Tag Archives: current-events

Is Young Life A Cult?: A Parent’s Plea To Their Son

5 Feb

 

Letters to Aussie MPs - No Clean Feed Please.

Letters to Aussie MPs – No Clean Feed Please. (Photo credit: kattekrab)

It’s funny…but when I wrote my original post, Is Young Life A Cult?, I had no idea how much interest and activity it would generate on this blog.  It eventually led me to start my secondary blog, Young Life Watch, to serve as a single resource for anyone wishing to know more or discuss Young Life.

Another recent trend, has been a lot of comments from Young Life leaders (past and present) that think its unfair that I even raise questions about Young Life’s methods.  Many say that Young Life does not hide it’s agenda and that any parent can find out for themselves what Young Life is really about….

But in the midst, there are real families that are forever changed when their teen gets involved with Young Life.

One of those parents shared a letter they wrote to their adult son and I’d like to share it here as well.  You can see Don’s orignal comments here.

Here is a letter I wrote to my son. It would not surprise me if others can seriously relate to it in many aspects.

As I said in the text, I was not worried about the 60,000 kids that were in Atlanta. I am only worried about you and how your progression into adulthood seems to have been hampered by your participation in YL activities on a regular basis.
It baffles me as to how you can support an organization with members that bash or have bashed your brother and sister on a regular basis because they choose to not be involved in it. It seems to me that the members of such a Christian organization would be respectful of another person’s wishes and feelings and be understanding of them. Do you ever wonder if their choice to NOT participate in it is because of how they have seen it change you or other kids they have known and the decisions you have made based on YL or based on the fact that they regularly see how these members harass people that choose to not participate? You left our house because of YL. There is no denying it. You did not like our concerns and you ran straight to the house of a YL member. Now, you still live there despite their son having moved out? Does it ever bother you that you have never shown us where you live or the fact that we do not even know where you live and who you live with other than by name? This really concerns me in the event of an emergency. Does it bother you that at the age of almost 21, you do not have a place you can show us as yours? Does it ever strike you as odd that those parents would allow you to stay there after their own son has moved out? This is not healthy for you. How much do you pay in rent or groceries or other household stuff? I am fairly certain it is little to none. In that case, how much have you saved towards getting your own place then? It has been 15 months and I know you are no closer to that today than you were the day you chose to leave. What are you going to do/have when their graciousness runs out? I see you doing this and it makes me wonder if I raised you wrong. It looks like you are a moocher that just sucks off of other people to get the easy way through life. You do not want to work hard to get anything and you feel as if you are entitled to the nice things you have. You have never had to work hard for anything you have and I guess that is my fault.
Please do not get my dislike/concern for the YL organization as a dislike for you wanting to live a Godly life. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am in full support of you if you choose to live like that and I always have been. My concern is the “material” approach to life you’re your YL/religious lifestyle seems to revolve around. Everything about it, that I have seen, is based on the “coolness” or “niceness” of a place/thing. Look at Atlanta (Hyatt hotel downtown), your camps (Rockbridge, Lake Champion, Crooked Creek, etc). They are all held at beautiful locations but have astronomic attendance costs. I know many kids get scholarships but that is just a way for them to maintain their “awesome” status. I am remembering $600 and up and I am certain it increases every year. I bet some are over $800 now. All of the kids I see involved in YL are always dressed to the nines with the newest styles and coolest shoes, cars, etc. I do not recall Jesus needing stuff like that. He was a very basic man (robes and slippers) and chose to let his actions define Him. Am I correct? How come a YL camp never involves a trip to somewhere desolate, destitute, and/or downtrodden? These trips to “lead teens to Jesus” always involve getting the wealthy teens, as opposed to those in more dire situations that may need it more than anyone. I think it is because NO ONE in YL, from top to bottom, can relate to anyone in a situation like that. Does YL ever talk about tithing? Or do they just worry about how much people can give to them so they can continue their ministry? I see links to give to them all over their websites but no real mention of what should be happening in the church. All of this lavishness flashes me back to the Jim Bakker scandal of the late 80’s. I’d recommend you Google that phrase and see what comes up.
