A Culture of Abuse – That’s What Church Can Be

Editor’s Note: A couple of weeks ago I got an email from an active Clergy Project member who told me how upset he was after hearing an account of “…people who were mentally and emotionally raped by the church organization they participated in.” I asked if it would help to write about it. This is the result.

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By “Stan Bennett”

I watched a You Tube video of a church service where the preacher unleashed his rage on the congregation. He called out individuals in the crowd, actually making one young man stand up to receive a holy tongue-lashing. I watched that big young man hunch his shoulders like he was taking a physical beating and nod his head in agreement with the preacher’s criticism. At one point the preacher said the boy wasn’t worth fifteen cents. All through the beating the preacher would say to the congregation, “You all know I love you, don’t you?”

I was enraged at the preacher who used his position to hurt the people. But I was also angry at the crowd for passively accepting the abuse. Why didn’t they just get up and leave? Why do people willingly come to a place every week, sit down, and let a guy yell at them?

This has been difficult to write because it has stirred up so many feelings, and it took me a while to sort through them and trace them back to this event:

Years ago, I experienced a depressive episode that put me in the hospital for a few days, and it took me at least a year before I began to feel even a little “normal.” Early on in that year my father, who is a minister, attacked me verbally, using all my vulnerabilities against me. He was angry because my illness embarrassed him. I sat for two hours, enduring the blows of his words, until I crumbled into uncontrollable sobs. He concluded his assault by offering to pray for me, which I declined.

I sat there and took all of that abuse from him because I thought God was using him as a means to discipline me. Even now after two decades, I have to resist the nagging feeling that I somehow deserved that beating, and then I’m embarrassed that I’m still vulnerable to feeling that way. I understand now that it’s common for the victim to believe he is to blame for the abuser’s anger.

I think that same dynamic of abuse occurs in churches all over the world. Furthermore, I believe it is a deeply embedded cultural aspect of religion.

It’s easy to blame the narcissistic donkeys that rail from the pulpit.

donkey

But think for a minute about how they got there. It is likely that church described above sought out this man, invited him to be their minister, moved him and his family to their town and paid him a salary to have him stand up every week to abuse them.

Why? Because it’s good old religion. It’s their culture.

I have worked for churches like this and resisted the call to be abusive. Even when I was considered ultra-conservative, I tried to be kind in the pulpit. I told the people that they were valuable and loved. It’s ironic to me that I had more criticism directed at me because I was nice rather than mean. I would have had a more secure career if I had been the angry, ironfisted bastard they’d hired me to be, so they could come to continue their weekly beatings.

My thoughts go in many directions.

I think of that pastor with the smarmy smile, soft voice and simpleminded message who receives enough money to live in a mansion and fly in a jet. People get angry with him, but he didn’t steal any of this stuff. He simply demanded it, and people willingly gave it to him because they think he speaks for God (and you can’t disprove that).

I also think of ministers who brainwash people to do terrible things, up to and including drinking poison to show their loyalty.

Jim Jones

Jim Jones

I think of people who pay a huge price for gradually realizing the religious craziness for what it is. When they begin to ask their questions, they’re shushed. When they speak up to say they no longer believe; they lose their friends, families and even their jobs.

And I think of people like me who remain in the pulpit, who no longer believe, who refuse to beat their people, who long to fulfill their desire to heal and help and who dream of a time when they can escape this culture.

I also dream of helping others escape it as well.

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Bio: “Stan Bennett” is a closet agnostic, still working as a minister for a mainline denomination. He is the same “Stan” who was recently featured in the CNN documentary, Atheists: Inside the World of Non-believers. He has been a pastor for over thirty years, but is searching for other employment so he can escape from under the clergy robes.  He has a blog called A Preacherman’s Secrets and is publishing a book by the same name.

