A Cultural Geography of Survivor Communities – Part 7B2: Examples of What Survivor Communities Have Actually Been Up Against

PART 7B2

Examples of What Survivor Communities

Have Actually Been Up Against.

This post serves as a “reader’s guide” to what has become a quintessential litmus-test case in the kinds of abuse, cover-up, and deflection that survivors and their communities have had to endure.

In this case of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM; more recently renamed Sovereign Grace Churches) and their celebrity leader, CJ Mahaney, that state of unresolved trauma and ongoing triggering for many victims of child abuse and reported spiritual abuse, has gone on for decades.

I chose this case study because it came into existence long before any form of the #MeToo movement got going, and it has resurfaced annually since then. A protective shell of other well-known evangelical individuals and institutions keep surrounding SGM and CJ Mahaney. This adds to the frustration of survivors, their loved ones, and their advocates who seek justice but have been met with silencing.

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A Cultural Geography of Survivor Communities – Part 3: Abuse Survivor Storying Systems

Part 3 – Abuse Survivor Storying Systems

3 – Abuse Survivor Storying Systems. In this post, I describe key changes I’ve seen since beginning in 2007 to track how abuse survivors have been sharing their personal accounts of victimization, push-back, and recovery. It includes storying opportunities for abuse survivors, provided by six sources:

(1) in-person sharing,

(2) “survivor blogs,”

(3) social media platforms and campaigns,

(4) conventional media/news sources,

(5) conferences, and

(6) independent investigations.

This post also includes an example of how even one person’s sharing of their story can create a pebble-in-the-pond effect that ripples out to reach at least two more rings of impact. Continue reading

What Will It Take for the SBC to “Clean House”? Four Suggestions from a Futurist.

SBC Cleaning House – Four Suggestions from a Futurist

Why would I give advice to leaders and members in the Southern Baptist Convention?

As a part of the larger Body of Christ, I am concerned about what seems to me to be a pivot point in the SBC’s trajectory. The SBC has many positive elements to its legacy. However, as an association of autonomous local churches and Cooperative Program entities, it has fallen short overall in systemic ways that corrode the credibility of the whole and the parts, the mission and the message. While some may dispute those conclusions, the details behind them have been making their way into the light for a very long time — and especially in the past few months.

As a futurist, two of my main concerns are always:

(1) to equip individuals and groups to discern and decide the most preferable pathway forward, and

(2) to give constructive reasoning and resources for having hope.

As a Christian futurist, I seek to have all I do steeped in an understanding of Christlikeness and what it means for us to serve as His disciples and as “people of peace” who treat all others with dignity as individuals; with impartiality toward any group demographics, whether those are socially considered preferred or stigmatized; and with hospitality in welcoming them to see who Jesus Christ is and what a community of disciples looks like.

From all I believe I know about organizational systems and problems of toxicity, I am convinced that the SBC is at a critical moment in its history. If destructive patterns that have become especially evident in recent times are not addressed, I do not see much possibility for health and sustainability going forward. I am venturing to give advice in these suggestions and links, because what happens with your body of believers affects us all.

Who am I to give advice to leaders and members in the Southern Baptist Convention?

Although I view myself as a Christian disciple first of all and an Anabaptist in theology second, for most of the past 25 years, I have been almost exclusively associated with SBC congregations. I was first in an SBC church plant in 1978, and have been involved on the teams of eight church plants and ministry start-ups, primarily SBC, since the mid-1990s. I was in the first cohort of Nehemiah Project church-planter associates, and later was certified as a Level 1 church planter candidate assessment and did the self-study materials for Level 2. For several years early on in the 2000 decade, I evaluated the speaking portions of candidates assessments. Continue reading

Annotated Reader’s Guide to Futuristguy on Abuse Recovery, Advocacy, and Activism

Issues Involving Individuals, Institutions, Leaders,

Relational and Systems Repair Work, and Technical Research

INTRODUCTORY NOTES: Since 2007, I have done research writing on issues related to individual, institutional, and ideological elements contributing to abuse and violence. The materials I’ve developed draw from two main sources: (1) Personal experiences of participation in organizations that turned out to have malignant leaders and so were toxic, and (2) extensive experiences working with non-profit agencies, churches, and start-ups since 1973. Many of these materials linked to here are technical, some are more personal. I have been reorganizing these and many other articles into four Field Guides to improve the logical flow, and editing them for consistency and accessibility. In the meantime, here are select articles that offer some help on particular aspects of systemic abuse issues.

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Only an Independent Investigation Can Remove the Cloud of Suspicion Over Sovereign Grace Churches

Be respectful toward all people, because all bear the image of the Lord God who made us.

But do not be a “respecter of persons” – showing partiality for, or prejudice against – based on their race, gender, social class, wealth, family connections, or other status.

~ brad/futuristguy

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I originally posted this as a Twitter thread on March 10, 2018, about Sovereign Grace Churches (SGC) and its former version, Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM). What follows is a compilation of 15 tweets and related links in that thread, slightly edited for better readability.

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Here are some thoughts I’ve had on justifications for an independent/outside investigation in the case of Sovereign Grace, et al.

CONCLUSIONS: It IS needed, since partiality toward key players and against key victims has been spotlighted over the lengthy course of alleged failures of SGM/SGC leaders.

Their leaders’ and members’ critiques focus on abstractions of theology and polity, and negations of questioners, more than responding to the witnesses of concrete evidence and testimonies by those claiming to have been harmed.

So, if SGM/SGC wishes this perma-cloud of suspicion to be lifted, an independent investigation by a trusted external agency may be the only action that could do it. Otherwise, they should expect the Kingdom Klieg lights and national news spotlights to continue.

SOME DETAILS: The way I see it, there are at least four domains in which entities external to SGC/SGM, et al, legitimately hold authority over them. Continue reading

An Open Letter to “Together for the Gospel”: Don’t Tether Your Future to C.J. Mahaney’s Past

In the mid-1970s, my sister Romae [pronounced row-MAY] embarked on a journey into activism for those who survive abuse and violence. It began when a friend of hers needed help to escape a situation of physical and emotional battering. Seeing the terrible impact of domestic violence on her friend catalyzed an unknown strength inside my sister. It propelled her in the direction of advocacy for survivors and activism in society. Romae felt compelled by her faith in Jesus Christ to do something that would make a difference for the future. From that point forward, her ministry and service expanded to others who were frequently left to otherwise suffer alone — and who often found themselves abandoned by churches.

Frustratingly, for almost 40 years she found that theologically conservative, evangelical churches were the least responsive to opportunities she offered to train staff and congregations on child sexual abuse prevention, domestic violence, and sexual assault. Still, Romae persevered in this calling to support survivors and prevent more victims. Sadly, she passed away five years ago. But Romae left a legacy of help and hope, along with a fragrant awareness that her strength to carry on as an advocate and activist always came from Jesus Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit, and people’s prayers.

This day — April 12, 2016 — we come to a spotlight moment for “Together for the Gospel,” a theologically conservative, evangelical movement that claims to be dedicated to promoting the good news of Jesus Christ. C.J. Mahaney has been given a prominent public role as a T4G speaker and spokesman. There are protests because of Mr. Mahaney’s dominant leadership over the system of Sovereign Grace Ministries/Churches, which has remained mired in criminal convictions of child sexual abusers, and additional allegations of systemic protection for abusers, failure to report known/suspected abuse, and traumatizing victims and/or neglecting them.

Despite years of documentation about the spiritually corrosive SGM/SGC system, and appeals to various organizations to stop shielding Mr. Mahaney from the consequences of his leadership, still he speaks for and at T4G. This causes great agony to SGM abuse survivors, their families, and those who stand with them. Continue reading

Capstone 2-5: Trends, Turning Points, and Tipping Points in Spiritual Abuse Survivor Communities (2014) – Part 2: New Observations, Analysis, Interpretations

It’s been nearly two years since I last posted an article about emerging trends. Overall, it looks like some of the trends I noted before are seeing further development and perhaps differentiation as far as subgroups who are affected. For instance, de-churched Christians are starting to be divided into post-Christendom “nones” (who do not profess a particular religious or denominational affiliation, but consider themselves “spiritual”), and post-Church “dones” (who have given up on enduring church services where everything has been same-old, same-old for decades).

Other trends seem to have become more intensified. They definitely look to be moving toward longer-term influence in driving change. So, they’ve moved up a notch to turning points or perhaps even tipping points. Here is some of what I believe I’m seeing emerge from the fog of observation and gradually into more clarity of interpretation. Continue reading