Why is it that whenever I talk about these concerns you have NEVER been able to even SEE/HEAR my side of it? It instantly becomes an argument because you think there is NO WAY I can be right on this and you sit there with a disgusted look on your face like you are annoyed or inconvenienced by my thoughts. Why do these “leaders” or regional directors/area directors have to be involved in everything? I was only nice to that leader guy because we were in public. He has no idea what I wanted to say to him but I know you can imagine. It is very strange, to me, that these 35-45+ year old guys want to hang with groups of guys your age. If you ask me, it is because it is their job to make sure no one that disagrees with YL has a chance to get you to see what is actually happening. I guess their plan is working as they want it because that is exactly what is happening. You never want to hear it. A perfect example of this was the other night when we were texting. All you wanted me to do was watch a live stream of what was going on and hearing “your favorite artist”. You did not even reply that you would read my email to you. It was all about what I needed to do to “see what you were doing there”. Do you know how many times you have told me that? It is the exact response I get EVERY time I say anything about how I feel about it. You actually pleaded with me.
YL has had a direct impact on how much you work. I cannot figure out how you manage to maintain a job despite how much time you are able to take off for these activities. There is fall weekend, the summer camp and the Atlanta thing (even though it is not a direct YL happening) this past weekend. I know that since your first job, many of your jobs have been given to you through a connection to YL so maybe that is how and no one there cares as long as it is because of a YL activity. It amazes me that you continue to pass up opportunities to work full time hours so that you can attend their functions. This Atlanta thing REALLY confounded me. You had just gone to your mom’s for 5 days unpaid and then you throw on top of that another 3-5 days unpaid to go there. How do you function with that much unpaid time off? I cannot grasp it for the life of me.
I wish I could explain to you how heartbroken and distraught I have become over this. I have lost my son and I am scared (but basically have seen enough to know) he is never coming back. I hope you get that and understand that and that you care. I have told you what my other feelings are on it. I cannot be around you and have you involved in it because every time you participate in a YL activity I get nauseous and angry because they disgust me so bad. I am at a loss of what to do other than that. That does not mean I do not love you. I hope you get how serious I am about this, buddy. I cannot have that stress in my life. What happens between us from here on out will be your decision.
I have decided to type this as it affects me so I used the word I a lot. I did that on purpose. That way you could not think that I was influenced in anyway by how your other family members feel about it. They each have their own opinions and feelings. I felt I should only type this from the aspect of how I feel, what I see, and how it affects me. They can each share their views on it with you at their own time if they choose to and in their own way. I will also let you know that YL-(enter your city here) may be saying something to you about an email I sent them. I am sure they will recognize my name as the same as yours. I basically let them know what I thought of them. I asked them to pass on to their “leaders” to leave your sister alone. I am tired of her having to vent how frustrating it is to be repeatedly hounded about becoming a Young Lifer. It is also creepy to her that a college age leader(whose name has been removed) sits in the student section at sports events. It really bothers her and eliminates a lot of the fun she goes there to have. I am certain she is not the only one. On top of that, YLers seem to always want to give their testimony to her at sporting events. She did not pay for a sports pass to hear that only to watch the same girls be some of the nastiest ones in all of her school. Actions speak louder than words. I am sure the same can be said for kids at other schools you guys get placed in.
I know that making a change like this is a HUGE step and it may be impossible for you to see that it can be done. I completely understand how easy it is to trust and believe in people that much, especially at your age. It happens in society every day. Your entire life revolves around/in it. All I can tell you is that I’d be there every step of the way to help you however I could. You do understand and know that right? Like I said before, it does not mean I do not love you. I just cannot have the stress of it in my life.

Love,
Dad

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

Lawsuit Against Sovereign Grace Hits The Web: CJ Mahaney & Larry Tomczak Among Defendants

18 Oct

The lawsuit alleging cover ups of sexual abuse and pedophilia at two different Sovereign Grace Churches is now on-line.

Kris over at SGM Survivors has posted the document in it’s entirety.  You can view the document here.  In an interesting twist, both CJ Mahaney and Larry Tomczak are listed as defendants.   Both men were founders and leaders of SGM until Larry was forced to step down in the late 90’s.

As I get time, I’ll be posting more thoughts on the specifics of the case.