>>>>>>>>Photo credits: By Nancy Wong – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44405530

By SleafordSue – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22114288

About Linda LaScola

Linda LaScola is co-author, with Daniel C. Dennett, of Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind (2013) and “Preachers who are not Believers” (2010). She is an independent qualitative research consultant who works out of Washington, D.C. She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the Catholic University of America and is a co-founder of the Clergy Project.

  • Pofarmer

    Sad thing is, these people don’t even realise they are being abused. My wife is a conservative Catholic from a very conservative Catholic family. I didn’t know how deep her indoctrination actually was until our kids started school and she got progressively more extreme in her religious views. Whe is terrified of hell. Terrified of our kids going to hell, and any disagreement with Catholic Dogma just might wind one up in hell, you never know. It took me a long time to realize, just recently actually, that this was done TOO here. And she seeks out information and groups which confirm her views. She can’t talk rationally about any disagreements or problems with Catholic Theology in particular or even God belief in the abstract. There’s just too much fear and associated guilt.

    • http://preachermansecrets.blogspot.com Stan Bennett

      I remember discussing with my wife how we should protect the kids from crazy religion even as we were in the middle of it. As with many things, we have to let adults figure this stuff out for themselves as we offer quiet support with well timed comments.

    • carolyntclark

      How hard it must be to watch your wife become more scrupulous and burdened by her religious beliefs. There is fine line that is easy to cross with susceptible people. May I kindly suggest thinking about a psychological evaluation.

      • Pofarmer

        Things is, really religious people don’t see it as being burdened, they see it as being faithful. And being faithful is the most important thing there is. I tried to get her ti go to counseling by herself, and we wound up in marriage counseling. The only counseling available locally is run by a former Catholic Seminarian. After our last session wound up with me defending my atheism for basically the entire time, I told her no more at that place. I would be interested to find a good secular counselor, maybe. I did get her to read “In faith and in Doubt” which had to be difficult for her because it says that religious people must compromise. The horrors!

        • carolyntclark

          Thank you for responding . I was worried that you might be offended. The guilt and fear of hell is certainly a burden.
          I hope you can find a rational therapist.
          This is surely the very ugly side of religion, Peace !

        • Linda_LaScola

          Is the counselor certified by his professional association and liscenced by the state? If so, he should not be proseletizing any religion — it’s against professional ethics. If he’s not liscenced and certified, you’re right — you need to find another counselor.

          • Pofarmer

            This is Missouri. There was a Ford Ranger running around today with a huge “remember Jesus” sign in the back. As far as certification, not sure.

          • Elizabeth.

            Our pickup trucks have taken to flying huge Confederate battle flags. o boy

          • Linda_LaScola

            You can ask about licensing and certification – it’s not a rude question. Counselors typically have their credentialing documents framed and hanging in their office. Unless you are specifically receiving “Christian counseling” your counselor is required by law to adhere to government standards.

            Also, I should add that what you perceived as “defending your atheism” could have been the counselor’s legitimate attempt to understand your point of view in order to more effectively address the issues in your marital relationship.

          • Pofarmer

            “Also, I should add that what you perceived as “defending your atheism” could have been the counselor’s legitimate attempt to understand your point of view in order to more effectively address the issues in your marital relationship.”

            Yeah, no. She was clearly defending the idea of how rational christianity is. I wish i could search back in disqus and find the post I wrote that day on Cross Examined.

          • Linda_LaScola

            You can — if click on your name, it goes to your disqus commenting record.

        • Elizabeth.

          Clues for finding a good counselor might be in the listing for the Prepare-Enrich marriage counselors. https://www.prepare-enrich.com/webapp/pe/couples/template/PEMainSiteCounselorSearch.vm P-E is a program developed by the University of MN, and tho it’s used by many clergy, it’s non-sectarian and even accommodates glbtq couples in the inventories they’ve developed. Just the fact that these counselors, Social Workers, and clergy go to the trouble of administering the inventories I think shows a certain rational-type approach to life.

