Response to my detractors and apology to ACFJ followers I’ve hurt
I have realized that I took on too much. I was trying to maintain a safety protocol at A Cry For Justice, particularly in regards to comment moderation, that isn’t possible for one person to maintain. Something had to go. In my case, what went was comforting words to people who were feeling bruised. I know that I didn’t always provide comforting words to victims.
I’ve realized that I’ve sometimes come across as blunt, sharp, abrupt, curt, terse, brusque, discourteous, impolite and unmannerly. If I have hurt you by my manner, I am very sorry. I ask you to forgive me.
I have also learned that there are times I have to unsay or remove what I’ve said, just to make the person comfortable, even if the reason they are upset is because of a misunderstanding.
I was always the team member who was most dedicated to carefully editing the tricky comments to protect the commenter’s safety.
I have a slew of unanswered emails from victims in my inbox. If you have asked me a question by email and I haven’t answered you, I ask your forgiveness. You might find answers to your questions if you scour the A Cry For Justice website, cryingoutforjustice.com
Each of us has our own way of speaking and learning. I know my way of speaking has offended some people and I am sorry. My character defects are some of it for sure, and I’m working on that with the help of others.
I also think some of the offense has arisen because of cultural differences. Up until now, all the other team members at A Cry For Justice have been Americans, and a large proportion of the readers are Americans. Aussies have a different manner from Americans, and the meanings of words and phrases can be different too. Many times I’ve been astounded when I’ve been told how a word or a particular turn of speech is understood by Americans. Cultural differences like that can easily give rise to misunderstandings. And if none of the parties realize there has been a misunderstanding, offense can easily be taken. This works both ways. People from other English-speaking countries have probably been offended by things I’ve said that would not be offensive to an Aussie; and I’ve probably felt offense at things people from other countries have said, not realizing that their way of speaking is the norm within their culture.
I am learning how to mitigate such misunderstandings. I’m open to your tips about the cultural differences, but please don’t write them on the A Cry For Justice facebook page or use the Messenger platform. Please give me your tips by submitting a comment at the A Cry For Justice website.
I’d like to review the history, goals and policies of the A Cry For Justice website.
The website began in 2012. Jeff Crippen had no previous experience with blogging but Anna Wood, a domestic abuse victim he had been interacting with, had a bit of experience in blogging and she urged him to start a blog, so together they set up the A Cry For Justice website.
Some months prior to that, Jeff had emailed me requesting permission to quote some of my book in his forthcoming book A Cry For Justice. I asked Jeff to send me a sample chapter of his book…I read it and gave him some feedback. He then took up my offer to read his whole manuscript and give him feedback. He told me later that he’d incorporated most of my suggestions into the final manuscript. I was very happy to have helped him. I didn’t want recognition; I was just glad to be able to help victims of abuse.
I think I followed the A Cry For Justice website from almost when it began. I commented there, and I sent emails to Jeff and Anna praising their work and offering suggestions for how the blog could be made even better. I was reluctant to muscle in – it was their blog not mine – but eventually I emailed them to say that I was feeling that I could help with running the blog. They each said they had been feeling like inviting me onto the team. So they mutually agreed to take me on as a co-administrator.
Shortly after that, Anna, of her own free will, resigned. Her only explanation was that the blog was not going in the direction she had thought it would. From then on Jeff and I were co-leaders of the blog until Jeff resigned in Sept 2017.
Some months after Anna resigned, I flew to the USA to visit with Jeff. We jointly decided on the wording for the mission statement of A Cry For Justice:– Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst.
While Jeff and I worked together at the A Cry For Justice website, we unapologetically talked about the dark entangled things to do with abuse. Many followers of A Cry For Justice shared detailed stories of having being abused. And we published many testimonies of abuse. But we never glorified the evil things that abusers do.
In moderating comments on the A Cry For Justice blog to prioritize the safety and well-being of victims, I have to think about many factors.
- the risk of hurting a victim’s feelings
- the risk being a victim being triggered by something that someone else has said
- the risk of a victim being re-abused
- the risk of victims being told what they should do, think or feel
- the risk of a victim hearing something someone else has said as a harsh instruction (an Order)
- the risk of an abuser identifying their target victim, if the abuser read what the victim had written
- the risk of spreading false doctrine or misinformation that would lead people astray or confuse them
- and last but not least, the importance of teaching good doctrine which exposes and disentangles all the false doctrines that are contributing to keeping victims in bondage.
In doing this complex moderation, I have often faced a moral dilemma. I have to weigh the safety and well-being of my overall audience against the feelings of an individual person who has been abused.
When I know that someone is a victim of abuse, I don’t want to hurt their feelings or trigger them by saying something that reminds them of how their abuser talked to them.
But if that person has espoused ideas that are not biblically sound; or if they’ve “sermonized” at other victims by telling them how to feel, think or behave; or if they’ve written a really long comment that would be hard for other deeply traumatized victims to read in its raw form; I have sometimes advised them how to phrase and format their comments to make the A Cry For Justice site function well as a communal support group. That’s how I’ve tried to make ACFJ a safe place for all our readers.
