Tony Jones on Mark Driscoll: What came first, the thug or the theology?

"Chicken or the Egg?" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward
“Chicken or the Egg?” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

This drawing is inspired by the Ouroboros snake.

What came first? The chicken or the egg?

What came first? The thug or the theology?

I read Tony Jones’ thoughts on Mark Driscoll. Jones has always admired Driscoll, maybe envies him a little, wants the best for him, believes he can be redeemed, and suggests that things can be restored.

What I found most interesting though is that Jones believes the problem with Driscoll is theological.

  • He titles his post is “Thoughts about Mark Driscoll”
  • He talks about the “heady” days of publishing and speaking.
  • He dismisses his disturbing personality traits by his use of the word “sure”.
  • He says it isn’t a moral issue (evil) but that he is passionate.
  • He says more than once that Driscoll is “extremely smart” or “brilliant”.
  • He suggests that he will “see” (as in “think”?) his way out of this.
  • He writes that Driscoll has just embraced a toxic version of theology.
  • He hopes that Driscoll will turn away from this toxic theology.
  • He concludes therefore that Driscoll is not the problem, but his theology.

But my question is…

What came first? The thug or the theology?

That is, did Driscoll become the focus of concern because of his theology? Or was it because of his behavior?

I’m concerned that Jones’ post reflects the refusal of the church to understand spiritual abuse. It neglects the pathology of its abusive leaders. I don’t think this is being fair to the victims or the perpetrators of spiritual abuse. People are victims of not just a bad theology, but a pathological cruelty.

I don’t think Driscoll’s theology made this happen. Driscoll “embraced” his toxic version of theology because it aligned with his moral compass. It fit his personality. It worked for him to achieve his goals. Then it manifested the worst in him. Then he continued to develop his toxic theology in order to make more room for his pathological behavior. Mars Hill Church too.

Jones’ sentence, “It could have happened to any of us.” is true, because I believe we all participate in this dynamic. Theology is our creation. It is a reflection of our drives and desires. Then, not satisfied to only be the product of our drives and desires, it also becomes the producer of them. Theology is a vicious cycle of our desperate need to understand and control our universe.

Step into this cycle at any point and you can see that we are both the root and fruit of our theology and pathology.

And yes, it spins out of control by manifesting itself in toxic, controlling, and abusive behavior.

Nothing can be done about bad theology because of free thought and speech.

But we can do something when this manifests itself in bad behavior.

Cruel theology is a nuisance. Cruel behavior is unacceptable.

When Driscoll thinks bully to his people, we can say please stop.
But when he actually bullies people, we can step in and say you will stop now!

I don’t think this is a theological issue. I think it is a pathological one. Not just for Driscoll and Jones, but for the entire church.

If we would be healed, our theology would take care of itself.

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1,082 Replies to “Tony Jones on Mark Driscoll: What came first, the thug or the theology?”

  1. I made a comment on Tony’s post that I think needs to be brought up here. Mindset (of which theology is a part) and behavior can’t be divorced from each other. To say we need to intervene on the behavior and not address the theology inherently makes that mistake. Those of us who come from the background you and I do are often caught in that trap, but faith and works are married in spite of what we have made of Luther.

  2. Well if it wasn’t for the bad theology Driscoll would have just been bullying a handful of people. Mix in theology (claims to supernatural justifications) and the bullying gets amplified many fold.

  3. I’d also say the thuggery came first. But here’s the caveat: When we first come to Jesus, we all come broken. Good theology is meant to fix that.

    Bad theology defends the broken parts, and justifies them to ourselves. Toxic theology says, “It’s okay to be terrible to people; I’m doing it in Jesus’s name.” If we’re really following Jesus, instead of following ourselves and disguising it as following Jesus, we’re not gonna stay thugs for long. We’ll repent, seek help, and avoid leadership roles unless we have strong and safe accountability structures to keep our unhealthy tendencies in check.

    So I agree with Jones as well.

  4. @Jeff:
    That was fantastic! That is the power of theology/religion, it is marketable — it hits peoples triggers, which is why it is so dangerous.

    Yeah, I love the symbol. I did a short post called “Reality Eats Us” which touches a bit on the issue you question here.

    But more to the point, in 2011 I did a post on the exact thing you wrote here called, “Chicken vs Egg: You vs Your Religion” — ha !
    Are you pilfering my blog again for ideas?

  5. I’m actually going to go ahead and say that the theology came first, followed IMMEDIATELY by the thug. It makes sense to try and suggest answers for what we don’t know how to describe, but I would think the belief would have to come first before it gets violently pressed against others.

    Granted, the more instances of theological violence, the more theology that is created either to dispel/end or continue the violent rhetoric and action. It constantly feeds into itself. As Kenton said, mindset and theology aren’t easily divorced if at all and they each reinforce the other.

  6. Driscoll believes in a God who must punish. A Jesus who comes with a sword to spill blood. It’s quite possible the theology came first, because you become what you worship. If you worship a “thug” god, then…

  7. I think most people would benefit from reading “The Sociopath Next Door,” “Snakes in Suits,” or “Without Conscience.” There are bad people out there that rise to positions of power in all walks of life, including church. It’s helpful to know who you’re dealing with, and I’d love to see the church get its head out of the sand and stop denying the presence of sociopaths in our midst.

  8. It seems that the thuggery and theology feed off the other. Being a thug to spread the Gospel is a means to end, and end which is exalted above all else. This only emboldens them and allows them to grow confident in their thuggery b/c no one wants to question someone spreading the “Good News”.

  9. Each version of the major options in theology is quite capable of distortion by toxic people. The bold lines that emerge under the forceful hands of toxic people are usually healthy lines prior to the force. Calvinism has lines that are attractive to certain forms of toxicity, while Arminianism or the Anabaptist orientation … Orthodoxy… Catholicism, each has elements easily turned into toxicity. On their own, however, those theologies are more or less healthy and capable of expressing the gospel and grace.

  10. David and Sabio – great minds think alike!

    Seems to me that if a framework of questionable theology ripe for exploitation didn’t already exist, the sociopathic bully with religious leanings will create his or her own – which is how cults are born. Bad theology without someone to promote, exploit, and expand it will either remain unpleasant background noise or fade away. But when paired with a charismatic personality and the will to power, it can do great harm – and not only to those in the direct line of fire of the bully.

    This Ouroboros births and feeds on itself. Hopefully the feeding cycle will outpace the birthing rate and it will eat itself into oblivion. (But I’m not holding my breath…)

  11. @ Syl : Thanx but I wish I had half of David’s creativity.

    @ David & Syl & …:
    I love the Ouroboros symbol and have used it a great deal in my writing and thinking.

    The Ouroborus is embraced by mysticism, alchemy, and many others — and has many uses. People and movements use it in different ways, so it has no one meaning, of course (as is the nature of symbols).

    As for me, I have always used it in a positive sense for the self eating the self. The healthy release of identity.
    (click here to see my posts on identity)

    The double ouroborus I use in the sense of continual self creation.

    Here, David, in his indomitable creative weirdness, has the Chicken eating its own creation–the egg–but not really eating itself.

    We raise chickens (both for meat and eggs), it is a great curse when chickens eat their own eggs — they must be then turned into meat-birds.

    So David’s drawing is perhaps less like an ouroborus than like Saturn devouring his own children. Or Mark Driscoll, creating blind followers and then eating them. Conclusion: Driscoll needs to become a meat-bird.

  12. If you read his blog you know Tony is quite often an intellectual bully himself, so it is not surprising to me that he feels it could happened to any of them and that he wants to give Driscoll an out by blaming it on the theology rather than pathology. I doesn’t hurt that he also advocates a competing theology. I think you are right that theology can often be a Rorscharch Test. Maybe always, I’m not sure. Is the reason my theological musings have changed as I age because I am discovering ‘true’ theology, or that I am adjusting my theology to my new perspective? I am inclined to think it is the second. I find that the underlying sin of most theological abusers is rooted in false certainty born of insecurity.

  13. I agree. The bully embraced a theology that fit his moral compass. It’s a warped theology. But, I think it is one of the possible end results of embracing a religion that emphasizes, and values men over women. Women are property. Women are to be owned. Women are to be used. Women are ‘penis holders’ as Driscoll crudely points out. If as a man, you do not agree with Driscoll’s theology, you have been ‘pussified’. You are less than a man. You should be berated. You should be mocked. You should be emotionally violated. The theology Driscoll, and sadly, many others embrace stems from a culture far removed from ours in time. The culture that this theology, or, more accurately, ideology stems from was a culture in which women were property. It was a patriarchal society far removed from the 21st Century. It has no place in today’s world. Driscoll does not seem to understand this. The end result is the staggering mess that is happening at Mars Hill. Former leaders have either left or been ‘released’, (aka – FIRED) for daring to question Driscoll and his theology. Last night, KING 5 News in Seattle ran this story about MHC closing and consolidating campuses. The numbers quoted are staggering. Just 3 months ago, Mars Hill and the surrounding Seattle campuses drew over 12,000 people. Today, that number has dropped to less than 8,000. The leadership of MHC blames, ‘negative press and publicity over the past several months’. That tells me that the leadership still refuses to accept that Driscoll and his faulty ideology have had anything to do with this. The real sad thing is that over 4,000 former members and leaders of this church are now directly affected and suffering because one bully used his pulpit to twist theology to his way of thinking.

  14. David, your post is not a fair reading of my post, but I think you know that. I make clear in the post that, in my experience, Mark had significant personality predilections that led to this abuse. Whether his personality was the match and Calvinism was the gasoline, or vice versa, I don’t know. The point of my post was that the two are a combustible combination.

    I’m not dismissing any of the abuse or pathology. I’m trying to shine a light on the theology for all of his (former) colleagues who are ready to throw MD off the bus but refuse to look at their own misogynistic, homophobic theology.

  15. Hey Tony. Thanks for your comment. Um… that I intentionally gave an erroneous interpretation of your post is an interesting suggestion. I guess either I didn’t pick up the clarity or there wasn’t any. I can be dense at times so there’s that. I’m not sure it’s Calvinism because we find misogyny and homophobia in all theological expressions. And I’m not sure what came first either. Hence the Ouroboros-themed cartoon. I’m glad you’re trying to shine a light on theology that is created by and creates bad attitudes and behavior. That’s what I’m trying to do as well. Thanks again.

  16. I had hopes when Tony left for his Internets Sabbatical that he would come back with a listening posture. I thought maybe he realized he needed time for introspection. I thought maybe he was finally taking to heart what people (especially women) have been trying to tell him about his apparent unwillingness to hear what others are saying. His comment above points to my hopes being unfounded.

    Come on, Tony. You’re better than this. Would you listen to constructive criticism for ONCE, please?

  17. Danica, I did listen to David. I read his post twice, and I wondered why he chose to focus in on a single word like “Sure,” without also telling his readers what I wrote about Mark’s personality. It seems to me that someone as bright as David would have to intentionally miss that, since it’s clear in the post. But according to his comment, he did miss that.

    For David to suggest that I “have always admired Driscoll” and even envied him is, to me, trolling. I have written thousands of words about Mark on my blog, and not one of them has been in admiration. I have been chief among those calling out his bad behavior for years. To acknowledge the strength of his intellect is not to admire him, but simply to state what I observed when he and I were in the same circles. He is smart. So are other bad people.

    Why David would think I envy him, I do not know — that is a judgment of my inner life, and I don’t believe that David is privy to that. I’ve thought about that today, and I cannot think of one thing about Mark’s life that I envy. Not his pulpit, for sure; not even his book sales.

    I get the constructive criticism that in this one, 500-word post, I did not fully develop the argument. True. It’s a blog post. I tried to be honest about my thoughts, which a lot of people seemed to appreciate.

    So, I’m open to the constructive criticism from David or you, Danica. But accusing me of admiring or envying someone who is a pariah seems not the least bit constructive. Should I write better posts? Yes, for sure. And I will try to. Did I lead people to believe that Mark’s theology, not his personality, are at fault? Looks like it. And for that, I’m sorry. I don’t think it’s that clear.

  18. Tony: If I am wrong to read in your post that you have admired Mark, then I apologize for that. There’s nothing wrong with admiring someone for something. I’m sure there were some things about him you didn’t admire. But I seemed to detect some admiration for him in your post. His intelligence, for example. And I never said you envy him, but said “maybe” you did. That is not an accusation, but a question. Again, for one man to envy another man for his accomplishments is normal. It wasn’t really a judgment call. There are some things about Mark I’m sure are admirable and enviable. No big deal. The point of my post is that I was raising a question about your implicit suggestion that his theology lead him to where he is today. I’m not sure that’s true. That’s why I framed the whole thing in a question, “What came first?”

  19. Well, I don’t know what came first, but they make a combustible mix. When I was in the same circles with Mark, he definitely intimidated me. I wouldn’t say he bullied me, per se, especially out of respect for those he did bully. But I knew that I never wanted to cross him

    While I agree that many versions of theology produce bullies, I think there’s enough evidence to support a claim that conservative Calvinism particularly lends itself to misogyny and homophobia.

    Finally, my favorite theologian, Jürgen Moltmann, taught me long ago that Jesus died for both the victims and the victimizers. So, rather than dance on Mark’s grave, I pray for him and all those who follow(ed) him to find a more gentle, loving version of God.

  20. He needed thrown under a bus a long time ago. I am amazed at people who dance around protecting these folks. It is like they are afraid to admit that they, like the criminal, use same the same bullshit god-talk to meet their agendas. Holy talk needs to be seen for what it is — in all forms!

  21. Tony – you said to David, “your post is not a fair reading of my post, but I think you know that ”

    Then, to David few comments down, you said, “Why David would think I envy him, I do not know — that is a judgment of my inner life, and I don’t believe that David is privy to that”

    You take offense to David’s assumption of what your inner life is, but claim to know his? This is exactly what I’m talking about – the world revolves around you, and if you are offended by someone, then it is an issue to be addressed. If you have offended someone, they must be reading you wrong, or mistaken about what you said. Basically, nothing is ever your fault. I cannot think you haven’t had this criticism lobbied against you before?

    Also – on toxic theology. While I agree that theology is important, I think you take it too far. I think you elevate ‘right’ theology over everything else, placing it of utmost importance … including, as I’ve observed, the need to treat others with love and respect. You’re a modern day Gnostic.

  22. If I can chime in as a young Methodist pastor in the Dakotas (who admires you both) I’m really glad David that you’re hopefully coming to see that you and Tony are on the same page more than you perhaps initially realized. As for those still continuing to hurl stones at Tony, please stop. The man eloquently and gracefully called Driscoll out (as he as done so on numerous occasions) while at the same time encouraging people to realize that but by the grace of God, we could all be assholes.

    As to the main matter, I’d say that Driscoll’s cruel theology along with other personality issues, resulted in his cruel behavior.

    Grace and peace,

  23. Hi Karl! I’m curious if you were referring to me in your ‘hurling stones’ comment? Could you please elaborate? You don’t think it was a double standard for him to assume David’s motives, but not give David space to assume his own?

  24. Karl: I don’t feel the need to be on the same page with Tony. I’m detecting the evangelical obsession with agreement that I don’t buy into. And you claim to fall on Tony’s side of the argument, that as long as your theology is correct you’re going to be fine. That’s what I hold as suspicious. I don’t believe cruel behavior is the result of theology and other issues. I think we are nose-deep in the complexities of our own pathologies, and theology is only a small part. And is this small part the cause or the justifying ideology? That’s my question.

  25. The danger I see in elevating theology to such importance, is that it then elevates human reasoning and intellect to a level that it really should not be at. Knowledge puffs up. And when someone approaches the table with the attitude of having the ‘best’ or ‘most sound’ theology, it effectively silences all other voices, marginalizes those who disagree, and shames the ones who can’t keep up intellectually. Mark Driscoll did this. And I feel that Tony does it as well. In this, they are similar (am I throwing stones, Karl?)

    I am reminded of when Paul warned the churches about people who would come in and attempt to deceive them with “empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ” … theologians’ worship of their own intellect and their own theologies is, I feel, a modern day application here.

  26. which came first?

    i will say that man came first, because it’s evident that theology comes from the minds of men. the problem is that it’s elevated to deific proportions after it becomes theology.

    so i would say a man-shaped person is dangerous for finding that which will allow him to be more abusive, *but* the theology is very very suspect and needs to be taken apart as well.

    and no, ‘there but for the grace of g-d go i’…. absolutely not. i know for a fact that i am not abusive, nor have i ever been tempted to stray in that direction.

    don’t cast the sin on everyone in an effort to diminish the import of what has happened.

  27. It’s so interesting to hear how this is framed, given that I’ve always thought Tony erred on the side of being heavy-handed toward Mark (and anyone he saw as abusive etc.). For me, it was a showing of considerable grace when Tony chose to pause his previous criticisms and piece together a response that extended some humanity to someone who has clearly been called out–by Tony multiple times and now, it seems, by all of Christianity.

    I stand in solidarity with victims. While doing so, I am reminded that the message of the faith is not an ideal story about an ideal people. That from the beginning, the Bible was always been about brothers who killed each other, and humankind turning on itself ’til it grieved the heart of God. I think the fact that there is an over-arching, enduring covenant that somehow reaches out in the mess, both standing with and healing the victims AND extending opportunity for growing to the grossest offender, gets at the exact kind of mercy that will most right the world.

    In my mind, Tony’s post pointed to that. I was surprised to read this take.

  28. I’m not sure what you mean by “this take”. I said: “I don’t think this is a theological issue. I think it is a pathological one. Not just for Driscoll and Jones, but for the entire church. If we would be healed, our theology would take care of itself.” All I’m asking is, are abusers the product of abusive theology, or is abusive theology the product of abusers? That’s a legitimate question. Isn’t it?

    And I think some of the commenters are right! I ask: Isn’t equating our theological correctness with our moral superiority dangerous ground to tread upon?

    Aren’t these valid questions?

  29. Hey, David, Absolutely this post is raising some valid questions. By “this take” I meant to suggest that Tony’s post “reflects the refusal of the church to understand spiritual abuse. It neglects the pathology of its abusive leaders.” That’s just the opposite of how I have experienced Tony.

    Tony is among those trying to stir more justice and mercy alongside you in my book. 🙂

  30. Hey Sarah. Thanks. I want to be clear this isn’t a personal attack on Tony. I believe, as I wrote, that “if we would be healed”, as in if we would all allow our ideas to be critically and seriously scrutinized by one another for the sake of the people, then we’d all be better off. The church would be better off. Tony admits that he might have written it hastily and it is just a blog post. But we still have to allow our words to be analyzed to detect if it is really true and helpful, or not. I only suggest his post over-emphasized bad theology as a motivator of abuse. I think it is more complicated than that. That’s all.

  31. Full marks to David for at least addressing the women in this comment thread as peers, even as he disagrees. Tony, on the other hand, has returned to business as usual after his internet sabbatical. One is forced to wonder if he spent a bit too much time shooting skeet in preparation for his next hunt while ignoring the more pressing matter of how he responds to those he deems beneath him, especially women. After that metaphorical head pat for Danica, one is forced to conclude that whatever reflection he may have given the latter has been quickly abandoned in favor of reflexive denial of any shortcomings on his part. Karl, it would seem, is eager to emulate such smugness in dismissing challenges to preferred conclusions. But enough about inner lives and the need for the absence of grace in order to be an asshole.

    Driscoll is a rather easy target. His brashness and stunning arrogance are the equivalent of the storybook villain twirling his mustache. Tony is harder to pin down. Adept at fitting in and playing to an overly credulous audience, he often sings the same tune as Driscoll, but he’s clever enough to change the words. Thinking his work is all done, he bristles at the suggestion that the problem is the tune itself, not simply the words one chooses to accompany it. Until Tony changes melodies, not much else matters.

  32. when my husband left for a 28 year old in the emergent movement it was Mark Driscoll that sent us money for groceries and prayed for us. I know a very different Mark.

  33. What I resent (yes, resent) is that Tony blames all criticism on the person criticizing. He says that those who have something negative to say about him aren’t ‘reading me in the spirit I intended’.

    Also, Karl never addressed the double standard I pointed out.

  34. Motivating people using god-talk is wrong at its core.
    Driscoll and Tony are just examples of it.
    ISIS is a far worse example.
    When will we see through this manipulation.
    Instead, people continue to use the same rhetoric to solve the rhetoric. Duh!

  35. Julie: Sorry if I came across as blunt. What I mean by my last comment isn’t meant to be unkind. I think we human beings are very complex. My post suggested that Tony Jones might admire Mark. Nothing wrong with that. I asked if he might be envious. Nothing wrong with that. Why? Because Driscoll has admirable and enviable qualities. Jones himself suggested that. What we are concerned about in this post is, is it theology that produced the fruit of abuse? Or, is it an abusive tendency in Driscoll that found a suitable theology to support it? Jones should ask himself that. I should ask myself that. Until we really grapple with this question we will continue to see it in the churches.

  36. in this case, their is such a hypocrisy, I could vomit. not your article….the others. calling out another ones “bad behavior” while behaving badly, is quite ironic. the only difference is one got away with it. It’s narcissism in many cases, and the church is just the vehicle to feed their megalomania. they NEED an audience, a following, constituents, massive amounts of daily attention. there is a reason disproportionate amount of narcissist are politicians, authors and pastors! mark actually HAD a large and influential platform, thus greater the fall. “admiration and envy?” oh, yes!! you didn’t come across too blunt at all. you hit it. I don’t know nor care about the details of Mars Hill, but I think it’s pathetic for some to stand around and comment on the failings, while cowardly never admitting your own sh*& (which is strikingly familiar!!) misogyny, mental and emotional abuse all hidden behind a new found liberalism and feminism because the times they are a changin’, jumping on the same sex marriage band wagon because its the hot new ride in town, and you just might get to be relevant again…these people are very cunning and smart and they will use anything (theology, controversy, sensationalism) and anyone to get ahead. it’s a clinical diagnosis and a pathology that looks like this kind of carnage, and they ALWAYS leave bodies in their wake. soliciting white male leaders of the emergent church willing to cover it all up for their crony. wipe out evidence on organizations website. lies and betrayal. it’s all in there. the only difference here is…who cares?! because it is so non influential with only a fraction of the followers as Mars Hill (envy). the ev leadership had only a small drop, instead of Mark’s enormous free fall from a very, very high place. my point….shut the f*&k up about another persons “bad behavior” when you treat woman the exact same way and have a very, very similar personality disorder….narcissistic personality disorder. the church is just the vehicle they use to feed their narcissism. they ARE god and what they have to say is so, so very important. not. it’s an untreated mental illness and when left untreated, (and with all of the talent and charisma mark has)…it going to eventually look like that, when survivors have had enough. marriages end in flames…to quote Katy Perry, “This is how they do.”

  37. My dad’s borderline narcissistic, and my grandfather and uncles are full on. This feels SO familiar to me.

    Maybe that’s a piece to the puzzle in answering your question, David? The theology prolly didn’t start out that way, but since religion allows a person to elevate their narcissistic image, and also change it as people lose interest, I can see how claiming to speak for God would allow a narcissist safe haven to grown their own particular empire. While a person who does not have NPD would simply quietly do the Lord’s work.

    What would be interesting to me, would be to look at abusive church leaders throughout history and across denominations (including Catholic), and see if there it’s a constant there. If the constant is that they all subscribe to a particular theology, then wet could safely assume the theology probably came first. But if the constant is that they all have some sort of pathology (and my guess going into it would be NPD), then we would be able to draw the conclusion that the thug came first.

    I guess, as I’m sorting through this all now with a full cup of coffee in me, that your focus may be to narrow, David. Broaden your spyglass and see if you can spot this in other places.

    And to Julie – I’m so sorry that happened to you. I’m sorry Young Methodist Pastor hasn’t showed up with this love he keeps talking about, to address what you’re saying about his idol. I want you to know I hear you and I am holding your story. I hope you’re finding what peace and stability is possible when having a narcissist impossibly entwined in you life.

  38. Oh Danica, believe me, I have seen it in other places. Non-religious places. Including businesses and universities. Which leads me to suspect that theology isn’t the core issue.

  39. A psychologist who helped my family through the trauma caused by the emergent church cult said, “The church is a wonderful place to hide.” It’s a place to hide your homosexuality, your mental illness, your social awkwardness, your deep unresolved feelings of insecurity and inadequacy…all with a literal robe to cover them up.

  40. thank you! danica and scott, I have met some really incredible people through my adventures with a cult and narcissist…from the most unlikely places. THEY are to me the body of goodness. that’s my religion….just don’t be an asshole. be honest, vulnerable and transparent. say sorry. admit fault. forgive and be kind. here’s another gem from our family psychologist who coaches us on how to cope with the NPD in our lives,

    “Healthy relationships require mentally healthy people, and they always have a mechanism for repair.”

    when people like this leave scorched earth behind, whether it be a church, business or whatever….congregations in ashes, there is always mental illness lurking underneath. And, I would say most likely NPD. because they CAN NOT be wrong. it is far too crushing to their fragile egos to admit imperfection, so if you are not with them, you are taken out.

    Brene Brown TED talk on vulnerability and perfection may have saved some of these disasters through history, but alas, they only listen to themselves because there is no one more brilliant than they. barf!

  41. YES! I was a fundamentalist minister for 20 years until the weight of what it was doing to me and others became too much to bear.

    Losing my faith and my profession led to losing relationships, marriage, etc but it was the necessary steps to leaving behind the shame, guilt and arrogance that comes from such a position.

    I’ve found much deeper friendships since leaving fundamentalism behind.

  42. I’ve lurked and watched this conversation progress … one nitpicky thing I wanted to point out:

    I think your statement “Nothing can be done about bad theology because of free thought and speech.” is absolutely troubling.

    Free speech can only be abridged by government action. If you proposed legislation to outlaw a particular theology, I would agree with you. There are things you can do:

    Proponents of the theology have the right to say/write/think/preach whatever they believe (some limits such as regarding political speech and incitement to violence notwithstanding), they do not have the right to an audience or a platform.

    In the face of troublesome theology and those who espouse it, ordinary folks can:
    – Speak out informally (like you and many are doing here)

    – Boycott individual works, authors or even publishers

    – Organize and protest

    – Offer support FIRST to those who have suffered the abuse that stemmed from or was abetted by troublesome theology (whether it be formal volunteering, donating money or goods or even just validating that a victim is not crazy, not sinful and is a worth human being and that their abuser was in the wrong. Stop forcing victims into a theologically prescribed healing regimen.

    – Call out victim discrediting, blaming and shaming (i.e. “You didn’t pray hard enough.” or “Are you sure, he doesn’t seem that bad to me.”) Hear their stories and really listen. Don’t shut them down when it feels uncomfortable for you. It’s not about you.

    – Stop forcing forgiveness for the abuser the only avenue toward healing (i.e. I don’t care if Mark Driscoll never repents. I care about getting people away from his abuse and helping them heal in whatever way is right for them [which may not have anything to do with religion of any sort]. Mark Driscoll can look out for himself).

  43. Don’t foget Driscoll came out of the Young Leadership Network that spawned Emergent Village – if you dissect Jones & Co. cyberbullying as David has done a number of times, you’ll see their teatment of those who dare to differ follows the same lines. Driscoll just had a better head for business and as such, his empire grew. They both picked different theologies on which to base their platform but the underlying psychology is more similar than either might want to to admit.

  44. When recommending the three books above (Sept-05 post), my intent was to agree, David, with your central idea: the pathology came first, and found a hospitable environment in the theology. My fundamental disagreement with Jones’ original post was the idea that “this could happen to any of us.” No. I could happen to another sociopath. But it isn’t “just anyone” who engages in the level and severity of domination and control that MD engages in.

    I have frequently read people comment that MD is a narcissist. I disagree.

    I can deal with narcissists. Their core emotional axis is the holy trinity of Me, Myself, and I. A bit exhausting sometimes, but they can be dealt with. I have a sister who’s a narcissist. You have to wade through a lot of self-references, but it’s manageable. Although she lives several states away, I talk to her by phone once a week and we interact on FB frequently.

    I can’t deal with sociopaths. Their core emotional axis is power. That’s quite different from that of narcissists. There’s a complete lack of empathy and conscience. Sociopaths make you question your own sanity. When you catch them doing something crazy, you think, “Surely this can’t be happening! Who *does* that?” Well, sociopaths do that. I also have a sister who is a sociopath. After reading “The Sociopath Next Door” and saying to myself, “*OH!!!*” a thousand times, I have no contact with her. Haven’t for years. Blocked her from my FB wall.

    Driscoll is a sociopath. Full stop. Has some narcissism thrown on top, but the core of his personality is power and domination and the need to step on the throat of anyone who challenges his power. That’s why he not only fired his assistant who said to a friend that “Mark could use someone in his life to go toe-to-toe with him” — he actually accused her of heresy. Heresy. Let that sink in for a moment.

    In addition to the three books I recommended above, I’d also recommend “Psychoanalytic Diagnosis” by Nancy McWilliams, Ph.D.‎

    David, thanks for the post. Very needed.

  45. Thanks Jane. If you haven’t read “Confessions of a Sociopath” by M.E. Thomas, you should. It’s a fascinating read. We’ve actually corresponded. She’s breaking new ground concerning sociopathy.

  46. Becky Garrison…nailed it. It’s mental illness. If you have a known and documented serious personality disorder (NPD) that has been diagnosed through exhaustive testing by an experienced and highly regarded clinical psychologist…then you need to stop down, and shut up.

  47. Jane – your spot on re your assessment – by default a sociopath has narcissitic traits but often narcissists can be “managed” if you to present concepts to them in ways that reflect good on their character. Dealing with them is definitely draining psychologically and it’s best to avoid them when possible. I would also note though that there have been sociopathic tendencies present in some of the US emergent church’s cyberbullying tactics and offline behaviors as well.

    Just as an FYI – I tend to say “someone displays sociopathic tendencies” rather than calling them a sociopath outright because one can get sued for libel/slander for making a mental health diagnosis if one is not a trained professional. And if one is a trained professional then obviously releasing a diagnosis without a court order is grounds to have one’s license revoked and more. Driscoll and the US emergents are known for gaslighting their critics so one tries not to give them any ammunition they can actually use. 🙂

  48. Hypothetically, if you KNOW you have a serious mental issues….step down. That’s my point. I’m sure people have given feedback somewhere along the lines to these individuals and they know that they are “difficult,” “hard to work with,” “rageful,” “arrogant.” To pretend none of that has any correlation with you and your own untreated issues, and to let “bad behaviors” go unchecked, is what I find disgusting. Others riding on the coat tails of these “minor celebrities” in a very small fish bowl of life…say and do nothing because of their own self interest. book deal. speaking gig. it’s rather disgusting. the closest thing I ever got as an apology was from a SF, CA EC leader who treated me reprehensibly said, “some of what you said may be right.” walk the talk or don’t talk and certainly do not point a finger when your hands are filthy.

  49. You’re welcome – and this gets at the heart of the need to listen to insider critique. The real story is found in hearing the victims’ stories as what they reveal is a truly pathological system that went off the rails. And as this commentator noted, Mark’s theology shifts according to his season/mood/audience (similar to how emergents think no? ). But the pathology remains.

    Also, a sizable chunk of those “outsiders” commenting seem to be using #Driscoll as SEO Bait by posting running commentaries about the latest “outrageous” thing Driscoll said/did – this feeds into the myth that Mark’s being persecuted which is used at MHC in very destructive manners. This is one of the better examples of this …

  50. I know many people in this thread and love all of you. I also know this story very well.
    After have read all the comments here I can confidently say that blogs and comments are not our best way to convey our meaning, share our best or understand each other.
    May we all transcend blogging and let goodness flow.

  51. You’ve read the comments, Doug, but clearly you’ve failed to understand a great many of them. One really is left to wonder why so many people who claim to follow Christ seem so terribly concerned over transparency. Abuse thrives in the dark. It always has.

  52. Of course, Doug’s desire to quiet things down likely has quite a bit to do with his relationship with Tony Jones. Seems pretty clear.

  53. Somebody please tell me what it means to “transcend blogging”. My fallopian tubes get in the way of thinking about hard smart man things.

  54. Also … shaking my head at Doug COMPLETELY ignoring Julie’s story, and instead trying to control the narrative by shaming everyone engaged in discussion here. (Although if we need to”transcend” commenting in blogs, I propose Doug lead by example)

  55. Why would Doug NOT want to completely ignore Julie’s story? Addressing it with any honesty or integrity would make things, shall we say, awkward between him and TJ, and that’s to be avoided at any cost. We cannot afford to compromise the bromance!

  56. Hi Doug and welcome to my blog. I actually think blogging is an excellent way to discuss serious and important issues. Even though I use cartoons to convey meaning, I also do a lot of writing. And I spend lots of care and time on both because, well, these are serious and important issues. I’m not sure how else I can participate in the conversation, particularly about the abuse of power, etc., in the churches, besides through blogging. I do, however, happen to know that blogs are terribly annoying to those who would like to continue their wrongdoing. In fact, this is one of Driscoll’s complaints… that the internet is to blame for his unjust demise. Yay internet! Yay blogs!

  57. @John, narcissists tend to attract those who need an image to worship. The pull of being a’ chosen one ‘ in a narcissists inert circle is very alluring, and therefore the need to protect the narcissistic image becomes paramount.

  58. I tried to “transcend” blogging with these people who “through hours of prayer and discernment” decided I was crazy while their crony was having an affair. Then when I had evidence sex emails and a 22 page psychological evaluation to share with the 6 Emergent leaders who “discerned” my family needed to break up so he could be with his “spiritual wife” not 1 of those….NOT 1 wanted to “discern” that or anything else. Disgusting! Transcend that!

  59. “Blogs are terribly annoying for those who would like to continue their wrong doing” ding, ding, ding! A narcissist will choke and die before, “I’m sorry” passes their lips. It’s a sure fire litmus test for NPD. Mark Scandrette is not a true narcissist because he actually apologized. Thank you, Mark! That was horrid what was done to me and my 3 children, but I forgive you fully and I thank you.

  60. If you read through the comment thread on this post you will get a taste of the length with which people have gone to protect the Emergent brand and do harm to Julie. I had one interlocutor email me to tell me Julie was “batshit crazy” — except, when I confronted him, he admitted he had never met Julie. He simply trusted what he was told by Emergent Village leaders.

    The only difference between how EV operated and what’s happened at Mars Hill is the size of the audience. Fortunately, the North American Emergent audience is small and dwindling. The same will become true of Mars Hill, no doubt.

  61. Poor Emergents:
    Evangelicals attack them as apostates.
    Liberals attack them for this history.

    I can never tell which of the commentors are the former.
    Is “emergent” a brand name? I use to assumed it was just another name for “liberal” protestant or “progressive”. But is seems it is a connect group.

  62. Hey Doug (Pagitt),
    As you represent yourself as a social media expert, I would expect you’d appreciate the conversation taking place here, rather than attempting to chat about this via Facebook Messenger. Feel free to ask me your questions here in the comments. I will do my very best to respond to them.

  63. Hi Bill, I actually social media messaged you today on facebook, and I am all for this conversation happening. I will post more on my thoughts in just a second, I sent them a head of time to David to get his input (that is one of the things i like to do when commenting on blogs so it takes a little longer to post sometimes).
    But please check my message on FB or give me a call 612.730.7337

  64. Hey David, I am not saying that blogs are bad, what I was saying was that they are not the best way to convey our meaning and that this causes all kinds of misunderstanding. I am all for the truth being exposed and people sharing their views, I think you and I know each other well enough that you know I am not interested in shutting anyone out or down.
    My point is, and it seems obvious in even my small interaction here, that this format, when void of interpersonal interaction and with all communication being done in public, is not the best way to convey our meaning. And often people’s feelings get hurt and the conversation strays from this crucial issues to something else (like, “you know that is not what I meant” or “obviously….”

    What I suggest is that people spend time, whenever possible, in contact with each other before making public what they think about another persons ideas.
    I know that is not always possible as many people don’t have access to each other, and I am not saying to seek the persons permission and thereby be shut down, I am saying that when possible to give the benefit of the doubt to the person and to talk with them or correspond with them directly.
    To transcend blogging to me means using blogging as a tool, but not the only tool. To be in contact with people whenever possible.
    In this case I know you and have spent time with you in Haiti, have had you on my radio show and think very highly of you. And I know Tony very well. I also know others in the thread and I know that it is quite simple and possible to have access to each other interpersonally.
    So, when time is spent suggesting what people meant, or people being accused of this or that, and that could be solved by a private conversation or message, it only seems wise as then the important issues can be gotten to.
    I am not saying that people should not share their perspectives and their challenges, I am saying that we are better off if what is being shared is as accurate and generous as possible.