          The list would be just a starting point — some may have web sites; others you may be able to google for more insight into their outlook.

          I surely wish you well!!!!!!! Sympathy for such an unhelpful experience — hats off for being open to keep exploring!!!!!

    • mason

      “Sad thing is, these people don’t even realize they are being abused.”

      Exactly! That was the case when I was raised a credulous Evangelical and then as a Evangelical preacher I was ignorant that I was now perpetuating the mental abuse, until the day I dared to allow myself some honest thoughts.

      Fear, guilt, and greed is at the heart of all the theisms. You must be a very patient person to be able to tolerate living with all this irrationality and superstition. I assume you love her and very much want to keep the family together. I know for a fact I couldn’t/wouldn’t live with a spouse like you describe.

      Are the children, if they’re still kids, buying into all the nonsense?

      • Pofarmer

        The oldest two describe themselves as atheists, the youngest is 12 and noncommital, but thinks “most of it is made up like Pokemon.” This, of course, creates more tension.

        • mason

          Well, that’s sounds good to me. Mom’s outnumbered 3-1…just supply her with ample questions and appropriate books to read, and her cognitive dissonance will reach critical “mass.” :)

      • ctcss

        Fear, guilt, and greed is at the heart of all the theisms.

        Mason, maybe it was in your theology, but that certainly isn’t in the theology I was taught.

        • mason

          So what kind of theology was that? No blood sacrifice of son? No sin guilt and shame? No hell damnation, eternal punishment? No greedy promise of eternal life & streets of gold? Sounds nice. What brand of theism was it and what was the theology. All the Abrahamic theisms have these ugly themes.

          • ctcss

            No blood sacrifice of son? No sin guilt and shame? No hell damnation, eternal punishment? No greedy promise of eternal life & streets of gold?

            Exactly.

            All the Abrahamic theisms have these ugly themes.

            Broad brush accusations are invariably inaccurate. I am a very non-mainstream Christian, and we don’t hold to that kind of theology.

          • mason

            Congratulations for rejecting the Abrahamic theology.

            “Fear, guilt, and greed is at the heart of all the theisms.” Perhaps “root” would have been more precise though I think heart still fits as I’m writing about the Abrahmic theisms and there root of blood sacrifice, damnation, tales of eternal life and the scientifically absurd..

            So why would your religious theology even use the word Christian since the mythical Jesus made it clear he was just as sadomasochistic and his mythical father Jehovah?

          • ctcss

            Congratulations for rejecting the Abrahamic theology.

            It’s not so much that, but rather, it’s rejecting a fundamentalist, literalist, theological viewpoint. Everything you are talking about seems to be based on the notion that the Bible is a notarized stenographic transcript of history so we can refer to it and blindly follow it without giving it any kind of in-depth thinking. This approach also strikes me as very materialistic (matter-based) in viewpoint. The problem is, God is not material at all, that is, God is not formed by, framed by, or limited by, matter, energy, time, or space.

            Basically (at least as I was taught), the human view of things is not God’s view of things. The point, at least in my religion, is to grow closer in thought to God so as to perceive and understand God’s creation (creation as God knows it), rather than to view things from the standpoint of the world. Basically, if what the world presents to us is true, then there would be no need of any sort to refer to God, or to seek out God, since what the world presents would be all that is needed. But Jesus rejected the world’s view, and did not regard what the world presents as being in accordance with God’s will. Rather, he seemed to be saying that we are supposed to overcome the world as he did, not acquiesce to it.

            So why would your religious theology even use the word Christian since the mythical Jesus made it clear he was just as sadomasochistic and his mythical father Jehovah?

            Once again, your conclusion seems to be based on adhering to a literalist viewpoint. Why would anyone want to do this when it seems rather obvious that Jesus was constantly trying to get his disciples to think more deeply about what he was teaching? Their confusion about what he was trying to explain often seemed to stem from their all-too-literal views. It’s only when they started to grasp the deeper meaning of what he was getting at that they began to make progress. However, you seem to espousing the point that deep consideration of religious concepts is not necessary at all, simply literally read the Bible text and accept it at face value. This viewpoint seems to forget that Jesus was speaking to his disciples in ways that forced them to think about the spiritual concepts he was putting before them, rather than simply regarding the literal gist of the words as the only thing worth getting from his ministry. Why did he do this? Probably because it’s rather hard to directly express spiritual concepts using everyday terminology and speech. To succeed at this, one needs to use symbolism and figurative language. Thus, Jesus spoke of commerce, finance, agriculture, etc. to help illustrate concepts about God and God’s kingdom, yet none of those literal subject areas have anything to do with that which is entirely spiritual in nature. He was simply speaking to his listeners using terms and concepts they were familiar with.

            And, quite frankly, I don’t get your notions about Jesus’ character. He signed up (so to speak) to carry out a mission that required him to face death and overcome it, but he did so because it was a necessary step to take in order to demonstrate what he had been teaching his disciples about God and one’s relationship to God. He performed this out of a deep sense of love for humanity, not because God hated humanity (or Jesus) and Jesus was merely trying to placate God. The thing is, lots of people put their lives on the line for their fellow humans all the time, and we respect and admire them for doing so. Soldiers, in fact, realize that they may be ordered to their likely death in order to attain a larger, laudable goal of saving many lives beyond their own. No one wants to encounter the specter of death, of course, but self-sacrifice is not an uncommon concept that humans face all the time. That being the case, I think your zing at Jesus is really undeserved.

          • mason

            OK…let’s forget all the bible stuff since to you it’s like Petri dish overrun with deadly dangerous viruses that must be avoided. Yet you believe there are a few friendly viruses in the dish you can tease out. My zing at the mythical Jesus is just based on what’s in the Petri dish.

            So forget all that mythical fundamentalist bible nonsense but still assume there is a all powerful omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God. Given all the females who are raped and murdered every day, people ravaged by cancer, humans destroyed by natural disasters, and the fact that the main activity on our planet is creatures killing and eating each other 24/7, it’s apparent this God has less empathy than the worst of humans, or is clearly horridly twisted and sadistic. Day after day this God watched the horrors of the holocaust and wouldn’t lift one on his all powerful fingers to stop the torturing and madness.

            So is this too much of a zing at the theistic Judeo-Christian God you worship, and is this God just heartless and sadistic, just plain impotent? Just what does this God do other than sit on his hands and engaging in twisted voyeurism throughout the ages? Please explain how this God hasn’t a single paltry trait of human compassion possessed by even the most deplorable of our species.

  • Raging Bee

    I think that same dynamic of abuse occurs in churches all over the world. Furthermore, I believe it is a deeply embedded cultural aspect of religion.

    It’s a deeply embedded hard-wired aspect of how the human mind works. Which is why it’s so deeply embedded in all the world’s religions.

    • http://preachermansecrets.blogspot.com Stan Bennett

      Some would argue that the deeply embedded aspect of religion is a good argument for continuing a religious pursuit. But perhaps it can be argued that this is one of those things that humans need to grow past.

      • ctcss

        perhaps it can be argued that this is one of those things that humans need to grow past.

        I agree that humans need to grow past the various human failings and weaknesses that they seem to be afflicted with. But I would disagree with the notion that religion, just because it is religion, is something that needs to be grown past. Religion, when approached in a helpful, loving, healing way, is a marvelous thing, at least from what I have seen of it when the motives and ideals behind its theology and practice are good ones. And, quite frankly, why should anyone seek out that which embodies bad motives and ideals?

        You mentioned culture many times in your post. I would contend that it is the abusive culture that needs to be seen through and rejected rather than a wholesale, blanket condemnation of religion itself. In like manner, an abusive marriage culture should be rejected rather than marriage, an abusive social culture should be rejected rather than society, an abusive business culture should be rejected rather than business, and abusive military culture should be rejected rather than the military, an abusive political culture should be rejected rather than politics, etc.

