Tag Archives: Abuse

Former VA Beach Area Director Found Guilty of Sex Crimes

9 Aug

Young Life Watch

According to various news outlets, Jeffrey Bondi, former Young Life Area Director in VA beach, was found guilty of sexually assaulting an 18 year old babysitter in 2001.

During the trial, it was brought out that Bondi had been investigated as far back as 1997 for being accused of fondling a 15 year old student on a bus coming back from a Young Life camp in North Carolina.

You can read the local reporting on the conclusion of Bondi’s trial below:

Former Virginia Beach youth pastor found guilty in 15-year-old sexual assault

Former Va. Beach youth pastor found guilty of object penetration

https://pilotonline.com/news/local/crime/former-virginia-beach-youth-ministry-leader-found-guilty-of-sexually/article_c8dad024-423c-5faa-ae2c-df39da2b9f49.html

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Dear Christian: Stop Tithing (and other assorted advice)

9 Jun

Dear Christian-

I know you think I’m just out to poke holes in your faith.  Sometimes I feel that way, but mostly I hate seeing good people, who happen to be Christians, taken advantage of by dishonest clergy who are only out for themselves.

Tithing

Tithing simply means a tenth, and it is a term used in the Old Testament for offerings of cattle, grain, food, and sometimes money.  These offerings of a tenth (10%) were used for the sacrifices of the Temple in Jerusalem and for special feasts throughout the year.  It acted like a type of National tax that funded the Governing bodies of ancient Israel.

As a Christian growing up, I was consistently taught that Christian were supposed to tithe to their local church, just like the Israelites.  I accepted this teaching at face value and began tithing in my late teens.  Once in my early years of marriage I faced some daunting financial situations.  Talking to my pastor at the time, his first question was whether I was tithing.  I told him we were tithing and he seemed pleased and instructed us to keep tithing-even though we were in dire financial straits.

After many years of tithing, I decided to study the topic myself and was surprised to find that tithing is not taught in the New Testament.  Not once are Christian believers commanded to tithe. I also realized that in ancient Israel, the tithe was more like a tax than a donation to a local body of believers.

Non-Profits

Some Christians I knew had come to similar conclusions about tithing, but still felt obligated to give 10% of their income to good causes (missions, feeding the poor, etc…).

The problem I’ve learned, is that many non-profits have loose accountability, and many of the funds can go to expenses totally unrelated to the cause they claim to represent.  So while you may feel good about giving to a poor child in another country, in reality, much of your donation may be going to the overhead of running a non-profit instead of helping out those in need. Not to say that there aren’t good non-profits out there-but do your research before turning over your hard earned money.

Take Care of Your Finances First

My own opinion on finances, is that you should always be able to take care of your own obligations before giving or tithing. What good does it do if you give money to the poor and then end up poor yourself?

Final Observation

It has been my experience, that church leaders who preach a hard and fast rule on tithing are abusive.  They typically are quick to line their own budgets with conferences, expensive offices and church buildings, multiple family vacations, and are often content to preach about giving to the poor and not much else.

If you care about where your money is going…then don’t give to these sort of people.

In my opinion-stop tithing….   Best Regards-CA

CA’s Almost 100% Foolproof Way to Recognize an Abusive Church

13 May

Ok…it’s not scientific by any stretch of the imagination.  But here’s my Almost 100% Foolproof Way to Recognize an Abusive Church.

Wait for it………….

You are attending an abusive church if you do not know the salary of the Senior Pastor.

Seriously, if your church does not publish an annual budget including the pastor’s salary, then run for the door.

Here’s the caveat, some churches may not publish the specific salary, but are more than willing to share specifics when asked by members or at an all church finance meeting.

But to my point, if you can not find out this information with relative ease, then you are most likely dealing with leaders who are not trustworthy and are abusive.  You’ll here all sorts of excuses as to why this information is not disclosed, but I’ve never heard an adequate reason to withhold this information from the people whose generosity has provided the church with it’s financial resources.

Without transparency, there can be no accountability.  And where there is no accountability, abuse is ripe.

So there you have it….don’t make say I told you so by ignoring this

Almost 100% Foolproof Way to Recognize an Abusive Church.

Peace-CA

Amended SGM Lawsuit Alleges Naked Beatings by Larry Tomczak

16 Jan

As I’ve finally calmed down enough to digest the shocking allegations in the latest SGM drama, one of the most shocking, is the allegation that Larry Tomczak  (co-founder of SGM Ministries) administered naked beatings to one of his children for over 25 years.  The following is an excerpt of the allegation.