Until then…

UPDATED FRIDAY 10/19/12

It’s starting to hit Christian radio as well…you can listen to an interview with Susan Burke (attorney for the plaintiffs) here:

http://www.janetmefferdpremium.com/

David Barton-A Victim of His Own Success

19 Aug
English: Portrait of Thomas Jefferson, founder...

English: Portrait of Thomas Jefferson, founder of the University of Virginia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I first heard David Barton speak at a large Calvary Chapel in the late 80’s and again in the early 90’s.  At the time, this fast talking, historical quote wielding teacher persuaded me that most of America’s founding fathers were Evangelical Christians.  That the United States was suppossed to be a Christian nation, and that liberals had scrubbed our Christian roots in order to promote secular humanism.

I assumed that what he said was true and it fit nicely with my own belief that Christianity should play a more prominent role in public life.  It wasn’t until I started to read and study history that I realized that much of what David Barton was saying was misleading.

One example from Barton that stands out, was his claim that most of the founding fathers had attended seminary.  At the time, it blew me away that so many of our nations leaders were seminary trained.  It seemed a convincing argument that our Christian heritage as a nation was being diminished by omission.

The only problem with his claim (as I found out years later) is semantics.  While it’s true that most of the founding fathers attended seminary, what I didn’t know was that most colleges or higher learning institutions were called seminaries.  In other words, the common usage just meant a school.

So if I was alive in the 18th century and attending seminary, it might have been a seminary for architects and have nothing to do theology.  For whatever reason, the word seminary has come to mean a school for Theological training in this day and age.  But at that time, it meant nothing more than a school of higher learning.  A detail that Barton omits and allows his listeners to assume that most founding fathers attended Theological seminary.  Which would be incorrect.

After coming across my own suspicions about Barton’s claims,  I was always curious to see his rise to prominence.  First as a speaker and self published author, then to hosting his own radio show, and finally to some prominence within political circles in his own state of Texas and some Federal officials.  Even appearances with Glenn Beck and featured in Time magazine.

But it seems that Mr. Barton has become a victim of his own success.  After years of flying under the radar, he hit it big with a publishing deal with one of the worlds oldest and most prominent publishing houses, Thomas Nelson.  Publishing a book on Thomas Jefferson titled The Jefferson Lies.

The book was supposed to show that Jefferson was actually an Evangelical Christian and that most of what we’ve been taught about him is untrue.  In a twist of irony,  the only lies exposed by the book have been the lies Barton has been telling.  The overwhelming response, even by Christian Historians, is that Barton’s book is full of unsupported claims and outright falsehoods.  So much so, that Thomas Nelson has recalled the book and put it out of print.

Here’s a quote from World Magazine about Barton’s book

Richards emphasizes that he and the scholars he consulted about Barton are politically conservative evangelicals or Catholics. They largely agree with Barton’s belief that Christian principles played a major role in America’s founding, but Richards argues that Barton’s books and videos are full of “embarrassing factual errors, suspiciously selective quotes, and highly misleading claims.”

Seems that Barton’s long run may be winding down.  And I’m glad…not because I don’t like what he’s saying (I used to).  I just think people claiming to care about truth, should tell the truth.

Is that too much to ask?

Blogger Sued by Former Pastor Wins in Court

27 Jul

Back in June, I posted about Julie Anne Smith. You can read that brief post here.

She had been sued by her former pastor, Chuck O’ Neal, of Beaverton Grace Bible Church.  Pastor O’Neal had claimed damages of $500,000, after Ms. Smith posted a negative google review about her former church and the authoritarian style of the pastor.

The court has found, that Julie Anne was expressing her views in a public forum and that it was protected as Free Speech.  A real victory for bloggers seeking to shed light on abusive practices in the church.

You can read more here and here.

In a true stroke of poetic justice, the judge has ordered that Pastor O’Neal pay for Julie Anne’s legal costs and attorney fees.

Special thanks to The Wartburg Watch for keeping me up to date on this story.

American Winter: New Documentary from the Gantz Brothers

26 Jul

Normally I write about my loss of faith and ask questions that I was afraid to ask as a believer.  Today, I just want to highlight an upcoming documentary about the plight of struggling families.  A topic, that I think, is important to all people, regardless of whether you are religious or not.

The documentary is directed by Harry & Joe Gantz.  The Gantz brothers are best known for their Taxicab Concessions (HBO) and for their recent TV drama The Defenders.  American Winter follows struggling families in the Northwest that have fallen out of the middle class and are struggling to survive.

