Church of Wells/YMBBA Ministries

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2/23/2014 11:22 am  #61

Re: Food for thought - articles and papers


3/02/2014 1:51 pm  #62

Re: Food for thought - articles and papers

Jan. 24, 2017
Are You Playing the Victim to Manipulate Others?

To some degree, every one of us has been a victim.

We were either neglected by our parents, picked on at school or ripped off in a business deal later in life. When we are healthy, we can learn from those experiences, forgive and move on. But when we’re not, we tend to re-victimize ourselves over and over.

What I mean when I say re-victimize ourselves is we play the “recording” of the event again and again in our minds because it actually gives us some morbid form of comfort.

When we are somebody’s victim, we actually have a little bit of power over them.

Control freaks love to play the victim, for example. If they are victims, they can control the person who hurt them because that person “owes them something now” and they can also control everybody around them by draining sympathy and attention from their community.

I doubt there’s anybody reading this blog who hasn’t done this. I certainly have. In fact, it’s difficult to even realize we are doing it. Playing the victim shows up as complaining or whining about some task we have to do, or having a really negative attitude toward life.

Henry Cloud and John Townsend define a real victim as a person who is completely and utterly powerless. That’s a tough definition, because it means you and I aren’t often victims. We almost always have some power in a situation. If we are a victim to a person, we can move away from them, even though it will cause a great deal of tension. We can quit our jobs, we can create better boundaries, there’s more often than not something we can do. We just don’t want to. We want to remain victims, because truthfully we are getting something out of the role, even if we don’t admit it.

The truth is, though, when we play the victim, we are actually making partial victims of the people around us.

We are using them and manipulating them.

In order to play the victim we need an oppressor. And when we manipulate by playing the victim we turn people who are otherwise innocent (or perfectly human) into a bad person in our minds. Instead of forgiving somebody who has wronged us and moving on, we demonize them in our minds and play them up as a villain so we can be their wounded victim. It’s an unhealthy game.

What is amazing, then, is the person playing the victim is often the real villain. What I mean is, by demonizing others and portraying them as oppressors, they themselves become the oppressors.

But it’s a tough pattern to get out of. For me, it started by learning to turn the other cheek. Forgiving people for their minor transgressions and just “getting over it” is not something a victim does easily. They see “being wronged” as an ATM machine spitting out cash and it’s tough to walk away.

The truth is, though, most victims don’t want to be oppressors themselves and when they realize what they’re doing, they feel awful. They thought they were the weak ones but really they were strong all along.

Not playing the victim will take a lot of practice, but it’s worthy practice. I promise you, playing the victim is holding you back, hurting others and taking needed attention and resources away from real victims, those who are truly oppressed and can’t do anything about it.
Donald Miller


3/03/2014 2:59 pm  #63

Re: Food for thought - articles and papers

THU FEB 20, 2014
by Jody Lanec for One Last Scandal

The very foundation of Christianity is based on the idea of persecution and oppression. According to scripture, Jesus was persecuted by the Pharisees for his heterodoxy. However, in context to Jewish law of the first century, the persecution and subsequent crucifixion of Jesus might be more aptly described as merely a "punishment" for His unrestrained variance with conventional Jewish doctrine of the time.

At the risk of making a few Christians angry—He broke the law and He was punished accordingly.

Christ’s martyrdom on the cross is the foundation of Christianity. It established the lucrative and sensational martyr complex for the next two thousand years. To be Christ-like, a Christian must be persecuted—or at least claim to be persecuted, and proclaim it loudly, because:

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. (1 Peter 2:21)

Of course I've over simplified. I realize it isn't possible to break down the historical complexities of Christian persecution and martyrdom in a few paragraphs; nor do I have any desire to debate historical accuracies, or lack thereof.

My question is: Should present day Christians be forced to suffer the consequences of their actions when they knowingly and willingly break the law in non-Christian countries? reported this morning that an Australian Christian missionary, John Short, has been detained in North Korea. A statement released by his wife, Karen Short, confirmed that her husband had arrived in Pyongyang with a tour group on Saturday morning carrying illegal religious materials translated into Korean.Short's wife also told the Associated Press news agency that he was visiting North Korea for the second time. On his first trip to North Korea a year ago, she stated:

(…) her husband had been transparent about his faith and had openly read his bible in front of North Korean government guides when in Pyongyang, so he knew what he was going into. There's risk involved...He knew that too, but when you know what you must do, you do it.
Karen Short. Photo: AP

While I don't condone or support Kim Jong-Un’s ruthless regime, or any government control of a people's religious beliefs, I am forced to recognize the fact that John Short blatantly flaunted his mission to illegally proselytize on foreign soil. He broke the law. It has nothing to to with whether it is a good law or not. On his first visit he was not denounced, detained or interrogated. He was not arrested or worse. He was allowed to leave the country with impunity. However, we can only assume that his near immediate arrest on arrival Saturday was due to his own audacity, and his former illegal activities and impudence were duly noted the first time.It was not sheer stupidity to return and slap Kim Jong-Un’s other cheek, it was a premeditated attempt to martyr himself in the name of Christianity by following the holy dictate to,

Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Mark 16:15-16)

[And the promise that], (…) the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.  (Mathew 24:10-20)

Again, at the risk of making a few Christians angry—he broke the law, twice, and he is being punished accordingly.John Short scurrilously taunted a murderous dictator knowing there could, and likely would be consequences for his actions. He is being punished—perhaps severely—but to what end? His mission to North Korea had little to do with bringing Christianity to the people. It has everything to do with sensationalizing himself and his religion—a religion that demands persecution.

Ultimately, he accomplished two things. He vaulted yet another country into already strained international relations with an unstable nuclear power and he contrived a situation in which he could claim to be victimized for his religious beliefs.

He has arranged his own persecution—his very own martyrdom.

See related in "Criminal Behavior" thread    


3/11/2014 10:14 pm  #64

Re: Food for thought - articles and papers

Keeping devotees constantly fatigued, deprived of sensory input and suffering protein deprivation, working extremely long hours in street solicitation or in cult-owned businesses, engaging in monotonous chanting and rhythmical singing, may induce psycho-physiological changes in the brain. The rhythmical movement of the body can lead to altered states of consciousness, and changes in the pressure or vibration pattern of the brain may affect the temporal lobe.

The Psychology of the Cult Experience
New York Times/March 15, 1982
By Glenn Collins

The same story makes the headlines again and again. An anguished family is trying to "rescue" its child, who has, the parents charge, been "stolen" by a cult, sometimes after only a single weekend of involvement. The parents described the child as a humorless "zombie" where formerly he or she was self-possessed, intelligent and completely "normal." And, as family members begin to consult the clergy, lawyers and deprogrammers, they keep expressing confusing about exactly what has happened, and why.