Carla Coe was repeatedly assaulted by Defendant Tomczak and his co-conspirators during a 25-year period spanning her childhood and young adulthood.  Defendant Tomczak assaulted Carla Coe with his hands, as well as with various instruments, including but not limited to, plastic and wooden sticks.

On multiple occasions, including occasions after Carla Coe reached the age of majority, Defendant Tomczak forced Karla Coe to strip out of her clothing against her will, and be beaten on her bare buttocks.  Defendant Tomczak continued to engage in this forced undressing and beating of Carla Coe until she fled and escaped from the abuse.

On several occasions, Defendant Tomczak imprisoned Carla Coe and denied her food for extended periods of time.

Defendant Tomczak verbally admitted on one or more occasions to the individual Defendants and to the Church that he abused Carla Coe.  No one reported the beatings to the secular authority.

The assaults by Defendant Tomczak and his co-conspirators’ assaults primarily occurred in Maryland and Virgina.

You can find more of the amended lawsuit here (thanks yo Kris & Guy at SGM Survivors).

Such a short few sentences packed with a lifetime of excruciating pain.  I guess Larry Tomczak wasn’t kidding around when he penned his book God, The Rod, and Your Child’s Bod.

God, the rod, and your child's bod: The art of loving correction for Christian parents

A book in which he talks about spanking children when they are teething (in other words, less than 1 years old).

Some folks have reacted with disbelief that a young woman in her twenties would submit to this type of treatment.  I can tell you from my own experience in SGM, that many a leader in the movement spoke about spanking children that were of age.  I remember one conversation with Mark Prater, then a care group leader at Covenant Fellowship Church, in which he praised a teaching tape that spoke about a Father spanking his son who was in his late teens.  This idea that children could be spanked at just about any age, was certainly discussed by different leaders in SGM at the time that many of the alleged abuses occurred.

The other thing to understand, is that SGM preached that to obey God, one had to unquestioningly follow those put in authority above you.  For church members, it meant obeying your pastors, even when they were wrong (no kidding-I was told this by a pastor at Covenant Fellowship in my exit interview), for wives it meant their husbands, and for children it meant their parents.  Simply questioning or disagreeing with any of these “God-given” authorities was tantamount to being in full-blown rebellion to God.  This atmosphere of unquestioning obedience is a perfect breeding ground for abuse.

Another wicked aspect in SGM’s teachings was the idea that you as an individual could not trust your own feelings.  Only if a pastor or parent confirmed them were you to trust yourself.  Again, saying that you felt wronged or abused meant nothing, since your own judgement could always be called into question as flawed and horribly sinful.  Multiply this times 100 for a child who is trying to grow up in this environment and you can begin to scratch the surface of why some would allow themselves to be abused for so long.

Lastly, I just want to highlight the extreme bravery it took for these victims to come forward and tell the truth.  I’m sure for some, it will cost them many relationships.  My thoughts go out to them on this night…I hope they find the justice, peace, and refuge that should have been theirs growing up.

Amended SGM Lawsuit: Shocking Allegations of Rape/Child Abuse by Pastors at CLC/ Larry Tomczak

15 Jan
Tsar Bomba mushroom cloud

Tsar Bomba mushroom cloud (Photo credit: andy z)

I’m still trying to digest the newest allegations in the upcoming civil lawsuit against SGM co-founders CJ Mahaney andf Larry Tomczak.  One of the more shocking allegations is that a pastor and a principal at CLC private school, engaged in a coordinated effort to rape children under their care during the school day at CLC’s private school.

The amended lawsuit also alleges sexual and physical abuse by Larry Tomczak of one of his daughter’s, spanning a period of over 25 years.

Personally, I’m feeling shell-shocked that I ever gave a dime to these ministerial shysters.  My sympathies are with the victim’s who have endured years of shame and guilt at the hands of men whose public image was one of humility and godliness.

I have so many more thoughts on the subject and will be posting them over the next few days.

For now, you can read the various media reports covering this latest development in the SGM Lawsuit.

 Louisville Courier

Washington Post

ABC Affiliate WJLA

Musicman’s Story Part 1

14 Nov
SGM

SGM (Photo credit: AJC1)

First off, I apologize for neglecting the blog this last month.  A couple of car problems and a whole lot of overtime have kept me away.  I’ve had quite a few new readers and I promise to address some of the topics you’ve raised.  Thanks in advance for your patience as I catch up with you all!

A few weeks back I promised to post my SGM story.  Here’s the first of three posts I wrote for SGM Survivors back in 2008.  As the lawsuit against SGM unfolds,  I wanted to share a little of what we saw during our almost 10 years among SGM.  

A couple of notes,  I wrote these posts as a Christian and I’ve kept them unedited to reflect my thinking at the time.  Secondly, I make reference to PDI, which was what SGM was known as before they changed their name.