        It is careful discernment of qualities of thought that need to be used when deciding whether or not to align one’s self with any undertaking. Only the best qualities of thought, cherished and acted upon, should be sought out and embraced. That is what will help humanity overcome its problems in the long run.

        My 2 cents.

        • http://preachermansecrets.blogspot.com Stan Bennett

          Your point is well made. You’re suggesting it’s not time to throw the baby out with the bathwater, as in, fix what’s wrong with religion rather than reject it completely. I have spent my entire adult life trying to do just that and I’ll continue until the day I leave. But I’m coming to the point where I want to throw out religion and keep the things that are real and not mere superstition, like love, integrity, kindness, truth, etc.

          • carolyntclark

            Good for you, Stan…and we know that love, integrity, kindness and truth are integral to humanism and not dependent on religious superstition.

          • mason

            The simple fact is that all the good that is in religion exists without religion.

            “I’m coming to the point where I want to throw out religion and keep the things that are real and not mere superstition, like love, integrity, kindness, truth, etc.”

            I did that almost 45 years ago and it’s a wondrous way to live, AND I’ve had Sunday’s Free!

          • http://preachermansecrets.blogspot.com Stan Bennett

            What in the world would it be like to have Sundays free :).

          • mason

            For me it’s like the feeling I experienced when school was out for the summer, Life is so short and religion can rob people of precious time they could be doing non-delusional things. It’s not like people work all week long and often 6 days and have time to spare for the nonsense.

          • Elizabeth.

            Pretty fascinating that last night I listened to Ryan Bell’s interview with Lloyd Geering, who holds both views : ) Geering is no longer a theist but thinks theism has been a necessary or helpful step in the evolution to rationalism/humanism/naturalism http://www.lifeaftergod.org/025-reimagining-god-an-interview-with-lloyd-geering/ A very evocative conversation, including his description of the optimism after “the war to end all wars” — he’s turning 98 in a few days : )

            edit p.s.: Geering was tried for heresy in the 1960’s and has been visited by Gretta Vosper, who’s currently facing charges in the United Church of Canada

          • ctcss

            I have spent my entire adult life trying to do just that and I’ll continue until the day I leave.

            Do you mean your particular sect, or all sects and religions? Not every religion exhibits the abusive behavior your post illustrates. I can’t imagine you leveling this complaint at, say, Quakers. And are you actually tangibly changing some specific sect from within, or are you simply changing yourself and (as a pastor) helping to lead your local flock to a better place in thought and practice?

            But I’m coming to the point where I want to throw out religion and keep the things that are real and not mere superstition, like love, integrity, kindness, truth, etc.

            Love, integrity, kindness, truth, etc., are not real “things” (i.e. objects), they are concepts and ideals that we, as flawed and limited beings try to grapple with as we make our attempts to express them in our lives. We do what we can, but all we are doing is attempting to approximate these concepts in our lives. And not only might our current efforts at implementing these concepts be inadequate, even our understanding of these concepts may also be lacking as well, thus even making our limited implementations subject to failure right at the outset. (Please note, I said we are flawed, not fallen. I am not aware of any living human being who is perfect and without flaw.)

            The point being, the qualities you are referencing are that which only truly exists in concept. They have no physical substance or dimensions to point to and heft. Similarly, God, at least as I was taught, is not physical, but that does not mean that God is unreal any more than a concept or quality is unreal, despite not being composed of physical substance.

            Thus, although my religion rejects superstition, it does not regard God as something founded on, nor based in superstition, that is, something non-existent or made up. And unless one is insisting that God (if God exists) can only be composed of, and bound by matter (and my religion certainly does not), then it really isn’t important that God can’t be physically discerned, any more than something such as the concept called “justice” can’t be physically discerned as a discrete entity.