    A few years ago when people were writing books critiquing what many of us were trying to do with our churches, I would regularly contact these folks and invite them to come and spend some time with our community or stay at my house and we could talk about all their concerns. Or, if that was too much we could talk on the phone or even email bak and forth. Almost to a person they said no. I was told that is not how it works, one author told me “I know what you think from your writing and now I will say what I think.”

    I am sure there are better ways. I am all for people sharing, but let’s spend the same significant time, when possible, talking with each other and not about each other so we can let the goodness roll.

  65. Maybe “transcend blogging” means twitter? I must have done that, since I so rarely blog anymore. But I’m still very opinionated, and especially so in matters like this.

    Love the image and the metaphor, David. To take a swipe at the question, I would say it’s cyclical: thug-theology-thug. There’s an inner thug, whose theology is affected by his character. The resulting theology lends justification to his actions, which allows for thug amplification and thug discipleship. It’s a perfect venue for narcissists… did anybody see the recent article — I think it was in Time Mag — about what careers narcissists gravitate toward? #1 is CEO, and clergy is solidly in the top ten. When you have pastors turning their role into a command-driven CEO-style one, I think you can make your own inferences… but you’ll know them by their fruit, which is the measure of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. I suggest that where these are lacking, their theology is impacted.

    I would take it as almost axiomatic that our character affects our theology. Every one of us. For example, are we greedy? Trust, me there’s a theology for that. Power-hungry? There’s a theology for that too. Let’s take the hypothetical example of marriage. If one is having an affair, or wishes to, or wants to divorce and remarry for some reason outside of the evangelical or catholic norm, one’s theology may begin to change in a manner that allows for these actions. Be very suspicious when theology changes in a way that becomes more convenient for the theologian. So if a theologian puts forward some new concept of marriage and then divorces and remarries, one might be suspicious of the motives involved. I did say hypothetical, right? Huh. What a coincidence, that.

    Bill is correct in drawing comparisons between MH & EV. They have the same roots, despite their divergent paths. But whenever there’s an empire involved, there’s an interest in the status quo. Blame the internet or cover it up… whatever it takes to keep the publishing deals and speaking tours flowing. Follow the money, they say. The questions are valid, and the answer is supposed to be transparency, especially for a nonprofit.

  66. ^bullshit! You live 1 block from me. My son mows your lawn. You’ve never said a word and repeatedly shut me down for years when the truth was in your face complete with a psych eval and sex emails. Shut the f$&k up you fraud. Go home. You had your 15 minutes of fame. Put a fork in it . Emergent is beyond done. Let me refresh your memory in a phone call you made to me while I was still married to your BFF although my kids report now dads no longer friends w/ Doug and they’ve had a falling out…of course there was…you used each other up! Next! Onto the next person the narcissist can suck the marrow out of and then discard. “Julie, this is Doug. You and Tony’s marriage is just words on a piece of paper. You may be the legal wife but Tony has a spiritual wife now.” Now THAT my friends is “bat shit crazy!” Yes, that Mike Morrell, not me who in fact does not have the serious clinical diagnosis but rather your idols you look so highly up to. Choke and die before an I’m sorry comes out. They can’t! Their egos and pathology will not allow it. I think it’s fascinating your wife refers to you as “the Duke” Freud would have a field day! Cut the bull shit you coward…you tried to have me hospitalized to cover up an affair and rationalize a divorce! And when they would not admit me (in fact the seasoned intake nurse said prophetically, “honey, what you need is a good lawyer!” because there is nothing wrong with me, you said, “I’ll find a mental hospital to admit you.” All while sitting on the knowledge of Courtney Perry. Cut the crap Doug. It’s over. O-V-E-R. Come clean. Apologize here and now.

  67. I apologize for my Irish coming out but that was 6 years in the making and there is nothing I loathe more than a fraud parading under the banner of “all peace love and kindness” while twisting the knife in someone’s back…Doug’s been very busy today private messaging people on this thread doing damage control….come clean Doug. Prove you are not a pathological narcissist full of hot air but actually able to admit, “I made a mistake. I’m sorry for my part in that deception.” You know he CAN’T but maybe if you say you are so open hearted…let’s hear it!! We’re waiting. Led the way to this “missional generative friendship” you spew.

  68. I guess the question will be whether Doug has the cojones to respond to Julie in a manner befitting a church pastor. Or whether he will just slink away. I’m hoping for the former… but expecting the latter.

    And now back to the madness of renovations.

  69. Could someone explain what a spiritual wife is? Is it just my womanly nature, prone to hysteria and easily deceived (like Eve, dontcha know), that assumed the vows made in front of the preacher and calling on God suggested a spiritual component to the relationship?

    In truly delighted that men of god such as Tony have other menz of god to pressure, coerce, and threaten all their detractors into terrified silence so that the work of the gospel may never cease. God be praised.

    Sure, my individual gorge rises at the thought of someone trying to institutionalize me over a custody dispute. But obviously I will learn to quell such touches of the vapors now that I understand it’s for Jesus.

    Also, I wouldn’t want my womanly hysteria to hurt Doug’s or Tony’s feelings.

  70. Doug- seriously. Everyone stop talking on the internet and have private convos okay?! Are you kidding? Tony is a public figure whose behavior has public effects. If he doesn’t like it he can grow up or stop being public. I’m surprised that I’m still surprised at the variety of ways people tell those who’ve suffered to shut their cake holes. You people are disgusting.

  71. “I am all for the truth being exposed and people sharing their views…”

    Provided, it would seem, such things are done in a very particular way. Even after reading your lengthy comment, Doug, I’m having a difficult time understanding how what you’re up to here amounts to more than basic concern trolling.

    “My point is, and it seems obvious in even my small interaction here, that this format, when void of interpersonal interaction and with all communication being done in public, is not the best way to convey our meaning.”

    I’m not really having any trouble following the meaning of anyone in this thread. Perhaps I’m simply exceptional in my reading comprehension (doubtful), but it’s all reasonably plain to me. Let me see if I can break it down for you a bit, and you can tell me if it’s helpful at all.

    Tony Jones wrote a blog post which David took to indicate a certain degree of admiration for Mark Driscoll, which David took great care to qualify. Tony didn’t care for the suggestion that he admires Driscoll even in the qualified terms which David described. As a result, Tony jumped into the comments here to express his dissatisfaction, and, as is his wont, he proceeded to fail to offer any of the generosity you so highly recommend while becoming increasingly petulant—as is also his wont.

    When others began to take Tony to task for this all-too-familiar behavior on his part, Tony became increasingly defensive and condescending, and so others began to join in the discussion to wonder at Tony’s rapid return to his old form after what was meant to be something of a restorative sabbatical from the internet. It was at this point that Julie entered the mix to suggest that the blog Tony posted regarding the causes of Driscoll’s seemingly sudden tumble from the status of Golden Boy contained no small measure of the pot calling the kettle black, and in the course of her comment pointed out that when Tony abandoned her and their children it was none other than Driscoll who stepped in to help. It’s really saying something when one loses a basic decency contest to Driscoll.

    Then you, close friend and associate of Tony Jones, make an appearance on a thread which features some rather disturbing revelations about Tony’s private behavior (which served as fairly compelling evidence in support of Julie’s accusation of hypocrisy) to encourage us all to reconsider using blogs and blog comments to discuss such important issues since there’s such great potential for misunderstanding. While you’re correct, broadly speaking, to point out how notorious online communication is for misunderstanding, it’s difficult to see your sudden entry here as anything other than a thinly veiled attempt to help your good friend save face due to the extremely unflattering picture being offered by Julie of Tony’s truly heinous personal conduct, as well as the rather blatant enabling on offer from Tony’s cadre of defenders. (“Spiritual wife”? Seriously? People still try to pull that one off? Sweet baby Jesus.)

    When you were challenged on this frankly stunning, obvious maneuver, you decided to throw a wall of expertly worded blather about how it’s important to be generous to one another and to attempt to establish relationship with those with whom we differ. While I agree with the principle of generosity in interpretation, I hold the principles of accuracy and integrity to be of a much higher order. As for the standard of interpersonal relationship you suggest, I would offer in reply the idea that if one is incapable of making one’s meaning reasonably plain without taking the steps you recommend then perhaps one should either spend a good deal more time reflecting prior to committing one’s words to print or, failing that, consider a full withdrawal from the grind of blogging. It’s not for everyone, and there’s no justification for placing the onus for clarity on one’s audience. To be blunt, “I know what you think from your writing and now I will say what I think,” is an entirely reasonable standard. The fact that you insist on others not taking your own words at face value says a great deal about your preferred modus operandi—none of it favorable.

  72. Years ago I discovered Doug Pagitt’s blog and was interested to see what the “Emergent” thing was all about and if he was still the “same person” that I had met once and knew in an acquaintance sort of way because I was friends with, and then dating, one of his best friends. When I read Doug’s blog, I had a couple of questions about things he had stated in an authoritative tone and “dared” to ask them in the comments section. Within an hour I was lambasted for my questioning and was told that I was attempting to “be cute” and was stirring up unnecessary controversy in a format not appropriate for that sort of thing. Soon after, a list of “comment rules” was added to Doug’s blog. I don’t really remember if or how Doug and I continued to “converse” in the blog comments (because I have, thank God, learned to *mostly* let go of shit). I may have just done what I still believe Doug wanted me to do–which was to shut up. When I revisited the blog later, I believe that my comments were removed by the blog administrator, i.e., the Duke. I wasn’t surprised by what seemed to be whitewashing … having grown up within the church, I am highly familiar with that behavior (and am slightly ashamed to admit I have engaged in quite a bit of it myself.)

    But I do still have a copy of the email which Doug sent me that said “See how nice it is when people follow the rules ;-)”

    I also have a copy of the email I sent to him which, as I expected, never received a response. Here’s what that said:

    Really…you don’t seem to have changed a lot since college.
    What intrigues me is that you were so positive you had all the
    right answers then (traditional Baptist theology) and anyone
    who questioned them was wrong.

    But now, I think from reading your posts and listening to some of
    your podcasts, that you have turned away from those formulaic
    answers to embrace new types of answers. And now you are
    convinced that these ways of viewing God and his Word are right.
    Maybe you are not convinced…but it comes across as certainty
    and even arrogance sometimes.

    I don’t think we all ever have all the right answers. Life is a process
    toward truth for all of us. I don’t think any denomination or church
    or movement has a corner on the market of truth. Which is why it
    so important that we remain open to one another’s questions.
    My questions to you in your blog were sincere…perhaps misplaced
    (in your mind) but sincere. I wasn’t attempting to skewer you. I wasn’t
    attempting to be mean or “cute.”

    I wanted to know if you could step outside your own theology for a moment
    and consider what it looks like to those of us outside of it. I’ve found that
    when I do that, my own position is often strengthened and solidified. But
    once in awhile it is abandoned in light of the truth that others bring to the
    table. I’m sorry if my questions came across as nasty, flippant, or threatening.

    You have an uncanny knack for using your keen intellect and quick
    wit to quickly address divergent points of view. But I wonder if that
    haste serves you well in the long run. If Emergent really is all about
    conversation, don’t you have to be willing to converse with people?
    Even if they are not as educated, not as sophisticated, and
    not as sarcastically, crowd-pleasingly, funny as you are?

    I am not a published author, a well-known speaker, and a world
    traveler; but I am a minister to the world, too. And I care about how
    we, as Christ’s family, come across to those who are considering
    applying for adoption into it. I also care about how we nurture and
    challenge one another so that the church itself is maturing and
    growing toward unity.

    I want to be part of a family that always tells the truth, but always
    exemplifies love. I believe that you have that same desire, but perhaps
    I am mistaken. It IS nice when we all follow the rules, isn’t it? And so

    It really does make me sad that leaders of organizations which are conceived, birthed and nurtured through the process of questioning, so often come to perceive that same process as a threat and, even worse, wage war against it as an enemy instead of seeing it as an opportunity to be transformed.

    I feel for Julie and for the countless numbers of sincere, holy, delicious individuals who have been dished up, chewed up, and spit out by church leaders on a quest to have more. Unfortunately, the gorging and purging won’t stop until there is nothing left to devour at the buffet.

  73. I like that Doug ignored all the women on the thread, including the ones who addressed him directly. Classy dude. Real classy.

  74. @Danica – you’ll notice that Driscoll’s abusiveness and dreadful theology didn’t actually become a wider issue until it started affecting men.

  75. Also… I just want to say that Doug’s ignoring of the accusations Julie is leveling against Tony is mindboggling to me. What sort of bullying man’s club do these emergent “leaders” run, to run roughshod over a woman (over ANYONE) like that? And in the name of Christ?

    (… and did any of you man-sorts happen to get inboxed with a message for me? Since Doug is private messaging everybody in the interest of ‘personal relationship’, I thought maybe he might have chosen to go through a penis in order to communicate with us xx-chromosomal types?)

  76. this felt like the grownups were talking for a while, so i felt like i should not be talking. because i didn’t have much to add.

    but then the whole ‘keep things in person’, cropped up.

    1. i have done the in-person thing with an abuser, and it never ended well. it ends with me being called crazy, bitter, unrepentant, ung-dly.

    so i do not do that anymore.

    2. this conversation, this post, they both have value to me for the very real reason that it’s public. no more hiding behind suit and tie, no more hiding behind the scruffy half-beard and smile, no more hiding. it is plain for anyone who cares to admit, that he’s an abuser, and that jones has to some degree identified with him.

    when enough time is spent sympathizing, it’s hard to pull away and see what’s really wrong. because in sympathy, kinship is shared. in shared kinship, there are too many sore spots and blind spots.

    3. i feel the pull to obey still, to be quiet, to not speak. to let this become a private matter, where men nod and pray. where the shape of my body means that i lack the skills and power to communicate in any effective manner.

    but i won’t.

    4. i will not peacemake with an abuser. and i will learn trust my own interpretations of what i see, and take whatever steps necessary to expose what i see as wrong. because talking is everyone’s right.

    no more hiding behind g-d.

    p.s. julie, i’m so sorry for what happened to you. it’s wrong, very very wrong.

  77. @tru — I have also taken note of that fact. The dudebro elders at MH who issued their letter calling for Driscoll’s resignation, and who are now being so widely hailed for their courage and integrity as a result, were perfectly happy teaching his preferred form of misogynistic theology until it began to threaten their jobs. So one is left wondering what, exactly,they’ve done to be courageous in attempting to save their own skins.

    While Pagitt and Jones (among others) aren’t nearly so blatant in their disregard for women, it’s on display for any who care to see it whenever they make appearances on these sorts of threads. When they deign to reply to a woman, which is itself far more rare than their replying to men who issue identical challenges, it almost invariably is for the purposes of condescension and dismissal. Unless you happen to be Rachel Held Evans, and you words things very, very carefully.

  78. Annie,
    Great question! I think maybe a “legal wife” is entitled to alimony in the event of a divorce, but a “spiritual wife” is not. That or a spiritual wife is the one with the marital trump card in polygamous or polyamorous scenarios. I could be wrong about that though, or have it all backwards. I couldn’t find the term in my concordance, so I can only guess.

    You make some good observations about communicating in print. Maybe I’m just comfortable with it, having done so online for 15 years now but I have to recognize that this new form of communication must be used with extreme caution given the literacy rate. Or something. Maybe I’ve been misunderstood all this time and I never noticed, but I don’t think I’ve had that much difficulty saying what I mean. Maybe it’s because I’m a professional author and writer that I can express myself so clearly. Oh, wait. That can’t be right.

    Shutting down conversation is a gaslighting tactic, as well as one which promotes darkness and obscurity around the facts, and is often employed by those who don’t have any interest in the discussion being public, like Mark Driscoll blaming the internet. (“Damn internet, spreading facts at the speed of light! Who can counter that?!”) I know this because it’s pretty consistent in my observation during the past 15 years of how this plays out online. You know, because this kind of conversation is so new to inexperienced writers/readers.

    Belittling the question or the questioner and trying to shut them up is a form of spiritual abuse when it’s done in a religious context or for supposedly religious reasons by someone in a position of authority. Just sayin’… I’ve seen a lot of that elsewhere in my time too.

  79. @Shade – please keep speaking your truth for as long as it feels right to you to do so. It needs to be heard.

    I can’t ever speak for the abused, and I appreciate your and Julie’s courage in speaking out.

  80. Annie, a “spiritual wife” you use because she is much cooler than you, and has tattooed arm sleeves, dread locks, and an air of androgyny to give you street cred with the GLBT community that you have just now decided (and since it has now become mainstream) to reinvent your platform upon. You do this in desperation to be relevant again. Also, a “spiritual wife” you don’t have to pay alimony when she is no longer useful.

    A “legal wife” you take back to court 12 times feigning financial destitution and try over and over and over not to pay child support. I hope that clears that up for you.

    But then there is also the “polymorous” wife and that means you do whatever the hell you want, and with multiple partners and genders and there is no consequences…except maybe a pesky STD. There was an Emergent whackadoo blog post about being “GGG with your partner: good, giving and game.” Pretty sure that is tucked away in the back of the gospel of John. I think that’s the “generous orthodoxy” they talked about (snicker). I tuned out way back when it went “cult speak” with the “legal wife” and “spiritual wife” crap.

    Circling back to the original post here….there is no difference between this, and Mars Hill except they could choose to be bigger and better than Mark Driscoll and admit fault, apologize and reconcile….isn’t that what we are called to do? That’s the only Christianity I can stomach. Where is it?! WHERE IS THE CONVERSATION? Brian McLaren told me, “Never email me again.” I guess he was all “discerned out.”

    I’ve received one apology from one of the six in the past six years. I would like an apology from the other five on the “Discernment Team,” Danielle Shroyer, Mike King, Brian McLaren, Brad Cecil, Doug Pagitt. I will fully embrace your apology, but an apology is required here and now. This is the appropriate venue and maybe Mark Driscoll may even be inspired! I know “he who shall not be named” literally would and will choke and die before admitting or apologizing to an iota of what occurred, but you others? Do you walk the talk? Or, no? John Hubanks thank you for that eloquent and succinct recap. Hilarious comment about, “Pass the popcorn.” If memories are fuzzy I can post the Discernment Letter instructing me to check into a mental hospital if I want to save my marriage. Would that help? All your names are on it in black and white. It’s time….let’s walk the talk.

  81. Hi, David. Regarding the comment you made on September 12 about noticing the pathologies outside a church setting–the first place I encountered narcissistic personality was in a one-two punch in the form of a self-professed feminist, Roman Catholic department chair. She was truly terrifying in her ability to manipulate individuals–students, her colleagues, and her peers within her subject area. She was almost revealed in a devastating way when the accreditation board came around for its routine 10-year evaluation, but she threatened students verbally and there was an exodus of the most vocal students at the close of that academic year. She managed to prevent individuals from getting tenure (and fired others outright) if their own academic subspecialties drew more positive attention, grants, money, and attendance than hers. Universities are prime breeding and grooming grounds for these sorts of pathologies. Despite my own love for research, I never wanted to teach after watching what happened. I also spoke out and my reward was clinical depression while sticking it out the remaining academic year to get my undergrad degree.

  82. @Danica- Where’s *my* pm? Why isn’t Doug trying to connect with *me*?

    Maybe we should check our husband’s inboxes, he’s probably sent them messages and they can explain it to us later, at home, in all submission.

  83. @Annie, if my husband got hit at work with this shite, there is seriously no fan in the world big enough to disperse it.

  84. funny how legal and spiritual got flopped around as to who gets protection from whom… the amount of isolating and silencing that happens when a person faces someone who apparently has g-d’s voice, and has managed to find a way to completely… destroy any hope of good.

  85. Laura—-It is really scary standing up to an NPD! The rage!! They are cunning and will go to the ends of the earth to come out smelling like roses. “Crazy campaigns,” whatever it takes. The “gas-lighting” is further scary stuff. 12 years of mental abuse I endured. Questioning your own reality. The sad part is they never get help or get better. I want that for my kids. They refuse to look at their stuff. A lot is being written about NPD lately, and I think in time these people will be put back in their cages. People are getting better at calling it out. Take them out of leadership! They can do set up and clean up of the church spaghetti dinners. Education and awareness are the first step. Knowing the signs. Speaking out. Refusing to back down. I know I am not the only person to be run over by these people, but I can say this….they got the wrong marine! I will never shut up until I get my five more apologies.

  86. One of the things I highly value, and I wish the church would, is mutual passion for truth and the well-being of all people, rather than its own security or agenda. The comments on this post are an indication to me that voices have been silenced, which builds up enormous pressure in the silenced, and once they find a venue where they can speak their minds, they do. I’m glad this can happen here. My hope is that rather than protect ourselves we lay that aside and put the concern of all the people first. Truth, freedom and justice has to win. Eventually. Mars Hill is an example. And probably not the last.

  87. …even if you didn’t know what was coming, I can’t think of a better space for this — nor a more stalwart and generous host. Thank you, Holy Spirit…we will have more, please! (HT: Baxter Kruger)

  88. @Sonja, it’s probably because we’re all bitter. Better to follow the biblical conflict resolution strategy and ‘turn us over to our sin’ so that we might eventually be saved back into the fold.

  89. I can ONLY imagine the emails flying behind the scenes here asking, demanding, threatening this to all be deleted.

    But seriously, it takes a lot of courage to speak up and folks here have done that. Kudos, you have my admiration and respect. Keep on being open and honest. Even if it’s just on the silly old internet. It does matter.

    To other parties: the silence is truly deafening.

  90. An obvious lesson from the Mars Hill situation is that obfuscation escalates and prolongs a situation that humility and transparency could quickly resolve. An opportunity to resolve long-standing pain could be embraced as a gift.

  91. [blasphemy ahead – you have been warned]
    JESUS FUCKING CHRIST TAP DANCING OFF THE CROSS, DOUG, you are an outright embarrassment to the man you claim to adore as the Son of God.

    Holy fuck, it makes me realize that there are so many diverse problems within Christianity (and religion in general) – I thought many Catholics in the establishment (or siding with the establishment) were schizoid.

  92. Picking up on what Linda said a few comments ago, about how failure to resolve prolongs the pain …

    Initially, I was caught off guard that this thread turned into being about public figures from Emergent Village who gained some degree of national-level prominence coming out of the “emerging church” movement. But my surprise dissipated. Some critical disputes revealed here came up before. Had those situations been addressed more directly the last time they erupted, they might not even be under discussion now or maybe wouldn’t seem so volatile for the recipients of Julie McMahon’s pointed narrative and challenges.

    As best I can remember, much of this same information of Julie’s account about apparently very destructive behaviors and enablement by certain individuals within Emergent Village was online around four years ago — late 2009, early 2010. But that time it was in bits and pieces, scattered across various blogs in both posts and comments, over a period of months. And then it seemed to disappear before there was any indication of resolution.

    I recall there was a lot of what I could only interpret as shut-up type push-back and protection like, “You don’t know my life!” and “Why are you doing this to him?” and “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” And there was also a lot of silence in response to legitimate questions raised about people who have put themselves in the public spotlight, questions about their behaviors and their qualifications to be seen as “leaders.” And there was a flurry in deletion of comments, and edits in posts, and attempts to capture or summarize details before they disappeared. And apparently a lot was going on behind the scenes, though from the various tidbit trails left, I wonder how much (if any) of it could be considered “Christian diplomacy.”

    So here it is, four-plus years later. This time, much of the case is all in one place, which lets it be more concise and coherent. And Julie, I’m glad you’ve had this opportunity to expand your thoughts and be more specific — and also that this time, thankfully, you’ve not been deleted, nor so denigrated and gaslighted and marginalized like last time. Who knows, perhaps you’ll receive direct and public responses from those who’ve been unkind to you or worse, either in person, behind the scenes, or in the blogs. Regardless, I’m thankful you’re having your say, sharing your story of spiritual abuse and survival, and advocating for light to shine into the dark.

    And thank you, David Hayward, for hosting this uncomfortable but crucial conversation. You’re offering an opportunity for, as Linda said, “humility and transparency” in the here-and-now that could’ve and should’ve been entered into lo, those many years ago. This gives me more hope about other historically dark situations coming into the light.

  93. Holy Mary, Mother of God. So many thoughts – none important except this – you women here, standing tall and speaking truth to power, well done. The men standing tall as encouragers and truth tellers of their own right – well done. I think I might have stayed around had this fervor reached this particular pitch a couple of years ago. As it stands, I removed myself from the equation entirely a couple of years ago. I am now so glad I did. My perspective of the “leadership” and their display (or lack thereof) and the unwillingness to be true to themselves – nevermind the flock – is disheartening and sadly unsurprising. However, the voices! The callouts! What a breath of fresh air and hope.

    David – very courageous to host this conversation and to challenge what so obviously needs to be challenged. You are the bees knees.

  94. All that and I am still snickering at John’s summary.
    For the record…both the male and the female “pastors” from my former church have issues with apologies, admitting errors and brushing things under the rug by “biblical” based attacks to the character of the accusers, along with shunning. Sound familiar? They adore MH. All of these mega-emergent-seeker craps, I mean chaps, teach each other their tricks. Blech.

  95. FYI – re spiritual/legal wife – I would not equate this with polyamory as this relationship structure has been explained to me by people in sex positive cultures. A key component here is mutual relationships build on consent by all parities. I’m not interested in using this space to sidetrack the discussion into this arena but simply noting that this teaching is seen as an out of sync with even the most liberal teachings on the topic.

    And lest anyone think this scenario is limited to Julie, it isn’t – similar (though not as extreme) methods of gaslighting, shaming, dismissing, etc. have been applied to anyone who challenges the holy hipster male missional crew albeit Mars Hill, Outlaw Preacher, Emergent Village, etc.

    And while the focus has been placed on why Doug remains silent, don’t forget that EVERY published US emergent author knew about this pattern and not only stood by silently, but defended Tony by participating in his projects, agreeing to speak at his conferences, endorsing his books and the like.

    Very telling that all this is coming to a head and crumbling …

  96. It would be a miracle if there was a public apology. As there should be because I was publicly abused. It took me these many years to speak my truth without fear. When I had the evidence of “relations” I was told, “if you tell anyone I will tear your head off. It will ruin my career and I will not be able to support the children.” I’m not afraid anymore. I’ve been bullied and abused from my own Pastor at the time. I had no where to turn. The “community” told I was nuts and poor him the suffering spouse who simply couldn’t take it anymore. I was thrown to the ground and my shoulder torn. I am not afraid anymore. There is nothing these people can do or say to make me scared or silent. Whenever I spoke up before I was threatened with “defamation of character lawsuits” or attacked by the circling wagons or blog hosts instructed to delete comments, but my attorney assures me the defense for defamation of character is the truth, and I have it with supporting documents and an MRI. I want peace. I want egos humbled. I await patiently five genuine apologies. Danielle, Mike, Brian, Doug, Brad…and the last one is beyond capable, so I’m letting that one go. The Holy Spirit can move but people have to be willing.

  97. Well, my eyes definitely aren’t what they used to be! Earlier this morning I was reading Becky Garrison’s comment and saw what was probably intended to read “consent of all parties” as “consent of all panties.” 🙂 Ha! Reading it again now just before posting this comment, I see that the phrase is actually “consent of all parities.” And that too, made me laugh because panties and parity (or lack thereof) are often key ingredients in “thug theology” …

  98. @ttm. Am I a terrible person? I chuckled when I read “The pull of being a’ chosen one ‘ in a narcissists INERT circle is very alluring” in one of Danica’s earlier comments. Oh the woes of auto-correct … ?

    But seriously, I am thankful for this discussion. I continue to learn about important distinctions between sociopathology and narcissism, and other such points relevant to expanding our understanding of the dynamics of abuse.

  99. Having a vibrant (and sometimes bawdy) sense of humor makes us less terrible in my opinion, futuristguy. 🙂 I too am thankful for this discussion. Bringing things into the light is often the first step on the path toward healing … even if there are some who want to keep things tucked away in dark places. (See what I did there? Oooh, and I almost had a typo!) 🙂

  100. To go back to David’s original question … I found this article last night (ok, I peruse Buzzfeed to unwind, sue me). I was absolutely fascinated by the fact that the stories of the women in the article, as well as the responses of most of the men, are almost identical to what we’ve been talking around, over here. The only difference being, in religious situations it’s cloaked in god talk. So I’m going to go with ‘thug’ as my answer to what came first. I think evil people can (and do) hide behind any situation – behind Neo Calvinism and flashy marketing, behind Emergent intellectualism, behind atheistic free thought.

    And I also think what (John?) said above rings so true … until the abuse starts affecting the men in a situation, things won’t change. I am so incredibly grateful for men who DO stand up and help support us women who really just want our voices heard, and want to be able to enjoy (church, theological discussions, free thought conventions, fillintheblank) without fear of being treated differently (less than) due to our gender.

  101. I know that because nakedpastor holds no allegiances to any certain groups or individuals, it can be very annoying to some who would like to silence the voices of dissent and victims. Again, I appreciate the vulnerability exhibited through the amazing courage and strength of the commenters here.

  102. @Julie- Wow. Just wow. I’m glad you’re no longer afraid and I’m glad you’re speaking up and saying what happened.

    As for threatening to not be able to support the kids if you talk? That’s just Grade A manipulative victim blaming. I guess that’s something else a “legal wife” is entitled to. Also being assaulted. I guess we should hope, for his spiritual wife’s sake, that they are never legally entangled.

  103. Danica, I’m surprised that Buzzfeed worded the headline like that, as quite often “question” headlines often have a no answer. Sadly, so long as men and women revere Sam Harris, Penn Gilette, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins as models for atheism, and so long as men keep being told that they are superior, these issues will continue

  104. There is a myth that what was Emergent Village was fully egalitarian and pro-women. What happened to Julie — the gaslightingⁱ, the disinformation campaign, the abject nonsense of legal marriage vs spiritual marriage — with the full participation of key EV leaders, strongly states the converse.

    What was important was protecting the publishing and conference markets for EV as simply a part of the Christian Industrial Complex — and it mattered not who got trampled in the process. Julie and her three children were thrown under the EV bus, along with others.

    Gaslighting: manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity: in the first episode, Karen Valentine is being gaslighted by her husband.[from the storyline of the movie Gaslight (1944), in which a man psychologicallymanipulates his wife into believing that she is going insane.]

  105. And not to drive traffic to my blog but do understand I’ve been responding to this particular crap since January of 2010 Here’s A Thought. Jason Coker’s comment is particularly apropos but please make a point of reading the vitriol from the EV males who felt one of their leaders was being attacked — with zero compassion for Julie.

  106. If there is such a thing as Emergent anymore, I think the ones who think they are at the helm would be best to clear things up if they care more for it to move on more then they care for themselves moving on.

  107. David,
    I doubt Jones and Pagitt will return to this discussion as their only real option is to apologize. Instead, their hope is that this discussion will simply peter out and they can press on with how they have previously operated. No “important” people the wiser.

  108. Two things –

    @Julie, I’m glad (very glad) you have a lawyer. I’m hoping to hell that you were able to pin Tony with battery on a household member.

    @bra – hah! ‘Inert’ should have been ‘inner’ … but my autocorrect is All Kowing and All Powerful, and often Prophetic. 😉

  109. Hey, Becky — thanks for your response on Sept 12. I’ve been just catching up on this thread, and I appreciate your perspective and advice!

    I have to say how impactful (and somewhat rattling) the comments have been here. I know some of the people Julie references, and I’m disappointed and sad that they did not come to Julie’s side during a horrible time in her life. Julie, I’m echoing Danica’s sentiment about being happy you found a lawyer. I found myself praying for the physical safety of you and your children last night after catching up on the comments since my last visit here. How God-awful. You didn’t deserve that and I’m so sorry that happened.

  110. I do wish Tony and Doug and others would continue in this conversation as well. This passive approach, bowing out, is just another way of silencing others, in my opinion, because it isolates victims and creates a bubble of monologue. It ends up having the same effect as segregating others through bullying. The challengers and the challenged are cloistered in their separate quarantines. As usual.

  111. What’s happened on this post is truly tragic. I told Bill years ago and David last week: all the court records in our divorce and subsequent legal activity are public. Anyone who really cared to know the truth would not have much trouble finding the entire story. I have nothing to hide, as those records paint a clear picture.

    However, I will neither air that dirty laundry nor defend myself in this forum. The reason for that is one that I ask each of you to consider: my children (14, 13, and 10) have computers and mobile devices, and they read the internet. Do you really think it is in their best interests to adjudicate these outrageous lies here? I don’t. So I am, indeed, bowing out. Anyone who would like to talk more about this can contact me privately or, as I said, pull the court proceedings and police records.

    I will not be coming back to this post or this blog again.

  112. Tony,
    Don’t you ever get tired of playing the “Tony as victim” card. It is truly pathetic, sir.

    Perhaps you should have thought about your kids when courting your “spiritual wife” while married to your “legal wife”. And “courting” is being generous.

  113. And none of this would have been anyone’s business, Tony had you not desperately wanted to be seen as some kind of Christian leader, and had simply exited stage left “years ago.”

  114. Tony, I don’t recall anyone asking you to defend yourself. Julie, as a friend recently reminded me…
    “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.” Anne Lamott
    Thsee publicity seeking “pastors” make me sick to my stomach. I can’t even “do church” anymore.

  115. “I apologize for my Irish coming out but that was 6 years in the making and there is nothing I loathe more than a fraud parading under the banner of “all peace love and kindness” while twisting the knife in someone’s back… – See more at: -”

    You don’t have to apologize to me. More of this sort of TRUTH needs to happen. I am with you on hating the fraud parade. I live with it every day, too. “Great men of God” who do evil behind the scenes and then blame the very people they have trampled on.

    You know what is the worst part? They do their evil in the “Name of Jesus”. I would not want to be them.

  116. “I apologize for my Irish coming out but that was 6 years in the making and there is nothing I loathe more than a fraud parading under the banner of “all peace love and kindness” while twisting the knife in someone’s back… – See more at: -”

    You don’t have to apologize to me. More of this sort of TRUTH needs to happen. I am with you on hating the fraud parade. I live with it every day, too. “Great men of God” who do evil behind the scenes and then blame the very people they have trampled on.

    You know what is the worst part? They do their evil in the “Name of Jesus”. I would not want to be them.

    “Spiritual wife”? That is barf worthy.
    Sounds very “Mormonish” to me.

  117. “I know that because nakedpastor holds no allegiances to any certain groups or individuals, it can be very annoying to some who would like to silence the voices of dissent and victims.”

    Now you are talking my language..

  118. “One of the things I highly value, and I wish the church would, is mutual passion for truth and the well-being of all people, rather than its own security or agenda. The comments on this post are an indication to me that voices have been silenced, which builds up enormous pressure in the silenced, and once they find a venue where they can speak their minds, they do. I’m glad this can happen here. My hope is that rather than protect ourselves we lay that aside and put the concern of all the people first. Truth, freedom and justice has to win. – ”

    This is exactly how I think. And one reason I can no longer attend “church”. It is too fake. And no more listening to anyone who says it is sin to speak negative truths out loud in public.. Our Lord loves truth, transparency and justice.

  119. I noticed Tony didn’t deny that any of this happened.

    As my husband, who works in criminal justice, always says — people are always very concerned for their children’s welfare after the fact. When they need to be bonded out of jail (but my children need me to work, and take care of them), to go home for the holidays (my children need their parent now), to have a lesser sentence (my children need me with them) … and yet there was no concern for these children when the parent was driving drunk with his kids in the car … or huffing paint while pregnant … or stealing a pocketful of makeup from Walmart … or beating their mother.

    Nice try, Tony. Something tells me this is not the first time you’ve used your children as pawns.

  120. David,
    Our sincerest apologies for driving Tony away from this blog, never to return… however will you deal with that loss of status?

    Why on earth would you assume we haven’t looked up the public records on this? It seems the courts found Julie sane enough to give her custody of the kids… you know, the ones you are trying to enlist the aid of the entire internet to keep them from learning the truth. As far as I’m concerned, the matter has already been adjudicated but there’s been an attempt at obscuring the facts of the case by those that have the megaphone.

    To be clear, I don’t think anyone’s asked for a defence… just an acknowledgement. And perhaps apologies where due. Good thing nobody’s holding their breath.

