What this blog is about

The challenge of abuse in the Church.

About twenty years ago I was editor of a small magazine, published by a now defunct ecumenical organisation based in London called the Churches Council for Health and Healing.  The magazine had only a modest circulation of around 400 but editing it gave me a journalistic appetite for finding out what was happening in the world of Christian healing.  What I discovered was not always very pretty.  At the time we were in the height of the Satanic Ritual Abuse panic and this was followed in 1995 by the breaking of the scandal in Sheffield centered around the so-called Nine O’Clock Service.  For those who may have forgotten this latter scandal, a Christian leader called Chris Brain ran a highly ‘successful’ but cult-like church in Sheffield.  Many people were attracted to the alternative style of worship using light and drama but the whole thing collapsed when it was discovered that he had been exploiting sexually a number of young women in the congregation.  The Anglican church was seen to have exercised little or no oversight over the church or Chris Brain himself and many people were left severely damaged by the whole episode.  The church authorities were left looking rather foolish by the incident and it seemed that supporting  apparent ‘success’ with young people was more important than wise appraisal of what was really going on.  In both cases there was an issue of power, the misuse of power.  As with many other people at the time I did not have the skills to interpret what was actually going on with these two phenomena.

Towards the end of the 90s, having witnessed other similar disasters in the church and seeing how little the church authorities really seemed to understand the dynamics of what was happening, particularly in the world of charismatic Christianity, I decided to do my own research.  This research on fundamentalist charisma resulted in a book which appeared in 2000, Ungodly Fear, Fundamentalist Christianity and the Abuse of Power.  The book for the most part tells stories of abuse but these stories are interspersed with commentary and an attempt to put the stories into historical context.  While writing the book I obviously felt drawn to offer some psychological insight and I found myself offering a few pointers from my reading of Melanie Klein.  Because psychology had never been my subject of study, this dimension of the study was not prominent in the book.  I was far more interest in the history of charisma and the theological challenges that it presented.

After the book was published in April 2000, I received quite a number of letters from people who had experienced the kinds of abuse issues that I had described in my book.  The reviews were fairly good but the book itself did not sell in large numbers.  Over the 13 years since its first publication I have quietly tried to deepen my understanding of the phenomenon of abuse within a Christian context, particularly using the resources of psychology.  One difficulty I have had is that there seems very little interest in the UK in the issues I tried to describe.  Sexual abuse of children has appeared as an issue for all denominations but the abuse of power in the church whether financial or emotional does not seem much talked about.  Thus although my book is out of print and little known, it is still the only book in the UK to address the issue of abuse in the church beyond the sexual realm.

The story of the way this blog was started is found in the Welcome page.  Chris and I, though coming from very different places,  have found an affinity in wanting to keep this issue of church abuse alive.  Our conversations translate into blog posts and we hope you will enjoy these as they unfold.  Obviously the enthusiasm that we have for this blog will be greatly enhanced by your participation in the issues that are raised.  Please comment as you wish or contact me directly if you don’t want your thoughts and experiences to be shared and visible to all.  Just visiting this site and encouraging others to do so will help the whole process along for the coming months and, we hope, years.

Stephen Parsons

9 comments

  1. BOS

    Been exposing church abuse for a very long time and what is sad about that is it’s only getting worse. If, you type in the following as such: Google: abused by the name of church and or pastor(s). Also, People’s negative feedback on the name of the church, and people’s negative feedback on the name of any pastor. Again, Controversial articles on the name of church and Controversial articles on the name of any pastor and the dogma hits the fan. Do not know everything but what know is bad enough. Actually, have a list of who to report church abuse to and it’s OVER fifty heads of church
    leadership/agencies the U.S.
    David Wilkerson was on that correction list since 1992. Even have a list where it list names/agencies to report church abuse, pastoral/priest abuse and Christian shelter abuse to. Went public hardcore to over 350 heads of church leadership which address are in the book: Handbook for Denominations by Craig Atwood and Frank Mead. Also, report church abuse to: rickross.com any and all types (A-Z). Trinity Foundation in Dallas Texas, attn: pete; Bill and Jackie Alnor and H.B. London, Jr. of Focus on the Family along with Dr. James Dobson; InPlainSite.Org, James Sundquist; Spiritual Sounding BoardMaybe these ministries can refer you to others. Know when did over fifty hours of spiritual abuse reads on Mike Bickle’s movement a lot of those sites will refer you to so many more like slaughtering of the sheep, WordPress etc. In fact one blogger asked me to come aboard and help regarding Bickle and sent to Media Outlets and many Gov’t agencies to no avail, I had left a similar AOG (“assassins of God” cult where a young woman left basically the cult church and killed herself. A lot of my experiences are on Gary Wallin/Kendall Beachey’s Blogs under BOS/research a matter.
    Many books will be listed along with a great definition of a cult.

