It's not that I dislike pastors and evangelists. I dislike wolves pretending to be pastors and evangelists. It's not that I dislike church. I dislike abusive systems pretending to be a church.
But I am angry with pastors. Why? Because any true pastor that loves the Lord's sheep, couldn't possibly see all of the wolves pretending to be pastors sexually abusing the sheep and not be outraged. Jesus left the 99 for the one. True pastors would be as righteously angry as Jesus was when he turned tables in the temple. And yet, so very few even mention it, let alone scream about it to stop and protect the victims.
Instead, I see other pastors and church leaders downplay abuse by these pretending pastors and even protect them by covering it up, by their silence, by moving the wolf to another church, by slandering or silencing victims, by expelling victims, by calling truth gossip, by calling the pursuit of justice bitterness and unforgiveness and by telling victims to just forgive and move on.
It's simple, the sexual abuse of children and adults by wolves calling themselves pastors will not stop until the true pastors and congregations move to stop it. Why do pastors and congregations continue to let these wolves have the power to sexually abuse children & adults? How are they not sick about it, outraged? Grown, adult men calling themselves pastors are raping children, teens & adults and getting away with it. I can't be a part of that system and love Jesus.
How can you, as a pastor, look the other way, especially when it happened in your church or community? Who or what do you worship? I can't worship Jesus and not be sick about sexual abuse in His church. Are you like my own former church leaders that are fine with people leaving their church if they don't agree with you, if they want to hold you accountable to your position, if they want church to be safe for everyone, if they aren't afraid of and know God works in truth, if they don't worship the ground you walk on? Then, all that's left are those who do worship you, think like you, cower to you?
"He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them." John 10
__signed A Victim of Clergy Sexual Abuse who is tired of fighting abusive wolves when I should be focused on healing and feel safe in church.
Because church is so triggering still and because there’s too much denial about wolves fleecing the flock, I just can’t be a part. So, I work out my faith in God and Jesus absent from corporate worship. It should break Christian’s hearts that I don’t feel safe in church, but instead of asking questions to understand, they judge. It’s unfortunate.
But I love Jesus. I think about Him constantly. I don’t understand why He chose to free me from the torture of a pastor in such a painful way, but I trust Him. God chose a painful way for Christ to conquer sin and death. I grasp that sometimes He allows pain for His cause. It’s just that often I spend more time trying to make sense out of “why me?” than just moving forward in the freedom. I know He loves me but I still struggle with the shame a pastor put on me abusing my trust.
He’s let me see that He never left me even though I thought He had. He’s let me see that He is using my experience and my story for good. I pray He lets me see the miracle of justice. But I know that my healing doesn’t rely on apologies and justice. My abuser has no power over me or my healing. I’ve left him in God’s capable hands. My healing comes from God and my own work.
But I want healing for the church, too. It’s sick and in denial which leads to death. That’s tragic. To die because of arrogance and denial. Because, even though you preach accountability and truth, you can’t bring yourself to live it. I’m in the light now. Trust me! That’s where the healing is. God brought me through the darkness into truth and freedom. He will do the same for His church.
Today I celebrate my freedom in Christ. I now completely understand that freedom is not free. But if the Son has set you free, you are free indeed. I will never hand my freedom over to anyone or any church. Have you given your power & freedom in Christ away to a pastor/church?
I recently found out that the week my abuse was discovered & labeled an inappropriate relationship, my Sr. Pastor admitted to fellow staff members that my abuser, the Executive pastor, had abused his power and I was a victim. Only they didn't tell me that. They let me believe I had failed. They victim-blamed and sinned-leveled.
They, knowing it was abuse, called me out by name to the congregation on a Sunday morning as resigning my job due to an inappropriate relationship with that pastor. They then sent a letter to the body. As my husband and I learned the truth about clergy sexual abuse, we sent many emails attempting to explain, educate, correct the narrative about me and to plead for them to make that church safe.
In the beginning, they got an attorney and presented me with a NDA to "protect me" because "they loved me so much." I fought for my right to share my testimony and won. Sort of. I can talk, but they are hiding behind the specific language they assigned to themselves.
A year later, in one of our meetings, I asked them how this church attorney didn't know from the beginning that this was clergy sexual abuse and my abuser had abused his power. The Sr. Pastor & an elder looked me in the eye and immediately admitted they knew from the beginning it was abuse. WHILE THEY PUSHED A NDA ON ME AND PUBLICALLY CALLED ME AN ADULTRESS, THEY KNEW IT WAS ABUSE!
My husband was so frustrated, he emailed the truth to some in the church body. This made the elders so angry, they emailed the entire church body against me again. This is the first sentence of that email: "Headlines from a variety of media remind us daily of the importance of maintaining proper boundaries in interpersonal relationships in any workplace, including the workplace of the Church."
Two sentences later: "Rest assured that church leadership addressed the issue sensitively, forthrightly, and in a spirit of transparency and Christian forgiveness. Since both parties confessed their participation in the misconduct, our goal at the time and since then has been to graciously promote reconciliation and restoration in their marriages and to the church body as a whole. The recent e-mail that went out from the spouse of one of those involved to many in the (church name) family was an effort to reopen these wounds and we believe it was grossly unfair and factually incorrect which works at cross-purposes to the healing process of all involved and is damaging to the testimony of Christ in the Church and in the community."
They called our pursuit of truth, which they already knew, "damaging to the testimony of Christ in the Church and in the community." Liars said this about the only person who took responsibility that wasn't mine, apologized for it, learned the truth, spoke the truth and begged for the safety of the very people who turned away from me. They called ME damaging to the church.
I think this has been more traumatizing than the abuse was and it was awful. I walked into that church healthy, vibrant and a willing servant of Christ. I loved and served well, with all my heart. I was tortured by a pastor and then shamed by elders. I continue to trust God and speak truth. My heart is absolutely broken that these pastors I served and trusted turned out to be abusers, manipulators and liars.
And they so easily kept saying, "You know how much we love you."
I haven’t attended a church service in well over a year, maybe two years. It’s just too triggering. This morning I delivered some books to a church where my boss was speaking. I got there about 30 minutes before the service was to start.
As I carried in one of the boxes through the door and again as I was leaving, there was this group of 10 people standing on both sides of the door to “greet” those coming in. They were right on top of the doors, clearly smiling and very eager to serve. They were “on.”
The problem is that for the first time this came across as overtly manipulative. This was their volunteer duty—to be excited and greet people the moment they walk through the doors. It wreaked of Christian manipulation to me and I couldn’t get out fast enough. My heart raced on the verge of a panic attack for about 30 minutes.
I could remember all the staff meetings where we planned the Sunday morning experience for attenders. Now, I see we were manipulating emotions from the moment they walked in until they left. And if membership or visitor numbers dropped, these serving volunteers were basically accused of not doing enough. We never dared to question if it was the preaching or if our church had other issues.
I don’t want a church with official door greeters in my face as I walk in, trying to give an appearance of love and friendliness. I want to just walk in and as people are going about their business, they are very friendly. See the difference? Church should be church, not an experience. We should treat people as people, not consumers.
More time should be spent praying over the message than conjuring up the most impressive sermon illustration. The worship team should reflect the body, not be only the very best and performance based. It’s worship, not a performance. Greeters, performers, pastors using neuro programming language no longer look like church to me. It’s eye opening what you begin to see when you step out of the system. I’m yearning for messages and community like in Acts.