A new understanding of the psychology of the cult experience is emerging from the work of researchers and clinicians who have studied current and former cult members. While stating that not all cults are necessarily psychologically damaging to their members, the researchers' finding offer insights about the proper treatment of those who have been harmed, as well as the techniques that cults use to hold the loyalty of old members and attract new one.

Some researchers suggest that the study of the cult experience has important implications for theories about the functioning of the human brain. "Many cult groups have developed basically similar and quite compelling conversion techniques for exploiting the vulnerabilities of potential converts," said John G. Clark Jr., an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the Harvard University Medical School.

The Marks of a New Disease

Dr. Clark has, in his private practice and with colleagues in Boston, treated and studied more than 500 current and former cult members since 1974. "In some respects," he said, "the destructive effects of cult conversions amount to a new disease in an era of psychological manipulations."

"When kids come out of cults, they have symptoms you just don't normally see," said Stanley H. Cath, a psychoanalyst and associate professor of psychiatry at the Tufts University School of Medicine who has treated and studied 60 former cult members over the last decade. "But many practitioners are ignorant of this ‘disease,' and don't know how to treat it."

Although the researchers said it is possible for those who have left cults to integrate their experience into their lives in healthy ways, many are unable to. Among the common negative characteristics exhibited by the former cult members studied, said Dr. Clark, are depression, built, fear, paranoia, slow speech, rigidity of facial expression and body posture, indifference to physical appearance, passivity and memory impairment.

Robert Jay Lifton, professor of psychiatry at Yale University Medical School, said that many in the psychological professions may not be aware of, or deny the existence of, clinical difficulties posed by cults. "There is a widespread misunderstanding of the phenomenon of persuasion that can bring about intense change in people," he said.

A Matter of Brainwashing         [Note: The word "brainwashing" is not currently accepted language. But the phenomenon and behavior has not changed.]

Margaret T. Singer, professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley, said, "The techniques of many cults fall under the general rubric of brainwashing." Dr. Singer had studied 700 cult members since 1974, and has investigated mind-control techniques since she did research on repatriated American prisoners of war for the Army during the Korean War.

"Consciously and manipulatively," said Dr. Singer, "cult leaders and their trainers exert a systemic social influence that can produce great behavioral changes." Dr. Singer explained that such groups "have taken techniques from the human-potential movement, from the encounter, sensitivity-training and humanistic-psychology movements, and combined them with cult ideology and persuasive sales methods and packaged them in various combinations." Dr. Singer estimates that there are 2,500 to 3,000 cults in the United States, "with dozens of small cults too numerous to keep track of." The number of cult members nationally is variously estimated at 300,000 to three million.

Not all cults are destructive, the researchers said, and many of those who join and remain in cults do so out of a sincere quest for religious connection. Whether or not a cult is destructive is determined by the morality of the cult leader and the nature of the leader's charismatic dream, and Dr. Cath. "Most of the malign cults are frightening to people when their tenets are revealed, as with the People's Temple after Jamestown," he said.

Dr. Cath defined a cult as a group of people joined together by a common ideological system fostered by a charismatic leader, where, he said, "the expectation is that they can transcend the imperfections and finitude of life." He said: "Often they set up a we / they philosophy: We have the truth and you do not."

In what Dr. Clark called healthy, valid groups, conversion is achieved in good faith without coercion, and the individual is encouraged to reconcile himself to his history, his family and his culture, even when he may be working for change in his society. "But in destructive cults," said Dr. Clark, "current and prior connectedness is denied."
Dr. Clark said that the pattern of manipulated cult conversions may not appear especially radical to outsiders, since no one is beaten or otherwise physically harmed. "But hundreds of ex-cult members and their families have attested to the enticement practices of these groups," he said. "Under the force of the conversion experience, people disappeared from their families and changed, sometimes after only a few days."

Dr. Clark is one of the founders of the Boston Personal Development Institute, a nonprofit group that treats former cult members and advises their families. He and his associates there have treated former members of the Unification Church, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Scientology, the Way International, the Divine Light Mission, the Children of God, the Church of Bible Understand and smaller, less prominent groups.

From the Middle Classes

The majority of those studied by Dr. Clark were from the middle and upper middle classes and ranged in age from 15 to 31. Most of those treated by Dr. Cath range in age from 13 to the mid-20's, but some are in their 50's and older. Their average age is 19 ½. More are male than female. Frequently they are intelligent youths from sheltered environments who have had contact with religion but rejected it, Dr. Cath says. He believes that many have a history of falling to achieve intimacy, of blaming others for their failures and of constantly striving for perfectionistic goals. But Dr. Clark feels there is no standard profile of the "destructive-cult victim."

"Orthodox psychiatric opinion has generally viewed conversion to deviant groups as a function of longstanding conflicts within individuals," he said. "Our evidence strongly suggests that these individuals are succumbing to pressures within the cult milieu pressures that can induce radical personality changes as easily in normally developing people as among disturbed ones."

Dr. Singer said that the 700 cult members she had studied presented a wide range of personality types. "You don't have to be a certain kind of person to succumb to the cults," she said. A typical manipulated conversion, Dr. Clark said, involves a vulnerable person a student leaving home, or at exam time, or someone who has lost a friend or lover who is enticed by some reward: companionship, peace of mind, a place to stay or an implied sexual offering. "Cult recruiters frequent bus stations, airports, campuses, libraries, rallies, anywhere that unattached persons are likely to be passing through," he said."Then they narrow the attention of the recruit, in controlled social situations." "He or she is invited to attend a special function, or series of classes. Cult members are assigned to attend the prospect constantly. Eventually they keep the mark involved to group-ecstatic activities, or use meditation, obsessive praying constant lecturing or preaching or lack of sleep to maintain the mind in a constantly debilitated state."
At some point during the experience, he said, "the mark is placed in a panicky, disoriented state, and an emotional crises is manufactured by the recruiters." One response to this, Dr. Clark said, is that people can become psychotic. He has treated those who became so and were "dumped" by cults that had no further interest in them. "Another response is that they can adapt to the situation and accept the ‘answer' or solution to the crisis that the cult furnishes them with. To survive, they re-identify with their surroundings, and accept the dogma of the group."

Dr. Singer believes that there is increasing awareness of cults among mental-health professionals, especially in campus milieus where the activities of the recruiters and the effect on students are well known. "But too many professionals automatically link cult involvement to psychopathology," she said.

"There is a great need for psychiatric humility here," said Dr. Lifton of Yale. "I think it might be stressed that the whole cult phenomenon is a social psychological, spiritual and economic problem, and the answer may not be psychiatric at all."

Dr. Clark said he does not work with deprogrammers. "However," he said "before therapy can take place, the patient's attention has to be gotten and the patient needs information about the cult group. In that sense, deprogramming has a dignified provenance."