But the irony is, because I had taken on too much, I sometimes came across as curt in my replies to commenters. I’ve done my best to teach and model how to write and respond to comments. But my efforts have been far from perfect.
When Jeff and I were co-leading the A Cry For Justice site and TWBTC was assisting, we mutually agreed on a protocol for moderating comments. Jeff was very okay with us banning and blocking commenters where necessary.
It’s also important to note that the facebook platform is even more difficult to manage than the blog. Facebook does not give us many options to guard our readers’ safety and well-being. When people comment at our facebook page, we have only three options:
- we can let a comment stand, which means everyone can read it
- or we can hide the comment, which means only the commenter & their friends can read it
- or we can ban the commenter from our facebook page.
What is more, facebook is set up and configured to give people the impression they have the right to ‘free speech’ and they can easily disregard the responses other people make to their speech. That’s the way facebook is constructed. Facebook is reaping all our data and making money from advertisers, while giving each of us the feeling that we have a giant megaphone to blast out our thoughts and feelings, and we can easily stop our ears when we don’t want to hear what people are saying back to us.
The time differences around the world also affect communal discussion. Americans can light a bushfire and I will only see it when I wake up hours later. By that time the bushfire has spread and it’s hard to bring reasonableness to the discussion because it’s got so heated…and when I try, some people perceive me as dictatorial for trying to calm things down.
Facebook has catered to our self-centerdness. Our biases. Our prejudices. And now, almost everybody is seeing facebook as THE way to communicate. Very few people are willing to engage in deep conversation or thinking which might challenge them or make them feel uncomfortable.
While Jeff and I were co-leaders, a lady messaged us saying she was setting up a closed group on facebook to discuss domestic abuse, and she asked our advice about how to do this. Jeff replied to her saying:
I have not had any experience with closed groups on facebook. One thing for sure though, you need to moderate comments if you allow readers to comment and don’t publish the nasty ones. We find it best to keep dagger throwers from even being allowed to comment and if necessary we block and ban them.
While he co-led A Cry For Justice with me, Jeff Crippen told me more than once that he wanted us to drop the facebook page, but I was reluctant to drop facebook because it helps abuse victims find the blog.
Is it “power hungry & controlling” to hide or block comments?
Let us picture someone called Jesse. I’ve chosen that name because it can be male or female. Jesse is a Christian who has a presence on the web: Jesse writes a blog, has a facebook identity and a twitter identity.
Now; what if Jesse tells you who to listen to and who not to listen to. Or Jesse does not publish your comment at his website. Or Jesse hides the comment you made at her facebook page. Or Jesse bans you from his facebook page. If Jesse does any of those things, can we conclude that Jesse is a power-hungry person who wants to control you?
What could be the REASON why Jesse is not letting some people spread their views at his social media platforms? Could Jesse have some good reasons for not letting everyone express their views on her website or facebook page?
If there are no conceivable good reasons for Jesse behaving that way, then Jesse is just a selfish controller and power-monger.
But if Jesse has good reasons for curating what readers see at his or her social media and website, then Jesse isn’t trying to hold power in an ungodly way. Rather, Jesse is trying to take care of the overall well-being and safety of all the people who are benefiting from Jesse’s work.
This is where you and I need to exercise discernment. We can assess Jesse’s track record. Has Jesse stood up for victims of abuse? Has Jesse toed some party line in the Christian world, and avoided telling the whole truth in order to stay in favor with important people? Has Jesse done a lot of hard work, often without much kudos or reward, to help victims of abuse and oppression? Perhaps Jesse mouths good rhetoric; but how much has Jesse self-sacrificially done to protect the safety and well-being of real life abuse victims who are being crushed at the coal face?
At the facebook page of A Cry For Justice, many critical comments were made about me. I only censored a few of those comments.
I actually hid one comment which supported what I was saying – I hid it because the commenter had also recommended a book which I know would lead our readers into wrong theology (contemplative Christianity). I banned one commenter who kept on arguing against the inspiration of Scripture: he accused me of being legalistic, but I don’t think it is legalistic to uphold the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. I hid another comment that was extremely snarky to me, and when that commenter wrote another comment which made untruthful claims about my actual conduct, I banned her from the page.
However, I did not hide or block the vast majority of the comments that were angry at what I had said about Billy Graham, or were claiming that I was being ‘legalistic’ to uphold the truths of the gospel. I let most of my critics have their ‘free speech’ on our facebook page. And I replied to their comments reasonably – my aim was always to encourage my critics to reconsider and be more open minded to the possibility that I had not gone off the rails.
But the vast majority of the people who deprecated me at facebook did not respond reasonably and courteously to my comments. They just ignored me, or criticized me even more. They had formed a fixed opinion of me and were determined to maintain it.
Are you starting to see how facebook has conditioned and colored the way we all interact? Do you grasp how hard it is to have reasoned and respectful interaction, when almost everyone just defaults to facebook as THE place to interact and comment and discuss things?