  121. My 3 kids are wonderful, brave and courageous. They live with me full time due to the discoveries in the custody evaluation and psych evals. MN law awarded the minimum visitation. My children and I attend weekly therapy to cope with the destructive personality disordered family members we must interact with on the proverbial “every other weekend.” They have learned coping tools and mechanisms and are incredible kids. They have survived such as being weighed with the remark, “Your mother is making you all fat.” That’s just one gem. Too many to list here. I am all for raising children who readily admit mistakes and have the ability to wholeheartedly say I am sorry. The ability to say I am sorry truly is the NPD litmus test. In my family we say, please forgive me. And then we move on. I’ll lead by example. I am sorry…for my part that may have hurt you or the Emergent “Discernment Team” I forgive you all. I think going public is wonderful and since public records do not include sex emails, psych evals, hospital reports, phone calls from Emergent leaders, MRIs or discernment letters….I will post them all here. Why the hell would I or anyone ever make this nightmare up? Isn’t it a lot more plausible it happened? Especially if you live together now? So, maybe I wasn’t “insecure” or “paranoid” to wonder. And maybe you weren’t just “platonic” and they were not just “flirtatious emails.” I don’t know about any of you, but I don’t ask MY male friends to be “hard pressed on me and in me : )” Don’t forget the smiley face as it is very important to the email sent to the married man. Can I get an amen? Or do we need to keep going? A simple I’m sorry for my part in the sordid tale can wrap this up, otherwise I have more stories…how about the one where the Edina police chaplain throws his wife across the room tearing her shoulder and her 7 year old helps her up and moves the furniture from off of her? Then when she goes to call 911 he says, “They’ll never believe you. Haven’t you ever heard of the code of the blue?” More? Or no? It’s all very sad but sadder still that a choking death need to occur before a confession. I can email all corroborating evidence to the naked pastor for verification. In the name of everything being public and full transparency…great idea. I think we are getting somewhere. Please note every Easter I send an email asking we bury the hatchet in the name of God, and for our kids and because we profess to be Christians….can. not. do. It. silent treatment and punishment only for causing the narcissistic injury. I must pay. I had really hoped light could come from this darkness…I still hope but I just don’t think they’re capable. Oh, and to answer the blogpost question? It’s Pathology before Theology! Peace and thank you all who PMd me and emailed me. This was very cathartic and healing. A beautiful person sent me a poem about abuse and the silencing. Thank you for sharing that. Thank you naked pastor for allowing me to speak freely. Love, light, truth and forgiveness. Yes, Doug! Let goodness flow. I’ll start…

  122. Julie, I have so much love for you, and I don’t even know you. Your courage is amazing, and your stength is inspiring. All the love to you and your kids.

  123. Julie,
    We are practically neighbors. I live in MN too. If I was standing next to you, I would give you a big {HUG}. You are one strong mama!!!

  124. I do not understand the persistent demand that the comments section of a blog is sufficient–can hold–the (voyeuristic?) adjudication (using that word due to the litany of accusations) of what must have been an enormously painful divorce for all parties. Does not divorce occur in part because parties have ruptured and differing interpretations of events, of each other? Obviously these two formerly married people do not share the same interpretation of events. How can any of you claim to know–or even demand–the truth about the truth of what happened in order to then take sides? Unless you know these people intimately and were there, in which case why in hell sift it all out again on a blog?

    Julie can demand whatever she damn well pleases — obviously — and doesn’t need any encouragement or validation to do so. Obviously . All respect for her pain. And for Tony’s. I just don’t see how it’s any of the damned business of the people on this forum to demand responses to what you know are complex, deeply emotional, painful events lived out in the intimate lives of others. There is an arrogance at play here that is deeply troubling.

    So what came first, the voyeur or the victim trying to work out past shame of having acquiesced and given up their voice in the first place? Take up your voice and sound your barbaric yawps as you wish… good on you… but for the love of God (literally) do you really have to do it by simplistically demanding a new online divorce trial? Do you truly think this immense pain is going to be redeemed or healed within the comments section of this blog? Egad.

  125. I honestly think that the ‘immense pain’ is being healed through the comments section of this blog. Julie even said it. She’s been trying to tell her story for years and has been deleted and silenced. I applaud her and encourage her because I applaud and encourage any sister who finds her voice to speak against her abuser.

    Colina, you can take your shaming concern trolling and stick it where the sun don’t shine.

  126. … but you know, I’d honestly be defensive, too, if it got out online that I had texted, “hard pressed on me and in me” to a married man.

  127. Thank you. THIS is the kind of community I want to worship in. After all of this shit and the Emergent cult and Solomon’s Porch with a crack pot Pastor Doug who covers up affairs, and rationalizes divorces, and tries to have sane people admitted into mental hospitals…then instructs Steve Knight (the webmaster at Emergent Village) to wipe out all of the posts and cross posts between he and Courtney Perry’s and take down her bio from the Board of Directors page and “clean up the website,” all within 24 hours of my coming to his home crying and sharing the sex emails. to MY PASTOR…to which he whoopsied out of his mouth before thinking, “God dammit! I asked him so many times about her!” I still believe in the good. There are really good people here.

  128. Fascinating that Colina used the exact same word as he whom shall not be named….”adjudication.” With all do respect, Colina….it’s not complex at all. There were lies and deception by public figures. So, it is public. There is irrefutable proof. They are in leadership. It is wrong, abusive and should not be tolerated. No complexity there at all. This coming clean is long overdue. One of them did and I accepted his apology. The others need to. This is a conversation spurred by the Mars Hill abuses and the striking similarities. Public figures denying bad behavior while blogging about another preachers bad behavior, is just too much to tolerate. That is why this is all coming out in technicolor. Get it now?

  129. Ha Ha Haaaa! Tony, pretending like anyone believes the official court record ever tells the whole story.

    Colina- I’m sure you’re right that there’s a lot of deeply emotional stuff we aren’t privy to related to this painful divorce. That said, all horseshit smells the same, and it’s not hard to recognize a load of the stuff when a guy with something to lose/cover starts shoveling it under your nose.

    Julie, again, you’re awesome. Thank you for speaking.

  130. So, Colina, if I am to understand you correctly, I should not show love or compassion to a woman who is obviously trying to overcome great pain because she had the Furtickian like audacity to publicly discuss it? You must have missed the parts about shunning, shaming and obfuscation. I do not have to pick a side in order to support someone in their pain.
    Tony’s comments led me to believe he is so far above this nonsense that he doesn’t need kind words of support from anyone especially from me, a lowly woman who is already legally and spiritually married to, get this, THE SAME MAN. 🙂

  131. Wow. I am thrilled to see this discussion take place and Julie…plain and simple…you rock!!

    I have no dog in this fight other than the same overwhelming urge to confront the abusers and seek an end to spiritual manipulation and abuse. But I do have one comment/clarification to make concerning the polyamorous/”spiritual wife” bullshit. Whatever some may think of poly, it has absolutely NOTHING to do with cheating, abandoning and abusing one spouse in favor of another. Tony, and any who would defend his style of emotional and spiritual abuse and manipulation slander both Christians and polyamorous people. (Which can sometimes be one and the same)

    Carry on. 😉

  132. Even more telling, this: “Take up your voice and sound your barbaric yawps as you wish… good on you… but for the love of God (literally) do you really have to do it by simplistically demanding a new online divorce trial? Do you truly think this immense pain is going to be redeemed or healed within the comments section of this blog? Egad.”

    Barbaric yawps? Shaming. Going all “good on you” when someone sees the need to speak out about bullying theology in action? Shaming. Oversimplifying a complex issue into an “online divorce trial”? Shaming. Telling someone that releasing their pain in public like this and feeling as if NakedPastor/The Lasting Supper is not the proper place to discuss anything human?

    You guessed it. SHAMING.

  133. During the Christianity 21 event where there was a PR effort by Emergent pig males to appear pro-feminist all the while a very interesting and pig-like drama occurred behind the scenes. The event got changed from its original venue to the same location as where my son attends preschool. I arrived at pick up time to all of these Emergent people milling about and who several were given marching orders to tell me to, “Leave! Now” and “What are you doing here?!” Some person ran after me and said, “I know who you are and you have been asked to leave.” Even the police were called! Doug lunged at me and grabbed me forcibly by the arm and said, “Leave!! You are not welcome here.” I said, “I am here to pick up Aidan you FREAK!” He was quite literally foaming at the mouth and said, “Where is Aidan?! Show me Aidan right now?!” Doug then followed me like a rabid lunatic all the way through the church, and down the stairs, and down another long hallway to my child’s classroom. He said, “Oh.” when he saw Aidan coming running towards me, and then he turned and left. Yes! These things need to be aired out. It is abuse of power by narcissist in leadership. Emergent people then spread a rumor and lies that I showed up at Christianity 21 to “make a scene” and “I’m crazy.” No, assholes…I came to my kids preschool to pick him up. How interesting out of all of the venues available in Minneapolis that the place where my son attends preschool was the one chosen by he whom shall not be named. A set up? I think so.

  134. From what it seems, the shamers are taking to PRIVATE means to be on the offensive/defensive. This is ridiculous. Are these people so afraid of having their egos shattered by a SINGLE PERSON speaking their words?

    Ladies and gentlemen, the people who hide from Julie (and attack David because of Julie’s words) are the thugs that feed the theology and twist it. These are the people who eat the twisted theology, shit it out, and re-eat the same shit, as it did not change by any means in the process of digesting – Hell, there’s no digestion, just blind acceptance, swallowing, and shitting back out of this hateful theology.

  135. I feel the personal need to make a comment giving my take on what’s happening and why I think it is important. Basically, I’m copying and pasting a letter that I’ve sent to those who are contacting me privately, outside of this forum, calling what is happening here into question. There are subtle and not so subtle attempts to silence what is happening here.

    So here it is, in gist:

    I want to make clear up front that I have not, up to now, held anything personally against Tony. Or Doug. My original post was simply intended to raise the question of what came first, the theology or the abusive tendencies of a person, Driscoll particularly. I think that is a valid and important question for the church and its leaders. This is what the post is about.

    There was no intention on my part for the post to turn into what it became… a forum for those who feel they’ve been silenced to freely express themselves. Although that is the ethos of nakedpastor.

    As I told Doug and Tony and others, I am not in the habit of censoring the comments of my readers. Read any online platforms for news, etc., and all kinds of comments are being made by all kinds of people. They are never intended to express the views of the writer of the original article. Everyone knows the comments are the diverse responses from the readers.

    What are you suggesting I do? Delete that post? Disable comments? Block certain commenters? Censor comments? Lay ground rules for how to be angry and express the injustices perpetrated against them?

    I’m not about to begin censoring comments now, even as disturbing as some of them may be.

    Although divorce is painful for all those involved, the primary issue is not the divorce. Everyone knows divorces are messy. I don’t think the intention is to gravitate people to one side or another concerning the divorce in and of itself. And of course I don’t want to moderate another divorce proceeding. But I want to be clear: that’s not what this is about. It seems to me the issue is the apparent silencing of people who were speaking out against what seems to be cover-ups, concealment of evidence, and the protection of leaders by their peers. It seems that some information and people were marginalized, ghettoized, and silenced for the sake of the progress of the Emergent machine and its heroes.

    This may or not be true, although it’s increasingly suspicious that it was. Nevertheless, people have the right to raise this concern. Do they not? Why they have chosen to do so on nakedpastor is beyond my understanding. But this is where it is happening. So be it!

    In conclusion, I do find it interesting that those who are raising concerns about all that happened and is happening are doing so unafraid in the public forum of my post with a lot of emotion and intelligence, while those who are trying to silence the discussion or at least control it are contacting me privately outside of the public forum with words that attempt to direct, intimidate or shame me. This is a pretty strong indicator to me and others that some are more worried about the apparent aggressors than they are the apparent aggrieved.

    Nakedpastor is in the habit of exposing abuse, elevating the dignity of the abused, and providing a safe space for this to occur.

    I don’t see this ending anytime soon.

  136. Having recently gone through a divorce myself, I can unequivocally assert that what exists in the public record provides only a glimmer of the full truth and often serves to obfuscate it. Tony’s claim that the full reality is available through public court documents is simply disingenuous. And, his “think of the children” defense is patently absurd. It is not the job of parents to protect children from the truth, especially when they are caught in the middle of messy and painful circumstances in which one party has so clearly attempted to wrest control of the narrative to salvage his own reputation.

    It’s clear that Julie has been subjected to abominable treatment by men in positions of power, and that her attempts to expose the truth have been thwarted by those very same people. I’m glad this forum exists as a vehicle for her story. The truth can only be properly adjudicated if all voices are heard. And, from my perspective, the truth falls 100% on Julie’s side.

  137. As has been well documented, this abuse goes well beyond to one emergent leader demonstrating what they like to term “Driscoll-like behavior” – what Julie describes is how those who critiqued Emergent Village, Outlaw Preachers, Wild Goose (though it seems to now be dominated by the Sojourners crew), Pathroes Progressive blogger portal and other incantations of this group. There are a host of other victims out there, who for the most part remain silent because they’ve seen what happens to those of us who speak out both professionally and personally.

    Don’t forget, EVERY author/agent/publisher who markets via the US emergent brand is responsible for this culture of abuse – those who did not participate in it, stood by silently as it happened. This includes – but is not limited to – those Julie listed who owe her an apology. IMO the only way to end this is to refuse to buy into the brand – EVEN if someone is your “personal” friend, do not buy any more product from abusers, pay to watch them play, etc.

  138. Excellent response, David. What you describe with private intimidation tactics to combat public assertions is the same as what happened the last time this came out publicly around 2010 or so. A number of folks (myself included) either said things or had comments appear on their blogs that called out Tony for his behavior, only for the blog owner to be subjected to intimidation tactics from Tony and other EV leaders. Some of us edited posts or pulled back on the challenge. I’m sorry to have done that — at the time it was all still fresh with court proceedings pending, so letting it drop seemed wise back then. I’m not sure if it was or not, but if it was the wrong thing then I’m sorry for not pressing the issue harder at the time. One small mercy, I suppose, is that Tony and Julie’s children are older and perhaps better able to process it… this must have been pretty tough on a preschool kid. (Oh, the irony, oh, the hypocrisy.)

    What’s important in this forum is that the tactic of silencing the victim or those who call out abuse is an established pattern here, and David’s comment above confirms that the pattern is ongoing. If it’s lost any force since then, I’d suggest that’s only because EV is a much smaller and less influential animal now than then.

    This is also illustrative of the parallel between Mark Driscoll / Mars Hill and Tony Jones / Emergent Village (and why the segue on this post). Tony wasn’t so much the Grand Poo-Bah of EV, but his misdeeds were covered the same way as Mark Driscoll’s were at Mars Hill. The difference with Mars Hill is that Mark started throwing more people under the bus sooner, until his co-conspirators were a small group of men he could control. The tactics were much the same. With EV, the group was larger, so you’d think the conspiracy was weaker, which is where the parallel causes one to wonder if EV itself wasn’t thrown under the bus in favor of JoPa to help cover what happened here, but at the moment that might be a bit speculative.

    Remember that the people engaged in the coverup had a financial interest to do so — especially Doug, having become Tony’s partner in JoPa, but also those with existing or pending book deals. The other leaders had an interest in covering it up for different reasons… they were rewarded with status and approval from the big guns in EV at the time. Some of those leaders made efforts to shame the bloggers at the time, but when pressed, they had no more personal knowledge of the situation than any other outsider, just the say-so of a more well-known EV leader.

    These leaders are the people I would want to call on now to own up to what happened… if they spoke out in favor of Tony, Doug, et al without direct personal knowledge, they were just spreading the hearsay of the abusers. I have great sympathy for these leaders, who acted in the pattern they were shown. I came out of an abusive church situation, and very close after the realization that I’d been spiritually abused came the realization that as a leader in that system, I too had been a spiritual abuser, repeating the pattern that had been taught to me. My own grief over the latter realization was greater than over the former… but one has to acknowledge it, right what they can, and move on. Withdrawing support now for what went on in EV then would be an important way of doing this.

    And David is completely correct in his statement that this is not about a divorce… it’s about the coverup, and per the title of this post, it’s about the theological justification for sin. “Spiritual Wife”? (Give me a break!) Doug used the term in a comment above, indicating they’re still sticking with that nonsense. Even though EV has considerably less influence now than Mars Hill, the fact that the system continues with the same leaders in place using the same patterns means that others are being abused spiritually at the very least. This is the reason why it has to stop at Mars Hill, and the reason why it has to stop where any of the unrepentant EV leaders are attempting to continue ministry.

  139. Thank you, all. This has absolutely zero do to with divorce. The 6 Emergent Leaders who gathered in Dallas, Texas while on a book tour stop and who “through hours of prayer and discernment” diagnosed me without ever saying a word to me, and came up with an “action plan,” which by the way, only he whom shall not be named was present for, and I was in Minnesota with the kids. A church person once told me that is a real no-no in “spiritual discernment” etiquette to spiritually discern about someone, without them present! So, poor Mark was sent on a mission to fly to Minnesota and get me to pack a bag and leave with him to a mental hospital. My sister was there and said, “Get the F*&% out of this house.” My kids were taken by another Emergent leader for 10 terrifying hours, I had no idea where they were, or if they were ever coming back. When it was clear the big plan was an epic fail….Mark flew back on book tour and my kids were returned home. So, would any of the 6 like to apologize for just that?! How about just that day?! No?! Too much? How about just the spiritual abuse of “discerning” someone without them present? I’m sure you 6 are incapable of even doing that. So, when I had the psychological evaluation I went back to the 6 expecting full apologies and I THOUGHT they would ask the mentally ill leader to step down from leadership. No such thing. I was shunned, shamed and silenced. Doug said, “I don’t want to read it. Do not send it to me.”

  140. Interestingly enough, very recently John Hagee said similar in tone as Doug may have more subtly stated in his comments here:
    “I am tired of hearing about race. If you come to the cross, you’re all brothers and sisters.” In short, he doesn’t want to hear jack shit about racism because CHRISTIANITY SOLVES EVERYTHING IT CAUSES.
    (not implying that only Christianity caused racism, but it sure has helped)

  141. I think that what is so cathartic and compelling about Julie’s story/stories is how very awfully true they ring. If one has been targeted by an organization, or powerful person within an organization, there’s a way the wagons circle and the aggressions a pile up. It makes you feel crazy, paranoid. Trying to tell someone about it or get support and help makes you LOOK crazy and paranoid. And people start to back away.

    There are a thousand tiny and not-so-tiny things that are said or implied or, to family and neighbors and community; many more things that are said and done to the targeted individual. Many are too small to be taken seriously (so many call/hang ups in the middle of the night. So. Many. And let’s not forget the occasional bill missing from the mailbox. Hard to know for sure it was them, but it only happened during that 3 year period) but taken as a whole they wear you down. And none of it is the kind of thing you ever imagine anyone would do before you experience it, the half-truths mixed with bible verses, the twisting of one’s own words, the sudden legal threat despite promises to the contrary. If I were trying to make up a sympathy sob story I would make up better details, more believable ones, than the grinding, boring, crushing, and banal reality of what it was like to be targeted by Men Of God protecting their image and bottom line.

    The quote I leave you with, from the director of the organization targeting my husband, came when he finally looked at the facts and acknowledged that the org had done us wrong. We asked him to fix it using biblical standards for reconciliation between brothers in Christ (ha ha haaaa. We were so effing naive back then). He looked at us apologetically, almost like he was begging us to be understanding of his awkward position, and said: Of course you always want to follow the Bible, but sometimes, when you’re running a Christian organization, you can’t afford to.

    I think that sums this shit up nicely.

  142. “Nakedpastor is in the habit of exposing abuse, elevating the dignity of the abused, and providing a safe space for this to occur.”

  143. David, standing slow clap for your response to all the private bullying, legal threats, etc. that you are no doubt receiving offline. The time for justice is now. It’s always now.

  144. Please forgive the rhetorical devices of my first post. Divorce, and affairs, are a particularly difficult subject for me and I’ve experienced my own hell over the competing violently clashing truths that force people to take sides with broken lives and relationships in the wake. I don’t believe in treating them with pitchforks or a with any lack of humility.

    I don’t know Julie, I don’t know the intimate details of her divorce, and I don’t know Tony’s story, or what any of the EV leaders would say in response. Of course moral justifications are not the point. As flawed imperfect people trying on some level to get to an experience of truth — it seems to me that this conversation is in part about the fact that the “truth” is not just about right ideas, or right ideology or interpretations. To David’s original questions. Moral codified perfection or justifications are think rarely the point — or at least not the primary point of the gospel.

    So I have a hard time understanding why a blog forum would be an appropriate venue to air the intimate agony of a divorce and invite counter-accusations and justifications in defense. If Tony were to respond in detail with his version of events, if EV leaders stepped in and rather inevitably started saying, “but Julie was or did X or Y,” and THAT’s why I did Z… then suddenly the conversation is immersed in counter-accusations over the agony of a divorce, something that is rarely if ever simplistic and one-sided. A divorce is by definition a clash of competing truths and do you think we can get to the truth of it all on an online forum in order to then make a larger point about theology and spiritual leadership? The attempt or demand to do this on a blog forum just feels wrong to me.

    You all say this isn’t about divorce, but it obviously is the context and where the anecdotes and accusations derive from. I understand that Julie’s accusations are not just about an affair, or a ‘divorce’, but are also about silencing. Justice. She’s inviting apologies, or what most likely would be a set of counter-accusations and justifications, or at least explanatory context that would likely invite scrutiny into her behavior at the time because again divorces are competing clashing stories about pain and betrayal and rage and brokenness.

    I’m honestly asking — when I do not know these people or their story, but I do know the murkiness and agony of divorce — is it wrong of me to not want to rush to grab a pitchfork after hearing just one side in a series of anecdotes derived from a divorce? Is it wrong that I don’t want to invite (much less demand) that either Julie or Tony air their most profound, intimate pain in this public forum in order to have a conversation about theology and abuse?

    And if I am wrong — then help me understand how you want this to go?

    If Tony et al legitimately believe their own version of events (objectively right or wrong) but if they really believe it, and if they start airing their version… then how do you expect this to go? Hyenas I suppose will “pass the popcorn” and find the gossip delicious. But what good — GOOD — do you expect will come of it? Really not asking rhetorically.

    I can respect her no-bullshit courageous fighting spirit. And don’t claim that I’m patronizing anyone. She’s got game. But it seems wrong to assume that the only reason why Tony or EV leaders choose to be silent on this forum is because they’re ashamed, or hiding, or cowering in the darkness of their narcisistic evils in order to protect some sort of fame that many of you claim they don’t have anyway. I am not in contact w/ any of them, have no clue about what they are thinking, but I know if it were me I wouldn’t want to force or participate in an online debate with a group of virtual strangers over the intimate details of a personal divorce. And any reluctance to do so does not mean that I am a coward or a villain. **Particularly** if I was inviting the conversation to be had in person, face to face, or voice to voice.

    Are any of you having this conversation in person, or voice to voice?

    Saying to a virtual group of strangers, “you don’t get to walk into the intimate pain and failures of this divorce”, or saying that it’s inappropriate to do so on an online forum when I am simultaneously inviting conversation in person… just doesn’t mean that I am a — bwa-ha-ha — victimizer.

    And Danica — “where the sun don’t shine?? You’re not trying to “silence” me are you? 🙂

    None of this is to take sides w/ EV leaders I don’t know. I take seriously the psychological/spiritual manipulation of leaders who exert influence to control others for personal gain. Where leaders take advantage of peoples acquiescence in order to achieve greater domination or success. It’s horrific, and didn’t Jesus say something about tying huge rocks around their necks and drowning them in the sea? That’s His justice. And its far more terrifying than social media debates. And why a prayer for mercy from all our flawed lips is so perhaps necessary.

    You all clearly have more history in the EV village world than I do, and there is much that I don’t know. So Godspeed literally in your quest for justice.

  145. Colina: My first response towards your last comment is curiosity. After I made it clear that this isn’t about the divorce, you seem to want to pull it back into a he-said-she-said thing. When you say “help me understand how you want this to go”, you seem to think there is an agenda underneath the emotional and intelligent comments. Since when is someone just telling their story an agenda? Since when is telling their truth considered strategic? You know what I mean?

    It just seems to me that if Julie were just any other woman telling her story about her divorce from any other man, there would be no issue. There would be tons of sympathy and encouragement to share. More than there already is! But because there are famous people and important ministries at stake, we are being encouraged to tread lightly and cautiously. Am I wrong here?

    I do get what you’re saying. There are no intentions to post a retrial. This is new territory of people speaking their truths about what happened mostly around the divorce. I suppose we are more interested, not in the collision itself, but in the factors that lead up to it, the pressures that contained it, and the ramifications that came from it.

  146. Julie, I was a little connected to the EV stuff back in the day. Not a ton, but enough to (loosely) know some of the people involved in this discussion. It was never directly told me to that you are crazy (that I can remember) but it is something that I inferred pretty clearly.

    I confess, I’ve repeated that same thing (that you are “crazy”) to at least two people when your marriage/divorce came up in conversations. I’m sorry I did that. I do not know you at all and its not likely that I ever will. It’s completely unfair and wrong of me to perpetuate an idea that I cannot verify, especially something as significant as this. It’s especially awful to share that a person is “crazy” to write them off and thereby justify someone else’s actions or behavior.

    I’m not writing this to make myself look good (I tend to think it might be doing the opposite!) but I commit to going to at least one of those people (the one who I am still in contact with and know how to get ahold of) and apologizing for passing on things that I have no actual knowledge of.

    In short, sorry for perpetuating an uninformed and harmful narrative and thereby hurting you and your family in the process.


  147. Colina – What David said is true – you keep trying to control the narrative by pulling the conversation back to it being about a ‘divorce’, when nobody really talked about that at all until you initially brought it up, then David addressed it (everyone else ignored it because obviously they weren’t interested in the ‘sordid details’), and you again directed the conversation (attempted to direct it) right BACK to an over simplification of it being about the divorce between two people!

    For me, this is about allowing a victim to have a voice. I honestly have no earthly idea how a person would be able to overlook statements such as, “He threw me down and pulled my shoulder out of socket”, “They took away my kids for 10 hours and I didn’t know where they were”, “They tried to commit me to a mental institution without my involvement” (all paraphrased) … I have no EARTHLY idea how you would be able to overlook these and many other statements with a blithe, “Oh, well, everyone has their truth! There are two sides to the same story!!”

    So when I told you to stick your platitudes where the sun don’t shine, what I was saying was that I reject your shamy concern trolling and refuse to allow you to control this narrative … like you tried to control MY statement by calling it ‘silencing’ (the very word we’ve all been using to accuse TJ’s EV crowd … very clever), and you tried to control JULIE’S story by diminishing it to “well there are two sides”, and how you tried to control this entire conversation by saying what we think about it isn’t important or relevant unless we’re having face-to-face convos (and yet you’re commenting here? Because it’s ok for you to speak but not everyone else?) … which is, by the way, the EXACT tactic currently in use by Tony and Doug against David.

    I’ll end by saying that I’m honestly open to real conversation with you here, if you acknowledge the abuse Tony perpetrated against Julie. Until then, I will have to believe that you’ve got skin in the game somewhere (pun intended).

  148. Another reason why this conversation is important, and how what Julie is doing (speaking her story) is bringing good into the world, is that it is giving others on this thread the courage to tell THEIR stories. Like Annie just did, and a few others upthread. Openness begets more openness.

  149. Catching up on everything now, from the past two days. +1000000 to David and +1000000 to Julie, too. Thank you both for your courage and integrity, and you’re awesome, Julie.

  150. Thank you, Todd. I accept with my whole “crazy” heart your apology. Sincerely, I thank you.

    Off line I received a warm and heart felt apology a few weeks ago actually from Andrew Jones the Tall Skinny Kiwi…I thank him too. The real deal!

    Truly healing and I feel God’s work is being done here, and now, and virtually Colina. Do you have a problem with that?!

    Every single word I have shared is the truth. It is my Emergent Cult Story. I am somewhat creative but how can you even make some of this junk up? You couldn’t. Isn’t calling out a person in leadership being the body? And, Colina, this is a forum for those who have experienced abuses within the church….what aren’t you c-o-m-p-r-e-h-e-n-d-i-n-g? I know this tactic ALL too well….smoke and mirrors folks, smoke and mirrors….nothing to see here…..just a “messy divorce.” Look away this is private….look away. But it’s not!!!

    It’s Brian McLaren, Brad Cecil, Danielle Shroyer, Doug Pagitt and Mike King involved in a really awful scheme and they need to act like the Pastors that they are, and publicly apologize. They had no qualm publicly launching a “crazy campaign.” They need to put their big boy (and girl) panties on, and address this piece of their past. Again, I warmly welcome any apology. I was wronged and this is an opportunity to make is right.

  151. @Todd Hiestand, thanks for your vulnerability and courage in sharing your apology.

    I’m in the middle of finishing a blog series about responsibility, culpability, and complicity when it comes to spiritual abuse. My last post deals with what I had to realize about my responsibility toward brothers and sisters in Christ because my own actions within situations that turned out to be spiritual abusive hurt them as well. So I get how it is grievous to deal with, but freeing, like Brother Maynard talked about earlier in this thread (September 17, 2014 at 12:05 pm, paragraph 5).

    Hope and pray that contact you’ll be making will bring light and no unnecessary heat.

  152. David — because it’s seems disingenuous (to me at least) to say that this isn’t about a divorce when the entire narrative context is in fact about a divorce. There are accusations of EV leaders deleting emails and blog comments in the past, etc.. but the context/juice of this thread are pain-filled anecdotes from Julie’s experience of her divorce used to accuse EV leaders of abuse. Sure there are larger themes people are trying to make, but they are making it primarily off of Julie’s narrative, using it as evidence for proving a larger point about the corruption of EV leaders.

    There does seem to me to be an agenda. To take the content of Julie’s story around her divorce and use it to directly or inferentially accuse EV leaders as being complicit in extraordinary abuse — even to the point of physical harm and trying to have her institutionalized — all so they could keep their speaking and publishing careers intact.

    Am I wrong? Is this hyperbole? Is something else being suggested?

    I am not saying tread w/ humility because there are “famous” people here. These people aren’t famous. I mean maybe within their own publishing/speaking ghettos, but it’s a small number comparatively speaking.

    I am saying tread with humility because these are extraordinary accusations to make of anyone. Our entire justice system in based on the premise that guilt should not be assumed simply because someone makes an accusation on an internet blog. And that premise seems wise to me, to protect all of us. And the substance of that premise is NOT dismissive of Julie’s story. I know of lives destroyed because of false sexual abuse charges made. And more to the point, we all know of lives destroyed because of accurate abuse charges made.

    Meaning, if you’re going to use Julie’s divorce stories to accuse EV leaders as being corrupt abusers, then wouldn’t you want to get to the hard, naked truth of it? And can you really do that without talking to Tony et al, or without their participating on this blog, without hearing their story? And lo, they’ve declined, and lo, it is just lazy — intellectually and morally — to then say their silence proves the accusation. When they may be silent for a myriad of reasons. As I said, I have no idea about them. No connections. But this is an extraordinary conversation about incredible accusations — is it really wrong to say tread with humility and care?

    Lastly, look. It could very well be that the rallying of encouragement and affirmation for Julie is a sacred, holy thing and more important than anything on this blog. And if so, I don’t want to detract or distract from that inertia. Not trying to be a fly in the soup. But humility, mercy, poking at the question of whether a blog forum can really serve as a place for such intimate pain and extraordinary accusations of abuse… especially when, again, parties are apparently asking for direct, private conversation… just doesn’t seem all that outrageous to offer as thoughts to the conversation. I’ll let it go having said my peace.

  153. Colina: You say “I don’t want to detract or distract from that inertia”. I disagree that it is inertia. Actually, if you stay tuned, you will see how this will actually help people, clarify the situation, and even hopefully produce the fruit of repentance. I’ve seen it too many times to call the raising our voices inert.

  154. A certain level of involvement by EV leaders in the “discernment” meeting and letter is easily verifiable. When would it NOT be spiritually abusive for leaders of a national christian organization to exercise that level of interference in the “intimate agony of a divorce”?

    Defending one’s position is not the only valid option at this point, particularly for the called out ones.

    Todd, I appreciate your example of transparent humility.

  155. For what it’s worth on the importance of this thread and the sharing of Julie’s narrative accounts … As for me, I’m all about context and consequences, not about the intricacies or intimacies of a telenovela as providing a source of gossip for those thrive on romance, malignancy, and malice.

    No, this is not about a divorce per se — never was — or ping-pong statements to figure out who owns more culpability in the demise of a relationship. Or about protecting the children from online information, when, according to Julie’s accounts, they have already been eye-witnesses to numerous key incidents of evil.

    I would suggest that it is at the core about the intertwining of pathology and theology, and so is on-topic for the original focus of the post. Unexpectedly, it moved to a parallel public situation that comes from the opposite end of the “emerging” lake out of which Mark Driscoll’s version of New Calvinism originated.

    Ultimately, this was (when I first followed these same incidents and patterns in 2009-2010) and is now all about issues of duplicity. It was and is about personal character issues of public figures, when their actions end up in widely reported behaviors that affect the Body of Christ in detrimental ways. It was and is about what hypocrisy does to the name of Christ, both in the Church and in the community.

    It is like Ted Haggard preaching vehemently against homosexuality and working at the political level to carry out what he considers policies for national righteousness. And then we find out that this has been one of his own moral issues all along.

    It is like C.J. Mahaney and other high-up leaders in the Sovereign Grace Ministries movement denying for decades accusations of culpability for not responding to known/suspected child sexual abuse within their churches. And then in the trial of now-convicted pedophile Nathan Morales, Grant Layman — another high-up, long-time SGM leader — testified under oath that he believed he was obligated to report Morales to police authorities, but did not.

    It is like Bill Gothard talking about “umbrellas of protection” to shield from harm those within your realm of authority (e.g., church/ministry leaders over flocks, fathers over wives and families and single adult daughters). And then we find out there is testimony after personal testimony exposing his sexual harassment of young women who served at his ministry headquarters, under his authority, for 30+ years.

    It is like Mark Driscoll being paraded around for nearly 20 years as controversial and edgy and prophetic and flamboyant. And then the record of things he has continually said and done seem to repeatedly demonstrate his base contempt for people, uncontrollable anger, spirit of violence, and inflammatory language.

    And now what is emerging involves key public figures from Emergent Village and its theological and organizational spin-offs that all supposedly promote women as peers to men, and they hail C21/Christianity 21 which let some women of consequence release their voices, and they cheer on celebrity female authors and speakers who hold their views …

    … and we then find out publicly from Julie McMahon ex-Jones in her online comments in 2009, 2010, and 2014 that at the same time those seemingly good things were happening, apparently she was enduring emotional and verbal and physical and spiritual abuse.

    … and also there was apparently marital infidelity, theologically justified by The Doctrine of Spiritual Wives versus Legal Wife, and gaslighting of Julie and labeling her as “crazy” apparently as a way to blamer her as the cause of the divorce.

    … and there was mostly silence in public by the EV celebrities involved, though enough blips of evidence of their views from themselves and others associated with Emergent Village, plus documentation of their appeals in private to delete, edit, direct, control, shame.

    And so, from my own studies of online evidences then and now, I think I can legitimately wonder what other unjust actions may have gone on behind the scenes to hide what I can only interpret as misogynistic, self-serving, perpetrator-protecting behaviors under a guise of generosity, goodness, and light. Shouldn’t such allegations deserve to be researched and documented, verified by witness testimonies, and exposed to the light? Hopefully under the sun they will be bleached into oblivion and those who perpetrated and/or perpetuated such damages to others can clear their conscience and move forward in their true identity as siblings in Christ.

    I myself am a survivor of multiple incidents of spiritual abuse by leaders in a range of evangelical, moderate, conservative, and fundamentalist churches and parachurch settings over the past 40 years. For the past seven years I have written extensively on indicators of malignant ministers and toxic organizational systems, principles and practices for personal recovery from traumatizing abuse of spiritual authority, and constructive system solutions for dealing with destructive organizations.

    My own most basic conclusion is this: I believe that men and women who put themselves forth as public thought leaders and therefore as personal role models within any Christian church, ministry, or movement obligate themselves to be held accountable for their character as demonstrated through actions — IRL and virtual. They are the equivalent of elders, whether acclaimed by others in a church or ministry, or self-proclaimed through publications, speaking engagements, and ministry positions. Hence, 1 Timothy 5:20 applies: “But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning” (NIV).