The researchers said that some of those who had joined cults had simply chosen the lesser of two evils especially teenagers who had escaped destructive family situations by joining cults. A number of those interviewed, including Dr. Cath and Dr. Clark, said they had successfully treated former cult members. "Usually we can put the pieces back together again with the help of family and friends," said Dr. Clark.

A Bearing on Brain Research

Several of the researchers believe that the studies of cult members may revise current theories about the workings of the brain. Dr. Cath and Dr. Clark, working independently, have been intrigued that the experiences described by cult members resemble personality changes regularly associated with disorders of the temporal lobe of the brain.

Dr. Clark: "The symptoms of temporal lobe epilepsy are similar to those seen or reported as resulting from cult conversions: increased irritability, loss of libido or altered sexual interest; ritualism, compulsive attention to detail, mystical states, humorlessness and sobriety, heightened paranoia."

Dr. Cath: "Keeping devotees constantly fatigued, deprived of sensory input and suffering protein deprivation, working extremely long hours in street solicitation or in cult-owned businesses, engaging in monotonous chanting and rhythmical singing, may induce psycho-physiological changes in the brain. The rhythmical movement of the body can lead to altered states of consciousness, and changes in the pressure or vibration pattern of the brain may affect the temporal lobe."

Dr. Clark hypothesized that what he calls the "cult-conversion syndrome" represents an overload of the brain's ability to process information. He said: "The unending personalized attention given to the recruits during the conversion experience works to overload the prospect's information-processing capacity. This has another important function: the induction of trancelike states. Cult proselytizers then exploit the recruit's suggestibility.



3/16/2014 5:17 pm  #65

Re: Food for thought - articles and papers

~ toss & ripple ~
musings. excerpts. memoirs.

Church of Wells: I see no good end ....

... to this small group in Texas. I hope I'm wrong and that the group will eventually dissolve. Time will tell.
Exclusiveness and elitism, emotional conversion, literalism, obedience to elders, and the perception of persecution - all justified by scripture - are only a few of the telltale indications of "my-no-good-end" statement. 

Read the rest here

     Thread Starter

4/13/2014 8:11 pm  #66

Re: Food for thought - articles and papers

Christian homophobes should not be criminalised. 
Freedom of speech includes the right to say offensive things

London – 23 December 2010
By Peter Tatchell

Christian street preacher Dale Mcalpine this week won £7,000 in damages, following his arrest and detention by the police for saying homosexuality is a sin. He had expressed his beliefs to passers-by in Workington, Cumbria. As a result, he was charged with making ‘threatening, abusive or insulting’ remarks, contrary to the Public Order Act. A court case was pending, but was dropped. Instead, he was offered an apology by the Chief Constable, and compensation.

As a campaigner for gay rights, I disagree with Mr Mcalpine’s views. But as a defender of free speech, I endorse his right to express them. Indeed, I had offered to testify in his defence, had his case gone to court.Freedom of speech is one of the hallmarks of a civilized society. Mr Mcalpine’s views were homophobic, but the fact that he was treated as a criminal for expressing them, shocked me. The officer who arrested him, although doubtless well-intentioned, interpreted the law in a harsh, authoritarian manner. Mr Mcalpine was neither aggressive, threatening nor intimidating. He did not incite violence against LGBT people.

The Public Order Act is intended to protect people from harm. And Mr Mcalpine’s views – although they are misguided and offensive – caused no injury or damage to anyone. His intolerant views should be challenged but he should not have been prosecuted.Contrast his case with my experience. In 1994, the Islamist fundamentalist group Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) held a mass rally at Wembley Arena. Its members advocated killing gay people and ‘unchaste’ women. They heaped hatred and abuse on Jews and Hindus.

Together with five of my colleagues from the gay rights group OutRage!, I staged a peaceful, lawful counter-protest. It was six of us against 6,000 of them. Some members of HT threatened:  “We will track you down and kill you.” Despite these criminal incitements to murder us, they were not arrested. We were. Our free speech was denied. We were charged under the Public Order Act. In contrast to Mr Mcapline’s case, the police did not drop the charges and apologise, let alone compensate us. It took nearly two years of lengthy, costly legal battles for me to finally win an acquittal.

I have long been passionate in my support for anyone who gets victimised by the authorities for expressing their views – even objectionable ones – providing they do so in a peaceable way and don’t advocate violence. Bigoted views should be rebutted by debate and protest, not by criminalisation.

This is why in 2006 I opposed the prosecution of Sir Iqbal Sacranie, the then general secretary of the Muslim Council Britain. He suggested, BBC Radio 4’s PM Programme, that gay people were unacceptable, immoral, harmful and diseased. This was disgraceful bigotry from anyone, let alone from a faith leader. There were calls for him to be arrested. But since Sir Iqbal had not advocated violence, I urged the police to leave him alone. Instead, I spoke out, explaining why his intolerant views were inaccurate and unethical. I won the argument. The police decided to not charge him.

A free society depends on the free exchange of ideas. All ideas are capable of giving offence, and some of the most important, profound ideas in human history, such as those of Galileo Galilei and Charles Darwin, caused a huge religious offence in their time.Freedom of speech includes the right to criticise and mock, and to say things that many of us find offensive. I deplore the fact that millions of people around the world live with the threat of arrest, torture, imprisonment - and even execution - for expressing ideas that dissent from political and religious orthodoxy. This is why I have consistently defended the human rights of persecuted Christians in Pakistan and victimised Sunni Muslims in Iran, as well as hounded political dissidents in Russia and Zimbabwe.

Precisely the same logic underpins my reason for supporting Mr Mcalpine – and condemning the conviction and £1,000 fine imposed on another Christian street preacher, Shawn Holes, who was arrested in Glasgow earlier this year.
Mr Holes, an American Baptist evangelist touring Britain, told passers-by that, ‘Homosexuals deserve the wrath of God – and so do all sinners – and they are going to a place called hell.’ In court, he admitted breaching the peace by making homophobic remarks. He plainly distressed some people with his anti-gay tirade. But should he have been prosecuted? I believe not. In a democratic society, his arrest was wrong and the fine was totally disproportionate. Even people who commit robberies and violent assaults have been known to get off with lighter penalties. It was, in my view, an inappropriate use of the law.

Just as gay people should have the right to criticise religion, people of faith should also have the right to criticise homosexuality. When it comes to expressions of opinion, only threats and incitements to violence (and damaging libels) should be prosecuted. The police should concentrate on tackling serious crimes, instead of wasting public money on petty, distasteful religious ranters.

This is why I urge Home Secretary, Theresa May, to issue new guidelines, making it clear that the police should not arrest people like Dale Mcalpine and Shawn Holes. Causing offence to others is not a legitimate basis for putting a person on trial. After all, nearly everyone holds opinions that someone else might find offensive. If offending others is accepted as a basis for prosecution, most of the population of the UK would end up in court.

