A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

He is Just the Nicest Man I’ve Ever Met — Beware the Abuser’s Charm

The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden. (1 Timothy 5:24-25)

One of the important things we do here at ACFJ is to keep saying certain fundamentals over and over. Repetition is vital for all of us, and that is exactly what I am doing in this post.

Recently I was talking to someone who has regular contact with an abuser. I do not know the person I was speaking with well at all, but I do know the abuser through and through. This lady said to me, “Isn’t he just the nicest person you have ever met?”  I did not respond. People like this never listen anyway.

Most all of us can look back into the past and think of a time when we met a person who seemed “like the nicest person” you could ever ask for. The finest example of a Christian. We just knew it was so.

But it wasn’t.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the young pastor Timothy to be on guard. He said that there are people whose sins are right out there and easy to see. We get that part. What we don’t get hold of is the second category Paul warned of — “the sins of others appear later.” And Paul told Timothy this right after he said —

Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure. (1 Timothy 5:22)

As I look back on my own life, I realize that I used to be way, way too trusting. Especially when it came to meeting people who claimed to be Christians. Oh, I understood and firmly believed that no one could be a Christian and yet live an unchanged life, habitually and characteristically walking in sin as they always had. But what I did not understand was that second category. Those evil ones whose sins “appear later.” And I certainly did not understand that there are many of these kind working their abusive quest for power and control in virtually every single local church.

As we grow in wisdom, this naivete changes. We understand that someone can appear strikingly “holy” and yet be incredibly evil. But as we grow in the Lord, we put away childish things. Childhood is a dangerous state to remain in.

So slow down. When you meet someone who seems soooo “Christian” and sooooo “warm” and “kind,” remind yourself that the verdict is still out on what they really are. Don’t let yourself get swept off your feet by someone’s charm, no matter how good it might feel to do so. If you permit yourself to be “charmed” and come under their spell, it is highly unlikely that anyone is going to be able to warn you, and you will have to learn the hard, hard way as most all of us have had to. In the same way as time will show the genuineness of a real Christian’s heart, so, in time, the wicked deceptive person will be revealed for what they really are.

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Further Reading

Thursday Thought — Charm: A Red Flag

 

The Mysterious Disappearance and Death of Lynn Messer — Husband not cleared in investigation

On July 8, 2014, Lynn Messer vanished from the bed she shared with her husband, Kerry Messer, a Missouri state lobbyist for Christian, Biblical, homeschooling, pro-life and family values. Years later Kerry Messer, Lynn’s husband, has not yet been cleared of the investigation into the disappearance and now (with the discovery of Lynn’s body) the death of his wife.

A Christian blogger at GiveMe Chocolate, Carolyn, has followed this story closely over the past three years. More details can be found at her website.

A good summary post by Carolyn showing alleged patterns of deception by Lynn’s husband, Kerry is titled Lynn Messer Case: Top 12 Lies. 

Lynn’s two sons, Abram and Aaron, are speaking out with the hope of bringing justice to their mother. More details can be found at their Facebook page: Find Lynn Messer II.

And if you want to help get answers and justice for Lynne, you might want to donate to the #JusticeforLynn Messer Fund.

Did we mention that Mr Kerry Messer is a Missouri state lobbyist for Christian, Biblical, homeschooling, pro-life and family values?

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Info Post: Please do not include these things in your comments here at ACFJ

We are noting a resurgence of certain types of material in some comments that we at ACFJ either do not endorse or that we simply are not scientifically qualified to assess or report on. For example, we prefer commenters not to mention:

  • research about brain scans
  • research about the neuropsychology of psychopaths or the genetic inheritability of psychopathy
  • research about the statistical prevalence of psychopathy or sociopathy.

If anyone does include such material we are likely to edit or not publish their comment. We are also mindful that the research from brain scans and neuropsychology might easily be used as an excuse by abusers. And we are concerned that brain science findings may be used in the legal system to get abusers off the hook from the crimes they have committed.

The Bible says that ALL people are born with a conscience (Romans 1). An abuser has so habitually suppressed his conscience that it becomes seared.

Also, we remind commenters to not give directive counsel to other commenters. We have explained our reasons for this in our New Users Info page. Here is what we said there:

Language to avoid
Some survivors of abuse, in their zeal to help another survivor, start telling her what to do or how to feel or think. We ask you not to do that. If you tell another survivor what to do, that can sound to her like you are issuing an order to her… so it’s not a good idea. It can trigger the abused person if you tell them what to do. It’s better to use phrases like:

Have you considered such and such?
Maybe you would like to think about …..
I encourage you to respond to that person by ….
I suggest you do so and so….
Invitational suggestions are much easier for victims to hear than instructions and orders.

