Tag Archives: bullying

‘Undue Influence’ As A Possible Legal Recourse Against Authoritarian Churches And Bullying Ministers

Steve Hassan, an expert on religious cults and high-control groups, explains “undue influence” in this short video — and pay close attention to the segment starting at about the 38-second mark.
 

 
“In my experience, anyone is vulnerable to undue influence…” Another quick explainer:
 

 
Next, Hassan explains the problem with undue influence.

“[W]e’re using the legal term undue influence, because that best describes what it’s really about. It’s the exploitation and manipulation of someone with power over someone else to make them dependent and obedient…”
 

 
Here’s another interesting point, also from the video immediately above, regarding undue influence and its ability to manipulate vulnerable people:

“So there’s no informed consent. When you think of a destructive mind control cult, always think, people may say, ‘I chose to join,’ but they didn’t in my professional opinion choose to join. They were lied to, they were manipulated, and they were indoctrinated, and once I have a chance to teach them what we know about social psychology, what we know about hypnosis for example, people wake up and they realize, ‘I didn’t choose.'”
 
In the next video (below), Santa Clara Law Professor Alan Scheflin and Hassan give back-to-back presentations.

Scheflin quotes Lunde and Wilson from a 1977 publication: “No reported case in Anglo-American law has accepted brainwashing as a defense to criminal liability.”

That is why “undue influence” has become a more viable option by which to make legal claims against high-control groups.
 

 
Read more and see more videos at FreedomOfMind.com.

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What John Piper’s selective outrage says about New Calvinists

The blogosphere and Twitterverse move quickly, but perspectives stick around and change slowly.

I went back to the search engines after the recent shocks of learning that disgraced and disgraceful Pastor Mark Driscoll spoke at the Gateway Conference and at Thrive Leadership Conference.

While searching the Internet for Driscoll-related material, I found a November transcript of a Desiring God audio interview with John Piper in which he claims “no regrets” for partnering with Driscoll.

That should be peculiar. Driscoll’s track record as an untrustworthy, vicious bully has been established by numerous people who used to work in his own organization. Read the evidence here.

It’s extraordinary to hear someone as revered as Piper give a pass to a bullying pastor — while banishing someone who has a different point of view.

Look beneath the surface of Piper’s handling of Mark Driscoll versus his handling of Rob Bell, and you’ll discover the operating principles of so-called New Calvinism as well as old-fashioned fundamentalism.

Those principles may be articulated as follows:

1. If you state the correct beliefs and ideas, you will be forgiven for any ethical violation.

2. If you do not state the correct beliefs and ideas, you will not be forgiven for your incorrectness, even if you have a good ethical standing.

If the above sounds a bit like political correctness or Soviet communism, congratulations; you’ve understood a foundational theme of this blog: instances of authoritarianism might be driven by different ideas, but the methods are still the same.

Piper, you might recall, famously tweeted “Farewell Rob Bell” with a link to Justin Taylor’s blog post entitled, “Rob Bell: Universalist?”

In that post, Taylor quotes — wait for it! — Piper, who once wrote:

“Bad theology dishonors God and hurts people. Churches that sever the root of truth may flourish for a season, but they will wither eventually or turn into something besides a Christian church.”

That sounds good. But let me point out at least two significant problems.

1. First, Piper’s selective banishment of Bell. Has Piper said “Farewell” to notable Christian universalists like Karl Barth, Jacques Ellul, William Barclay, and George MacDonald? (Notice, too, Taylor’s selective treatment of Marilynne Robinson.)

2. Second, Piper’s self-contradiction when the topic is hurting people. There ought to be no question that bullying and bad-mouthing one’s own ministerial staff and underling pastors “dishonors God and hurts people.” That’s what Driscoll did, according to accounts by more than 21 former underling pastors in his own organization.

In fairness to Piper, he says, nobly:

“My regret is that I was not a more effective friend. Mark knew he had flaws. He knows he has flaws. And I knew he had flaws. He knew that I knew he had flaws. There were flaws of leadership attitude, flaws of unsavory language that I think is just wrong for Christians to use, flaws of exegetical errors, say, in regard to the Song of Solomon.”

I admire this much about Piper: “…I was not a more effective friend.”

However, Piper does not say, “Farewell Mark Driscoll,” despite Driscoll’s horrible behavior. On a separate occasion, Piper said, “Farewell Rob Bell,” never mind how hard it is to love one’s enemies after banishing them.