Freedom of speech includes accepting the right of other people to say things that we may find disagreeable and even offensive. It also involves keeping a sense of perspective. When Anne Robinson denigrated the Welsh – as she did earlier this year when she suggested they should be kicked out of their country and replaced by Liverpudlians – should we really expend our efforts protesting against a throwaway remark, when we could be campaigning  against major human rights abuses, such as those in China, Iraq, Burma and Saudi Arabia?

There are, of course, occasions when personal views should be set aside for the sake of avoiding discrimination and maintaining harmonious community relations. The Christian hoteliers, Peter and Hazelmary Bull, in 2008 refused to let gay civil partners Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy share a room. On religious grounds, they did not want gay couples – or any non-married couples - to sleep together in their hotel. I defend the Bulls’ right to hold and express these views. If they chose to propagate them in the street, that’s their right to free speech. But if they are offering a service to the public by providing hotel accommodation, they should provide this service to all the public, without discrimination against anyone for any reason. If we allow them to forbid gay couples – and unmarried heterosexual partners – to sleep in the same room, a deluge of similar claims for exemption from the equality laws is likely to ensue.

We could have some Muslim and Jewish supermarket workers refusing to handle pork and some Christian solicitors declining to represent gay or Hindu clients – because of their religious beliefs. The world of business would grind to a halt, and civility decline, as various special interest groups demanded the right to discriminate. Our equality laws would soon be in tatters. Discrimination would become rampant again. No, thank you. I defend freedom of expression but not when it results in discrimination.

Free speech is precious. Only damaging libellous comments and incitements to violence should be crimes.

Let’s not forget that generations of people suffered to win us the right to freedom of expression; people like the martyred Bible translator William Tyndale and the jailed Chartist leader William Lovett. It was Tyndale, a 16th century scholar and translator, who defied church and state by making the Bible more widely accessible to ordinary people, translating it from Latin into English. This incurred the wrath of both the Pope and Henry VIII – he also opposed the King’s divorces. Tyndale was accused of heresy and treason. Henry VIII had him executed. Three centuries later, Lovett was a Chartist leader who demanded votes for working class people. Although his protests were peaceful, he was arrested for ‘riot’ and jailed for 12 months in 1839 on a trumped-up charge of seditious libel. He died in poverty. 

We owe it to Lovett and Tyndale – and to the many other proponents of free speech who have succeeded them – to defend the right of people to express their opinions, even when we disagree with what they say.

Note: I don't necessarily agree with this. I believe that gay-bashing harms everyone, not just The Gay. But I thought it was an important well-expressed opinion worth reading. The point is well-made.

     Thread Starter

4/22/2014 10:21 pm  #67

Re: Food for thought - articles and papers

Breaking Tradition Instead of Breaking Bones
Donald R Barbera
April 11, 2014
Raising Children: Abuse
"A disturbing fact continues to surface in sex abuse research. The first best predictor of abuse is alcohol or drug addiction in the father. But the second best predictor is conservative religiosity, accompanied by parental belief in traditional male-female roles. This means that if you want to know which children are most likely to be sexually abused by their father, the second most significant clue is whether or not the parents belong to a conservative religious group with traditional role beliefs and rigid sexual attitudes.”
From "80% Solution" (Barbera)

In the Community
When it comes to child discipline, the black community is a strong believer in corporal punishment as a method of child control. In most cases, it is a case of methods passed along by previous generations. The same scenario plays out in the Latino community where physical punishment often surfaces as the proper way to discipline a child. There are many in the country that objects to this type of discipline, but there are just as many that agree with it.
As mentioned, much of corporal punishment is communities around the country is driven by tradition, lack of knowledge and religion. Most are familiar with the Bible verse stating that, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes."[2]
Unfortunately, many that “chasteneth” their child often do irreparable harm to their children and in some cases cripple or kill them.

Abuse Epidemic
Expectations of Christians are a bit higher than the rest of society because of their supposed connection to God, the Bible and other religious standards that allegedly set them apart from the remaining 24% of society. Yet, each year nearly 900,000 children around the nation are victims of abuse or neglect in good Christian homes, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.[3] Statistics shows 12 of every 1,000 children are victims of abuse or neglect.
Information collected by the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, show that child protective service agencies received almost 5.8 million reports of possible abuse.[4] More than 1,700 children died of abuse or neglect in 2007, a rate of 2.35 children per 100,000.[5]Despite such startling statistics, the significance of religion’s role in abuse escapes scrutiny. Religious beliefs can foster, encourage, and justify child abuse; yet religious motivations for child abuse and neglect go virtually ignored in social science research.[6] Each year more than 2 million children are beaten by a family member.[7]
A 2007 economic impact study estimates the yearly cost associated with abused and neglected children to be nearly $104 billion.[8]

Child Abuse
What many people may not realize is that in the evangelical alternative universe of the home school movement, tightly knit church communities and the following of a number of big-time leaders and authors, physical punishment of children has been glorified for years. As the Times illustrates—as "Preaching Virtue of Spanking, Even as Deaths Fuel Debate"—the books of Michael Pearl and his wife Debi have been found in the homes where several children were killed.
They're not the only right-wing Christians who advocate these methods. Some of the most respected evangelical discipline gurus have made beating children not just "respectable" in conservative religious circles, but even turned it into a godly activity.
In 1977 James Dobson founder of the "Focus on the Family" religious empire and radio program, wrote a book called Dare To Discipline, whose purpose was, essentially, to get parents to beat their children. In his book Dobson glorified a sadomasochistic/spiritual ritual of "discipline." He said he wanted to stop a "liberal" trend in America that was moving away from the godly thrashing of infants.
Dobson is mild compared to the popular evangelical authors Michael and Debi Pearl. In their book To Train Up a Child (1994) they advocate beating babies. In the book they recommend “switching” a 7-month-old on the bare bottom or leg seven to eight times as a punishment for getting angry. If the baby is still angry, they urge parents t o repeat the punishment until the child gives in to the pain. The "switch” they recommend for an under 1-year-old is from a willow tree and/or a 12-inch ruler.
In the Pearls' case, actual criminal complaints have been brought against some parents who have killed their children and who have been following the "methods" in To Train Up a Child. This book can be nevertheless be found in thousands of "respectable" evangelical bookstores.
A California couple has been charged with murder and torture after their discipline methods caused the death of one of their children and critical injuries for another. Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz of Paradise, California, are accused of murdering their 7-year-old adopted daughter during a "discipline session." The couple is also charged with the torture of their 11year-old adopted daughter and cruelty to a child for signs of bruising discovered on their 10-year-old biological son.
The parents allegedly used a 1 -inch length of plastic tubing used for plumbing to beat the children, a practice recommended in the book "To Train Up a Child" by Michael and Debi Pearl of "No Greater Joy Ministries." The same plumbing supply tools were linked to a North Carolina child's death in 2006, when a devotee of the Pearls accidentally killed her -year-old son by suffocating him in tightly wrapped blankets.[9]

