Thursday, April 10, 2014

Stabbed in the Back By A Cult Leader.

Recently, I had called my sister to check on her, and as we were talking, she had informed me that my former pastor, who I call "Pastor Jones" for the sake of this post, had leaked out details to my former congregation of a conversation that I had with him, the day I had personally informed him that I was officially resigning my membership at the church, the church I had been a member at for 12 years, until I could finally break free form my abusive family

That day, he had asked why I wanted to resign my membership, so I laid it out there, told him the theological reasons, drifting away from Christianity and becoming more agnostic for lack of a better term, and finding a lot of acceptance and peace at the Unitarian church I am attending now.

Since the abuse of my past played a role in the life experiences that led me there, I told him about how I was beaten until I was about 11 years old, forced off medication for my depression,  barricaded in the house of my "parents" and threatened with violence when I tried to leave at 21 years old, and about the most recent of the abuse, "The Confrontation" , where just this past December, when I was forced to cut them out of my life, and they tried to break into my home, and nearly assaulted me in front of a police officer.

I told him, even if I could believe in Christianity again (which is a massive remote possibility), I couldn't go back to a church as conservative as that church, and I definitely could not return to that church, for my own safety. When I told him this, I explicitly told him that I expected this to be confidential, my exact words were "this should not leave this office". He never once objected to this, and I went on with the presumption that it would remain confidential.

 Unfortunately, Pastor Jones had sided with my family, used the old "honor your mother and father" line on me, doubted what I had told him about the past abuse, and tried to chalk up The Confrontation to holiday related stress, and encouraged me to reconcile with them.

Despite him doing that, I hadn't thought he would stoop that low as to stab me in the back by leaking this information out to the church, but that was the reports I was hearing from my sister. "Mrs. Sociopath" was talking to her about it, supposedly the pastor had told a deacon, who then went on to tell her this information.

After I had heard the news from my sister that he had let this information out, I was furious, I confronted "Jason", my Sunday School teacher when I was in that church about it, he works for the same company that I do, on a different shift.

He denied that Pastor Jones would have done that, and said I had no proof, it's rumors, it could have slipped out some other way, I was rather annoyed with him, defending him, and he got in a little jab about me being agnostic, said that if I considered myself a person guided by logic and reason, then instead of just believing rumors about it, I should ask him myself. I told him I would.

Pastor Jones didn't answer his cell phone, so I sent him this e-mail, original screen shot available here with personal information edited out:
Hello, Dr. (name removed)

I have been hearing some recent reports that some of the information I told you when I was last in your office (spoke to you about resigning my membership at the church), was leaked by you to the congregation, sensitive information such as details about the congregation I currently attend.

I will give you the benefit of doubt to answer whether it not these reports are true, and if they are, to explain what your reasoning was in doing this.

It's rather troubling if true, because I had explicitly and clearly stated in your office that such details were in fact confidential, and were not to be released to anyone for safety/security reasons.

Please notify as soon as you can about this.

-- (current legal name)

Later, he responded, and not only did he confirm that he did in face release this information to his congregation, but the reasons he gave why are downright appalling, screen shot available here :

Dear (legal name)
I would encourage you to meet with me about this issue for little can be said in an email with such a sensitive situation as this. It is true that I informed the congregation of your decision to leave (church name)and, as is my pastoral duty out of love for you, concern for Christ's flock, and adherance to His word, I did inform them of the reason for your resignation as you have pursued a different faith than the one to which we adhere.
 I was obligated biblcially to do this, as our Lord prescribes that the church body have an opportunity to restore a church member who has gone astray. I never submit to rules of confidentiality that are superceded by a higher authority whether that of the state or of God's Word. Further, I tried to call you, but I could not reach you by the phone number(s) that we possessed.
Therefore, I wrote you to communicate my intentions as you resigned the day of the business meeting. Once again, it is out of deep love and in obedience to God's Word that I have performed these actions. You are more than welcome to touch base with me about this issue if you like. I have tried to go by your house to see you, but have been unsuccessful thus far. You are in our prayers.
Pastor (name removed)
I had in fact broke my phone, and had changed my number, and he had stopped by once while I was at work, and left his business card in my door. The letter he was referring to only confirmed that he had presented the letter of resignation I sent him to the congregation, and that the church accepted it in a vote on a Wednesday night business meeting.
That's it.
Other than him trying to guilt me into contacting him to discuss it further, he said no more than that.
I am still confused as to how he feels that his behavior is Biblically acceptable, seeing as how I had never heard him speak from the pulpit on his personal interpretation of how the Bible says situations like this should be handled, and he never explained his reasoning in this e-mail.
He's a liar, manipulative, passive aggressive, and has no concept of the meaning of confidentiality. I was naive to ever trust him.
I was stabbed in the back by a cult leader.....


  1. I can't imagine how betrayed you must feel. It was an unethical breach of trust. Doing so out of "deep love" (whatever that means) doesn't make it any less unethical.

  2. They can use the Bible and their faith to justify all kinds of morally and ethically shaky activities.

    1. This is what I found striking about this sad story as well. It really does seem like some Christians are willing to use their bible to justify practically anything, no matter how awful it may be. Many of us were trained from birth to place our trust in people like this pastor. Again and again, we see that this is a mistake with tragic consequences.

  3. Do you know what the heck he told the congregation? Surely he did not go as far as saying that you were abused? I always hate it when pastors get up and say "we need to pray for so in so that left the church." In my old church they never used the names, but they might have well have since it's a small world.

    I also know where they get it from in scripture. What the scripture says is that if someone leaves the fold, you are supposed to reach out. It doesn't say you have to say why a person left the church. It says REACH OUT. My question is, who has reached out to you?

    Sorry, it sucks, but don't communicate your crap to church leaders. we can't trust them.

    1. I had asked him, and he gave a non answer in his e-mail, which I took to mean everything.

      He said he felt he had more of an obligation to the congregation.

  4. It's always out of love and obedience. It's all madness.

  5. Wow, what a douche. I for one think you're totally justified for not ever going back to that church.

    1. His behavior made me ever more convinced that I made the right decision.

  6. Just shows the logic of the people at the church. Better off without them in my opinion. Hope, it does not affect any work related or social issues. Good luck.

  7. A statement that "sheldon left the church, we should pray for him" is distasteful, but technically it isn't breaking confidence. People would have figured that one out on their eventually once they noticed you no longer attended.
    However, if he relayed any other information (your current church, details of your abuse, details of the confrontation, etc) he is out of bounds legally & ethically. Pastoral confidentiality is mandated by law in many states. I would check the laws where you live & find out exactly what was said. This may be a reportable offense.

  8. I am so sorry.Pastor Jones exhibited such a lack of integrity. Glad you are no longer a part of that church.

  9. Hey Sheldon--I wasn't sure if you'd see this at Julie Anne's forum, or if you'd see it here, but I responded to your story at my own blog. For some reason, I can't post the link here. TaylorJoyRecovers dot wordpress dot com. Thank you for being so brave to share your story with us. Honestly, you got out long before I did, and i'm so proud of how you've built a new life for yourself. :D

    1. the link sorta worked. So sorry--I'm a baby blogger and don't have this all figured out yet. :P

    2. That was so powerful, and eerily familiar.

  10. Dude, sorry to hear about that kind of deceit. It does illustrate the point that the religious can rationalize duplicity by invoking their greater power.

    1. When people get to that point, they can justify anything.


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