    I had asked one of the most gifted Apostolic Types ever met to give me a definition of a cult:
    Arthur Katz wrote Apostolic Foundations, all his written works that read if no one messed with reprints or rewrites. First Edition of Three Battlegrounds by Frangipane was great; anything by Leonard Ravenhill, Austin Miles author, Don’t Call Me Brother.

    Dr. Rebecca Brown’s book mentioned exposes the occult, and Battle Hymn by Secura/Phillips along with Marketing of Evil by Kupelian. I would not concentrate on it. Three great written works on; be aware of though. Go after God/JesusHoly Spirit and his Glory etc. More later.
    Also
    Arendale:
    Quick: find a church where the pastor prays 6-12 hours a day. Foundation is Sermon on the Mount//Beatitudes. Holiness, Righteousness, Repentance and Prayer. True is more concerned People/sheep/families are healthy, not interested in $ or building big congregation/business or kingdom to self. Laying strong foundations in people. No one could be in sin, he was so fasted and prayed up and led that it got exposed every Sunday. Lot’s of Love, Grace and Mercy NOT guilt, condemnation, criticism, bondage or self-righteous religious piety.

    Example: a homeless man walked in our church, ragged, smelly, torn clothes you can see where diabetics affected feet and legs pastor stopped preaching, brought him up to the front, prayed for him and his healing brought him to The Lord to believe on The Lord Jesus Christ. We all prayed for him as a church, the true shepherd gave him all the offering, we gave him more; invited him out to lunch kept following up on him and invited to find a place. Going after the one lost sheep to the unth degree. What Would Jesus Do? We didn’t tell him he had to cut his hair or wear a suit or have shoes on to accept Christ or he had to be tithing or teaching Sunday school or in the choir like the many false churches I’ve been in would tell people before they would help, or have to work in church office=not Jesus Christ. Living true/truth. Arthur Katz wrote Apostolic Foundations, all his written works that read if no one messed with reprints or rewrites. First Edition of Three Battlegrounds by Frangipane was great; anything by Leonard Ravenhill. Example: five loves, two fishes met the need regardless, no conditions before would help people, false church is conditions.

    A very gifted apostolic type recommended Anna Roundtree’s books, haven’t read or heard of; timing is everything. Got sent to a Bar one day to confront a bartender: walked in: “your Apostolically called, what are you doing with it, he said what? I yelled at him the same sentence and then I said you grew up in the foursquare movement tell me your story, he did; so grievous how we violently kill the true. False/dead church, NO nurturing and encouraging, love and discipling of the true, it’s totally murderous. wow. For over approximately 12 years the round table heard of many stories like, did they correct the church? God knows! Pray for divine appointments. Blows my mind the people who have come across my path, from VA, OH, FL, MI, IN, NC, etc. When visiting GA, wow that was a wonderful time. Maui was even great, was resting with friends who invited; worth the person who met. Was in a Bakery in Solvang, CA had amazing meet from a person out of State=life changing or having Breakfast at the “Union Hotel in Los Alamos”, that was an all day great moment. Living in the supernatural should be the normal 24/7 and we are content to live without it? Worse, to sit in false church and tolerate “doctrine of demons and devils of men”. Seeing Jesus and Angels should be the normal along with the healing of the sick and the raising of the dead should be the normal.
    Dr. Rebecca Brown’s book mentioned exposes the occult, and Battle Hymn by Secura/Phillips along with Marketing of Evil by Kupelian. I would not concentrate on it. Three great written works on; be aware of though. Go after God/JesusHoly Spirit and his Glory etc. Later.
    My personal favorite: Troublemakers in the Church by David Wilkerson June 2007. Google that. Psalms 27:4 and Numbers 6:24-26

  2. Stephen Parsons

    Thanks for your long contribution. You are clearly writing from the States as so many of the individuals and institutions are not known to us in the UK. I am always looking for people to illuminate the cult/abusive church scene on both sides of the Atlantic so if you are able to feed information on to this blog, please continue to do so. Perhaps next time you could make your contributions in ‘bite-size’ chunks as it is hard to take in so much information all at once. I hope you will want to stay with us.