Enter the Bible
As demonstrated in the previous chapter on intimate partner abuse and domestic violence, the connection between religion and child abuse frequently stems from a literal and fundamental approach to ancient scriptures.[10]  The Bible contains many verses that, if taken literally, support severe physical punishment of children, such as:
Proverbs 23:13-14: "Withhold no correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell."
Proverbs 20:30: "The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly." Moreover, Proverbs 13:24 seems to advise a quick resort to such punishments: "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes."[11]
Many fundamentalists advocating corporal punishment read Proverbs as a literal injunction to hit children with implements. These verses often lead to excessive use of force resulting in severe injuries and even death for children on the receiving end of such punishment. Too often Biblical literalist reject advice from secular parenting books because the Bible has the correct advice on all matters leading to religion playing a significant role in cases of child abuse as literal beliefs foster, encourage and even justify child abuse.[12] The Bible even promotes the stoning death of disobedient child in Deuteronomy 21.

James Dobson just has to be responsible for many psychopaths in America.[13] Dr. Dobson's advice books have sold millions of copies and even though his prescriptions have been refuted over and over, he contines to reap millions of dollars from sales of his books. This can only be occurring because his buyers are Idiot Americans who have been raised by other Idiot Americans to follow dogma and superstition and avoid reason at all costs.

Advice of violence-prevention professionals compared to advice of James Dobson
A critical look at the evangelical right’s leading proponent of violent authoritarianism in the family, Dr. James Dobson, through quotes from his best-selling publications. In the following material, Dobson’s admonitions [in blue] are juxtaposed for easy comparison to the advice of experts in the fields of domestic violence and child-sexual-abuse prevention.

Psychologists Ronald Slaby and Wendy Roedell: “(O)ne of the most reliable predictors of children’s level of aggression is the heavy use by parents of harsh, punitive discipline and physical punishment… Parental punitiveness has been found to be positively correlated with children’s aggression in over 25 studies…(P)arental punishment is one important aspect of a general pattern of intercorrelated parental behaviors that influence the child’s aggression.”[14]
James Dobson: “Contrary to what it might seem, (a child) is more likely to be a violent person if his parent fails to (spank him), because he learns too late about the painful consequences of acting selfishly, rebelliously, and aggressively.”[15]

Protect Your Child by Laura Hutton: “Every child should be taught that he has personal rights that should be respected by all adults…’I have the right to say no if someone touches or wants to touch the private parts of my body.’ ”[16]
James Dobson: “A spanking is to be reserved for use in response to willful defiance, whenever it occurs. Period!”[17]

Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk County: “The pain a woman feels cannot be measured by how many bruises she has on her body… Most women report that even if the physical abuse is not severe, the emotional trauma from being abused by someone they love has long-lasting effects.”[18]
James Dobson: “When a youngster tries this kind of stiff-necked rebellion, you had better take it out of him, and pain is a marvelous purifier.”[19] “…It is not necessary to beat the child into submission; a little bit of pain goes a long way for a young child. However, the spanking should be of sufficient magnitude to cause the child to cry genuinely.”[20]

Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk County: “Many men make statements such as, ‘My partner makes me hit her.’ Blaming the victim is an easy way of denying responsibility for your own behavior…. No matter what your partner does, you don’t have the right to hurt her.”[21]
James Dobson: “Some strong-willed children absolutely demand to be spanked, and their wishes should be granted.”[22]

Protect Your Child: ” I have a right to scream for help even if I am told by a molester to be quiet and obey….l don’t have to obey someone who hurts me or wants to hurt me.”[23]
James Dobson: “Two or three stinging strokes on the legs or buttocks with a switch are usually sufficient to emphasize the point, ‘You must obey me.’ ”[24]

Suffolk County Women’s Services: “You cannot end the violence by trying to be ‘better’ or by trying harder to please your abuser.”[25]
James Dobson: “You can explain (to your child) why he has been punished and how he can avoid the difficulty next time.”[26]

The Safe Child Book by Sherryl Kerns Kraizer: “We need to look at the ways in which we teach our children to be blindly obedient to adults and authority figures. Most children do not know they can say no to a police officer, a teacher, a principal, a counselor, a minister, a baby-sitter, or a parent when an inappropriate request is made.”[27]
James Dobson: “By learning to yield to the loving authority…of his parents, a child learns to submit to other forms of authority which will confront him later in his life — his teachers, school principal, police, neighbors and employers.”[28]

Suffolk County Women’s Services: “You have a right to a life free from abuse.”[29]
James Dobson: “Most (children) need to be spanked now and then.”[30]

The Safe Child Book: “Young children tell me that some of the ways they don’t like to be touched are: kisses on the mouth, getting their shirts tucked in by grown-ups, being picked up, having their hair stroked, having to kiss Grandma and Grandpa or Mom and Dad’s friends…They can be unwanted touch, just as sexual abuse is unwanted touch… It is important to respect children’s preferences. By learning to say no to one type of touching, children learn to say no to the other.”[31]
James Dobson: “Minor pain can…provide excellent motivation for the child… There is a muscle, lying snugly against the base of the neck… When firmly squeezed, it sends little messengers to the brain saying, ‘This hurts; avoid recurrence at all costs’.”[32]

Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk County: “Men who abuse do so in order to maintain power and control over their partners.”[33]
James Dobson: “A child wants to be controlled.”[34] “… The need to be controlled and governed is almost universal in childhood… It is through loving control that parents express personal worth to a child.”[35]

The Safe Child Book: “Private parts include the genital area, the buttocks, and the breasts. It is sometimes easier for parents to say something like ‘The parts of your body that your bathing suit and underwear cover up are special parts of your body. You can touch yourself there, but other people shouldn’t. except if you’re sick or at the doctor. Those same parts of the body are special for other people and it’s not okay for someone older than you to touch you…’ ”[36]
James Dobson: “If a parent responds appropriately, on the backside, he has taught the child a valuable lesson…”[37]

Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk County: If your partner has to change her behavior in order to keep herself free from your physical or verbal assaults… then she is being abused.”[38]
James Dobson: “Corporal punishment in the hands of a loving parent is a teaching tool by which harmful behavior is inhibited.”[39]

Child Sexual Abuse Prevention: Tips to Parents: “Children who may be too frightened to talk about sexual molestation may exhibit a variety of physical and behavioral signals. …Symptoms (include):..excessive crying…”[40]
James Dobson: “Real crying usually lasts two minutes or less, but may continue for five. After that point, the child is merely complaining… I would require him to stop the protest crying, usually by offering him a little more of whatever caused the original tears.”[41]

Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk County: “Batterers over-personalize their partner’s behavior, perceiving any disagreements as attacks against him.”[42]
James Dobson: “When a child has lowered his head and clenched his fist, he is daring the parent to take him on.”[43]

Child Sexual Abuse Prevention: Tips to Parents: “Other behavioral signals (that indicate a child may have been sexually molested include)…aggressive or disruptive behavior…”[44]
James Dobson: “An appropriate spanking from a loving parent in a moment of defiance provides (a) service. It tells (the child)…he must steer clear of certain social traps… selfishness, dishonesty, unprovoked aggression, etc.”[45]

Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk County: “When trying to resolve a conflict, look for ‘WINWIN’ solutions, where both of you feel that the resolution is acceptable. Don’t make your partner into your opponent. Remember that the goal is to solve a problem, not have the ‘upper hand’.”[46]
James Dobson: “When you are defiantly challenged, win decisively.”[47],[48]

What the Research Says
A study sponsored by the University of Texas, found that those who believe the Bible inerrant are more likely to spank or slap their toddlers and preschool children—almost 50 times more a year than other parents. The same study also revealed that fundamentalists are 50% more likely to spank or slap their grade school children.[49] As far back as the 1970s, researchers recognized the problem and named religious affiliation as the best indicator of whether parents will apply corporal punishment.[50]
An article in the American Sociological Review said, “A Baptist membership is a strong predictor of the use of corporal punishment, better than age, race, ethnicity, gender, economic status or any other sociological factor.”[51]  Researchers at Texas Tech University said, “We propose that authoritarian and patriarchal norms emerging from a fundamentalist faith ultimately makes violence more likely.”[52] Religion is often a significant factor in child-abuse cases. The connection between religion and child abuse frequently stems from a literalistic, fundamentalist approach to ancient scriptures.[53]
A 2008 paper published in the Southern Medical Journal concludes that conservative Protestants, particularly those who believe in biblical literalism or inerrancy, spank and/or physically abuse their children more than other Christian denominations.[54]

Original Sin and Abuse
Several scholars indicate that conservative Protestants’ approval of corporal punishment comes from their beliefs the Bible is inerrant and has the answers to all human concerns. One belief of particular unease is the concept that all children enter the world with original sin, a stain on the soul because of the sin of Adam and Eve breaking God’s law in the Garden of Eden. In her book, Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment, “As far as children are concerned, viewing all humankind as inherently sinful is one of the worst ideas to come along since Abraham and Isaac set off for Mount Moriah.[55] Under God’s punishment, the sins of the father transfer directly on the descendants of the infamous couple.
Their determination the Bible is the literal, absolute word of God often leads to authoritarian relationships and with disastrous results. They fear that sensuality and libertarianism in popular culture threaten their ability to pass on religious values to their children. They do not see the government as supporting their parenting ideals, but rather as interfering with them. They believe that babies born to sin and naturally inclined to rebel against God and their parents. Reflecting the divine order, men should be in control of their wives and children.[56]
In researching Religion-related Child Physical Abuse, Bette Bottoms, found abuse statistics about child abuse in fringe Christian cults. Although the numbers contain a mixture of extremes, it is informative to consider a profile of their cases. In particular, 43% of the cases involved fundamentalist or fringe Christian religions, 38% involved other Protestants, and 16% involved Catholics. In 85% of the cases, the abuse came at the hands of the parents. On average, victims of abuse ranged between the ages of 5 and 11 years of age.[57] Unfortunately, only now are researchers uncovering the damage done by such treatment with a major concern being the affect it has on a child’s intelligence.

Negative Affects
A recent study involving hundreds of U.S. children, showed the more spanking a child received, the lower his or her IQ compared with others.[58] Researchers tested the kids' IQs initially and then four years later. Both groups of kids got smarter after four years, but spanked 2- to 4-year-olds scored 5 points lower on the IQ test than those not spanked.[59]  If nothing else, the new study suggests that corporal punishment may have a lasting effect that is not beneficial to children. The survey studied more than 30 countries comparing sites where corporal punishment was rare to those where it was an accepted way of life and researchers found the same results in IQ difference. The study also found that corporal punishment in the United States is most common among African-American families, Southern families, parents spanked as children themselves and those who identify themselves as conservative Christians.[60]  Most of the approximately twenty states that have laws permitting corporal punishment in schools are in the southern United States, an area commonly called the Bible Belt.[61]
Overly aggressive children may have its roots in spankings, according to a study led by Tulane University’s Catherine Taylor. Among the mothers studied, nearly half (45.6%) reported no spanking in the previous month, 27.9% reported spanking once or twice and 26.5% reported spanking more than twice. Compared with unspanked children, those who spanked were more likely to be defiant, demand immediate satisfaction of their wants and needs, frustrated easily, have temper tantrums, and lash out physically against others.[62]
Researchers said the reason for such behavior might be that spanking instills fear rather than understanding. Even if a child were to stop his screaming tantrum when spanked, that does not mean he understands why he should not act up in the first place. In addition, spanking models aggressive behavior as a solution to problems.[63]
Religious overtones add an additional layer of complexity and harm to child abuse experiences. Victims of religion-related abuse must deal with the trauma associated not only with parental betrayal but also perhaps the additional despair related to perceived betrayal by God.[64]
Family values is a large part of the Christian mantra, but a large study of the Christian Reformed Church, a member of the NAE, discovered that the frequency of physical and sexual abuse in this evangelical denomination was about the same as in the general population.[65]

The Rap Sheet
Fugitive Preacher Arrested—Philadelphia—A missing West Philadelphia pastor who was wanted for questioning in the beating death of a 4-year-old boy who died while in the pastor’s custody has been found in Georgia, Montgomery County officials announced. The Reverend Dr. Javan McBurrows was arrested near Decatur, Ga., and charged with being a fugitive, said prison officials in DeKalb County, Ga. Reverend McBurrows has since been charged in Pennsylvania with endangering the welfare of children and recklessly endangering another person.[66]
Pastor: I was Asleep During Boy’s Fatal Beating—Philadelphia

A Philadelphia pastor accused of beating a 4-year-old boy to death used a Rip Van Winkle defense at his murder trial: he swore he had slept through the whole thing. In the nonjury trial’s final day, Rev. Javan McBurrows, 52, former pastor of Third Christian Church in Overbrook, told Montgomery County Judge William J. Furber Jr. that he had been napping in the bedroom, 10 feet away from the bathroom where Michael Davis, a parishioner’s child placed in his care, was fatally beaten. Jane McBurrows described seeing her husband repeatedly beat Michael with a metal-edged carpenter’s level. She said her husband also had clapped his hands together hard three times on either side of the little boy’s head. He died hours later at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Ian Hood, a Philadelphia medical examiner who did the autopsy, said injuries to the boy’s brain alone could have caused death. He said that repeated beating of Michael’s arms, legs, back, and buttocks had traumatized the child’s soft tissue and crushed his fat into what Hood described as bloody peanut butter.[67]