Maybe all that can be explained. In New Calvinism, only bad ideas, like universalism, hurt people. Nothing sensory, like bullying, really matters.

A fundamental problem underlies that mode. Traditionally, the Incarnation was considered a guide against heresy. Jesus was considered fully God and fully human, the ultimate illustration of humankind’s both spiritual and organic natural.

When emphasis is placed on only the spiritual (including ideas) to the exclusion of the organic (including the senses), humans and the Incarnation are degraded.

The New Calvinist mode degrades the concept of Incarnation, making the sensory world less than valuable. It’s almost ghostly — did Jesus Christ really suffer? Well, only if He had bad beliefs! Nails and flogs and thorns are nothin’. Embodiment is nothin’.

Christ sorta suffered — but then how could He possibly have suffered, when He had all the right beliefs?

Bell causes suffering through expressing Christian universalism, which at least has a precedent in Protestant theology (Barth, Ellul, Barclay, MacDonald).

Driscoll causes suffering through repeatedly degrading his spiritual flock, which has no justification anywhere within Christianity.

By most accounts, Bell is a sweetheart.

By most accounts, Driscoll is a narcissistic, unrepentant sociopath.

But, Driscoll has the right New Calvinist ideas, so who cares what he does?

Sure, Driscoll has faced his critics and lost his post at Mars Hill Church. But then he got speaking gigs at Gateway and Thrive.

And Piper came down oh so softly on him, calling him a friend, admitting he knew about Driscoll’s leadership problems.

Which suggests to me that abhorrent behavior gets a pass from New Calvinists, at least among New Calvinists.

Apparently, sensory suffering under Driscoll isn’t real suffering — otherwise, leadership problems would be seen as a real threat to real people, not a minor issue far, far underneath Correct Belief.

Furthermore, as Piper says, God made it all happen anyway. All sin has its source in God, according to Piper.

So this doesn’t make sense to simple-minded folks like myself: God made Driscoll into a bully, and God made Bell into a heretic, but only one matters to the people who insist God not only predestined individual souls but also preordained everything that happens in this (lesser, non-spiritual) organic realm.

Oh wait — God set up the contradiction, too. My fault.

God set up the selective outrage.

God set up this post.

God set up your reading of this post.

So quit complaining — it’s all God’s idea, from peonies to pedophilia.

He cues the earthquake and then He cues your tears — and He’s creating your sense of outrage at Rob Bell’s universalism and your lack of concern with Mark Driscoll’s vicious bullying.

It’s like your complaints and comments implode into nothingness. They weren’t even yours to begin with.

But rest assured — you’ll be held responsible for what your Almighty Creator made you do, whether He made you believe the wrong ideas or He made you bully people.

When your pastor is worse than ‘worldly’ — what’s Mars Hill Church to do?

An open letter to Pastor Mark Driscoll, or a blogospherical amicus curiae brief on behalf of those hurt and the 21 former Mars Hill pastors who filed a formal complaint

Updated 10:05 p.m  with an addition at the end.

Dear Mark,

Last night I saw a post about bullying on the Psychopath Resistance blog and the first person I thought of was you.

If a fraction of the allegations against you are true — and they are easy to believe — then you and your loyalists need to face the facts:

You were worse than “the world.”

You behaved worse than “worldly.”

Could Jesus have spoken this parable for you?

45 But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. (Luke 12:45-47)

Is there any “biblical warrant” for anyone continuing to respect someone like you, Mark?

Not if merely a fraction of the allegations are true.

Nowhere in the biblical texts can one find a single exhortation to respect someone who acts as despicably as you apparently have been acting.

But there’s warrant for your dismissal from ministry in Proverbs 26:18-19:

“Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death

is the man who deceives his neighbor

and says, ‘I am only joking!’ “

Oh, sure, you might not have been joking per se but let that stand for any excuse for your behavior following the damage you’ve done.

You’ve thrown firebrands and shot arrows and deceived numerous people around you — you’ve been the epitome of destructiveness — and now you’re going to try to talk your way out of it.

It’s appropriate that the television-and-Netflix series The Killing was set in Seattle because you’ve starred in The Spiritual Killing in the same city for years.

Where’s the Shepherd who is allowing you to injure so many sheep and disillusion so many others?

It’s like the U2 song: “Referee won’t blow the whistle / God is good but will he listen?”

And that’s not even considering the spineless, cowardly act of plagiarism.

For a minister presuming to help start a seminary, plagiarism is worse than grand theft auto, yet more pathetic than stealing 25-cent candy.