            So I agree that superstition is not helpful, but I am not willing to equate that which is not physical, to that which is merely something foolish and imaginary. I will walk into a courtroom and physically rely on something that has no material substance at all (the concept called justice), despite it not being something tangible. Similarly, I am quite willing to ( and have many times) relied on God for my physical safety, despite God not being a physical entity.

            So, despite what you may regard God as, I can’t agree with your conclusion as to the imaginary nature of God. To me, God is very substantial in nature, just as the concept known as justice is very substantial. But then, I was never taught to regard God as a personal God. God, in my religion, is regarded as unvarying principle, and is thus not personal at all.

          • http://preachermansecrets.blogspot.com Stan Bennett

            I do like and appreciate the Quakers I’ve known.

        • carolyntclark

          The very basic tenet of Christianity is abusive. Religious teachings to credulous humanity that we are guilty of the suffering of Christ because we are born flawed, scarred with Original Sin and in need of a Redeemer is abusive.

          Following up with the story that God loves us despite our unworthiness only exacerbates the guilty indebtedness.
          Sounds like Munchausen Syndrome where the parent makes the child sick so they can heal them and gain admiration.

          Yes we do need to grow past this prostrate mentality.

          • ctcss

            The very basic tenet of Christianity is abusive. Religious teachings to credulous humanity that we are guilty of the suffering of Christ because we are born flawed, scarred with Original Sin and in need of a Redeemer is abusive.

            Do you honestly think that Christianity is monolithic and thus, all sects of Christianity are the same? Your complaint is against some forms of Christianity, but not all. My sect is not based on this tenet at all, and never was. I don’t think the Orthodox church is based on original sin either. Judaism also is not based on original sin. That’s why I was trying to point out that the less than helpful ideas should be rejected rather than religion itself.

            Would you reject all marriage just because you were offended by the existence of many bad marriages, or would you simply reject the bad concepts and actions that tainted those marriages? I would hope that one might desire to have the option of a marriage based on good ideals, rather than to have no option of marriage because some ideals that existed were less than helpful.

            Yes we do need to grow past this prostrate mentality.

            And obviously a number of religions don’t ascribe to this concept, thus, they have grown past this already, possibly even from the very start.

            I would contend that religion isn’t the problem. Rather, it’s a bad conceptual approach to religion that seems to make all of the trouble.

          • carolyntclark

            ctss. Because the thread started with a video of a Christian
            preacher/tyrant, I was continuing in that vein and because it is what I am schooled in.
            Yes, the conceptual approach to Christianity is troublesome by the very fact that we need(ed) a Redeemer tortured and murdered to save us. I believe all Christian Churches hold to the teaching of some version of a taint by Original Sin and that Christ was necessary to redeem us.
            I don’t get the marriage analogy except to say, don’t judge other religions by the twisted teachings of Christianity.

          • ctcss

            I believe all Christian Churches hold to the teaching of some version of a taint by Original Sin and that Christ was necessary to redeem us.

            Well, as I said in my reply to you, I know that my Christian religion doesn’t teach Original Sin and never has. And I do believe the Orthodox church doesn’t have Original Sin either. That’s the point. You are looking at Christianity as though it is monolithic, and it isn’t. Every sect and every religion needs to be evaluated by their own specific theology and practices. The concepts that each teach and try to live can be very different from one another, and people are free to evaluate and choose that which they think is the best pathway to follow, including non-belief.

          • Elizabeth.