At the A Cry For Justice blog post about Billy Graham and other ‘untouchables’ in the Christian world, Rachel Miller submitted a highly critical comment about me. Rachel has a blog of her own, but she didn’t use her own blog to state her concerns about me. When she saw that I hadn’t published her comment at the blog, she posted it at the ACFJ facebook page…and two days later she allowed Jeff Crippen to publish her critical opinion of me at his new blog.
Jeff and other people have dismissed me because they think I’ve been sucked in by what Jeff calls “the crazy conspiracy/ Satanic ritual abuse business”. (Jeff said that here.) But they have not given a lot of reasoned arguments for why they think I’ve lost the plot. In my view, they have not done enough research and they are making assumptions about the testimonies of victims.
My detractors have not had the life experience that I’ve had. That doesn’t make me ‘better’. It just makes me different from them.
I invite you to compare how much I’ve allowed free speech at ACFJ, with how much Jeff Crippen has allowed free speech at his blogs and his personal social media accounts.
I’m not the only one who is censoring comments. Jeff is censoring some comments that are submitted to his blogs. Several people including myself have submitted comments to his blog Unholy Charade that he hasn’t published. Jeff is curating what people see at his blogs. Many bloggers do this: it is a mistake to think that I’m the only blogger who curates what people see at their blog.
Furthermore, Jeff is not running a public facebook page in conjunction with his blogs. So he’s not opening himself up to the “free for all” on a public facebook page where people can make knee-jerk, drive-by digs at anyone they want to criticize.
Jeff Crippen asked me not to cite his blog posts as support in articles that I write or statements that I make
I have decided that it is not appropriate for me comply with Jeff’s request. Any author is free to quote or cite another author, so long as they attribute the quote correctly. I agree with what Jeff wrote at the A Cry For Justice blog, and those things continue to be helpful to victims. If I think something Jeff has written is relevant or pertinent to what I am wanting to say, I will cite it if I think it will help my readers.
Three other people (Megan Cox, Valerie Hobbs and Rachel Miller) asked me to remove their posts from the A Cry For Justice blog. I initially told them I would, but I have now informed them that I will be leaving up all their posts at the ACFJ blog.
One of the ACFJ readers has said she hopes that all the material by Jeff Crippen and Megan is left intact at A Cry For Justice. She wrote that publicly without any prompting from me, and several other readers have agreed with her. She pointed out that to delete that information at ACFJ would dry up a wealth of helpful resources: it’s like Jeff is trying to erase history and is assuming that our readers blindly believe what anyone tells them and don’t have discernment.
If I removed a post, that would remove all the comments at the post too. I will not undermine any of the content of A Cry For Justice when I deem it to be in accordance with the truth of scripture and helpful for understanding and wisely responding to abuse.
I still concur with the material by Jeff, Megan, Valerie and Rachel that is published A Cry For Justice. So I will not be removing it. But of course, if any of those people longer agree with something they wrote in the past, they are free to say so at their own blogs.
I don’t know how long I will continue to run the A Cry For Justice website, but at the moment I’m wanting to continue this voluntary ministry. I may find at some point that I don’t feel capable of managing the workload even though I have new assistants. If I ever contemplate giving up the online ministry of ACFJ, I’ll try to provide plenty of advance notice.
To sum up
I believe that evildoers have infiltrated, corrupted and gained widespread control of churches, organizations and major social institutions.
In my observation, there are very few professing Christians who are aware of the extent of the corruption and are standing up and speaking out against it. And evildoers are constantly throwing distractions, disinformation, stumbling blocks and obstacles in the path so that Christ’s people will be thrown off track…and will attack each other…become disabled…or die.
One our readers has noted that
Sex trafficking of women and children would not occur if there weren’t money in it. Who’s paying for it? Is it not evil people who pretend to be good? Do you think there’s no Satan worship? Is it really so inconceivable wicked people would participate in ritual abuse?
The evildoers don’t want Christians around, hindering their agenda. Psalm 2 talks about how the kings of the earth enjoin to conspire against God and his Anointed. As I read the following passage from Psalm 2, think about the “kings of the earth” as political leaders, religious leaders, and powerful people in the health system, the legal system, mass-media and entertainment.
Why do the heathen so furiously rage together
and why do the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth stand up,
and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against his Anointed.
Let us break their bonds asunder: and cast away their cords from us.
And the Gospel of John talks about this as well—
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
If you know the Lord Jesus Christ, you can take comfort in the Bible’s assurance that God wins in the end.
God will take vengeance against the ungodly. His Word is true and trustworthy. He has promised that every soul whose name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will be saved (Rev 13:8; 21:27).
The Lamb is Jesus. Jesus is fully God and fully man, fully divine and fully human, the only human without sin. He is the light of the world, the door, the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). He is the good shepherd. He knows every one of his sheep and calls them by name. And He goes to great lengths to rescue every one of his sheep from the briers. Jesus said:
my sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give to them eternal life. And they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father who gave them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to take them out of my Father’s hand. And I and my Father are one. (John 10:27-30, NMB)
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