    And that is why, for me, I’m all about context and consequences, and open-air discussion so there can be, hopefully, redemption and restoration.

  156. Maybe Julie is suffering from the same affliction I was accused of. I was accused of being upset because I wasn’t getting enough attention. Yeah, that was my problem. Every time I went to the church office to inquire why things weren’t matching up to my understanding of the Bible and they brushed me off.

  157. Brad, excellent analysis in your comment @ 5:41pm. David, kudos to you for allowing the conversation to continue without censorship.

    Though a lot of church leaders would love for it to be otherwise, this is real communion and community with each other. Preachers love to paint it in a rosy light, but the reality is that real, heart-level communion and community isn’t always pretty. And we need to reclaim our right and ability to lament and grieve, to each other and to God. Perhaps some church leaders need to go back and re-read some Brueggemann, revitalize their sense of prophetic imagination, and realize that they are the Pharaoh that the people’s pain is being proclaimed to. And maybe read Richard Beck’s Unclean and The Slavery of Death after that.

    And thanks to Bill for bringing this thread to my attention. I’ve been in a domineering spiritual abuse setting before, and it’s very helpful to me to be able to see these dynamics at a distance, and try to improve my own reactions when placed in closer proximity to such events. my natural tendency is to cuss ’em and walk away, but that doesn’t improve me as a person, nor help people who need an advocate to proclaim pain to power.

  158. I came across this feed today and was saddened. I’m sad because divorce ruins lives (I’m divorced, and re-married). I’m sad because we’re trying something that most of us don’t know in the court of public blogosphere opinion. I’m sad because Tony’s a friend, as is his lovely wife. I don’t know Tony’s ex-wife, but I’m saddened that she’s felt the pain divorce causes; I’m sad for the kids whose backstory is now part of the inter-public-social-frenemy-blogosphere-web. Some of this is of course inevitable in the time and place where we live.

    [At this point I should say I think a lot of things that have been said about Tony are untrue and unfair. I don’t claim to know every detail of the story, but I know Tony and others involved pretty well. I’m pretty uncomfortable with some things that have been said, but that’s not what I want to talk about…]

    I find Hemmingway’s prose rough sledding, and sometimes just oppressive (I have ADHD). But at other times he’s prophetic. The following passage is from Farewell to Arms:

    “If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.” (the only thing that makes this passage excusable, let alone bearable, is Deuteronomy 29:29.)

    Because of the culture we live in we put people in the place where they can speak to trans-local communities. Mark and Tony are both in those positions (the fact that Mark has a bigger network right now than Tony doesn’t erase the fact that they share an office into which most of us implicitly push them). Tony wasn’t uncritical of Mark. He did pull a few punches.

    Tony is a friend. He’s been a good one. Do we agree on everything?…No. Do we agree on more than he and Mark do?…Yes, probably so. I know him as someone who’s been faithful as a friend, brother and compassionate child of God.

    Someone asked Calvin about Luther’s tendency to excess in matters theological (as compared to Calvin). Calvin’s response was akin to, “when God raised Luther up…we needed a trumpet!” God raises up strong voices and strong personalities in certain times in the church’s life to pave the way forward. But in God’s wisdom he makes them as broken as the rest of us. I’d like those of us on this feed to take something like the ice bucket challenge. Let’s challenge ourselves. Let’s take this to the sphere of real life. Let’s build relationships with the people involved where feasible, wise and practical. If we have relationships with folks mentioned already, let’s strengthen them. If folks involved are too removed from our the limits of our lives let’s move to the places where God has called us to be gracious witnesses in our spheres of influence. And above all let’s commit ourselves to prayer for families, faith, friends and foes in our fallen world which looks expectantly to redemption.


  159. Intentionally or otherwise, Scott Jones, you are missing the point. This isn’t about Julie and Tony’s divorce. It is about the gaslighting of Julie by leaders in the EV movement to protect their movement and their, at that time, key leader.

    Making it about the divorce is simply obfuscation.

  160. Scott feels bad that Julie has suffered the pain of divorce … but not that she’s a victim of domestic violence. Got it.

  161. If Tony’s been convicted of that offense, or even charged with it, I’d be the first to say let’s go where the facts lead. But if we’re going to try this in the court of privatish-blogosphere opinion, it’s the gutless version of the Salem witch trial.

  162. Also … let’s say (for assumption’s sake) … that a husband DID throw his wife on the ground and pull her arm from her socket. If the husband was at that time connected to the police force, and threatened the wife so that she was afraid to report the incident, so that she felt powerless … then when she finally *was* free of him, the statute of limitations had run its course … what then? No trial would be possible. Would you refuse to acknowedge the abuse in that scenario?

  163. Sad Scott is sad. Sad Scott is sure the things said about Tony aren’t true but he doesn’t want to talk about that.

    That Hemingway quote is awesome and made me cry. And it’s a little weird in context of the rest of your comment.

  164. I know several folks pretty closely involved. But if this is what you’re saying constitutes anything “from my own studies of online evidences then and now”…We are as the Body of Christ laying not just sinful accusations at a brother’s feet, but criminal ones. If they are true we should escort him to jail. Who’s willing to go to his house to do this?

  165. I’m saying if you don’t know at least one of the parties involved, or have some evidence, like say the Rice video, and there’s not reliable reporting like developed in the Driscoll scenario, let’s just stop being the Christian paparazzi. Who has posted has first had knowledge of what happened? Or evidence?

  166. I have a friend going through a divorce. She’s been counseled not to press charges for the physical assaults and harassment because it will hurt her in divorce court and with the custody dispute. She allows herself to be at risk because it is more likely to protect her children in the long run by giving her primary custody of then. So you can shut your sanctimonious cakehole about how it only counts if it’s in the official record and he was convicted of it.

  167. I’d also ask if you’re going to weigh in on something so public and so sensitive and you’re not directly involved (I understand why both parties would want to keep their contact info private), you’d put your contact info our there so the conversation can continue beyond this distant, walled-up forum.

  168. Scott Jones, you’re not going to silence anyone here, so you’d probably be better served by taking your opinion to your like-minded friends.

    In re your last two questions, Julie and others have had first hand experience with the gaslighting used on Julie. As far as evidence of that, you obviously haven’t paid very good attention to your friend’s reactions in this thread.

    But, as Bill noted earlier, you’re just trying to obfuscate and distract.

  169. @Annie (7:26pm) I am in the same boat as your friend. The legal records will never reflect the years of gaslighting and abuse that I endured. My kids’ safety and protection is more important

  170. If the statute of limitations is passed, he can’t be convicted of it. And I consider what we’re doing now a virtual ‘going to his house to do this’.

    Again, you have not answered the question of, “Is Julie lying?” Is she?

  171. Julie herself gave online evidence here in this thread earlier. Twice.

    Julie McMahon
    September 16, 2014 at 7:31 am
    […] I was thrown to the ground and my shoulder torn. […]

    Julie McMahon
    September 16, 2014 at 8:39 pm
    […] A simple I’m sorry for my part in the sordid tale can wrap this up, otherwise I have more stories…how about the one where the Edina police chaplain throws his wife across the room tearing her shoulder and her 7 year old helps her up and moves the furniture from off of her? Then when she goes to call 911 he says, “They’ll never believe you. Haven’t you ever heard of the code of the blue?” More? Or no? […]

  172. Is there a possibility that we can’t convict someone in even the banal court of public opinion on the basis of online evidence? What if I have indisputable evidence to the contrary, which was asked not to be disclosed. Isn’t this a degenerative game of he-said-she-said…without-face-to-face-truth_telling?

  173. No Danica, he’s saying there’s no way to know if she’s lying because internet so we should frown discouragingly until she stops talking about it. Duh.

  174. Danica, I’m saying I don’t know the whole truth. But I know multiple parties personally involved. Is there a possibility someone you don’t know is being less than truthful? Is there a possibility, in a fallen world, that someone you do know well has been less than truthful to you? I think awfully difficult conversations like this in a forum that requires no transparency (how do we know any of us is who we are unless we practice some disclosure) and involves kids that will have access to this whole conversation, especially amongst Christians, ought to be marked by caution, prayer, discretion and deliberation. What if we all just ceased the online chatter and talked to people directly involved. Wouldn’t that get us closer to Matthew 18?

  175. How about we dispense with what Christians should do and focus on what we, as humans, should do. It doesn’t matter if you know multiple parties involved. The main party involved is here and she is saying this happened. The VICTIM is saying it happened.

    When the high and mighty Tony himself posted in this very thread he didn’t deny anything,. So, how about you stop trying to silence a victim and let her have her say. Don’t try to hide behind the bible, especially since one of the people “directly involved” is saying her piece.

  176. Scott,

    I called for something less than new creation with “let’s bring charges here”. But this is not a support group, nor does it have the level of public accountability. I’m totally fine with anyone saying whatever they want on forums defacing whomever they want, whenever they want. Perhaps this is a forum that leads to expression better than to truth, love or justice. If we’re concerned with any of the latter, let’s move to forum which could lead to such ends.

  177. Hi Scott Jones. Nice to meet you. Are you calling me a liar? Do you need to come to my house and read a 22 page psychological evaluation? Would you like to read the discernment letter written by Doug Pagitt, Brad Cecil, Mile King, Mark Scandrette and Brian McLaren and Danielle Shroyer from Dallas, Texas where Danielle was the Pastor of Courtney’s home and emergent church? I will show you the MRI with the Doctor notes and you can see the tear on the X-ray I have. We can read allowed together, if you wish, and in round, the custody evaluation detailing the emotional, physical, and spiritual abuses. You can call the psychologist we as a family see weekly who specializes is dealing with and learning ways to manage narcissistic personality disordered individuals. We can read the sex emails together too. BUT somehow none of that will make a difference. You drank the kool aid. I’m SURE you’re hearing fantastical spin but at the end of the day one has a serious mental illness and the other not. Co morbid traits of sadistic, porn and sexual maladjustment. Why would I ever make that up? Don’t you dare allude to my making up lies. This is my story. It happened. It is the truth whether you care to accept it or not. I found a safe and supportive place to tell it so shove off because you are just here to try and defend something you know nothing about. Spiritual abuse took place. It’s wrong. The people involved should apologize. This has little to nothing to do with your friends who were BOTH married at the interlopers keep bringing him up. It’s about people in power abusing their position. Thou dost protest too much my dear, about someone’s character. Character speaks for itself. It’s my dads birthday today. He died in 2011. Amazing man of faith brimming with integrity. 52 years married to my mom and they had 7 kids. I feel like he is present in all of this. He referred to my abuser simply as “pond scum.” My kids are WELL aware of the issues and this we work on it weekly in therapy openly and naming it for what it is. Peace Scott Jones. If you live I’m minneapolis come over for show and tell. I will NOT be called a liar by someone whose clueless to the issues. BTW anyone can seem nice until you disagree or cross them…you’ll see

  178. Scott Jones and anyone else for the record. I tried discrete decorum FOR YEARS and was silenced. I tried seeking reconciliation and discernment, and through who I THOUGHT were people of God and leaders who would discern the mess and right the wrongs….shut down….silenced, spun as crazy. Their common bond? Book sales, speaking circuit and minor celebrity status.

  179. Scott Jones, I’m read your long comment and concluded that if a jackass appears, it must be because God needed a jackass, and so raised one up. Or maybe that’s not quite what you meant. 😉

    I suggest you scroll back up to the top of the page and read *all* the comments, because you evidently haven’t done that, or people wouldn’t have to go back and quote things said earlier in the same thread.

    I find that it seems to bear repeating / clarifying that the point is not to get Tony locked up in jail. The point is to call attention to the gaslighting / silencing / theological balderdash tactics that the EV leaders went to in response to the situation. Since Colina has stopped posting, it’s nice of you to take on that line of protest to illustrate some of the tactics that have been used to silence victims.

    So Scott, you haven’t outright accused Julie of lying, just that you don’t believe her because there’s no arrest record (because of course every felony results in a public record) and saying that you know many of the people involved, but not Julie, and you’re a friend of Tony’s. And on that basis, you’ve made up your mind to tell people here that they should shut up because they aren’t omniscient and couldn’t possibly be correct. Because, of course, if Tony had done these things, he’d lead with that information when making new friends. Makes sense to me. Did Tony point out this discussion so you could defend him?

  180. Scott, as a descendant of the Towne sisters, who were among the witches hung, I don’t appreciate you dragging my family into your argument.

  181. Scott Jones, here’s the problem. You said:

    [At this point I should say I think a lot of things that have been said about Tony are untrue and unfair. I don’t claim to know every detail of the story, but I know Tony and others involved pretty well. I’m pretty uncomfortable with some things that have been said, but that’s not what I want to talk about…]

    We’re in a conversation about spiritual abuse — the process by which people who have spiritual authority (pastors, preachers, priests, etc.) take advantage of that authority to do harm to those entrusted to their care. The harm arises from an imbalance of power in the pastor-congregant relationship that leaves a congregant vulnerable and defenseless.

    Julie’s experience was exactly that, only multiplied by six, because there were six people in positions of spiritual authority involved in the effort to control her. She’s asking for a long-delayed apology from the 5 of them who haven’t yet offered one.

    That’s the conversation. At one time, apparently, it was easy to erase her comments and spread rumors about her that she had no way to confront. I’m not surprised that you don’t want to talk about the things that have been said that make you uncomfortable because you think they’re “untrue and unfair.”

    Okay, so don’t talk about them. Talk instead about what exactly Julie and all the others who have been called crazy and pushed out of polite society should do to restore their good names. Talk about the obligation of preachers and spiritual leaders to be transparent and straightforward in their dealings with those they presume to lead. Talk about what you want the remedy to be when they aren’t. That’s the conversation.

  182. Michelle I stand beside you as your sister is surviving and thriving life beyond abuse and gas lighting. We can teach our kids to recognize the signs, tricks and tactics. To stand up for themselves and refuse to allow that mental abuse to sink in. I am sending you an enormous virtual hug.

  183. This is a quote on Brad Sargeants blog. Seems to fit in well with this conversation.

    “Every account like this makes a difference for those of us who’ve survived spiritually abusive situations.
    And hopefully, in the long run, courageous people like yourself and others who choose to do something will help turn the tide.”
    ~Brad Sargent

  184. Scott Jones (not the other Scott, you’re okay), I’m going to say this as my own thing –


    Not everyone’s going to agree with that sentiment, but I made damn sure I worded it carefully. Julie’s speaking out about extremely painful events. You have no right or obligation to try and attack her credibility when she’s being outright frank. [SWEARS TIME] Really, if you’re going to be a fucking asshole to people about it and you claim to be a Christian, I can tell you right now that you’re trying to take the religion (and Jesus’s message) and make it something you control. Your religion is a cult of personality rather than a religion of peace and love. If you absolutely refuse to make the world better by REDUCING suffering and instead INCREASE IT, then you are an outright horrible person.

    If you are ever going to try and tell people that their pain is irrelevant and that your own feelings are more important, you can kindly kiss my ass and fuck off back to Sodom, you hateful monster.

  185. This comment feed has become a giant lynch mob. Julie, I feel bad for whatever happened to you. If you want a safe place to talk which it sounds like you do…might I suggest somewhere other than a public blog where anyone with an email address can insult you and drag you and your children through the mud. Although airing your anger seems to be your purpose which if so is what it is. I find the purpose of this entire comment feed is anger if not gossip. As a culture we enjoy dragging people through mud, delighting in their failures and jumping on the bandwagon to shame one another. I don’t even think it’s our culture, it’s ancient. Jesus stopped stonings, had dinner with those tax gatherers nobody liked, was friends with sluts, and was in the end betrayed by a mob for a thief nobody really liked.
    So keep dragging people through the mud, insult dissenting voices, argue and be angry. It’s part of the fallen human condition. And at the end of the day, there is grace. There is a God who can handle our anger, our brokenness, and our mistakes. As an abused person I can say anger is natural. I can say an apology won’t make what happened to you go away even when you get it. My journey led me to move to a new state, make all new friends, and seek out therapy. I’m sure yours will be dramatic as well. Is Catherine my real name? Of course not, because I recognize this is NOT a safe place to discuss domestic violence and personal conflict. It’s a public blog. It’s like many churches I’ve encountered, willing to throw stones at the most likely perpetrator and forgetting that while we can’t ignore injustice we need to comfort, forgive, and be good to even our enemies.

  186. “Perhaps this is a forum that leads to expression better than to truth, love or justice. If we’re concerned with any of the latter, let’s move to forum which could lead to such ends.”

    That would be a real feat without hearing Julie’s experience in the situation— in her own words. You offering to moderate? :o)

    But nice try…very “platitudiness”. The more you guys talk, the more I believe her. Seen it way too many times in the evangelical world. Is there a playbook somewhere? Or is it anything to save the guru?

  187. Oh look! A dead saint can type! Because of this, we should take everything we read in anonymity seriously.
    –Abraham Lincoln

  188. I appreciate your concern, but I’m good. Not angry just telling my story. This was years ago and it only came up because of the Mars Hill sitch. I welcome and engage in the dialogue publicly, because it involves public figures. This experience has made me as invincible as a cockroach after nuclear war…I’m still standing. You do not have to read this thread. I am very sorry for your situation. It’s awful and harrowing, but I can also thank my abuser because of the strength and clarity of self this process has led me to. Peace. I like me and I sleep restfully through the night. I know there is no peace when living a life of lies and deception or abusing positions of power under the banner of God.

  189. It’s not about whether we believe or don’t believe. There is a hurting person here and this is a terrible place to get help. Somebody just told somebody else to fuck off back to sodom which I can only assume is not a nice thing. Why do WE need to hear Julie, why is it our business if her famous husband did something during a nasty divorce? Because we like gossip, we like dragging people in mud, and we love a juicy story. Hate me if you like, but a place were people are allowed to say things like fuck off back to sodom is not a good place to get help when somebody has been violent to you and emotionally abusive. How do we know that “fuck off back to sodom” won’t be said to Julie by somebody else who doesn’t like her side of the story.

  190. Catherine Siena tl;dr- Julie, I totes understand where you’re coming from and what you need from this and some day you’ll grow up and do it more maturely (headpat, concern troll)

  191. “It’s a public blog. It’s like many churches I’ve encountered, willing to throw stones at the most likely perpetrator and forgetting that while we can’t ignore injustice we need to comfort, forgive, and be good to even our enemies.”

    Would you explain how a long time professing Christian can be an “enemy”? Jesus hung on the cross so “His” people could abuse others and no big deal? I do not understand your Christiantiy. You take proof texts written about dealing with Roman occupiers and apply them to Christian relationships. (Did you not notice Jesus was not so warm and fuzzy when it came to the “religious leaders” of His own tribe who were using people for their own gain?)

    If someone is professing Christ and making a living off teaching about Him yet is abusive in private then there is a bigger problem. Forgiveness is not being silent or not warning others. You want others used abused in the Name of Christ?

    Yes, it is very uncomfortable for you to read. But Julie had to LIVE IN IT. Her kids have to live with it and learn to manage it. You want to make sure a kid grows up unhealthy? Then just try to make them think it is a sin to discuss what was done to them. NOt only that but they have to deal with having a “spiritual” stepmother? What on earth does all this mean to their view of Jesus Christ?

  192. Again, I appreciate your concern. Again, this was years ago and I am in a very good place. This resurfaced in context to Mars Hill…are you tracking? I can take the heat. I spent a decade in hell. Thank you though and again…no one is forcing you to read or comment.

  193. “There is a hurting person here and this is a terrible place to get help. ”

    That is not how I read this thread at all. She has made it clear she has gotten help in the appropriate places for her and her children. She is sharing the truth of experience here when she has been silenced in other places. It takes a lot of courage to do that when your abuser is a minor celeb Christian leader.

  194. I. Am. Not. Broken.

    Tony Jones and Mark Driscoll aren’t “just like the rest of this” and I’d stay far away from people who think they are. If they are God’s strong voices, I don’t need them or the God they represent.

  195. Hi Julie. I want to apologise. I jumped on you on a thread on Andrew Jones’ Facebook page. I am sorry. I didn’t know about this and was wrong.

  196. Well, since folks are getting all quoting (oooh, Hemingway) – here’s one just for Julie, Michele, Shade and others who’ve been abused.

    “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

    ― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

  197. Wow. Everything is terrible.

    Julie, stay strong.

    One thing I’ve learned (painfully, from personal experience) is how to pick up when a narcissistic or psychopathic person is playing the victim card. Tony’s post definitely tripped my radar, just like Mark Driscoll’s announcement about going for super-extra vacation or whatever they are calling the period where he does nothing until his minions can cobble together their acquittal.

  198. Even though we might personally prefer someone not say go fuck yourself back to Sodom, and perhaps some of us are uncomfortable with that kind of language, I think it is possible to read through the strong words and emotions, get the gist of their message, and translate it into understandable language. I simply take it to mean that the writer wishes you would take you and your ideas home. However, even though we might disagree with each other, I also prefer we stay in this conversation until we achieve an agreeable clarity.

  199. Annie – “I think that what is so cathartic and compelling about Julie’s story/stories is how very awfully true they ring” YES!

    Julie – You are a courageous and amazing woman. I believe you. I don’t need to read any documents or evidence. I believe every word as I’ve seen this before (though your story needs to be a movie of the week at the least). Just sent you a FB friend request. I’m in MN and would love to buy you a drink and give you a hug if you’re up to it.. You aren’t just speaking out for yourself but for so many women this horrible scenario has happened to. You are bringing healing. Thank you.

  200. Thank you, Ian. How could you know? As Bro Maynard or Bill Kinnon said up top, the only one telling the story had the megaphone. Thank you, David for this space…I go to court today probably for the 15th time because of the inability of an NPD to release their narcissistic target once they’ve caused them narcissistic injury. I take all of the love and support from here with me. Renewed strength that what happened was indeed very wrong. I forgive you Ian, fully, and thank you for your apology.

  201. Scott Jones: I do appreciate you coming by to get involved in this conversation because my hope is that everyone would learn from this and prevent such things from happening in the future.

    But I would like to show you how your comment is actually not helpful. You exhibit the sad but typical response to people who claim to be victims of abuse. Here’s why:

    1. You dismiss the way in which the alleged victim expresses themselves. You say that it is inappropriate for her to say such things, and that this format is an inappropriate medium to say them in. It’s just another way to control the dissemination of information and silence the offended.

    2. You normalize abuse by saying nobody’s perfect and everybody hurts. You’re asking the alleged victims to accept that their alleged abusers are just human and make mistakes and they should let it go. Plus you’re saying that pain is just a part of life and they should just accept it. The fact is, abuse is not normal human behavior and is totally unacceptable in all forms.

    3. You elevate the importance of the alleged aggressors, suggesting that they are important and good people, and that we shouldn’t speak negatively of them because not only do they have an important ministry, but they are also sent by God. This is the whole “thou shalt not touch God’s anointed” fear tactic that worked effectively on me for decades. I finally came to see it was just another way to give leaders a pass to be unaccountable.

    I claim that the alleged victims seem relieved and thankful for this medium because it is finally allowing them to express themselves freely in an uncontrolled manner. Apparently they’ve been shut down and silenced for years in the more “appropriate” mediums. Not here.

    Can you now see how your response to what’s happening here is in fact disrespectful and dismissive to those who claim to be abused?

  202. David, you are awesome!

    This cathartic train wreck of a comment marathon has been for me, in alternating sequence, fascinating, appalling, and inspiring. It brings back lots of memories of things I witnessed and experienced during my decades in related flavors of Christianity. Some of the names are different, some are the same – but the psychology, tactics, and rationale are oh so familiar. Part of the fascinating aspect is that, after many years away from that environment, so much of it pops back like it was yesterday. And that, I think, goes directly to the need for the used and abused and disenfranchised to speak up and tell their stories. If you are unable or unwilling, too afraid or intimidated or self-dismissive to talk about it, vent, dissect, and deal with it openly it will stay with you. It might be pushed down, covered up, dormant. You might consciously have moved on, removed yourself from the environment, be living a completely different life far removed from the cult of personality and manipulative control. But, without speaking openly about it – to yourself and others – it is still there. It may be diminished, it may have lost its power. It may be shadow without substance. But the memory retains more emotional content than it otherwise would. The stories need to be told, messy or not, unpleasant or not. Until it sees the light of day, vestiges (or more) of the rot remain.

  203. David, at the time it felt like something that needed to be said, but you are right in calling out its being inappropriate.

    The sentiment that I really want to call out is the constant victim-blaming that people like Colina are unintentionally doing to people like Julie. It’s outright ridiculous to boil down something into such a simple matter and, honestly, it looks downright hateful to do so.

  204. There are a countless number of leaders/pastors today who are turning to what their itching ears want to hear (cf. 2 Tim. 4:3). You can easily twist and add to Scripture–so that it says what you want it to. I tend to agree with this: “I don’t think Driscoll’s theology made this happen. Driscoll “embraced” his toxic version of theology because it aligned with his moral compass. It fit his personality. It worked for him to achieve his goals. Then it manifested the worst in him. Then he continued to develop his toxic theology in order to make more room for his pathological behavior. Mars Hill Church too.” But as said, we can all fall. Let’s pray for every person and family who were harmed by Driscoll to heal, and also for Driscoll to seek help, come to true repentance, and begin a fresh start with the one and only gospel capable of providing salvation to all who believe. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

  205. Oh Cecilia… I didn’t mean to say it was inappropriate, but that it needed to be translated to its root meaning. That’s all. I say fuck and shit all the time, but don’t use it in my blog posts because I want to make my understanding as direct as possible without the need of interpretation or translating. But sometimes there are no other words.

  206. I’m going to echo Kimberly – Julie, I believe you. I stand behind you.

    I also want to address a couple of things I think are insidious:

    1. Healing doesn’t require forgiving the abuser. Some things are too deep and too ugly to abuse. A survivor can move on and heal without that.

    2. Forgiveness should only come if and when the survivor is ready. All of this pushing survivors to forgive just makes me feel like the reputation and needs of abusers and their organizations takes precedence above the needs of those who’ve been abused. And that just sucks.

    3. That whole Matthew 18 stuff only works if the abusers and their supporters are honest and humble. Which … yeah, right. Otherwise it’s simply another way to shut people up.

  207. @Cecilia, re: swearing:

    An analogy I like for swearing in situations like this –

    Say you pull up to the curb and park your car square on my foot. Most likely you’re going to get a strong reaction from me. If I say “Hey, get your fucking car of my goddamn foot, you moron!” are you going to say “Well, that tone isn’t really helpful. I think you should really be more respectful when you are asking for this. It hurts my feelings that you called me a moron and just because I made one mistake doesn’t mean I should be labeled as a moron. Now, go ahead and ask again nicely and I’ll pull right off your foot. Then you can contact my insurer if you need anything, though I have a really little car so I doubt it’s as bad as you’re making it out to be”

    Or would you say “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry!” then move your car off my foot and offer to render whatever assistance is needed to get me the appropriate medical care?

    So … yeah, hurting people use angry words. And they get to. And anyone who tells them that they won’t listen or shouldn’t say their say, I suspect of an agenda other than the safety and healing of those who are hurting.

  208. Cecilia: I’m sorry if i hurt you about the swearing thing. I was trying to acknowledge someone’s complaint about the strong language while at the same time explaining that it is only another way to speak that might require a small effort to translate. Anyway, it didn’t offend me at all. I like the unrestrained nature of this conversation. There are a lot of people, nervous about commenting here, who are letting me know via other means how meaningful this post and discussion is… like twitter, facebook, and emails. Some people have been so burned because they’ve spoken that they are still leery of trying it here.

  209. See, they (6 Emergent leaders: Brian McLaren, Mike King, Doug Pagitt, Mark Scandrette, Danielle Shroyer and Brad Cecil) needed the crazy campaign to work. It served two purposes: the suffering spouse narrative and the rationalization for divorce. It failed. In fact, through court ordered psychological evaluations…it actually backfired. The NPD will not be deterred.

    Onto the next campaign. The Julie is a criminal campaign came next. A lawyer who charges $450 an hour was hired (but I can’t pay support) and on her website she brags she is the best at flipping custody. But how? Julie is a really great mother….hmmm…..a plan was hatched. December 8, 2012 (my birthday) I was served with an Order for Protection. When I glanced at it, I thought what is he up to now? I threw it away thinking…why the hell would I want to talk to you? See, I had no contact with him for about 6 glorious months. It was bliss. The NPD needed to get his target…but how? In a domestic moment, I was grabbed by the neck and pushed up against a wall and told, “You’ll NEVER get the kids.” So, years later a plan to take yet another run at flipping custody was launched. Numerous failed prior attempts.

    Fast forward to June 2013. The children were having visitation with their dad. I had just recovered from a surgery. I asked if they could stay a day or two more, if I needed it, because I was not supposed to drive. I felt better the next day and asked for their return. He refused. I let it go….smelling the gas fumes from the gas lighting a mile away. The next morning, I asked for them to be returned immediately. Your visitation time is over and they have dental appointments. Before I left the house I called his cell phone and said, “I’m on my way. They have dental appointments.” When I arrived 3 Edina police cop cars where there waiting. He was waiting with a recording in his hand and said, “Arrest her now she just called my cell.” Officer Joy Frogadt, his friend from police chaplain days, and ride-a-longs, and chili fests was the arresting officer. I did not know it but I had violated the OFP from 6 months prior by calling his cell instead of internet communication. A humane cop there said, “Do you really want to do this in front of your kids?” All 3 kids watching in the window. “She broke the law, arrest her NOW. Do your job!” THAT is why he would like you all to google the public records….the arrest has been continued for over a year without conviction, because its bogus. The courts amended the OFP and that could never happen today.

    THE KICKER??? He had a pre written an Ex Parte Legal document in his hand asking the family courts to “Immediately change custody because their mother is in jail.” This was written BEFORE I arrived to pick up my children. Bone chilling…I know! Sociopath behavior. Luckily, the wise judge saw straight through it immediately and with a red marker x’d it out and wrote DENIED.

    So, a person up top said, “What about the children?!” This is the person so concerned with the children?!! My 8 year old asked what happened to mom? The answer? “Your mother is a criminal. You are with me now.” Through therapy my 8 year old shared he had planned when school started to ask his teacher if she could please help him see me. I know….that made me want to be sick.

    I spent 12 hours in jail. Post op with no pain meds. my gauze was ripped off in a strip search and I was bleeding. It was on a Friday and planned as such so I would have to spend the weekend maybe, and no lawyers would be available. Luckily, there was. So, this story gets more amazing….

    Cornerstone a battered women’s shelter was called by him and he told them he needed this conviction because he and his wife do not feel safe. Further, the Edina prosecuting attorney told us he wrote her letters touting the “crazy campaign” and please help me I AM THE VICTIM. This very young advocate woman with presumably little experience with diagnosed narcissist, wrote a letter to the prosecuting attorney on his behalf stating you must convict because she is crazy….JUST because he said so.

    Then we sent the psych evals and the 15 court proceedings instigated by him and suddenly he wasn’t a battered woman after all.

    Today in court it was again continued until December 11, 2014 (two years later). The OFP expired and amended. Point is now moot. I am taking it to trial. Abuse of position as a police chaplain. Again, abuse of power.

    Why this story? To illustrate how NPDs never tire. They never stop until their narcissistic target is destroyed. There is no depth to which they will go to be perceived perfect and spotless. I MUST be perceived as crazy or a criminal. I am neither, but I did marry a mentally ill person who has abused his position as a chaplain and as a Pastor just as Danielle Shroyer, Brad Cecil, Doug Pagitt, Brian McLaren, Mike King and Mark Scandrette did by aiding in this spiritual abuse and diabolical behavior.

  210. Thinking about the six people listed above — as well as many other authors who have blogged with or shared a stage with Tony Jones — it seems to me they have only two options. They can either tell themselves that Julie is lying, or they can believe she’s telling the truth. Choosing the latter means admitting that they themselves have been duped…had…bamboozled. That makes one option much easier. Just restating what Julie said…such a sad situation.

    Julie, I’m also glad it went well for you today.

  211. I’ve been following this conversation from a distance after being turned onto it by Bill Kinnon a couple of days ago. All I can say is… wow.

    On the one hand, I feel sick to my stomach to find out that yet more highly esteemed Christian public figures have major skeletons in their closets. I know very little of Tony Jones – I was vaguely aware of the divorce from internet reports – but I have read books by at least one other EV leader, and had some admiration for them. Another bubble burst.

    On the other hand, being something of a realist when it comes to human nature, I’m not really all that surprised. Disappointed, but not surprised. People are people, and people with controlling and narcissistic tendencies tend to gravitate towards positions of authority and celebrity. In the absence of any kind of meaningful accountability, cue train wreck.

    It really is about time people stopped being so damned naive about human nature and the lengths to which people will go to protect money, power and status. I find Christians (and I’ve been one for 30 years and still am) among the most naive in this regard.

    Oh, and I get sick and tired of being told every time I share anything on Facebook about Driscoll and his appalling behaviour to stop being critical, that I have no right to say anything unless I’m part of his church, that I’m being divisive, that God has used him to do a lot of good and we should be thankful for that. My answer, at this point, is “bullshit”.

    Finally, let me just say thank you to Julie McMahon for your honesty and courage in using this thread to shine some public light on your story. Reading your comments gives me hope that a day will come when all that is hidden will be made known, when all the liars and deceivers and narcissists and manipulators and abusers will have nowhere to hide and will be forced to face up to and own the horror of what they have done. You might call it judgement day. Major kudos to you, Julie, and I wish you and your kids well in your journey of healing and renewed life and freedom.

  212. I had no idea the “mentally ill” tactic was so widespread in Christendom until I started doing some training/consulting stuff with megas years ago. I recommend people really take a close look at this one it is more prevelant than people think. It was bizarre how people would be written off by the “Great men of God” declaring in their fake humility voice in some high level meetings: She (sometimes “he” is emotionally unstable. Or “she is close to a nervous breakdown”, etc.

    And you know what? Folks believe it because the “great man” said so and it serves as a perfect tactic. People instinctively avoid that person and if that person shows any outward signs of anxiety, anger or even crying it serves to affirm their diagnosis.

    It is pure evil. Satan is delighted.

    No one thought to delve into it and find the REAL reason why the great men of God had a problem with so and so. They were simply declared “unstable”. Of course it was never declared in public because that could bring a lawsuit. It was declared in specific settings where the whisper campaign would make sure it got out.

    Deception is pure evil. It is harder to counteract and prove. And they know it.

    Since those times I had done a ton of reading, research, etc on trends in Christendom and I am convinced that over the last 30 years more and more narcissists are now attracted to ministry where they have instant audiences, power, etc and are paid for it. Where else could you get such a gig that quick?

    I have seen so much evil done to people in the Name of Jesus from the institutions/parachurch orgs/ evangelism that when someone tells me they are a pastor my first reaction is not what they might expect. My first reaction is “beware”.

  213. I want to share a side note to this situation with people who might not understand how it works with custody. Phyllis Chessler wrote a very interesting book about how wrong public perceptions are about this issue.

    Most men do not go for full custody. So, the ones that do, are often percieved by the courts as automatically being great dads because they want their children full time and there must be a reason why. Therefore about 70% of dads who actually go for full custody, win. And it is a grueling fight. So the mother starts out with this impression of the dad by the court when she fights. She ends up having to “prove” herself. And she usually has less resources to do so.

    Most courts do not recognize narcissism/sociopathy– they mostly look at outward stuff like abuse, neglect, etc. And most narcissists are adept at passing the psyche evals, etc. It is a real problem and I am glad Julie fought it.

    Narcissist want their children for specific reasons that have to do with their own image/credibility. They see their children as extensions of themselves and not as unique individuals even though they present something totally different in public. Life with a narcissistic parent is hell for kids.

    I will say this: The narcissist is getting his “reward” now on earth. He/She is able to fool a lot of people a lot of the time. The only way to deal with them is to NOT deal with them. So custody situations becomes a long time hell where everything must be documented and catalogued. I have several friends dealing with this same situation right now. Some, too, are pastors ex wives.

    Pastors are often actors who have a stage persona. Very few people can get real close to them to truly know them even though they think they do. They do not understand they are interacting with a “persona” who is a great sincere guy. They have no clue.