Congrats on occupying that unique space of horrible and pathetic, a space usually reserved for despots and Wall Street sharks.

The allegations against you could be a guide to bullying — it would be a New York Times bestseller, this time bestselling status that you actually earned, thanks to an endless supply of people interested in abusing power.

“Shame” is too good a word for what you should feel. Chimps have a better overall track record of behavior.

You’re a fundamentally indecent person, failing to act in the most basic human ways.

To borrow from William F. Buckley, I’d rather be taught by anyone among the first 2,000 names in the Seattle telephone book than by you or anyone who is still on your staff.

Do you need to learn what decency is? During the past three years, I’ve been reading through Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca. You’ve been worse than the pagans you’ve been screaming at for years, so maybe you could start by stepping up to the pagan morality of Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca.

You’ve failed to live anywhere near the neighborhood of Romans 12:9-21. That excerpt begins, “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.”

In other words, you’ve lived the antithesis of that excerpt.

All your bullying just cloaks the wimp hiding inside.

Funny how the guy who claims real manhood is the wimp, and the one who tells men to have a pair doesn’t have his own.

How do I know? How can I say such a thing?

Because when a man has real security and true confidence, he doesn’t even feel the need to bully.

Doesn’t even feel the need, Mark.

Doesn’t even feel the need.

Do everyone who believes in any sort of God a favor and disappear from public view for the rest of your life, you bullying, reprobate pansy.

Most sincerely,

Colin Burch

P.S. Do you think I’m bullying you? Don’t be an idiot. I’m shouting at an influential, powerful authority figure who bullied people around him, and worse yet, used anti-Christian, sub-human behavior toward people who believe in Jesus. You do not deserve respect of any kind. You’re the wolf who tried to wear a sheep’s clothing. You’re the worst sort of evil: the degrading, maligning, self-aggrandizing preacher using the name of God to get your way.

Update: The dictionaries remind me “reprobate” has an archaic usage rooted in Calvinism. A contemporary adjective form means “morally corrupt,” and that was the version of “reprobate” I was intending to reference. Considering the likely audience for this post, I should have just stayed away from that word and used “corrupt” instead, because I’ll stand by my contention that Driscoll is corrupt if even a fraction of the allegations against him are true. I didn’t train in a seminary; I trained in newsrooms and then in a graduate writing program. Meanwhile, let’s remember, as I demonstrated above, Driscoll has forced many people to have a taste of Hell through the environments he has created.

Pastor Mark Driscoll teaches you how to slander!

In this free document made available through the generous support of Warren Throckmorton, you’ll learn all of Pastor Mark Driscoll’s techniques on how to slander!

Pastor Mark Driscoll

Pastor Mark Driscoll

Below, you’ll find just a few quick tips and highlights from a manuscript compiled by 21 former pastors who didn’t want these nuggets of wisdom cast aside.

This collection is sure to become another Mark Driscoll New York Times Bestseller.

In these Driscoll originals, you’ll learn how to…

promote yourself

“You think you’re the Resurgence. But, you’re not the brand. I’m the brand!”

Stick to your convictions

“I don’t give a shit what you think.”

exercise strong leadership

“…his fat ass is not the image we want for our church.”

Take real action

“I’ll tear his church down brick by brick.”

And there’s more! Download the Formal Charges document today — and start learning Driscoll’s ruthless, self-promoting, anti-ecumenical, corporate approach to faith.

Remember — you must increase, and everyone else must decrease!

The reality of pastoral gossip, or, Pastor Mark Driscoll trains you in godly leadership

One of the great things about Christian leaders is their example.

You can learn from their examples. You can follow them as they follow Christ.

As Ron Wheeler notes in this open letter to Mark Driscoll, one trait of a godly leader is the ability to hold private disdain for those with whom you work in ministry.

Wheeler writes,

But then I listened as you slandered and maligned the men and women we worked with behind their backs -who though we didn’t agree with some of them theologically- were wonderful people, and never deserved to be spoken of, or treated the way you did. People who I know would have considered you a friend and have no idea how you really felt about them. I have personally tried to go back and apologize to people who were “kicked to the curb”, along the way, and yes, I do feel I was complicit to your actions; guilty by way of association and being silent.

For that, I could not be more sorry. [emphasis added]

Clearly, Ron Wheeler is bitter because he is not able to experience the freedom and grace to slander and malign others.

(I admit I have failed to understand freedom and grace so my faith is shaky. I realized if you tell me about someone else, you’ll probably tell someone else about me. Christianity is, more often than not, the last place for sharing personal matters. Just go to secular psychologists for confession — they have solid ethics.)