Clergyman Convicted of Boy's Murder—Philadelphia—Five years after beating a small boy to death with a metal-edged carpenter's level, the Rev. Javan McBurrows was convicted of third-degree murder. Montgomery County Court Judge William J. Furber Jr. cleared McBurrows, 52, of the more serious charge of first-degree murder, for which he could have faced the death penalty. Third-degree murder carries a penalty of 20 to 40 years. McBurrows is to be sentenced within 90 days. Deputy District Attorney Christopher Maloney said he was satisfied with the verdict.[68]

"Diabolical and Truly Wicked" Minster Sentenced in Death of Child—Norristown, PA—County Court Judge William Furber called the Rev. Javan M. McBurrows "diabolical and truly wicked" in sentencing him to 20 to 40 years in prison for the murder of 4-year-old Michael Davis. McBurrows beat the 3 feet, 7 inches tall, 52 pound, Michael Davis to death with a metal masonry level, the district attorney said. After sentencing, Judge Furber admonishedMcBurrows saying, “I believe you are cruel and cunning," adding. "I believe, with the facade portrayed by a man of the cloth, you are extremely dangerous." [69]
According to police, McBurrows beat Michael Davis across the back of his legs as many as 10 times with a two-foot metal mason's level, and then forced the child to march the length of the family's squalid suburban home until he dropped. McBurrows and his wife, Jane, took the boy to the hospital, telling doctors he had fallen in the bathtub. The family then fled to Georgia with seven children, five of their own and Michael's two siblings. Georgia authorities picked up the couple after police received a tip from one of Mrs. McBurrows' relatives.[70]
Before McBurrows was apprehended, the 4-year-old died shortly after doctors transferred him to another hospital. An autopsy showed Michael had suffered a sustained beating, possibly with a blunt object. The cause of death was listed as blunt force trauma to the head, chest, back and buttocks. Investigators said McBurrows swung the metal-edged level “like a baseball bat.” [71]
Mrs. McBurrows originally backed her husband's story but recanted two days after his arrest, saying she had not been truthful because she feared retribution from her husband and she was uncomfortable talking in front of his attorney, Harry Rubin. Rubin represented her husband when he was charged with beating her in 1992 and 1995. [72] Jane McBurrows testified she never resisted his attempt to flee the state or his plan to ditch the masonry level, nor did she report any of his other beatings, because she was afraid he would kill her. He threatened to "hunt me down like a dog" if she left him, she testified. Mrs. McBurrows has not been charged with any crime. In 1992, Mrs. McBurrows alleged her husband attacked her in Philadelphia with a baseball bat and broke her wrist and ankle. The charges were dropped, however, because she had left the area and was not available to testify. He was convicted of assaulting her again in 1995 and was sentenced to probation.[73]
The judge also sentenced McBurrows to 30 to 60 months, to be served after the longer term, on a conviction of endangering the welfare of other children in the home, including the boy's two sisters and five of the defendant's own children. Prosecutors said McBurrows routinely beat the children. Authorities said the boy, who had been left in the McBurrows' care by a destitute parishioner.[74]
Before McBurrows was charged with beating to death a 4-year-old boy, he had been found guilty of two counts of cruelty to animals for mistreating two dogs and convicted of choking his wife, who testified that McBurrows had beaten all eight children living in their house. While McBurrows acted like the "shepherd of a flock" in public, he was "the devil's minister in private," the judge said. "It had to be a living nightmare for these children to endure this sadistic behavior," said Furber, citing testimony that McBurrows beat the children with cord, leather belts, PVC piping, a two-by-four board and, in the case of Davis' death, a metal-edged carpenter's level at a home. The judge said McBurrows turned into a "house of terror."[75]

Pastor Charged with Neglect—Gary—Carlton Franklin Davis, the former pastor of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Gary, Indiana, was charged with "neglect after a son he fathered with a parishioner was hospitalized with burns across his lower body," reported the Indianapolis Star. "Samuel Kendrick [the baby] arrived at Community Hospital in Munster on with deep burns across his legs, feet, groin, and buttocks, apparently after having been immersed in very hot water, according to court records." Davis had been fired by the New Hope church board in September "after the baby's mother went public with allegations that he had fathered her child. It was the second time the married pastor had been publicly confronted with impregnating a parishioner. In 2002, a woman told church members during a Sunday service that Davis had impregnated her 16-year-old daughter."[76]

South Georgia Preacher arrested for child cruelty—Albany, GA—An Albany minister and the mother of a two-year-old boy are accused of scalding the child in a bathtub. Police charged both with first-degree child cruelty. 26-year old Justice McClendon, a traveling minister who preaches in South Georgia churches and 21-year old Christy Davis of Geneva, Alabama. The child's grandparents in Early County reported the injuries.[77]

We now have a clearer understanding of what we have accomplished and what more needs to be done to strengthen both our child protection programs and our outreach to those who have been harmed as a result of clergy sexual abuse.” —Cardinal O’Malley

Article and references here.


7/15/2014 10:22 pm  #68

Re: Food for thought - articles and papers

Religion and health insurance

The individual shared responsibility payment
If you can afford health insurance but choose not to buy it, you must pay a fee known as the "individual shared responsibility payment."

Apparently you can opt out for religious reasons and may meet criteria for a religious exemption.
  • You’re a member of a recognized health care sharing ministry
  • You’re a member of a recognized religious sect with religious objections to insurance, including Social Security and Medicare

Does Church of Wells comply with state and federal labor and employment law - health insurance, overtime, withholding, Workmans' Compensation - for its employees and administration? Does Charity Enterprises, Inc. (and all of its subsidiaries and partner businesses) offer health insurance to employees? Does anyone not a member of Church of Wells work for any of its companies?


8/18/2014 9:52 am  #69

Re: Food for thought - articles and papers


...Another popular preacher often contrasts what he says with what "the average Christian" believes.

The Bondage of Congregational Elitism
By David Kowalski

"For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding." -- 1 Corinthians 10:12

The proud desire to be a special and superior kind of Christian can lead us into bondage when this is taken advantage of by manipulative leaders. In his book Churches that Abuse, Ronald Enroth says that one tactic used by abusive leaders is to persuade congregants that they in some way stand out from other Christians due to their participation in the particular ministry of which the abusive leader is the head: "Followers are led to think that there is no other church quite like theirs and that God has singled them out for special purposes."

I make a similar observation about ministerial manipulation of congregational pride in my article "Lesson Learned from Lying Leaders."

"The charmer will make his or her followers feel “special.” By constantly emphasizing how dramatically unique, important, and effective the group’s ministry is, he or she will make those who participate in the group feel that by being part of something superior to what any other ministry is doing, they are themselves superior to other Christians. Their identity with the group elevates their thoughts and feelings about themselves. The mixture of being charmed and made to feel special is a cocktail that so intoxicates followers they will believe and do things they ordinarily would not."