The best means of helping other abuse victims here at ACFJ (besides the articles we publish) are for other commenters (particularly other abuse victims/survivors) to relate their own experiences and lessons learned and then let readers make their own application. Everyone who has been the target of an abuser knows what it is like to live under the constant “shoulding” or “should not having” of the abuser. Abusers work hard at discouraging their targets from thinking for themselves and trusting their own insights. So that is the last thing we want to do here at ACFJ.

So look out for the temptation to step into “counselor shoes” and starting to tell others what they should or should not do. Those kinds of comments will most likely not be published by us.

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Australia’s ABC TV reports on the church’s response to domestic abuse & interviews Barbara Roberts

The evil of domestic abuse hiding in churches and the oppression of victims by churches is slowly coming into the light. The Australian TV program The 7.30 Report has broadcast a story about how churches are mistreating victims of domestic abuse. It would be encouraging if a national news agency in the USA would do what Julia Baird (the ABC investigative reporter) has done in Australia.

Barbara Roberts, the co-leader of A Cry For Justice, is one of the people interviewed in The 7:30 Report story. You can watch the program here but you  won’t be able to comment at that link. However, you will be able to comment on it at the 7:30 Report Facebook page.

We are continually updating this post as more items come out

Additional ABC stories surrounding and following the 7:30 report include:

‘Submit to your husbands’: Women told to endure domestic violence in the name of God  — Julia Baird’s article on ABC news.

Church enabling and concealing domestic violence  – discussion on ABC Radio between Kylie Pidgeon, a psychologist who works with Christian survivors and perpetrators of domestic violence, and Julia Baird.

Evangelical Christians the most and least likely to abuse partners  – in this video, Anglican Priest Michael Jensen discusses the story with Julia Baird.

Australian church leaders call for urgent response to domestic violence – ABCnews, Julia Baird & Hayley Gleeson

The Drum  – The panel:  Julia Baird, Anglican Ps David Ould, Anglican Archbishop Phillip Frier, Josie McSkimming psychologist, Georgina Dent ABC reporter

I was raped and controlled by my husband for decades. He was a priest –  ABCnews, Anonymous

How to navigate the research on domestic violence and Christian churches: A few frequently asked questions – ABCNews, Julia Baird & Hayley Gleeson

Items not from the ABC which have been published in Australia since we published this post

This is not a full list of items that have been published since the ABC broke the story; it is items Barbara Roberts has found which we believe will helpfully advance the discussion.

What victims of domestic abuse really need to hear – EternityNews, Barbara Roberts, Melbourne.

A properly Christian response to Julia Baird’s article on domestic violence – by Tamie Davis

Once more on the domestic violence in church thing: answering some common objections to the ABC’s coverage  – Nathan Campbell, Presbyterian pastor, Queensland.

 We all unwittingly partner in the violence – Erica Hamence, Common Grace, Sydney.

The characteristics of spiritual abuse – Erica Hamence, Common Grace, Sydney.

An apology to victims of domestic violence in the church – Graham Hill, Baptist minister and Provost of Morling College Sydney.

Sins of the father Part 1 &  Sins of the Father Part 2 – 60 Minutes, Chanel 9 television, Australia. Trigger warning for women who have suffered marital rape and other forms of domestic abuse. Joy Harris was married to a ‘c’hristian pastor (Larry Harris) who repeatedly raped and abused her. Larry is now serving time in jail for raping Joy. Joy bravely tells her story. Kevin Harris, one of Joy’s adult sons, is also a pastor and he is siding with his father the rapist. Top marks to the superb interviewer from 60 Minutes who holds the feet of Kevin Harris to the fire. And top marks to the police who dealt with Larry Harris. This program shows how much better the police are at addressing domestic violence than many so-called Christians are.

How the domestic violence research can help the church: Lets get beyond the culture war – John Sandeman, Editor in Chief, Eternity News.

How to navigate the research on domestic violence and Christian churches: A few frequently asked questions – ABCNews, Julia Baird & Hayley Gleeson

Church & Domestic Violence. Love your statistics, sorry, neighbour as yourself  – Philippa Lowe

Does Christianity cause domestic violence? – Akos Balogh

Light, Darkness & Domestic Violence  – Bronwen Speedie

Protesting too much: Christian Leaders on “alleged” abuse – Luke Arms

Sermon on Domestic Violence – Liam Miller, Uniting Church Chaplain at Macquarie University

Domestic violence in the name of God – Rt Rev Dr Matt Brain, Assistant Bishop, Anglican Diocese of Canberra & Goulburn

Pastoral Issues and Responses to Domestic Violence within the Church – Tim Harris, Assistant Bishop in the Anglican Diocese of Adelaide. Tim quotes many things from this blog A Cry For Justice. 

