Sunday, October 20, 2013

Church Abuse Is Not Always Sex Abuse of Children

Do a web search on the phrase "church abuse", and you will almost always find web pages pertaining to sexual abuse of children or minors. That is most likely because one of the most egregious examples of such abuse pertains to Catholic priests who have perpetrated such abuse. (And it's not just the Catholics. The COGIC denomination, aka Children of God in Christ, is Andrae Crouch's denomination, and there's a Facebook page related to the web site

The truth is that there are many different levels of abuse one can get from church leaders, as anyone knows who read the horrible story about the mass suicide committed by the followers of the delusional egomaniac Jim Jones. I still remember the news photos showing the bloated bodies of the members of the People's Temple in their compound in Guyana. Powers Boothe played the part of Jim Jones in a TV miniseries about that event.

Church abuse can rise (or sink, to be more accurate) to the level of Jim Jones or sexually abusive priests or pastors, but it very rarely does. More often, it takes the form of subtle abuses of power and authority of church leaders (often, but not always pastors) who arrogate to themselves the right to control aspects of a person's life that are frankly none of their business, like what college the person attends, what job the person accepts, what woman the person dates or marries, and so forth. Jeff Van Vonderen ( has coauthored a book entitled "The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse", and he has his own web site ( specifically related to such abuse. I highly recommend the book, because Jeff and his co-author David Johnson clearly respect the authority of the scriptures, even though they do not equally respect all pastors.

Why do I care about such things? Because I have witnessed megalomania on the part of pastors far too often for my tastes, and it left a bad taste in my mouth.

Bottom line: I love God, but only God is God. When a pastor's behavior conforms to my understanding of what God requires, then I will be happy to treat that person as someone worthy of respect (if not unconditional obedience), but not when that is no longer the case.

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