Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Stabbed in the Back By A Cult Leader (Part 2): Cease and Desist

After my my last post, in which "Pastor Jones" informed me that he took it upon himself to release details that I explicit told him were to be confidential because he felt he was "obligated Biblically"  to do so, he tried to contact me yet again on Friday, while I was at work. He came to the house, and left this in the door:


 I am deeply sorry for the misunderstanding associated with our encounter and my responsibility toward God and the church. The last thing I want is for there to be something else in the way of you coming to the truth. Please know that I care very much for you as many at Grace also do, and I would welcome an in person conversation with you.

My response, in a certified letter I sent off today:

In my last visit to your office, I explicitly stated that the only information that should be passed to the congregation is that I was resigning my membership from the church due to the fact that my beliefs had changed. I said that any further information that I told you was “not to leave this office”.

Information I have received in recent weeks leads me to believe that you have gone far beyond those limits, and your e-mail response confirmed that fact. What you did was plainly a gross breach of trust and confidence.

You claim a theological precedent for your decision to do this, yet to the best of my memory, I never recall you making your policy on such matters clear in any sermon. I highly suggest that in the near future, that you state what your policy is on people wishing to leave the congregation; I believe your members have the right to know where you stand on this.

I also clearly stated that even if I could return to Christianity (which was highly questionable at best), I could not return to a denomination as conservative as the Southern Baptist Convention, and I most certainly could not return to Grace Baptist Church.

All communications from you since that time have plainly implied that your only intention in contacting me was an attempt to bring me back to the church, and to agreement with your stances on theology (your statements on me “going astray” and worries that you have driven me farther away from “the truth” make this clear). 

That shows an appalling disrespect for me as a person, and for my decision as an adult of sound mind to leave your congregation in peace, and quite frankly, it has reached disturbing levels in its persistence.
I attempted to ignore such communications, but you persisted to attempting to contact me.

Perhaps I was not clear enough that day, so I will state this:

From this point forward, I do NOT want any further communication in person (especially at my home), by mail, or by electronic means by you, Dr. (pastor) of (church), it’s employees, or anyone in a spiritual leadership position (such as deacons, etc).
I also do not want any communication from church members if it is clear that you requested them to contact me/encouraged them to do so, or their sole intention in contacting me is an attempt to convert me back to the teachings of the church.

 If you fail to abide by this notice of my intention to be left alone, I reserve the right to pursue legal action including criminal charges or civil damages.

Part 1 of this post has started to be picked up by other blogs, it caused quite a discussion at the anti-cult site Spiritual Sounding Board, and another blogger showed me that cases like this have unfortunately happened to other people out there.

Blogger Taylor Joy told her story of childhood abuse, and her rejection by a pastor 15 years ago when she came forward to him about it:

My sister found out through the grapevine that I was pregnant with my first child, and told my mother. My mother then called my former pastor ,from my former state, that I hadn’t seen in eight years, and told him she was suicidal because her beloved daughter was pregnant, and had cut her out of her future grandchild’s life.

I was sitting in Panera, trying to write a play, when my former pastor called me. I could tell you what I was wearing, where I was sitting, and what I was eating, as I spent forty-five minutes trying to explain to this man that my mother was an abusive person. That she lived and breathed a lie. That she was pulling the wool over his eyes with her, “My daughter has abandoned me” act.

Guess how he responded?

He told me I needed to “Honor my father and mother.” He told me that I was not doing the “normal” things a daughter should do when she’s pregnant—shop for baby clothes together, pick out names, take pictures, etc. (At that point, I almost threw up my brocolli-chedar soup-in-a-breadbowl, because all I could think was, “What part of this situation sounds NORMAL to you??”)

I told him I couldn’t do that, because I was afraid she would abuse the baby. He said, “Taylor Joy, you are being a tool of the devil to hurt your mom.”

"Honor your father and mother", the same line I was told by Pastor Jones.

I have started to see where Pastor Jones is getting his mentality from that he has the right to keep pursuing me even after I publicly declared my resignation from church membership.

Pastor Jones told me that minister Mark Dever, who was influential in creating the organization "9 Marks" was an influence on him, as well as other extreme Calvinist leaders like John Piper.

 Here's what 9 Marks has to say about such issues, in a blog essay titled eerily, "Pastors, Don't Let Your People Resign Into Thin Air":

If a church does accept a resignation from someone who’s disappearing into thin air, that church is telling the world that Christians are free to drop out of church with no consequences and no questions asked.

Of course a church can’t coerce people to stay. That’s not what I’m saying here. What I am saying is that the church has the responsibility to oversee the lives of its members as long as they are under its watch—which includes their trip out the back door.

The upshot of all this is that a church should not accept a member’s resignation who is not doing what Christians do—in this case, regularly assemble with a church.
 It gets worse, here's their closing statement:

So pastors, just as you pay careful attention to the front door of your church, keep a close eye on the back door, too. Make sure that the sheep can’t simply open the gate themselves and disappear from sight. Refuse to allow people to resign into thin air, both for the sake of your church’s witness to the gospel and for the good of every single sheep—especially those who tend to wander off.
 Does that not sound like either the manifesto of a cult or the statement of a stalker turned minister?



  1. "Make sure that the sheep can’t simply open the gate themselves and disappear from sight."

    What the--!? They have the right to leave congregations as they see fit. This is manipulative and controlling at best, and cultish at worst.

    You did the right thing by sending that certified letter. I hope this brings an end to your troubles with that church.

    1. I second that creeper-creep-creeping feeling.

    2. Well...Christianity was originally a rather severe CULT in its behavior and group think. Jesus himself "sounds" like a typical cult leader demanding obedience and devotion to the cult.

      I think you deserve some kudos for not allowing this "pastor" to browbeat you. best of luck.

  2. We literally had to move several hours away to get out from under a "pastor" like that, and he's still trying to control us. Thank you for posting about this, and yes, it does happen to a lot of people out there, unfortunately, but I think the more people talk about it, the more things can improve.

  3. Seems to me you're handling this really well, Sheldon. Good work. Illegitimi non carborundum.

  4. Great letter. Thought that this was very insightful:

    "That shows an appalling disrespect for me as a person, and for my decision as an adult of sound mind to leave your congregation in peace"

    Well done.

  5. I hate how all these people care about is that a person is saved. ugh.

  6. Well, Lana: It reflects the nature of the ideology. If one is not "saved", the Loving, Good God will torture you horirbly for ever and ever and ever. With the elect watching lasciviously and cheering on the justice of their deity.

    So in their world, SALVATION is the only thing that matters. Now, I think the theology, at its core, is sick, but this attitude of not letting the sheep depart is at least understandable within that mindframe.

  7. I'm lost on the concept of being "saved". Also, I was once told that when a Christian is "saved", they are absolved of all of their sins. If that is correct, then I find it a lopsided notion, at best. If one is absolved, does the person or people they have hurt become unhurt? Does a murdered person come back to life? How can absolution to only one side of a sin create a complete forgiveness?


No spam, proselytizing, or personal attacks, such comments will never see the light of day around here.

Disagreeing with me is fine (I encourage it), but have some decency when writing your comment