfolds. Can you imagine what Sunday mornings are like? Damage control! Especially for the churches whose pastors are not directly affected by the lawsuit.

    Another interesting case to watch is about a Calvary Chapel pastor in Visala, CA who is suing his son for defamation because he is talking about the abuse that he and his brothers suffered.

    Comment by Kathi — October 23, 2012 @ 8:30 am

  2. I also now understand your questions about homeschooling. SGM is BIG into homeschooling. It’s just another way to brainwash families into following the “social order” of the organization. What’s often left in the wake is fathers who are so stressed out from having to financially support the family in a role that they may not have wanted to take, and mothers who are exhausted by all of the demands and expectations placed on them.

    I believe that this group is also big into the idea of courting young people. This leaves young girls to have the “hearts of their fathers” and then move directly into the “covering of their husbands.” It allows no freedom of identity for young women and frankly, it’s really creepy. It sets the stage very early for domestic abuse.

    Comment by Kathi — October 23, 2012 @ 9:17 am

  3. Kathi — Yep. The courtship model as outlined in Josh Harris’ “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” has done a lot of damage. Even HE has backed off on some of that. SGM espouses some really ridiculous and rigid social structures. One of the notions they’re big on is the idea of “giving away your heart” — which basically is a rationale for the courtship model. “Giving away your heart” means that every time you date someone, you “give away” a piece of your heart to that person that you can’t get back — a piece that should be saved ultimately for your spouse anyway. They treat love as if it’s a finite quantity, like a pie that can only be cut up into so many pieces. Therefore, young’uns, GUARD YOUR PIE!! What if you run out of pie???

    It’s insane.

    Another idea they’re big on — if you decide you MUST date and give away your pie in such an ungodly manner — is the idea of treating anyone you date as “someone else’s spouse.” Personally, I find that creepy, but to them, it’s normal. You need to view that person you’re dating as “not yours.” I think that would ultimately be a barrier to real closeness developing between a couple but SGM doesn’t want closeness between a couple until after marriage. You’re to court, preferably in the presence of your parents, never touch or kiss, and then BAM! on the wedding night, you’re supposed to let your freak fly!!

    Yeah. That’s not likely to be awkward AT ALL.

    As far as homeschooling, “Joe” (from our SGM story) and his wife home school from what I understand. They have a large family of, like, 8 or 10, something like that. He’s the sole support of that large family since wife stays home and schools the kiddos. (And if the proof is in the pudding, not very well, either.) It’s strange to me. By nature of living in a small town, they’re already geographically a bit isolated but they choose to further isolate their kids socially by home schooling them when there is a perfectly decent grade school/junior high/ high school just down the road.

    Any way you slice it, those particular kids have to be very isolated. I can’t imagine that’s ultimately good for their development into adults.

    Comment by tracey — October 23, 2012 @ 11:43 am

  4. Kathi — Sorry. Your other comment went into moderation because of the links. Yep. That’s the “family of churches” of “Maybe Church.”

    Sigghhhhh …..

    I’ve been familiar with those blogs you mentioned for quite some time. There are two other SGM blogs, Survivors and Refuge, that are also good resources.

    It’s like going down the rabbit hole, though. You will lose days.

    Comment by tracey — October 23, 2012 @ 11:50 am

  5. Our daughter was given the book “Do Hard Things” by the Harris brothers to read from a friend. She didn’t really get into it. I never encouraged her given that I have recently discovered that the Harris patriarch (Gregg Harris – who is also HUGE in the homeschool movement) was involved in covering up sexual abuse of a child by a church member at a Washington state Household of Faith church.

    I saw an interview of Joshua Harris, who now pastors Covenant Life Church. He looks exactly like his predecessor and mentor CJ Mahaney. Quite creepy.

    Comment by Kathi — October 23, 2012 @ 12:01 pm

  6. “You will lose days.”

    Indeed. I am reading transcripts and legal documents and I am not even involved except in solidarity with you and the victims.

    They can run and they have been running but they cannot hide from this type of coverage.

    I salute the brave victims for coming forward. It takes a lot of guts. There are many more, I am sure. They will serve as examples.

    Comment by sheila — October 23, 2012 @ 12:16 pm

  7. I would have thought that the Catholic church’s mess with pedophile priests would have opened the doors to others pressing charges against sexual predators. However, I truly think that Jerry Sandusky’s case is what opened the doors. His dealt more with the cover-up of the abuse (even though the Catholic church did that too), which is what the SGM ministry is doing. Those brave victims that stood up against Sandusky helped pave the way for others to finally have the courage to come forward with their stories of hidden abuse.

    Comment by Kathi — October 23, 2012 @ 12:34 pm

  8. All things considered, this is among the least surprising shocking news I’ve ever heard. I mean, that squicky picture of the older pastor with his daughter (was it stepdaughter?) that you had posted? Yeah, that wasn’t creepy and unhealthy or anything!

    Add to that the video you posted of that one guy’s sermon and the squick factor went through the roof. The whole manipulative, “questions are of Satan” vibe that came off of it really gave me the blinking fantods. It’s the kind of environment where a cult of charisma takes over from the Gospel of Christ, and all bets are off.

    Still, I was kind of holding out hope that it would just be a huge financial scandal. Maybe that’s still on the cards, who knows. I’ll catch up on the background reading later tonight.

    So so grateful you and MB got the heck out of Dodge.

    Comment by nightfly — October 24, 2012 @ 12:50 pm

  9. Kathi — That’s a good point. I think you’re onto something there.

    NF — Yeah, the picture of our former pastor with his stepdaughter. ICK. That’s a different church, though. He’s not affiliated with SGM in any way, although I’d say he’s got his own mini cult of personality going on.

    The video was also of a pastor from a different church.

    If you want to see what Baldy — head of SGM — looks like, just go to YouTube and search CJ Mahaney, then take your pick of videos.

    The other dude is Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church in Seattle, one of the tough-talking “neo-Calvinists” who are so (inexplicably) popular right now.

    Comment by tracey — October 24, 2012 @ 1:34 pm

  10. Kathi — Yep. Gregg Harris. BIG on the homeschooling scene. I’ve become a little too well acquainted with this weird Christian family tree over the last three years. I pretty much know ’em all and never wanted to.

    I remember skimming the brothers’ book one day at the bookstore. It was pretty simplistic. Not impressed with it or their whole “Rebelution” thing either.

    And Joshua Harris, to his minor credit, has seemed to be pulling away from the mothership a teensy bit in the last year since the CJ debacle happened. I’m not sure if this lawsuit will pull him back in as SGM circles the wagons or if it will help him to sever all ties. I see him as a guy on a spiritual razor’s edge right now and his decisions in the upcoming months are going to be very telling.

    Another thing: So many SGM men like to sport the bald CJ look. It’s so weird. We were asked if we knew who he was on our very first Sunday there. I talked about it in one of the church posts. It seems like a small thing, I suppose, but within the larger context of SGM, within the larger context of the rampant CJ worship of the average SGM member, it was actually a very telling question. (Lemme find the post.)

    Here.

    Of course, it’s password protected, but I’m hoping people who were given the password remember it since it’s pretty ….. distinctive. 😉 Now you can fill in his actual name.

    Comment by tracey — October 24, 2012 @ 1:44 pm

  11. Tracey – thanks for correcting my mistake. My brain sometimes conflates things. I’m working on it.

    Comment by nightfly — October 26, 2012 @ 9:39 am

  12. I remember that book. I was in college and went to a large church and voulunterred in the coffee shop. I met a woman there who was so enammored with that book and kept trying to get me to read it. She was at least 20 years older than me and was so taken with it that it kinda creeped me out because I know it was meant for youngish people. There were 2 people who were getting married because of that book; they “knew” that they were supposed to get married despite the fact that they hardly knew each other, had never dated, held hands or any of the normal get to know you things. They met at the church and studied the Bible together and were getting married. Their first kiss would be as husband and wife and this woman wanted me to adopt this ideology. It was so great to her but it was so creepy to me and I could not begin to imagine how awkward their wedding night would be!

    Comment by Tracey H. — October 28, 2012 @ 12:00 am

  13. Ugh, I just remembered that I hit submit before fixing my spelling errors. Well, it’s midnight and I am typing in the dark on my tiny notebook and my fingers keep trying to find the keys and the screen is blazing white so I was just letting spell check work but…..

    Comment by Tracey H. — October 28, 2012 @ 12:05 am

  14. Here’s the press release from SGM:

    http://www.sovereigngraceministries.org/blogs/sgm/post/Updated-Statement-on-Reported-Lawsuit.aspx

    Standard damage control. No compassion for the victims of abuse.

    Comment by Kathi — October 28, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

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