Here’s the trailer.  Full length film is scheduled to release this fall.

Joe Paterno and CJ Mahaney: The Parallels of Peril

13 Jul
English: CJ Mahaney, founder of Sovereign Grac...

English: CJ Mahaney, founder of Sovereign Grace Ministries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Penn State Nittany Lions head coach Joe Patern...

Penn State Nittany Lions head coach Joe Paterno on the sideline during warmups prior to the 2006 Homecoming game versus the University of Illinois on Friday, October 20, 2006. Taken by me. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The newly released report by Loius Freeh paints a damning picture of Penn State and Joe Paterno.

According to Freeh,  when Penn State officials first learned of possible abuse by assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky.  They concluded a quick investigation and then buried it to avoid bad publicity for the school and the athletic program.

About Joe Paterno, Freeh had this to say:

“The facts are the facts,” Freeh said. “There’s a whole host of evidence here and we’re saying the reasonable conclusion from that evidence is that he was an integral part of this active conspiracy to conceal. I regret that, based on the damage it does, obviously, to his legacy.”

The document detailing the reported incidents is over 200 pages long.  A brief summary tells us that the first accusations of sex abuse with boys as young as 8 years old, first occurred in 1998.  Three years later, more incidents were brought to Penn State officials but subsequently went unreported to the police. Sandusky was advised to not bring children onto campus, but the Athletic Department (including Paterno) advised Penn State’s board to allow for Sandusky to get counseling and not report the incident to the proper authorities (Police and Child Welfare).

You can read a more detailed report here, that includes links to the actual Freeh investigation report.

Putting Public Image Above People and The Law

One of the big disappointments, is the apparent lack of concern for the actual victims of Jerry Sandusky.  Joe Paterno and Penn State’s board seemed more concerned with their school’s reputation than with doing the right thing.  They put the public image of the school above the law and did not report the incidents to the proper authorities.

This same dynamic (putting public image above the law) has been reported in multiple sex abuse/ child abuse incidents in Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM).  In many cases, families of the victims were told to forgive the abuser and accused of being bitter or divisive if they objected.  Often times victims families were advised not to speak about the crimes committed against their children.  In many cases, SGM pastors advised parents to NOT call the police and did not inform their congregation of the abuse that had occured.

I won’t go over specific cases in detail, but you can read Noel’s Story here,  and exCLCer’s story here.

At the helm of SGM and CLC church, where many of the alleged abuses occurred, was CJ Mahaney.

Much like Joe Paterno, it appears that CJ Mahaney would rather ignore the law and assist abusers instead of taking a lump for the victims.  It seems, that the price of bad publicity was a price that CJ Mahaney was not willing to pay.

Much like Paterno, CJ Mahaney seems more comfortable with coddling sex abusers than dealing honestly with the victims of those crimes.

An unfortunate legacy for both men, who have been admired from afar for decades, but in the end, will go to their grave with the knowledge that they did not go the second mile for innocent children. Children that deserved better than to be raped and then ignored by those with the power to help.

Creflo Dollar Denies Choking and Slapping Daughter…It was Only a Spanking?

12 Jun
Dr. Creflo A. Dollar

Dr. Creflo A. Dollar (Photo credit: iandavid)

I was never into the Word of Faith movement, so I don’t usually follow or comment on the semi-regular scandals that seem to bubble to the surface now and then.

As for the latest,  Creflo Dollar is the on the hot seat, after his 15 year old daughter called 911 and said her father had choked her and slapped her.  Her 19 year old sister backed up her story and an investigation is ongoing.  You can read a brief news report on the incident here.

I guess what stood out for me, was that while Pastor Dollar denies choking and slapping his daughter, he apparently admits that all he did was wrestle her to the ground and spank her.

Wait a second, that’s your explanation?  That’s your defense?  That it was just a little spat that ended with you ( a 50 year old man) wrestling your 15 year old to the ground and spanking her?

I don’t know about you, but the spanking of a 15 year old seems like grounds for possible abuse.  I have 2 teens close to that age and I would never dream of slapping them, let alone wrestling to the ground and spanking them…this whole thing is wrong at it’s core.

If I were one of Pastor Dollar’s 30,000 congregants,  I would want to know how he justifies spanking a child that old.

Wouldn’t you?