            Thanks, Carolyn! I’d be very interested to know whether your studies included Abelard? …as a heretic maybe?
            I think he was on the right track in the 1100’s when he wrote, “How very cruel and unjust it seems that someone should require the blood of an innocent person as a ransom, or that in any way it might please him that an innocent person be slain, still less that God should have so accepted the death of his Son that through it he was reconciled to the whole world.” [on Romans 3:26]

            Conversely, as I mentioned earlier, until recently I liked very much Matthew Fox’s “Original Blessing,” which pushes back against the idea of original sin — but as I’ve seen more & more of what people do to each other — this video being a revolting case in point — I’m getting a little shaky on that : / Though seriously, I think these are cases that could have turned out differently if people had made different choices — no pre-determinism, tho influences and background can be pretty powerful

          • carolyntclark

            With statements like “Jews are stupid and Christians are insane, Abelard, his rational logic, and sin of lust was on our forbidden list.
            You are better read than I, Elizabeth.

          • Elizabeth.

            bio not the best reading for the sisters, right : ) I hadn’t thought of that! Thanks much.

            I haven’t read much of his either. In seminary I heard only one allusion to what I think is his good view of Jesus’ death. My ears pricked up, but I could never find anything about it, then or later in another sem library. What the histories did describe (Jesus as example) is NOT what he was saying, in my opinion. Finally, in 2011 his Romans commentary appeared in English… so I hope this means his actual view will be getting some traction — a millennium late.

            I did learn in sem that mainliners don’t have one official theory of why Jesus died https://books.google.com/books?id=QVYOagUrvcgC&pg=PA182&lpg=PA182&dq=Even+if+no+understanding+of+the+atoning+work+of+Jesus+Christ+has+received+ecumenical+approval,+there+have+been&source=bl&ots=HAvQWfVs-A&sig=WVniNFjs6T3UCpi_1loJmxZKJsk&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjjn5vo6JTLAhXI8j4KHfqVA1gQ6AEIHTAA#v=onepage&q=Even%20if%20no%20understanding%20of%20the%20atoning%20work%20of%20Jesus%20Christ%20has%20received%20ecumenical%20approval%2C%20there%20have%20been&f=false … which left the door open for me to pursue chaplaincy without that horrific theory of substitutionary atonement. Up til then, I had thought like you that that was the only christian view. Horrible. Thanks again!!

  • carolyntclark

    the video is sickening. Yes, it’s incredible that people would sit there cowering in submission, and return to it repeatedly.
    In any venue other than the Church, this is recognized as abuse, in the Church,
    it’s called the Word of God.

  • Elizabeth.

    horribly unbelievable… I wish.

    I was getting ready to write that the minister urgently needs mental care, when I thought to check the web for followup — and am shocked to see that he got support after this video went viral in 2013!!!!!!! Totally mindblowing. Taken alongside the apparently popular 2016 campaign rhetoric, I’m having a hard time hanging on to Matthew Fox’s theory of original blessing. But truly, this is aberrant. I notice the little girl sitting near, looking up at him. I can only hope she survives whole.

    My husband has described going, as a boy in the 1940’s, to an African American church in the Virginia mountains with his father, who was a minister, and being shocked when the preacher strode up and down the aisle chastising his father along with everyone else, individually. I never imagined it so self-absorbed as this.

    Stan, this makes me realize how much your congregation owes to you, sheltering them from such mental and spiritual abuse, that they would suffer from a more traditional pastor in their tradition.

    Thank you for sharing such a distressing event in your life… I hope your father’s understanding of depression grew over the years, as it has for most of us? But even if so, one can see how profoundly moving it would be to see this video. I’m so glad you can reflect on it here, and hope Linda’s hunch that it might be helpful will prove true. Just from your writing here & on your blog, it’s evident that you are a deep source of healing and comfort.

    gratitude

    • http://preachermansecrets.blogspot.com Stan Bennett

      Thanks, Elizabeth. As long as I stay a minister, I hope to use the role to provide help and comfort.

  • DoctorDJ

    According to my past reading of the now (unfortunately) discontinued blog “StuffFundiesLike,” the behavior of this Man Of God is not necessarily uncommon in Independent Fundamentalist Baptist churches.

    • http://preachermansecrets.blogspot.com Stan Bennett

      No its not uncommon at all in fundamentalist evangelistic circles