  3. Forgiven much:

    Stephen Parsons: Thank you! If, you go to “the surviving church” there’s a comment that will tell you how to research abuse/blogs etc. If, you go to: ihopisnewage.wordpress.com, click story: IHOP related death-slash-murder comment will give you books, sites. Also, christianchat.com will refer to other sites, they all do. One site could relate: how IHOP made me hate God & Carp the Hell out of the Diem by Caris Adel (note the comments especially how to get over church abuse). Thanks for this site. It’s a journey and God doesn’t waste a thing. Will have to find your book.

    P.S. When attending VCF’s that’s only time heard of U.K. Met John Scotland when attending church in Pasadena. He was gracious enough to take one of phases of church correction back to the U.K. Don’t know how well that went over! One conference in Pasadena, U.K. Speakers were there. One favorite writer is Leonard Ravenhill. Heard more about U.K. through G. Cooke’s message on the Life of Joseph (don’t know year done in u.s.).

  4. Tamara

    Stephen Parsons, this is “Tammy” from the ICSA held in Washington D. C. I rediscovered your while researching the Shepherding Movement. I hope to see you in Dallas.

  5. BOS

    Update: Rick Ross Institute changed his site location email where you can report church abuse A-Z. Also, add this research Scandal Name of Church and Scandal Name of Pastor. Graham Cooke’s Life of Joseph Message is available on U-Tube Called “Wounded and Betrayed Believers Are Useful to God”. Thank you.
    P.S. also found in researching Troublemakers in the Church by D. Wilkerson an interesting site comes up to click on by discernment.com which founder spelled wrong he has a replay of a message to AOG’s that he said sadly has gone unheeded, yes he is right. Also, thegreycoats.wordpress.com (article and comments always interesting).

    • Christine Standing

      Further, the general statement about the purpose of bullying that follows I think covers many of the perplexed questions in Surviving Church. What better place to wield authority and power whilst being able to say “I am weak” with conviction! I am convinced that most power abusers are compensating for real weakness, for dysfunctional family settings, and unhappy childhoods. Thankfully, not everyone with such a history becomes a bully.

      “The purpose of bullying is to hide inadequacy, and usually involves an abuse of power. Power can come in many forms, such as physical stature, a position of authority or a position of trust. Using such power to harm or unreasonably control people is a sign of weakness, a quick and cheap way to gain obedience or something that might feel like respect, but obedience through duress and respect motivated by fear are fake or, at best, half-hearted, and they only last until the victim is able to escape from the bully’s influence.

      Some people project their inadequacy onto others:

      to avoid facing up to and doing something about it;
      to avoid accepting responsibility for their behaviour and the effect it has; and to dilute their fear of being seen as weak, inadequate and possibly incompetent; and
      to divert attention away from the same: In badly run workplaces, bullying is the way that inadequate, incompetent and aggressive employees keep their jobs and obtain promotion.” Bully Online

      • EnglishAthena

        True. Also, with some people, if they have been bullied, they just behave like that themselves because they don’t know any other way to behave.

  6. BOS

    Discovered some new reads: “Thieves” by Trey Smith (what a read); The Fleecing of Christianity by Jackie Alnor (sobering). This site was interesting: http://www.workplacebullying.org/recommended-books/
    Also, found out you can also Google: Scandal name of church and or pastor and or Example: Google: Are the Assemblies of God a Cult; applies to any denomination and or name of Pastor and do those reads. Having come out of some Movements which I would consider Cults. How come we don’t see them no different than Mormonism and Pyramid Scheme because God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit doesn’t get money and why the need to build THEIR kingdom to self, their empire; their Business because it’s definitely NOT about healthy people (sheep) nor Bible going forth like rivers of living water and Bible relevant for today and all that Jesus did? Derek Prince was an early forerunner of witchcraft in the church appreciated his “Shaping History Through Prayer and Fasting and Blessing and Cursing you Choose” and his legalism teachings. “Ungodly Fear” was an EXCELLENT WRITE AND READ! THANK YOU! Appreciate your efforts and that you wrote a book.

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