In my article about red flags to look for when evaluating a ministry I identify elitism as one sign that a church may be unhealthy:
Elitism -- an elitist view on the part of the group members, who seem to feel that one is a substandard, unenlightened, or unspiritual person if they are not part of their, particular group. If people seem to glorify a group or man more than God something is often wrong with the group. Groups that think they are better than other Christians are usually worse.

Those who look down on "ordinary" Christians who are not part of a supposedly remarkable ministry are, as a rule, inferior to those upon whom they look down. Bob DeWaay describes his own errant search to ascend above the "average" Christian:

"There are no extraordinary Christians; but being an ordinary Christian is an extraordinary thing. How I wish I would have understood that when I was a new Christian. But I didn’t. Soon after my conversion I began a quest to become the best possible Christian...My dissatisfaction with the Christianity taught in Bible College led me to join a Christian commune some months after graduation. That group’s founder taught that all ordinary churches and Bible Colleges were caught up in “religious Babylon.” He taught that the kingdom of God was to be found by quitting one’s job, selling one’s possessions, giving the money to the commune, and moving in together to be devoted to the “kingdom” twenty four hours a day. So in my search to become an extraordinary Christian I did what he said and joined."

Lust for a feeling of spiritual superiority can be exploited by dishonest or abusive leaders. The followers' feeling that leaving a particular group will make them second-rate, mediocre Christians can engender such staunch loyalty that they tend to overlook unbiblical elements in the church and inappropriate conduct by the leaders. Devotees of the assembly and its overseers learn to rationalize such things as they encounter them. The desire to be accepted in a congregation that is supposedly ultra-Christian evokes a herd instinct to go along with everything being said and done.

Elitism is rarely so overt that leaders actually say that one cannot really serve God as well elsewhere (though this does happen). Greg Jankowski, a reader of the first draft of this article, commented, "What scares me are the churches that have a more subtle way of this elitism." One can still detect the elitism by its symptoms, though. It is evidenced when leaders and followers both publicly testify more about the church and the leaders' ministry than they do of Christ and the Bible. Continual, public emphasis of some aspect of the ministry that is thought to be outstanding is another symptom of this elitism. I know of one pastor, for example, who would often use the phrase, "Where else can you..." about the church he pastored. Another popular preacher often contrasts what he says with what "the average Christian" believes.

Two qualifications should be briefly made here. First, the Bible does teach particularism -- that one is saved only through conscious faith in Christ and what He did for us on the cross (see my article here). Secondly, we all naturally believe that the church we attend is the best one (otherwise we would attend church elsewhere) and this degree of "elitism" is just part of human nature.

One sign of bondage to manipulative leadership, however, is seen when this natural tendency is pressed to such an extreme that the congregants' identity are so entwined with their, particular group that they think of themselves more as a member of that church than they do of themselves as followers of Jesus. They talk more of their church than they do of Christ, and they feel that attendance elsewhere will make them less of a Christian. They find it too difficult to "lower" themselves from the elevated status of affiliation with the "exceptional" ministry. Breaking free from such groups is generally a traumatic affair for those whose self-concept has been shaped by that affiliation.

"For when one says, 'I am of Paul,' and another, 'I am of Apollos,' are you not mere men? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth." -- 1 Corinthians 3:4-7

"Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted." -- Matthew 23:12

"Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant." -- 1 Corinthians 13:4

"But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, 'God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.'" -- James 4:6

"When you have a large audience together under the direction of charismatic personalities (using 'charismatic' in the popular, secular sense) you are involved in what we might call the group dynamics of the crowd. The power of suggestion in an atmosphere of excitement is stronger than one might suppose. Doing what other people are doing is contagious in crowds. Not only does the crowd behavior follow an inner dynamic of its own, it is subject to the dominance of the partisan." – Andrew Walker
David has worked as an English teacher (Abeka), high school administrator (ACE), in-school-suspension teacher (public school), Associate Pastor (two Assemblies of God churches), Senior Pastor (two Assemblies of God churches), and Bible College Professor (Global University).

© Copyright 2013, David Kowalski


8/18/2014 10:55 am  #70

Re: Food for thought - articles and papers

If my views cannot stand the test of objective analysis and
verification, humility demands that I abandon them.
 -- R.C. Sproul

All of us have to struggle with the problem of subjectivism. 
Subjectivism not only produces error and distortion, but it
breeds arrogance as well. To believe what I believe simply
because I believe it or to argue that my opinion is true simply
because it is my opinion is the epitome of arrogance.
If my views cannot stand the test of objective analysis and
verification, humility demands that I abandon them.

But the subjectivist has the arrogance to maintain his position with
no objective support or corroboration. To say to someone, "If
you like to believe what you want to believe, that's fine; I'll
believe what I want to believe," only sounds humble on the

Private views must be evaluated in light of outside evidence
and opinion because we bring excess baggage to the
Bible. No one on the face of this Earth has a perfectly pure
understanding of Scripture. We all hold some views and
entertain some ideas that are not of God. Perhaps if we knew
precisely which of our views were contrary to God, we would
abandon them. But to sort them out is very difficult. Thus,
our views need the sounding boards and honing steel of other
people's research and expertise.

The last decade or so has been a remarkable time of church
renewal in many places. Lay renewal conferences are commonplace.
The accent is no longer so much on great pulpiteers but on
great programs for and by lay people. This is the era not of
the great preacher, but the era of the great congregation.

One of the most significant developments of the lay renewal
movement has been the advent of small home Bible study groups.
Laymen teach each other or pool their own ideas in these Bible
studies. Such groups have been quite successful in renewing
the church.

Pooling of knowledge is edifying to the church; pooling of ignorance is destructive and can manifest the problem of the blind leading the blind.

It is a tremendous thing that people are beginning to
open up the Bible and study it together. But it is also an
exceedingly dangerous thing. Pooling of knowledge is edifying
to the church; pooling of ignorance is destructive and can
manifest the problem of the blind leading the blind.

If we examine the history of the Jewish people in the Old
Testament, we see that one of the most severe and abiding
threats to Israel was the threat of the false prophet or false
teacher. More often than by the hand of the Philistines or the
Assyrians, Israel fell to the seductive power of the lying

 Not all false prophets speak falsely out of malice; many do so out of ignorance.

The New Testament bears witness to the same problem in
the primitive Christian Church. The false prophet was like
the hireling shepherd who was concerned more for his own
wages than the welfare of the sheep. He thought nothing of
misleading the people; leading them into error or to evil. Not
all false prophets speak falsely out of malice; many do so out
of ignorance. From the malicious and the ignorant we should

Excerpted from "Knowing Scripture" by R.C. Sproul © 1977


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