A MUST WATCH SERMON which Anglican pastor Mike Paget gave in 2016:

The Church and Family and Domestic Violence St Barnabas Anglican Church, Sydney, Oct 30, 2016

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If you want to follow the discussion on social media, here are ways to do so:

Julia Baird’s Facebook page
Twitter @bairdjulia

The 7:30 Report’s Facebook page (you will be able to comment on the TV story there).
Twitter @abc730

Barbara Roberts on Twitter @NotUnderBondage

And of course, you can also follow the conversation here at A Cry For Justice.
There are several ways to do this and we encourage you to do them all:

  1. Submit a comment right here on this blog post and tick the box to be notified of follow-up comments. You don’t have to say anything significant  in your comment if you don’t want to. You can simply say, “I’m ticking the box.” If this is your first comment on our blog, we suggest you read our New Users Info page first as it gives tips for how to comment safely on this blog.
  2. Follow our A Cry For Justice Facebook page
  3. Follow A Cry For Justice on twitter @_CryforJustice

 

Want to Read a Letter from Wormwood?

 

I did not send the prophets, yet they ran;
I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied.
(Jeremiah 23:21)

Here is still another example of the wicked, evil filth that victims of abuse are subjected to through the hands of their fellow “christians.” In this case the abuser is in a full-time ministry position. All the time he has been “serving the Lord,” he emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, and sexually abused and tormented his wife. Ultimately she realized what was happening and left him. Later, she received the following letter from one of the abuser’s colleagues. Notice that this man is a false prophet, claiming to be announcing Jesus’ very words which were given to him to speak to her.

As I was lifting you up today, Jesus brought some thoughts to mind that He wanted me to share with you. First is that out of His love for you, He has extended His forgiveness and mercy and grace to you. He has rescued you from the enemy; the enemy who only wants to destroy everything good. Jesus is light and His light He has given to you. You are a strong woman and one which He has strengthened, blessed and chosen to extend His light to the world.

There is only one thing that is standing in the way. You must, out of love for [husband] extend the very same forgiveness and mercy and grace that He has extended to you. How else can the name of the Lord be magnified on the earth? This is your cross to bear. [Husband] has been a real [expletive]. Maybe he still is. Your leaving really broke him. That took real courage on your part. Out of it, the Lord got room in [husband’s] heart that might not have happened otherwise. Praise the Lord!

Now it’s time for you to receive him back. Just as the enemy tried to destroy your family through [husband], now it is his tactic to try to destroy your family through you. Do not be fooled. You must follow the Lord Jesus Christ now in His way, just as He washed the disciples’ feet. I beg you, if you can’t find reason enough in yourself, your kids or [husband], find reason enough to love and forgive and extend mercy and grace for the sake of the name of the Lord Jesus — that the enemy would be put to shame and the Lord your King will be shown as the great and wonderful Savior that He is.

Please, [husband], just as you and me, isn’t worthy in and of himself, but he has been made worthy just as you and me. Please search your heart and the Lord’s and find the courage to take up your cross. May His name and His story be made great in you, daughter of the King!

Where to even begin in commenting on this evil person’s words? As we have already noted, he is guilty of being a false prophet. He claims the Lord spoke to him and sent him, which is a lie. He incurs the Lord’s wrath upon himself for this, just as the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day did. Let’s call him Wormwood (as this letter would have fit nicely into the Screwtape Letters).

Wormwood also uses the typical pious sounding holy talk lingo that makes him sound sooo noble and saintly. It is all designed to raise himself above the victim so that he can talk down to her. “I am an ultra-holy man. You must listen to me and obey, my child.” It drips of arrogance. And threats implied.

Then of course you have the standard perversions of forgiveness and reconciliation, complete with full-blown guilting and shaming. “Jesus forgave YOU, and now look at how shabbily you are treating your husband. He’s really broken. I know these things.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, ok, he abused you. I get that. But Jesus wants you back in that marriage so you can be abused some more because that is what Jesus does with us. Just think how you can shame the enemy and bring glory to Christ by submitting to more abuse and hey, maybe even getting killed. You would be a martyr! Isn’t that glorious!”

A person who claims to be a Christian but who habitually walks in evil, is still “worthy” in God’s sight. Did you know that? This fellow says so. Fundamentally, myriads of pastors and professing Christians completely dismiss Scriptures like 1 John and insist that a person walking habitually in evil is still a Christian. Abusers are Christians. They tell us they are. “Your abuser is a Christian. He says he is. He believes in Jesus. So we are going to receive him in the church.”

Thank you, Wormwood. You have shown us who you really are.

You believe that God is one; you do well.
Even the demons believe — and shudder!
(James 2:19)

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Abuse and the Church — A podcast with Pastor Crippen and Theology Gals

Pastor Crippen was recently asked by Theology Gals, a Facebook group that includes over 2500 women from all over the county and a few different nations, to do an interview discussing abuse and the church.  The interview was produced as a podcast through the Bible Thumping Wingnut Network and has been released. You can listen to the episode from BTWN website or you can listen through iTunes or any podcast app on your portable devices.

We have also put links to the podcast on our Resources pages: Training Materials, Video & Audio, Understanding Domestic Abuse

Thank you to all involved in making this podcast available!

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