 

I started attending a SG church (PDI) while still in college. I mostly attended the Sunday services since they did not have a college ministry. I found myself drawn to SG because I had begun to experience the Holy Spirit in a new way, but was wary of the other Pentecostal/ Charismatic churches I had tried. Having become a Christian at a Presbyterian Church, I was still leery of what seemed like emotionalism and a loosey goosey approach to scripture. I found PDI to be upbeat in it’s worship and a more serious tone in their preaching, and I liked that a lot.
During my last couple years of college, I invited or transported many different friends and friends of friends to come and check out my new church. Many of which are still there today, and a majority of them are pastors or leaders within SG as a whole.

It was after getting married and joining a care group that I began to know more about SG and it’s particulars. I began leading worship at our care group and quickly became good friends with our leaders. My wife and I really looked up to this other couple because we were struggling to figure out this crazy little thing called marriage. Most of the time, this couple showed genuine concern and love to us and made us a part of their lives and family.

It was also at this time that I attended a small men’s group where extreme prodding into the men’s lives were the norm. We were often chastised in front of others and grilled about our sins. Confessing specific sin in very specific detail was the norm. At first I found it exciting and addicting-it was like a drug to hear someone bare their soul and sin for all to see. I was amazed at how some of the older men could seem to sniff out and sometimes even tell someone what their problem was (pride, lust, weakness in leading our wives, etc….) men would cry, I would cry. It seemed so real, and to some extent, I think some good may have come from it.

But there was a dark side that emerged later-I realized that 2 of the “older men” who pretty much lead our discussions and sin sniffing missions, were not being open about their lives. They were willing to go after (even to the point of very stern rebukes) other men but they themselves had become almost silent about their own lives. I even confronted one of the men, asking why he would always talk about someone else’s confessed sin, but never his own. I don’t remember his exact reply, but I remember being dissatisfied with his answer. The other one would always confess (in excruciating detail) some lustful thought he had about some women’s breasts at a train station, etc…but would never talk about his wife or kids or things close to home. I felt like he was being evasive about real issues. This wasn’t the tipping point for me, I just assumed that this type of behavior was not the norm.

It was later that I found out that the 2 men leading were very much in conflict with each other and that some of the others in our group, were cheating on their wives. But at the time, there was a lot of puffed up talk on how this was leading us to be God’s men, men above the others, this was “Biblical” fellowship, we were building “community”, blah, blah blah….makes me sick to think that we were avoiding God while we so boastfully applauded ourselves for our “radical” commitment.

As much as I had some doubts about what was happening in my men’s group, I still had drunk deeply of all that our pastors said upfront about “the local church” and the commitment to be about the Lord’s business in the proper church structure. So my wife and I signed up to be on a church plant-we were about to enter “alternate reality”

The Stories…Shedding Light on Sovereign Grace’s Abuses

24 Oct
Scales of Justice Brisbane Courts-1=

Scales of Justice Brisbane Courts-1= (Photo credit: Sheba_Also)

I’ve had a huge uptick from folks searching for more information about Sovereign Grace Ministries and the lawsuit filed against current and former pastors (including CJ Mahaney and Larry Tomczak).  The lawsuit alleges that sexual abuse of children was covered up and not properly reported to the police and to the churches.  Many that read here are very familiar with the alleged abuses and the years of stories of heavy handed abuse and deception by SGM leaders.

To an outsider, who might only know of CJ Mahaney and Josh Harris as Christian authors/speakers, it can be intimidating to understand the unique culture and abuses that have occurred over the decades.  I would like to recommend a  link that may help you understand the types of abuses that have occurred and why SGM is now being sued.

Kris, over at SGM Survivors, has a  link called The Stories.  It is a huge compilation of stories from past members of Sovereign Grace and the abuses they endured.  The document is equivalent to a 140 page PDF file and has years of posts from former pastors, small group leaders, worship leaders, average church goers, and children that grew up within the Sovereign Grace family of churches.

This link alone should give anyone a pretty good idea of just how deep and wide the problems of abuse have dogged Sovereign Grace, because of their cultic view of pastoral authority.

As a side note, I wrote 3 posts for SGM Survivors back in 2008.  They are included in this link under Musicman’s story.  Musicman is the handle I’ve used at SGM Survivors since I began posting back in the fall of 2007.

I actually hadn’t read the posts I had written in a couple of years and will post them here at the Christian Agnostic over the next few days.  It may be of interest to some of my readers, since these posts were written a few years before losing my Christian faith.

Regardless, it is the true story of the abuses I saw and endured during my time in SGM.

Until next time….