  214. @Lydia
    Luckily up here in Minnesota they call the mentally ill “demon possessed”. Much harder to prove in court. 🙂
    Although I have heard of many accused of mental illness AFTER the breakdown or leaving the abuse and speaking about it. Myself included. 🙁

  215. “I had no idea the “mentally ill” tactic was so widespread in Christendom…”

    Last time I stood up to an abusive church leader was in an elder’s meeting, the pastor was there. When I presented evidence that pastor was engaged in a pattern of lying and manipulation–and he most definitely was–he looked over at another elder and said “See, I told you he was a DSM IV psychopath.” The time before, at another abusive church, also when I was an elder, when I confronted the two main leaders in the church at a meeting at my house with similar behavior, the pastor said “This is the craziest thing I’ve seen.” and his right hand man said “You’re wacko…you live in Wacko-World.” This was in front of wife, children and my best friend.

    They love to slander you by calling you crazy, that way no one will ever listen to you again, it’s really a way of killing the person, making them a nonentity among their family, friends and associates. As stated in previous posts, it’s called gaslighting, and you’re right, it is pure diabolical evil. Of course, the Lord warned us about this, those who present themselves an angels of light.

  216. @ Jen

    The hard part is, someone who’s dealt with a person who legitimately is disturbed, personality-disordered, and perhaps just plain given over to evil, is often losing it themselves. Those people will make you question your own sanity, turn family members against you, push you repeatedly to the edge, turn your head clean round.

    When you compare the behavior of an otherwise normal, healthy person who’s under extreme stress from abuse to the cool, seemingly rational demeanor of their narcissistic of sociopathic tormentor, the latter usually appears to be the voice of reason. I can’t help but believe in God, I know He’s real and loves us in spite of what I see happen in His name, and I know He will bring justice one day, but it sure is hard to wait for it sometimes.

  217. I have just been contacted by my lawyer. He has sent a copy of the post to the prosecuting attorney to threaten and intimidate me. Every word I wrote is truth.

  218. YOUR lawyer is trying to threaten you, or is it your ex who’s trying to do this and that’s the “he”? By the way, truth is an absolute defense to libel.

  219. You may want to check on laws in your state but writing about YOUR experience is not usually libelous unless there is some gag order. Yeah, had that one thrown at me from some celebrity seeker gurus.

    The thing about narcissists is that they are bold and never tire. Their boldness is what helps them. People do not think they would dare proclaim the things they do if they were not true. It can take years to figure this out about them.

    Another thing is that you spend all your time dealing with them. They never stop. And with the celeb Christian narcissists they have the benefit of all those other celebs around them who blurbed their books and shared stages with them who must save face at all costs. They could never admit they lacked such wisdom and discernment. Or they had been duped. Or perhaps they are narcissists too. Note how long it took some to back away from Driscoll and only after it became so obviously bad and the media was picking up on it. Now it is “Mark who”?

    It is all another variation of the white coat syndrome. People tend to believe these guys because of a title, pulpit or a white coat. You guys ever ever seen the Milgram Experiment? It is on youtube. Amazing what people will believe when someone in a “position” of authority tells them something. That is why people believe them when they say someone is mentally ill.

  220. “Luckily up here in Minnesota they call the mentally ill “demon possessed”. Much harder to prove in court. 🙂
    Although I have heard of many accused of mental illness AFTER the breakdown or leaving the abuse and speaking about it. Myself included. :(”

    I advise anyone who knows this was said about them to deal with it legally—immediately. This is nothing to fool around with and can have long term repercussions for your life and career. I am to the point that these guys have to be challenged in ways that make it clear to other gurus that road is not worth going down and they are accountable for what they say.

    The problem is often it cannot be traced back to them as it is a whisper campaign their sycophants carry out . There is a time and reason to fight back. Jesus loves justice. I am not sure why so many do not understand that.

  221. I have been silenced and threatened for years. This is nothing new. This happened. It’s real and I’m being silenced for speaking the truth.

  222. Picking up on the NPD megachurch pastor commentary – here in us emergent world, you have the combustion of two NPD worlds – first the evangelical quest to follow the next Xn celebrity rock star coupled with the strain of male dominated NPD found in palces like Silicon Valley where there’s an obsession to discover the next big thing. I started interviewing US emergent folks in 2004 and attended my first US emergent event in 2005. I could run EVERY one of these interviews today and it’s SNAFU – but back then there was such a longing for community that I ignored some warning signs that something was amiss. My apologies Julie for promoting a few voices and not really speaking out until 2007 butI was blinded briefly by the BS.

    Then when some of us spoke out against Emergent Village and Outlaw Preachers’ bullying tactics, we were told to “make nice,” “be good girls,” “you’re just whinning because you weren’t asked to speak” and other phrases that completely dismissed the bullying as “boys will be boys” behavior. This dismissal caused most victims to stay silent – there have been some eruptions most notably after Phyllis Tickle’s Memphis snafu and Tony’s obsession to stop @emergentdudebro but eventually the US Emergent crew managed to silence the convo …

    Don’t let this happen again. We need to follow Julie’s lead re what can/cannot be done in her paticular case at a given time — but this is much bigger. How do we create spaces for all those victims who have been silenced to come forward. This is by no means not the only abusive story I’ve heard. And that’s just godawful.

  223. Thank you for the support. Christ was a truth teller and that is why this is so important to bring it to light.

  224. The darkness wants to silence truth, but the light brings healing and truth. Mark Driscoll’s fall has illustrated that we can expose this darkness.

  225. “When I despair, I remember that all through history, the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and, for a time, they can seem invincible. But in the end, they always fall. Think of it. Always. Whenever you are in doubt that that is God’s way, the way the world is meant to be, think of that, and then try to do it his way.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi, from the 1982 movie *Gandhi* produced by Lord Richard Attenborough

  226. Julie McMahon

    If you would ever like to write your story for a post on The Wartburg Watch, we would be happy to publish it. In fact, I can think of a few other blogs that would want to do so as well. I am sick to hear what has happened to you. I believe you and will pray for you. I have had a number of people contact me about this exchange. I am so, so sorry for your pain.

  227. Thank you, Dee. You know what I would like the outcome to be? Simply this, by Doug Pagitt, Brad Cecil, Mark Scandrette, Danielle Shroyer, Brian McLaren and Mike King (and the other is incapable). “Julie, I am sorry. We handled that poorly. It was wrong and for that I am sorry.”

  228. I’ve been thinking about all the stuff in this thread on stigmatizing someone with a label of “mental illness.”

    Lydia speaks above (September 19, 2014 at 9:49 am) about abusive leaders who masquerade as “great men,” which gives them the stature needed to play “The Crazy Card” on people successfully. The thing that’s so insidious is that this “poisons the well” on another person by innuendo or outright labeling, especially if someone’s behavior under stress *seems* to support the conclusion pronounced against them.

    But things are not always what they seem. If I remember right, there are at least 50 different sources that can have symptoms that make someone look like they’re drunk — disoriented, swaying, stumbling, slurred speech. (If that number is off one direction or the other, someone with a medical background please correct me.) One source is diabetes, when the person’s insulin level is way off and they get woozy and can talk incoherently. Another is Parkinson’s Disease, where they’ve lost motor control and stagger. Strokes can have symptoms of slurred speech.

    So, just as apparent drunkness is not itself an automatic diagnosis of pathology, “crazy” behavior is not always what it seems. That’s especially true if the “diagnosis” comes from someone in a role of authority over others who benefits by gaslighting his/her victims to think they’re going crazy, or by labeling them as if they *are* crazy.

    Here are some of the Crazy Cards I’ve heard being played (some onto me, others in malignant ministry situations I’ve personally been in):

    * They’re quite “ill,” if you catch my drift.

    * You’re the most self-centered person I’ve ever known.

    * They’re mentally unstable.

    * There was a “personality conflict.” [Meaning, I’m the calm, sane, rational one, and they’re not.]

    Labeling is often an effective way for bullies to implant doubts, to discount the truth that is told by others, to reinforce denial in the hearts and minds of their own followers. It is as my favorite philosopher — okay, so it was Dana Carvey — said: “To label me, is to ignore me.”

    I have been labeled, ignored, minimized by bullies. I know what it is and how it hurts. I’ve been where it makes me want to yell my story louder so, hopefully, someone finally hears it — which unfortunately only reinforces the false perception that I’m crazy. “See how angry and irrational he is?” Or, “Look out — stay away from that one!” Or, “The next church you go to, I’ll be warning the elders there about you.”

    So, when it comes to dealing with issues regarding supposed “mental illness,” I’ve learned that it’s best to proceed with caution. I make observations, consider patterns, and if/when I speak of it, I try to do so tentatively: “It looks like they do obsessive compulsive things.” Or, “They seem overly wrapped up in themselves and have no conscience about hurting others, so it could be they’re dealing with narcissism.” Or, “IMO, that showed a complete lack of compassion!”

    That’s because I don’t have the credentials to diagnose — even if I have credibility from a track record of noting patterns of problems. Becky Garrison makes an excellent point about this in her comment (September 12, 2014 at 1:31 pm).

    Anyway, I talk tentatively unless I can verify that there is a clear diagnosis of mental health issues, reached by a professional (e.g., psychologist, psychiatrist), who is qualified/certified to make such evaluations and draw such conclusions. And even when there is substantial objective evidence to go with the subjective observations and interpretations of myself and others, I refrain from talking about it unless there is a *need* for me to say something specific.

    Even then, I’m still cautious when speaking about such problems — or about much of anything related to spiritual abuse, actually. But if need be, when there is reliable evidence to back it up, I use the sentence-starter-line that I crafted a few years ago to put questioners and challengers on notice that we’re dealing with evidence, not mere opinion. It goes like this (and has saved me from flame-war exchanges numerous times): “It is documented and verifiable by witnesses that …”

    And from what Julie has shared in this thread, it looks like there may be a lot of clinical evidence available in this situation.

  229. That is so true, Brad. No one has the right to label or diagnose anyone else without the process of thorough clinical diagnostic testing. I inquired of the 6, and their credentials and not one of them is a licensed mental health clinician, but Doug said, “We are all Pastors and we work with people all the time, and we just know.” From a remote location without 1 minute of clinical assessment, I was assessed. Unless you have seen a diagnosis written in black and white by a licensed psychologist, no label should ever be uttered. So, I speak because “it is documented and verifiable…”

  230. I’ve attempted numerous times to post here in light of the evolved topic at hand. And, until now, I just haven’t be able to. I keep typing and then deleting everything that I had typed. My heart goes out to Julie, just to make clear where I stand. And at the same time, my heart goes out to abusers, and I think the reason why is because I was severely abused most of my life, and have had to fight the latter 20 years of my life to make damn sure I didn’t become an abuser myself. It’s been very difficult. My heart breaks firstly for the abused, and after, for the abusers. I think I’d rather be abused than become an abuser. I realize there has been an awful lot of justified anger and expression on this thread; still, I’ll risk hitting the “post comment” button in any case. I feel a bit out of sorts here, because I am a white male venturing to risk being vulnerable, and I have zero intent on drawing any attention whatsoever to myself. It’s just that to a difficult degree, and can identify with abusers, with myself suffering a significant degree of abuse and fighting off (and constantly) the urge to become that which virtually ruined my life (though some of it has been “salvaged,” so to speak). Much peace to all here, and if I have offended anyone in any way, it was not my intent to do so. And my aim has not at all been to shift any attention to myself, but simply to raise a voice to be heard, for whatever it may be worth.

  231. Yup, I just read this entire thread… and this is just another file in the file cabinet of why all religion is useless.

    Julie, I’m sorry you (and anyone else who has experienced mental & physical) and your family had to face this type of tragedy.

    I’ve grown to hate religion… while struggling to still believe in a god. It’s not going well, and this truth that was exposed certainly is helping me think that the struggle of attempting to believe… isn’t worth it.

    Grace and Peace

  232. I get what you are saying Chris Hill. Can you imagine living a life where you had to expend so much energy having to maintain your persona….exhausting. Never allowed to admit mistake or a flaw. Constantly having to appear superior?

    I have been reading for a few years the writings of Brene Brown. She kinda blew my mind with her books on vulnerability, and the courage to be imperfect. She is actually a researcher who did a study of the affects of shame…her discovery was that the cure for shame is vulnerability. Her TED talk on vulnerability explains it all. Darling Greatly is her latest book. THAT is what is missing in these people who are incapable of saying sorry. or admitting they made a mistake.

    Yes, I would rather be the abused than live the life of an abuser. But how about can we have healthy people that get the psychological help that has been recommended, so they no longer abuse others? They abuse because they are overcompensating for deep feelings of inadequacy, and that is very sad. Someone did that to ‘little kid’ them. But getting well is now their responsibility, especially if they are in leadership. I do feel for the abuser because there is no peace for them, only a false self created to cope with life.

    Mark Simon….there are really good people…but I so relate to your disgust of the church as a whole. We can’t let the bad guys win! I’m now at a little episcopal church with some very real and good people. I hope to have a better faith experience than my Solomon’s Porch Emergent cult-like experience. Don’t lose faith. I see elements of God at work in this long thread of posts. I got a finger cramp just scrolling down to post a comment. God is present, even in the mess.

  233. With ya Mark. I was a believer for 30 years… Hell Fire and Brimestone, then a church planting evangelical, then a liberal Universalist…. peace came when I let it all go. I wish everyone could read this thread.

    Thanks NP, you provide a good forum for people to be empowered… the fact that a few of the would be leaders ran themselves off, nursing their egos, was a bonus.

    Oh, some of the concern trolling in here was priceless… and really needs to exist as a linked footnote to any dictionaries that give the definition of concern trolling. 🙂

  234. I emailed this letter to the 6 Emergent leaders who gathered in Dallas, Texas and “discerned” me without me present. I am praying for goodness while expecting crickets. Danielle Shroyer, Doug Pagitt, Brad Cecil, Mike King, Brian McLaren and Mark Scandrette.

    Hello Discernment Team,

    I am asking for a public apology for the spiritual abuse you inflicted on me. You can make your public apology here.

    As Pastors, you abused your power and it was wrong. I am offering you an opportunity to right that wrong.


    Julie McMahon

  235. Julie – I admire your courage in dealing with all this. I’m happy that you have found a safe church to offer you love and support. I pray that your letter will in fact result in the apologies you request. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Every story a victim of abuse shares gives courage to other victims to speak. Grace & peace to you!

  236. Nakedpastor and Julie:
    Bravo for your transparency and courage! That which has been hidden is being exposed! I am so touched by what you are doing for people…and the healing that’s being generated through all of this. You’ve renewed the wind in my sails. Thank you!

  237. Brad,

    Very rarely is there verifiable evidence and/or witnesses to spiritual abuse. Most of the charlatans are too clever to put anything in writing or to speak publicly in any way that is not vague with plausible deniability. (This situation is different because of domestic violence, custody, etc)

    Therefore, I encourage people to “tell their story” from “their perspective” sticking with events. Very few people who have been spiritually abused are “documenting” anything while going through it. Sadly.

    The irony is once they tell their stories from their perspective, often there are others who have experienced similar in the same venue. That is how the SGM stuff started. And they found that by following the “rules” of SGM teaching that speaking any negative was sin, SGM was able to keep it all under wraps for many years.

    Narcissists and even sociopaths are rarely diagnosed. Therefore, it is accepted to say that someone is exhibiting what looks to be narcissistic patterns of behavior.

    But one thing I am emphatic about is encouraging people to deal with the “mental illness” or “emotionally unstable” charge from the charlatans or their sycophants. That can become very serious down the road when it affects things like custody, careers, etc. You don’t leave that one hanging.

  238. Lydia @ September 20, 2014 at 8:16 am

    That’s very wise advice for survivors in telling our stories! And the more of us who share our stories, the greater “cloud of witnesses” we create to the abusive environment in a church or ministry or elsewhere. In the past five years or so, think of how many spiritual abuse situations have reached a threshold of details from testimonies that make the allegations about the abusive people and specific patterns involved harder to dismiss. Sovereign Grace Ministries. Institute in Basic Life Principles. Mars Hill Church.

    One of the most freeing things I ever did in working through situations of abuse that I survived was to go through the 20-question survey that Barbara Orlowski used for her doctoral research on abuse and recovery. It helped me recall many details that helped give me much more perspective on what happened as I reflected on them. (And because I’d spent over 15 years in several different “malignant ministries” by then, I had to go through some sections of questions multiple times. Wow, did I start to see patterns then!) From this research, Barb wrote the book *Spiritual Abuse Recovery: Dynamic Research on Finding a Place of Wholeness*. Here’s the link to the page where you can download the survey.

    A while back, I also posted an article called, “Is It Time To Tell My Story?” It’s a combination of questions and tips for both working through our own accounts of what happened to us, plus doing research reporting or archiving if we happen to be called to that as well. That might be useful, too, if we’re feeling the nudge to share what happened to us.

    A note about researching/archiving: This is something I’ve done for half a dozen case studies or websites on abuse situations. That’s in part why I mentioned “documentation” and the need for “sourcing” where we got our information so it can be “verified” and gone back to. Sources I’ve used include the details from people’s stories, organizational histories, online blog and website links, timelines, by-laws, court papers, contracts, minutes of meetings, non-profit reports, etc. Often, it seems, when there is a controlling person or group in an organization, their abuse isn’t just in how they treat people, but how they misuse resources of the organization for their own benefit. (For instance, I think we’re seeing internal financial and organizational issues as key factors that keep bringing Mars Hill Church into the news.) So this kind of research can turn out to strengthen a case about control tactics.

    Anyway, I know that kind of detailed or research work isn’t what very many people do. But it does seem like a lot of abuse situations have a group of at least a few people who work together to compile that kind of information and/or create websites. And these sites seem to become a focal point for support and community, along with resources that help in recovery.

    Final thought: I’ve been actively reading, commenting, and researching in spiritual abuse survivor communities since 2008. It’s amazing and encouraging to see the advances made in getting our stories out there, and letting the truth of what happened shine light on abuse and call for justice and change so that what happened to us doesn’t happen to others. I’m thank for this thread, as another part of of that calling out of darkness.

  239. But how long does the pain last? Every time I think I am over it a trigger makes me want to pull a trigger. It is a vicious cycle. @Mark – I can totally relate.

  240. lost- I would say that you are not lost, but found. You are not alone. I think talking about it helps. I meet weekly with a professional that understands the abuse that only a skilled narcissist can inflict, while outwardly appearing spotless. Keep talking. I am so grateful to have stumbled upon this community of survivors and there is strength in numbers, and there are advocates willing to stand alongside.

    Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
    Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
    Martin Luther King, Jr.

  241. Julie is right. I’ve seen it too much for it to be denied. When people are given the opportunity to talk, to share their struggles, then healing comes. And it comes through supportive listeners and communities like this and The Lasting Supper. Promise!

    I love this quote:

    “Trauma is not what happens to us, but what we bear inside us in the absence of an empathic witness.” (Peter Levine)

    Let us be your witness!

  242. I saw a therapist for awhile. Turned out she was associated with THE church. Yeah, no wonder I didn’t get anywhere. Trust Only One became my motto. But I proved I can’t even trust myself, so who does that leave?

  243. I don’t know your particulars but if abuse occurred with gaslighting it can make you doubt yourself. Find a better non church related kick ass therapist to help you listen to your truth. It may start as a still small voice but get stringer as you work on releasing the abuse back onto where it belongs…on the abuser…not on you. Also, I joined the Lasting Supper to get on going support from a supportive listening empathetic community and I suggest that too. You are not alone. Be gentle with yourself as this takes time and you just took a step.

  244. Wow, wow, wow. Just read through all the comments. Julie I am so sorry, I know this kind of story firsthand and I am still living it. David, thank you for being an advocate for victims, and for being and advocate for women. I am a female pastor in Seattle that publicly called Mark D out in 2006, met with him then and voiced concerns for the past 8 years. I have been silenced by many because of his platform and influence. I think it is circular, thug-bad theology-thug-bad theology. Bad theology and his charisma gave him the platform to manifest who he is. I am so tired of all the male-centric bullshit that happens in the celebrity churches. Not one mega church pastor in the city of Seattle has commented on MD and the tragedy of Mars HIll Church publicly. Why? Why do we think it’s okay to allow this kind of abuse to continue in any shape or form. God have mercy on us.

  245. Oh my…

    I”m a complete outsider in another part of the world who did see glimpses of this very ugly story 4 years ago in some blogposts and comments including Bill Kinnons ‘Here’s a thought’ blog. I also did for some reason around that time write a blogpost about marriage in reaction to something T had written, just theoretically because I didn’t know anything about the backstory until I read Bills post and some comment elsewhere on a blog that I can’t remember.

    I can remember being shocked, and praying for you, Julie. I’m shocked even more after reading this whole comment thread, and I’ll pray again.

    Writing down your story for the Wartburg Watch might be not such a bad idea. Evil must be brought to the light…

    I also swear here and now I’ll never use the word ’emergent’ for myself again in the future. Not that I did use it much, I’m more oldschool-emerging probably and have always liked ‘-ing’ more, but I really am completely done with the ’emergent’-label now.

    Btw, David, you need a like-button for comments here! Very important things are happening here on this comment thread…

  246. John Umland posted the definition of gaslighting. This is a psychological abuse tactic abusers use. I was told, “That never happened.” regarding certain events. And you actually start to ask yourself, “Did it?” Yes, it did!

    Recently in court he was asked have you ever entered Julie’s home uninvited? He said no. My lawyer asked, “But isn’t it true you turned on the gas fireplace in Ms. McMahon’s home at the insistence if your son? Were you not in her home for approximately 45 minutes complete with asking for tools to use? His reply, and under oath sent me chills because I was amazed at the depth to which this kind of person will go.

    “I have never touched her doorknob.”

    Gaslighting or gas-lighting[1] is a form of mental abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity.[2] Instances may range simply from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.

    This term gaslighting is often used in regards to Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

    The term owes its origin to the play Gas Light and its film adaptations, after which it was coined popularly. The term has been used in clinical and research literature.

    Rose, I am so glad you stood up and called out the abuse you observed in 2006. It is all coming out now! Keep talking.

  247. I contacted Mike Morrell about the “Julie is bat shit crazy” proliferation that I believe he did do, and confirmed by two separate sources. He denies but I believe he did indeed proliferate that abuse, and having never actually met me. In his defense, he was just delivering the company line and drank the kool aid. He denies he ever said that to my two confirmed sources, but he does admit saying the exact same phrase “batshit crazy” about Becky Garrison to which I requested here and now a public apology that I assume will be accepted….the time is now and the place is here. Mike, lead the way.

    I DID, however, call Becky Garrison bat-shit crazy once upon a time

  248. Again, Julie – I can’t thank you enough for sharing your story. This is all utterly shocking, but I know it to be true. I’ve seen gaslighting manipulation in my church growing up from 2 different pastors who were trying to cover up affairs. (non-related situations.) It disgusts me. To think that my patient, kind, and tender father who loves God and people more than anyone I know, served as a supportive deacon to these scumbags, and began to question his own observations when they put their spin on the situations …SICKENS ME. Many of our friends began leaving the church, and our family felt betrayed. Yet it was they who were correct….we had been deceived by master spinners. NEVER AGAIN if I can help it. Shout if from the rooftops if that’s what it takes.

  249. One more pressing thought…Julie, since you have lived with an extreme example of NPD, what is the answer? Is there a solution for this disorder? Maybe I should rephrase; I’m sure there is therapy for a narcissist who wants to change, but it appears the problem lies with the ones who have no desire to change (which I’m guessing is part of the disease.) I’m really not familiar with this at all…so, how do you counteract NPD? Will they stop at nothing? Is their goal to conquer all? Do you shame them? Does that cause them to back off a bit? OR do you pretend to play into their game just to pacify them? I am TRULY wondering what type of communication would cause this type of person to do the LEAST amount of harm to others.

  250. Anyone can be made new but you have to be willing to get the help and for that to happen you have to be brave enough to look at your junk. So with this certain type of person, it’s a non starter because they are above all. They choose enablers all around them willing to hold up the image they want to see. I pulled back the curtain and thus have been a target ever since.

  251. “One more pressing thought…Julie, since you have lived with an extreme example of NPD, what is the answer? Is there a solution for this disorder?”

    I am not Julie but have done a lot of research on this after dealing with narcissistic pastors and family members and trying to figure out what on earth was going on. How can deception, lying and evil be “good” in the Name of Jesus?

    Among other resources, I ran across Sam Vaknin who admits to being a narcissist and has quite a bit of information you might find interesting. He is the author of Malignant Self Love. and has a channel on youtube. They are harder to detect than you might think—-unless you live with one. They often target fair, just people they know will always question themselves out of a sense of conscience and wanting to be “fair”. They love those types. Easy to manipulate.

    ” Maybe I should rephrase; I’m sure there is therapy for a narcissist who wants to change, but it appears the problem lies with the ones who have no desire to change (which I’m guessing is part of the disease.)”

    How do you teach someone to have a conscience? How do you teach empathy to an adult? The research I have read says this is formed early on but can also become ingrained when brought into certain movements as a youth where entitlement, because of a perceived superiority, is expected. An example of that would be an SS officer. Young pastor has that feel to it for me. Often they come with entitlement because of some “spiritual” superiority but act “humble” to gain street cred. Often they are different people when not in front a group speaking.

    ” I am TRULY wondering what type of communication would cause this type of person to do the LEAST amount of harm to others.”

    I have a friend who developed a technique for her tween and teen to use with their narcissistic father. It protects them from being used. Younger than that it is almost impossible and they need to be in therapy because it can become their normal. I am wary of mentioning it here. But it has worked well for them. And their father was extreme narcissistic on par with some of the things Julie has mentioned here. Bold liars and deceivers who are more often than not, believed. The key is to communicate as little as possible.

    The key to adults communicating with a narcissistic sociopath is every word must be in writing –ONLY. Even then it is a nightmare.

  252. Mike Morrell refuses to apologize here publicly. He says it is “not appropriate.” Isn’t that what the above interlopers have said that this is not the appropriate venue? Trying to shame me and shut me up.

    I cannot think of a more perfect place for apologies and healing than a Pastors blog…..MY pastor because I am now a part of the Lasting Supper community…a place for people who have been abused by the church and are victims of spiritual abuse. No more dodging it. It’s OVER. Come clean. Otherwise, do not call yourself a Christian. We are supposed be different. People of reconciliation. This matters. To me and to every victim of spiritual abuse by Pastors in a position of power and influence.

    Doug Pagitt
    Brad Cecil
    Mark Scandrette
    Steve Knight (deleted the EV website content)
    Brian McLaren
    Mike King
    Danielle Shroyer
    Mike Morrell (proliferated the Julie is “bat shit crazy” and Becky Garrison is “bat shit crazy” campaign)

    You have all aided in this spiritual abuse that is now out here in the light of day. I am asking again and for a fourth time for a public apology. Maybe you were all bamboozled….if so….say it. But I cannot help think this was entirely driven by self interest. His pathology will not allow for any sort of remorse or apology. I understand that on a clinical level. What is your excuse?

  253. Whoa! Just noticed the addition of the “Likes” and “Dislikes” buttons. Not what I came back to post about, but that’s pretty cool.

    I did a bit of thinking about Julie’s situation, Mars Hill, and tangentially not related to this thread in any way Sam Harris (noted atheist), whose speaking gig at my church next week was cancelled due to serious death threats. My question is this: what would it take for the American church at large (American church in this case meaning mainline denominations, other individual sects like the Mennonites with their huge variety of conservative to liberal congregations, nondenominational churches of all sizes mega and not, etc.) to make a concerted effort to call out abuse demonstrated by clergy in both church, public, and private settings? Is it simply a lack of seeing certain behaviors as abusive? Is it also an underlying unwillingness to examine current behaviors or acknowledge past behaviors that are abusive or borderline? Is it also because some of these abusive behaviors also have deep roots in US culture to some extent because we expect to see said behaviors and it’s normalized consciously or subconsciously? The consequences are real–ranging from hurt feelings to ruined reputations, legal actions, and impacts on careers. I’m also concerned because I think that certain types of abusive behaviors are actually growing in encouragement and are attractive–Mars Hill didn’t gather a huge following because Driscoll was a warm, wonderful person. Even in the case where Sam’s speaking date was cancelled, the church itself didn’t strongly denounce the threats–even though the church clearly didn’t make the threats–it did speak disapprovingly and disappointingly of the threats. I just wonder why there is such institutional reluctance to address abuse and threats by American christians.

  254. Chris Hill, you have my sympathy and respect. You recognize yourself as a potential abuser, and do your best not to act on that. You have my respect because you DO fight it, and my sympathy because it cannot be easy.

    Julie, you, too, have my sympathy and support. As both of you have pointed out, active abusers must always live with what they are, and that can be very ugly. They surround themselves with enablers who are as repellent as they themselves are, and that is the only support or company they ever get to keep. I have been sickened to read what was done to you, and pray for your complete peace and healing.

    I find the inability of NPD victims to see how very BAD it makes them look not to apologize to be curious. They are not stupid, they are fully aware of the contempt in which such people are held, yet that is their chosen path. They don’t even seem to get it that a false apology will raise them tremendously in the eyes of others, as long as they convince those others that the apology is real. I don’t understand how they see things that they cannot understand how contemptible they look when they refuse to apologize. It’s a bit psychotic, a bit out of touch with reality, and it ALWAYS fails them.

    I’ll be praying for you, Julie, and for your children. I will try very hard to be more Christlike and pray for the Notorious Six as well, but I’ll be gritting my teeth as I do so. I’d much rather pray for them to learn their lessons painfully, but I’m doing the best I can.

    Chris Hill, keep up the good work. I’ll be praying for your strength to keep fighting what is the really good fight indeed!

  255. Oh, and David, in answer to your original question at the top of the page, I firmly believe it is the thug that creates or adapts the theology. Christ said simply that the two things we have to worry about are loving God with all of our being, and loving our neighbor as ourselves. He said clearly that one could recognize His followers by their love for others. There is nothing remotely resembling any of that in Mark Driscoll’s theology, not the least hint. He wrote his theology to enable his thugery. That, to me, is very plain.

  256. @Lydia
    Thanks for your response..interesting and very helpful! The part about getting everything in writing makes total sense.

  257. There are people… leaders… who privately contact me to either manage, control, or stop this conversation. Nakedpastor has never censored comments. I mean, I have interjected now and then to try to inject my point of view as another participant in the conversation. But never to shut it down. Well… I did shut down a couple people who were either extremely misogynistic or Islamophobic or something. But in this case, these are the comments of people who are telling their stories. And my take is that it is mostly challenging a movement and its leaders or representatives. I find it interesting… don’t you?… that the voiceless are speaking here on this post while the “leaders” use back channels. This says something to me.

  258. Hi Julie (and all) – even though I thought this was private between me and the ones I offended, I now see that my comments (part of them, anyway) are public. I responded to you privately earlier today, Julie, but I’m hearing that it’s important to you that I bring it up publicly to help bring resolution:

    I’m so sorry that I called you “batshit crazy” in that private correspondence four years ago, Julie. That was my expression, and I own it. It’s doubly-regrettable given my own mental health struggles – a sad turn of phrase that speaks to then-unresolved self-loathing, I think.

    Please know that I went on no such “campaign.” I was responding to one blogger who, in my judgement, was being bombastic and self-righteous – a self-appointed Victim Watchdog whose tone back then was very different than David’s, now. I was triggered, and in the heat of that moment, had an email exchange with him. Things escalated; we both said regrettable things; we both apologized.

    I never apologized to you, though. Looking back, I suppose it’s because I thought that a conversation between the two of us stayed between the two of us; he’d even assured me of such. Apparently, he lied. But none of this detracts from the wrong-ness of the way I expressed myself. I’m so sorry.

  259. @Lost, @Rose, others:
    Julie is right about talking about it, telling the story. “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” (Maya Angelou). I would add that when it’s a story of personal destruction, or devastation, telling the story is the path to healing. You’re finding people now who have been through it as well… keep talking.

    @Julie, @Bill,
    By my recollection, Mike Morrell encouraged me to back off on anything confronting Tony about the situation outlined in this thread. This was back in late 2009, around the time Tony’s book on The Didache came out. I reviewed that book and said good things about it, but with the knowledge of what was going on behind the scenes in EV. At that point I hadn’t had as much evidence presented to me, and although I tended to believe the story already, I decided to split the public theology from the private behavior when I reviewed The Didache. I sanitized some of the private material when I commented publicly disapproving of Tony’s new marriage theology in early 2010 It wasn’t long into 2010 when my steam ran out for blogging on the emerging/missional church altogether, but I had already issued a prediction for what the next ten years would bring and in looking up some of the back-story links just now, I found that Emergent Village doesn’t even seem to have bothered to keep the .com domain name anymore. (For the record, my intention is to leave my dormant site online for archival purposes so that I won’t contribute to anyone else’s link rot and so that anything I said then can stand as it was written in the day. I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of, and there are things I wrote that people still find helpful.)

    As I remember the times in late 2009 and early 2010, EV had book tours going on for Everything Must Change and the Church Basement Tour thing. Back in April 2009, EV was already broadening some of its discussion about the future of EV with some leaders who weren’t part of the original EV founders or current board members or coordinating group members or whatever. They gathered a bunch of people up for meetings one weekend to chat. The new group was made up of people like Julie Clawson, Tim Snyder, Makeesha Fisher, Sarah Notton, Amy Moffitt, Mike Stavlund, Troy Bronsink, Michael Toy, Brittian Bullock, Kelly Bean, Eliacin Rosario-Cruz, Anthony Smith, and others… something like 20-25 people which I believe include Brian Mclaren as well as Tony and Doug. I’m fairly confident that some of those people were later used to spread the “Julie is crazy” rhetoric, but I don’t know or can’t say who or when or in what fashion. This is the kind of tactic that Todd Hiestand brilliantly apologized for above, and for which Mike Morrell is being called out above. I honestly don’t think that most people at that level of EV leadership at the time knew the whole story, or knew that they were being used to shutdown calls for accountability. As I saw/see it, they had the wool pulled over their eyes too, like so many of us have had in one way or another. (For clarity, I’m not saying that about all the people mentioned here, nor intending to accuse any of them… just pointing out that they were a pool of people to draw from in repeating a message later on in 2009 and 2010.)

    wrt NPD-afflicted persons (I just couldn’t call them victims or sufferers like for a normal disease, because they’re the inflictors of those adjectives.), I have some comment to make. NPD or Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a form of pschopathy for which the standard test is called the DSM-IV. More is coming to public light about these types of people now and much is being written, but I do recommend Snakes in Suits by Ron Hare and… somebody with a “B” name, and thank Bill Kinnon for first recommending the book several years ago. There are a lot more resources now to help recognize when you’ve fallen prey to someone like this. Not all psychopaths go around killing people…. some get jobs as CEOs or megachurch pastors. After my own experiences with people of this type and after my reading on the subject, my position is that even if such people are repentant and wish to change, they should not be placed in ministry positions again. Never. Not. Ever. And no, there are no what-if’s, and no exceptions. While I fully believe that God can heal and can change people, I believe quite strongly that any such person who had changed enough would deeply and sincerely eschew any type of position that would give them that kind of power or authority again. If they don’t fear it, they haven’t changed. So no. NPD and other pschopathic ailments are found in the fundamental makeup of the brain and are not simply cured by starting to give them some kind of nonexistent empathy drug. For these reasons, my position is that those who exhibit these tendencies or have shown them clinically in the past should not be in ministry. Period. And those who still are should be removed, for the safety of all those they lead. And as far as I’m concerned, the culpably-knowldegable defence network around them should step down as well, because they knew the good they ought to have done to protect others, and chose to ignore it.

    I’m convinced we’ll find there are many others who were used for this purpose and didn’t know it: it was unwitting, not wilful. For the most part, those are the ones who won’t have any difficulty with issuing an apology.

  260. Mike, thanks for apologizing – that and a few other comments slipped in while I was getting long-winded.

    I think the issue here is that although the conversation(s) was/were private, their impact went beyond that private scope… they had a public effect, and they had an effect on people who were not privy to the private exchange. Just bringing it all out into the open is a wise move for all concerned, so thanks for that.

    ps. I wanted to click “Like” on your apology, but I didn’t like what you said about my friend Bill. Generally I only call him bombastic privately 😉 and at least partly in jest. But I do really appreciate your addressing Julie here.

  261. Dear Mike Morrell,

    THANK YOU! I forgive you completely and I am happy to move forward with you and the TLS community. God is good. That means a great deal!!!


    Your friend Julie

  262. Julie, I apologize that my “bombastic and self-righteous” “Victim Watchblog” “triggered” someone to say nasty and untrue things about you. I’ll do my best to not let that happen in the future.

  263. Now, Bill – if you want to join the apology train, I’d appreciate an apology for forwarding private conversation to a third party, then lying about it…but, y’know. Only if you feel led. If you don’t think the ends justify the means.

  264. Brad Cecil, Mark Scandrette, Doug Pagitt, Mike King, Danielle Shroyer, and Brian McLaren were just sent a copy of the original discernment letter to refresh memories. In their defense they were maybe pawns, but I don’t think so! And definitely not Doug! I am asking now for a 5th time for a public apology. Bad form to “discern” about someone while only consulting with the person with the NPD and without me present, or without consulting me. Then when I sent proof of things I was silenced. Apologize! Thank you, Julie

  265. This evening, I spent some time skimming through the first 40-50 comments, and thinking about the original topic of the post. The one about theology/pathology before … well, I wouldn’t say the thread went “off-topic,” but more like went “on-exploration-and-application.” Anyway, it occurred to me that there are at least three possibilities for the theology/pathology chicken/egg question.

    The first is more along the lines of Lord Acton’s maxim about power: “All power tends to corrupt; absolutely power corrupts absolutely.” You may start out with well reasoned and good-intentioned theology, but once in a position of power, the system goes to closure and the creative power goes to inertia, which brings corruption and corrosion to the system. Theological ascendency when in a position of authority leads to pathology.

    The second is more along the lines of author Frank Herbert, who explored in his Byzantine *Dune* saga just about every major system of power dynamics from religious/mystical to technological to political to tribal to financial to ecological to physical. According to interviews with Herbert, “Power is a magnet that draws the corruptible.” Power draws pathological theologians and practitioners.

    The third is one of my own device that I’m still experimenting with on how to present. It is a riff on the problems I’ve seen in people in leadership roles that I have no other way to interpret but as them demonstrating sociopathological behaviors – no apparent conscience touched by issues of right/wrong, no apparent compassion and empathy for others who are suffering or how their own abusive actions induce suffering. At this point, my quotable is: “Corrupt people desire power and find a path for their pathology, sometimes in a theology.”

    So, FWIW, I’m wondering if really this is a triangulation of three items instead of a duel between two: position/role of authority, system of theology, and personal pathology. Seems it could start with any of the three elements, depending on the person and his/her situation, and go in any direction from there to pick up other elements in different permutations. Maybe there’s a chicken, an egg, and a road to cross?

    Meanwhile, I’m still musing my way through whether there are “inherently abusive fault lines” in *every* theology that we need to be aware of and beware of overemphasizing them. For instance, I noted these on a Twitter conversation about this thread:

    * Complementarianism overcranked automatically embodies misogyny.

    * “Flat structure” to promote peer dialog can get hijacked by celebrities.

    * Missional experts can travel so much for teaching that they lose the local grounding that gives them their authority.

    Look for the points of irony, and that may be our indicators of fault lines in our theology …

  266. Look for the points of irony? Tell me what is NOT ironic about the Christian church as it exists today. It’s ALL ironic! There are a few people around who seem to be living out the love-your-neighbor, whatever-you-do-to-the-least-of-these kind of principles. I know a couple of them. Neither is associated with any church . . . why would they be? To me the most ironic of all are the ones who think God wanted a human blood sacrifice, and the only possible way to get on God’s good side is to acknowledge that. Seriously, what? So you make that acknowledgement, then you sign up to be a member of an institution that owns property and has bank accounts. You get together and try to make sense of the Christian bible, as if it were a guidebook for living instead of a motley collection of old myths, political writing, poetry, and history. It’s all ironic.

  267. @brad “Not all psychopaths go around killing people…. some get jobs as CEOs or megachurch pastors.”

    One reason among many I gave up on religion a long time ago. Thanks DH for hosting a safe place to talk.

  268. Yes, what Kate said…

    When I jumped (and I do mean jumped, a ready or not here I come, head-first dive) from the Sunday-mainstream-church-going-because-it’s-what-you-do nominal/cultural Christianity that I was raised with into “serious” Christianity (to use the vernacular: born again, spirit filled, Bible believing, charismatic, etc.) and became what was at the time called a “Jesus freak” (it was 1972) I expected something from the church which was very different than what I found. Yes, I was idealistic and naive (goes with the territory when you’re 15). But I expected to find in those who took their faith seriously (especially those in leadership) the type of character my Dad lived out, every day. I expected to find people who took seriously the things that Jesus said. Not the literalist, angels on the head of a pin nit-picking and I’m-right-you’re-wrong-you’re-damned “seriously” that I ran smack dab into. No, I mean the down-to-earth basics. “Love your neighbor as yourself”? Check. “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you”? Check. “Blessed are the peacemakers”? Check. “You cannot serve God and mammon”? Check. “Go, sell what you have, give to the poor and follow me”? Check.

    Of course, what I found was very different. None of those basics seemed to even register.

    If they ever floated into view, unless chapter and verse were also quoted in a very circumscribed context, they were dismissed as “liberal”, “socialist”, “unrealistic”, “under the law”, “wimpy do-good social gospel” – you get the drift.

    Oh, sure, I expected theology to be debated – I grew up with that, too. Dad was an elder in the Presbyterian church and his closest friend was our minister. Single at the time, our minister’s Sunday afternoons were spent visiting parishioners and he was a regular at our table. After-dinner discussion and thoughtful debate ranged from politics to theology to philosophy to Cardinals baseball.

    When I was 15, I “gave my life to Christ” – not in a church, but alone, in my room, after months of reading and thinking and looking for purpose and meaning and direction and something bigger than the depressing and lonely life I seemed to be stuck with – and I expected to find those things. Shortly after that, I found what seemed to an outlet for and door into the “something bigger” – an energetic, exciting, dynamic Charismatic youth group at what was quickly becoming one of the first mega-churches in the US. Purpose, meaning, drive – and a bunch of other young idealists. We were going to change the world, bringing people to Christ and living out the gospel.

    Yeah, right. “True believers” like me were sucked into the vortex. Down the rabbit hole I went. After all, the pastors and elders and teachers were sent to us by God, weren’t they? There were lots of verses to support that supposition. There were so many others who’d been at this whole born-again-spirit-filled-Christian thing a lot longer than me, so they must understand something I just couldn’t see. I read, and studied, and underlined, and memorized, and filled reams of notebooks – and absorbed the doctrine, swallowed the party line. Even though so much of it seemed, down inside, not quite right. But there was always a spin, an explanation, an excuse, another take on another verse, a clever rationalization despite a glaring contradiction. And, of course, shame and emotional manipulation. The problem isn’t the answer (or lack of a reasonable one) – the problem is the question. Not what the question is, but that there is a question at all. Because these are God’s men. And bears eat children who question God’s men (and question = derision = mocking God = you deserve to die, or whatever bad things might happen – and outside of your “covering” all bets are off, don’tcha know.) Keep quiet in church, you rebellious woman who has the temerity to think she has a usable non-deceived brain. You are only fooling yourself. Listen, obey, raise children, serve your husband – and be thin, beautiful, and traditionally feminine while you’re at it – but don’t dare to step outside the very small box which has been constructed for your safety, or else — because outside your “covering”, all bets are off…

    What a load of horse shit.

    The patriarchal, macho, controlling, manipulative, shaming, money-grubbing, name-it-and-claim-it, fear-mongering, other-despising, fiefdom-making, using and abusing, excuse for narcissistic and plain old selfish and power-addled appalling behavior that is commonly called “church” and “church leadership” has nothing whatsoever to do with anything the person or character or compilation or concept called “Jesus” ever reportedly or theoretically said, did, or conveyed. And if it does, shame on that Jesus – the good Jesus deserves better.

    It took me years – decades – to leave that crap behind. And decades after leaving, I am only recently able to say this stuff out loud – there was too much at risk, with family and community. My departure from the church and departure, some time later, from the faith were not cause-and-effect (although there was some overlap). Today I’d say I’m agnostic – generally of the atheist opinion but sometimes wishful deist – socially Christian with a strong affinity for Buddhist philosophy. And that is so much healthier than anything any so-called “church” of that ilk has to offer.

  269. Syl, I agree! Buddhism is what I am now gravitating most towards in my post evangelical christian cult trauma. I have a hybrid belief now. Be nice and loving to everyone, and do no harm. God? Yes, I think so! The rest? I don’t really know anymore. Holy Spirit? Yes, I believe.

    The most real, spirit-filled, loving and authentic people I know have nothing to do with organized religion or church. The Minneapolis yoga community is filled with the most genuine people striving to be good, decent and peaceful on this earth. It’s hard to be a power grubbing narcissist and have peaceful yoga flow.

  270. I so appreciate the apologies and attempts at making things right. When we prioritize the person over the program, good things happen. I must say I’m happy to see this happening here.

  271. Update: by the grace of God and what can only be the work of the Holy Spirit using David Hayward’s space…Brian McLaren reached out to me tonight. No, they (Brad Cecil, Danielle Shroyer, Mike King, Brian McLaren) did not know the whole story but only through the self interested lens of Doug Pagitt and the diagnosed narcissist. I have been asked to wait until Wednesday for a public and maybe a group apology here. I hope that will come. Steve Knight that’s you too. As professing Christians aren’t we able to apologize to one another, make peace and move forward? I hope so. Thank you, Brian for responding to my email. I really appreciate it. Mars Hill leaders…take note.

  272. I sent to to Phyllis Tickle a few years ago to which she emailed “the group” to “stear clear” of me. This was just confirmed in an email she sent to another influential person when this issues were raised to silence me, Christlike? I think not. I called upon her for help. We were not getting any support and as a stay at home mom for 12 years, it was frightening.

    I am struggling as to why no one in his sphere of influence has not challenged him on his adulterous affair with Courtney Perry and his refusal to pay court ordered child support.

    I am dumbfounded as to why the Christian community in which he moves would let this go unchecked?

    Now owes $17,000 in unpaid child support payments and yet apparently wines and dines with you and the woman who broke up our home. Tanner (10), Lily (9), and Aidan(6) bear the sin of their father heavy on their hearts.

    No one has challenged this…no one.
    Julie McMahon

  273. Phyllis,

    It has been brought t my attention in a forwarded emailed penned by you that you told people to “stear clear” of me and I called you a few times. Once is not as few and to proliferate Tony’s propaganda about my mental health which was proven through an exhaustive $4000 court ordered psychological evaluation that the person you were protecting from emotional, physical and mental abuse was the one with a very serious personality disorder.

    I would like a public apology here.

    That was hurtful, irresponsible and unkind.

    You abused your position of power and that IS spiritual abuse. Even defending it as it must be gospel because Danielle Shroyer whom I met ONCE said so.


    Julie McMahon

  274. I drew a cartoon and wrote a post on anger today that I’m sure many people will find offensive. Actually, the post was inspired by the comments here. I drew the cartoon last year and it has taken me this long to find an appropriate place to use it: READ IT HERE!

  275. What came first, the chicken or the egg? I don’t know, and neither do you. What came first, the thug (behavior of a human being) or theology (one’s thoughts on what it ultimately means to be human, in our case, that is)? I don’t know, and neither do you. All we have are our best guesses, and there are a LOT of them out there. Mystery abounds. The Human Mystery may be as big as The Mystery of All That Is, and What Brought It All into Being. Can an intelligent Mystery even comprehend Ultimate Mystery? It certainly may try, and even if it hits on the truth of the matter, since the human is a Mystery unto Itself (and set within the context of Ultimate Mystery), are we not left with a great many perspectives on the matter, which might indicate that a more tentative approach may be the best way to go regarding the question of the OP, so as to make room for those who are just as caught up in the Mystery as we ourselves are?

  276. @Chris Hill,

    I honestly have no idea what you’re trying to say. The closest I can come is “I don’t know and I don’t think I’ll ever know so don’t ask.”

  277. This made me laugh out loud. If I had the correct appendage, I would definitely relieve myself on the emergent brand.

  278. I was pointed to this discussion by a well-meaning friend. I’m honestly sad to have read much of it — not because I know what’s true and what’s false, but because it makes it seem that the Christian community is willing to take a reality TV show approach to truth discovery. Everyone needs to be quiet, go about your own business, and stop “calling people out.” When in doubt, don’t comment. And if you aren’t in doubt, perhaps you should be.

  279. John M. Sweeney: judgemental much?

    As far as I can see, no one has been “called out”. Julie McMahon has communicated some actual facts (you know, the type that can be backed up by court records and such) and people have expressed their opinion on the basis of those facts. Perhaps you should take your own advice and butt out.

  280. Maybe the naysayers are right. Maybe we should step back and consider Tony, Doug and the others that Julie is demanding an apology from.

    How hard and exhausting in must be for them to keep up the facade, to obfuscate and demand, to litigate and denigrate. Have we stopped to consider how hard it is for the abuser? Man, they probably have heartburn from maintaining the web of lies, deceit and character assassination they have to keep perpetrating against Julie.

    And don’t even mention the sheer labor that comes with behind the scenes machinations, of attempts to silence and shut down.

    It’s hard out here for a narcissist.

  281. @tru — Yes, you got the gist of what I was wanting to say, except that I attempted to explain as best I could what you summarized in the first two points, but as for the “don’t ask” part, I still think this is a very important question. From an existential point of view, I see us as beings entering into a world wherein we are going to be influenced and affected by a great deal of people and experiences and, thus, be formed by them. While I believe we have significantly free-will, I believe it’s limited to some extent. Because we are caught up in the middle of such a mystery as participants of it, I believe that it will be very difficult if not impossible to answer the metaphorical chicken vs. the egg question. And, that’s just me. I believe that Mystery reigns supreme, and I say this as a realist, though a unique one at that, I am sure. Cheers.

  282. Jon,
    Your Twitter feed, @jonmsweeney, suggests you are a fan/follower of those being called out here. Mentioning that would help people understand your response. And that might be the honest thing to do. Yes?

  283. And held the position as editor and chief at Paraclete Press a publishing house that published emergent authors books, no? I’m sure you are not a stakeholder in this quietly going away? Just a concerned Christian stopping by.

  284. “Everyone needs to be quiet, go about your own business, and stop ‘calling people out.’ When in doubt, don’t comment. And if you aren’t in doubt, perhaps you should be.”

    I’ll give you this much, Jon. When you set out to silence and dismiss, you come straight to the point. What I find strange, however, is the fact that you seem perfectly willing to intercede on behalf of your colleague’s interests (as well as your own), yet fail to disclose those interests. It would perhaps be more accurate to call them conflicts of interest, since you fail to be honest about the fact that you have skin in this game.

  285. I think it would be safe to say that Jon M. Sweeney is a member of what my father used to call the Bullshit Brigade.

  286. Oh look, a Christian Man™ telling people to shut up so his “community” doesn’t get sullied by the truth. How convincing.

  287. Nice, Jon and Scott. That’s exactly what Driscoll’s henchmen did to protect his bad behavior.

    Women would be better off living with wild bears than with men like these in leadership. There are always people who will defend them.

  288. Looks like Scott Jones deleted his latest pro-Tony comment. I was directing my comment at Scott Jones and not Scott Freeman.

  289. It’s great that people have a place to come and commensurate about their experiences. It’s vital for one’s healing and growth beyond the harm that’s come to them. It’s good to see that there are people who are willing to listen and offer comfort to those who are hurting.
    However, regardless of how you personally feel about Tony, the blood lust and voyeuristic glee that is being demonstrated here in response to Julie’s unaccountable torrent is deeply troubling. It’s clear from her tone and the frequency of her posting that she is hurting and has yet to reconcile the events of her life. And this is fine. Some of us may never find closure and healing is a process, not a destination.
    Does it serve her, this community or the subjects of her claims to promote such an outworking of animus in such a public forum?
    Because it’s obvious that one must be very clear of their intentions when disagreeing on here; I’m not trying to shut anyone down. But come on, really? The one-sided angry ex-wife diatribe? This is healthy? Are we so cynical and angry that we’re salivating at the alleged details of a religious leader’s divorce? Are we so driven by our revulsion toward that which caused us so much pain that we’re willing to accept and applaud such emotional venting without even offering the most elemental grace to the accused? It’s obvious that Julie needs people to talk to. But it’s also obvious that she desires to rally people against Tony and attempt to damage his reputation as much as she can. It is also apparent that the desire for titillation has overridden any actual desire to see Julie come to grips with where her life is.
    It seems to me that you have a great opportunity to help some people here. But this level of mudslinging will help no one.
    As much as we may hate to admit it, there are two sides to every story. And as a personal witness, both are not being represented here.

    Let the personal attacks on me begin.

  290. John Musick: well played. You’ve got all the bases covered. Make it sound as reasonable as you can, and make sure anyone who disagrees with you is painted as an aggressive hater. Good job.

    ISTM that, among other things, at least two things are being achieved here:

    1. Truths that have previously been buried or suppressed are being aired and heard.

    2. Actual reconciliation is happening, viz. forgiveness being offered and received.

    Regarding Julie McMahon’s comments, I don’t know her in any way, but it strikes me that your comment “it’s obvious that she desires people to rally against Tony and attempt to damage his reputation as much as she can” is, to put it mildly, judgemental bullshit.

  291. John Music, there are indeed two sides to every story. Tony has told his quite publicly. So why isn’t Julie allowed to tell hers?

  292. This is the opposite of a reality tv show approach. Reality tv is heavily scripted and edited for the vicarious pleasure of viewers. Participants are chosen for their ability to create controversy while looking attractive. What’s happening here is without script or editing, and Julie is not trying to create controversy – she’s trying to resolve it, and is apparently having some success at that. People who call themselves Christians ought to be celebrating, not feeling sad.

  293. Years ago, I had a large, sweet, oaf of a dog, who was terrorized by the neighbor’s cat. The cat would dart out of a hole in the plank fence and swat my dog across the face, and then stand there, dominant, while my dog cowered.

    This went on for some time, whenever I would walk my dog past that house at night.

    Until the fateful night. We didn’t know it, but earlier that week the neighbors had taken the cat to be declawed. The cat darted out and swatted my dog on the face…but nothing happened. In the space of less than a second, the cat looked at his paw, looked at my dog, and looked over at me. I swear, SWEAR, I heard the cat say “OH SHIT” before it tore off for the hole in the fence with my dog on his heels, unafraid. From then on, the cat hastened straightaway for the fence when he saw my dog sauntering along.

    So many years later, that encounter brings me joy, as does this whole exchange.

  294. Having endured my share of non-apology and half-apology apologies, in my honest opinion, Mike Morrell has enough qualifications, passive aggressive cattiness, self-pity, and rock-throwing in his apology to terminally taint it.

    I’m glad you got something of an apology, Julie, it’s better than nothing (and frankly you’re owed one heck of a lot more than an apology) but it is clear to me that the guy simply DOES NOT GET IT even at this point and while previously there was this thought eating away at the edges of my consciousness that you might actually be to blame here (and I was being duped by a lunatic yet again), I can now say with mathematical certitude that you are completely in the right and truly were the one being abused by severely disturbed and toxic people.

    So thank you, Mike, for tipping your hand a bit, even in an apology, and showing me that Julie truly is the innocent one here. So there’s some good even in that.

  295. The thing that Jon and John are just hating, seething and raging against is that they cannot control this. Unlike in the cultic churches, where people who step out of line with the leader’s vision and dare to tell the truth are destroyed–or “thrown under the bus in driscollspeak–here, they are impotent, they try to shame, impugn, backhandedly discredit, all while appearing above it all, and yet, they are paper dragons. They have no power whatsoever.

    Jesus told the truth and spoke of things whispered in inner rooms being shouted from rooftops (truly the social media of His day). What do you say of someone who hates the truth? Are they Christ-like?

  296. Gahh.
    “It’s great that people have a place to come and commensurate about their experiences.” Not exactly a promising opening to what I’m guessing you think is a generous and thoughtful post.

    (The word you’re after is “commiserate.”) It’s the wrong word, even if you’d gotten it right! Commiserating would reduce this conversation to the level of a bitch-fest . . . and that would be a pretty strange reading of what’s actually going on.

    Someone was the victim of a smear campaign. Some of the smear-ers weren’t even aware that they were spreading vicious, harmful lies. The smear-ee has, until now, had no public venue in which to confront them. She’s chosen to use this one. Some of them are re-thinking their behavior with respect to her. Why does it have to be a public venue? Because her private communications with them were met with dismissal or worse.

    I find it refreshing to witness the grace and ease with which she forgives those who see that they were part of perpetrating an injustice. If that looks like glee, okay with me.

  297. Personal Attack on John Musick #1: “It’s great that people have a place to come and commensurate (sic) about their experiences.”

    Except, it would seem, said greatness depends on whether or not the commiserations (which, one would assume, is the word you meant to use when you typed “commensurate”) take place in the manner and location you deem fit. Your subsequent statements would indicate as much.

    Personal Attack on John Musick #2: “However, regardless of how you personally feel about Tony, the blood lust and voyeuristic glee that is being demonstrated here in response to Julie’s unaccountable torrent is deeply troubling.”

    Seeing as how Julie has not only maintained the claim throughout this comment thread that she possesses documentation which she has offered to all for their personal perusal, it’s difficult to see how one could reasonably represent her statements here as unaccountable. Offering evidence is actually the opposite of unaccountability. Julie has, in fact, invited you to hold her accountable, and you’re doing nothing less than dismissing her entirely.

    Personal Attack on John Musick #3: “It’s clear from her tone and the frequency of her posting that she is hurting and has yet to reconcile the events of her life. And this is fine. Some of us may never find closure and healing is a process, not a destination.”

    How is this statement any different from those who “discerned” Julie’s supposed mental illness from a distance? Are you a therapist, John? More importantly, are you Julie’s therapist? Her Father Confessor, perhaps? How exactly does one who represents himself to be supremely dedicated to accountability, such as yourself, manage to make these sorts of pronouncements without providing supporting evidence?

    Additionally, you’re participating in a repeat of the process by which Julie’s mental health was first misrepresented, and she slandered, as a result. You claim she is still hurting and has failed to reconcile the events she describes, but she has made the direct statement that she is actually doing quite well. She appears to me to be taking responsible and reasonable steps to manage her interactions with a notoriously difficult ex-husband. Perhaps you’d be willing to provide some support for you claim that this is not, in fact, the case.

    Finally, at least regarding this personal attack, what you represent as blood lust and voyeuristic glee strikes me as something more akin to a mass catharsis regarding not just Tony Jones, but also several other leading figures in the Emergent movement. By all accounts—except, of course, the accounts of the leading figures themselves, and their devotees—such a catharsis and calling to account has been a long time coming. Feel free to disagree, but you’ll need to support your disagreement with more than your word.

    Personal Attack on John Musick #4: “Does it serve her, this community or the subjects of her claims to promote such an outworking of animus in such a public forum?”

    For all but the latter group, yes. As for the latter group, it would be hard to imagine a venue or forum in which any of them would consider any such outworking of animus to be a desirable thing. Unless you want to come straight out and call Julie a liar (as opposed to simply implying same), she has already attempted to deal with these matters directly without success. In fact, it would appear that the more she attempted to see these matters addressed privately, the more she was slandered publicly. That’s a real problem. Wouldn’t you agree, John? Furthermore, the painfully loud echo of Driscoll’s criticism of those who went outside the system he set up to ensure no one could ever challenge him is abundantly clear to all present. Except, perhaps, for those issuing that call.

    Personal Attack on John Musick #5: “Because it’s obvious that one must be very clear of their intentions when disagreeing on here; I’m not trying to shut anyone down. But come on, really? The one-sided angry ex-wife diatribe? This is healthy? Are we so cynical and angry that we’re salivating at the alleged details of a religious leader’s divorce? Are we so driven by our revulsion toward that which caused us so much pain that we’re willing to accept and applaud such emotional venting without even offering the most elemental grace to the accused?”

    As tends to be the case, you claim not to be attempting to shut down anyone, but then you proceed to tell us why we need to shut this thing down. One is left wondering what else to call such a maneuver if not attempting to shut down the discussion. Perhaps you can offer a suitable term?

    It’s also notable that the people who continually pull this discussion back to the topic of the divorce itself are the same people who support Tony Jones. Julie has said a number of times that this is not about the divorce. This is, in point of fact, about holding people who directly and personally wronged her to public account—because, as previously mentioned, they have refused to address matters in private. Several others in this thread have also done their best to demonstrate how this about something other than the divorce. You can dismiss those claims if you choose, but you’ll need to justify why you’ve chosen to do so. You cannot simply wave them away and expect to be taken as anything more than an apologist for the misconduct Julie has been calling out here among the leadership of the Emergent Movement.

    As for extending elemental grace (personally, I’m uncertain what “elemental grace” actually is, but I suspect it’s something like fundamental grace), one is forced to wonder why you insist on grace for Tony Jones yet extend none to Julie. Yes, I’m well aware that you’ve made noises to that effect, but the condescension and gaslighting you’re engaging in just now give the lie to your expressions of concern for Julie. How often have you chided Tony Jones for failing to extend grace to others with whom he profoundly disagrees or finds himself in conflict with? Your call for grace in this instance bears a striking resemblance to Doug Pagitt’s call for generosity, and both smack of disingenuous concern for the greater good meant to disguise your attempts to cover your friend’s ass.

    Personal Attack on John Musick #6: “It’s obvious that Julie needs people to talk to. But it’s also obvious that she desires to rally people against Tony and attempt to damage his reputation as much as she can. It is also apparent that the desire for titillation has overridden any actual desire to see Julie come to grips with where her life is.”

    Yet more gaslighting. Also, no small measure of what I can only assume is intentional misreading, and most definitely misrepresentation, of Julie, her openly stated intentions, and the current state of her personal life. While what Julie has been sharing is very likely to be damaging to Tony’s reputation, it’s also clear that she’s offering evidence in support of the claims she’s making. That being the case, and provided her evidence bears scrutiny, then any damage to Tony’s reputation has been wholly self-inflicted. At this point, it would seem most likely that Tony is the greatest danger to his reputation.

    Personal Attack on John Musick #7: “It seems to me that you have a great opportunity to help some people here. But this level of mudslinging will help no one.”

    One person’s mudslinging is another’s truth-telling. Evidence will determine which characterization is accurate. Which brings us to…

    Personal Attack on John Musick #8: “As much as we may hate to admit it, there are two sides to every story. And as a personal witness, both are not being represented here.”

    As a personal witness, you possess the ability to correct any misrepresentations you believe to be taking place in this thread. Simply proclaiming yourself to be in possession of exculpatory information regarding Tony Jones means nothing. You’ve already taken it upon yourself to speak in Tony’s defense, albeit with a large dose of condescension toward Julie, but half-measures will not do in cases such as these.

    I strongly suspect you’re here, along with Jon Sweeney, as a result of either direct or indirect appeals from Tony Jones. That being the case, I would encourage you either to carry through with your defense by providing verifiable evidence of your claims which would serve to disprove Julie’s evidence or to stop carrying water for a man who’s unworthy of the effort.

    End onslaught of personal attacks.

  298. This is a really long “thought chunk,” but I hope it’s helpful for processing what seems to be happening on this thread, and why.

    SOME POINTS OF BACKGROUND/DISCLOSURE: I have been a student of political sociology, dynamics of dissent and social change, and organizational development since the mid-1970s. Since January of 2009, I have been writing a book for non-profits about dealing with leadership and organizational systems where abuse of power is involved. I had already been tracking many potentially relevant situations in the larger evangelical community for a long time prior to that, including goings on around Emergent Village and many other “streams” that came out of the “emerging ministry movement” of the mid-1990s to early 2000s.

    On June 8, 2014, I published a blog post entitled, “Thoughts on Redemption in the Wake of Abuse: Agents of Damage versus Agents of Healing.”

    (The comment below will make more sense if you read the Agents of Damage/Healing post.) There is a section in that post where I introduced an original framework I developed over the past five years on “10 Pairs of Roles in Systems of Damage versus Healing.” This is the same set of 10 roles that I’ve been using to talk about a “Pyramid of Responsibility” and what level of direct culpability or indirect complicity people have in toxic systems.

    What follows here is an until-now-unpublished companion piece on “Commenders” that I produced around that same time as I published the Agents of Damage/Healing piece (June 2014). I present it here (and will post it on my own blog shortly) **without any editorial changes** except that I have removed the Fotolia images that I planned to use. (I note that in part because I used the term “theological thugs.”) I didn’t write about Commenders with this current situation in mind, but because I have generally been seeing an increased level of push-back against them from the spiritual abuse survivor community over the past five years. I suspect we will see much more to come …

    Anyway, maybe this material will help readers in expanding their context (or at least in understanding my opinion) on why the calling out of those who may be considered Commenders could help bring light and resolution to questions about Emergent Village system toxicity. Many of these questions were raised in blogs at least in December 2009 through early 2010. Understandably, the series of comments here has brought out a lot of heat along with light. However, for what it’s worth, please consider that because of these questions/comments being deleted, deflected, or otherwise unanswered in 2009-2010, the heat now perhaps could’ve been prevented by open responses then. But instead, apparently both behind-the-scenes and on-the-blogs attempts to resolve issues were blocked. So now, it is what it is.

    Okay, and now, here this is. Commenders …

    * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Commenders Who Prop Up and Perpetuate an Authoritarian System:

    Focusing in on “Commenders” and “Defenders”

    Within the Perpetrator/Perpetuator system is a super group – COMMENDERS. (They are the counterfeit opposite of DEFENDERS in the Survivor/Supporter system.) Commender members in this special category invest their own resources and reputation to promote the Dictators and to demote, defuse, deter any who would challenge the presumed rights and reputation of their Dictator colleagues.

    Many Commenders have positions in their own agencies or businesses that are part of an interlocking directory (i.e., professional network) with that of the Dictators. So, they are able to offer opportunities (like speaking engagements, publishing contracts, event participation) with positive payoffs in terms of exposure, publicity, and finances. This means that, in defending the Dictators, they are also banking their own influence as loyalists to elevate the entire network of individual and organizations in this negative support system, and not just the Dictators.

    They also shield Dictators from scrutiny, negative publicity, and any other form of challenge. They use every other tactic in the Perpetrator-Perpetuator system to reinforce what the Dictators deem as “right” and extinguish all other thoughts, speech, actions, and identities as “wrong.” They also enable a “false positive” profile of the Dictators’ system by lauding and applauding them/it publicly and avoiding the identification or acknowledgement of anything wrong.

    However, they are not pawns in this. Commenders should know better because of their own position of responsibility and authority. But for whatever combination of personal and/or professional reasons, they continue to promote and protect those who perpetrate evil. They twist the truth and act like “theological thugs.”

    So, when the truth about the Dictators comes out, shouldn’t their Commenders deserve the same fate as their Dictator friends? After all, they helped perpetuate the Dictators’ reigns. But as the prophet Isaiah states in the Bible:

    Doom to those who call evil good and good evil,
    who present darkness as light and light as darkness,
    who make bitterness sweet and sweetness bitter.
    (Isaiah 5:20, Common English Bible)

    The Bible also states:

    The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever. (1 Timothy 5:24-25, New International Version)

    The Dutch philosopher-theologian Erasmus said, “He who allows oppression shares the crime.” So – if/when the Dictators’ deeds become evident that they have engaged in evil and inflicted harm on others – what constitutes appropriate consequences for their special Commenders? What options should be considered, based on the types and degrees of support they gave, and the level of damage that resulted among the victims of their Dictator friends/colleagues?

    • Public exposure documenting their participation in corruption, and calls for censure?
    • Disqualification from public leadership and removal from their position?
    • Calls for a transparent, public process of accountability through apologizing and restitution?
    • Dissolution and dissembling of their organization?

    Whether these Commenders have supported their Dictator friends through their own blind spots or through blind loyalty, they have given us ample reason to question their critical thinking, discernment, and decision-making skills. They have not proven themselves trustworthy. [“DEFENDERS” SECTION TO BE ADDED]

  299. if Julie’s sole purpose is to harm Tony’s reputation, is there a blog out there that she’s been hosting for all of these years to continually pump this information out to the general public? If so, I’d like the link. 😉

  300. In my previous comment, I used the term *interlocking directory* for a professional network involving “Commenders” whose recommendations and actions prop up others who may be spiritually abusive. So, I thought I’d add some more description about the term and what exactly that network is.

    Below is part of a comment I put on a post April 2014 about what could be called the “Patriarchy Oligarchy,” a cluster of close relationships that supports the patriarchy movement. At the end of it, I mention the patriarchy movement potentially experiencing a melt-down (which I think we’ve continued to see happening). I hadn’t read this comment in a while, but when i did today, it brought to mind Acts 5, and what the teacher Gamaliel said concerning the earliest Christian movement, “Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:38-39, NIV, Biblegateway). Not justifying any potentially bad behavior, but just think that Gamaliel’s sentiment is relevant on this thread. The presence of anger doesn’t mean it’s automatically unjust or unrighteous … and if people go over the line with their anger, they’re responsible for that but it doesn’t mean it’s all irresponsible.

    Anyway, here’s the excerpt from that comment.

    Over 40 years ago, an investigative reporter in my then home town did an amazing piece of work on the power brokers of our little area of the world. She research[ed] and verified how a very small number of families created an “interlocking directory” of relationships through owning major businesses, holding significant or controlling interests in multiple forms of media (both print and broadcast), serving on major philanthropical foundations and/or non-profit boards, and involving themselves in the shaping of local politics. In effect, this group formed an oligarchy — a gridlock of elites who wielded their clout throughout the region.

    When the report was released through an independent media source, it created quite the stir. Those named did what they could to minimize the appearance of their influence or the depth of their interconnections, but the documentation said what it said nevertheless. And if you simply sketched out a mind-map showing the various realms of influence and the relationships among the people most intimately involved, the clusters that appeared in this connect-the-dots exercise would be hard to deny.

    And all these years later, I’ve not forgotten that tenacious and courageous reporter’s term of “interlock[ing] directory.” I believe that is what we are uncovering as we see the inner workings of this “authoritarian christian industrial complex” of key individuals, families, churches, ministries, agencies, publishers, conferences, seminaries, denominations, movements. The press (including “citizen journalists” and survivor blog writers) have been pulling at the loose threads here and there, and it looks like the entire muffler may unravel as different people and organizations attempt to deny the interconnections, or minimize underlying doctrines that have given shape to their whole gridlock of power. (Such as, “We believe in different gender roles for men and women, but we aren’t *that* kind of patriarchy!”)

    It now seems a rather large bunch of loose threads are sticking out, having primed themselves for counter-authoritarian picking and pulling. Mark Driscoll and his elders. Sovereign Grace Ministries. Bill Gothard and IBLP. Doug Phillips; Vision Forum, Inc.; and Vision Forum Ministries. And with them, out pop those knitted-in key representatives of this interlocking authoritarian directory of patriarchy, quiverfull and homeschool movement, etc.


    Perhaps the “Patriarchy Oligarchy” will experience a much warranted melt-down as it gets more exposed to the light …

  301. Hi John Musick:

    Thanks for visiting my blog and specifically this post and making a comment.

    Rather than take you on point by point, I decided I’d rather address the thrust of your comment.

    Is it really mudslinging if the accusations are true? As Anne Lamott has written, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

    We’ve all heard the authorized side. Now we’re hearing the unauthorized side. On the one hand it looks like the silenced are finally finding a safe place to protect their dignity, while on the other hand it appears there are some who are still trying to find a place to protect their reputations.

    I understand how messy this is. Uncomfortable. Chaotic. Angry. Conflicting. But I’m convinced through experience and observation that this can be creative.

    If you take some time to read through the comments, you will actually read apologies and forgiveness. And it won’t end here. I expect more to come.

    Isn’t this the good fruit that rises out of the mud you wish we would conceal?

  302. Ironically, it seems like you’ve created your own culture here where motives are cynically questioned, honest questioning is dismissed and anything that is contrarily spoken against the actions and behavior of the group is mercilessly met with derision.
    Congratulations, you’ve become the very thing you rally against.
    Truly, hurt people, hurt people.

  303. Would I be out of line here to suggest that the structures of belief each one of us has assimilated into our very beings play a significant role in how we interpret all that is going on here? I’m not attempting in the least to diminish all that has gone on in this thread in the least, but each of us speaks (and feels) strongly from a certain perspective which each of us has assimilated over time for multitudinous reasons. I realize there is more than this going on, but I believe this to be relevant to the situation at hand and the OP, no less.

  304. I’m sure John Musick just stopped by of his own accord….

    john musick
    Radio Personality at Doug Pagitt Radio Show

  305. Did what I just said come across as superfluous? Just curious. Practically every time I bring up anything having to do with psychological and sociological development, I get blown off. Also, I’m aware that my communication skills over the internet aren’t always the best, too. Can anyone relate with what I’m getting at here?

  306. The irony, I would suggest, is in the fact that after denigrating Julie’s account as being unsupported and specious, John Musick (My Susick?), you have failed to offer any support for your own claims. Furthermore, while not technically ironic, it is rather amusing to me, whenever one such as yourself decides to indulge a bit of gaslighting and ends up getting called on it, how quickly you assume an aggrieved posture. I mean, all you wanted to do was come in, offer several terribly unflattering insinuations about everyone who has been commenting negatively regarding Tony Jones (most especially Julie), disguise them as high-minded concern for truth and justice, and get out no worse for wear. What about that do we not understand, am I right? We’re such terrible people for not acquiescing to your superior knowledge, wisdom, and judgement without issuing a demand for evidence in support of your claims. How dare we be incredulous toward you?

    Seriously, John, I don’t know what you’re accustomed to encountering when you step into a conversation and tell people who have no reason to trust you that they’re all wrong, but they’ll just have to take your word on it. What’s abundantly clear is that you did not receive the response you believe you are owed. Your indignation, in my view at least, is a bonus. I don’t go through life trying never to upset people. I go through life trying always to upset the right people. So far, you’re looking suspiciously as though you belong in the latter group.

    I’ll see if I can state things plainly enough to get through your thick shell of smugness: Evidence, please.

  307. @Scott Jones
    Why would anyone want to put their personal contact info out? I, for one, do not want my abusers to find me and harass me. I have had enough of that. I moved, changed my phone, changed jobs, changed schools for my kids. More peaceful now. My only torment now is the by-product of my own thinking.

  308. I hope you don’t feel brushed off here Chris Hill. I think it IS important to remember we are all approaching this and expressing ourselves from our own perspectives. What is refreshing about this conversation is that the voiceless are speaking loud and clear, and it seems to be upsetting to those who’ve had the microphone up to now.

  309. Chris you make sense. John Musick is divorced so maybe his “angry wife diatribe” was projection? Yes we all bring our own stuff to the conversation, absolutely. I bring my wiring for justice and for wrongs to be righted especially if we claim to be representatives of God. This has NOTHING to do with divorce and everything to do with the original topic of the post. Thugs and theology….I offered I think it’s “Pathology before Theology.” I experienced first hand spiritual abuse cleverly orchestrated by a diagnosed narcissist. I asked for a public apology for my name and mental health being tarnished. John Musick also works at Doug Pagitt Radio, so it makes perfect sense he would try and discredit me. I am VERY used to this carbon copy campaign.

  310. Completely agree, David. It’s just that there is usually more to than what meets the eye is all, and seldom are that many people interested in what I’m getting at (it’s more abstract and less to the point), especially in the “heat of the moment.” 🙂

  311. The irony that Musick can’t face it.
    Doesn’t want to face it.
    Doug won’t face it.

    I’d have so many crude words to say for the coward but I think he’d just think ALL of them as personal attacks and he’d act as if he’s being martyred.

    Can a hyperfanatical Christian be diagnosed with NPD?

  312. Chris, I honestly kept thinking you were trying to distract from the very real healing and conversation that was happening here by throwing in your theoretical and abstract musings.

  313. I am also struck, catching up on the comments, on how similar all the arguments of the supporters of Tony are on this thread:
    1. They keep reducing this discussion to being about a ‘divorce’ (thereby a private matter that should be discussed privately)

    2. They keep insisting there are two sides of the story, and we must be sure to hold judgement until we hear both sides (but refuse to offer the other side)

    3. They shame the participants of this discussion by likening them to rubbernecking motorists (my analogy)

    4. They refuse to engage with Julie directly, and instead speak to the group as a whole (attempting to quietly push her back into the dark corner they have bullied her into for years)

    5. They use Reasonable Language and the Calm Tone of what I would guess a self-important psychologist might use when imparting his/her Wisdom on the poor mentally imbalanced patient

    6. They ask us to all go away and be quiet please because our discussion here is Hurting a Man of God (barf)

  314. Since that’s what you think, Danica, and three others seem to agree with you, I’ll leave the conversation. I’ll remove my comments as well, including the one where stupid me risked being vulnerable myself. I hope all works out for you Julie. <3

  315. @Chris Hill … I re-read your comment about belief structures and think I get what you’re saying. One of the things I do in my research writing is to analyze what to me seems even deeper than just the beliefs to the underlying epistemologies that support very specific ways that individuals (and sometimes, entire cultures) process *all* incoming information. It’s sort of the glue we use that puts everything together. (Part of my formal training is in linguistics, and i focused on cross-cultural communications. So, it’s intriguing to me how Christians, for instance, from different first language groups can *seem* to have the same belief structures, but still end up with lots of different cultural conflicts. How can that happen if we have the same beliefs? Something else must be going on.

    And i write about paradigm analysis, and gestalt of context, and how transformation is a process of fill in gaps and filing off excesses, and about patterns and possibilities, and other stuff that is sooo abstract that it doesn’t always connect with a lot of people. Seems too ethereal for many. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or isn’t important. It’s just that it’s hard to communicate some of these notions in language that’s understandable. So, as it turns out, much of what I end up doing is using metaphors, analogies, word pictures — like comparing “epistemology” (who even knows what that is besides philosophers?) (and actually, do all of them get it?) oops. went all random for a moment. Like comparing “epistemology” to glue that holds info-bits into pictures we can understand. Metaphors and the like put abstract concepts together with concrete objects or images, so that often seems to help bridge the gap between people with opposite learning styles and communication styles. There’s usually something in a metaphor that people from any info processing style background can find at least some common ground with.

    Anyway, there’s that, for what it’s worth. Hope you won’t feel chased off for sharing your thoughts, Chris. People may not realize that for those who process information abstractly (and research shows that we all do to some degree), sharing the abstract stuff we think about truly is an aspect of our being vulnerable. And there are all kinds of abstractions that influence us every day. Emotions are abstract. So are thoughts, and strategies, and patterns in data sets, and conceptual mathematics, and … yadda-yadda. Can’t see them, touch them, hold them. But there they are anyway, known by their outworkings. So, sharing our experiences of what we’re abstracting thinking show where our passion in life is, and it’s just as much a part of how we were uniquely designed by God as is the ways people who aren’t like us process info how they’re “wired” to.

    But at any rate, hope what i said made sense, and if i reeeally didn’t get it though I thought I did, you’ll let me know.


  316. David, thanks for providing an independent space where honesty is genuinely welcome. (Whatever the impact on those in power.)

    What we all need now is a way to scroll to the latest comments quickly!

  317. I come in peace. I am a former member of Solomon’s Porch (I moved out of state in 2007). I am an anthropology professor, wife, and mother. I was raised in a church pastored by a pedophile (Al Magnuson, Redeemer Covenant Church, Brooklyn Park, MN. I have experienced spiritual abuse.

    Solomon’s Porch was a haven, a rescue, and a healing balm during difficult years. The dreams of the church continue to be my dreams, and my friends there, including Doug, are still my friends. I spoke on Doug’s radio show, promoted my book by speaking at Christianity 21, and so on. I am not an emergent figure, but I benefited by association.

    I have met Julie only briefly (in person), and have never interacted with her children. I have interacted with Tony several times, but not socially or extensively. I was not present for any of the incidents described by her or anyone else, but I did follow things on-line.

    This comment thread makes me sob. No voyeuristic glee; only heart-rending pain at my repeated role of by-stander, and at times victim, in religiously abusive situations. I am speaking up to satisfy my conscience.

    I saw Julie’s reputation smeared, and her attempts to speak silenced. At Christianity 21, an emergent insider told me that the evening was very difficult for Tony and Courtney, because they were coming out as a couple, and the expectation was that people be kind to them. When I questioned, “What happened to Tony and Julie?”, the answer was that regardless of the “official” divorce, their marriage had ended long ago, so Tony was free to be with Courtney. The marriage ended, so I heard, because Julie was destructive and mentally ill. It didn’t add up – why is the crazy person doing all the child care? You try caring for three little kids even just for the duration of a C21 conference…if Julie really was that crazy, people should have been intervening on behalf of the children at that very moment, not standing around drinking wine and talking shit about her.

    (Side note: so what if she, or anyone else, is, in fact, mentally ill? I interact regularly with people who have autism, OCD, bipolar, anxiety, depression, and so on. Every single one takes responsibility for their behavior, and is capable of accurately describing abuse. Even a psychotic person in a psych ward can speak up and say they are being abused, and their claims will be investigated. American law doesn’t allow us to write off someone’s testimony because of their mental health.)

    I wrote a single sentence on Tony’s blog several years ago, something like, “People are asking all over the Internet about your divorce and family’s well-being. I think you should answer these questions.”

    He removed my post within minutes, and emailed me vitrol, calling me a gossip and saying I was the only person in the world who questioned the beauty of his new marriage (I hadn’t done that). If memory serves, I believe he also called me bulimic. He wondered about my excessive and negative interest in his personal life, and I pointed out that reports of his bad behavior keeps showing up in my email inbox. I do not go looking for it – it is so public that it comes to me. His tone escalated and I decided to stop interacting with him altogether, which I have. I deleted the posts because they were emanating such bad chi, so I am reconstructing this from memory. He is welcome to post those emails and my blog comment.

    This situation calls for investigation by a group of mature believers. Try a clergy abuse organization – that’s what they do. Try the Evangelical Covenant Church – they helped start Solomon’s Porch. Try asking the United Methodist Church or other denominations that have structures in place for this kind of thing. I will help do this.

    I was once falsely accused, in public, with great potential consequence to my life and livelihood. It was awful. The matter was taken before a group of qualified, mature people who reviewed the evidence and exonerated me. It is possible to investigate the past, and the truth of events, in a responsible way.

    If anyone sends me bullshit in an email, I will post it here with their name. If anyone replies or asks me questions here, it will take me some time to reply – please be gracious about my slowness. If you email me something sincere, I will reply, but not quickly. I have a full-time off-line life, including teaching all day today…starting now.

  318. @Brad, thanks for your input, I much appreciate it. I’ve had this problem my whole life (saying the wrong thing at the wrong time and in the wrong way). I really struggle with how people assume they know my intent for commenting the way I do. I do much better with people face to face rather than on-line. I had noticed that a couple of people had commented earlier regarding the OP, so that’s what I did, as well as posting something personal having to do with the change of topic to participate in the conversation and, hopefully, help with the healing going on here in some way. It hurts for people to assume otherwise when I know that in my own heart I care deeply about this situation. It’s the same basic reason (though public in my hometown only) that I ultimately left church, and Christianity altogether (people assuming the worst about me). I’m hesitant even to post this right now for fear that others will think I’m somehow making this about me, again (which was not my intent in the first place). It’s very difficult for me to navigate this kind of terrain. Anyways, thanks again.


  319. @Chris … My thinking processes are so far out of the norm (just really different – not better, not worse) that there have been points where connecting seems really hard. Easier to do in person, much harder to do in writing. There’s a maxim that when the meaning of our words themselves are ambiguous, only 40% of the meaning comes from the words, and the other 60% of understanding is conveyed by tone of voice, facial expressions, and overall body language. Which makes online writing incredibly difficult on some topics to try to make ourselves understood because it’s hard to figure out how to compensate for tone and all that other stuff.

    But it’s these very differences in how God designed us that can actually give us something unique to contribute to help us work better as teams. Our dominant modes of perceptions fill in what others have blind spots to, and vice versa. Too bad that we so often end up in conflict over the differences and let them drive us apart, when seems like they were meant for bridge-building toward community.

    What seem at the moment to be nothing but random interruptions in the conversation could turn out to be the key to dealing with some problem – if we’d only take time to ask (and then listen) to why that came to mind, what stream of thinking points came together to connect the conversation to that point. And then maybe the secret for those of us who are more abstract is in those specific details that were our stepping stones to the point we were trying to make. Could turn out to be a real eye-opener, when too often we get eye rolls instead …

    Anyway, there are a couple of articles I wrote about this in case you’re interested. The first one’s on learning styles, and the second is on how we can build transformational teams based on our differences which are also our strengths:

  320. Hi Chris. Thanks for coming back and explaining yourself. I honestly had assumed what I wrote before, and since you had asked how your comments were being perceived, I just wanted to give you my honest opinion (I wouldn’t have commented otherwise). Can we start over? Hi, I’m Danica.

  321. And Jenell – I think your comment has to be one of my favorite in the entire (now 400 +) thread. I love it because of your honesty, and I love it because I think it echoes what a lot of people experience in churches when they suspect abuse, but don’t say anything -the ignoring of the intuitions, the pull of ‘belonging’ to the greater group, the shame associated with telling, the pain when they *do* tell and then are immediately ostracized (so painful, when I’m guessing you thought you ‘belonged’ at the table, and were only participating as you thought you had right to? This too has happened to me.)

    All the love to you.

    I also want to say how encouraged I am by the healing going on here. It is proof against every detractor of the post, who have all said that this is NOT doing anything good for the Kingdom, and it is only causing harm so shut up already … actually … scratch that. It is proof against EVERY detractor of EVERY conversation revealing abuse and hurt and pain. This conversation we can look to next time we are tempted to be silent in the face of abuse (because sadly it’ll happen again)

  322. Jenell Paris,

    Thank you for being a person of integrity who calls things out when they don’t seem right. Isn’t that what we are supposed to do? That’s the only spirituality or faith I want to be associated with. Thank you and I know your voice represents countless others who won’t speak up for fear of the thugolgy backlash, lost Christianity 21 speaking engagement, lost book deal. You described instantaneous deleting of comments…when you did call things into question. You spoke up anyway! Thank you. I really appreciate you validating my true and accurate and verifiable account of my experience with spiritual abuse caused by the Emergent leaders and their followers.

    It’s all coming to light, as it should have been all those years ago.



  323. Thank you, Jenell and others, for the many constructive comments about destigmatizing people who contend with mental illness. This has been such a taboo subject in the Church … and hopefully a time is coming when it won’t be about “putting up with” people, but rather “persevering with” people on our journeys, regardless of where any of us start from or hardships we face along the way.

  324. @Jenelle … thank you for that honest and heart-wrenching account. I also want to thank you for the disclaimer about people with mental illness (I have struggled with depression and panic disorder for years). Whether or not someone struggles with mental illness does not necessarily make their testimony false. We now know that Julie is not crazy, but gaslighting her using that strategy was damaging and abusive in and of itself.

  325. Wow. Still following the comments. It’s like everyday there is a new comment(s) that blows me away. Now I’m blown away by Jenell’s comment.

  326. @Julie: “thugology” wins the internet for the day. Here’s a working definition for this useful new word.

    thugology (n) a world view grounded in the personality of a bully, especially one that pretends to be concerned with matters of theology

  327. Kate, I cannot take credit for coining the new and so, so appropriate word, “thugology” but I will be sure to use it! Next to your perfect definition, I have two head shots that would work accurately as prime examples. I did not make “thugology” up, it was one of the other 435 caring, intelligent, aware, loving and unafraid people of this Holy thread. I guess we had something to say?! (Understatement). And, David Hayward courageously refusing to back down when the back channels flooded him with private emails to STOP!!!! DELETE. DELETE. The truth is getting out and we can not contain it!!! So, lawyers were contacted…but the truth keeps coming. Yes, this is the work of the Holy Spirit. She will have her way. Where did Doug go? Tony? John Musick? Jon Sweeney? Crickets? Ya got nothin’? Nothing at all you would like to add here? I think an apology would be appropriate right about now. That is if you are capable. Some people simply can not, and that is kinda pathetic and sad.

  328. @David Hayward- really? Floods of private emails? Have you been threatened with legal if you don’t delete? Gross. And cowardly.

  329. Jenell, I love these two sentences:

    “American law doesn’t allow us to write off someone’s testimony because of their mental health.”
    “If anyone sends me bullshit in an email, I will post it here with their name.”

    There is far too little of this attitude in the world – and far too much suppressed. Thank you for speaking out.

    Annie, we’re fortunate that nakedpastor isn’t part of an overarching organisation, syndicate, or network.
    That would just be another level to push to delete content.

    David, Re: scrolling on my iPad – I ended up signing up for email notification of new comments. Works like a charm in my inbox!
    (Or I could save a link to one of the later posts and use that – for those whose fingers are getting tired, the links are in the post date/time.)

  330. I continue to be astonished by the progressive nature of the comments. Julie, so sorry for what you’ve had to experience. I’ve had more than one conversation with progressive women who are sad but glad this is coming out into the light.
    I was profoundly moved today by Jenell’s comment. The hunger for relational truth and justice is so powerful.

  331. Julie, you were very gracious to forgive me a few months ago. As you know,I was told you were crazy, vindictive and lawsuit-happy. I believed it initially but as I observed your behaviour over the years I came to the conclusion that I had been misinformed and misled, along with many others like me, with tragic consequences. I am glad your story is finding a place to finally land and be heard. I have asked Tony for his story but am still waiting.

  332. I am thankful for this comment thread. I started reading here daily about two weeks ago. There has been much to ponder, reflect on, pray about. and to remember. I have been noticing good changes with me as I go about my daily life. There are other sources of encouragement and challenge in my life, but I know that what I have gained here has been substantial. In God’s providence, I am noticing a measure of hope and of joy in my life. These are not rooted in conforming to man’s expectations. I am asking more questions out loud and am more apt to speak truth when I notice burdens being placed upon people – in the name of “serving God”.

  333. Yes Annie, many of the “leaders” connected with emergent at some time or another have corresponded with me privately to express their distressed over this post and its comments, advising me to step in, manage, censor, edit, block, remove, etc…

  334. Well, Julie (& David), it would appear that this post has hit a nerve. People don’t try and suppress something, and hide the fact that they’re trying, unless it’s serious… and shameful. (And it doesn’t work – anyone ever heard of the Streisand effect?)

    All this attempted “image management” shows a pretty comprehensive awareness of the issues raised here. (And, giving full credit to the experiences of the victim, consciousness of guilt for past actions.)

    I can’t imagine how anyone reading this thread could miss Julie’s requests for an apology. Even if they’ve only read parts of the thread, it’s been repeated several times.
    It’s a simple, genuine request, from someone who could demand a lot more. Some who were involved have come and apologised in response.

    Many of those who have demanded control the conversation in the past, can’t stop attempting to do the same here. Power and control can be quite seductive, and very difficult to give up. But now, despite their efforts, the story is public.

    I wonder if there will be a public (“official”?) response.

    I genuinely hope it’s an apology. Even if it is costly, it’s the least anyone could do to make things right.

    I was a grunt in the Christian machine that supported this behaviour. I read the books and blogs, and didn’t ask enough critical questions. And when those around me did ask questions, I ignored them.

    I feel awful for supporting systems that allow people to be victimised in silence. I hate that my money, time, and energy went to support the power of the oppressors. It’s just not right.

    I am honoured to be able to see this particular situation put right by Julie sharing the truth publicly. I’m hopeful that she will continue to receive apologies. As someone once said: “the truth will set you free”.

  335. @David Hayward, is there any chance you could post some of those emails, messages, etc., so we can be educated in how this works behind the scenes. I’m not interested in names, I’m curious as to methodology. Is it all legal threats? Is it good ol’ boy network back scratching? I’m accustomed to whispering campaigns in church among people who know each other, not out in the worldwide webs attempting to manipulate someone else’ publishing. #naive #IKR

  336. Way to go, David… staying true to yourself! If you would have caved (and I never thought you were going to do so), I still would still have accepted you as you are, always holding out for what you would still become. Lol, the story of my own life, as one who spends a lot of time in self-examination. Nothing’ but love here for you, and this thread, and for Julie.

  337. Mike, you can read some of the background and tone in Tony’s original post at (Tony’s blog entry prompted David’s cartoon at the top of this post):

    “Probably what was most disconcerting to those Baby Boomer pastors was that many of my peers, Mark included, were the heirs apparent to their megachurch kingdoms. But most of them have spurned that. Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Chris Seay, Danielle Shroyer, Brad Cecil — each of them pastored or pastors a small or mid-sized church. Of the original emergent group, only Mark went on to megachurch superstardom.”

    [I’m sure I’ve seen some of those names in this thread – no wonder they want to control their image as pastors.]

    “Sure, Mark had personality traits that all of us saw even in 1998 that would lead him eventually to a very reified and right wing theology. He was also brilliant, hilarious, and an egomaniac. He loved the spotlight and hogged the mic. But he wasn’t evil. He was passionate. We all were.

    But somewhere it spun out of control.”


  338. Wow I used to read a little of TJ’s blog after being away from anything related to the church for a long time. I remember him having a little rant about his ex, sharing his side of the story. I am glad Julie you have had a safe place to tell yours. This has been amazing to read. If the mother of his children was indeed so troubled, surely the man of Gods response is to help her. The men of God’ s response would be to surround her in love. The spiritual wife stuff ….makes me want to throw up. I bought a book of TJ s in the forward is a glowing tribute to Julie. I wonder if the onset of the “mental illness” coincided with the new relationship with the spiritual wife. Anyway this triggered so many feelings and memories for me. Julie I can’t imagine how painfull this has been for you. Thank you David for providing a safe place for the less “powerful”

  339. I will not give names. But essentially it’s the same script:

    1. Is a blog as the best forum for the publication of such information?
    2. The leaders being challenged, even though they may have faults, are great people.
    3. There are two sides to every story.
    4. This is too nasty.
    5. What about the children?
    6. Cautioning me with suggestions of legal action.
    7. Questioning my ability to moderate.

    My response is pretty consistently the same:
    1. The silenced will use any means that makes itself available to them.
    2. Are we more interested in the truth or in ministries, character or reputations?
    3. True, but only one side has been heard so far.
    4. Confessions and disclosures are messy.
    5. Julie apparently has custody and she’s okay with this.
    6. I have said nothing to defame anyone.
    7. I’ve never censored comments. My passion is providing safe spaces for people to exercise their voices.

    The truth is, I consider myself in relationship with everyone. Including those who have written me personally. I would still consider them my brothers and sisters. I am not taking sides of any person, but I am hopefully taking the side of the enlightening of truth. I’ve simply provided a space. It’s not that I’m wiping my hands clean of responsibility. It’s that I would not prohibit anyone from commenting here in their own way. I love the good fruit that is coming out of this, and I’m confident we’ll see more.

  340. @David, /applause for offering up the online space for this, truly, the *power of the blog*. I used to run a semi-popular forum back in the early pioneer days so I kind of know the pressure being exerted on you to delete, moderate, etc.

    I must say, there are always at least 3 sides to a story, but I must confess, I find Tony Jones (and Doug Pagitt and others that “circled the wagons”) behavior to be very non-just, cowardly and a model of un-Jesus-dojo. I don’t think Julie is asking much, for an apology, but I think Tony needs to come clean — his deeds in this are reprehensible. And ducking behind private emails and lawyers and “view the public court record” is bunk.

    I (and family) entertained some interest in C21 conference, coming to AZ in a few months, but after reading this, I don’t believe we’ll be heading to that event. Divorce can be messy, but the stunts that Tony and his inner circle pulled go beyond that brokenness. I’d have much more respect for him if he just said “I did wrong. I’m sorry. I failed at this.” But I don’t get that — I just see him eagerly just snuffing out any information or just sweeping it under the rug. I know it sucks to have dirty laundry aired, but this looks like more that airing of dirty laundry — if Julie is correct (and I realize I’m hearing her side in this thread), denigrating your partner to give you an out, and maintain your state of paragon exemplar in ministry strikes me as a sinister act.

  341. @David,
    Thanks for summarizing the back-channel campaign against the thread. It’s always the same… your summary now is very much like what some of us experienced in 2009-10 and this was all so fresh.

    1. Calling a website a blog is not a derogatory term. A blog with a community of discussion like this is an excellent place to bring this out since it’s easy for many voices to weigh in, rather than just those specially chosen to give their view. The suggested alternative is ignoring it altogether, which is unjust.
    2. If they’re such great people, they’ll be fine with a little critique, and be open to learn from it even when it’s difficult to hear. That’s what great people do.
    3. There are at least 2 sides to every story. Tony dropped by and commented already, and is fully welcome to tell his side right here alongside Julie’s. His decision not to do that does not provide justification to silence Julie when she’s decided to tell her side. In fact, a refusal to put his side into the same contexts leads one to believe it won’t stand up to scrutiny.
    4. The private vitriol I received was worse than anything that’s been said here publicly. Saying it privately doesn’t mean it’s not nasty. (Not sure if you received the same level, but I know others who have.)
    5. What about the children, indeed? Tony’s actions seem to show more disregard than anything here.
    6. Legal action keeps being threatened, but I’ve yet to receive my summons. As litigious as American society has become, a decent lawyer can still spot a case with no merit and advise a client accordingly.
    7. Moderation is not the same as censorship. The back-channel campaign is saying “moderation” but demanding censorship.

    The main thing in this context is for those who have wronged Julie by supporting/enabling Tony’s crazy-campaign to apologize for those actions, removing that support… even in retrospect, it’s something. The child support issue really bothers me though. That more than anything, I think, says something about Tony’s character. And here he’s apparently got funds to spend on lawyers to go around suing bloggers but can’t offer anything to support his kids? Don’t malign him or he won’t be able to support the kids? Sounds more like the issue is with his wilful attempts to control of the situation by withholding finances. What about the children, indeed?


    Oh, and by the way… we were talking way back in this thread about the spiritual wife horsesh!t, and I finally grasped what that means.

    When you go to Doug Pagitt and tell him “Hey, my marriage really sucks and I feel like it’s been over for a while now but it’s really not my fault because I’m a good guy but what can I do because I have this person attached to me as my legal wife but I think she’s crazy and it’ll never be like we’re really married but you know, that’s not so bad because there’s this other person who I feel like should be my wife but can’t be because I have this other legal wife and she’s also married to someone else, but never mind that, I just feel like I should have a different, I don’t know, a spiritual wife like God would want rather than this crazy legal wife like I have, so there should be two kind of wife I think.” And then Doug says, “Gee, that sucks. I think you’re right, you should have the happiness of a different kind of marriage, a… a spiritual marriage to a spiritual wife. Because of course you should be happy. And I think this whole legal/spiritual wife thing is such a good idea I want you to keep on being the theologian-in-residence at my church, and I’ll help you convince other people that your legal wife is crazy so you should have a spiritual wife instead.”

    So that’s how you get two kinds of wives, and that’s how we understand that “spiritual wife” = “on second thought, the wife you’d rather have”.

  342. David I love what you do and appreciate the space that you have created for wounds to be aired. It’s sad to see the space co-opted for the continuation of personal vendettas though. When I see people airing the same wounds repeatedly for years, it makes me wonder if they really want healing? When I write critically about the emerging church, the same folks jump on board to make a case for their woundedness. At some point one has to do the work to heal and move on. I don’t think the founders of Emergent claim us anymore. So why do we claim them? Maybe we can take some collective ownership of this thing and be a movement full of leaders rather than a few leaders with a bunch of victims. I understand people are hurt, but let’s heal and evolve, transcend and include.

  343. For those who enjoy a little back-story, you can read Tony Jones on Two Marriages at

    And you can ever get Tony’s eBook for $0.99: There Are Two Marriages: A Manifesto on Marriage (stripped of affiliate tags from his site, of course).

    But the free Amazon preview gives a pretty good summary:

    “… having gone through a divorce, I can tell you that extricating oneself from the legal contract that is marriage in our society is no mean feat.”

    “Were we to separate legal and sacramental marriage, it would solve all sorts of problems, not the least of which is the growing discomfort that many of us have that legal marriage is available only to some responsible adults who are in monogamous relationships.”

    At this point, I wonder about Tony’s dual motivations in writing this: not just for the LGBT community, but also in his own situation of having both a spiritual and legal wife at one stage. I’d hate there to be any risk of the perception that the LGBT community was being used as a front for a religious adulterous straight person’s agenda. That would be truly offensive.

  344. Holly, you are on a leadership board with Steve Knight who busily and at the directive of Doug Pagitt cleaned up the Emergent Village website and deleted comments and the board bio page where Courtney Perry’s bio detailed her married to another man. I wish this space took attachments…it would really cut to the chase. So, I am sorry but your “concern trolling” is in question here. As well as some other Emergentesque people.

  345. Holly, I won’t presume to speak for Julie, as she has shown herself to be a far better communicator than I. She is also quite good at finding the public power connections between those who drop in on this discussion. (Privilege warning!)

    But as far as I understand from reading the whole thread:
    1. Previous attempts to have an open and honest discussion have been shut down using scare tactics against various bloggers. Despite this desire to end discussion, one side of the story has been presented by Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, Danielle Shroyer, Mike King, Brian McLaren, Brad Cecil and perhaps others. (Many of whom are pastors with positions of power, livelihoods, and income to protect. Privilege warning!)
    2. Julie appreciates having a space to be heard. (Is this the first time you’ve felt heard, Julie?)
    3. Julie has simply and repeatedly asked for an apology.
    4. Some people involved have offered an apology.
    5. This is an ongoing process.

    In this context, please don’t push anyone to move on. It’s premature, and you risk looking like those in point 1 who act to suppress discussion. And I note from Julie’s latest post that you also have a strong board, ministry and community association to those involved in the whitewash.

    Do you feel a strong need to protect position, income, or reputation? Of yourself or close associates?

    How sad. And how privileged.

  346. @Tim It bears repeating – in even the most sex positive communities, the notion of a spiritual and a legal wife is bogus. Rather, one has loving partners based on mutual respect and consent. Otherwise, it’s considered cheating. (And yes, one can cheat in an open relationship by not being truthful in one’s actions.) As I’m an LGBT ally, I will leave it up to those in the LGBT community to offer their perceptions of how Tony has used the community over the years to advance his own agenda.

    @David what you describe is a similar pattern that I’ve observed for how both Mars Hill and US emergent leaders deal with criticism. Dismiss any negative commentary in public by proclaiming “let’s all be Christlike” or the “We’re being persecuted for being pioneers” card while going gonzo behind the scenes. As long as their respective fan bases buy into their missional buzz, they only see the charismatic Mr. Hyde. Hence, they cannot believe there is also the narcissistic counterpart Mr. Hyde lurking behind the scene.

    @Andrew thank you for your public apology to Julie. I know it’s difficult for anyone connected to Mars Hill and US emergent as you are to take such a stance. So my heart goes out to you here. My hope is others will follow suit. And I get why you would think those demonized by the US emergent boys might be “batshit” because the natural response of someone who has been subjected prolonged gaslighting by a skilled person with NPD and signs of sociopathic tendencies is to go ballistic and behave in manners that can make one scratch their head. However, once they are in a healthier space, they can begin to heal though unfortunately by that point, too many within the abusive circle still regard them as “batshit.” (In fact, one of my major objections to these boys calling their critics “mentally ill” is that it demonizes those who truly have a mental illness by dismissing them as “batshit” instead of seeing them as having an issue that like say diabetes that can be controlled with proper treatment.)

    @Julie raises an excellent point re Sarah and Holly. Check out the affiliations and funding streams of all who defend US emergent and TJ in particular and you’ll find they are connected to Sparkhouse, JoPa, Homebrewed Xnity, the movement launched by Brian titled Cana Initiative where Tony bragged via his blog he was one of the early players (, Outlaw Preachers, Steve Knight’s Transform Network and so on.

    Getting the truth out at Mars Hill and the US emergents has been next to impossible in large part due to the pull of the Christian industrial complex. For years, people knew if they spoke out against Driscoll, the Acts29 Network would work into overdrive to ensure they were persona non grata at any church or conference in this network – same dynamic was in place with the EV network. Those of us who critiqued MHC and EV circa 2006-2007 found ourselves ostracized and gaslighted with our professional reputations and personal characters dragged through the missional mud. People knew the consequences of speaking out and so they stayed silent and the ungodly gaslighting continued unabashed.

    But as the spirit continued to work behind the scenes (she’s a sneaky little sucker) and within a few years, both brands seemed to have lost their original luster and spaces began to emerge where more people began speaking out – e.g., see the fury over Driscoll’s Real Marriage (2012) and Phyllis Tickle’s Great Emergence Memphis speech [birthed @emergentdudebro meme] (2013). Still in both cases, there was enough missional muscle to eventually squelch dissent – for example, speak out and you can forget about promoting your book via the Acts 29 or JoPa events.

    We’ve now hit the tipping point in both cases where both the MHC and Emergent brand have the integrity of say Enron and AIG – no matter how you try to put the lipstick on the pig, it still stinks and squeals. No one wants to play their reindeer games anymore – game over. People realize they can now go public and speak without the repercussions that were not present when some of us went public in years past. Furthermore, one finds the rise of communities such as the ex-Mars Hill Facebook groups and the Naked Pastor blog that shine with hope.

    Keep preaching the truth – it’s working.

  347. @David Hayward, Thanks! That’s kind of what I thought was going on. I also wouldn’t have been surprised if some email was coming from burner accounts to make it look like multiple folks were offended. This is a common tactic in political stuff. And I am really grateful you didn’t post names. I’m interested only in the methods used.

    What struck me was how similar this is to the way the complaints against CJ Mahaney were shut down by TGC and others around him. Silence publicly, but furious emails asking not to re-open wounds from people’s childhood, this needs to go face-to-face, let’s wait for the evidence/dispositions/trial/verdict/sentencing/whatever, and on and on. It’s like right out of a playbook or something.

    The other thing that has struck me is how thoroughly the so-called post-modern mindset has been played. “It’s not true until I say it’s true,” seems to be the mantra here. Nevermind testimony, documentation, and outside experts. At some level, there is an adherence to deconstruction of texts, statements, blogs, events, etc., that has failed to create the freedom that the EV folks seem to desire. That alone has been very revealing to me. There is a set of core events and statements that cannot be deconstructed and still remain in reality.

  348. Thank you for asking….anytime I have previously tried to call out this most unGodly bullshit, I have had my neck figuratively stomped on so I could not speak. My Pastor at Solomon’s Porch Doug Pagitt tried to have me put in a mental institution to shore up the crazy campaign and justify an affair and divorce. I have been threatened, “I will tear your head off.” Physical threats. Litigiously, “I will litigate to the fullest extend of the law…and I will not be able to provide for the children.” And spun as crazy to discredit my name and character. So, YES I am speaking. And freely. I absolutely KNOW and believe the LGBT community were used to provide a platform! In 15 years not word one of concern for that community. Why that cause? Why not plastic bags? Pedophile priest? The Pacific Garbage Vortex? NO! THIS was the hottest topic in church and culture, so it would be the best move. An NPD using everything and everyone to position themselves in the best possible light. He became the suffering spouse of a crazy woman…only, he was the one with the verified mental illness and I through a thorough psychological assessment had nothing but “acute distress” from years of enduring gas lighting and physical and psychological abuse.

  349. @Jenelle Forgot to thank you for your truth telling. I know all too well the pressure put on authors by publishers to “play nice” so we can keep playing the game and promote our products. It takes guts to be willing to risk one’s place of pride to speak the truth. I hope your bravery encouraes others to do come forth and do likewise – I’ve heard of other victims and pray they too can someday get justice.

  350. @Julie McMahon, you rock! It’s taken me literally days to wade through this in my free time, and I am so grateful for your boldness, graciousness, and adherence to facts, despite all the temptations to sling mud, innuendo, and worse.

    You and the others who have spoken of their abusive spiritual leaders have been in my prayers all day as I went about my business at church. After 25 years in various forms of ministry, both church and para-church, I have seen too much. I have often wondered why God punished Israel so harshly in the Old Testament, and allows the church to carry on in similar ways. Maybe your testimonies are the beginning of the church’s humiliation and hopefully repentance, in our time.

  351. best quote of the day!
    No matter how you try to put the lipstick on the pig, it still stinks and squeals
    -Becky Garrison

    It’s kinda humorous how these stakeholders with financial ties pop in and then disappear. Then I Google them and they are in bed with the abusers? People! There is this fancy new fangled machine called the internet.

  352. I’m not attempting to shut Julie or anyone else down. It’s not within my power, nor would I feel entitled to do so. I just think it’s interesting that the people who tear down emergent aren’t really around to see what’s happening now. All this critique is old news. There’s lots of new stuff to either lift up or tear down. And if you don’t care enough to show up and see what’s current then why do you care enough to keep trashing the old incarnation? As for funding, Transform isn’t actually funded beyond the partners listed on our website once a year for our gathering. No one gets paid to work on it and it’s not fiscally associated with any of the orgs listed above. We do it b/c we love the community and love the work. And Steve Knight didn’t scrub the Emergent Village website. There was more than one admin back in those days. I’m not defending anyone accused in this thread other than Steve b/c he’s my partner co-conspirator and I hate to see him trashed for something he didn’t do. Plus he’s too humble to defend himself. 🙂

  353. Holly? Is it possible Steve Knight is not telling you the truth? Were you there that night when Doug Pagitt contacted him a Saturday in Sept 2008? If Doug is so loving and transcending and wants only goodness to flow as he posted here 450 posts ago, than he should start with clearing of his good buddy Steve Knight’s name because right now the story goes that he scrubbed it at Doug’s directive.

  354. While we’re on the topic of narcissistic behaviour (or perhaps just wounded pride):

    Tony Jones and Rod Dreher agreed on a Same-Sex Marriage Blogalogue (and yes, the irony of two cisgender straight married men discussing Same Sex Marriage was acknowledged).

    Tony put in a lot of effort, writing about 15 posts. Rod wrote less, and finally chose to discuss the issue with Andrew Sullivan.

    Tony’s response demonstrates a tendency towards pride/narcissism and psychological analysis/gaslighting:

    The headline and lead:
    “Breaking News: Rod Will Debate Same Sex Marriage
    It just turns out that he won’t debate it with me.”

    “We started earnestly but quickly petered out. I wrote, Rod didn’t respond.”

    “Well, Rod has jumped back into the fray. But not with me. With Andrew Sullivan.

    Now, listen, I don’t begrudge Rod his right to blogalogue with Andrew instead of me. All of us in the blogosphere know that an inbound link from Sullivan is, “Gold, Jerry, gold!“

    So I’ll just take this opportunity to continue the blogalogue in my little (tiny) corner of the Interwebs by reflecting on their posts.”

    “I think that Rod’s conversion to Orthodoxy plays a bigger role than his interlocuters realize. Rod converted to Catholicism in his 20s, after a hedonistic youth. In other words, it was a pretty radical conversion. Then, after reporting on the pedophilia scandals of the Catholic church, and almost losing his faith over it, he converted to Orthodoxy.

    So what? Well, I had a talk with Frederica Mathewes-Green a couple years ago that shed light on this for me. She, too, converted to Orthodoxy after years as a pretty radical feminist. … One had to embrace Orthodoxy in toto, she told me, to really appreciate the Jesus Prayer. To emphasize her point, she said this meant the whole Orthodox enchilada, including a 3rd century hermeneutic and cosmology!

    “You mean demons and a flat Earth?” I asked. “Not a flat Earth,” she said.

    I don’t want to over-psychologize Rod or Frederica, but I have known a number of people who’ve converted to Orthodoxy, and it does seem to attract a certain type of person who, at some deep level, is looking for an enclosed system of belief — the most-bounded of bounded sets. And systems like these have an answer for virtually every exigency. Further, they often tend to revel in taking positions that cut against the grain of contemporary society and are even doomed to failure (as Rod has said his opposition of SSM is).”

    “But for my part, this is neither an intellectually nor spiritually compelling move, because it mitigates against the ongoing work and revelation of the Holy Spirit. In fact, methinks, instead of maintaining an openness to the Spirit, it tends to enshrine the opinions of men — particularly dead, white ones.

    The Orthodox don’t call their current seminary professors “theologians.” The theologians of the Orthodox church are a bounded set, and they lived in the patristic period.

    That tells you something, doesn’t it?”

    I am now dying from the irony of Tony et al.’s ongoing attempts to enshrine the opinions of living white men.

  355. Julie,

    Your story is encouraging. I wish that there was a way for this entire thread to continue indefinitely. I’m worried that it’s not going to be easy for that to happen given that the comments section of blogs don’t scale up, in my experience, beyond a certain point before it becomes just plain difficult to keep up. But so far, that hasn’t happened, and I’m really glad.

    There’s a couple of books I wanted to suggest to you. I just got them in the mail, but I am suggesting them nonetheless. They are both by Randi Krieger, the coauthor of STOP WALKING ON EGGSHELLS, which is a book about living with a significant other who has borderline personality disorder. You referenced several times NPD, and I don’t want to conflate the two, but I think the experiences of the spouse in both scenarios is similar enough that I’ll suggest the books to you anyway.

    The first book is entitled SPLITTING: PROTECTING YOURSELF WHILE DIVORCING SOMEONE WITH BORDERLINE OR NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER by Bill Eddy and Randi Kreger. So actually this one is for NPD and BPD. So good call on my part. Anywhere click here for the amazon link. Amazon sent me two copies of it and the next book for some reason, so if you want I can just send you my extra copies free of charge.


    The divorce book strikes me as one you would really find incredibly valuable, if you don’t already have it or have something like it. But, from the sound of things, it sounds like such a book would be coming to you at 75% of the way through this awful mess. But I’m partly just throwing these two out there to just say hey, and that I think you’re a survivor, and an inspiration, and I am really sorry that you had to go through the ringer like this for so long, and that your kids had to too. I bet it’s difficult to even rank the worst parts of what this has been like for you since it’s like choosing between which is worse, getting run over or getting scalded with hot water — they both are so extreme and horrific it’s not even worth ranking. But one of the things that I wanted to express compassion towards you over is with regards to the gas lighting and the social alienation that you no doubt experienced. I suspect that there for a long period of time, maybe? , you basically were standing in front of everyone and asking for help and for whatever reason at best no one really could or would help, and at worst, people actually threw you under the bus. I bet you must’ve nearly lost it. I want to say “I can’t imagine it”, but honestly, I can imagine it. And I just wanted to say to you I can imagine it, it’s difficult to imagine, and I am wishing you a sound sleep tonight and tomorrow, and a smile on your face when you awake each morning.

    Have you ever read this poem by Stevie Smith entitled “Not Waving but Drowning“? You should read it aloud in a quiet room, just yourself in your peaceful quiet, and listen to it. I bet, like me, you hear your past in it. I hope for your sake, and my sake, that it is the past. Thank you for your refusal to die or regress. The decision to live in the midst of great suffering and misunderstanding is an act of source bold faith that we are all blessed to hear tales about it. Julie McMahon – she refused to die, refused to lie, and refused to throw away this life she had been given. If you can do that, we all can do that. I wish you the best next part of your life. It will end and when it does, the glory of the things that come next will make the trashiness of what happened with your husband be insignificant by comparison. Stay strong and hang in there girl.


  356. Another snippet from Tony’s blog:

    “When I’m asked — as I often am — why the EC is so white, I have a threefold answer:

    1. Five years ago everyone was saying that we were too male, but people aren’t saying that anymore because women are now leading the movement. So be patient.

    2. There’s probably a lot more racial diversity in the movement than you think; you’d better look beyond the skin color of the best-selling authors to make your assessment.

    3. The EC is not an evangelistic movement. I don’t mean that in reference to the gospel, but to the movement itself. The EC is not about growing the EC. It’s about catalyzing an ecclesial and theological conversation and about building a network of friendship in which these conversations can safely take place.”

    I wouldn’t feel safe in a network with conversations like those described in these comments.

    I wouldn’t feel safe in a network where male leaders were so dismissive of women (see earlier posts).

    And it’s not sufficient to point away from the leaders and best-sellers – they *are* the ones with the social and financial power. (And what about LGBT people in the network?)

  357. Holly, I know it’s slightly impolite, but how do you make your money?
    How do you hope to make your money?
    Film Consulting?
    Book sales?
    Paid ministry?

    How many of these depend on the success and reputation of those around you?
    Can you see the privilege and power and connections?

  358. @Holly To Steve’s credit, he is the only US emergent figure who apologized to me for spreading rumors I’m batshit via the Emergent Village network. However, he has yet to speak publicly even though these very public rumors were spread online during the time he was the webmaster of the EV network. As these battles were public and not private, I issued a public apology via the Sojourners God’s Politics blog in 2010 (can’t find the link as they revamped the site) and in my book Jesus Died For This? (Also I tried to meet with a few folks privately in person when they came to NYC with no success.)

    I’ve lost track of the # of people I’ve met in professional settings who have said words to the effect or “You’re not crazy like the emergent boys said you were.” Now that I’m not in the Xn industrial complex world, I don’t give a rat’s ass what any professional Christian thinks. But just because the gaslighting pushed me out of the toxic cesspool that’s become Xn publishing and into some really kick ass work doesn’t justify how these boys behave – and again, this isn’t about me — there’s a host of others but it’s up to them to do what Julie is doing and tell their stories. Preach it sisters (and a few brothers who got slammed as well) … 🙂

    In a similar vein, I’ve heard countless times that Doug directed Steve to scrub the website of any mention of Courtney Perry (and have seen screen grabs that prove said scrubbing) post-Christianity 21. If Steve did not do this, then it would behove him to come clean because Doug is accusing him of something pretty serious here. If he did do this, then fess up and explain what was really going on behind the scenes. Julie has the right to know what was done to discredit her and how the truth was obfuscated for years.

    Sorry but Steve was a major player here …

  359. @Tim I appreciate your questions around privilege. Most of my work in emergent has been around challenging unseen white privilege, power, critiquing leadership and advocating for transparency, action and multiculturalism. @Julie, Im really sorry you were hurt. I hope this space serves you in your healing.

  360. I can see your passion for diverse movements, Holly, and I wish to acknowledge your public advocacy in this area:

    “The invite-only nature of this [emergence Christianity 2012/2013] meeting not only excludes people and hurts feelings, but is also an expression of hierarchical organizing. As a movement that exults and develops practitioners of flat structures, the exclusive nature of this summit was completely out of line with who we are. It also violates the principle of the invitation inherit to successful social movements. Essentially two white men invited their friends and had a secret, exclusive strategy meeting on the state of the movement and most of us were not invited.”

    And also quote from your follow-up discussion:

    “I still want to discourage folks from invitation-only organizing. It creates a hierarchy based on accessibility, which in this community seem to be based on, well, friendships. I’m not knocking friendships, just wondering about the limitations of friendship based organizing.

    One of the things I have noticed as an outsider coming into this conversation in the past two years is the dynamic between “outsiders” encountering the code of “insiders” in the movement. (Sorry for the dualistic language here – I agree it can be problematic.) A way I see this showing up is in this idea of “friendships.” There is a code among many of the of the veterans of this movement that is about letting the work evolve out of authentic, organic friendships. That’s actually pretty lovely, and part of what attracted me to the emergence church is its relational focus. The problem with organizing based on friendships, is when you aren’t friends with the movers and shakers who are organizing.”

    Thank you for encouraging openness and transparency. It is a rare and precious thing in social movements.

  361. Hi Holly: Thanks for commenting. Here’s the thing: It might be “old news” to you, but it isn’t to many. I thought I’ve been “in the loop” for years. But I haven’t heard the other side of the story, really, until it started to be posted here. This is the illusion that being on the inside creates. You think that everybody knows and believes what you know and believe. I’ve really only heard one official and authorized side of the story. Now I’m hearing the unofficial and unauthorized of the story, and suddenly things don’t seem as clear.

    It makes me wonder how important this story is. Is it just nonsense? If so, it would probably be ignored. Is it significant? If so, then it would explain why there are so many voices joining the public conversation and so many voices trying to silence it privately.

  362. I haven’t really commented on EC topics since I bowed out 6-7 years ago, but my sadness over what was lost when that community withered is all coming back to me having read this thread. Writing this was somewhat cathartic.

    The thug and his theology are one and the same, neither really comes first. Your actions reflect what you believe, and your actions form your character. Central to your character is your ability to reason well. So, it all kind of happens at once, at least according to the traditional Christian theology of the person, with which I agree.

    This is related to why this idea of two marriages is wrong. Alisdair MacIntyre, who is a fairly transparent inspiration for this idea, suggested we retreat from modern institutions into small monastery-like communities in order to rebuild the moral foundation of character – an integrated set of beliefs and morality – that modernity has undermined. You don’t get to pick and choose the institution you want to retreat from, and even if you did, legal marriage is not a modern institution. Challenging pastors to retreat from legal marriage obligations seems like a pretty bourgeois protest. Why would we do anything to further undermine one of the few pre-modern institutions that still survives on life support, and that is central to forming men and women of good character?

    I agree with Tony that Driscoll’s theology and character are bound up together – I think that’s true for everyone. I’m concerned about Tony’s theology, whose philosophical foundations I criticized pretty consistently while I was involved in EC in 2004-7 before bowing out because Tony seemed more into pushing with some arrogance a pomo philosophy he never really studied in school than he was into fostering dialogue (I went back to just reading the wonderful books of Brian McLaren which is how I got involved in the first place). And it’s Tony’s theology that makes me inclined to think Julie should be heard – not in order to agree with her or to judge Tony, but because that’s simply how character works. Character isn’t some private thing you get to hide inside of you. It’s out there, reflected to greater or lesser degrees in your actions, your written and spoken words, and the testimonies of those closest to you.

    Same notice as given above by others – any ad hominems in private emails will be posted here.

  363. @Julie – I am sorry. We handled that poorly. It was wrong and for that I am sorry.

    @Becky – From my recollection, Tony asked me to remove Courtney’s name from the EV website, but then Tony made those changes himself. Doug had nothing to do with it, so I’m not sure why you’ve heard he has allegedly claimed such. Doug had very little involvement (if any) in the EV website during the short time I was involved (2006-2009).

  364. @Becky – I just want to add that the rumor about your mental health was spread by Jeff Kursonis, who I (and the rest of us in Emergent at the time) later learned was not someone who was trustworthy. (That’s a whole other story that is being conflated here, I’m afraid, with the accusations of mental illness by Tony towards his ex, Julie. Two different situations entirely.)

    Anyway, it was a hard lesson learned, and I apologized directly to you for my complicity in spreading that rumor — and I made every effort to correct that and connect you with the board of Emergent Village at the time so they could offer an “official” apology directly to you as well, but you refused to speak with them.

  365. Thank you, Ben. Yes, my family law attorney handed me two books after we got back the court ordered psych evals. STOP WALKING ON EGGSHELLS and SPLITTING: PROTECTING YOURSELF WHILE DIVORCING SOMEONE WITH BORDERLINE OR NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER I am very familiar with with both books. The legal system AND the church have not a clue how to handle NPD’s. Anyone can file a motion….and they DO! They absolutely love it and cannot get enough. It’s titillating! He was often Pro Se and represented himself I think in part to hear himself speak. I stopped counting after 15 motions. Alternating between trying to get support wiped out, and then when that would be denied, then another run at custody. I had only a 6 month reprieve from litigation since 2008. It was and is legal harassment. Doug Pagitt would come along and try and intimidate me by sitting in the courtroom. I think it was a fun day for the both of them. Last hearing he brought Courtney into the courtroom, and when asked, “Why are you here?” She said to my attorney, “Because you asked me here.” He said, “I never asked you here today?! So, let me be clear….you actually were not present for any of the accusations that are claimed here today, and yet you are THE witness?” It was as the tweens say, “awko taco.”

  366. Steve Knight. I accept with my whole “bat shit” crazy heart your apology. Thank you very much. You my friend were thrown under the bus by the JoPa brothers for that one. I am glad you spoke up! Thank you.

  367. @Steve – apology accepted. However, you didn’t try to connect me to the board and I refused to speak to them. Rather two people Danielle Shroyer and Mel Bray were sent out to “manage me” – I shot them several emails to see if we could connect but they didn’t really respond. So, after not hearing back a few times, I moved on. Please it’s critical that we get the facts straight. I did my damndest to meet with folks to clear my name only to be told that one doesn’t reconcile with Hitler, I’m a wingnut, troll, hack, liar, posionious source, etc.

    I bring up my “mental illness” and Julie’s as this was a common tactic that I saw employed in other instances as well. Again, I need to let those people chose to speak up as they feel called to do so. This was a common tactic employed by the EV network during this time to silence any dissent.

    Sorry to learn that you were thrown under the bus – I was told by numerous sources that Doug instructed you to scrub the website. I’m glad you didn’t do that and saddened that they used you as a scapegoat.

  368. Tim, thank you for adding such dimension to this important discussion! Quit your day job you have a knack for finding things on the web. Unfortunately, “frivolous lawsuits” are almost impossible to prove. Anytime someone files a motion you have to respond…it’s a broken system for sure…but yes, it has been discussed. This entire mess with JoPa group, EV leadership AND Mars Hill and the reason they look like THIS, is because of very real and yet denied mental illnesses. I say this as gently and lovingly as I can…there is help for NPD’s but they have to first accept the diagnosis. If those EV JoPa and MH friends love and care about their leaders, then take care of them and get them the help they need, so they can have healthy relationships and not abuse their positions of power. That would be the true miracle in all of this, if those people Mark Driscoll and the JoPa brothers got therapy to keep them in check.

  369. Holly, sometimes the process of telling the truth can hurt before there is healing. I think you are being a little bit premature but I understand what you are saying.

  370. Julie, I bow to your talent for finding the undeclared connections of many participants in this discussion!

    It does depend whether your jurisdiction has a “no prospect of success” or an “improper motive”-style vexatious litigant code. It’s much harder to prove an improper motive.

    And yes, the number of declared vexation litigants in any jurisdiction can typically be counted on two hands. Very difficult. I can’t even imagine the stress. I never ever want to be involved in anything legal or administrative in my life!

  371. FWIW, here is an excerpt from Minnesota anti-SLAPP law, via the Public Participation Project website:

    MINN. STAT. §554.04(2)(b) provides for a SLAPPBack cause of action. It provides that a court shall award actual damages, and may award punitive damages, if a SLAPP defendant shows that the SLAPP was brought to harass, inhibit the defendant’s public participation or exercise of constitutional rights, or otherwise wrongfully injure the defendant.

    I’m not a lawyer, but have had to do some research on SLAPP/anti-SLAPP because threats of defamation lawsuits against those who speak out seem to arise regularly in situations that involve alleged spiritual abuse. State laws vary, but if there is an apparently frivolous lawsuit to harass someone, an anti-SLAPP counter-suit freezes the discovery process and often gets expedited treatment in the judicial system.

    It’s less usual for these suits to happen in religious contexts, but it happened to a friend of mine, Julie Anne Smith, who along with four others were sued by their former pastor for defamation of character for $500,000. He lost. This document from her court case gives a great overview on SLAPP/anti-SLAPP, for those who are interested in more detail.

  372. Lisa Miller’s September 2011 critical response to Tony Jones’ two kinds of marriage post/series makes some interesting points:

    ‘On closer inspection, the Jones protest is muddled and retrograde. It’s bad for the financially vulnerable partner (historically the woman) and for children. Marriage law has come a long way since 16th century Europe, when men controlled all the property in a marriage and held the legal right to make all the decisions.’

    ‘By refusing to sign marriage certificates, Jones “penalizes heterosexual couples who are coming to the church without actually winning anything for same-sex couples,” [Stephanie] Coontz says.’

    ‘Everybody needs these protections; a promise to God will not make a deadbeat parent pay child support.’

    [Dare I even ask whether Tony Jones pays child support, Julie? I know it’s an intrusive question, so feel free to decline.]

    ‘Finally, there’s the question of motivation. Jones has griped publicly about the lasting trauma of his own 2009 divorce. “I got married in the state of Minnesota by the stroke of a pen,” he said. “To extricate myself took 14 months and thousands of dollars, and here the pastor has no authority.”’

    ‘His first wife, still irate from the divorce, suspects that Jones’s position reflects not a higher principle but a wish to avoid legal entanglements the second time around, which Jones vehemently denies. “It is a total cop-out to have just a sacramental marriage,” Julie McMahon wrote in an e-mail. “I am old school and I think that loving someone wholly is to share in legal property and assets as well.”

    It would be hard to find a gay-marriage advocate who believes otherwise.’

    Wow. Just wow.

  373. He voluntarily pays not one red penny. The county has to nab it. Being self employed it is very difficult to get a real account of income and revenue streams. He also hired literally the slimiest lawyer he could find (people hire lawyers like themselves) who got it reduced to a tiny monthly fraction of what was originally agreed upon in 2008 based on his income which he himself provided. Then he said times are tough, and I can no longer pay support. We live below the line of poverty while he brags about sipping 50 year old scotch on twitter and wining and dining his way through Hawaii and European vacations. BUT honestly, we are doing great!! I got a new job as a children’s therapist intern and finishing up graduate school so that I am hopeful I will be able to pull us out of poverty within the next year or two, and into a livable range. My kids are on government school lunches and we get heating assistance and at one point he owed me over $50,000 in unpaid support while draining me with legal fees….it was sadistic! But as I said, he hired someone who is honestly (and this is not just me speaking but the entire professional family law community chiming in)….an utter disgrace to the family law profession and she is harmful to children. So NOW I actually pay him a month because she got is retroactively reduced back to November 2009. This is kind of funny….a group of family law professionals in Minneapolis actually sent her a retirement card as a joke congratulating her on leaving law practice. I thought that was kind of funny!

  374. Sorry for the Garriso – iPad went wonky.

    @Steve Upon a bit of reflection re timelines there’s a discrepancy here Steve I hope you can help me clear up. After you apologized to me privately, I asked you for a public apology and heard nadda. I don’t recall any invitation from you for me to connect with anyone on the EV Board.

    A while later as the Tony/Courtney news was hitting the blogosphere, I was contacted seemingly out of the bue by Danielle Shroyer (who was also Courtney Perry’s pastor BTW) who wanted to “chat with me.” Given her connection to Courtney coupled with some private correspondence I had with a US emergent voice defending Danielle and dismissing Julie, I was very reluctant to meet with her. But after chatting with a few trusted voices, I decided to give it a go but my guard was very understandably up. Guard up or down, it didn’t matter as after a few emails, nothing ever materialized. I chalked his up to the overall mishahndling of Julie and moved on – hadn’t thought about this really until the Mars Hill mess happened and then the parrallel patterns between EV and MHC really crystalized for me.

    To date your public apology (and thank you very much for that) is the only sign I have seen from anyone connected with US emergent – Jeff may have started the rumors but they spread far and wide, and continue to be spread by a few voices even today. I’m just over being gaslight and now play in circles where these guys have NO influence – so I can ignore them without losing sleep anymore.

    But trust me, this story is far from over … like MHC, the damage done by both MHC and EV author/speaker/leaders runs wide and deep.

  375. Julie-
    I am one of the people Becky refers to I too have a name in the emergent world where I have been trashed. I am now known as “bipolar” and “out to destroy any friend and their church.”
    I have moved on. I used to fight it and call it out. A book came out by an Outlaw Preacher that abused me at one of their conferences. I screamed as loud as I could, but was never heard. I have since walked away. It is hard at times. I have left friends behind because I cannot in anyway be around emergent stuff. Friends want me to go to Wild Goose. I consider it, physically vomit, and then do what I always do….use humor and some created story why I cannot attend. It hurts. I miss the time of going to those and loving my friends. It is no longer safe.
    I share only a glimpse into my pain to tell you, you are speaking for many lost voices. Thank you.

  376. Lost Voice no more…we hear you loud and clear! Keep talking. You are heard here. Thank you so much for speaking your truth! This is very important. This is an open message to every woman speaking at the upcoming Christianity 21 event by JoPa in Phoenix, AZ. Are you really going to put your name behind abusive men? Are you honestly going to turn a blind eye to how they have abused their position of power and influence to harm people?! Women?!? I sure as hell wouldn’t. My abuser who had an inside as police chaplain for my city told police I had “split personality and would slip into other voices.” A-maz-ing shameless lengths to discredit! Oh, I recognize what you are describing all too well.

  377. Julie, thank you so much for sharing your story here. It is so important that they be heard. And your last post (9-24) is so revealing of Tony’s character.

    Lost Voice, your voice is lost no more. Thanks for the courage and willingness to share. It is as you and others do that the true depths and nature of this abuse and frankly, cancer, is revealed.

  378. This thread has been amazing. Other than opening my eyes as a lurking TJ theology fan wanting to express my thanks for bringing all of this into the light.

    @Julie. You are amazing. I’m sorry for what you’ve had to go through. While my situations have been vastly different than yours, gaslighting and such *sucks*.

  379. My hope and feeble prayer is that the “discernment group” will not take a page out of the Mars Hill PR strategy and try to minimize the damage done to Julie by offering a “for how we might have hurt you we apologize” apology. Closure is what’s needed.

    The “cancer” Rick speaks of above will never be healed unless the full, cleansing, healing light of Truth is brought to bear on this “disease”.

  380. lost voice (now found!) I did I little googling and observed in the comment thread how you were run off Tripp Fuller’s blog for asking important questions and were asked to “message me through Facebook if you want to keep talking.” Those silencing strategies are OVER. Please keep telling your story. It was wrong and abusive and those involved need to be called out.

  381. Bill Kinnon, I hope so too, but if Doug Pagitt is involved I have very low expectations of any sort of authentic apology. I am 100% confident that the Jo in the Pa, is incapable. I expect a half ass’d placated version of a sorry seeing as Brian McLaren is on the Christianity 21 Phoenix, AZ roster put on by JoPa. I would like to be pleasantly surprised, but not holding my breath.

    Andrew Jones….you and your nomadic, global missional family have always had my utmost admiration. You are, and have always been the ‘real deal’ so thank you for hearing my story and receiving it as a follower of God. Thank you for being an advocate and for being authentic.

  382. I was asked to post what some people have been emailing me who basically disapprove of what’s happening here. I did this in this comment:

    So now I’ve been asked to post what private emails I’m receiving from people who do approve of what’s happening here.

    Essentially, it’s all the same points, but from another perspective. The same reasons some want to see this managed or shut down are the same reason some want to see this continue.

    Here’s what encouraging people are saying:

    1. Some say thanks for providing a safe space where people can speak their truth without fear of being censored or edited or corrected or blocked.
    2. Some people are writing to me personally because they are still afraid of being targeted, blackballed, or suffer negative consequences or backlash.
    3. Some are absolutely amazed at how messy but fruitful this conversation is because apologies and forgivenesses are being expressed.
    4. I’m being encouraged for being a good moderator, mainly by allowing this to just happen naturally with the occasional interjection.

    So thank you! I’m personally very grateful that this happened. I still predict more good fruit will appear.

  383. Andrew Jones-the Tall Skinny Kiwi Thank you for being the ‘real deal.’ You made me laugh when you said all those years ago, “You actually don’t seem as “bat shit” crazy as I was told. You and your nomadic, global missional family traveling the world with a truck…restore my faith.

  384. Thank you Lost Voice – your story and Julie’s googling illustrates how this pattern of behavior spread well beyond those connected with the Emergent Village brand. Like Mars Hill, there was a large interconnected network that supported the “emergent brand” at all costs.

    Thank you for anyone who has the courage to apologize – the one thing I’d ask moving forward is that you don’t qualify your apology by citing what the survivor of emergent abuse (I like this term better than victim) did or did not do – as we’ve noted before, when someone is in the throes of prolonged abuse and trauma, they will do/say things in response that will seem somewhat “batshit crazy.” In fact, the more intense the abuse, the more likely they are to exhibit signs of extreme trauma and abuse.

    Also, it is critical for those apologizing to put their words into action – what will you do to end the cycle of abuse? Too often abusers will issue face saving apologies that upon reflection seem more designed to save their own careers but the structures remain in place that allow the abuse to continue. (This is exactly what you’re seeing at Mars Hill – even the resignation of the #2 bully and Driscoll’s leave of absence hasn’t changed the culture that allowed this bad boy behavior to continue.) Even if one hasn’t been guilty of abuse themselves and were unaware of the Emergent crew’s on and offline bullying (and it’s hard for me to truly believe this given some blog battles), please reflect on how your participation in purchasing emergent products, attending events and the like contributes to the problem. If you stop the flow of money into this machine, it will break down (see Mars Hill).

  385. Becky brings up a good point. NPD’s gaslight their victims then stand back and say, “Look. see! she’s crazy!” My abuser is obsessed with number and is stuck on thinking and proliferating the meme that I sent x amount of emails crying out for help, so that means I am nuts….actually, it means I am being “stonewalled” and am having to shout into the hurricane to try and be heard…..while they appear calm, cool and collected…it’s pretty down right sadistic if you think about it.

  386. On the Christianity 21 facebook page, they say that, “Most churches could do a lot more to support people who live with mental illnesses. Many Christian teachings link health, wealth and faith in ways that can make anyone having a bad day feel like God has abandoned them. This feels all the more injurious to someone living with a mental-health challenge.”

    The sheer and utter hypocrisy of this is mind boggling to me, after seeing how they treated Julie, Becky, and LostVoice.

  387. Last Friday, I received an email from Julie McMahon requesting that an apology to her be posted on this thread. I was one of several people who had been asked by both Tony and Julie in 2008 to help them in a time of marital crisis. We tried our best to help, but the marriage didn’t survive.

    I read through all the postings on this thread and checked back as the list grew. I saw significant discrepancies between the version of the story that was being told on this thread and my experience and understanding of what actually happened. 

    However, I was at a distance and was only peripherally involved because I extricated myself from the situation early on. Because I take accusations of spiritual abuse seriously (as, I’m sure, do all the people named in Julie’s email), in recent days I’ve gone back in my email archives and reread the many emails Julie sent or forwarded to me during and since 2008.

    I have come to see a few things that could have been done differently, especially with the benefit of hindsight. I also see areas where, if the counsel given to Julie and Tony had been followed more fully, outcomes could have been better. But I have never witnessed or observed anything even close to abuse by any of the people named; in fact, I have only witnessed sincere and solid pastoral care in a tragic and volatile situation, right up to this moment. 

    I think that someone on this thread made a good suggestion. She shared that she was once accused of something. A group of qualified and mature people reviewed the evidence in a responsible way. She suggested taking what has been shared on this thread, along with information that can’t in good conscience be shared in public, for private professional review, making use of structures developed by denominations over many years of dealing with situations like these.

    I think that is a good idea, and I will do my best to see it is done. Because I have some idea of the legal dimensions of situations like this, I do not believe it is wise or appropriate to say anything else at this time. 

  388. @Danica – as David Hayward notes in the listing of positive responses he’s received, many feel they cannot come forward.

    In light of the deletion of Julie’s comment referenced above, I join Bill and Julie in not holding my breath for any genuine apology from the remaining names she’s mentioned. At this point, I feel any comment will be designed to safe face and ensure that Xnity21, the Cana Intitative and other US emergent sponsored products continue.

    Again, if you want to help end the abuse, the first step is to walk away. Even if someone is your “friend,” don’t buy their book, pay to hear them speak and the like until they publicly renounce their involvement with the US emergent brand. This is especially true for those who once had original voices but when they hit the stage, preserving their spot took center stage over speaking the truth and they morphed into that Christian religious rock star that they once had the courage to critique. One can hope – but not holding my breath.

  389. I have one comment.

    Being familiar with the situation, I can honestly say that the only person close to telling the whole truth in the Julie M vs. Tony J situation is Julie. The emergent cult, which she was headfirst deep in from the beginning, turned on her and excommunicated her in unceremonious ways while covering up sin in their own lives. I was there when, at the original ‘Christianity’ 21, Doug Pagitt threatened to have her removed physically by the Edina Police if she would not leave.

    Pagitt, Jones, McLaren, and all their cover-up cronies are all a bunch of mysogynist hypocrites. They love themselves and they hate women.

  390. Thank you to Dan Kimball. For being a person of integrity and faith. For knowing when to back away from rotten fruit and for responding to my call for help all those years ago when I was shunned and stonewalled….your words of kindness and compassion stayed with me. Mark Ostreicher too! So, interesting how the ones tied in financially can’t. speak. the. truth. EVEN when it is in their face with verifiable evidence.

  391. Julie-

    I had honestly forgotten about that. Because I wanted to push that issue and many other issues I put a large target on my back. I was shocked where how low leaders got. They even offered for Pete Rollins to mediate the situation (he was asked and agreed) and I turned it down. Pete is a close friend of the leader who went around Transform saying I was bipolar, among other things. There was no way in hell I was going to enter any discussion with any of them. At that time there were not many who were truly standing beside me. (I do not hold anger with those who did not stand at that time. It was complicated and I get it)
    I realize my pic is up on here but I wish for my real name not to be used. I cannot put my family through any more hurt. I just wanted Julie to know how many of us who have been torn apart are here. I realize many may want to find the convos and history I am bringing up, but my family is still healing from the bombs emergent put in our lives. I just cannot allow them to get bombed again.

  392. Re McLare’s non-apology – Xnity21 2015 and Cana Initative 1, Justice for Julie 0

    FYI – unlike actual denominations, there is no actual functioning governance structure in either Mars Hill or US emergent set up to deal with abuses committed by those connecterd to either entity. In the case of Mars Hill, Driscoll sits on their Board of Advisors and Accountability, thus rendeirng them his personal pawns. The US emergent leaders are even more loosely structures as they’ve have always insisted there is no leadership in place – though they promote themselves as leaders in selling their products.

  393. I respect that. Your anonymity is safe. My own father, a person of the highest moral character and integrity was accused of being shady by my abuser because he tried to find us alternative housing when my abuser (although court ordered to pay the mortgage) willfully and vindictively drove it into foreclosure and the kids and I homeless, while he went off and bought he and his spiritual wife a new home. There is no depth to which these people will stoop to destroy your name and reputation.

  394. The sad thing in all of this is that, if I out myself as an atheist to my parish and having been atheist since 2011, as well as being queer, the Catholic Church will still try to find a way to trash me. Julie’s situation, though unique, has aspects that most certainly are not.

  395. To be fair, I don’t think BMcL just *intentionally* spat in Julie’s face or gave her the finger. I think he tried to find a way to appear to do the right thing while protecting his and his buddies’ interests. This doesn’t in any way excuse him: what he should have done is made a full and unreserved apology. But painting him (or anyone else) as blacker than satan isn’t really helpful.

    (BTW, I have absolutely no dog in this fight, and am absolutely on the side of the victim(s).)

  396. Here’s how I read Brian’s apology:

    ” I was one of several people who had been asked by both Tony and Julie in 2008 to help them in a time of marital crisis. We tried our best to help, but the marriage didn’t survive.”
    — Brian states his good intentions here. And also subtly throws Tony under the bus (Tony and Julie ASKED him for his help … but even though Brian tried his best to help, Tony and Julie weren’t able to hold it together)

    “I read through all the postings on this thread and checked back as the list grew. I saw significant discrepancies between the version of the story that was being told on this thread and my experience and understanding of what actually happened. ”
    — Brian here calls Julie a liar, and implies that his understanding of the situation is better than hers (gaslighting again)

    “However, I was at a distance and was only peripherally involved because I extricated myself from the situation early on. Because I take accusations of spiritual abuse seriously (as, I’m sure, do all the people named in Julie’s email), in recent days I’ve gone back in my email archives and reread the many emails Julie sent or forwarded to me during and since 2008.”
    — Several things here. One, he contradicts himself from the previous paragraph where he implies his experiences and understanding are superior. This is classic manipulation, because by stating superior knowledge, then saying, ‘of course I could be wrong’, you effectively close off argument that you are wrong. Two, the ‘many emails’ Julie sent him paints her as a needy, unstable woman …after all, he was just trying to help Tony and Julie keep their marriage together, but obviously she (and he) didn’t take his advice. Third, he implies here again that he knows more of the situation than everyone else here, having been involved since 2008, which makes all of our opinions irrelevant.

    “I have come to see a few things that could have been done differently, especially with the benefit of hindsight. I also see areas where, if the counsel given to Julie and Tony had been followed more fully, outcomes could have been better”
    — Here he more overtly throws Tony under the bus. If Tony (and Julie) had only followed what he said, their marriage would have survived. He mentions ‘a few things that could have been done differently’, but does not say what they are, thereby effectively refusing to take any personal responsibility. It’s all Tony’s and Julie’s fault. Brian has been a good friend and only tried to help.

    “But I have never witnessed or observed anything even close to abuse by any of the people named; in fact, I have only witnessed sincere and solid pastoral care in a tragic and volatile situation, right up to this moment. ”
    — Again, he’s saying here that Julie is lying. No abuse happened, by Tony and CERTAINLY not by Brian himself (who was only trying to give sincere and solid pastoral care in a tragic and volatile situation). The word ‘volatile’ insinuates that Julie is mentally unstable, more gaslighting.

    “I think that someone on this thread