Another thing Wheeler failed to learn from Pastor Driscoll’s godliness is the wisdom of Machiavellian political maneuvering.

Again, Wheeler writes,

Then you involved yourself in our Eldership in a most irresponsible and reckless manner. In hindsight, it never should have gotten to that point, and I accept full responsibility for that, but what I needed was trustworthy, Biblical accountability, and instead I got slander, threats, and verbal abuse. We had good elders who were caught between a pastor dealing with personal and familial sin, and an outside accountability that was reckless, irresponsible and ultimately had a destructive influence on a once unified eldership. I know it all now. I’ve read the communication you had with the other elders behind my back. Ugly, slanderous, defaming lies, Mark. I thought you were my brother and you treated me like scum.

On March 17, 2005, I sent a letter of grievance to the Board of Acts29, asking them to address what I had come to realize over time, were serious character flaws of yours. I made the case that Biblically you were unfit and disqualified as an Elder. A case based off long established patterns of pride, lack of self-control, sexually vulgar and slanderous speech, exaggeration that bordered on deception, gossip about others and confidentiality issues. An excerpt from that letter stated: “The fact that Mark is an incredibly talented leader and charismatic personality, cannot in any way substitute for the simple Biblical requirements of being Christ-like, much less the qualifications of being an Elder. I can make a Biblical case from Titus regarding his being overbearing, quick-tempered, self-controlled, upright, and holy, as well as 1 Timothy regarding being above reproach, self-controlled, respectable, not quarrelsome, and a good reputation with outsiders”.

Not surprisingly, we got a response letter from the Board of Acts29 informing us that they would accept our resignation from Acts29, as we had made our continued participation in the network contingent upon their dealing with your issues. Apparently, they lacked the fortitude and resolve to deal with your out-of-control behavior, and so became complicit themselves. How the board of Acts29 abdicated their responsibility in this, is beyond my comprehension. In addition, I was heartbroken as there were so many guys in the network that I loved. Guys that I came to miss dearly over the next few painful, depressing years. You asked me not to contact any of the guys and be “divisive”. I never did, you know. When I finally did just recently, I discovered that you had completely misrepresented what happened in my situation. Thus, what I had seen you do to others, finally came full circle around to me. It sucked. I didn’t like it at all. [emphasis added]

Before I get to the Mark Driscoll Leadership Tips we can draw from this passage, I just want to thank the Lord for the way the Holy Spirit has led Pastor Driscoll and the members of Acts29 in Christ-like behavior, wisdom, and discernment. I’m grateful that the evangelical flock can look up to these men of character, integrity, and timely insight. I’m glad all those prayers for Driscoll and Acts29 were fruitful. We’re blessed because all that time in The Word bore fruit.

Now, the tips we can learn from Driscoll’s godly leadership.

One, if you feel like you’re called by God, tell any lie you feel necessary to protect the manifestation of that calling. Can I get an Amen? The manifestation of your calling is yours at any cost — because Jesus paid ALL costs. That is grace and freedom, bro — the will to power must also be the will to maintain power.

Two, when in a pinch, work your network. That’s why you go to conferences with members of the Evangelical All-Stars on the speaker lists. You’ve gotta have friends and connections. Look, say what you want about the Roman Catholics, but they’ve got this down-pat. How else do pedophile priests face accusations only to get new jobs in other parishes? They’ve got a killer network, man.

But as a Protestant, you accept no earthly authority — remember that. Say to yourself, “I accept no earthly authority.” It’s far more meaningful than that silly “Jesus prayer” repeated endlessly by Eastern Orthodox monks. You accept no earthly authority. When you face accusations, you just cash in your networking chips.

This method worked wonders for C.J. Mahaney, who got his famous pals to ignore concrete evidence and declare him righteous. They might as well have said, “He’s so well-networked with us, we can’t imagine him doing anything wrong.”

Books that can help you become a godly leader like Mark Driscoll

the-prince
Because “it is better to be feared than loved.”
Pastor Mark Driscoll certainly has been feared.
 
The-Art-of-War
“Appear weak when you are strong, strong when you are weak.”
That could be Pastor Mark Driscoll’s Ministry Motto. It’s also could be the recipe for both false humility and bullying.

UPDATE: PLEASE ALSO SEE “POSTSCRIPT TO ‘THE REALITY OF PASTORAL GOSSIP’ — A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE