Our son is soon to 13 years old at the time of this writing, that is how I know we left that faith community 12 years ago. I wish I could say it was 12 years of freedom, it has been more like 12 years a slaughtered slave.
We met a Christian Reform Church in Ontario, Canada. He sat at the rear on the left, and I, at front on the right. I could see his sadness and his shame in his slumped shoulders, and soft downturn of his beautiful brown eyes. They filled to brimmed with the longing to become: to belong; to be whole; and to be welcomed. For my bit, I was an unstable train wreck trying to keep the cars connected and contained. Every church service and event I had my hair swept in front of my face. I thought (I kid you not) that becoming a Christian meant you cried all of the time.
I knew enough to stay away from him but my journals are filled with pages, sonnets, epitaphs, and veritable volumes of what now look like pathetic petitions for B. I have always believed that B got the short end of the proverbial stick.
Just the other day, I said to him with upturned chin, “Thank you for asking me.” He responded with, “Thank you for stalking me.”
It’s not far from the truth.
I went to that particular church because, for all that I had tried to overcome the effects of my adverse childhood experiences (Lord knows I TRIED) I still could not. I was then a single parent (my first marriage a casualty of chaos) with limited resources and this church offered free counselling. What I could not have known, is that the cleric followed and endorsed a model of theological and therapeutic intervention that involved false diagnoses of mental illnesses and then treating them with a codependent relationship to himself.
Keep in mind — he is a cleric, not a counsellor.
Me now, knows what me then, could never have known. This cleric operated WILDLY outside of his scope of practice, standard of care, and duty of care — all no less, in the name of J-E-S-U-S (emphasis and southern accent added).
In fact, he was downright dangerous. I suspect he still is. He knows it not, and some of his family think he is fine (and they must) and a few of his followers feel he is the fatherhood of God personified. They believe that he was persecuted and that I, a faithless spiritual daughter, was the leader of the mass exodus — 12 years ago.
If you have read anything I have written, you know that my father fractured everything he touched — including me. He didn’t just touch, he groped, he grabbed, he ripped, he threw, he beat — he brutalized. I survived. He had beaten and raped my mother, my sisters, and very nearly me — to a person-less pulp.
He died not long after I had started in a counselling relationship with this cleric. He offered fatherhood, I accepted daughterhood. What a DREAM come true. A bad Daddy died — a good Daddy took over. “God is good, what provision,” I thought.
God may well be good, whatever else He is, but this guy used my own hunger, vulnerably, desire to belong, to be a good daughter, to be part of a family, to serve, to connect, to commune — to his own ends. Sound familiar? You bet it does.
In time I married B and together and in short stead, this cleric has used our corporate orphanhood to coerce $375,000 Canadian dollars from us. We were by far the “biggest losers” but by the time that we left the church 12 years ago, the community as a whole was out $2.1 million to the clerics failing business — more was lost by others after we left.
Now B and I have been called it all. Privately and publicly. I was called a ring leader, I who have never led anything but an aerobics class. I was Potiphar’s wife, the dragon at the end of the proverbial bed trying to steal the inheritance of the church. That in attempting to hold a financially malfeasant cleric to account, that my husband and I were ourselves the millenial embodiment of Ananias and Sapphire (a biblical couple who stole from God). The crushing icing on the proverbial predatory cake is that in time we are also widely broadcasted as litigious couple who sues powerful pastors as a means of getting money that we do not need.
I avoid theological arguments like an anaphylactic allergen. I may NEVER do this again because I cannot even begin to communicate how much rage I feel when blind guides and blinder followers use what is supposed to be words of hope to wound; salvation to slaughter; and the kindness of God to kill. Proof texting for predators is like taking a passage of text, pulling it out of context, and using as a nefarious knife. You know what knives do. They can rightly divide or they can brutally chop people into little bits and lost pieces.
A recent post on abusive tactics called, “There’s A Verse For That , reminded me of how twisted the spiritual torment was, how cunning and confusing the faith based offenders narrative was, and how bitter the taste of betrayal from the once beloved community.
We do not “count it all joy.”
You betcha there is a verse for that.
Speak directly to the shepherds and tell them this is what the Eternal Lord has to say: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel whose only concern is to protect and nourish themselves! Isn’t a shepherd’s job to look after the sheep? Yet you exploit them in every way. You devour their fat, make soft clothes and blankets out of their wool, and slaughter the best sheep for your table.
Let me get this straight…
- your only concern is to protect and nourish yourself?
- you are supposed to look after the sheep yet you exploit them in every way?
- you devour their reserves,
- you use their reserves to cover your own ass,
- and if that’s not enough — you slaughter them and eat them.
That sounds about right— but that’s not all. That chapter goes on verse after verse to rightly name the clerical offenders nefarious neglect. Perhaps that is too uncomfortable?
Let’s try a Matt 23:13…
Woe to you, you teachers of the law and Pharisees. There is such a gulf between what you say and what you do.
Boy — I’ll say.
Yikes, shall we look at Matt 23:14?
Woe to you, you teachers of the law and Pharisees. What you say is not what you do. You steal the homes from under the widows while you pretend to pray for them. You will suffer great condemnation for this.
My home has been stolen by preying pastors who pretended to pray. I’m counting that they will “suffer great condemnation for that.”
I have come to fan girl these verses… Matt 23:23-24
So woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees (clerical elites this means you). You hypocrites! You tithe from your luxuries and your spices, giving away a tenth of your mint, your dill, and your cumin. But you have ignored the essentials of the law: justice, mercy, faithfulness. It is practice of the latter that makes sense of the former. You hypocritical, blind leaders. You spoon a fly from your soup and swallow a camel.
Justice, it appears — J-E-S-U-S is into.
There is biblical chapter after bloody verse for bastards like you. Oh, yes, to be sure…
We can proof text your abusive conduct all the day long. It makes you uncomfortable, you call us bitter. If this is bitter, then pull up a pulpit and call me Mara. The Almighty will judge between you and me. The trouble is that you wolves run in predatory packs. You have a platforms and power that far outweigh the weakened and slaughtered sheep.
Your conduct leads me to believe that you hope that the God you call upon is a liar like you and is reckless with his words. I, for one, count on the exact opposite. I hold fast to the conviction, that despite your despicable and diabolical deviance, the Shepherd still keeps the sheep. And “Woe,” says He, “to the wolves.”